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ENFJ
Dominant: Fe Auxiliary: Ni Tertiary: Se Inferior: Ti
Shadow Function: An insane ISTP

So a couple of years ago, I had what you could call an existential crisis, or a period of depression, or an awakening...whatever. Through all of it, I kept having this lingering feeling that there was something in the back of my mind. Now the "thing" that I kept feeling like I was forgetting, that kept changing, because it was really my mind reeling from all the new all-over the place out of control thoughts (probably the awakening of, or coming into full being of my Ni) and some of them were really out there and circular. But, even though my thoughts or "problem" that I was working on changed and varied, I kept feeling that there was this constant force there lurking below the surface. I decided it was depression, or something of the sort, because I had no other way to describe it.

I discovered that the feeling only dissipated when I talked about what was on my mind to a friend (INFP of course!), not even to any conclusion, just getting my thoughts and feelings and contradictory ideas off my chest and *this is key* have them understood and validated by someone who actually "got" what I was talking about, allowed the feeling to lift in a way that even writing it out couldn't. Kind of a purging, in a way.

Since then, I've learned to engage and harness that nagging feeling (my inferior introverted thinking), and know that sometimes, once I get a problem into my head, I'm going to obsess over it for a few days or a few weeks, and just have see where that leads me. It's taxing, but now that I can recognize it, and tackle one thing at a time, I find I benefit from it. It's sort of like when my friends talk about going on meditative retreats. I journey into the brambles of my mind, and its a little scary and dark, but I wrestle my way through, and when I come out again, I'm much more sure of myself and can usually really clearly articulate my feelings on a complicated subject quite easily and eloquently, to myself and to others. Little does the person know that my wise pithy statement may well have been months or years in the discovery process. But hey, as long as they think I'm wise, that's what counts!

I know there were a lot of factors going on at once for me that one particular summer, essentially a Perfect Storm and total overload, and that it was probably high stress and too many questions and feelings going on at once that kicked my shadow function into presenting itself.

What happened was a form of mental anguish that I would characterize as anxiety/depression. BUT it was uncommon, in that while mentally it was quite all consuming and crippling, I was able to function fairly normally in day to day life (only I cried a lot) and socializing with friends, I seemed perfectly normal, even if in some ways I was on auto-pilot.

Essentially I was mentally hibernating and had completely retreated within my own mind in my attempt to take in information (somewhat wantonly) and use logic (not big picture connections like with iNtuitive logic which I'm great at and was also in overdrive at the time, but details Ti logic, which is definitely my handicap) to understand my new thoughts and emotions (to the point where I basically ruled out anything unknowable outside the five senses, or anything abstract as completely irrelevant, and art as an evil illusion--I have an ISTP friend and she actually openly believes all these things, but for her it's her real perspective, and tempered with a relatively healthy outlook (I still don't think she's the most well-adjusted person, but that's not the point at all) and does not manifest itself in the troubling ways it did to me. Because for me, these was not my real beliefs, but rather the very opposite, inhibiting my most trusted and reliable means of engaging the world, feeling terrified and confused by the things that (until then) brought me the most comfort and pleasure, and denying myself the very things that give my life the most meaning.

Shadow functions are sick.

So my question, or rather, the discussion topic I'd like to raise, is how do you deal with your inferior function? Have you learned to understand or appreciate it as you mature? And what experiences have you had with your shadow function?
 
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ENFJ
Dominant: Fe Auxiliary: Ni Tertiary: Se Inferior: Ti
Shadow Function: An insane ISTP

So my question, or rather, the discussion topic I'd like to raise, is 1. how do you deal with your inferior function? 2. Have you learned to understand or appreciate it as you mature? 3. And what experiences have you had with your shadow function?
-----This is a fascinating topic, and I hope you get a lot of traffic on this thread.
-----First I'd like to point out that what you are talking about is sort of "Advanced MBTI." So, I feel like I need to explain where I'm coming from. I've read Was That Really Me?: How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality by Naomi L. Quenk. But I'm not an expert. I have a basic understanding of the cognitive functions. Understanding the MBTI Test. And I found some fascinating articles that give examples of how each function can manifest in each position 1-8 (so for every type). Symbol Thinking: Mapping Jungian Archetypes on Cognitive Processes; http://www.newdirectionsconsulting.com/pdfs/The%20Grip%20Behavior.pdf; see also MBTI truths: Function Delineation. Here's one on how to get out of the grip: http://www.newdirectionsconsulting.com/pdfs/The%20Grip%20Behavior.pdf.
-----But the question is--how do you know when you are in the grip of you inferior function--and how do you know when you are trying to engage a shadow function? If the dominant and auxiliary functions make up the majority or all of our consciousness, then how can we understand the other functions? Ha! Shows I'm no help to your thread. I'm just adding questions. Okay, so I'll try to answer.
-----1. I guess I'd like to find a mild way to develop my inferior function--not so much that it overpowers my first two functions--but enough so that when I have to use it, I am not using it in a totally undeveloped fashion.
-----2. I don't understand it. I'm not even sure what it is.
-----3. So, theoretically, my inferior function is Te.
-----"The INFP may turn to inferior extraverted Thinking for help in focusing on externals and for closure. INFPs can even masquerade in their ESTJ business suit, but not without expending considerable energy. The inferior, problematic nature of Extraverted Thinking is its lack of context and proportion. Single impersonal facts may loom large or attain higher priority than more salient principles which are all but overlooked." INFP Profile.
-----I don't know how much of the following is Te, but here's how I get when I feel everything has gone wrong:
  • Total obsession with details (perfectionism)--usually misdirected--so that I spend a disproportionate amount of time getting unimportant tasks done perfectly, while failing to even plan, let alone begin, major important projects. This corresponds with a general inability to "change gears."
  • Desire to cut and run--to leave everything behind and delve into society's underworld.
  • Start leaping before looking. I place a total reliance on my brain to get me through the next five minutes. Sometimes I'll end up improvising something I should have prepared for. During a conversation, I will just talk--without giving myself adequate time to think--and trust that my brain is doing me right and not making any enemies. In short, I am running on autopilot for things that it is not meant for.
  • Abandon self-imposed restrictions and goals--even purposely work against them.
  • Anger at God for making a crappy world.
  • Anger at people in general for their apathy toward the suffering of others.
  • Serious hostility at anyone who is hostile/aggressive toward me--to a point where I am escalating the situation--even if the other person's initial attitude was intended to "debate" and not attack. I am capable of abandoning boundaries, here, and using my ability to read people to find their weaknesses and exploit them. This might mean revealing things they think are secret, or hitting those "off limit" areas--going for lasting damage. It's cruelty. And I am ashamed of myself when this happens (just a couple of times)--no matter how much the other person "deserved" it.
  • Anger at people who equate anything external (my looks, my possessions)--good or bad--with who I am inside. (This one is really crazy I know. If someone compliments my lawn, as if the way my grass grows has something to do with me, I want to punch that person. Poor person--they were just trying to give a compliment in their language.)
  • Try to physically hide. (When I was little, I used to hide in the closet. You might be surprised to learn that people rarely look for other people there.)
  • Erratic sleeping patterns.
-----If I am feeling well, I don't engage in any of the above behaviors--and things in general annoy me much less. I am not proud of the above, but I accept that these things are a part of me. That's why I try very hard to find alternative ways of dealing with stress. My primary defense is to detach from the situation--to detach from the people involved--which means walking away or calling the police instead of instantly reacting in an escalating manner. Sometimes it just means turning off the Xbox when I get frustrated by a game. LOL. When I realize I am letting my emotions totally rule me in a negative way, I try to pause before reacting and objectively assess the situation and find a way out before the next "stage" kicks in--until I lose control--become an animal--Hulk out?
-----You, on the other hand, I think have done a wonderful job of identifying your inferior function and learning how to "manage" it. I'm still working on caging the beast--or taming it or whatever.
-----Since I have just outed my negative side, here, let me say that I in no way prefer to behave in the above fashion. I highly value empathy, compassion, kindness, friendliness, niceness, love, and nonviolence. But that's my light-side-of-the-force side. : )
 
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