iNtuition is "transcending to a meta-perspective." It's a way of
seeing things that rises above competing views. Engaging this process starts with entering a
trance-like "meditative mode" to withdraw from the world in order to
purposefully gain an insight or realization. These insights may manifest
as "aha!" experiences, the kind of thing that "pops" into
your head while you're taking a shower. (For this reason Ni is sometimes
thought of as "shower moments." Recently I told someone that
having preference for DomNi is like being a "shower moment addict.")
Capra describes it thus:
periods of relaxation after concentrated intellectual activity, the intuitive
mind seems to take over and can produce the sudden clarifying insights which
give so much joy and delight.
manifest one of these realizations, we can then
refer to, align, refine, and apply a meta-perspective.
"Applying" often means transformation -- trying out a new way to be.
We evaluate our meta-perspective by asking, "is there synergy?"
powerful meta perspectives result in a transformation, synthesis, or paradigm
shift. People who prefer introverted intuiting look inward for a steady
stream of realizations and mind-shifting to navigate and make sense of all
aspects of living life.
At the core
of introverted iNtuiting is a meta perspective: the highest level, or most
flexible frame of mind or form of behavior each of us currently has access
to. One meta perspective is our own mind's workings. We can shut out
the world, quiet our minds, and ask our unconscious to take us to a new level of
awareness. Every perspective has its purpose and power. With
understanding, we can shift between perspectives at will, each giving insights
and energizing a different "way to be" to solve otherwise intractable
problems and accomplish a vision of the future. Or we can synthesize the
views and achieve yet another meta perspective.
are often evoked by focusing on symbols, archetypes, totems, and other
abstractions like visual models.
experience iNtuition as a normal way of being -- because it is our "heroic"
function, we use it in a very active way, as a familiar and trusted
"tool." We are often puzzled when others describe having "magical"
experiences with Ni, because our archetypal access of Ni is usually different.
(Remember, each of
us can use Ni, but it is worth remembering that *other*
types' experience of Ni as "magical" usually befits the archetype channeling it for them.
This is where you'll
want to go back and review the Beebe section.)
One of the
best-known "perspective shifts" is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge who,
in a single night, experienced three powerful shifts that caused an "ah ha!"
so compelling that he transformed his entire life by one-hundred-eighty degrees!
Here is a quote describing
the experience of "ah hah!" further:
or three times in my life I have read or heard something that seemed in a moment
to change me so palpably that I actually heard or felt a click, a sound,
tumblers falling into place, what have you. Whatever it's called it was a
physical sensation. Freud calls it an Ahah Erlebnis, an
"ah-hah" experience. It is neither pleasant nor unpleasant; it
is simply the experience of becoming somebody slightly different, somebody new,
the next you.
excerpt from a magazine interview that seems to be another good example of
meta-perspectives at work:
When people ask me how to
set priorities, I ask them a question: At what level do you want to have this
conversation? Each of us operates on many different levels at all times. We
each have a runway that holds all of the little things that consume our time.
At 10,000 feet are the projects. At 20,000 feet, people are deciding on their
roles and goals. At 30,000 feet, people are thinking ahead, asking themselves
where they want to be in their careers 12 to 18 months down the road. At
40,000 feet, they're thinking 3 to 5 years out and looking at their
organizational aspirations. Then, at the top -- at 50,000 feet -- they're
asking, "What's my job on this planet?"
A Wall Street executive
once complained to me about having to attend too many meetings. I drew a chart
and asked, "At what level do you want to have this conversation?" I
explained that at 20,000 feet, maybe you need those meetings. But if you go up
a level and think about the next 12 to 18 months, maybe you can pass on some
of those meetings. And at 50,000 feet, where you think about your heart and
your health, you might say, "I don't need to make partner. I've made
enough money. From now on, I'm going to leave at 7 PM every day. And if you
don't like it, then fire me."
Can you see
from this example how the meta-perspective shifts easily and readily from level
to level? It doesn't take too much effort to grasp what's going on here,
and there's nothing "mystical" about it. Now imagine instead of
being at different "heights," instead you come from different
places. Like the "bird's-eye-view" or the
"worm's-eye-view" -- or sometimes I will ask, "What would the
Mona Lisa's view be?" It's a little bit like brainstorming inside
your own head, synthesizing information and trying to get to the best outcome
for the problem at hand. INFJs habitually visit that 50,000 feet
perspective in order to get the biggest picture perspective available.
(Sometimes it's hard to describe what we're seeing at that level, because of
course we see all the other layers as well -- which makes for a pretty complex
I give more
examples on my ESP page.
Keirsey describes his INFJ wife's use of Ni, *he* portrays her use as being
quite mystical. I wonder if that accurately mirrors her own experience of
using Ni, or if using Ni seemed perfectly normal to her. For Keirsey, Ni
would also be the 6th function, so perhaps he was reflecting his own views, or
even some of his first-hand experience with that portrayal.
saying INFJs are never mystical -- after all, is it not the spiritual
or metaphysical view that is the highest meta perspective one can attain?
INFJs enjoy approaching that high-level perspective, but it still doesn't have
the "magical" experience associated with it that other types often
is not to imply we have full, conscious control over Ni. It's an
irrational function, after all -- a perceiving function. And one of its
characteristics is that it seems to work according to its own urging -- at whim
sometimes -- solving ideas in the shower, or lying in bed, or whilst relaxing at
a picnic in the park. It's the solution that arrives when you stop
looking for it; it's the spark that materializes over lunch break; it's the
insights that keep rolling in while lazing around not wanting to get out of bed
on the weekend. It's the crescendo of inspirations that burble up after a
movie, play, or concert stimulate it. Not during, mind you -- but after.
say more about those afterthoughts here.
is not to say Ni always has a delayed reaction! It also perceives and pre-solves
problems before they even transpire -- like somehow knowing an exercise is
impossible before students ever see it, or that screenplay idea just isn't
workable, or your sister is going to hate your new boyfriend. You just know
sometimes when something is going to bomb. It's the blessing and curse of
foresight. There's that story of the
preacher who harangues his congregation when they have come to pray for rain
because they did not bring along their umbrellas. I've always felt that
DomNi's would bring an umbrella.
INFJ's, I have often used the metaphor of being up in an "ivory
tower," trying to get a glimpse of what's on the horizon. And then,
when I activate my extraverted Feeling, I have to run down the steps of that
tower in order to get to ground level and connect with people there. (Any
time I try calling down from the turret of the tower, people think I'm speaking
in "tongues" or I'm spewing incoherent jabberwocky, because it's
nearly impossible to eloquently articulate all the complexity I'm seeing.)
Beebe's simplest definition for iNtuiting is "Big Pictures
Fast." Regarding introverted iNtuiting specifically, he calls it "scenario
thinking." He says it's about running various scenarios through our
minds and trying out different variations. In that vein, another type expert
speaks of "running movies in her head." I relate to this quite
readily. Sometimes I find
myself gazing off into the distance, unseeing, while frame after frame of
scenarios run vividly through my mind.
to note there that John Beebe has said iNtuition is "reliable,
but not infallible." I interpret that to mean that I can trust Ni,
rely on it, and even wield it like my light saber -- but (just like a light
saber), there are times when it might let me down, fail me. For this
reason, it seems important to have facility for showing humility, and to develop
some of our lesser functions so that we have something to fall back on
should our light saber fail us.
another variation on explaining Ni*:
iNtuiting involves synthesizing the seemingly paradoxical or contradictory,
which takes understanding to a new level. Using this process, we can have
moments when completely new, unimagined realizations come to us. A disengagement
from interactions in the room occurs, followed by a sudden “Aha!” or
“That’s it!” The sense of the future and the realizations that come from
introverted iNtuiting have a sureness and an imperative quality that seem to
demand action and help us stay focused on fulfilling our vision or dream of how
things will be in the future. Using this process, we might rely on a focal
device or symbolic action to predict, enlighten, or transform. We could find
ourselves laying out how the future will unfold based on unseen trends and
telling signs. This process can involve working out complex concepts or systems
of thinking or conceiving of symbolic or novel ways to understand things that
are universal. It can lead to creating transcendent experiences or solutions.
always interesting to compare Ni and Ne, just in case you're not sure these
descriptions fit you. So let me mention that one way introverted iNtuition and extraverted
iNtuition differ is around converging and diverging. Extraverted iNtuition
is divergent -- generating multiple possibilities -- while introverted
iNtuition is convergent -- generating the single best outcome and
settling on ONE scenario. The best metaphor I've ever heard for this is
one of a plane taking off and landing. Ne tends to "take off,"
while Ni tends to "land."
"best outcome" we are aiming for may result from reflectively "trying on"
multiple meta-perspectives in one's head, OR it may come in a single, blazing "aha"
moment. This is one of the reasons IN_Js are often criticized for
believing they have the "one, right answer" and lack interest in
brainstorming or entertaining multiple options. We become very attached to
"knowing" how things should or must be. People who prefer Ne may
feel "strangled" by the lack of options Ni generates, while people who
prefer Ni may feel "drowned" in too many possibilities that Ne generates.
you are devoted to describing "more possibility" for others, it's likely
that your favored form of iNtuiting is Ne rather than Ni. Be sure to check
in life is more exciting and rewarding than the sudden flash of insight that
leaves you a changed person -- not only changed, but for the better.
- Arthur Gordon
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