INFJ
iNtuition

"Be Prescient Now."

Introverted 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.")

Fritjof Capra describes it thus:

During 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.

Once we 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?" 

The most 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.  

Perspectives are often evoked by focusing on symbols, archetypes, totems, and other abstractions like visual models.  

INFJs 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:

Two 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.
                                                          -Mike Nichols

Following is an 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 image!)

I give more examples on my ESP page.

When 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.

I'm not 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 report.

Which 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.

I say more about those afterthoughts here.

Which 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.

For 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.)

Dr. John 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 possible movie scenarios run vividly through my mind.

It's useful 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. 

Here is another variation on explaining Ni*:

Introverted 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.

Now, it's 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."  

So this "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.

If 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 it out!

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Nothing 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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*Adapted from Linda V. Berens and Dario Nardi, Understanding Yourself and Others®: An Introduction to the Personality Type Code (Telos Publications, 2004) Used with permission.

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