One of the biggest intellectual journeys I have been on for the better part of the past six months is that of understanding how my personality type (or temperament) relates to the world, and how the world views those of my particular persuasion. Many people take the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator at some point in their education, and I am no exception. In fact, I probably took in half a dozen times in school, and a few more times in the years since my last class. The problematic thing is that my results were almost always the same but with a singular difference. I seemed to have a flip-flopping J/P condition. While a slight majority of the time my results would be INTJ, there were enough results that came back INTP that I was unsure of which I actually was. In fact, I thought until just recently that I was an INTx (that is, both a J and P) but having delved deeper into the classifications and cognitive functions I slowly came to a realization. However before I make the big reveal, I’d like to reflect on how evident each function has been and why I felt I was a specific role or variant.
The first thing in my search for answers that I answered quite early was my heavy leaning towards Introversion. In fact, having reflected on my childhood and youth, I cannot think of a time when I operated as an extrovert. Now there was a span of about three years (give or take a few months) in high school and college where I was one of those “outgoing” introverts, but this was by no means a period of extroversion, rather an expression of being comfortable within my surroundings and being more open with my thoughts and emotions. However, personal tragedy and loss brought this era to a close and I slowly regressed into the other extreme of introversion, hermitage. I spent about three years in a downward spiral removed in better part from society, having little social interaction outside my employment. Looking back now, it’s fairly easy for me to say this was my second “Dark Age”, the first being my rebellious years as a young teen. Now I have fully embraced my identity as an Introvert, and thankfully society is slowly becoming more aware of how that might look as I attempt to insert myself into the wider realm of community and business.
The next thing I became sure of was my identity as a Rational. This is the distinction of people who are primarily NT in the MBTI scale. This is considered my temperament. (More info on temperaments can be found here) Honestly when I first began learning about temperaments, I was almost more confused than when I knew nothing about these distinctions. As I read the profiles for the distinctions of temperaments on the Introverted side, that is Mastermind and Architect, I could easily identify with both significantly. At first glance, I felt fulfilled by the Mastermind classification, but this perhaps was a bit of a guilty pleasure and wishful thinking as I often consider myself to be a bit of a manipulator and shadow puppeteer. Now I must clarify, I do not use these “skills” to create chaos or for the misfortune of others but may use them within my circle of friends and family to subliminally influence decisions or opinions in ways that may benefit me more than a person might arrive at normally. However once I read the profile of the Mastermind as opposed to the Architect, I struggled to find the unique difference that could explain which distinction I could actually identify myself with.
Thankfully I stumbled across an excellent description of MBTI types as paired with their cognitive functions (found here). Initially, I was pretty hard set leaning towards an identity as a INTJ but I still considered myself to be INTx. However as I studied the different cognitive functions as aligned with MBTI types and reflecting on my decision-making habits in the past, I slowly moved into a neutral place between INTJ and INTP. However I knew at this point I could not be both but was rather one or the other that has a highly developed secondary cognitive function. It was reflecting on the cognitive functions of my core characteristics, that is my NT temperament, that I came down to the source of my dilemma. Introverted Intuition (Ni) versus Extroverted Intuition (Ne) seemed initially like a no-brainer, as I easily identify myself as the Introvert. However when it comes to cognitive functions, introvert and extrovert aren’t quite as simple as they might be in social constructs. The Ni merely seeks to identify the future in optimal or most likely terms while the Ne seeks to identify challenges and interests to pursue moving forward. As a realistic optimist, I would pick Ni as my primary cognitive function. The difference between Introverted Thinking (Ti) and Extroverted Thinking (Te) was a much harder one to work through. Obviously the tendency to lean towards Ti is strong and I had picked this in the beginning but the more I reflected on the Te function in relation to my personal history and accomplishments, I could not help but feel Ti was not my true strength. Despite my desire to avoid the limelight in most cases, I know I am capable to taking on leadership and authority roles, sometimes even pursuing these (such as becoming a coach or a referee) and have the skills and knowledge to fully inform and educate others on specific topics.
So after having considered everything I have read, remembered, and dissected over the past few months, I must believed that I am, in fact, an INTJ. The reason my MBTI results would sometimes come back as INTP was because while my primary and secondary cognitive functions are Ni and Te, my Ne and Ti cognitive functions are highly developed in their own right. It took reflecting on high pressure situations and moments of spontaneous inspiration to realize whether my strengths lay in the Ni-Te or Ne-Ti pairing. So it would seem that I ended up being the Mastermind I wanted to be after all. So in conclusion, I apologize to all of the Idealists, Artisans, and Guardians I may have “influenced” for my personal gain, my intentions were never to make you do something that wouldn’t benefit you as well. To anyone who took the time to read all thousand plus words this post consists of, thank you. I would appreciate comments and feedback on what your temperament and/or MBTI type may be and how you have cemented that identity as time has progressed.