If you happen to be a follower of Personality Junkie, you may have noticed a drop in new content over the last several months. For those of you who might be wondering, yes, Elaine and I are still among the living:) We’ve been preoccupied with other matters, including having a baby and relocating from our long-time downtown apartment (Elaine endearingly called it “our apartment in the sky”) to a suburban home with admittedly less character but more practicality for our growing family. If that wasn’t enough, we somehow decided it was a good idea to simultaneously renovate our new abode and, as an Introverted Thinking (Ti) type, I naturally believed I could do most of the work myself. It’s fair to say that neither of us have ever been this busy and physically active, prompting us to occasionally joke about how our newfound “Sensing” (S) lifestyle.
These changes have arguably been much harder on Elaine (a highly sensitive INFJ) than they have been on me (A.J., INTP). Caring for a newborn and being physically uprooted and tossed into new and unfamiliar surroundings would be difficult for most people, but it can be extremely disruptive for INFJs who rely on a safe and cozy home space. The biggest challenge for me, as an INTP, has been emotionally supporting (F) Elaine and our baby while simultaneously working a job and renovating every nook and cranny of our new home.
It therefore goes without saying that we haven’t had much time or energy for reading, introspection, or deep conversations. This was a big change for us since, prior to our baby’s arrival, our lives more or less revolved around these “Intuitive”(N) activities. And although we sometimes joke about our newfound Sensing mode of operating, this belies deeper underlying concerns about losing our connection to, and role in, the world of ideas (N). While we still fancy ourselves writers and theorists, if you’ve ever been away from something for a long time, it’s easy to wonder if you’ll ever find your way back to it. It seems that confidence in our identity hinges on actions that substantiate it, otherwise it’s difficult for the psyche to give it credence.
Having now completed most of our home reno projects, we wanted to start finding our way back to the concerns of Intuition generally, and to our work on Personality Junkie specifically. To symbolize this intention, I decided to unpack and install shelving for all our books. Having ready access to my books has always felt sacred and inspiring to me. Not only do they represent new paths and possibilities (Ne), but also ideational roads I’ve previously traveled (Si), giving them great sentimental value. I’m sure other bibliophiles can relate.
After such a protracted hiatus from writing, the prospect of choosing a topic for this post seemed a bit daunting. Fortunately, it occurred to me that, in light of our recent circumstances, now was a great time to revisit what Intuition brings to life. In other words, I wanted to consider what’s missing from our lives when we’re so absorbed in S immediacies that self-reflection goes by the wayside.
What Intuitive (N) Reflection Brings to Life
Let’s start by noting that Intuition is a bit of a luxury good. As touched on in my post, The Path of Intuitive Types, there’s a reason that Intuitive reflection isn’t the foundational level of Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” pyramid. Namely, if our physical (S) needs aren’t met, it’s difficult to experience the fullness of whatever Intuition might have to offer. Once our basic needs are adequately satisfied, however, we naturally start wanting something more from life. This includes looking beyond everyday obligations (S) and reflecting on the bigger picture of our lives (e.g., Who am I? Why are we here? What do I want out of life? What are the keys to happiness?).
As you may have guessed, such questions are typically generated and navigated by Intuition. Intuition informs us that it’s the whole gives meaning to the parts. More specifically, the overarching themes and narratives of our lives—our identity, worldview, values, life goals, etc.—provide the contextual backdrop for any particular action or life experience. These larger narratives help us answer important “Why” questions, providing the justification and motivation for our life’s direction. In short, Intuition is our primary tool for procuring what Socrates famously called the “examined life.”
At some point amid the hurricane of the last several months, Elaine and I lost our Intuitive footing. Whatever long-term perspective we previously held became obscured by daily exigencies. We lost sight of any higher goals outside of caring for our baby and shoring up our new living space. To use a religious metaphor, we did a shoddy job of honoring the Sabbath day. The Sabbath, of course, is intended as a day of rest—a haven from S doing. In carving out time for reflection and contemplation, it safeguards our connection to the N realm that infuses our lives with meaning, purpose, and inspiration.
While N matters are important to all personality types, Intuitives turn to Intuition more readily and consistently than their Sensing counterparts. Intuitives are more characteristically reflective, gravitating toward creative and investigative occupations. Recognizing the centrality of ideas to human affairs, they aim to make their own creative contribution. For many N types, Intuitive ideation is not merely a cherished pastime, but a calling or vocation. It’s how they want to spend the bulk of their time.
Of course, it’s still possible to get too much of a good thing. Indeed, before Elaine and I conceived, I had lost some of my zest for Intuitive work. In a way, my life had become too easy and, strangely, I seemed to too much free time on my hands. Having swung too far in the direction of Introversion and Intuition, we decided we were ready for more Extraverted and Sensing obligations in our lives. Needless to say, the universe responded and, before we knew it, our lives were turned upside down. We’re now working to rediscover some semblance of S-N balance in our lives, which is ultimately what we’re all seeking. While finding the right middle ground isn’t always easy, the combined richness of these two realms is decidedly more rewarding than either on its own.
To learn more about finding yourself and your path as an Intuitive personality type, be sure to check out our online course: