Apr 2001

An approach for how to interact with the world

Menno Rubingh (c) 2001

Comments and criticism are very welcome:
click here for contact info

Abstract and intended audience

The following lists some of my views and ideas about how people of the Myers-Briggs INTP type could go about optimizing their interaction with the people in the world outside them. This text is aimed only at readers who are, or are close to, the INTP type; and since the text is written from an INTP point of view without any attempt to make things accessible to people with other outlooks, it is expected that only INTP-like people would easily make sense of it.


Many INTPs, myself included, often experience difficulties interacting with other people. (Some of these difficulties are listed in Such difficulties are not consciously sought by the INTP himself; instead, they arise in part simply from being a ``rare'' type, and in part from a too large cooperativeness and openness (which some INTPs also describe as ``sensitivity'') on the part of the INTP.

My own approach for attacking these difficulties consists in

1. Creating for oneself a good awareness and understanding of the problem
2. Refusing to be apologetic about one's own hard-wired characteristics
3. Teaching oneself a certain attitude of not worrying about things.
These three things together form a mechanism that pulls the INTP out of the difficulties of interacting with other people. Or more accurately: I have the feeling that these three things form a mechanism that works in my case and for me helps me in interacting with "the world". I'm putting this text here in the hope that it might helpful to some other INTPs too; but in no way do I have the belief that my approach is somehow the best, nor do I have the belief that my approach would be applicable for all INTPs.

The drive behind 1, to research things to deepen one's own understanding, presumably comes naturally to any INTP. (See the end of the file for some literature pointers. I see also a clear overlap between the approach outlined here and some of C.G. Jung's ideas in _Psychological Types_, 1921, especially where he draws parallels with taoism and yoga.) Elements 2 and 3, which are also essential to the mechanism, are much harder and may require a lot of training; and once the mechanism is learned, applying it may still require a lot of energy expenditure in 2 and 3. (Practically applying this mechanism in a certain concrete situation, in effect, and incidentally, means resolving in that situation the conflict between 2 and 3.)

In the way in which they are formulated above, 2 and 3 seem to be basically ``negative'' things, that consist in applying the brake on certain things, instead of positively striving for things. In a way, this is true; however they are not as negative as may seem. For example, the ``negative'' action of 2 yields a very tough and unyielding type of ``self-respect'', that is all the more tough since it does not rely on having an exagerratedly grand view of oneself. This ``implicit'' kind of self-respect doesn't disappear when one is faced with disappointments. Similarly, the ``negative'' action of 3 can be viewed as a kind of mental housecleaning: the negative action of removing clutter and stress creates space for the INTP's strong ``playfully creative'' instincts to come out and to freely grapple with things.

Putting the mechanism to work in practice

This mechanism means that one views and approaches things from a point-of-view that is in a way ``opposite'' to that of most people. Most people operate from positive precepts: they actively do what ``should be done''. The above mechanism however leaves the positive drive to strive and to hunt for things in the people that the INTP is interacting with plus the INTP's own ``unconsciousness''. The active, conscious part of the INTP mostly merely acts as a kind of ``navigator'' who is modulating (to some degree) the form of energy streams, the ``push'' behind which he cannot control.

Therefore, for this mechanism to work it is essential that the INTP open himself up for interaction with people outside him. For this, it's necessary to delete one's own feelings of self-consciousness; which is not nearly so difficult, and which doesn't have nearly as much consequences, as might seem.

The ``trick'' of setting the mechanism into operation consists in turning the situation upside-down; for example where first the INTP felt annoyed by noisy people in his neighbourhood and was driven by them into introversion (i.e. introverted brooding and worrying about it), he now turns the things around and opens himself up to it. The problem attacking the INTP (the noisiness) will then collide with the INTP's ``gut reactions'', i.e. with his hard-wired mode of operation. Then element 2 of not being apologetic is applied, which makes that there is created a maximum depth to which the INTP will internalize and swallow the problem, which in turn makes that the thoughts and energy built up in the INTP about the problem must spill over into the world outside him. Then element 3 of not worrying is applied, which means that the INTP doesn't worry about these energies spilling over and views it as a natural process (which is partly present in himself) unfolding. This is entirely reasonable, since it serves no practical purpose to worry about things that in practice are impossible to change, and one's own hard-wired personal characteristics are an example of such things that are in practice impossible to change. The ``not worrying'' means that one doesn't mind, and is reconciled with, the situation that energies boiling up from one's hard-wired characteristics are spilling over into the world. That these energies will spill over is a given. Once having accepted this, it becomes relatively easy to stand back a little from these natural processes and to let these energies out while one's more ``conscious'' self acts as a kind of ``phlegmatic'' navigator who isn't able to control the currents he's navigating on but who nevertheless can intelligently modulate the form which the energies take when spilling over.

This kind of navigating probably takes a lifetime to become adept in. The drive behind acquiring and honing this skill is experiencing that the mechanism works. Becoming moderately skilled in it means that dealing with and interacting with people -- while not losing its disagreeableness entirely -- acquires in addition the quality of becoming an interesting game. A kind of game, moreover, that never ceases to surprise and that always possesses infinite new aspects to explore. (This is ensured by the quantity of people to interact with, the depth and complexity of human consciousness, and the complexity of the resulting human interactions.)

In the example of the noisy people that seriously hamper the INTP, this means that the energy burst of frustration felt by the INTP is let out by the INTP lifting a part of the veil that normally shields his introverted self from the people outside him. It's a matter of allowing other people to collide with one's own ``gut feelings''. Normally, this will often get expressed by the INTP as him saying that he's not happy with a certain situation. The reason why he's not happy will not be (clearly) understood by the other people, since they operate differently psychologcally and also probably have different world-views. They will, however hard they may try, not succeed in clearly understanding or seeing the INTP's problem. Nevertheless, one's earnestness when speaking in such circumstances cannot fail to generate respect with the people whom the INTP is interacting with; they will have a feeling that there does exist there a sort of ``real unfeigned natural force'' there that they should beware of.

Immediately I should explicitly and clearly add here that one should by no means fall into the trap of trying to ``misuse'' this as a ``power game''. For as soon as one tries to overdo it and wilfully conjure up that ``unfeigned natural force'', one will stumble because people will very quickly see that it's faked and they will very quickly call your bluff and prick through the bubble. Therefore, this connection with other people formed by speaking very deeply felt, is inherently only possible of being used when channelling or ``modulating'' streams of energy that bubble up from one's ``deeper layers''. It's not very much possible to stir these things up consciously; the only thing that one does consciously is modulating (to some degree) the form in which the energies are molded; the generation of the energies themselves is not affected (or worried about) consciously.

The feeling of one's ideas being important

One inherent element in the approach outlined above is that one deletes any sense of oneself being in any way ``important''. Often, INTPs seem to have a feeling that their accumulated ideas are important, and that the contents of their brains is of a great and essential value to the world. A negative effect of this is that it actually seems to make it more difficult for the INTP to communicate his ideas into the world: the INTP wants to formulate his ideas in a ``perfect'' way first, before communicating any of it. Once formulated in such a ``perfect'' way, the INTP often experiences that hardly any people understand his ideas or even understand the problem that he tries to tackle there.

Therefore, my feeling is that the INTP is helped by letting go of this idea of importantness of his ideas. By relinquishing this idea, the INTP removes a self-imposed communication barrier between himself and the rest of the world. At first, putting semi-brainstormed and uncarefully drafted ideas (e.g. texts) into the world feels uncomfortable; but once one gets used to receiving in reaction to those uncarefully drafted ideas and texts from people the feedback of them taking even those texts quite extremely literally seriously, and of them still experiencing difficulty understanding your ideas, it becomes significantly less uncomfortable, and even becomes a kind of interesting game.

Up to Menno Rubingh's INTP page
Up to site map