Self-scrutiny is my (second?) favorite pastime next to devouring all kinds of literature and culture, roaming the curious corners of the Internet and having night-long discussions about all the big matters of the universe.
But can one be too self-analysing?
Probably. And the fact that I’m asking myself this very question may be a sign that I am. Or perhaps it is the very opposite because I am aware that I am too self-analysing..?
Yikes, my head spins.
Some say it’s good, others say it’s bad to be too introspective. I guess it’s all a matter of context and balance. Just adding the ‘too’ there seems to suggest that we’re talking about an overbalanced case. Verging on narcissism, if not already there.
I don’t know about other introverted types (I am clueless about extroverts) but trying not to be introspective, no matter how much, is like working against my very nature as an introvert and especially as an INTP. I can’t not be introspective. My life seems to be built around finding a balance in a extroverted world and not losing my mind or isolating myself in the meantime. I am halfway to Hermit-land already. As such, I see no inherently wrong by being introspective, not even to the degree that I am, but the outer pressure from the world and my superego tell me that it is to some extent. I can’t keep playing ostrich all my life and I know this. Oh, don’t I know it!
It is both freeing at times to take my mind off myself, so to speak; to be distracted from the inner world by the outer world, but it is not something I will stop doing. I wonder sometimes if the introspection itself is a distraction from the outer world? … Wow, mind-blown.
When it comes to self-introspection and self-obsession, the lines are blurry for the INTP (perhaps it is so with all introverts?). Because introspection is such a second – if not first – nature to me, I can barely distinguish between the two of them. From what I would say, introspection hints to a critical, self-analysing objective to oneself, whereas self-obsession hints to egoism, greediness and an unhealthy kind of self-involved narcissism. Both are relentless, yet can be managed somewhat I believe. I may be one or the other, both or neither. I really don’t know until someone tell it to my face.
And that is partly the reason for all my self-analysis: In general, I have no clue how other people really view me (I am genuinely surprised if people remember something I said the day before and especially years ago!). And it is not something you usually go ask people about. So, of course, I dive into myself to look for the answers.
Most people that I know I have met at different stages of my life. I think most of them haven’t thought much of me since I’ve mostly kept to myself until I surprised them with a side of my personality that, by chance, came through.
For instance, I once had this small amateur acting class in sixth or seventh grade and one time, we had to do small sketches and I played a cranky, old lady, and all the girls in class laughed (positively) at my portrayal, their faces painted in sheer surprise – like they had never really seen me before, coming up to me afterwards, impressed, saying “Wow, I didn’t know you could do this – you were so funny!”. And while I was surprised that they were surprised of this fact (I put on shows constantly at home), an internal monologue sounded in my head: “You wouldn’t be so surprised if you actually got to know me better”. After having gone to school for several years with these girls, I felt a bit slighted that they could be this surprised by this; that I actually could be funny. Well, I am not the best at letting people in either. Especially not as a kid, perhaps. But it was an eye-opening experience to get people to really see me and be surprised by sides of me I already knew of. It has been like this for most of my life – in small, yet significant bouts during social interaction. Maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised, since I hardly give anything away with my somewhat demure, secretive appearance, but that most people’s first impressions continue to stay at the one-dimensional level is a bit hurtful. Like they are not even interested in discovering more.
Maybe other INTPs/introverts recognize this?