When the tear ducts suddenly erupt

The stereotypical assumption of the INTP may be that of a person who would constantly say ‘Let’s try and be rational’ to any emotional reaction.

That is both true and false.

A response like that is, more or less, our inner, instinctive reaction; our heads trying to wrap itself around what’s happening and analyzing it to come up with a solution how to appropriately respond to something that is not our immediate field of expertise… since we don’t understand emotions that well. To speak plainly.

However, I, too, personally find it irritating when someone says ‘Let’s try and be rational’, because, unless it’s a situation of total panic, it can come across as arrogant – as if bypassing the legitimate emotions and subsequent thoughts of those around them, though that may not be intentional.

Just like shushing a crying person – no matter how benevolent intended or kindly done – is basically a slap in the face to the one crying, because crying is, in fact, a healthy, cathartic outlet for an abundance of emotion/pain.

It’s as if shushing is not letting the crying person feel – which the person obviously needs – and especially when the person is an adult I believe. Instead shushing centers around what the comforting person is feeling; often discomfort and awkwardness in properly responding to the crying person, and the action becomes almost two-fold; as if calming oneself down instead of the person crying.

Why not just say ‘Let it out. I am here for you’ instead?

Crying is still an unspoken taboo among adults, because we are taught and expected to have mastered such emotional outbursts and channel them appropriately, like talking, analyzing or rationalizing these feelings instead. And too often we just feel ashamed or uncomfortable dealing with them at all and stomp them deep within ourselves, in the end bottling them up into an entirely too unhealthy pattern of emotional management. Honestly, sometimes we should just be allowed to… feel. There’s a reason crying is the instinctual physical response to a difficult emotional situation, no matter your age. Frankly, I’m vary and concerned of adults who do not (or claim to never) cry. I’m not saying adults should allow themselves to openly wail in the middle of the streets or in any given situation. Just allow yourself to feel once in a while, not stomping it down with some rational excuse each time (just as much an advice to myself).

I guess, I also feel this on a personal level, the more I’ve learned about my INTP personality as well. Knowing how little we express emotions on a conventional level, though are not less emotional on the inside, I feel we are more than legitimized when we actually do express them. Especially when we feel the need to cry (because, be honest, we only ever cry rarely and alone, don’t we?). For once, don’t tell or expect us to rationalize or channel this expression in any other way. Don’t talk the feelings down, whatever they are. Just let us let it out and feel whatever we need to feel for a moment and be there for us. Am I right? Well, not just INTPs; everyone, really.

But, if you have some insight in INTPs’ track record in this matter, you know the INTP is particularly notorious regarding sudden outbursts of emotions at rare and odd times. We may need some friendly reassurance afterwards; sympathy instead of pity, and, perhaps, someone who isn’t afraid of sticking around (though I wouldn’t blame anyone from wanting to run away) and deal with such an emotional outburst from an (INTP) friend. Nobody wants someone who is just half-listening or pretending to care.

Not that I am any good at handling such things myself when others react this way (have I already mentioned that?), and I use way too many awkward platitudes or whatever I can come up with to make the person feel better without having any clue if it works. I’m no good with the physical stuff and I’m generally such a blatant INTP I avoid the act of comforting like the plague, even though I hate to see people in pain and want to do something to help. Never confuse an INTP’s awkward response to an emotional situation with a lack of emotion, sympathy or empathy. My heart goes out to people in pain; I simply cannot always express it or help in an appropriate way. In fact, sometimes I feel like I feel too much. That I cannot contain it nor express it.

So, I understand perfectly well the need to have a good cry and not be shushed.

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Loyal to a fault but no real faith

I may have belief in my convictions but not in myself. My insecurity won’t allow my faith in myself to establish. It wavers and it changes; from crumbling shyness to conceited stoicism.

It’s weird to have this constant spark of hope warring with a true lack of consistency in belief. Especially voicing that belief in myself. It’s not that I don’t know what I’m worth; I know that intrinsically; I always have, but somehow having to constantly prove, verbalize and even document it to others through outward display and activities remains an exhausting, demanding task. And it’s an internal ‘war’ that I don’t feel like complaining about because I know it’s both immature and futile. An inevitable human condition.

It’s something I feel only I can deal with, on my own, since it’s all within.

But, as previous posts have revealed, I also know I cannot go through life never asking for help or support in this particular area.

I don’t want this warring insecurity to turn bitter and (self-)destructive; influencing or even hampering all other (future/possible) aspects of my life.

I don’t want to become like my introvert parents but in so many ways, I’m already becoming them. I know; now it sounds like I’m projecting but I know my parents rather well, having, after all, been their closest observant for more than 20 years. Sometimes, I think I know the patterns in their behavior and interaction better than themselves from my outside perspective.

But I hate it. I hate it because I never wanted this and because I know that I can still change my life and prevent it but don’t seem to make an effort to really change it. And on some deep level, I think I might even silently blame and resent them for it, even though I am more than aware that I am responsible for my own life. Simultaneously, I stubbornly persist it must be my own battle, almost clinging to it, perversely so. Because… what else have I got?

Can you decide on becoming confident or is it pretense if so; merely masking how insecure you are within? Or aren’t confidence and insecurity two sides of the same coin, depending in what context and how you show it?

Forgive my rambling.

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INTP Pet Peeve #2

People who, by principle, exclude or refuse to include certain possibilities in an argument, even the possibility of reconsidering their argumentation.

What I’m really talking about here is a rigidity of mind. A certain stubbornness or arrogance in some people’s logic which bugs the hell out of me!

I’m sorry but the INTP in me just shines through here, and I know some people (sometimes) can’t help thinking like this.

Hell, even I have to eliminate certain possibilities in a logical analysis or deduction in order to narrow it down, but not before considering as many alternative possibilities as possible first. And by narrowing down doesn’t exclude the ‘discarded’ possibilities for good. By principle, “what I know for sure is that I know nothing”. Or, rather, what I know is one side of a matter and I am aware there might be other sides to it. That doesn’t necessarily make my conclusion any less true, just one argument or logical conclusion of a matter. By principle, I am open to discuss my argument and ready to listen to other perspectives.

However, when people are not aware of this or even ready to discuss their point of views to some extent – that’s where I balk!

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Talking on the phone is just… the worst

I think this on the Top 5 on every introvert’s list of Worst Things Ever.

I’m literally such an ass with the telephone. I hate it when it rings, almost no matter who calls, and I have to mentally prepare myself to pick it up or call other people. And, of course, I avoid it like the plague when it’s an unknown number.

Really, I need to size up the person on the other end. Even if it’s someone I know well. Like some robot I need visual and facial recognition to properly read and interact with another human being.

I think many elements of being face to face are taken for granted, but that’s also somewhat hypocritical to say because, generally, if anything, I prefer to write to and with people, and even writing has it limits (*sighs in admittance*). But so has telephonic communication. Even face to face isn’t perfect, but it sure gives a better picture of the person at the other end.

Let’s be honest, communication is and always will be a complex area. Most of all, it’s about context, perspective and interpretation. Some people are very good at masking their voices and feelings, others unintentionally give off the wrong impressions, while awkward pauses, misunderstandings and interruptions seem to be the most unavoidable and frequent occurrences during phone conversations (at least compared to any other form of interaction I’ve participated in or witnessed, or maybe it’s just me).

Personally, I just interact with more ease if I’m able to read the other person’s face, body language and eyes as well. It helps me to know if the person is being honest and sincere about what they are saying. Am I more comforted by the fact that the other person is also able to read my face, body and eyes? Good question. To be honest, it depends. Most of the time, I have no clue how the world around me see me, so to say I’m unsure how to answer this confidently would be an understatement.

Though I find that I can read people fairly well, I can also be quite naive at times; instinctively putting too much faith in the good of other people. Ironically (or maybe not?), I don’t trust the distorted mediation of the phone, and I feel like my bad sides are more pronounced because of this; that I sound so much more uncomfortable, wavering and even unintentionally curt if I can’t read the situation right.

All in all, I could just do with less awkward pauses and misunderstandings in my life, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to live without the phone. Not completely. I just have to practise and get used to it, bit by bit.

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INTP Pet Peeve #1

People who don’t listen.

Especially during conversations. (I’d be a hypocrite if I demanded every student to stay alert during every class lecture, or that people like Trump are worth listening to in the long haul).

Sure, you’re allowed to disagree, zone out during small talk, be too tired, have a bad day or carry a variety of misgivings towards the person speaking to you.

But I cannot abide people who refuse to listen on a general basis. You don’t even have to agree with what is being said or even understand where the person is coming from.

Just… listen.

It doesn’t require that much effort.

And if you happen to be able to partake in or witness a conversation of opposite sides, where one side is decisively bigoted, intolerant or extremist, you should still make the effort to listen. At least, for as long as you are able to. It’s important to know where exactly the opposition stands, because it is all a part of a democracy with freedom of speech. Of course, intolerance should never be tolerated, but immediately shutting down and censoring the right to speak such opinions makes you no better than the bigoted party. And sometimes you’ll learn something new; about the complexity of any given subject, about yourself, the opposition or even your own community. And sometimes you won’t; you’ll simply be confirmed in your own opinion of the opposite side.

In any case, listening never did anyone any harm.

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To live with an INTP brain – 2.0

My mind is always so… persistently active.

I’m not sure if it’s very INTP. Technically, every human brain is active 24/7, even during sleep.

But I find my jumble of thoughts to be ever prevalent. Inescapable. And I have a very ambivalent relationship with said brain. Most of what’s going on inside are analytical observations and deductions in bucket loads, constantly accumulating, expanding, reducing, growing into, feeding and eating each other; from every little object to larger-than-life schemes. Like a game of Pac-Man, only one hundred times more layers and levels. Most of these thoughts are highly curious, objective; almost scientific in their reasoning and even sentiment, while others are more ‘acceptably rational’, to put it in crude terms *coughs*.

I’m not sure if I’d have less to think about if then I’d be more in sync with my emotions, because a large amount of time is also spend to instinctively trying to understand, analyze and come to terms with my feelings.

Well, I’m not exactly the most obvious person to answer that on behalf of myself, am I now?

Taking a break from feeding the incessant need of knowledge that my brain demands is certainly healthy, yet easier said than done. Maybe I’m too weak to resist. Sounds absurd, but it’s like a strange addiction or hunger; a core curiosity, a life force within me that will not quell and which I honestly don’t want to quell. Still, taking breaks, going outside for a walk, taking in nature and simply enjoying it for a while, also brings me peace and quietude.

Otherwise, my mind never rests.

I spend most of my time gaining all sorts of knowledge, some rather random and useless. Still, this hunger within continues; telling me it’s important to gather as much knowledge and information as possible, no matter how random or presumably ‘time-wasting’. And, ironically, while I could (and should) spend my time gaining all sorts of random skills which could be useful for my CV or future jobs, I find them aimless and, oddly enough, useless and a waste of time, simply because I have no specific aim to begin with. Sure, I could gain all sorts of skills pointing in all directions just to cover myself in and look more conventionally attractive on the CV. But, honestly, I have no interest in doing so. I find having a litter of random knowledge to be more important and valuable (to me) than having a set of random skills.

Even though, I’d probably get an actual job if I had said skills…

*sighs*

I really fit the idea of the distracted professor better than I think.

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To live with an INTP brain

I’ve come to realize that my thoughts aren’t always the glorified guiding voice of my existence that I’ve perhaps convinced myself for a long time now. They, too, can be flawed, emotionally unstable and tainted with too many outer voices and all the interacting spheres of my super-ego, ego and id (excuse my Freudian influence), coming full circle.

And, yet, I have a hard time not listening to them when I’m alone. How can I not? They are my thoughts, after all.

When I’m with others, especially in a company that stimulates me, these thoughts are less dominant, often silenced. And if it is a company which listens without judgment and whom I trust, I can even let these thoughts out and get an outside response to them. Afterwards, even though I can feel I’ve behaved pathetically and opened up too much, I also recognize how much better I feel than when I’m alone and bottle them up.

To jump to another (but not entirely dissimilar) subject:

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, dealing with my own day-to-day existence is easier said than done. Not so much in keeping things clean and neat (which most often comes up when talking INTP stereotypes. Oddly enough, I’m rather tidy for an INTP when I want to be. So many things go on in my head, I get somewhat distracted/OCD-like when there’s a clutter around me). It’s more in regards of having and keeping life goals that roughly conform to the expectations of society; of gaining skills and achievements whether personal or professional. Of having a, more or less, decided life plan, I guess.

This expectation was handed to me and my generation from a rather early age and we’ve ‘suffered’ under it ever since. Nobody should be forced to know their professional life goals at the age of 13-14 years old, after all. It’s perfectly medieval, if you ask me! But, as we came to learn, it was a part of a streamlined package deal; of knowing every step of our future education in order to choose right, especially the final, ‘pivotal’ education choice we wanted and thus the job that demanded such an education.

I mean, perspective is good, but honestly, there was no space for mistakes in this expectant, normative ‘road’ painted before us. No space for detours, despite the signposting of all the various careers, all the way to the horizon. An overwhelming sight indeed.

Or, at least, we all felt afraid of making mistakes and even when we inevitably did, we ended up feeling ashamed about it. Mistakes have become this deviant thing in our heads that we all try and avoid, instead of just accepting that making mistakes is a part of life and that making a mistake doesn’t mean you’ll never get back on the ‘road’ or reach your goal.

But I digress.

I’m not sure other INTPs feel this way, but I have a hard time not constantly shifting the issue of my own problems to the greater picture (case in point). I cannot let go of my knowledge of the world around me in order to focus on building my own world. I’d much rather go with the flow. Edging along the ‘main road’; once in while taking detours while keeping an eye on my changing surroundings. Back and forth, in and out among the many ‘trees’ and ‘signs’. Stay curious about life. The one thing I’ve always been.

It sounds lazy, and perhaps I am too much of freeloader if you look at it that way, but, actually, I couldn’t be more invested in what problems the world is facing. Any conversation I have I will segue into the latter at some point or another. It can be both exhausting and fascinating to be on the receiving end and keep up with this head spin, I know. I even manage to exhaust myself from talking too intensely, too passionately about the complex wonders, injustices and discrepancies of the world, while referencing the past, the present and the future in-between. That is, if I’m not turning the conversation into a deeply reflective, introspective talk about the inner human experience and existence…

Yeah, ‘small talk’ isn’t really in my vocabulary.

People think I argue just to argue or because I have to be right, but arguing is just a part of my quest to learn. Ideally, making all parties learn. Not changed, just aware, at least. Aware of all the ins and outs of the ‘road’. Of life. Becoming wiser myself. Even better; to further other people’s own critical awareness. That is perhaps my ultimate goal in life. The ultimate INTP goal…?

Still, it’s somewhat ironic that my awareness of the world surpasses my awareness of my own, practical life, but that’s how it is, I guess. To extent the metaphor: I’m not so interested in what my own ‘road’ looks like as long as I can keep an eye on my varying surroundings.

Despite regarding myself as an observant creature, sometimes I’m so painfully unaware of what’s happening in my immediate surroundings, particularly on a smaller scale. I have trouble even giving examples of this because I’m mostly made aware of these things through others. When this happens and I comment on them, most often I come across as arrogant to those who do not understand how the INTP brain works. Hell, even I find it irritating at times. And I feel ashamed for not paying attention to these details afterwards. Because it’s not like I don’t care. Ideally, I want to pay attention to everything that is important, especially the details of what’s happening in my friends’ lives. I want so badly to remember every little thing they mentioned happened the last time we talked! On the other hand, I cannot possibly bother about people fussing over, in my mind, petty things and practicalities simply for the sake of fussing.

Again, ironically, I feel my own little decisions in my own little life are somewhat petty compared to what the world is dealing with. I mean, they come secondly, for sure. Again, that’s just how my INTP brain works. Of course, I may be influenced by my current situation when I’m saying this; trying to excuse myself from my life, because I find it sort of stagnant and pathetic at the moment. But that doesn’t make the former any less true. In many ways, I think I’ve always felt that there were things more interesting than what goes on in my own life.

And yet, this blog sort of counterpoints this statement, doesn’t it? But as I’ve demonstrated to a painstaking point through this very blog, I’m introspective and reflective to a fault and thus I cannot help reflecting and commenting on my own reflections and comments on the world and my surroundings, thus inevitably bringing my own standpoint into view. It’s a navel-gazing quest, indeed. Or it ends in some big, dramatic, half-cynic, philosophical platitudes about life in general.

*sighs*

The INTP brain sure is one hell of a companion to live with.

*revised 17/5/18*

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