“Conscience causes our contradictions”
Ni (we see all the problems) + Fe (we relate to all the people) + conscience (we want to do right by ourselves AND everyone else) = root cause of our constant internal conflict and contradictory nature?
I had that random thought pop into my head a week or so ago and got me thinking about where the conflicting nature of INFJs stems from. I’ll get back to the conscience aspect later but first I wanted to explore how our primary and secondary cognitive functions might contribute to our inner conflict and turmoil.
Primary function – Introverted Intuition (Ni).
Ni gives us uncanny insights, it’s the source of our intuition/gut instinct and what enables us to join dots and visualise patterns. But on the flip side, it brings with it overthinking. The fact that we can visualise so many scenarios and outcomes to a given situation means that when we encounter a possible negative situation we naturally gravitate to this phenomenon. Overthinking is the terror that causes us to make mental mountains out of imaginary molehills. We see problems both real and imaginary – and as visionaries, being future oriented – the imaginary ones become more and more real for us. Because of all the possibilities and the fact that they aren’t anchored or realised in ‘objective reality’ we cannot get any closure. Our judging trait is left wondering and our minds continually wandering. Until that is, something outside ourselves, closes the loop – by one of the possibilities being realised. This is when all other probabilities vanish and we have closure and more often relief – as the result is rarely as bad as we expected it to be.
Mmm, in writing that previous section, it reminded me a little of quantum physics – The theory that every possibility exists in potential (in our minds) and only when one of them is observed that the wave function is collapsed and we see it in reality (we get an answer/result). And all the other possibilities (overthinking) then vanish. Perhaps there IS such a thing as the quantum mind?
If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration. ~ Nikola Tesla —
Conclusion: The many thoughts that we can visualise but not actualise give rise to overthinking and internal conflict – especially when we encounter negative emotions/situations. This is rarely something we can resolve internally (at least not quickly) and is often at at the mercy of outside forces.
Secondary function – Extraverted Feeling (Fe).
Fe means we desire harmony, and avoid conflict wherever possible. We want to help the ‘group’ and support others. The very fact that we desire harmony and wish to avoid conflict, already contradicts our Ni tendencies (which in itself is a world of conflicts, chaos and puzzles that we are forever trying to piece together). However, given that we want to help others and humanity, there resides another conflict – we are also introverts – we desire alone time, solitude, away from the maddening crowd. We end up in no-mans land doing the shimmy, traversing back and forth between both solitude and people. Perhaps this is why we can be very social one minute and then virtual hermits the next. And vice versa. And this is why we are confusing to others (although some say it’s enigmatic, intriguing and part of the INFJ mystique, I say we just haven’t got a clue where we want to be at any given minute and it can change on a whim).
Conclusion: Our need for solitude and our need to help others is a constant conflicting battle. We cannot appease both at the same time so have to alternate between one and the other, and we never know when that may be.
We’re also renowned perfectionists. Although we know perfection is unobtainable and also sometimes unsatisfactory (we like authenticity and perfection is devoid of that), we are still hard on ourselves, we want to be the best we can be, and that means dedicating time to oneself in pursuing our ideals, goals and ambitions. This means saying no to others and not supporting others as often as we’d like.
Result: Guilt and inner conflict.
Conflict of Conscience
Back to the original thought of conscience being a root cause of our inherent conflict. This aspect may be more an empathetic trait than an INFJ one but the two do seem to go hand in hand frequently. Conscience also relates directly to Fe, and our desire to help others. We don’t like saying no, so our conscience supports our Fe and therefore we often give in. But in the back of our minds knowing we have sacrificed our own needs in doing so.
Result: Frustration and inner conflict.
This conflict of conscience also plays a part when others become aware of our nature and subsequently takes advantage of it. They know we don’t like conflict, they know we like to help… and that we have a hard time saying no. So they use that to coerce us to get what they want. The hardest battle is if they happen to be sociopaths/psychopaths and therefore have zero conscience. In that scenario they invariably come out on top. We simply can’t win with someone who has zero conscience.
Also thinking back to the overthinking phenomenon – in such a case empathy, conscience and Extraverted Feeling (Fe) may also prohibit us from forcing a resolution – because we don’t want to appear over eager or we don’t want to put the other party in an awkward position. We empathise for them over our own needs.
I’m also wondering whether degrees of conscience have any correlation to personality type? What if an INFJ had a reduced conscience? They wouldn’t experience the same level of inner turmoil… but would they still be INFJ, or an INFJ with a personality disorder (narcissism/sociopath)? Perhaps the degree of difference in conscience/morality in INFJs is what results in extremes of the type (Ghandi vs Hitler).
Mmm, more questions than answers. Back to utilising my Ni then…
I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned. ~ Richard Feynman