INTJ personal growth

Personal Growth for an INTJ

What does Success mean to an INTJ?

People with the INTJ personality type are serious, analytical and perfectionistic. They look at a problem or idea from multiple perspectives and systematically analyze it with objective logic, discarding things that turn out to be problematic, and evolving their own understanding of something when new information turns out to be useful. There is no other personality type who does this as naturally as the INTJ. They are natural scientists and mathematicians. Once given an idea, they are driven to understand it as thoroughly as possible. They usually have very high standards for their own understanding and accomplishments, and generally will only value and consider other individuals who have shown that they meet or surpass the INTJ's own understanding on a given issue. INTJs value clarity and conciseness, and have little esteem for behaviors and attitudes that are purely social. Social "niceties" often seem unnecessary and perhaps even ungenuine to the INTJ, who is always seeking to improve their substantive understanding. INTJ's highly value social interaction that is centered around the meaningful exchange of ideas, but they usually dismiss the importance of being friendly or likeable in other social contexts, and they are likely to be uncomfortable with interactions that are primarily emotional, rather than logical. INTJs value structure, order, knowledge, competence, and logic. Above all, they value their own ideas and intuitions about the world. An INTJ's feeling of success depends primarily upon their own level of understanding and accomplishment, but also depends upon the level of structure in their life, and their ability to respect the intelligence and competence of those who share their life.

Allowing your INTJ strengths to flourish

As an INTJ, you have gifts that are specific to your personality type that aren't natural strengths for other types. By recognizing your special gifts and encouraging their growth and development, you will more readily see your place in the world, and be more content with your role.

Nearly all INTJs will recognize the following characteristics in themselves. They should embrace and nourish these strengths:

The INTJ's mind is naturally geared towards systematically analyzing information from many contextual perspectives, and rejecting or retaining information as they become aware of its usefulness or validity. They probably do very well in school, and in any pursuit that requires serious analytical thinking. They're extremely insightful, and see things that are not obvious to others. This ability to see patterns and meanings in the world can help the INTJ in many different ways. When given a goal or context, an INTJ is able to generate all kinds of possibilities. They're able to see the problem from many different angles, and come up with a solution that fits the needs of the current situation. They don't take criticism personally, and are open to changing their opinions when they're shown a better idea or better way of doing something. An INTJ has a "stick to it" attitude. They're not afraid of hard work, and will put forth a great deal of effort towards something that they are interested in. This persistence will help the INTJ to achieve any identified goal. Usually intelligent and able to concentrate and focus, the INTJ can usually grasp difficult ideas and concepts.

INTJs who have a well-developed Extraverted Thinking function to complement their dominant Introverted iNtuition will enjoy these special gifts:

They can discriminate well amongst their intuitions and build ingenious systems to meet identified goals, or determine a successful plan of action to meet an identified need. In such a way, they may be brilliant scientists, doctors, mathematicians, or corporate strategists. Their deep understanding, logical abilities, and persistence may enable them to make discoveries or uncover new ways of looking at something. In such a way, they may perform a great service to society. For example, an INTJ is the likely personality type to discover the cure for cancer. The INTJ with well-developed judgment will be able to grasp and process concepts that are beyond what their natural intelligence appears to be able to handle. If they have achieved a good amount of life wisdom, an INTJ can become a powerful political force.

Potential problem areas

With any gift of strength, there is an associated weakness. Without "bad", there would be no "good". Without "difficult", there would be no "easy". We value our strengths, but we often curse and ignore our weaknesses. To grow as a person and get what we want out of life, we must not only capitalize upon our strengths, but also face our weaknesses and deal with them. That means taking a hard look at our personality type's potential problem areas.

INTJs are rare and intelligent people with many special gifts. This should be kept in mind as you read some of the more negative material about INTJ weaknesses. Remember that these weaknesses are natural. We offer this information to enact positive change, rather than as blatant criticism. We want you to grow into your full potential, and be the happiest and most successful person that you can become.

Most of the weaker characteristics that are found in INTJs are due to their dominant function (Introverted iNtuition) overtaking their personality to the point that the other forces in their personality exist merely to serve the purposes of Introverted iNtuition. In such cases, an INTJ may show some or all of the following weaknesses in varying degrees:

  • May be unaware (and sometimes uncaring) of how they come across to others
  • May quickly dismiss input from others without really considering it
  • May apply their judgment more often towards others, rather than towards themselves
  • With their ability to see an issue from many sides, they may always find others at fault for problems in their own lives
  • May look at external ideas and people with the primary purpose of finding fault
  • May take pride in their ability to be critical and find fault in people and things
  • May have unrealistic and/or unreasonable expectations of others
  • May be intolerant of weaknesses in others
  • May believe that they're always right
  • May be cuttingly derisive and sarcastic towards others
  • May have an intense and quick temper
  • May hold grudges, and have difficulty forgiving people
  • May be wishy-washy and unsure how to act in situations that require quick decision making
  • May have difficulty communicating their thoughts and feelings to others
  • May see so many tangents everywhere that they can't stay focused on the bottom line or the big picture

Explanation of problems

Most of the problems described above are a result of Introverted iNtuition overtaking the INTJ's personality to the point that all of the other functions become slaves to Introverted iNtuition. A healthy personality needs to have a good balance between its dominant and auxiliary functions. For an INTJ, the dominant Introverted iNtuition needs to be well-supported by the auxiliary Extraverted Thinking function. If Extraverted Thinking exists only to support the desires of Introverted iNtuition, then neither function is being used to its potential.

Introverted iNtuition is a personality function that constantly gathers information, and sees everything from many different perspectives. As the dominant player in a personality, it has the effect of constantly bombarding the psyche with new information to consider. Introverted iNtuition is sort of like a framework for understanding that exists in the mind. As something is perceived, it is melded into the existing intuitive framework. If an entirely new piece of information is perceived by the Introverted iNtuitive, that person must redefine their entire framework of reference. So, Introverted iNtuitives are constantly taking in information about the world that needs to be processed in a relatively lengthy manner in order to be understood. That presents quite a challenge to the INTJ. It's not unusual for an INTJ to feel overwhelmed with all of the things that he or she needs to consider in order to fully understand an idea or situation.

When Introverted iNtuition dominates the INTJ such that the other functions cannot serve their own purposes, we find the INTJ cutting off information that it needs to consider. If the psyche is presented with information that looks anything like something that Introverted iNtuition has processed in the past, it uses Extraverted Thinking to quickly reject that information. The psyche uses Extraverted Thinking to reject the ideas, rather than analyzing the information within its intuitive framework, and therefore reduces the likelihood that the framework will have to be reshaped and redefined.

Using Extraverted Thinking in this manner serves the INTJ's psyche in two ways: 1) it saves it the energy that would have to be expended to truly consider new information, and 2) it protects the INTJ's sacred inner world. In either case, it is not ideal. It causes the INTJ to not consider information that may be useful or criticial in developing a real understanding of an issue. It also probably causes the INTJ to come off as too strongly opinionated or snobbish to others.

The better use of Extraverted Thinking for an INTJ would be to use it to assess the INTJ's rich insights and weigh them against the external world. When the INTJ personality uses Extraverted Thinking to cut off incoming information, rather than to judge internal intuitions, it is effectively cheating itself. It's like getting the answers to a test without having to really understand the questions. It's easier to get the answer right away, rather than to have to figure everything out. For the INTJ, who has a tremendous amount of information and "studying" that needs to be done, it's very tempting to take shortcuts. Most INTJs will do this to some extent. The real problems occur when an INTJ personality has become so imbalanced that its owner is extremely self-important and rarely consider anyone else's opinions or ideas.


To grow as an individual, the INTJ needs to focus on applying their judgment to things only after they have gone through their intuition. In other words, the INTJ needs to consciously try not to use their judgment to dismiss ideas prematurely. Rather, they should use their judgment against their own ideas. One cannot effectively judge something that they don't understand. The INTJ needs to take things entirely into their intuition in order to understand them. It may be neccesary to give your intuition enough time to work through the new information so that it can rebuild its global framework of understanding. INTJs need to focus on using their judgment not to dismiss ideas, but rather to support their intuitive framework.

An INTJ who is concerned with personal growth will pay close attention to the subject of their judgments, and their motivation for making judgments. Are they judging something external to themself, or are they judging something that they have sifted through their intuition? Is the motivation for judging something to be able to understand its usefulness in the world, or to dismiss it? Too often, an INTJ will judge something without properly understanding it, and with the intention of dismissing it. Seek first to understand, then to judge.

Living happily in our world as an INTJ

Some INTJs have difficulty fitting into our society. Their problems are generally associated with not knowing (or caring) how they come across to others, with having unreasonable expectations for others' behaviors, and with not putting forth effort to meet others' emotional needs. These issues stem primarily from the common INTJ habit of using Extraverted Thinking to find fault externally, rather than internally, and therefore diminish the importance of the external world, and increase the importance of the INTJ's own internal world. INTJs who recognize that their knowledge and understanding (and therefore general happiness and feeling of success) can be enriched by the synergy of other people's knowledge and understanding will find that they can be committed to their rich internal worlds and still have satisfying relationships with others. In order to accomplish this, the INTJ needs to recognize the importance of extraversion, and develop their highest extraverted function, Extraverted Thinking.

An INTJ who uses Extraverted Thinking to find fault externally rather than internally may become so strongly opinionated that they form rigid and unreasonable expectations for others. Their hyper-vigilant judgments about the rationality and competence of others may be a very effective way of keeping themselves at an emotional distance from others. This will preserve the sanctity of the INTJ's inner world of ideas, but will reduce a lot of valuable input, arrest the development of their social character, and stagnate the development of the INTJ's rich structural framework of understanding. In extreme cases, the INTJ may find himself or herself quite along and lonely.

More commonly, an INTJ's interpersonal problems will occur when they express their displeasure to those close to them in very biting and hurtful terms. Everyone needs emotional distance at one time or another, and the INTJ wants more than most types. Perhaps this is why INTJs are famous for their biting sarcasm. An INTJ's internal world is extremely important to them. They may be protecting their internal world by using sarcasm to keep others at an emotional distance, or they may be sarcastic with others because they believe that they have the more evolved and logical understanding of the issue at hand, and seek to cut off the spurious input that they're receiving. This is an important distinction to recognize. An INTJ who is seeking an emotional respite can find ways to be alone that don't require injuring feelings and damaging relationships. When distance is required, the INTJ should just "leave". If an explanation is necessary, an INTJ should use their Extraverted Thinking to explain their need rationally and objectively, rather than using Extraverted Thinking to insult the other person, and therefore prod them into leaving.

Specific suggestions:

Ten rules to live by to achieve INTJ success

  1. Feed your strengths! Do things that allow your brilliant intuition and logical abilities to flourish. Explore the fascinating worlds of science, mathematics, law and medicine. Give your mind an outlet for its exceptional analytical abilities, and watch them grow.
  2. Face your weaknesses! See your weaknesses for what they are, and seek to overcome them. Especially, strive to use your judgment against your internal ideas and intuitions, rather than as a means of disregarding other people's ideas.
  3. Talk through your thoughts. You need to step through your intuitions in order to put them into perspective. Give yourself time to do this, and take advantage of discussing ideas with others. You'll find externalizing your internal intuitions to be a valuable exercise. If you don't have someone to discuss your ideas with, try expressing your ideas clearly in writing.
  4. Take in everything. Don't dismiss ideas prematurely because you don't respect the person generating the ideas, or because you think you already know it all. After all, everybody has something to offer, and nobody knows everything. Steven Covey says it so well when he says: "Seek first to understand, and then to be understood."
  5. When you get angry, you lose. Your passion and intensity are strong assets, but can be very harmful if you allow yourself to fall into the "Anger Trap". Remember that Anger is destructive to your personal relationships. Work through your anger before you impress it upon others, or you will likely find yourself alone. Disagreements and disappointments can only be handled effectively in a non-personal and dispassionate manner.
  6. Respect your need for intellectual compatibility. Don't expect yourself to be a "touchy-feely" or "warm-fuzzy" person. Realize that your most ardent bonds with others will start with the head, rather than the heart. Be aware of other's emotional needs, and express your genuine love and respect for them in terms that are real to YOU. Be yourself.
  7. Be accountable for yourself. Don't blame the problems in your life on other people. Look inwardly for solutions. No one has more control over your life than you have.
  8. Be humble. Judge yourself at least as harshly as as you judge others.
  9. Assume the best. Don't distress yourself and others by dwelling on the dark side of everything. Just as there is a positive charge for every negative charge, there is a light side to every dark side. Remember that positive situations are created by positive attitudes. Expect the best, and the best will come forward.
  10. Don't get isolated! Recognize the value that the external world represents to your sanity and well-being, and interact with it in the style that's natural to you. Join clubs and internet e-mail lists that house in-depth discussions of topics that you're interested in. Seek and foster friendships with others of like competence and capacity for understanding. Extravert in your own style.

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