INTP personal growth

Personal Growth for an INTP

What does Success mean to an INTP?

People with the INTP personality type are global thinkers. They see everything as one giant Entity that is connected, and seek knowledge about that Entity. They constantly seek the Truth, and have ultimate respect for the Truth. It is not easy for the INTP to reach a conclusion about the Truth. Their auxiliary function of Extraverted Intuition allows them to absorb the many complexities in our world, and they are driven to consider each of these complexities before reaching a conclusion. Once they have reached a conclusion, or discovered a Truth, they are *very* particular about the way that Truth is expressed and understood. They want to know that the principles of their understanding have been understood correctly, and demand absolute precision and correctness from others when describing these principles. They also apply these standards to themselves when communicating their knowledge. If they take the time to develop their communication so that it meets their own approval, they can be extremely good educational writers.

In addition to their immense respect for metaphysical principles, facts, and Truths, the INTP highly respects logic and the way that the mind works logically when seeking to master some subject or situation. They get great pleasure from engaging in logical acts that require quick, spatial reasoning, such as mind games, or time-based IQ tests. The INTP shines in this realm. Introverted Thinking is an "action-based" kind of logic. In the case of the INTP (as opposed to ISTP), the action may or may not occur in a physical place outside of the INTP's mind, but it is experienced with lightning speed in the current moment, based on current objects, using subjectively understood "actions" of reason.

The INTP is happiest in situations in which they can use logic regularly in an effort to uncover Truths about the Entity. Their ability to be effective in these efforts, as well as their ability to deal with people and feel comfortable with their place in the world, will be in large part dependent on the development of Extraverted Intuition. Although they have more simple needs from interpersonal relationships than most other types have, it's very important that they keep up their extraverted relationships, rather than going it alone. INTPs who isolate themselves rarely feel happy or successful. The INTP's feeling of success depends upon their opportunities to exercise their active mind, their opportunities to seek and find Truth, and the condition of their relationships and extraverted life.

Allowing your INTP strengths to flourish

As an INTP, 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 INTPs will recognize the following characteristics in themselves. They should embrace and nourish these strengths:

They have a natural ability to focus and get "into the zone" when working on a problem. They can absorb their minds completely with an issue, and work it through with amazing speed and accuracy. This ability makes them outstanding trouble-shooters. Since their logical abilities are dependent on their experiences, their abilities will increase with time. INTPs with experience are often seen as the "gurus" of their professions. Their respect for precision in communication lends them the ability to accurately convey their ideas and discoveries in full. They are usually quite intelligent and can grasp difficult concepts. They are often jovial and good-natured, with a good sense of humor. They are not overly demanding in personal relationships, and have simple daily needs. They are often easy and enjoyable to live with.

INTPs who have developed their Extraverted Intuition to the extent that they regularly take in information in an objective fashion, rather than strictly to feed Introverted Thinking, will enjoy these special gifts:

They may be exceptionally intelligent, and make ground-breaking discoveries. With a well-developed understanding of their environment and the ability to act very quickly, they may good athletes. They're typically able to communicate their ideas more concisely than the average INTP without sacrificing accuracy. They understand the benefits of close relationships, and understand how to support and enhance these relationships. They see the value of principles that are not strictly logical They have attractive and compelling personalities, and are well-liked and accepted by most people.

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.

Most of the weaker characteristics that are found in INTPs are due to their dominant function of Introverted Thinking overtaking the personality to the point that all of the other functions exist merely to serve the purposes of Introverted Thinking. In such cases, an INTP may show some or all of the following weaknesses in varying degrees:

  • The INTP gets "stuck in a rut" and only does those things that are known and comfortable to the INTP.
  • The INTP resists and rejects anything that doesn't support their own experiential understanding of the world. If they perceive that something is not logical, they reject it as unimportant.
  • They reject people who think or live differently than themselves.
  • They may be extremely caustic and insulting to others.
  • They may become isolated from society.
  • They may become overly paranoid about social organizations and institutions trying to control them.
  • They may unknowingly or uncaringly hurt people's feelings.
  • They may be completely unaware of how to express their inner world to others in a meaningful way.
  • They may be completely unaware of the type of communication that is often desireable and (to some degree) expected in an intimate relationship. If they are aware of the kinds of things that are appropriate to say and do to foster emotional bonding, they may be unable to appreciate the value of such actions. They may feel too vulnerable to express themselves in this fashion, and so reject the entire idea.
  • If pushed beyond their comfort level to form commitments or emotional bonds, they may reject a relationship entirely.
  • Under stress, they may show intense emotions that seem disproportionate to the situation.
  • They may not recognize basic social principles, such as appropriate dress and general behavior.

Explanation of problems

Nearly all of the problematic characteristics described above can be attributed in various degrees to the common INTP problem of only taking in information that relates to or supports their own life experience. The INTP is driven to work with and understand his or her world by applying logic (an immediate, spatial, "fuzzy" logic) to the current situation. Although they generally seek to uncover truths, they don't always have a goal in mind to achieve from the logical process. The act or process of using logic is rewarding to the INTP. In their zeal for the satisfaction that comes from mastering a problem or situation, INTPs often selectively choose to put themselves in situations in which they have the opportunity to exercise these skills. That's certainly not a problem. Most personality types choose to do the things that they're best at most often. Such is the nature of capitalizing upon our strengths. The problem rears its ugly head when the goal of the INTP becomes to achieve their personal satisfaction at all costs.

It is healthy to choose your paths and goals in life so that they coincide with what you find rewarding, and what you're really good at. However, it sometimes happens that we take this approach a bit too far and sacrifice an accurate and objective understanding of the world for a more narrow vision that is easier and comfortable for us to deal with. The INTP affects this problem when they stop taking in information in a truly objective sense, and instead only take in information that can be worked through logically.

The dominant function of the INTP is Introverted Thinking. This function is supported closely and importantly by the auxiliary function of Extraverted Intuition. Extraverted Intuition perceives the world and sends information into the psyche, where it is processed by Introverted Thinking. An INTP who uses their Extraverted Intuition function in a diminished way is one who perceives information for the sole purpose of feeding Introverted Thinking, rather than taking everything in objectively. They are less concerned with understanding something for the sake of understanding than they are with feeding a piece of data into their Thinking function. Information that is not logical is dismissed as unimportant. They may reject information that is not consistent with their logical view of themselves, or with their understanding of a situation. Well-developed Extraverted Intuition perceives situations with depth and global understanding. It recognizes possibilities. Introverted Thinking makes conclusions. If an INTP's psyche is serving the purposes of Introverted Thinking above all else, then logical conclusions become more important than possibilities. In such cases, the INTP picks and chooses information from Extraverted Intuition that is interesting to them from the perspective of reaching logical conclusions. This keeps the INTP focused on reaching logical conclusions, but it prevents them from taking in any information that doesn't work well with their logical functioning. This includes things like love, emotions, social expectations, etc. These things are very important to many people in the world, and cannot be discarded from consideration if one hopes to really understand other people and the society that we live in. When the INTP dismisses the importance of data that can't be handled by their Thinking function, they are dismissing the importance of ideas that are central to half of the personality types' way of life (approximately half of the human population uses Feeling primarily for decision making). An INTP who wants to understand people and wants to recognize value in both logical and nonlogical ideas will strive to take in as much information as possible about the world for the purposes of improving their understanding,

The INTP who suffers from diminished use of Extraverted Intuition is likely to be very cutting and derisive towards people who express disagreement with the INTP. Without a sufficiently diverse perception of the Extraverted world, the INTP is unlikely to understand the principles of human interaction, and is unlikely to recognize the tremendous value of getting along with others and having good relationships.

For example, an INTP that I know (Bob) and his wife recently adopted a 7 year old girl (Kelly). The family lives in a foreign country and make it back to the U.S. for Christmas most years. Last year, Bob's relatives from the U.S. spoiled Kelly with lots of Christmas gifts to let her know that she was welcome and valued in their family. When Bob and his family left the country after Christmas, they did not bring any of Kelly's Christmas gifts with them. Bob's relatives were all extremely hurt and upset by this fact. When they confronted Bob about this, he claimed that they were wrong. He said that he had done the packing himself and was sure that nothing had been left behind. Bob's family has a large stack of clothes and toys that were meant for Kelly, but Bob insists to this day that they are wrong. He is not seeing the situation objectively with Extraverted Intuition. Rather, he dismisses the evidence because it doesn't support his own vision of himself or of that particular situation.

The INTP's inferior (fourth) function is Extraverted Feeling. This means that the INTP is not naturally in tune with how other people are feeling, or with social expectations. In fact, the INTP is likely to reject the importance of social rituals, rules, and expectations. This is a natural weak point for the INTP, which no doubt causes strife to the INTP and their love partner. This weakness can be overcome by developing their Extraverted Intuition to the point that they can perceive Feeling type expectations in the external world. They don't have to use Extraverted Feeling to understand how to act in situations. They can perceive the expected behavior from their Extraverted Intuition function. However, if they are restricting their incoming data to only those things that support their existing way of life, then they are not learning from Extraverted Intuition at all. They are not growing their understanding of social and intimate behaviors - rather, they are reducing the importance of this type of understanding to their own life. In these situations, INTPs shy away from very close personal relationships, and feel more vulnerable and less sure of themselves in situations that involve expressing their emotions. In extreme cases, they reject social interaction entirely. They tend to dislike everyone, and interact with the world with the primary purpose of getting rid of the offending person. Most INTPs will have bad days during which they don't much feel like dealing with people. The problem occurs when every day becomes a bad day.


To grow as an individual, the INTP needs to focus on taking in as much information as possible through Extraverted Intuition. He or she needs to allow themself to get into situations that they aren't necessarily comfortable with, or that are different from the situations that they would normally choose in life. The INTP learns from experience, so the best way for the INTP to grow as a person is to open him or herself to new experiences. Be aware of the tendency to want to run out and do something "new" that is actually just a different opportunity to exercise a known skill. Your task, as a person interested in personal growth, is to understand the world in a truly objective fashion, and how you fit into the world, rather than how the world fits into your life.

The INTP should also pay close attention to their motivations when perceiving new information. Are they perceiving with an open mind or with an agenda? Are they seeking to truly understand something, or are they more concerned with turning the information into a logical conclusion? Seek first to understand, then to judge.

Living Happily in our World as an INTP

The problems that INTPs have with regards to fitting into our world are not usually related to platonic friendships. Usually, the INTP has trouble finding and maintaining a love relationship. The INTP usually has relatively simple needs and expectations from their mates, and they're surprised and confused to find that their mates have more complex demands. They don't understand their mate's needs, and may feel inadequate to meeting them. They get very uncomfortable with a situation as they perceive that they are expected to do something that it unknown to them. They back away from the relationship. They generally mask their fear and discomfort by reducing the importance of the relationship to themselves and others, or by putting the failure off onto the ridiculous expectations of their ex-mate. Outside of a relationship, they feel more unloved and unappreciated, but are afraid to commit to a relationship because they fear rejection and hurt.

Most INTPs experience relationship difficulties at some point in their lives. The INTP with a well-developed Extraverted Intuition will find relationships more satisfying and easier to deal with. Accordingly, we offer some general suggestions for dealing with relationships, as well as some advice that will help the INTP develop their Extraverted Intuition.

Specific suggestions:

Ten rules to live by to achieve INTP success

  1. Feed your strengths! Realize your gift at mastering logical problems and situations, and give yourself plenty of opportunities to exercise your abilities. Much of your sense of well-being will come from these experiences.
  2. Face your weaknesses! We all have weaknesses. Recognizing your weaknesses for what they are (without beating yourself up) will give you the power to change your life for the better.
  3. Talk about your thoughts. Discussing your ideas and perceptions with others will help you to develop your Extraverted INtuition, and thus your understanding of the world. How well you use your auxiliary function is very important to your overall health and happiness.
  4. Listen to everything. Try not to dismiss anything immediately. Let it soak in, and then apply judgement. Try not to dismiss things that are alogical - they are not illogical.
  5. Be aware of others. Understand that everyone has their own lives and their own perspectives. Everyone has something to offer. Try to identify people's personality type.
  6. Recognize social principles. Realize that our society functions around some basic social principles, and that our society would fail unless those principles are recognized and upheld. In a democracy, people vote. At a red stoplight, people stop. If people stopped voting because it wasn't important them, who would be in power? If people stopped stopping at red stop lights because it didn't fit into their plans, how could we drive safely? Your priorities and plans are important, but you must recognize that the external world's agenda is also important. Don't dismiss the importance of principles that don't affect your life directly.
  7. Get out of your comfort zone once in a while. Understand that the only way to grow is to get outside of your comfort zone. If you're uncomfortable with an idea or situation because you're not sure how to act, that's good! That's an opportunity for growth.
  8. Identify and express your feelings. You may have a hard time understanding how you feel about someone. It's important that you do figure this out. Don't lead someone on with your ambivalence. If you determine that you value the person, tell them so every time you think of it. This is the best way to make them feel secure in your affections, and so to promote a long-lasting relationship.
  9. Be accountable for yourself. Remember that no one has more control over your life than you have. Don't be a victim.
  10. Assume the best. Don't distress yourself with fear and dark expectations. Remember that a positive attitude often creates positive situations.

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