Below is an excerpt from Naomi Quenk's book "Was That Really Me?" which deals with how we act when we are in the grip of our inferior function. This isn't the whole book, and not even the entire chapter. The book itself goes into much more detail and gives more examples that I've edited out for the sake of brevity. But this should give a good indication of whether or not you can identify with Inferior Te or not.
ISJs are one of the most misunderstood type families on online forums because they are often typed as uber-traditional bureaucratic nerds or the never-appreciated loyal sidekick who never wants to try anything new. In reality the ISJ is one of the most dynamic and interesting of the type groups, and among the most diverse. The actor Tom Hanks frequently portrays ISJ-like characters in his films.
It is also common for people to struggle with recognizing if they are ISFJ or ESFJ and ISTJ and ESTJ. Recognizing the inferior function, Extraverted Intuition (Ne), is often the unmistakeable missing piece to accurately determining and understanding the type distinctions.
Excerpts of this book have been posted on this site before, and also over at Typology Central and of course the full book is available if you want to learn all the different types. I encourage you to read the entire book.
Introverted Sensing Types
I S T J a n d I S F J
BASIC TYPE DYNAMICS
Dominant Introverted Sensing
Auxiliary Extraverted Thinking or Feeling
Tertiary Feeling or Thinking
Inferior Extraverted Intuition
by Naomi L. Quenk
Important Features of Dominant Introverted Sensing
Introverted Sensing types are careful and orderly in their attention to facts and details.They are thorough and conscientious in fulfilling their responsibilities. They may sometimes even do the work of others rather than leave important tasks undone.They are typically seen as well grounded in reality, trustworthy, and dedicated to preserving traditional values and time-honored institutions.With their focus on the reality of the present, they trust the evidence of their senses, relying on carefully accumulated past and present evidence to support their conclusions and planned courses of action.They derive great pleasure from perfecting existing techniques with the goal of maximizing efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Introverted Sensing types tend to have a skeptical, critical attitude toward information that has not been verified by the senses and are likely to distrust people who are careless about facts, sloppy about details, and apt to favor imagination and novelty over accuracy and solid substantiation.
Both ISTJs and ISFJs are uncomfortable moving beyond sensory experience until they have thoroughly absorbed and understood it.They want to review and assimilate the facts and events of a movie or book before discussing its meaning with others.
In a crisis that does not constellate their inferior function, Introverted Sensing types typically appear calm and unruffled, efficient and pragmatic. Others may marvel at their serene demeanor, but the Introverted Sensing types themselves may report that they are actually feeling quite anxious and distressed and their visible behavior does not accurately reflect their inner state.
Introverted Sensing Types at Work
An ideal, energizing work environment for Introverted Sensing types is one in which they can achieve goals and reach closure on tasks in an efficient, timely manner in quiet, organized surroundings.They prefer minimal conflict and competition among co-workers and want to be recognized for their knowledge and contributions to the organization—a desire that may remain unfulfilled because they often work in the background of organizations.
ISTJs and ISFJs value and support organizational change that is based on solid information and careful reasoning, but they see little sense in change for its own sake, or for brainstorming with no attention to realistic limitations.They want what they do at work to make a difference. One ISTJ said that what energized her was “accomplishing tasks and improving processes in some way.”An ISFJ teacher described as energizing “relating to the children on a personal level—figuring out what approach to learning works best for them; having a child feel successful because I utilized a strategy.”An ISTJ woman described an energizing environment as having “a combination of people interactions and reading and writing; a serene office and busy hallways; good light and lots of filing space.”
Important Features of Dominant Extraverted Intuition
The qualities associated with Extraverted Intuition that are relevant to our
discussion of its form as an inferior function are
• Comfortable inattention to sense data
• Flexibility, adaptability, risk taking
• Optimism about future possibilities
The Everyday Extraverted Intuition
of Introverted Sensing Types
The inferior function affects Introverted Sensing types in several different ways. These include everyday sensitivities, projections, and ways of relaxing, as well as the dramatic manifestations that can be seen when the inferior function erupts and a full-blown episode occurs, or when an ISTJ or ISFJ is chronically in the grip because of long-term stress.
Typical Sensitivities and Projections
Inferior Extraverted Intuition seems to color the everyday personality of Introverted Sensing types.They see themselves and are seen by others as worriers.They are ready to notice and comment on negative possibilities even in everyday, nonstressful situations.A new plan, a previously unexperienced event—anything new—is likely to elicit a list of all the many negative possibilities or all the many things that might go wrong. Anything that is not grounded in past or present experience is suspect. In a work situation, Introverted Sensing types’ focus on the negative may prove frustrating to their Intuitive colleagues, who may see them as impossibly rigid and stodgy.They may, however, merely need time to reflect and recognize the connections between anticipated new experiences and the known past. Once that connection is made, the ISTJ or ISFJ can be comfortable pursuing actions that initially may have seemed potentially dangerous. Colleagues who can be helpful in providing such connections will likely find the effort quite successful.
As parents, Introverted Sensing types may appear unreasonably overprotective, especially in situations in which the child wants to do something new, test his or her independence, or take any degree of risk.The untried and untested may automatically raise the specter of disaster, despite the parents’ awareness that they may be overreacting to a reasonable request.
A 10-year-old boy asked his ISFJ mother if he could spend the night at his friend’s house. “Where will you sleep?” his mother asked. “He has bunk beds,” the child replied.“You can’t go, then.You’ll convince him to let you sleep in the top bunk, and you’re not used to sleeping on the top. You’ll fall off and break your leg. No!”
Although this is often the initial parental response to minor risk taking, children of Introverted Sensing parents report that when their parents receive additional factual information and reassurance about precautions, they often amend their original decisions.
In projecting their inferior Extraverted Intuition onto others, ISTJs and ISFJs are likely to see Intuitive types as totally ungrounded, unrealistic, and irresponsible in their focus on possibilities and theories. Introverted Sensing types’ own inexperienced Intuition is thus attributed to those in whom Intuition is developed and practiced. Their unease with the unknown may also manifest in suspiciousness about others’ motives and fears that the environment will somehow betray them. They may thus see Extraverted Intuitive types’ natural comfort with the outer world as foolish risk-taking, judging them to be irresponsible, immature show-offs.
ISTJs and ISFJs may engage in self-pity, blaming the outer environment and other people for whatever difficulties they are experiencing. This is in marked contrast to their typical willingness to accept responsibility and solve problems calmly and methodically.
Expressions Through Interests and Hobbies
Poetry, music, and art may provide a way for Introverted Sensing types to engage their “other side.”Their choice of artists and styles within the arts may tend toward the expressive and dramatic, and they often prefer romantic musicians and artists.The favorite opera of one rather austere and conventional ISTJ is La Boheme.
Some Introverted Sensing types are attracted to astrology and the more occult spiritual movements.The evidence presented for such systems often involves detailed eyewitness testimony collected over long periods.
Perhaps this Sensing method lends the data legitimacy, thus providing a comfortable, acceptable way to develop familiarity with the vagaries of Intuition. In some ISTJs and ISFJs, interest in such areas can become excessive and obsessive and may be an attempt to control unruly, disorganized, and frightening eruptions of Intuition.However, as long as it does not take too much energy away from the person’s dominant Introverted Sensing, even such interest may prove adaptive.
Introverted Sensing types may enjoy relaxing their use of Sensing by reading fantasy fiction, watching science fiction movies, or entertaining themselves with idle speculation and daydreams. One ISTJ described his hobbies as astronomy, painting, and gardening. He identified his fascination with Hubble telescope photos as engaging his Intuition is a very satisfying way: “It opens a whole new dynamic, evolving universe.” He wondered what would come of this. Another ISTJ very much enjoys reading adventure stories with animal characters, such as The Wind in the Willows.
Eruptions of Inferior Extraverted Intuition
Typical Provocations or Triggers
Issues of reality are likely to push the inferior “button” of Introverted Sensing types. Dealing with people whose approach denies facts and actualities (often identified as Extraverted Intuitive types) serves as a trigger for eruptions of harsh, negative, extreme reactions to whatever is being proposed. With the usual preconditions in operation, even slight deviations from present reality or minor suggestions for future change will provoke
Introverted Sensing types to intractable anger and stubborn immovability. One ISFJ said,“If I’m watching the devastating effects of an ongoing crisis and someone says to me,‘Don’t worry, everything is going to be fine,’ I come unglued. I steamroll over the person and mow them down!”
An ISTJ reported that her usual calm demeanor is replaced by cold fury and biting sarcasm when someone tries to contradict the evidence of her senses:“I’m seeing and smelling the ash from this guy’s cigar and smelling the smoke on his breath and he’s telling me he doesn’t smoke cigars!”
The prospect of unknown, previously unexperienced activities and situations is a common trigger for Introverted Sensing types.The anxiety associated with the unfamiliar and unimaginable future acts directly on their most unconscious arena. Making careful contingency plans and giving attention to details normally tempers such an unconscious reaction.
But when the new possibility comes up suddenly, an inferior function response is likely. An ISTJ described this provocation:
When I have to do something that is a completely new experience—for example, fly to a city I’ve never been to, move to a different city, attend a workshop on a topic I know nothing about. Any situation in which I don’t have a clear picture of what I can expect and what is expected of me.The before and waiting period is always worse. Once I’m doing it, I’m fine.
“Overdoing” their own type may also provoke an inferior “grip” response in ISTJs and ISFJs.When this takes the form of doing other people’s assigned duties, working long and hard, and feeling unappreciated or taken for granted, the stage is set for an extreme, spontaneous eruption of inferior Extraverted Intuition. “I get to feeling used and abused,” said an ISFJ. “Then I explode and say awful things that I’m embarrassed about later.”
Triggers and Stressors at Work
Stressful work environments for Introverted Sensing types are those that are chaotic, noisy, and disorganized; where the rules and procedures frequently change, their work is often interrupted, they are criticized for “lacking vision” or “resisting change,” and they are not recognized for their substantial and consistent work for the organization. ISTJs and ISFJs are quite uncomfortable with unsubstantiated, sweeping statements that lead to decisions at work. ISTJs tend to be more distressed when a system is involved and ISFJs when people will be affected. However, both types find it stressful to do tasks that require Intuition, especially when they have insufficient time to think things through.The teacher quoted earlier in this chapter described as stressful “writing narrative reports, constant interruptions, figuring out what to do with unplanned time.”
Introverted Sensing types find an overwhelming workload to be the most important stressor in their work environment. Having too much to do inevitably affects their ability to live up to their own high standards of performance. One ISTJ said that his strong work ethic forced him to complete his work, but, as a result, he had no time for other things. For other Introverted Sensing types, not having sufficient information to do a good job is equally stressful. One ISFJ teacher cited the following as work stressors: “working with students when I’m not clear on who they are and the new material I’m supposed to teach them.”
A source of stress mentioned frequently by ISTJ women is dealing with incompetence at work. Having too much to do appears to be secondary to this stressor for them. One ISTJ woman provided the following very detailed description of work stress, which incorporates many of the issues mentioned by other Introverted Sensing types:
Having to deal with meeting or workshop details while also having to lead a discussion that is hypothesis-like or strategic in nature.
Having to check sloppy work of others or deal with another department that maintains low standards.
I have to watch myself because I tend to “fix” others’ incompetencies.
Too much interacting with people can also be stressful for ISTJs and ISFJs, especially if a great deal of talking occurs.They are likely to view too much talking and too many meetings as wasting time they could be devoting to accomplishing things. The same impatience relates to being interrupted when they are concentrating on tasks, and to lack of followthrough by co-workers. In fact, anything that prevents or slows achieving closure in their areas of responsibility creates stress for Introverted Sensing types.
In a work situation in which the particular stressors for Introverted Sensing types continue over long periods, ISTJs and ISFJs may respond quickly and intensely to the triggers described here. This increases the likelihood that their subsequent demonstrations of “grip” behavior will be frequent and pervasive.When persistent stress causes them to be chronically in the grip of inferior Extraverted Intuition, they are likely to lose touch with their natural talent for assessing reality and their practical grasp of problems.They may become habitual “naysayers,” spreading doom and gloom throughout the workplace.
The Form of the Inferior Function
Younger Introverted Sensing types, like other Introverted types, report becoming more sociable, outgoing, or outspoken as part of their grip experience.This is especially true for young men, and to a lesser extent for young women. “I’m more outspoken and friendly,” said a 21-year-old male ISTJ about his grip experiences. “I’m also more into people’s needs and how they feel. I guess I’m more of a ‘people person.’”An ISTJ young woman said,“I’m more sensitive and understanding, more outspoken and outgoing.” Introverted Sensing types often report that their increased sociability occurs in social situations in which they feel comfortable. An ISTJ is his mid-thirties said he becomes “outgoing, daring, dancing the gorilla dance, whereas I’m usually reserved and calculated.”This is stimulated by festive, comfortable occasions with family and friends. Some young Introverted Sensing types, however, report going too far, becoming loud and obnoxious in social situations.
ISTJs and ISFJs of all ages also report a high frequency of becoming more withdrawn, angry, irritable, and pessimistic when in the grip. However, there are some notable differences by auxiliary function and gender.
ISTJ and ISFJ men tend to report becoming angry, while women report withdrawing from others. ISTJ women report becoming both pessimistic and scattered, while ISFJ women mention becoming more irritable, emotional, and worried.
Introverted Sensing types’ characteristic task orientation and calm attention to responsibilities begin to disappear as they move further into the grip. “I feel like I’m in a fog of sand and can’t absorb details around me,” said an ISTJ. As their hold on their dominant and auxiliary further diminishes, command over dominant Introverted Sensing is lost. If this state persists, the qualities of inferior Extraverted Intuition manifest in a loss of control over facts and details, impulsiveness, and catastrophizing. For ISTJs, tertiary Feeling combines with inferior Intuition so that the negative possibilities are focused on important relationships with loved ones. The tertiary Thinking of ISFJs contributes the “logic” used to support negative possibilities regarding career, money, natural disasters, and so on.
Two qualities of the negative, inferior forms of Extraverted Intuition (loss of control over facts and details, and catastrophizing) are reflected in Jung’s (1976a) description of the inferior function of ISTJs and ISFJs:
Whereas true extraverted intuition is possessed of singular resourcefulness, a “good nose” for objectively real possibilities, this archaisized intuition has an amazing flair for all the ambiguous, shadowy, sordid, dangerous possibilities lurking in the background.
Loss of Control over Facts and Details
Effective dominant Extraverted Intuitive types are comfortable glossing over facts and details as they focus on the complexities of an engaging new idea. Their strength lies in emphasizing generalities; the particulars can be dealt with later. In the grip of inferior Extraverted Intuition, however, Introverted Sensing types’ relationship to details becomes problematic. As they begin to lose trust in dominant Sensing and auxiliary Thinking or Feeling, ISTJs and ISFJs have difficulty attending to relevant factual information and arriving at rational conclusions.
On the last afternoon of a difficult training session, an ISTJ imagined that a small group exercise in which trainees practiced their presentation skills was preparation for each class member to give a presentation to the entire class. He became anxious and agitated as the time to return to the workshop room approached. He later admitted that he did not feel adequately prepared to present the material publicly and feared he would be humiliated.What he failed to recognize was that no such activity was listed on the schedule (Sensing data) and that with only sixty minutes left in the workshop, thirty-five people could not possibly make presentations (Thinking judgment). His general anxiety and fatigue at the end of a stressful day contributed to his abandonment of his Sensing and Thinking functions.
Flexibility and adaptability are assets to effective dominant Extraverted Intuitive types. These qualities permit them to manage the multiple activities and interests characteristic of their operating style.
As expressions of inferior Extraverted Intuition, however, these same qualities take on an aspect of thoughtlessness and impulsiveness, not unlike the qualities ISTJs and ISFJs project onto dominant Extraverted Intuitive types. When they experience a gradual slide into their inferior function, Introverted Sensing types may become uncharacteristically spontaneous, sometimes to the point of later judging themselves irresponsible and reckless.
One ISFJ reported giving in to the urge to leave work in the middle of the day and go to the movies. An ISTJ made a spur-of-the-moment decision to buy a new computer before thoroughly researching the options. He returned the computer later, assessing the purchase as rash and foolish.
Introverted Sensing types may experience increasing lack of focus, confusion, anxiety, and even panic, even though their demeanor remains calm and seemingly unperturbed.Their uncharacteristic spontaneity, however, may come out in snappishness and terse, hurtful comments to others, or in out-of-character behavior. After being divorced by his wife of twenty years, an ISTJ dated forty different women in six months. It was as if his inexperienced Intuition went haywire and his tertiary Feeling judgment was unequal to the task of deciding among the overwhelming relationship possibilities available.
Whereas effective dominant Extraverted Intuitive types thrive on the exciting possibilities the future will bring, Introverted Sensing types in the grip of inferior Extraverted Intuition anticipate the future with fear and trembling. As their descent into the grip proceeds, they become ever more negative, less willing to tolerate the unfamiliar, and more wildly imaginative about disastrous outcomes. One ISFJ described this as “awfulizing.”
In its full-blown state, inferior Extraverted Intuition anticipates all the catastrophes that might happen in an unsafe, threatening world and focuses on dire possibilities in the future. (Remember that the other Introverted perceiving types, the Introverted Intuitive types, focus on negative realities in the present.) ISTJs and ISFJs imagine that anything not previously experienced—any unfamiliar place, any new activity—will provoke horrifying consequences. In the full grip of their inferior function, even familiar, previously safe areas may be reassessed as fraught with danger. This level
of catastrophizing is the hallmark of inferior Extraverted Intuition.
“I start imagining a lot of terrible things that could happen,” said an ISTJ.“If I tell anybody what I’m thinking, the usual response is,‘you worry too much,’ or ‘don’t think about that.’ I appear emotional, not my usual controlled self. I am not being realistic, which I always pride myself on being, but borderline ridiculous,” she concluded. An ISFJ school choir director is usually in a good mood when she awakens—except when a choir performance is scheduled for that day. On such occasions, she experiences a general feeling of dread and impending disaster, even though there is no specific content associated with her forebodings.
After having knee surgery, which resulted in a good deal of pain and immobility, an ISTJ was convinced that he would never feel any better:“I couldn’t stop expressing my pessimism and was a real pain to one and all. Before that I’d always been a pretty optimistic person.” In fact, research evidence supports this ISTJ’s experience. ISTJs and ISFJs are among the types most frequently treated for chronic pain.
An increase in fatigue and stress often lowers Introverted Sensing types’ tolerance and patience in the face of others’ inattention to or denial of important facts and details. A full-blown exhibition of negative possibilities is likely to ensue. One ISFJ said, “I am given to very sarcastic humor, slashing and unpredictable explosions of cold, hard statements about here-and-now reality. I get stubborn and let loose a negative barrage covering all the bad consequences of what is being proposed.”
When her work situation becomes particularly stressful, another ISFJ’s recurrent fear is that her most recent promotion will be rescinded, or that she will receive a letter from her college informing her that her degree was granted by mistake and they are going to have to take it back.
One evening in May, an ISTJ returned home tired after a long day of hiking in the mountains. Distressed to discover that his garage door would not open, he immediately imagined all the possible negative effects—he would have trouble getting to work on time, he wouldn’t be able to go on vacation in the summer, and he certainly could not make it to his niece’s wedding in August!
Introverted Sensing types report having strange or paranoid thoughts when they are in this state, feeling overwhelmed and irritable and imagining that a current stressful situation will go on forever, as will their inability to handle both the stress and the situation.Alternatively, they may come up with off-the-wall, unrealistic positive possibilities when faced with unfamiliar situations.They then must deal with the extreme disappointment that results when the positive possibilities don’t materialize.
For example, an ISTJ was quite attracted to a young woman he met and talked with briefly at a party one evening. He planned to get her phone number from his friend so he could ask her out. He imagined where they would go, what they would talk about, and how pleasant their date would be. On calling his friend, therefore, he was upset to learn that the young woman was engaged to be married and had left town that morning to return home to plan her wedding.
One ISFJ’s description of not being herself includes all three forms of inferior Extraverted Intuition:
I ignore facts and details—create monstrous, horrible outcomes that have far-reaching impacts (for instance, in my lifetime and my daughter’s lifetime). I dwell exclusively on these “realities.” I believe that I need to act right now, this moment (for instance, leave my husband or quit my job). Generally, I am very loyal and steadfast, however.
Lengthy Episodes in the Grip
The types of episodes described above are experienced by ISTJs and ISFJs as temporary states during which they are vulnerable to the three forms in which their inferior function is expressed. However, when Introverted Sensing types are chronically in the grip of inferior Extraverted Intuition, inferior function behavior may become habitual. Their typical hesitation to accept change and their desire for data to back up decisions may become extreme and take the form of angry accusations about the disasters others are perpetrating at work or at home. Their work output is likely to suffer because their judgment about what to pursue is distorted by being in the grip. Even their typical calm demeanor in the face of stress is gone, and others are likely to see their worry, negativity, and catastrophizing most of the time.
Continued stress takes its toll on ISTJs and ISFJs, who are likelier than other types to report having hypertension or heart disease. Chronic stress may be more prevalent for these two types because of the increasingly rapid change that characterizes the workplace and the world at large.
Leaving a stressful work or home environment may be quite difficult for Introverted Sensing types because of their natural loyalty, persistence in spite of adversity, and devotion to duty and responsibility. If they do recognize the unreasonableness of the demands made on them and manage to leave bad situations, they may discover a newfound freedom and a greater ability to accurately assess bad work and home situations.
Chronic grip behavior may lead the individual and others to believe that he or she is typically sloppy and forgetful of details, impulsive, and habitually focused on negative possibilities. This was the case in the last story in the next section, where a supervisor new to a company clashed with a longtime ISFJ employee who had been in the grip for some time.
Since the process of becoming chronically in the grip is often gradual, even people who have known the person in a nonstressed state are likely not to notice what, in retrospect, will be recognized as a radical alteration of personality. The person will appear to be a rather exaggerated, poorly developed Extraverted Intuitive type.
Bear in mind, however, that there are occasions when a lengthy time in the grip of inferior Extraverted Intuition can stimulate new awareness and positive growth toward completion and individuation. Remember that Jung saw the inferior function as the doorway to the unconscious and an important part of the self-regulating capacity of our psyches.
ESFP’s New Experience or ISFJ’s Worst Nightmare?Annette, an ISFJ, and Dan, an ESFP, were having a drink before dinner in a revolving cocktail lounge at the top of a twenty-story hotel in Texas. The clear glass walls on all sides of the lounge gave customers a full view of the city. It was an early August evening. As they talked, the skies darkened, heavy clouds appeared, and the wind started blowing very hard.
Dan, leaning against the glass outer wall, said,“Hey, this is great. I can feel the glass vibrating from the wind!”
“Let’s go inside the main part of the restaurant,” said Annette.
“Why would you want to do that? We won’t have the beautiful view,” said Dan.
“I want to move away from all this glass and go into the central part where the restaurant is,” insisted Annette.
Dan was puzzled.“But I don’t understand why,” he said.
“Because it’s August—we’re in Texas, the wind is blowing hard, those clouds look ominous, and it’s tornado season!” she declared vehemently.
Replied Dan, “But if there’s a tornado, this is a wonderful place to watch it from!”
Return of Equilibrium
Introverted Sensing types tend to make excellent use of their knowledge about their inferior function reactions.
Both male and female ISTJs and ISFJs consistently report that they need time alone in order to regain their equilibrium, but how they use that time may differ by auxiliary function and gender. For example, female ISTJs report wanting to reflect on, reframe, and solve the problem (auxiliary Thinking) that caused their stress. An ISTJ woman said,“I think logically— or decide what the possibilities might be. Once I’ve accepted them, I’m prepared, even for the negative ones.” Another ISTJ said she needs “some quiet time, and then for someone to slowly ask me questions and slowly play back what they’re hearing from me. I also need acknowledgment that I’m struggling—someone else who can label my plight.”
For one ISFJ woman, the helpful “alone” time is spent “rehashing how I would have handled the situation (in my mind), relive it a better way. Analyze why I was reacting the way I did.” Both auxiliary Feeling and tertiary Thinking are called upon to aid her in this process.Another ISFJ perhaps uses both auxiliary Feeling and tertiary Thinking to “figure out how I got to not being myself in the first place.”Yet another ISFJ engages auxiliary Feeling when she “reads materials that are personally moving—that
is, spiritual things to get back in touch with my feelings.”
It is interesting to note that female ISFJs (in contrast with male ISFJs and male and female ISTJs) want the support and reassurance of others (auxiliary Feeling) after they spend some time alone. It is also interesting that male and female ISTJs and male ISFJs typically cite physical exercise as important in aiding their return to normal, but female ISFJs rarely mention it —although some describe using deep breathing to calm themselves down. The natural pathway out of the inferior function for Introverted Sensing types seems to be through their auxiliary Extraverted Thinking or Feeling. This may take the general form of engaging in physical activity with others or perhaps changing their environment. ISTJs report using their Thinking to remind them of what is real—that they can take control and that things always work out. ISFJs find it helpful when they (with great difficulty) talk to someone and reveal their irrational fears, and then receive quiet reassurance.
As with other types, ISTJs and ISFJs report needing to “hit bottom” before they can extricate themselves comfortably from a grip experience. One ISFJ used the metaphor of being sucked into a whirlpool. “The worst thing to do is fight it,” he said.“That will guarantee you’ll drown. Instead, you have to let yourself be drawn into it and pulled all the way down to the bottom.Then you will emerge alive.”
Introverted Sensing types also report needing others to take them seriously, not to patronize them or judge them as irrational. Being allowed to vent with an active listener who resists offering solutions is useful. Unobtrusive help with some of the overwhelming details contributing to the Introverted Sensing type’s fatigue and stress is also welcome.
Knowledge from Grip Experiences
In addition to learning to recognize and avoid the stress and fatigue that may lead to a grip experience, Introverted Sensing types, even prior to their midlife development, are able to broaden their perspective and become more accepting of others’ different approaches to life tasks. They report a greater willingness to consider what is important to themselves as well as to others in deciding what goals to pursue and how to use their time. This inclusion of a range of possibilities and other ways of doing things enables them to benefit from their Intuition, as well as to accept and
use theories and hypotheses they might otherwise reject as unrealistic.
When stress either at work or at home is extreme and persists over time, Introverted Sensing types may persevere longer than some other types before they consider leaving the stressful situation.They are likely to believe that the stress they are experiencing is uniquely theirs and that others in the same situation are handling things much better.They may see that their opposite types at work (ENTPs and ENFPs) seem to thrive on stress, change, and upheaval and thus may view themselves as weak and inadequate. It may take a crisis situation such as becoming physically ill, having an emotional breakdown, or being confronted by family members for them to recognize that they are in a habitually out-of-character state. Only then might they realistically assess the role of their environment in their plight and consider a drastic change.
In the grip of inferior Extraverted Intuition, Introverted Sensing types lose control over facts and details, become impulsive, and catastrophize about the unknown, especially the future. Auxiliary Thinking or Feeling aids their return to equilibrium. ISTJs use objective analysis to begin to control their anxious imaginings, while ISFJs solicit the reassurance of trusted companions and friends to modify their perceptions.
As a result of important bouts with inferior Extraverted Intuition, Introverted Sensing types recognize and incorporate a broader, more flexible perspective into their lives.They are better able to stand back from the absorbing tasks and responsibilities of daily living and consider what is most important to them. Often the awareness involves a renewed appreciation of family and other close relationships.