Ego Trip #3: The Ego and the INFJ

Thursday, October 27, 2016 1 Comments A+ a-



Hey, guys! Ready to dive into more ego stuff?

Me, too. :)

So far, we've covered what the ego is and what the ego does. We know that it operates consciously and plays a huge role in forming our identity. We also know that it can get tripped up along the way, covering us in so many societal labels that we end up with a false sense of self.

But how, exactly, does it do this?

Well, from the research I've done, it appears that the ego views the world through two lenses: the past and the future. Through fear-based tactics, it uses the past to justify our labels and the future to make sure we keep those labels.

Consider the following quotes:

[The ego] is said to be the part that remembers, evaluates, plans, and in other ways is responsive to and acts in the surrounding physical and social world. -- www.britannica.comEgo: Philosophy and Psychology
To the ego, the present moment hardly exists. Only past and future are considered important. This total reversal of the truth accounts for the fact that in the ego mode the mind is so dysfunctional. It is always concerned with keeping the past alive, because without it — who are you? It constantly projects itself into the future to ensure its continued survival and to seek some kind of release or fulfillment there. -- Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
Behind [the ego's] confident demeanor and sure-footedness...is a mousy entity whose existence is based entirely on the shaky ground of fear-based concepts, such as, “I didn’t get enough previously” or “I won’t get my share in the future.” -- Peter Baksa, The Point of Power

If this is true, and the ego's power of self-preservation comes from keeping us locked in the past or anxious about the future, then the INFJ is at great risk of being deceived. This goes for other introverted intuitives as well. In my opinion, any MBTI type that lives in a world of future possibilities and has a tendency to agonize over past mistakes is easy prey for the ego.



But there are other issues at play here, too...issues that make the INFJ a particularly soft and tender victim for the ego to sink its claws into. Here are just a few:

Intensity

INFJs have greater emotional intensity than other types. Because of this, I think our id and superego are amplified. One thing I noticed as a child was that other people had a better grip on their emotions than I did. Social balance came easily to them, and they didn't struggle outwardly with their angels and demons. But I did. I bounced back and forth between them like a ping-pong ball, going from raging Phoenix to ultimate high achiever at a dizzying pace. Of course, that was misunderstood and frowned upon by most people, and I eventually surrendered to my ego in order to be accepted.

Perfectionism

And speaking of high achievers...we are driven by perfectionism. We can achieve pretty much anything we put our minds to. So if the superego--or in our amplified case, the super superego--promises greater rewards than our primitive urges, we pursue it with relentless tenacity. This is where the ego can stick us with labels like teacher's pet and goody-two-shoes (omg, I hated those) or even try to convince us of our own superiority.

Hyper-Self-Awareness

Basic self-awareness is the "knowledge and awareness of your own personality or character" (Merriam-Webster). As INFJs, we often go above and beyond this and see more of our faults than other types. Because we see more faults, we're susceptible to adopting more labels. And because we overthink our mistakes, we're prone to supporting those labels instead of letting them go.

Overthinking

Did I just mention overthinking? Because we do that a lot. We live inside our heads and are sort of disconnected from our bodies. At any given time, I have at least three or four movies playing inside my brain. Some are initiated by creative impulses. Others, though, are triggered by uncomfortable memories and worst-case-scenarios. It's hard to see past labels when my brain is constantly in motion.

I could go on. There are many aspects of being an INFJ that blind us to the fact that our ego is holding us captive in an illusory prison. But I also think that on some level, we're aware of the illusion. We just don't know what to do about it. And that isn't a good thing, because living in the tension between what we think is real and what actually is real can be a depressing, anxiety-ridden nightmare.



BUT...we don't have to live there. We can do something about it. The first step is to become aware of what's going on. We've done that with these posts. I've read about some other things that can help as well, and I will cover those in my next post.

Be back soon,
M.

Image Credit: Ego, Past-Future-Present, Clear the Dust 

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Anonymous
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November 23, 2016 at 11:30 AM delete

Omg, this article is so, so true! As an INFJ, I find myself noticing other people's awkward mannerisms - for example, small twitches, excessive throat clearing or lip-licking, the way they carry themselves, etc. This wouldn't be so bad, and I hold nothing against the people with those mannerisms, except that I find myself copying them and I can't control myself! I don't even know what my real mannerisms are because I feel like they're all adopted from other people. At one point, when I was younger, I used to subconsciously copy my mother's behavior of primly holding her hands together whenever she took a photo, and I look at the pictures myself then and I look so prim and awkward and weird! The mannerism looked fairly normal on a middle-aged woman like my mom, but on an 8-year old - ugh, it looked so exaggerated, like a was a stereotypical "goody two shoes", as this article put it. I believe that this relates to the concept of ego because our expectations of how we are going to act (ex., copy other people's mannerisms) fuels either our confidence or lack thereof, shaping us into characters we alternately obsess over, love, and despise, when in reality we should be focusing on other people and their needs and moving through life with a healthy, mildly confident self-awareness.

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