Square Peg #5: Wow, This Is Awkward

Tuesday, June 02, 2015 4 Comments A+ a-

Hi, guys! Come on in and pour yourself a cup of coffee. Today's special is the breakfast blend...a smooth, mild roast that will warm up your insides and stimulate your brain. Which is good, because we're going to be talking about our brains in today's post. They're pretty cool, but they also have a way of complicating our world. To avoid going nuts, we need to understand how they work.

So, ready to get cerebral? Me, too. Let's tackle the next Square Peg topic: left- and right-brained adeptness in the INFJ.

You've probably heard people categorize themselves as "left-brain" or "right-brain" thinkers. It's a popular theory in our culture. Left-brained people are thought to be rational and analytical, while right-brainers are credited with intuition and creativity.

In the strictest sense, this isn't true. No person works or thinks exclusively from one side of their brain. Both sides consistently communicate and work together to perform a variety of tasks (see this article by Kendra Cherry for more info). But we're going to roll with the popular theory of left being rational and right being creative, because from my experience, most people tend to prefer one approach over the other.

So what does it look like to be dominantly left or right? Let me give you an example. My ESFJ husband totally fits the left-brain stereotype. He's logical, precise, and excels at math. He plans his tasks and carries them out efficiently. His thoughts are usually linear and convergent, meaning they are structured and work toward a logical conclusion. His current job? Business analyst.

My ESTP friend Wendy, on the other hand, is the perfect example of a right-brainer. She is artistic and spontaneous, able to create brilliant ambience out of just about anything. Her thought process is very divergent, with few limitations, and she always leaves things open to interpretation. Her job? Interior design.

Now, try to image a combination of these two. You'd probably end up with someone who is both resourceful and creative. Someone who intuitively connects rational details to form multiple abstract possibilities, and can drive those possibilities into a single vision. Someone who can get down into the dirty details of a project while still keeping a bird's-eye view. And someone who, with the right motivation, can jump into just about any work environment and achieve results.

That, my friends, comes very close to describing an INFJ. We are extremely adaptable, and I have to wonder if it's because we are reportedly able to "utilize both sides of the brain with equal adeptness" (see image below):

I use the word "reportedly" because I just went back to Dr. Drenth's original article and discovered that the above quote is no longer in his INFJ profile! I didn't see a disclaimer or any reason why it wasn't there anymore. And I can't find any other INFJ resources that make the same claim for our personality type. So my original source for this topic has disappeared. Not from the internet--his quote is still all over the place. Just from his article.

Wow, this is...awkward. *clears throat and continues slowly*

However, I don't think this totally invalidates the issue of duality in the INFJ brain. We are walking contradictions in almost every area, and I believe that includes the way we use our brains. My left and right sides duke it out all the time. Like when I intuitively want to purchase something and my logic stops me because it costs too much. Or when I strongly believe that something is spiritual and Lefty steps in with a scientific argument. Even now, as I type this post, I feel that our brain duality is real, while my logical side keeps pointing out that there must be a good reason why it's no longer in Dr. Drenth's article.

 My brain does this a lot. Fighting, I mean.
The profanity is optional.

Hmm. With this issue, guys, you'll need to decide which side of the fence you're on regarding its authenticity. If we are truly talented at using both sides of our brain, then it's definitely one reason we feel different...because it can keep us from achieving balance (see my previous article, Balance, for more of my view on the brain duality issue). Without balance, we can end up conflicted, showing contradictory aspects of ourselves that confuse people. It can confuse us, too, and leave us questioning our own motives. Kind of hard to be accepted by others when you're having trouble accepting yourself, right?

I'm going with two stars on this one, since it feels valid but I can't back it up with research. Sorry about that! Hope to hear your thoughts anyway! :)

Take care!

Image Credit: Smart Coffee, Intuitive-vs-Rational, Boxing Brain


Write comments
Marissa Baker
June 4, 2015 at 9:58 AM delete

This is true for me, too. My logical side is always arguing with my inventive side. It's a wonder I manage to make any decisions at all!

June 4, 2015 at 10:49 AM delete

I feel the same way. It can turn everyday things--like grocery shopping or deciding what to order at a restaurant--into torture!

June 6, 2015 at 8:26 AM delete

Totally agree! This is a challenge for me as well!

June 9, 2015 at 1:44 PM delete

This is me! I always feel like my left and right are battling because I can see all sides of the situation and having to pick one is so difficult. It's tricky to explain to others that I'm having an argument inside of my head lol.