Q&A: Should We Trust Our Intuition?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 3 Comments A+ a-

Your Question:

As INFJs, how do we keep our intuition in check? Often times, I feel intensely convicted regarding a particular matter; however, when I speak with others, they find my ideas to be quite delusional, which then leads me to question my own intuition. When I find myself in these situations, I think to my favorite Biblical story -- the story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham was entirely alone in his conviction. To others, even the religious, his conviction was absurd. Yet, he still trusted that he was, in fact, not crazy and was truly hearing from God. In the end, He was rewarded for his faith. Are we, INFJ's, called to have this level of faith, even when all evidence points to the idea that we might just be crazy?

And what do we do with our ability to trust ourselves when our intuition is proved wrong? For instance, we are convinced with all of our being that something is one way, and we then come to find out that it's not? I seem to fall apart when I find out that I can't trust my own intuition.

My Answer:

These are really good questions! I can't speak for other INFJs, but for me, keeping my intuition "in check" often means thinking things through before reacting. I tend to make intuitive leaps--going from A to C and completely skipping B--and people don't always get where I'm coming from. So I think carefully before deciding to share. A lot of times, though, I keep quiet and just watch things play out. I find that my intuition is the perfect guide for my own personal life, but not always acceptable or workable for others.

Which brings me to questioning my intuition. I don't. I look at my intuition as an instinctive, subconscious way of responding to a situation. There's no judgment in it. It's not right or wrong, it just "is" and comes along with being an INFJ. Others (especially others with more experience in certain situations) may scoff or look at me cock-eyed, but that's usually because they don't process things intuitively. If I choose to follow my intuition, I do so knowing that there's a chance it might not play out the way I think it will. If it does, hurray for Ni, right? If it doesn't, I learn from the experience and move on. I don't allow anyone else to influence the way I feel about my Ni.

Is this an Abrahamic level of faith? Well, for me, faith and intuition are slightly different. Faith is a choice. Intuition isn't--it's simply the lens I use to view the world. Can I put faith in my decision to follow my intuition? Absolutely, and this is something I think intuitives struggle with all the time. Choosing intuition over worldly logic/reasoning is risky. We must decide if it's worth the risk.

I honestly feel that INFJs should trust their intuition. Not because it's always right or the perfect answer, but because it's a gift. We have it for a reason. By trusting it, we can offer a different perspective or open someone's eyes to a new way of thinking. Even if it takes us down a path that doesn't provide a solution, that path is an experience we were meant to have. At least, that's how I look at it. For me, intuition isn't an infallible skill that has to magically be right all the time; it's more of a "sacred gift" (as Einstein called it) that serves as a lens, teacher, and guide.

This is just my way of thinking...feel free to discuss and debate!

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August 11, 2016 at 9:32 AM delete

I love the distinction you make between intuition and faith -- one the lens we look at the world through and the other a choice. I very rarely advise anyone to act against their intuition, even non-INFJs. If you've got a bad (or good) feeling about something/someone I suspect there's usually a reason for it even if you can't quantify it yet. And I think trusting my intuition has done more good than harm overall.

I just wish I had an easier time explaining my intuition to other people. In writing I can do it, but to "offer a different perspective or open someone's eyes to a new way of thinking" in-person? I feel like my words just twist up in knots that no one can follow. It's so frustrating!

August 11, 2016 at 10:10 AM delete

Thanks! I'm glad you like the distinction. I think people often use the ideas of intuition and faith interchangeably, and while some areas overlap, they really do seem separate to me.

Same here...writing works, talking in person can get a little crazy! My thoughts are all over the place, and wrangling them into coherence takes time and effort. Anyone talking with me is exposed to my messy process of connecting the dots. Writing is messy, too, but people don't have to see that part. They just get the end results. Much better for everyone. :)

Marissa Baker
August 11, 2016 at 10:25 AM delete

Exactly! my favorite conversations happen when someone takes the time to ask clarifying questions and work through the messy thought-gathering process with me -- where it's back-and-forth thought exchange instead of them assuming the first thing that comes out of my mouth is my final thought on the subject. Last time that happened, I learned later in the conversation that the other person was an INFJ, too!