Introverted Intuition: Mysterious Knowledge
We’ve all had the experience of a sudden epiphany that bubbles its way up from the depths of our unconscious to burst into our conscious; the answer to something that’s been troubling us, an insight, a piece of the puzzle falling into place. That’s intuition — we all have it, though we don’t all use it with the same facility.
For those with Introverted Intuition (Ni) high in their Function Family, intuition comes more naturally. The role of the perceiving function of Introverted Intuition is to synthesize the information in the unconscious and try to make it known to the conscious.
Since intuition is the awareness of the unconscious, it can feel mysterious and uncontrolled from a conscious perspective. As a result, it’s often misunderstood. Many people, especially Sensors, are likely to be skeptical that intuition is useful, or that it even exists. On the other hand, Intuitives frequently go to the other extreme, deeming intuition infallible. Intuition is just as valid and just as error prone as all the other functions.
According to the theory of typology, we are either consciously aware of the information received by our senses, or that information goes into the unconscious parts of our brain. I like to think of it as a person standing in a big empty pool, holding an empty bucket. A rain of little balls pours down, filling the pool and the bucket. (Don’t worry, the person is unharmed by this hail of colored plastic!) The balls in the bucket represent the information in our conscious awareness. The balls in the pool represent our unconscious awareness.
How can we access our unconscious information? Once in awhile a ball spontaneous pops up from the pool into our bucket and we get a glimpse into our unconscious. Dreams are another way in which the unconscious can communicate with us. But the unconscious can be tapped more readily with some practice and appropriate tools.
Jung described “active imagination” as a tool for accessing the unconscious. I was thrilled to read about this, as it’s something I’ve done naturally my whole life as a dominant Ni. To put it bluntly, active imagination is holding imaginary conversations in your head. I am constantly doing this – it is practically how I think. I imagine myself conversing with someone and fill in their side of the conversation from my imagination. It gives my unconscious an opportunity to influence the course of the conversation. Eventually, these conversations will converge on something that “feels” correct. This is the perspective of the unconscious. However, just because it “feels” so correct does not make it truth. One must still take what the unconscious has brought up and run it past Sensing, Thinking, and Feeling!
Sometimes the information that comes from our intuition feels “psychic,” as if there is no way we could possibly have known that! But that is only the perspective of our egotistical conscious awareness — it thinks only what it knows is knowable. Our unconscious awareness, on the other hand, thinks it’s obvious that we can and do know unconscious things, and does its best to get our attention.
Sensors, for whom Ni is low in their function family, are often suspicious of their intuition and may therefore ignore hunches as unreliable. However, ignoring your intuition is ignoring a vast amount of information, likely far more than we have available to us consciously. It would be like only reading the sports section of the newspaper. No wait, I mean only getting sports in your Facebook news feed. If you know someone who has the uncanny knack of seeming to foresee things before others, it’s likely they are taking advantage of their unconscious knowledge. This is something that Sensors can learn through practice, thus increasing the reliability of their intuition.
On the other hand, because intuition is mysterious and fascinating, intuitors have a tendency to get comfortable there, like a warm bed you can’t get out of on a cold morning! But even our unconscious doesn’t know it all, and like everything, it can be taken too far, and so intuition must be cross checked with physical reality for validity.
We’ve also all had that experience of not listening to an intuition that was correct, and wishing we had! Like all things in life, it is a matter of learning to balance; in this case, to balance our sensing and intuitive perceptions!
If you would like someone to help you understand and effectively use your intuition, or if you would like to explore the possibility of developing your intuition, contact me to schedule a Psychological Type Analysis to see how Ni affects your personality. ~Julie