by Andy Davis.
I’m an INFJ-A on the Myer-Brigg type index (MBTI). One of the issues often discussed regarding INFJ people is the seemingly mystical perception and premonition they can display. As a relatively introspective sort of guy, I thought I should share my personal insights on how this ‘gift’ works for me.
Over the last few years, I’ve been doing a lot of self-analysis of my competencies, primarily due to questions I had about how I operated in a work context. I was particularly curious about my capacity for premonition, as it’s something I’ve noted occurring routinely in my life.
I’m actually quite new to MBTI and INFJ – so I don’t have any romantic or mystical visualisations about my character type. I understood myself long before I was introduced to any stereotypes and caricatures. I see the INFJ premonition capability as just how my brain processes, stores and uses information.
I perceive my mind like a powerful computer making a thousand calculations a second, observing and analysing whatever is the focus from every possible tangent and comparing it against a vast database of stored experiences and painstakingly constructed beliefs. It’s exhausting, and that’s why I need substantial ‘downtime’ on a regular basis.
For me, it feels like my brain is doing multiple things at once – where the internal monologue of conscious thought is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m still aware, vaguely, of the subconscious processing going on – like the background whirl of a hard-drive.
In any conversation, especially disagreements if someone gets upset or offended, my mind immediately switches to process why and how that other person is thinking that way. I’m rapidly considering, eliminating and approving their probable biases, perspectives and how they must be interpreting my communication.
Over years, when done constantly, I have stored an immense volume of feedback on my interpretive successes and failures. Thousands and thousands of conversations, all hyper-analyzed and assessed, have made me increasingly more accurate and capable of rapidly and accurately deducting other people’s perspectives, drives and motivations.
This, in turn, forms a foundation of how I interpret and anticipate people, and situations, to work. The acute observation coupled with vast internal analysis, allows me to start joining the dots to see patterns and norms. That is the basis of creating ever-evolving models to understand how things should work.
When I sense deviations from those models, the discrepancy becomes apparent. That can be either as a spontaneous conscious flash of insight or as a more subtle and nuanced subconscious instinct.
This works for me in recognizing dishonest or disingenuous people. I’ll often spot lies or insincere behaviour extremely quickly. If the indications are more subtle, I’ll just develop seemingly inexplicable instincts about a person.
My intuition doesn’t only help as a litmus test of people’s character. It also helps practically in regards to situations and events.
My work involves supervising people in hazardous situations where a small mistake can pose a very real risk of serious harm. It is here that I am really aware of my intuition and predictive ability. I can nearly always preempt and mitigate against accidents happening, even when everyone else is still oblivious to an unfolding issue that I see as obvious.
I have learned to listen to my instincts because they’re invariably right. When I’ve ignored my instincts in the past, it has led to me experiencing vivid and disturbing dreams. It’s apparent that my intuitive subconscious was screaming for attention.
For example, I was overseas for many months and only had email contact with my ex-wife. Nothing seemed wrong and nothing was said. After a few months away, I started having vivid nightmares from which I awoke feeling raged.
In each dream, I had gone home and caught her in bed with another guy. I couldn’t explain that at all, as I’m really not a jealous or paranoid person. Lo-and-behold, when I finally did return home, she immediately and voluntarily confessed to having an affair. We divorced soon after.
To this day, over 15 years later, I can’t identify any conscious clues as to why my intuition could have known what was happening thousands of miles away.
I was warning people that I’m a human lie detector long before I’ve ever heard of MBTI or INFJ personality type.
My ability to spot every tiny mistake or inconsistency has ruined many fledgeling romances because I also find dishonesty and fakery repugnant.
I don’t even know why – it just really scratches at me, even if not malignant in nature. I lose all respect for someone when I see it and respect, unlike trust, is much harder to rebuild.
Even when I can acknowledge that everyone lies or projects a false front sometimes, my inability to compromise deep instincts on trust and respect for someone’s character makes dating a very difficult process.
I don’t see INFJ premonition as anything mystical or supernatural. I have a very grounded view on the subject. That said, the way that my mind functions to provide me with an atypical level of insight and predictive capability is definitely a real thing. It can be a huge advantage both personally and professionally. At the same time, it can be a hindrance to establishing the really deep and meaningful interpersonal relationships that other, less insightful, personality types enjoy as usual. Sometimes I am indeed envious that ignorance must be bliss.