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If you’ve never taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), here’s the gist: The MBTI is a personality assessment that groups people into one of 16 different personality types, each of which has their own set of associated traits, strengths, and weaknesses. And there is one personality type in particular that can struggle with rationalizing their emotions rather than actually feeling them: the INTP type.
Why INTPs struggle with feeling their feelings.
INTP stands for introverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving, and this type makes up roughly 3% of the population. These folks are known for being incredibly intellectual and great at problem-solving, in addition to being funny and independent.
But one thing that challenges them? Feeling their emotions instead of trying to rationalize them. This is one of the biggest areas for growth for the INTP type, according to psychotherapist Annette Nuñez, Ph.D., LMFT.
As licensed therapist De-Andrea Blaylock-Solar, MSW, LCSW-S, CST, previously explained to mbg, INTP personalities are “constantly thinking and trying to figure things out, and they may value intellect over emotion—they’re really logical.” And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but when emotions are completely ignored, it can be.
The problem with rationalizing your emotions.
According to doctor of clinical psychology Perpetua Neo, DClinPsy, rationalizing your emotions can look like a lot of different things: judging or scolding yourself for being so upset about something “so small,” minimizing your struggles because others have it worse, forcing yourself to “think positively” all the time, or otherwise trying to over-intellectualize your feelings.
Neo explains that when anxiousness is ignored, for instance, it will work harder to get your attention, like a child. “Feelings of anxiousness aren’t meant to be ignored. We evolved that feeling to signal when to withdraw, so we can protect ourselves and survive,” she writes at mbg. And that principle can be applied to so many other emotions as well, such as anger, grief, and even happiness.
While individual INTPs will have varying degrees of the telltale INTP traits, there is a good chance many of these people may neglect their emotions (and even emotional needs) because they’re out of touch with them. This can also lead to communication issues in interpersonal relationships.
Set yourself up for success with a good night’s sleep.*
If you struggle with rationalizing your emotions, Nuñez says it’s super important to practice being present in order to identify what’s really going on with you emotionally. That might look like practicing mindfulness to help boost your emotional intelligence and really feeling into how emotions are presenting in your body. “What we want is the cognitive development and the social/emotional development to match,” she explains.
And according to Neo, you don’t have to worry about becoming overly emotional or your negative emotions overtaking you. “Many left-brained people’s biggest reservation about mastering anxiousness is that they’ll become overly emotional and too ‘soft.’ That’s just not true,” she says.
In fact, being mindful and in touch with your emotions can help you make more rational decisions, according to Neo. “It’s about training your feelings and brain to work with each other, instead of against each other,” she explains.
Once you get better at getting in touch with your emotions, she adds, it comes down to trusting them. “Know that your nervous system can regulate itself and that your negative feelings are really signals that guide you toward what to do next. Your body is wiser than you believe, and if you partner with it, you’ll master yourself,” she writes.
Emotions are not our enemies, but for certain personality types like the INTP, it may seem natural to view them that way. But the truth is, we benefit by taking in the whole picture: logic and feeling. Rather than shying away from our emotions, we can actually use them to make more well-rounded and healthy decisions.
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