Podcast – Episode 0274 – Personality Types And Insecurity

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about how insecurity shows up in different personality types.

In this podcast you’ll find:


In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk about how insecurity shows up in different personality types. #MBTI #myersbriggs

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Showing 14 comments
  • Alex

    How does the insecurity of your 3 and 10 year old functions compare to that of your polr function in socionics?

  • Cecile

    I had to listen to this a couple times to properly digest the topic. I’m an ENTJ….though the TJ tends to score almost close to the 50% mark with the ability to waffle FP. I do have a very decision making, assured approach but as I’ve gotten older I realize the limitation of my confidence and the boundaries of my insecurities. When it comes to my active capabilities, how I can tackle problems or solve issues, meet project deadlines, etc, my confidence is for the most part, unwavering. I would have to cycle through all the actions and meet failure after failure before the seeds of doubt creeps in about my competency. Where my insecurities lie is inter-relationship and the trust in its foundations or reliability. Ergo, I trust in my capabilities but the wild card of adding someone else into the equation x feelings or emotions is where I have much insecurities. For some reason, I’ve always had abandonment issues. The first dream I could remember at age 4 was being orphaned. It’s quite inexplicable and comes from no where as my family environment was incredibly stable from the onset. Anyhoo, I am really enjoying diving into your podcast to help understand my insecurities better. Fantastic conversations and thank you!

  • Karen

    Love your podcast, AND I’m glad your conversation got around to the FIRM model because I thought a lot of the early discussion of cognitive functions was….um…excessively intuitive. For instance, I would posit that any person of any type who has had a stroke would have insecurity/concern about health! Let’s not blame Se for that.

    I’m an ESFP and most of my insecurities have been around physical appearance and athleticism, which are Se. But I think those are cultural and family related. I’m almost never insecure about being smart, and Joel’s comment about that resonated with me.

    My personal experience and that of many people I know is that turning 50 helps a lot with insecurity. Your guess about this having to do with being post-reproductive makes sense to me. (But not post-sex drive, thankfully!) To my earlier point, I am much more comfortable with my physical self now (I’m 55) than ever in my life.

    So anyway, I really enjoy your podcasts but maybe this one pushed my limits on intuitive conversation. 😊

  • Danielle

    Referring to the idea of people in older generations feeling more secure as they have aged, I do think there is a lot of variance depending on personality and individual life circumstances. Insecurity, for instance, can be derived from trauma in a sense. Although I don’t know the whole story, my paternal grandmother (born 1929) comes across as having had a lifetime of insecurity. But from what I know of her background, it’s due to a lot of issues in her childhood she clearly never properly came to terms with. She was an illegitimate child and was shuffled around between numerous relatives from a young age because her mother was in an insane asylum from at least 1940 to the end of her life.

    Separating individual circumstances, I could see a greater sense of confidence in older generations arising from the events that were unfolding around them. In the US at least, we see World War II as this clash between good and evil. Americans still to this day can unquestionably think “We were the good guys” in regards to World War II. Americans have never since been in such a position that resulted in such a worldview. I think there’s a great deal of security in knowing that as a collective your group is moving in the “right” direction and has a clearly defined ideal of what is right.

    From about the 1960s onwards, this concept of an absolute “right” as a society has grown weaker to the point where it seems to have all but disintegrated. There are still remnants of this thinking, a lot of times you’ll see it in religious and political groups, but there has been an explosion of drastically different world views and lifestyles, or at least there visibility to the public. Some personality types are going to feel more comfortable in this sort of context, as an Ne dom I love diversity because of all the different options, but it can cause insecurity for all because there’s not just one “right” path anymore.

    There’s an interesting paradox here too where older generations might start to feel insecure themselves in this sort of environment because the foundation of what they knew has been shaken, whereas younger people might be more accustomed to it.

    That said, as much as I find strength in the idea of there not being on absolute right, this absolutely creates insecurity for a lot of other people.

    This happens on a macro-level scale, but it can very much happen on an individual basis too. When I came of age, there was this outburst of social strife and a culture war. This caused me to have to re-evaluate what I had been raised to believe was the “correct” way. I ended up maintaining some parts and flat out rejecting other parts. This has sort of been a build-up for me that started when I was about 12 or 13 and first started to really make strides in branching out of the socially conservative environment I was raised to believe was the ideal. Overall, I’ve become a more confident person because of this. And I’d argue that, as an ENFP, my mind was more wired towards the progression it took than some other types might be. But I could see the same thing creating a lot of turmoil and insecurity for someone else. Hope this makes sense.

    As to Joel’s comment about insecurity being related to sexual attraction and reproduction, it makes a lot of sense from a purely biological standpoint. And because being rejected by someone you want to have a relationship with is painful, it’s only natural for fear and insecurity to arise when that potential comes up. Growing up, I remember my mom telling me that pretty girls such as myself intimidate boys. I see it in a bit wider of terms where people are intimidated by or insecure around people they are interested in because rejection is so painful.

    However, I think it’s important to note that this isn’t the only root cause of insecurity. If it were, then aromantic asexuals such as myself would be completely secure. And while I’m more confident than I’ve ever been, I definitely still have insecurity despite the fact that I do not experience sexual or romantic attraction. Albeit, this isn’t a very common experience. Asexuals themselves are rare, let alone aromantic ones.

    Then again, asexuality can be seen as a bit on an anomaly by others. And I totally understand that. After all, I figure that other people must think of asexuality similarly to how I view sexual attraction—a foreign concept that I understand from an outsider’s perspective but have no personal knowledge of. It’s rather hard to articulate.

    • Justine G

      I’m glad you’ve mentioned asexuality / aromanticism actually, as I myself have never in practice wanted either a sexual or romantic relationship, I just don’t see it (in my case) as ‘asexual’, I prefer ‘non-sexual’ but without wanting to bother to try to explain to anyone what I mean by that or what the distinction is.

      I think it has lessened my insecurity around needing to be ‘attractive’ in that way, yet at the same time my sense of being an alien, where I feel fundamentally I cannot do something that other people can lean into as a source of belonging and security (forming relationships and families) leaves me scared about being on my own. I tried living on my own and ended up back with my family-of-origin due to my mental health issues exacerbated by living alone. I dread dying in some sort of decaying, rat-infested, painful obscurity. Having trouble making a living hasn’t exactly helped.

      Now I work somewhere that actually helps people and I actually like it and am good at it, but not paid enough hours to leave home for the time being. I will have to leave again sometime, but I dread it even as I crave the independence.

      Obviously this only represents me but I guess I’m illustrating there are potentially many different angles to this.

  • James

    While I’m about 40 minutes into this, going back and replaying this to get a better understanding of each bit of information. Something interesting came up in regards to psychology. What I see about insecurity is that if we can’t satisfy the primary cognitive funcion’s need to overcome the insecurity, then basically the insecurity comes up and that inner voice says.”I’m not enough and if I’m not enough I won’t be loved.” in which this could elicit thoughts of shame and guilt in someone depending on their cognitive function. So for Si users like my Dad, I noticed, to be considered a good father in his cognitive functions opinion, he has to do more be more and work harder. I wondered this for awhile why he seemed so driven to do so much for my little sister even though it drives him mad to be at her house and do stuff her husband could do but doesn’t. The negative side of this for my little sister is that she can’t really develop her own skills around, doing things for herself, if my Dad comes to the rescue every time. He’s 73 now, and would like to do more for himself in terms of hobbies, but it’s that nagging Si that won’t allow it to happen. He’s an ISTJ.

    At around 45 minutes in Antonia is talking about invulnerability. I read the article on it, and Charis told me that my GF, at the time of my asking since she’s an INFJ was perhaps having a challenge with invulnerability and this for me as an INTJ as well. For her surrounding relationships, the one thing she really hasn’t done and this just dawned on me as Antonia articulated it is that she hasn’t post processed any of her past failed romances. My GF asked me once if she had to go see a therapist for trauma and I was like “no you don’t have to but it’s still better to talk about your experience of the past, if you can without it being something that puts you in a panic state, otherwise if it’s just difficult and uncomfortable, it can help to talk about it. On the other hand if you don’t talk about it, then it can eat you up inside.” That’s the advice I gave her but as of yet she hasn’t talked about it as it directly relates to herself, she actually uses proxies to express her emotions, such as saying her son feels a certain way when in reality she feels that way.
    I find it interesting too that she does have doubts about her immediate environment, especially when it comes to relationships, work, learning new things. She often uses the past as a measuring stick to determine if she can do something now or in the near future. I’ve had to reassure her a lot that she’s competent enough to handle most of what’s thrown at her. It for me can be exhausting.

    What I’m curious to know is, how can I help her manage this more?

  • Jessica Roberts


    It resonated with me when you said that the IxxJ’s have an insecurity on being vulnerable to the outside world. I’m an INFJ and I have an insecurity of having things come at me fast and not being able to handle it well. It could be that someone said something rude to me and I wasn’t able to say the right thing to stand up for myself, or being put on the spot by someone asking me a question and not being able to articulate my answer well in the moment, or working in a fast paced work environment.

    Another huge insecurity for me is being incompetent. Currently, I am working at a job and it gives me anxiety when I can’t perform a task correctly, especially if people are watching me.

    Being insecure about being incompetent stemmed from my childhood with my ESTJ mom. As an INFJ, I was the type of kid to have my head in the clouds and not pay attention to my surroundings as much, and if my mom asked me to perform a task and I did not do it correctly she would get angry with me, or if she asked me to retrieve something and I could not find it she would get upset and tell me to “open my eyes.” I’m a sensitive person and always hated it if people are angry with me or yell at me, so as a child when my mom would get angry with me for not doing something correctly I internalized that and carried it with me to adulthood.

    My mom being an ESTJ is something I determined myself and might not be completely accurate. She passed away so I asked my family questions about her and I relied on my own memories of her to type her. However, I read something about ESTJ’s on 16Personalties that resonated with me and made me truly believe that she was an ESTJ, it said “If partners or subordinates jeopardize them through incompetence, laziness, and/or dishonestly they do not hesitate to show their wrath.” That line rang true to my experience with her and it linked to my insecurity of being incompetent. Understanding MBTI has helped me to understand and work through my childhood wound. I wanted to share that because my biggest insecurity was created by an ESTJ – INFJ personality clash.

    Thanks Joel and Antonia for everything that you do.

    • Linda S

      Jessica – I feel for you. As an INFP, I too fear things coming at me too fast to be able to process them. And about feeling incompetent. Here’s a Te strength I just read about—fluent verbal communication. I have to laugh at this one. In a recent job interview I was all over the place. One of the male interviewers had an impassive expression/impossible to read. I was trying to connect but getting nowhere. It was a complete disaster. But I did not prepare for it. Lesson learned.

    • Seely

      Hi Jessica, I relate a lot to what you said. I grew up around Te types myself, & it was a difficult experience. Now I have a Se boss, & I find the experience of going from being around people with such a tight grip to someone with such a loose grip kinda confusing. (Not that I want to be micromanaged! But some guidance & expectations would be useful).

  • Justine G

    Interesting discussion (again), but I feel compelled again to bring up some unresolved issues:

    1) I have often been worried crazy about being stupid, but I don’t think that necessarily means I’m a predominant ‘T’ type. You also have to consider other things like upbringing, environment and ennea-type. I would say the predominant culture in English-speaking countries is very punitive around the issue of having the ‘right thoughts’, particularly since the advent of the Internet.

    2) I found an apparent contradiction in what you said about NTs often being insecure around IQ or intellect, and saying that INTPs are (usually) secure about their logic.

    Ignoring the (apparent) contradiction however, from this I could extrapolate that INFPs may be insecure about their convictions. This would make sense as the effect of Ne is to create alternate possibilities and this often creates doubt.

    Alternatively an INFP may not have many convictions due to a combination of the Ne creating too much doubt, an unfavourable upbringing/environment where they were effectively encouraged to doubt themselves, and maybe enneatype as well.

    3) I simply don’t believe anyone doesn’t use extraverted sensation, or if they didn’t they would be effectively disabled and unable to live a ‘normal’ life. I think the four functions that each type supposedly doesn’t use is the elephant in the room in much of the discussion around cognitive function stack. On the other hand, I don’t exactly dig the John Beebe model that treats the other four functions as some kind of bizarre/evil shadow set of witches and goblins, so I thank you for not entering down this route either.

    • Michael (A.A)

      It’s less us NTs are insecure of our own logic, than it is that we are insecure of how our logical abilities allow us to adapt to feeling roles in society. Can we be liked for our intelligence? Can we help people with our logical abilities? Can you impress a potential romantic partner with a large knowledge of their favorite subject? As an NT growing up, it’s so hard to access feeling functions directly, and often since we lack confidence in doing things like talking about feelings, finding social acclaim or forming deep genuine relationships, we do so by what we do best with our strengths. Our own logic.

      Like Antonia, I also was insecure about this growing up, but calmed down as I got older. I am, still somewhat insecure about Fe and Si functions though. Er, maybe more than that. If anything, what more immature NTs around this don’t realize and something I wish I could tell my younger self is that you can’t really solve everything with logic, especially more emotional issues. Sure, you could do so to some extent, but you really have to learn to understand and communicate emotions directly, yourself. And I wish I could have told people around me when I was younger to be more patient, because much of society seems to underestimate how hard it is for NTs to grow from directly emotional standpoints. I actually do recommend at the start, except for when you really need to, indirectly solving loneliness issues with logic. Though, not in immature ways that only serve to make things better only in the short term, such as bragging about intelligence or finding an elitist attitude around it, but supporting people in the everyday problems they need in life by using logic to help solve others’ problems. I feel oddly embarrassed about the practice but I had this routine around listing the progress of what I learned regularly, and somehow that served as a reminder around my confidence issues around it. Learning how to communicate my ideas well by reading on how to write articles, doing improv, public speaking tips and even how to express emotions through writing in fiction, non-fiction memoirs or poetry somehow helped improve my confidence because people take me more seriously if I communicate things well. Often if a less experienced NT is doing a lot of effort around intelligence insecurities, the root is not in improving intelligence itself, but knowing how to communicate this knowledge to others so people can recognize it to start building confidence, haha. Though if it’s really because of that, study habits resources such as Thomas Frank’s Youtube channel, Scott H. Young’s blog or the Learning How to Learn course free on the site Coursera and Crash Course Study Habits on Youtube also helps. It’s a win-win for everyone.

      I found finding advice around this was difficult, not only because insecurities around intelligence seem to be rarely discussed compared to ones like money securities, beauty insecurities, parenting insecurities and success insecurities if you ask me. This is partly also because it’s mostly NTs with this insecurity, and I know by experience being one myself that NTs are the least likely to admit it or open up about it. If you attempt to talk about this in other typing communities, NTs would often talk about the NTs have no feelings myth, and I find that personally very frustrating.

  • Kris Braddock

    I wonder if you could use the insecurities you talked about to very quickly identify at least the inferior function. You could make 8 very carefully worded statements, and the one the person has a visceral reaction to would be the inferior function. As you began verbalizing the INTP insecurity (and you nailed it), I knew it was coming, but I still felt instantly sick to my stomach. Other insecurities registered at a cognitive level, but only that one triggered me. (It would be interesting to see if I have the same reaction on a second listen.)

    To Joel’s point about losing our strength as we get older, while my greatest insecurity is not being understood (and thus liked, respected, appreciated), my greatest fear nearly my whole life has been losing my mind as I get older, i.e. my Ti primary function. While insecurity and fear are almost interchangeable, I wonder if there’s a distinction there.

    One final point concerning at least IxFPs is how lonely and trapped you can feel in your insecurity, i.e. trapped inside yourself where it seems no one can understand you. This podcast has helped my wife (ISFP) and I both feel validated, and in turn has helped us to begin understanding and valuing each other like more we should.

    This was supposed to be short, but us xNTPs have trouble stopping once we start! 😉

    PS – I love your Ne-filled conversations, though they do drive my wife crazy! 😉

    • Kris Braddock

      Interestingly, on second listen, I processed the mention of the insecurity completely different, almost like Si was remembering the previous listen, thus my reaction was not visceral at all. So, data set of one, but using reactions to lists of insecurities as a litmus test might be a one time spontaneous activity.

      And my Ti will not leave me alone until I correct the IxFP in my previous post to IxxP. 🙂

      • Joanna

        Wow. As a fellow INTP, I feel understood just from reading your comments. If I didn’t know you wrote them, I could probably be convinced that it was me.

        I have a strong urge to elaborate on this, but my battery is about to die. Which is probably for the best as I’d like to be asleep before the sun comes up.

        PS. I don’t expect you to recognize yourself in me based on this post, but I’m sure I’ll have more to say after I listen to this episode—something I now want to do after reading your post (which I meant to lead with before I was struck by this eerie familiarity.

        PPS. My one sentence PS is longer than my entire message.

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