Podcast – Episode 0364 – Personalities Are Flexible Not Static

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia embark on a conversational exploration of personalities and how they can become more dynamic and flexible instead of static and stereotypical.

In this podcast you’ll find:

  • How personality type is a living, breathing thing for each person.
  • Why you might not fit the mold of your type.
  • Why the cognitive functions are more than just descriptions.
  • What the cognitive functions really are and how you shape them.
  • The things that influence our cognitive functions.
  • Why there is always more to explore in each cognitive function.
  • Why you are using a particular cognitive function, but don’t think you are.
  • The different ways we specialize in a cognitive function.
  • The Analytic or Holistic version of your cognitive functions. (From Dr. Dario Nardi’s book The Magic Diamond.)
  • How your upbringing affects your type.
  • The diverging outcomes for Introverted Sensing (Si):
    • Joel (ENFP) and Antonia (ENTP) share some type struggles.
    • How experience has affected Joel and Antonia’s Introverted Sensing abilities.
    • The pitfalls of paperwork for ENxPs.
    • Why Introverted Sensing trips ENxPs up.
  • The many variations of Extraverted Sensing (Se).
    • Why Extraverted Sensing likes hands-on experiences.
    • What deal-making does for Extraverted Sensing.
    • Why Extraverted Sensing doesn’t have to always be physical.
    • How ESFPs can show up so differently.
  • What happens when you get more competent in a lower cognitive function?
  • Are we being judgmental through some of our cognitive functions?
  • Fine-tuning what it means to be strong or weak in a cognitive function.
  • Removing the static labels used for personality types.
  • Why we should stop projecting stereotypes in Myers-Briggs.


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Showing 10 comments
  • Jared David Alexander Vaughan

    Te is better at paperwork than Ti. Hence there are do many STJ accountants.

  • Anonymous

    Preferred cognitive functions come from a combination of unique nature, values, and experiences. These preferred cognitive functions emerge in early childhood.

    A sensor is not going to become an intuitive outside of some life-changing event like a near-death experience, and an intuitive will never become a sensor.

    I disagree with your assertion that personality type is flexible. How often do you see someone’s personality type totally change, outside of some life-changing event? The answer is: not very often. They might start to develop their shadow functions, but they are unlikely to experience a total change in personality type. In fact, in some cases, a total change in personality type might indicate a mental / brain disorder or dysfunction.

  • Chelsea O'Brien

    Really enjoyed the insights on my judgements of others, and new ways to consider where those stem from. The practical explanations and personal examples made this episode stick with me!

  • Julia

    To respond to Joel’s question about being judgmental regarding ones 4th function, for me I don’t think judgmental is the right word personally. Harmony is my 4th function/3 year old process and I really get how hard it is to do well and very much empathize with others struggles to learn to use and integrate it, whether or not they are ahead of or behind be on the developmental scale or don’t even have it on their radar yet. While I would say I am pretty understanding/tolerant of others who are also underdeveloped and clumsy with this function (or lazy in trying developing it), it is still a function that is a big hot button and complete deal breaker for me to have anything to do with someone who deliberately misuse it, especially those with enough skills to know what they are doing and be harder to catch at it. From that perspective it is likely the function that I have the strongest emotional responses to (and that is probably what you were trying to get at with judgmental) but for me it is much more the intent rather than the level of skill (or effort put it) that pushes my buttons.

  • Maria Olofsson

    Wow! I got so inspired listening to your conversation! I’m an INFP and a reflection that has been with me for a while just came up while listening. I was thinking about that the variations and strengths/weeknesses of each cognitive function also can be related to our Enneagram type. I’m an Enneagram type 9 and I’ve noticed that both the autheticity process and exploration, well all the functions are expressed and interpreted quite differently if a person is an INFP and another Enneagram type. That’s maybe why I got confused at first when I got in contact with the Myers Briggs system, because I couldn’t relate to the stereotype characteristics of the INFP.

    The willingness to search for holism in life and see patterns in that way has been a natural inspiration for me since I was a kid and also the interest in kinestetical experience of emotions and energies in the body, while others might naturally be drawn to other areas. Being unique or being considerd unique might be an effect or a result of using the authenticity function but striving for uniqueness itself as a separate thing just doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe that’s different for other INFP:s?

    Interesting that you mention all the different components of social context, language, social heritage and everything else that make up how we focus and perceive reality and how the variations of the cognitive functions develop. So great having that in mind, even if it’s hard sometimes to be aware of the cultural glasses that I’m naturally wearing. 😎😁

    So good reminder that we all are plastic and can can change, be more aware of the blind spots and that it always comes opportunites to develop, interpret and get new “aha”s about parts of our functions.

    Thank you, this podcast made me more humble both to myself and others! ❤🙏😄

  • Jessica Wilcox

    Thank you for this episode! I’m an INFP and when Joel was discussing gaining some hard won competency around your lower functions, (and thus judging people who don’t do it) I had an “ah-hah” that I’d like to share.

    I was a chubby and depressed child and teen. Once I was out of my parent’s house I got on board with portion control, daily exercise and personal growth (after experiencing some very dark times). I’ve been at it for 20 years, and I’m happy to say that I’ve gained some competency around personal wellness, or at least I’ve found what works for me and continue to work to streamline or improve these areas.

    I found myself judging a fellow INFP (about 8 years younger than me) who just wasn’t taking the same steps I had to improve her physical and mental state through taking responsibility and making it a daily grind. This episode helped me to understand why it bothered me so much when someone so similar to me wasn’t doing a better job of taking care of herself. I was really confused by my negative judgement towards her because it isn’t like me to worry too much about how other people run their lives.

    Thanks so much for the insight!

  • Steve Cotterill

    I loved this episode of the podcast and it made me reflect a great deal, particularly on how I use TE as an INFP. I think I use it as a way to keep track of the world, mostly because I really identified with Joel’s sense of being judgmental which I tend to get around people who don’t pay attention to the news or learn about other cultures – I just didn’t realise that I was doing it and that that was how I was using TE most of the time.

  • IxTx?

    Given what you discuss in this episode – that the functions can manifest in many different ways, and add to that change over time – how is it at all possible to find one’s type? Sure, there are different areas, but where can you learn what goes where, the “bullet points” as you put it? Especially as almost everyone on the internet talking about type has a different opinion about it.

    No matter if the functions has corresponding true physical differences in the brain, or is just some kind of system of understanding something about… I don’t know what, it isn’t a good system if the ambiguity isn’t less than random chance…

    Another question regarding finding type: You often talk about people avoiding to use the aux/co-pilot function because it is the opposite attitude. When trying to find my type: How do I know if a function I don’t particularly like using is further down the stack, or in fact my aux/co-pilot? The variety in its use? Something else?

  • Annelie Rachel Niemeijer

    I agree with this episode. It’s easy to relapse upon your associations, which makes cognitive functions a static thing. Because we look upon those things through our own personal reference/experiences it’s easy to miss other applications of those same cognitive functions. I think it’s very eye-opening to look at cognitive functions as a verb instead of a pronoun. I think this way of seeing things will broaden my horizons and lead me to more personal growth.

  • Alejandra

    I’m great with paperwork.
    I filled my immigration papers without help of a lawyer. Saved 2k.

    This episode is very useful because I was raised in an environment where everyone expressed openly their feelings and there was a lot of physical affection and I’m used to that. I think I developed a bigger degree of EI than others entj
    That didn’t quite fit the stereotype of entj that portrait them as bit×/=÷s uncapable to express feelings, for a long time

    On a side note, you guys are relationship goals. 😀

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