Do you often find yourself having these feelings of deja vu? As if you can sense things happening before they even do?
Introverted intuition (Ni) involves having a deep, almost paradoxical understanding of things surrounding us.
Oftentimes, it’s hard to explain exactly how or why you know the things you do.
Your dreams sometimes eerily come true. Your gut instincts rarely ever fail you. And you understand people and situations in ways that simply defy logic.
What exactly is introverted intuition and how do you know you have it?
In this article, we’ll discuss everything about Ni and all the signs you may have it.
What is Introverted Intuition?
According to celebrated Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung, intuition is an “irrational” function, something that comes from sensation, rather than “rational functions” of thinking or feeling.
He categorized introverted intuition as a perceiving function, as opposed to decision-making functions.
Certified MBTI® practitioner Susan Storm explains:
“Intuition is a way of perceiving the world and gathering information. Introverted intuitives focus on the subjective, internal world of the unconscious to find abstract and symbolic connections and relationships between the unconscious and the environment. Ni-users are focused on discovering underlying meanings, significance, and patterns.”
Introverted intuitives are unique in their ability to perceive the internal world within, giving them an enhanced understanding of abstract connections, symbolic relationships, and the unspoken strings between the environment and the self.
It is the ability to understand how things fall together, either consciously or unconsciously.It’s also the ability to recognize past events and understand how that can lead to future events.
While it may sound like a magical ability, it isn’t. It’s simply the ability to put pieces of information together and come to accurate conclusions, without really realizing how it’s actually happening.
What makes introverted intuitives different from extroverted ones?
Isabel Briggs-Myers creator of the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory—the theory of 16 psychological types of personality according to Jungian principles—says that intuitive introverts have unique insights into relationships and are prone to flashes of brilliance from their incredible imagination.
Carl Jung says that these flashes of brilliance tend to occur because of the make-up of the unconscious mind, which is why it may happen almost automatically without one consciously understanding how it happened.
What separates intuitive introverts is their ability to not only draw conclusions from the information presented in front of them but to look deeper into the subconscious mind to gain insights.
The difference is also because they don’t like speaking about their intuition.
According to Carl Jung himself:
“The introvert is more difficult because he has intuitions as to the subjective factor, namely the inner world; and, of course, that is very difficult to understand because what he sees are most uncommon things, things which he doesn’t like to talk about if he is not a fool.
“If he did, he would spoil his own game by telling what he sees, because people won’t understand it.
“In a way, that is a great disadvantage, but in another way it is an enormous advantage that these people do not speak of their experiences, both their inward experiences and those which occur in human relations.
Unlike extroverted intuitives, introverts deliberately keep their intuition to themselves, although they may share their experiences with people they’re close to.
10 Signs you are an introverted intuitive
Are you an introverted intuitive? Here are 10 signs that you might be one:
1) You have difficulty explaining your perceptions
Much of what you understand and believe comes from “inside” or the internal world, and you often have difficulties explaining them in words.
When you try, it sounds like abstract rambling, making it almost impossible for others to understand.
This makes it frustrating and lonely at times. But it is one of the things that mark introverted intuition.
According to author and MBTI expert Dr. A.J. Drenth, it’s not because you don’t want to explain it. It’s just because you need to put more effort into formulating your explanations.
“This process can at times be difficult and painstaking, sometimes taking longer than birthing the vision itself. But in order for others to trust and get behind it, INJs must do their best to translate their vision into words, images, or formulas.”
2) You lose yourself in meanings
Because you find yourself focusing on the abstract and symbolic, you lose track of the concrete and physical details around you.
According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, introverts have more gray matter in their prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain handles abstract-thought and decision making, which means that introverts use more neurons to process information.
In short: your brain uses more effort in digesting thought. That’s why you are frequently
“lost in thought.”
You are a Ni if you sometimes find yourself wondering about the deeper and complex purpose and symbolic place of things in the world.
3) You daydream
You make daydreaming a habit. The reason is that you like to use new information and play around with it in your mind.
You need to examine theories and ideas. Then, you need time to experiment with them.
This is when you truly achieve your greatest insights—your “aha!” moments.
In the book, Conversations with Carl Jung and Reactions from Ernest Jones, Jung explains:
“When you observe the world, you see people; you see houses; you see the sky; you see tangible objects. But when you observe yourself within, you see moving images, a world of images generally known as fantasies.”
Intuitive introverts look at things in a different light.
4) You’re independent and like to be alone
Introverts are extremely independent. They channel their Ni when they’re alone with their thoughts.
That’s because you don’t really gain social rewards the way extroverts do.
According to a study published in the journal Cognitive Neuroscience, extroverts are more simulated by people while introverts pay more attention to things.
The researchers wrote:
“This finding suggests that social stimuli carry enhanced motivational significance for individuals characterized by high extraversion, and that individual differences in personality are related to meaningful individual differences in neural responses to social stimuli.”
It’s not that you hate people, it’s just that you don’t find them extremely special.
5) You are filled with inspiration
Your choices are determined by your inspiration.
Sometimes it is difficult to explain to people why you do the things you do or where you get the energy to do them because there are times when your inspiration comes from the least likely sources.
In her bestselling book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, author Susan Cain writes:
“There’s a less obvious yet surprisingly powerful explanation for introverts’ creative advantage—an explanation that everyone can learn from: introverts prefer to work independently, and solitude can be a catalyst to innovation.
“As the influential psychologist Hans Eysenck once observed, introversion “concentrates the mind on the tasks in hand, and prevents the dissipation of energy on social and sexual matters unrelated to work.”
6) You always ask: “why?”
There are some who accept every truth and reasoning with no question, but that’s not you.
You always ask why? From the simplest question to the most universal—why is the ocean blue, and why is the universe here, and why does this all fit together?
It’s the same as daydreaming. An introverted intuitive’s brain is more active than the average person. It’s no wonder you like to think deeply.
According to psychologist Dr. Laurie Helgoe:
“Introverts are not driven to seek big hits of positive emotional arousal—they’d rather find meaning than bliss—making them relatively immune to the search for happiness that permeates contemporary American culture.”
You see differently, which makes you question things differently, too.
7) You love planning
When you are inspired to do something, you love to close your eyes and think about the best strategies and plans to achieve your goals.
You get into a kind of mental “zone” where you are completely focused on what you want. And you do your best to figure out how to get there.
Dr. Helgroe explains:
“Neuroimaging studies measuring cerebral blood flow reveal that among introverts, the activation is centered in the frontal cortex, responsible for remembering, planning, decision making, and problem solving—the kinds of activities that require inward focus and attention.”
When you get stuck with an idea, you immerse yourself in every detail to make sure you come true. And perhaps that’s why you feel that things are going to go your way—because you work on it more.
8) You trust your unconscious self
You can’t call yourself an introverted intuitive if you don’t trust your gut instincts.
According to Susan Cain:
“Introverts need to trust their gut and share their ideas as powerfully as they can. This does not mean aping extroverts; ideas can be shared quietly, they can be communicated in writing, they can be packaged into highly produced lectures, they can be advanced by allies.
“The trick for introverts is to honor their own styles instead of allowing themselves to be swept up by prevailing norms.”
When you do things our of pure instinct, you don’t question it. You trust you’re doing the right thing because your intuition tells you so.
9) You need to know the truth
A study published in the Psychological Science suggests that the more reflective you are, the more honest you become.
Introverted intuitives love reflection. They think before they speak, and they like to tell the truth because they don’t have the time nor inclination for lying.
Which means they value honesty in themselves and demand no less from other people.
If you put honesty high on your list, it point to you being an introverted intuitive.
10) Abstract conversations are the best
You love deep conversations, that you dislike it when you’re engaged in small talk.
The more theoretical and confusing a conversation, the more you are attracted by it.
The misconception is that introverts hate people. But the truth is, you just hate small talk.
Author Diane Cameron aptly states:
“Introverts crave meaning, so party chitchat feels like sandpaper to our psyche.”
Now if you’re an intuitive introvert, you may be questioning your value to the world. After all, extroverts tend to garner all the outward success in the world and introverts are left high and dry (even if they do all the work).
But don’t fear, your value to the world is much more than you realize.
Here are 10 reasons you’re awesome (and much needed in this world).
Personality types with introverted intuition
According to the Myers–Briggs Type Indicator, there are 16 personality types to help us understand the intricacies of our unique personalities.
Out of all of these personality types, only two have Introverted Intuition as a dominant function—INFJ and INTJ.
Coincidentally, these two are the rarest personality types in the world. Together, they make up only 3% to 5% of the population.
Which only goes to show how special intuitive introverts are!
Let’s take a closer look at these two personality types.
INFJ – “The Counselor”
(introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging)
INJFs are known to be creative, dedicated, and are sensitive but reserved.
People with this personality type are often deep. Couple that with their creativity, and they experience a lot of “eureka” moments.
According to Dr. A.J. Drenth:
“Since Ni is a Perceiving function, INJs often report that its workings often feel effortless. When INJs express the need to “think about” something, this means something very different from what it might for other types. Namely, the lion’s share of INJs’ “thinking” or cognitive processing occurs outside of their conscious awareness.
“Their best thinking is typically done without thinking, at least not consciously. For INJs, “sleeping on” a problem is as sure a route to a solution as any..”
Often, INFJS simply know things, even when they don’t know why or how.
INTJ – The Architect
(introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging)
INTJs are perfectionists, highly analytical, and intensely private. People often mistake them for being arrogant, but that might only be due to their private nature.
They are also quite independent. Their unconventional freedom from authoritative figures makes them perfect for introverted intuition.
INTJ’s “out of the box” methodology allows them to think of creative solutions while their analytical skills allow them to execute them realistically.
Dr. A.J. Drenth explains:
“In seeing the world through Ni lenses, their typical mode of operation is well described as impressionistic. Rather than noticing or concerning themselves with the details of the world around them, their existence is more cerebral or dreamlike.
This can lead them to feel estranged from their physical environs, not to mention their own bodies.”
Observers may find INTJs as having “their own worlds” but this only makes them more perceptive of things other people would overlook.
How to develop introverted intuition
Now that you’ve established that you have introverted intuition or Ni, you might be curious about improving it.
But can it be improved?
Introverted intuition is a handy trait to have. After all, who doesn’t want the ability to recognize patterns and foresee the future?
However, Ni’s rarity makes them underappreciated and their abilities unexplored, which means there’s very little material explaining its nature and the possibility of improvement.
In fact, introverted intuitives may find themselves “ashamed” of their gifts, making them subconsciously. They even frustratingly try to “fix” themselves.
Don’t make the same mistake. If you’re willing to embrace your introverted intuition, here are some ways you can improve your gifts:
1. Embrace your intuition
The oddest thing is, when you suppress your intuition, you find yourself in the worst situations.
That’s because you’re going against your nature.
If you want to improve your ability to foresee the future, you need to embrace your intuition—no matter how strange or unexpected they come.
According to Francis Cholle, author of The Intuitive Compass:
“We don’t have to reject scientific logic in order to benefit from instinct. We can honor and call upon all of these tools, and we can seek balance. And by seeking this balance we will finally bring all of the resources of our brain into action.”
Instead of pushing away your intuition, learn to accept it with open arms. You will see greater confidence in yourself.
2. Seek silence
As an introvert, you love silence.
But sometimes the societal pressure to “go out there” gets the best of you and you find yourself deliberately surrounding yourself with noise.
Your Ni needs to be nurtured. You can only do so in a quiet environment where your perception can blossom.
According to Sophy Burnham, bestselling author of The Art of Intuition:
“You have to be able to have a little bit of solitude; a little bit of silence. In the middle of craziness … you can’t recognize [intuition] above all of the noise of everyday life.”
Don’t forget to give yourself room to breathe. Your thoughts and feelings won’t make sense in this chaotic world unless you quiet down.
As an introvert, you’re not someone who likes confrontation or situations where you’re not in control.
It’s likely why you sometimes struggle with your Ni.
Yes, it’s nervewracking and intimidating when you feel your intuition taking over. But don’t push it away.
Listen to what you’re feeling. There’s a perfectly good reason why your introverted intuition antenna is perking up.
Author and motivational speaker Jack Canfield says:
“Intuition usually isn’t loud or demanding – it’s subtle and communicates in different ways for different people.”
However, there’s one sure way to know that it’s time to listen to your Ni.
“Sometimes intuition messages are simply a deep sense of knowing and certainty. If you’ve ever felt that you knew something to be true in the depths of your heart or soul, chances are it was a message from your intuition.”
Meditation is now taken seriously all over the world. Studies have proven its many health benefits.
According to researchers from the University of Iowa, intuition is handled by the brain’s so-called “axis of intuition” or the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC).
Suffice to say, if you want to improve your intuition, then you can do cognitive exercises that improve the prefrontal cortex.
A study conducted by Wake Forest University observed the brain’s activity after four days of mindfulness training. They found, among other things, that the activity and interconnectivity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex greatly increased after meditation.
Try to squeeze in at least 20 minutes of meditation every day. It won’t only do your intuition good, but it will help your mind and body as well.
INTJs and INFPs—the only two personality types with introverted intuition as their primary function—are both creative by nature.
It only goes to show why introverted intuitives experience their sense of deja vu precisely when they’re in the middle of a creative process.
According to author and researcher Carla Woolf:
“Intuition and creativity are fundamentally, interdependent and interchangeable. They reflect the highest forms of applicable intelligence for any and every ability.
“Creativity on its own requires a lot of perspiration. Allowing our intuitions to work means that we use more inspiration than perspiration – because there is less energy required to use intuitive knowledge than knowledge that requires conscious efforts.”
You don’t need to be an artist to go through the creative process. You just have to allow yourself to think and do things in your own creative way.
Introverted intuition is such a rare trait to have. It can be frustrating to cope with something only so few can understand.
However, you have to realize that it’s not something strange or weird. People might look at you strangely when it happens or when you speak of it, but it is a valid thing to experience.
It’s not something you can get rid of. In fact, you shouldn’t even try.
Instead, learn to embrace this strange, complex and paradoxical gift. You can even enjoy it.
Don’t fight against it. Use it as your own compass. You’ll be surprised where it can bring you.
You might not even know it, but it might just lead you to wonderful and memorable experiences.