What is Introverted Sensing to INTPs?


In this article, we’ll talk about the third function in the INTP’s cognitive stack called Introverted Sensing and how it shows up for us.

It’s one of the stair steps to get into the lower end of our cognitive stack, which Personality Hacker refers to as the “backseat” in their car model. It can be a bit of a tricky function for INTPs because, being lower in our cognitive stack, it takes some time and can take a bit of a toll on us.

Cognitive Loop

As our third function, it kind of has the sophistication of a 10 year old child. 10 year olds (of any type) are kind of in this weird place where they’re starting to be smart about some things, but they’re still kind of dumb. They’re going to have some good ideas every once in a while, but for the most part you shouldn’t be relying on them to make decisions.

And now that gets really tricky because it is an introverted attitude. And because we are naturally introverts, it’s going to be a very comfortable place for us. So it’s going to be a place where we can get into what’s called a “cognitive loop,” where we get stuck in seeking comfort. Introverted Sensing is about long term chill, comfort, and traditions. We’ll set standards, traditions, and processes for ourselves but struggle to put it into action. Introverted Sensing is also about doing a lot of the hard and repetitive work. Finding routines and dedicating our time to things.

This can be difficult for an INTP, for example, if we’re trying to build our own business. For me, it showed up as over-dedicating my time to things. I’ve been fired twice in the past because I tried to rely too heavily on my Introverted Sensing when I was not so good at it. Meaning, these were jobs that required routines and processes. When I would go through one of these automated processes, I would be putting in the time and effort but my brain would be shut off. And that’s when I’d make mistakes, such as misspelling something or missing a part of the process.

Integrating Ti & Ne

I’m not good at following instructions or following a pre-established order. And the thing with Introverted Sensing is that it’s about establishing our own rule sets, not necessarily the rules of the world and what’s already been pre-established. But in some cases, yes, we should be looking at them.

We need to use our Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Thinking to scrutinize what Introverted Sensing is being presented to us. So often people just do things because they’re used to doing it. And that’s really what our Introverted Thinking is doing in scrutinizing the stuff that has come before so that we can come up with new ways to do it.

So that can get tricky for us. We can get stuck in our routines and processes. We can get into a place where we are being dissonant with ourselves and not breaking our own rules and not checking our routines to make sure that our routines still make sense and that it isn’t just comfortable. And that’s when we can get into a place of discomfort or dysthymia and get a little bit depressed if we are not taking care of ourselves by integrating our other functions.

Safety & Security

Another way that Introverted Sensing shows up is in stress. Our stress response as an Introverted Sensor, for me at least, shows up as being avoidant and quiet. For example, if somebody starts yelling at me or showing some form of aggression that requires an ego defense response, I shut down and my walls go up. You’re not getting anything from me. I’m very concerned with my own personal safety and security, and I’ll get more defensive.

And that’s another thing about Introverted Sensing in general: it’s about personal safety and security. You can see why that is the polar opposite of Extraverted Intuition. Extraverted Intuition is about playing, taking risks, and trying new things. Introverted Sensing is about “what have we done before? What are we used to doing? What is safe?”

And that can manifest in our Introverted Thinking making excuses for Introverted Sensing in the cognitive loop. So that means like sitting around playing video games and not being productive for two days on end. And that’s not to say that you can’t engage it in play. One of the best ways to utilize your Introverted Sensing is to engage in play.

Introverted Sensing may like to play video games, perhaps even specifically something from your past that gives you a sense of nostalgia. A lot of INTPs will listen to music that they’ve listened to since high school. We kind of listen to the same things over and over again. But that brings us joy.

Novelty Anchored in the Familiar

So Extraverted Intuition kind of checks in with Introverted Sensing, like, you know, “oh, let’s listen to some new music but only if it kind of sounds like something we’ve heard before.” We’re not going to go completely to a new dimension. We might just try something that has the anchor of Introverted Sensing.

Those things living in a duality is pretty important, right? That’s something that I’ve realized about myself is that I’m more likely to try something new if it’s sort of attached to something I’ve done before. For example, I’m more likely to explore and say yes to things if I know it’ll be with someone I’m comfortable with. I feel more safe and secure if I’m with someone I care about or someone that is important to my personal history.

Positive Uses

A few ways Introverted Sensing can be used more positively include creating a sense of security for you or someone else, creating a homey feeling in your life, learning how to cook, or doing research on useful things that have come before.

This is showing up for me a lot right now in my business. Looking at what has been tried and true in the marketing world. Having to learn all the linear steps for making videos or articles such as this, creating and running my website, setting up courses that you are able to access, etc. But then I also apply a little bit of my own flair to it. But at the end of the day, it’s about taking those pieces and doing the long, arduous, hard work.

Developing Introverted Sensing

If you’ve done a lot of work with your Extraverted Intuition, then Introverted Sensing is kind of what’s next. Usually in the path of development, it often comes a little later in life, usually in your 30s at some point.

Learn how to get better at just doing the hard work — being able to sit, focus, and grind it out. Don’t push too hard trying to do it all the time. But, y’know, build up from doing just one hour to being able to do it for two hours, or even up to three. Any more than that is probably too much because we still really need to spend most of our time on Introverted Thinking and Extraverted Intuition.

Next Steps

I talk more about my story of developing my Introverted Sensing and the ways I found to also apply my Introverted Thinking and Extraverted Intuition to it in my Cosmic Calibration for INTPs course.

This course has 15 audio segments of advice, things that I’ve been learning in my life, ways that I’ve learned to calibrate my Extraverted Intuition and my Introverted Sensing, share a little bit of my story and challenges with mental health as a result of these things, and some of the challenges with my Introverted Thinking in the past and how I’ve kind of grown from these situations. I think a lot of INTPs would really benefit from this.

Through the course, you’ll also have an opportunity to share your story with me and I can then give you some action items with some ways to grow, some things to think about, and perhaps even some personal mind experiments to do to figure out the best way to navigate life going forward.

Because the world’s not always built for us. So we need to find our own path. And sometimes that means connecting with another person who has a bit of knowledge and past experience who’s done it before to share in that part of your growth.

So click here to go check out that course.




Freelance Creative Director using personality psychology and developmental systems to support creative growth. http://www.workwithcnote.com

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Christian Rivera

Christian Rivera

Freelance Creative Director using personality psychology and developmental systems to support creative growth. http://www.workwithcnote.com

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