feeling vs. thinking

I always considered myself a thinker, someone who evaluates all the choices in a certain situation and chooses the one with the best outcome. Even this blog’s tagline involves the word ‘think’ twice. But maybe I am not as much of a thinker as I thought I was.

It’s true, I do think a lot. Falling asleep is a very difficult thing for me to do because I need to be really, really, REALLY exhausted to fall asleep fast, it usually takes me a while to quiet the chatter in my brain, sometimes it takes hours regardless of how tired I am. I live inside my head, sometimes too much for my own good. Does this make me a legit thinker though?

I make rational decisions, I think. But do I really? Do I? I do whatever feels right and good for me at any given point, highly guided by my emotions.

My first class report card doesn’t feature any grades because we were not given any back then, just a wordy evaluation by the teacher. Mine says that I’m a smart cookie who gets disinterested very easily when the topic isn’t right up in my interest alley, instead I tune out until something catches my interest again. Almost 20 years later, I haven’t lost that characteristic, it has been with me all my life. As long as I can’t get into it at least a bit, I am completely out of it.

When I say I’m bad at learning stuff by heart than that’s not the entire truth. I did learn my Human Factors Engineering facts easily because it interested me and I put actual effort into it, resulting in one of my best grades in my university career. Basically the same task only for my business classes was, however, too much for me. I nearly failed them, I just couldn’t store that information in my brain long enough to make it to the exam because I could find no value in it for me. It wasn’t relevant to my interests and so I tuned out again and did only the necessary things to get by.

It’s not as if I didn’t try to get better at this, to trick myself and work harder but it somehow doesn’t work for me. I am either into something or not, there is no in-between, no grey zone. I do base a lot of my decisions on feelings an intuition. Math always came naturally to me, languages didn’t, so don’t ask me for any grammar rules in any language because I don’t know them. Or punctuation. I also can’t analyse my way through a poem or story properly, not for a lack of trying or interest in stories, they are just not as clear as 1+1=2 always was. That last part could just be normal, some people are good at math/science some are better at languages and such.

What got me thinking about this was the Meyers-Briggs test I took a couple of weeks ago because I wanted to see which Harry Potter character was like me. The result was INFJ. (Apparently this means I’m like Remus Lupin which I am completely okay with).

I – Introversion
N – Intuition
F – Feeling
J – Judging

The F is what threw me, I was pretty sure I’d get the T for thinking but nope. As I started to think about it more, it did start to not feel so alien to me after all. The characteristics part on the Wikipedia article does capture me pretty well, I guess. As does this more lengthy description.

Source
Source

Apparently thinking doesn’t always make one a thinker. Just because I think a lot, doesn’t mean I am a rational being, quite the contrary, I am a highly intuitive person, I live by my own set of ideas and have a very unique pace at which I do things. I ultimately get to where I am supposed to be in life but it takes my own inner compass and timer to get there. There are not shortcuts for me, but by now I’ve learned that I do get there, even though it might be a little slower or not on the straight and easy route that everyone keeps pointing out to me.

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  • Tim

    I went through this same revelation myself a couple of years ago. I was very convinced I’d fall on the INTJ side of things, and going into college I was an INFJ by one point. That said, the longer I’ve been alive, the farther I’ve fallen into the INFJ side of the spectrum. It’s a great place to be.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Yep, it does feel quite nice and cozy over here. It’s funny that you’re also an INFJ since I read it’s one of the smallest categories out there.

      • Tim

        I know three INFJs besides myself: You, Erin (analyfe), and my girlfriend. I tend to get along with them really well. Oddly enough, INFJs are almost always a Neutral Good or a Lawful Neutral in Alignment Theory.

        • Wilhelmina Upton

          Huh, fascinating. I already forgot what the Alignment Theory said I was, something with good I remember nut that’s it.

  • cupitonians

    I am an ISTJ but the guy who did my test for me, and he is an authorized MBE- which means the Queen approves of him, said that I must’ve faked the results cause I can be an emotional person. I really sturggle with that though, cause like you, I’m rational and like to think that all my decisions are solid. So when my boss asked me a question, I would always respond with a “I think …” and he would get annoyed at me and asked me what I “feel” and that would in turn piss me to no end. How can what you think and feel be so different? But apparently it is. I feel your frustration and there is actually nothing wrong with either alternatives.

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      I come to think that it is different in a way but then not so different at all. This hardly makes sense, I guess.

      • cupitonians

        It is different, I suppose. Because some feelings are instinctual and doesn’t make sense. Like you can be completely secure in a relationship but “feel” jealous? That’s how I try to explain it to myself anyway

        • Wilhelmina Upton

          Okay, yes, that’s true. I see it more of a tendency though. My F means I lean more towards the feels-y intuitive side instead the thinking one. Like with so many other things concerning humans, this is not a binary scale, there are many things in between these two extremes.

  • Nicole K

    “ine says that I’m a smart cookie who gets disinterested very easily when
    the topic isn’t right up in my interest alley, instead I tune out until
    something catches my interest again. Almost 20 years later, I haven’t
    lost that characteristic”
    *raises hand* that makes two of us… I really enjoyed this post, it is nice to know I am not the only one with this kind of characteristic

    http://thelovelytwentysomethings.blogspot.ca/

    • Wilhelmina Upton

      Yep, it’s always good to see one is not alone in this. Thanks for stopping by :)

  • Oh yes, that learning & discarding based on interest & usefulness was completely me too. Still is in some ways. Work stuff, tell me All. Car stuff, eh whatev. I’m an INTJ by the way.

    • I guess that kind of being never fully goes away. There are things at work I love doing and that I finish quickly and then there is stuff and it takes me forever to do it even though there is no reason it is taking me this long.