Bryony asked: I am an INTJ with an unhealthy Se function. Out of curiosity, is it possible to change this?
Yes it is.
I had a very unhealthy Se function at one point in my life –so unhealthy in fact, that I wasn’t using it at all (I’ll let your imagination fill in the connotations of that happenstance). Here are some tips for developing an unhealthy Se function.
#1 Get outside more often
When I was still living at home, I used to take regular solitary walks in the woods. I would do it barefooted, and I would bring nothing with me, so it was just me and the trees. At the time, I just viewed it as an escape, but looking back, I realise that the frequency with which I enjoyed those forest walks really helped me to develop my Se function.
Barefoot, and having brought nothing with me, everything became focused on the sensory experience of the place. My feet felt every twig, every squish of mud, and my eyes saw everything. Contrary to what literature and film would have you believe, forests are not quiet. They are in constant motion, and as I spent hours sitting beneath great maples there, I listened to every tug of the wind on branches, the shaking of brambles where the birds hopped.
It was when I left home for the first time and lost quick access to those retreats that I lost touch with my Se function entirely. In learning to regain it, I had to resort to new methods (because my university is in the city, I didn’t have ready access to the outdoors).
#2 Get a new hobby that involves physical activity
When I left home and started to lose track of my Se function was when I first took up swing dancing. My ISTP rock-climbing friend has been out-of-country for a year now, and since he’s the one with all the equipment, I had to drop that hobby when I left home.
I realised that if I wanted to stay rooted in the physical world, I needed to directly engage myself in it, so I tried something that I had never done before.
Do something physical regularly. Go for a daily run. Take a hike. Join a dance club. etc.
You’re not an upper-Se-user, so your activity doesn’t necessarily need to be spontaneous or spur of the moment. You just need to do something that will involve you in the moment and force you to focus on reacting to immediate changes.
The reason swing dancing is a great option (for me) is that once you’ve learned all the steps/moves, the entire dance is improvised. As an INTJ, it can be terrifying to react to new music in-the-moment, coming up with steps as you’re putting them into action, but it’s good for us.
Most team sports or outdoor sports will give you a similar need to react to new things.
#3 Develop your artistic side
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to become an artist, but it does mean that you need to pay attention to aesthetics, or at least the visual details in the world around you.
Growing up, I spent a lot of time drawing, painting and taking pictures, so my Se function was always in use.
In re-learning to utilise my Se function, I had to consciously remind myself to notice my surroundings. “Look at that tree,” I’d tell myself, “notice something new about it every day you walk past it.”
#5 Use visual study methods
I’m a doodler. All through my kidhood (yes, I just made that a word) my class notes were more covered in drawings than they were actual information. Nowadays, my professors what us taking notes on a laptop, so I’ve had to make serious revisions to my note-taking strategies.
Even though I’m taking notes digitally, I still find ways to make them visual, for instance, by formatting them like movie scripts (yup, I am that awesome).
I also use chalk markers and dry erase markers to write out my study materials on the windows of my apartment (I can’t afford a giant white board, so I use the windows).
Then there is the Method of Loci, or Memory Palace, which I’ve discussed in depth in prior posts (you use Ni and Se when using this method).
These aren’t necessarily the visual methods you have to choose, but I’d strongly recommend exploring visual learning methods if you haven’t already.
#6 Touch things
Yes. Touch things.
But seriously, I used to trail behind my mother in fabric stores running both hands down either side of the aisle so that I could touch all of the fabrics. I still wander through stores wanting to touch interesting textures when I see them.
In general, pay attention to how your environment is textured. What does the wind feel like? Is it hard and icy, or warm? Does rain seep down into your hair follicles when it hits you, or does it drizzle down your face?
I don’t think there’s much more explanation I can give you for this specific piece of advice. It’s pretty self-explanatory.
#7 If all else fails, get yourself an xSxP friend
I’m not saying you need to make friends with somebody who’s a risk taker, extreme sports lover or Jackie Chan. However, if you want to develop your Se function, it helps to spend time interacting with people who use it as an upper function.
There are all sorts of upper-Se users out there. Some of them like to take risks and pull stunts. Others really love to hug you. Others will constantly point out details in your physical environment that you wouldn’t normally notice. Still others will make you drop your books and come outside to play football with them. Some will bring art and imagery into every part of your life. Some will introduce you to dance.
My ISFP room-mate is a very, very tactile person and expresses affection through physical touch. The same is true of my ESFP brother. Both of them are huggers. Both drag me outside to entertain some activity that is spontaneous and not part of my rigid schedule. Both are perpetually making noises with their mouths, humming, singing, burping etc.
Gradually, you will (maybe) learn to hug them back…or at least switch from this:
If you want a good example of how an xSxP friend will encourage the development of your Se function — Harold and Maude is a great classic film example.