Pasa Fino asked: I have a question which regards Se in a social setting. (I am an INTJ btw). This and the other Se post were helpful in a general sense, but here is a problem I personally encounter.
Whenever I am around people I don’t know well or consider as a friend, I behave in the way I am most comfortable with: distant, observant, serious, quiet, etc.. but when I am with the few people I consider my friends my Se seems to take over my brain in a most distressing manner. I begin to goof off, talk loudly, I become quirky and playful, and overall, much unlike myself. I go home feeling like a total fool. The worst thing about it is that I have little to no control over this while it is happening.
Otherwise, I integrate my Se via art, music, karate, and watching comedies on YouTube, and can control it decently well when I am in my normal environment or interacting with friends over the internet.
I am in my late teens, so I am hoping that in my twenties my Se will be somewhat tamer. Has anyone else encountered this problem? If so, is there a solution for an immediate solution for it?
#1 Yes, many INTJs experiences this:
In order to illustrate to you and others, that discomfort with the Se function is not something that any of us are alone on, I’m going to share an experience that is deeply personal to me. This is not just for you, Pasa Fino (though it is for you), but for all the people out there who may be struggling to connect with the more frightening, more human parts of themselves.
Transferring into adulthood after a very traumatising youth, I experienced discomfort towards my Se function that was very similar, though much more dangerous, than what you’ve described. In the darkest period of my PTSD journey, I had in fact, completely disassociated myself from my Se and Fi functions in order to survive. During that time, I did not use them at all.
Fortunately most INTJs will not undergo Se discomfort to the extreme that I did, but regardless of the difference in level of discomfort, the road to revitalising an Se function we are uncomfortable with is very similarly structured.
In my case, this meant re-teaching myself how to use my Se function from scratch long before I was capable of being “comfortable” with Se. And this is one of the things I want to stress in this post—the idea that our level of comfort with our Se function has largely to do with how much time and effort we devote to using and developing it.
I recognised this, and recognised it’s danger even more, and in order to reverse it before I devolved further, I made drastic changes to my lifestyle in order to force myself to use my Se function on a daily basis. I joined a Swing dance club, got involved in my local Lindy Hop and Blues dancing scenes and made friends with other dancers.
One thing that you’ll encounter in any group of dancing-friends is an utter lack of boundaries when it comes to personal space. There are no personal-space bubbles on the dance floor, and this transfers directly into our relationships off the dance floor. No couch is too small for any number of people, and how many times four of us have fallen asleep together crammed into the back of a car on the way home from a Lindy Hop competition, I cannot count.
For me, this subculture was at first horrifying, then uncomfortable, then finally…expected if not normal. And yes, I am the one among my dancing friends who will still refuse hugs, and who tends to get everyone back on track when they’re getting to spontaneous. However, I have now redeveloped my Se function (which, prior to the traumatic events of my childhood/youth, was very well developed). And as I began to re-learn how to use it, I (like you) was very uncomfortable thinking of myself as spontaneous, or, as you put it, not entirely in control of every one of my actions. But honestly, a little spontaneity and foolishness—a little feeling—is what separates humanity from computers.
#2 Think of it as a hurdle, rather than as a problem:
Try not to think of this discomfort as a problem, but rather as a hurdle that you have to practice for a while until you can finally jump over it.
Be aware that Se, no matter where it sits in your function hierarchy, can be difficult to control if let loose (especially if you never take the time to develop it). If this bothers you, just be glad you’re not an xSFP and move on with your life.
I typically like to think of my Se function as an outlet through which to connect with the world and the people around me. And guess what, connection, particularly with other people, typically requires some form of vulnerability. Your most vulnerable functions are typically to be your lower two, in your case Se and Fi. Until you develop these lower functions more, you’re going to be uncomfortable using them, and that’s just something you’re going to have to deal with for a while.
That said, my honest advice is to make a fool of yourself until you’re comfortable with the fool that you are. Because every single one of us humans is a fool in some form or fashion, and anyone who cannot acknowledge that is never going to break free of his/her/their own complacency. To quote the bard, “a fool thinks himself wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool” (As You Like It).
What you need to understand (and convince yourself of) is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with goofing off with your friends. In fact, it is good, or even useful to do so.
My aforementioned dancing-friends (the closest being an ENFP, ISFP and an INTP) frequently tell me that I am the funniest person they know. They each recognise and accept that I am stonefaced and distant in large groups, and heartily enjoy my openness in small comfortable settings. In fact, they actually prefer to spend time with me one-on-one or in a small group because they actually enjoy my company better when I am using all of my functions.
The more you use your Se function in accompaniment with your other functions, the more you will get comfortable with the aspects of Se that are unfamiliar to you. One of the main reasons for this is that the less developed the function, the less it works together with your other functions.As you use it more, you will start using it more in tandem with your other functions, and consequently, will have more control over it.
Just keep practicing all the things I mentioned in my Se development post and everything will be okay.