I know how my body feels when stress is nearing.

My heart starts pounding, my internal antennas are on alert, my teeth clench, and my mind becomes hyper-focused almost causing a self-made headache. As the adrenaline races through my veins, I pause, breathe, and sigh. Then I open my eyes and am thankful that I caught the warning signs of my “triggers” early enough and can do something about it.

As an INFJ ( (Introversion · Intuition · Feeling · Judging), common work stress triggers are dealing with tedious details that extend over a period of time and meeting deadlines. To overcome this feeling, I know that providing myself some needed “space” will help me to refocus and deliver on the required objective.

Identifying my triggers allows me to minimize uncontrolled reactions.

What this means, is that I can witness the feeling, own it, and control my next steps. This is instead of ignoring the stress and allowing my worst-self to win. You know, freaking out or misplacing frustration and lashing out at others. I gained this insight through understanding my Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) Typology and the order of my preferences.

Being “in the grip” of your inferior function (or worst-self) is an enlightening part of Carl Jung’s typology. The inferior function is the hidden part of our personalities that emerges most dramatically during times of stress, fatigue, and illness. There are four mental functions described in Jung’s typology that are categorized into two areas:

Perceiving Functions (how we take in information)

  • Sensing: Those with a preference for sensing gather information through the five senses focusing on concrete facts, details, and experiences that occur in the present.
  • Intuition: Those with a preference for intuition gather information as patterns or global wholes. They focus on interrelationships, meanings, and possibilities in the future.

Judging Functions (how we come to conclusions, make decisions)

  • Thinking: Conclusions are based on logical analysis of Sensing or Intuitive information. The focus is on fairness and objectivity.
  • Feeling: Conclusions are based on personal values about Sensing or Intuitive information. The focus is on empathy and harmony.

Every individual uses all four of these mental functions.

However, there is a hierarchy of energy, with one function getting the most energy and one the least. Once you know your best-fit type and order of preferences, you can identify which one is your inferior function. Once you have that information, there are common triggers you can learn about your inferior function to manage stress effectively.

It starts by answering questions such as:

  • How do I perform when I’m at my best, in my dominant function?
  • How do I perform when I am under stress?
  • What are the consequences to me and others when my inferior function responds to stress and change?
  • Based on my type dynamics, what key things do I need to keep in mind about reducing stress for myself or others?

As a certified MBTI® practitioner, I’m able to help individuals and teams learn the early warning signs of stress for different type preferences. Understanding your blind spots and how you can be less of a source of stress to others is paramount in managing team dynamics.

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