The Other Side of Introverts

Nine Ways to be an Introvert by E Wagele

I saw something today on my web site’s INFP page that sent a chill up my spine:

The inferior function
Introverted feelers’ least developed and most unconscious function is extraverted thinking, which may be triggered by being criticized or self-criticism. It often takes the form of nit-picking or being hostile, critical, or sarcastic.”

 This is a quote from my book, The Happy Introvert, A Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self  from the chapter Introverts, the Workplace, and Myers-Briggs.

INFP stands for four of the eight Myers-Briggs (MBTI) personality preferences: introversion, intuition, feeling and perceiving. (The others are extraversion, sensation, thinking, and judging.) I am an INFP, though the typical Enneagram 5-Observer (me) is an INTP. In other words, I’m an introverted feeler with intuition. I’m comfortable with my inner life but when I should communicate I don’t always do the right thing. This is where my inferior function, extraverted thinking, comes in.

I was having some problems concerning a friend and felt self-critical for continuing the relationship. Eventually I started making verbal slips. The things that came out of my mouth (my extraverted feeling) were shameful; things I never would have said consciously. I nit-picked, I was hostile, I was critical. Since I didn’t quit the relationship consciously, my unconscious stepped in and did it for “me.” As Jung said, the conscious and unconscious act to balance one another.

I saw why I should have paid more attention to the following advice I gave INFPs and ISFPs in The Happy Introvert:

“If you are an introverted feeler, you value ideals, art, and life, and are motivated to improve the human condition. When something upsets you…, instead of retreating, make a point of staying and working things out. Make sure your environment is safe for expressing what you think and feel, or you might notice you are holding back your opinions.” When we hold things back, they sneak out when we don’t want them to. Oops!


Feeling types make judgments according to such values as compassion, beauty, empathic connections, and harmony. Introverted feeling types (INFPs and ISFPs) value personal experience and subjective meanings so highly, they look down upon collective opinions and the extraverts who hold them. They become inflexible when their deepest beliefs are threatened.

Introverted feelers with sensing, ISFP’s, are compassionate, use and take pleasure in their five senses, and tend to be good listeners. If you are an idealist and a soul-searcher, you may be an introverted feeler with intuition, an INFP.

Typical occupations for INFPs, include psychologists, artists, writers, philosophers, teachers, editors, inventors, and musicians. Your intuition is extraverted. If you are an introverted feeler with intuition you are creative, recognize potential in others, and understand abstract, intangible aspects of life. Avoid jobs that place you in highly competitive situations. Honor your need for quiet, consciously use your thinking ability to determine whether you have overlooked any important facts or details, and look for opportunities to engage your imagination.

The rich inner life is definitely worth all we “introverted feelers with intuition” go through. When I see a flower, a blade of grass, a Coke can, or anything else, I have a richer experience than someone whose inner life is neglected. That’s just one of many things that I love about being this type.Nigel Thompson, an INFP.

NOW The Career Within You is in Korean and Japanese. See the Japanese cover:

For Famous People’s Enneagram and MBTI types see my Psychology Today blog and my web site.


Famous HAPPY INTROVERT: Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite

Napoleon Dynamite by Elizabeth Wagele

It’s been 7 ½ years since the movie Napoleon Dynamite came out in 2004 and six years since I devoted the appendix of THE HAPPY INTROVERT to the Enneagram types of the movie’s characters. Now the writer and director of the movie, with help, have turned it into a Sunday night animated TV series. The original actors take the parts of the characters’ voices. Napoleon and his brother Kip still live in Idaho—with their grandmother. I haven’t seen the TV show, but from what I’ve read about it, it doesn’t capture the subtle qualities the movie does. It goes for definite jokes instead of the slow, nerdy humor more typical of introverts. The movie’s charm depends on being understated. It doesn’t sound like this series replicates that.

When I first watched the movie on DVD, I almost turned it off after twenty minutes because I was bored. But I came back and watched it again. And again. I started to love Napoleon and his veiled sweetness. He advises his friend in a quiet way, “Just listen to your heart – that’s what I do.” I believe he’s a Peace Seeker type in the Enneagram.

I love Napoleon because he isn’t swayed by what his high school crowd values. He knows who he is and he’s comfortable with himself. His life isn’t about being popular, but about doing his own thing. He’s strong, loyal, virtuous, and doesn’t beat himself up about being grumpy. In fact, for a Peace Seeker to allow himself to be grumpy is an achievement. Most Peace Seekers try to be pleasant most of the time, even when they don’t feel that way.

Napoleon plays a video over and over for many weeks in order to learn how to dance–only because he wants to. He has no reason to tell anyone about it. When he falls in love, he catches his girlfriend a delicious fish—it’s not the usual way to express love, but it’s his way. It comes from his heart.

Napoleon’s style of being in the world is understated. He’s true to himself and his friends. I like hearing him ask kids at school in a monotone voice, “You having a killer time?”

If you want to find out more about introversion or the Enneagram personalities of Napoleon Dynamite, his friend Pedro, his brother Kip, his girlfriend Deb, his uncle Rico, and the kids in his high school you can find out in:

The Happy Introvert, a Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self. By Elizabeth Wagele, published by Ulysses Press, Berkeley CA

More famous types can be found on this blog, on my Psychology Today blog, and on my web site.

Where True Self Meets Personality

Cover of The Happy Introvert

I changed the name of my blog on WordPress from The Career Within You to Enneagram… Exploring Your True Self a few months ago. I wanted it to represent all of my work instead of one book since the initial year’s promotion of the career book had passed. (The Happy Introvert is my one non-Enneagram book, though includes the Enneagram.)

The reason Enneagram… Exploring Your True Self is an interesting, perhaps controversial blog title is that some Enneagram enthusiasts believe the nine Enneagram types do not represent our true self, but stand for ways we cover up our true self with dreaded personalities or false selves. Our task is to find our authentic self, so the theory goes. And do we ever find it? What is it and where? And what am I now? Am I worth nothing until I have become enlightened by shedding my personality? How am I to reconcile having so much improving to do in the age of NOW?

I used to be a member of The Conversation, a forum magazine editor Jack Labanauskas got together on The Enneagram Monthly. Theologists, professors, writers like me, and others participated and tried to hash out questions like this. We never got closer to resolving this problem than people ever seem to get with the question of free will.

When I wrote The Enneagram of Parenting, I realized we have inborn styles of behavior. We express our true selves in a certain style and we act out habits we use as defenses in the same style. The styles of behavior we’re born with are in our DNA so they are true and natural. A person who has been consistently happy or grouchy or neat or messy or introverted from day one didn’t get that way by training.

One reason I was attracted to calling this blog Enneagram… Exploring Your True Self is that it shares part of the title of my introvert book: The Happy Introvert, a Wild and Crazy Guide for Celebrating Your True Self.

Do you know what your self is? Do you know what your personality is? When I feel anxious, I know that I am the least mySelf. I will act too smiley, too pleased, or too much the way others want me to act out of fear. When I am the most secure, especially when I’m alone or with one or two others I trust, I am the most myself. My behavior and my inner thoughts and feelings all match. I most know who I am at those times. Normally, even if I feel anxious, I don’t put on a big act that I’m someone I’m not. I can’t be out of my quiet space for very long no matter what. Pretense doesn’t sit well with me. When I’m uncomfortable, I’m likely to just be quiet.

Let me know what you think of your self and your personality. Is your self on an authentic/phony continuum? Is there a self/personality continuum or are they the same thing riding along parallel? Are your defenses the real you? What and/or where is the authentic you?

“Help! There’s an Observer in my House!” Guest blog by Theresa Hoang.

No, not that type of observer/stalker. If that were the case, I would instead be whipping out my phone to call the police instead of writing a blog about it. I’m talking about the Number 5…the Observer on the enneagram. People who are “Observers” are very analytical and wise. They (surprise, surprise!) observe. They want to understand the world around them and how it works.

This explanation of the Observer would be the perfect description of my 12 year old brother. As the eldest of four kids, I have tutored all three of my little siblings. And I must say, he is the most difficult one to tutor.

For example, he is very slow at answering questions. It would take him forever to answer a simple yes-or-no question. Even his teachers at school have talked to my parents about him being very silent and non-responsive—that he needed to pay attention in class. My brother recently asked me a question about sex-linked traits for his biology class, and I went on a 20 minute speech talking about genes and heredity. When I was done, proud that I remembered something from my AP Biology class, I asked, “So does that answer your question?” And all he did was stare at me. All I did was stare at him back. And got angry. I asked, “Were you even listening to me?! You can’t even tell me if you understood me or not?” And my brother stood quiet. Then finally, after a full ten minutes, he uttered, “I still don’t get it.” It would drive me nuts when this happened. I mean, does it really take that long to realize you don’t understand it?

My parents even took these signals as signs that he was getting behind in school, and they have hired countless tutors to help him. But still, his old habits stayed the same.

However, after starting my externship with Elizabeth Wagele and learning more about the Enneagram, I discovered so many things. After reading her The Enneagram of Parenting, I concluded that my brother was definitely an Observer. He has a “quiet personality,” “likes to be alone,” and “seems uninterested in social norms,” just to name a few (The Enneagram of Parenting). I never knew that my brother could not help but be the way he was. He wasn’t slow or anything. His mind just works differently.

I decided to put what I learned to use. Late last night, my brother called me to help him with math. I was sure to be patient. (Two times during the conversation, I told him to call me back so he could think about it until it made sense to him or until he realized he did not understand it. It worked.) Lo and behold, after about half an hour, he figured out the problem! Because of finding out what his “type” was, I learned that he wasn’t blatantly ignoring me or not understanding the concept. He just needed to sort things out in his mind before saying anything. Reading this book made me realize how important it is to understand how other people work. For me, this just doesn’t pertain to how I should be very patient towards my brother when helping him, but also to how I should be very flexible in how I treat other people, because their personality types might be very different from mine. Now, I just need to tell my parents (and make them tell my brother’s teachers) about my newfound discovery…the enneagram!

Theresa Hoang is a University of California, Berkeley, student majoring in music and biology. She is an extern for Elizabeth in January 2011.

Another book relevant to this blog is “The Happy Introvert” by Elizabeth Wagele. Included is a chapter on introverts as children, which covers most 5-Observers.

Fives From the Inside

Drawing by E. Wagele

(This was originally  submitted to an IEA project on “Enneagram types from the inside out” and published in the “9 Points Magazine” October/December 2010 issue.)

There are two main ways people misunderstand us Fives (Observer types). The first way often involves projections, which may be anything from “oh you poor dear, you’re so socially inept you need help…” to “you’re so quiet because you think you’re superior to us…” to “you-re so smart I’m scared of you!”

1.     I don’t think I fit into the socially inept category. I’m far from a social genius, but I’ve heard a couple of people say I’m “poised,” maybe because I’ve developed the art of the poker face, which some people may take for poise.

2.     In the past I was quieter than I am now. If I want to be heard I’ll usually speak up. I’ve learned it’s a good idea to let people know who I am before they start inventing things about me. I also feel pretty non-judgmental as I think most of us Fives are. We are different from most other people—not better—which isn’t easy, so that helps us be compassionate.

3.     A lot of Fives seem smart because they love to collect information. I’ve never had a good memory for some kinds of information but I do have a good memory for music.

Another way people misunderstand us is from Enneagram stereotyping. For example, I’m a “Feeling type” in the MBTITM system, an INFP; I have a strong Four wing. (Most Fives are “Thinking types.”) My feelings happen to me immediately; they don’t delay until I’m home or alone. The knowledge I crave is often emotional. I prefer movies, for example, that are personal, with artistic photography and music—not grand smashing epics. Some Fives avoid drama because it’s too much for them. I like it if it’s good art that holds together well. People and art need integrity; I don’t like glitzy stuff or phoniness. I don’t think I’m cold, a machine, or a bundle of fear as some of the stereotyping goes.

Something related to being misunderstood is that I sometimes have a hard time translating the thoughts and feelings in my mind into words. They will be in the form of a kind of structure or picture. This isn’t a problem if I’m writing and have plenty of time, but in conversation you have to quickly make what’s in your mind verbal in order to keep up.

Some Fives may feel they don’t exist. I’ve been asked what “not existing” means. For me it’s a combination of not being noticed, not feeling involved in what’s going on, and feeling as though I live in a different world. Most Fives are introverts. We often aren’t stimulating to extroverts (until they get to know us) so they don’t see us.

One advantage of being a Five or an introvert is my ability to entertain myself. I gave my book, “The Happy Introvert,” its title because I was often running into people who thought introverts were morose or unfortunate. I wanted to dispel those attitudes right on the cover. Anyway, if I’m in a doctor’s office, for example, with nothing to do, I can look at the bare wall and find something interesting in its imperfections. Our curiosity is a big advantage. Many of us are especially happy alone. We’re good friends to ourselves. I never have enough time to engage in all my interests.


I wouldn’t be surprised if most of us Fives say that our social skills could be improved. For example, I can’t imagine being an enthusiastic catalyst to a group of people. How can I call myself an Observer when observing hasn’t taught me how to negotiate social scenes with ease? I must have a gene missing that would have helped me pick those skills up. I’m just not going to break into a conversation people are having at a cocktail party, for example. But I don’t even like cocktail parties. They’re too noisy and—have you ever noticed—people seem to laugh at nothing just because it’s time to laugh?

When I was in grade school, I’d often feel like a disappointment to the adults at recesses and lunch because I didn’t know how to join a group at play and I’d never just barge in. This must come from my own dislike of being barged in upon. So I’d go off to a part of the school ground that was overgrown and enjoy the meadow, trees, and birds. Other than that, I’d watch the other children. I’d feel bored in school a lot.

It’s easiest to be with people who chatter enough for me to feel I’m off the hook as far as starting conversations goes. Maybe it’s a form of social anxiety that my mind goes blank, for there’s plenty in there I could talk about. I don’t understand how some people can talk on and on about what seems like nothing.

When I was in my early forties, I made a project out of making as many friends as I could in order to get over feeling Awkward around people. I have learned how to feel comfortable being me and no longer feel as much like an alien thanks to that decision. My friends help me feel I belong.


Music was my big interest from my earliest memory. I taught myself how to play the piano at first, and then I talked my parents into getting me a teacher. I liked making up stories with dolls, including making villages for them out of twigs at the base of large trees.

My father was also a Five. He was a scientist and I admired his knowledge, his dignity, his sense of humor, and his character. One of his sisters, a Seven, was another hero of mine. We’d sit in a restaurant and she’d make up stories about the other customers. It was as though she was giving them Enneagram numbers but it was way before our current Enneagram of personality days. Her stories were full of intrigue, adventure, and humor. I found out decades later that the bridge parties she claimed to be attending were really trips to gambling casinos.

More on Me (no, I didn’t say Moron Me)

I was asked what my best and worst qualities are. I’m punctual, competent, I try to be objective, I like to be kind to people, and my friends seem to appreciate my warped sense of humor, which is also an asset when it comes to making cartoons. I’m not always as diplomatic as I’d like to be. My worst quality from deep inside of myself is my self-criticism. It never stops. I try to love myself more and quit beating myself up but I haven’t yet reached my goal.

My family is mostly my husband, my four children and my eight grand children. I completely devoted myself to raising my children and I loved it. I got to stay home with them, teaching piano lessons after my husband returned from teaching high school. I quit teaching when I became involved in writing books.

These days I write a blog every week, one on WordPress and one on Psychology Today Both are called “The Career Within You.” I’m also working on a book on how people face dying and think about death according to their Enneagram type. In addition, I work on promoting “The Career Within You,” my CD, “The Beethoven Enneagram,” and my other books I also work in my garden and play the piano at parties. I’m learning some Beethoven violin/piano sonatas, too – the piano part.


I used to think of myself as a self-preservation subtype. I don’t follow the stereotype—for example, I don’t horde things—in fact, I try to keep my possessions to a minimum. I do have the introverted personality that seems consistent with self-preservation, however (not that all s.p.’s are introverts). I spend little time in groups and I don’t have the attention-getting mannerisms you see in many one-to-one subtypes. I can see why Mario Sikora thinks I am a social subtype, however, because of my motivation for writing my books: I wanted to spread the Enneagram starting with “The Enneagram Made Easy.” I wanted the Enneagram community to read them, but the bottom line was always “can someone who doesn’t know the Enneagram understand this?” I wanted to keep our wonderful system alive and growing so I reached outside the system to people in relationships, parents, children, music lovers, and people wanting help with their careers. I’m always hoping to draw in people who’ve never heard of the Enneagram. That’s why in “The Career Within You” Ingrid Stabb and I took the big step of hardly mentioning the word that scares some people off: “Enneagram.”


If I could leave a legacy I would set an example for everyone to think clearly and rationally, to be kind and inclusive, and to take the unconscious part of their psyche seriously. Building upon C. G. Jung’s legacy, another hero of mine, I record and draw my dreams and attend dream classes to help me work with them. Our inner worlds are not only fascinating and informative, in ways they are more real than the outer world. I would like my legacy to include a message against perpetuating hatred, racism, and imperialism and for the principles of humanity, compassion, and reason. The Enneagram can help bring people together. I would like to leave a trail of acceptance, thoughtfulness, empathy, non-violence, respect for nature, and appreciation for the arts in my wake.

– Elizabeth Wagele (to see original article Click Here)

The Happy Introvert: Napoleon Dynamite

“Just listen to your heart – that’s what I do.”

I used the title character of the movie, Napoleon Dynamite (2004), as an example of an introvert in the appendix of “The Happy Introvert.” He knows who he is and he’s comfortable with himself. Napoleon marches to his own drummer rather than following the collective. His life isn’t about being beautiful or popular, but about doing his own thing. He’s sweet, strong, loyal, virtuous, and grumpy (not all introverts are grumpy, however). And he becomes a hero.

Napoleon has the ability to focus on a video for weeks and weeks in order to learn how to dance. Wow, does he ever learn how to dance! And he does it for only one reason: he wants to. There’s no need to tell anyone else about it. Having learned this skill happens to lead to a heroic act later in the film. When he falls in love, he catches his girlfriend a delicious fish—it’s not the usual way to express love, but it’s his way and it’s touching because it comes from his heart.

Napoleon’s style of being in the world is understated. He’s true to himself and his friends and he’s inspiring. I like hearing him ask kids at school in a monotone voice, “You having a killer time?”

If you want to learn more about the personalities of Napoleon, his friend Pedro, his brother Kip, his girlfriend Deb, his uncle Rico, and the kids in his high school you can find out in:

The Happy Introvert, a Wild and Crazy Guide to Your True Self. By Elizabeth Wagele, published by Ulysses Press, Berkeley CA

Buy here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound