“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
Growing up, one of my greatest struggles was not understanding how it was so difficult for others to put aside themselves and fully understand someone else’s perspective. I assumed, naively, when first learning about the functions, that any Feeler type could put their bias aside and know how someone else feels. This, apparently, is not true, because only Intuitive Feelers seem able to achieve it. It happens without us intending it to, but can also require our deliberate intervention. It allows us to “feel” others’ happiness and pain and to be happy or sad for them. It makes us weepy about emotional arcs in television shows and movies, even if we don’t happen to like the character going through it. Most of all, it has the intense power to completely change how we see someone; to push aside resentment for love.
Before we pride ourselves on being superior to other types in our ability to be impartial and see all sides of an argument, I’ll add that at times our own emotions can get in the way. To truly embrace impartiality, we must learn to “die to self.” It is difficult for me to put my biases aside, and truly “understand” how someone else feels when it comes to debating an issue that I feel strongly about. It makes it even harder to think about how I can literally see and understand their perspective, but they are incapable of doing the same for me. As a selfish sinner, I don’t think that is fair. They can’t see my point of view, so why should I see it from theirs? Why must I be the selfless one?
Once I see their perspective, mine is never quite the same again. It makes it hard to hold on to a grudge or feel angry over their decision. It’s impossible to hate others when you are able to understand their point of view, and what led them to form those opinions. Atticus in this sense is the embodiment of what an ideal, mature Intuitive Feeler should be… someone who puts aside his own biases to see others for who they truly are, to learn not to judge them but empathize with them. He stands firm on his moral values, but in all else, encourages impartiality. He knows he is going to lose the courtroom case, but he does it anyway because the defendant deserves a fair trial and a good lawyer. Atticus, in the end, sacrifices himself and what he represents (the law) out of compassion for Bo’s need to be protected in his shyness. He sacrifices justice for mercy.
How does this even work for an Intuitive Feeler? Describing this ability is best expressed by referencing an episode of Friday Night Lights. The series revolves around a football team in a small town. A visiting team was completely out of hand and abusive toward “our” team. The coach did nothing to reprimand their behavior and even started a fight with “our” coach. Resentment builds toward him among everyone, even the mild-mannered Coach Taylor. He finally gets mad enough to go over and confront the visiting coach, but just when he’s about to blow a gasket, he learns that the visiting coach’s wife is dying of cancer. Just like that, our perspective as the viewer shifts. Everything changes. The anger goes away, replaced by intense compassion. His behavior is all explained. Our empathy replaces our rage. We can’t hate him anymore.
This is the kind of powerful emotional clarity Intuitive Feelers are capable of at all times. It requires tremendous personal sacrifice to do it, because we have to let go of all our old resentments, prejudices, and opinions, but it lets us see people from an entirely new perspective. Much as I resent it at times (I can’t seem to hold on to a grudge for any amount of time), it has also given me some of my greatest experiences and gifts. Only an Intuitive Feeler could see Pontius Pilate in a new light, through unbiased eyes, and come to love him as a character and have great compassion for his plight. It’s easier to think him evil, or foolish. It’s much harder but also more rewarding to step into his shoes.
It’s a great gift that we possess, if we only have the courage to use it.