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Being Uncommon: How Your MBTI Personality Type Changes The Experience of Giftedness – with Willem Kuipers

  • by Imi Lo


In today’s conversation, we talk to Willem Kuipers. Willem is the author of the book Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon, where he explores the gifts and challenges of being a highly intelligent, highly intense and sensitive person, and introduces three practices to become more effective in work and private life.

Recently, Willem has published an article about how extra intelligent people with different MBTI personality types experience their intensity. We will hear Willem tell us about his taxing childhood experience, how he later learned to see new possibilities in the way he is. We will go through clusters of MBTI personality types, and how different people relate to their giftedness. We will talk about dealing with impatience and typical mistakes.



Willem has coined the concept of extra intelligence (Xi) 17 years ago, founded the website, and published his book Enjoying the Gift of Being Uncommon in 2010.

He has written extensively on the topic of giftedness and intensity in his website, 


presentations, articles and books in Dutch and English. He recently published in the journal “Advanced Development, a Journal on Adult Giftedness” an article “Being Gifted, being me”.
His vision is to stimulate extra intense and intelligent people to welcome their unique possibilities and increase their personal effectiveness in the process.


Sound Editing: Sam Lehmert (





I was kind of a bit timid, not very muscled person with glasses who was quite unsure and it sure was obviously smart and getting into trouble because of it.

l I think at primary school I had a funny teacher who for, as he explained later, for educational purposes explained to the class that the sun turned around the earth. And as of course I had read many books about astronomy and all these things I thought it wise to ask the teacher, “Isn’t it the other way round?” And of course, he replied that I should hold my tongue, and he was the teacher.

So next day I brought a book to prove my point and that typical behaviour isn’t helpful. Of course, my parents backed me up, and he explained to my parents that it was very educational to explain it to the children the way he did. But some of these things, and of course …

Consider Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and some of the examples, and the way she gets into trouble with teachers are recognizable to me.


I became more aware of my sensitivities only very many years later. So the traditional story of childhood trauma is in a way even now still coming out of my own closet, and I think I’ve been spending the last couple of years to become more aware of the sensitivities or at least how they were inadvertently, and not by most people, not on purpose, rather shaken by my environment.

In my late 40s I discovered the subject of what I call extra intelligence and intensity, leading to I dived into a process of rewriting my biography— And that is hard work. I feel somewhat becoming emotional in considering it, but it’s so very worthwhile and rewarding.

My understanding of giftedness shifted some years later. I was very lucky to come up with the idea to when I frame it like I do it now, to leave the path of objectively and verifiable measurement of giftedness to subjectively receivable feeling of recognition of the typical characteristics of giftedness.



My work is based on Type Theory as introduced by the ladies Myers(-Briggs), as well as on David Keirsey’s and Linda Berens’ work. Keirsey and Bates wrote in the 70s their book about temperaments and Keirsey later re-edited it.

Keirsey accumulated the 16 Myers-Briggs types into four temperaments and related it to the old temperaments as the Greeks already used.  He said, “So the names of the four temperaments are artisans, guardians, idealists and rationalists. And so for people who are first time in the Myers-Briggs, the artisans are SP, the guardians are SJs, four of them of course all. And the idealists are NF, intuitive perception and feeling and the rationalist are NT, intuitive perception and thinking.

The value of he approaches that these temperaments are value driven, you might say. So for an artisan, the values are impact, thrills and freedom.

Many gifted and intense people may have quite bad experience with Myers-Briggs testing because they test non-significant. And that’s basically because they relate to two types more than one. Although that’s against the rules, as their personality is more complex, they are two types at the same time, or at least technically everyone has all the 16 types in him or herself.

But due to the complexity of the character, often more than one type is very visible and also very attainable to perform with for the intense and intelligent person.


SPs are about concrete sensing and perceiving. They are at their best when they have the freedom to perceive.

Someone who has that temperament is basically not very interested in the subject of giftedness as this is a label that will constrain him or her, and it’s not something they think is very interesting.

They like mastery and maybe they will consider the idea that giftedness is just a nonsense subject, but that if you work hard and practice a lot you will achieve mastery in what you do.

They can be entrepreneurs, they are everywhere where an effective reaction on change is an advantage. They’ll become pilots, they can be artists, they can be entertainers, they can be  politicians.

So for them, giftedness is not something they easily relate to and especially they wouldn’t consider that it’s important to get these label. But if you view them from the point of intensity, they may be very well served if they have either themselves reflective capacities or know someone to reflect with. The funny thing is when you’re very intense with your extroverted perception, and you notice everything around you, it’s sometimes more difficult to notice your inner world as you are more focused on your outer world.

So often they need someone else to tell them how intense they are.


The guardians are the stable kinds of persons.

So they’re concrete sensing, but they are of the judging kind. they like structures.

they like the label of giftedness very much. For them, societal responsibility is very important value. It’s these people who consider that giftedness is something that has to contribute to humanity, society, whatever.

The guardians are really formed of the concept of giftedness because it’s measurable, and it relates to feeling an obligation to perform for the sake of society, humanity or whatever.

They are very organized and diligent and detail-oriented, and they’re often at education because they like the structured environment and of course they have their feeling that through education they’re helping society forward.


NT stands for intuitive perception and thinking. These are the strategic thinkers who would like to be effective, who like to view from many perspectives at the same time, but in a hard-wired way. I mean they are thinkers. They like data and they like clear measurements and they like excellence.

They’re not basically not interested in the concept of giftedness either, but they are interested in their own excellence and they will work hard for it.

But for them it’s not about a label, it’s about how to achieve excellence and master the world. They think completely different about the subject.

And intensity— they don’t like that at all because it’s all these emotions. They are just very bothered by their emotional intensity because it keeps you from getting a clear view of the objectified reality.

There are developers, software developers, but they’re also strategic thinkers in, say, the military. It is obviously a rationalist who clearly thinks of he has an overview over the battlefield and directs his divisions, doesn’t care really about casualties, but about the strategic result.

Einstein was probably an NT.


NF stands for intuitive perception and Feeling. For these people, well, giftedness or intensity is all about the inner experience. And it’s all about how their personal characteristics express themselves to the outside world and how this can be as authentic as possible, plus development.

They ask: “Who am I and why … how do I relate to the world and why do other people relate to me the way they do?”

They’re not about judging in the sense of you’re a gifted person or you’re not a gifted person. That’s not the issue. The issue is how does it feel every day to be them, and can they optimally develop themselves through reflection and support.


This may be a spiritual answer- it is to have compassion with yourself and with other people. If you can practice that, that’s helpful.

The practical answer: Find an environment where you’re not considered too fast or too much; where you may find your peers and where they just appreciate your speed, your multiple interests, all these qualities, all your intensities.

If you notice that you’re also very impatient with yourself— change yourself. Compassion helps.

Everyone is suffering in some way and including you.

When you’re intense,  It’s hardly possible not to become overloaded from time to time. So I do think that that vertical alignment, that connecting with the ground and with the sky, with earth and with sky to be able to let go of unnecessary loads and emotions and other people’s energy. And connecting to the sky, to be inspired and to be aware of something that is bigger than yourself, is the more spiritual way of dealing with impatience.


The more intelligent you are, the more aware you are of all the things you don’t know. So you tend to think that you’re actually very dumb.  So they become insecure, unsure about themselves. you have such high standards because you have to overcome your seemingly own dumbness, that it’s never good enough.

The difficulty with intense people is that they may be too aware of all their conflicting emotions.

They need in a way equanimity to look at themselves.

Equanimity is the mental exercise that you somehow detach for a moment and say, “Okay, let’s look at myself. I do this. What happens?” Mindfulness relates to these kinds of exercises.

When you’re intense, you need practice really to keep your emotional balance.

Connecting with my body also helps, it keeps me in balance. Through yoga and meditation. My body needs a kind of slow but focused approach to remain balanced. And that if I do, and it’s very recent insight, that when I sabotage exercises such as yoga and meditation, of which I’m perfectly aware that they are healthy, important, relevant, then basically I am rejecting my own intensity and that links to of course old criticism of people around you and say, “Why are you always so emotional? Why do you always cry at movies? Why don’t you?” all these kinds of things come back.

Intensity is really only appreciated when you love your body and all elements of it and find ways to be present in all fibres of your body. And I’m still learning to do that.


Judith Orloff’s The Empath’s Survival Guide.


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Consultant and Author at Eggshell Therapy and Coaching | Website

Imi Lo is a consultant and published author with extensive experience in mental health and psychotherapy across diverse international settings. She specializes in working with highly sensitive, intense and gifted adults. Her books, 'Emotional Sensitivity and Intensity' and 'The Gift of Intensity,' are internationally acclaimed and available in multiple languages. She integrates psychological understanding with both Eastern and Western philosophies, such as Buddhism and Stoicism.

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