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INFP or INFJ? Basic Rules You Need to Know

I am donning my unicorn hat and this time playfully revisit the differences between INFJ and INFP.

Mistyping it seems is actually very common especially when you’re new to this trade. Welcome to the party by all means. Get yourself a cookie.

But there are basic rules – and that’s what we are going to take advantage of. To understand and cut to the chase of what is your true type. Are you INFP or INFJ?

There is too much confusion going around online. I don’t blame them. MBTI can sometimes be like that telephone game. At the end of the line, the person had completely got the message all mixed up and far from the original. My end goal is to have a clear-cut distinction between the two.


Here we go:


The Basics… RULES!

This is the beauty of understanding the basics. Like the classics in fashion, they never get old and makes it all easy for us to mix and match. Tried and tested perfection that never goes out of style. We respect that simplicity because there is so much truth in it and always delivers.

It is the same thing with the cognitive functions.

MBTI which is created by the mother and daughter tandem Isabel and Katherine. They have only developed the concept from Carl Jung. They have simplified it and used excessively, for our convenience in the modern times. But it seems that the basic important rules were lost in the midst of translation.



Be someone who understands and not get lost in the noise.

Find your way to the one who started it all. It is Carl Gustav Jung who founded analytical psychology and developed the Cognitive Functions which later became the foundation of the MBTI.




It is not true that you can have more than one type. It also doesn’t depend on the weather, or on your mood, or what stage in life you are. You are born with only one type. With your first dominant cognitive function, that is already well-developed around your childhood and up to early teenage years. This being the dominant is your most effective tool to determine your true type. This is like the unique signature of your personality.

This is also should be your main focus on your study. You know who you are the best. You just need to be honest with yourself.

Dominant Cognitive Function of INFP is Fi (Introverted Feeling) 

Dominant Cognitive Function of INFJ is Ni (Introverted Intuition) 



Our type never changes just like our DNA or our fingerprints. It is the fabric of our individuality. You can get confused, yes. And think you are hovering along the border. Or conveniently switch. But that is far from the truth. You can’t have two types.

This is why, it is best to take the test when you’re in the normal stage or period in life. That means you’re not depressed or mentally unstable or even stressed.

Think of it this way: You act differently far from your normal self and thus can manipulate your results.

What is your normal self? The way you behave when you’re at your best or when there is no conflict or stress happening in your life.



INFP and INFJ are Complete Opposites of Each Other 

No matter how hard you try, telling me of how similar they are or have big similarities with each other. That doesn’t change the fact that internally they are far from being twins. There was never an umbilical cord connecting them to begin with, (contrary to the popular belief) and if you see one, that is an illusion. This is because how they process information are the exact opposites of each other.

This is also a significant way to tell them apart. Thank you, cognitive functions.

INFP  is  (Fi  Ne  Si  Te)

INFJ  is  (Ni  Fe  Ti  Se) 

So please don’t waste this huge information. Get your bearings now and your reality on point. I’m with you.




If the dominant cognitive function clearly has the most influence on how we behave. It is our main preference on how we operate in our daily lives. The function we fully mastered. The next one will be the auxiliary (or the second cognitive function), which we use mainly to connect with others. Also helps in balancing our dominant when it’s overworking.

The auxiliary will also be usually well-developed starting from teenage years up until our early 20s.

In each of our waking moment and with the humdrum beats of our everyday life, these first two cognitive functions makes up 90% of our personality. Why we smiled to that stranger on the street or why we raised our eyebrows when something about that person seems off? Things like that.



So the last two in the four of our main cognitive functions are most likely doesn’t feel very welcoming to us. You’ve been estranged to them long enough that they might as well not exist. And if you do, you find yourself meeting them when you’re in trouble, or stressed or in deep shit.

They can be still fully developed and might become our best of friends but it gets very tricky. They are our weakest preferences for a reason and we usually tap on them when we’re not at the best of moods.

The tertiary cognitive function if approached well can balance the first two functions. This starts to develop around our mid-20s up to our 40s. Coincidentally, that’s the period when quarter life or midlife crisis commonly happens.



The fourth or the inferior cognitive function is our least preference and may never developed at all. This is the source of our demons. The door that unleashes them. We tap on it when we are at our weakest. Surprisingly, this is also the guarded secret to self-actualization when well-developed.

But that’s a lot of hell you have to get through. It happens commonly around between our 40’s to 70’s. Just forget that I told you that.

This is why the more an individual gets older, the harder for them to be typed. Getting wiser by age is another way of saying their cognitive functions are getting a lot more balanced with each other.



Raw human experiences pushes us to reach our fullest potentials. You are healthy and the most mentally stable, when you have developed well – most or all of your functions.

Their combinations have its way of harmoniously balancing each other out like pieces of a puzzle that fits together perfectly and all of them working together in a clockwork.

We are born this way.

We are meant to realize our fullest potentials. We have been given the right tools. Nurture vs Nature… you have to play them on your favor.

You may have been given a good hand, but it’s still how well you play the cards. Be mindful. Win or lose, you pick?




This is another sure way of knowing which one you are. The way we handle stress individually is different, like two worlds apart. Who says being in the rock bottom doesn’t have upsides? That sounded weird but hear me out.

When we are stressed, we usually don’t act like ourselves. You know how it’s like. Each of us have experience it and very familiar to us. This is when we are operating from our weakest cognitive function or the inferior function.

INFP is Te

INFJ is Se 

Both are external functions so your closest friends can actually have a say with this. You can ask their opinion if you are still in doubt, to how you mostly behave when stressed.



INFP is Te or Extroverted Thinking

A logical approach for a feeling type and assists in making quick decisions, to fix a situation or making sure things get done. It doesn’t sound bad but when it’s used too much, it will drain the INFP and make him or her “out of the character”.

The INFP doesn’t like making quick decisions because with the aid of Ne, they can see a lot of options or possibilities and even have a store of out of the box ideas. The extroversion of “Te” will result the INFP when stressed, to be aggressively critical to themselves and others, obsessive with troubleshooting or making things right and doing the job effectively.  Dwelling on the facts and looking for logical answers. For a feeling type, this is not natural.



The Fi-dominants cannot withstand strict rules, people or rigid system that imposes or limits their individuality, uniqueness or authenticity and self-expression. Also relates to self-identity and self-image.

Being an INFP means having a strong sense of self or self-awareness. Which is a very positive thing.

They need an environment which they can express their Fi and exercise their core values. The Fi contributes to the INFP strong sense of right or wrong. They are willing to fight for what they believe in. How they see things and especially how it makes them feel. The main cause of stress to each type also differs depending on the order or stack of their cognitive functions.



For Fi-dominants, using Te when stressed, they can appear uncaring, disrespectful, sarcastic, cynical and cold. They are quick to detect phoniness or insincerity of others and may even call them out for being superficial. Or judge them harshly of conforming.

The mishandling of Te gives the INFP the blame of his or her own failures, or confusion to the outside world. They will lose their caring attitude and become paranoid, irritable, moody and accusatory to others instead. They will lose a touch of their own core values, disconnected because they failed to stay true to themselves, and this accounts to their entire life being worthless.



The Te makes the INFP feel the need to fix things (logically which they are not naturally good at). Which only makes them critical to themselves, to others and to the society or any system they feast their eyes on. Maybe this is why, an unhealthy INFP can be dangerous and a potential anarchist (when they are sick of how things are). When the demons of the Te is unleashed, all hell breaks loose.

Get ready with your bunker people.

But they are more dangerous to themselves. A famous INFP writer Virginia Woolf killed herself. So please, please… be kind and gentle to yourself.

The INFJ and INFP can be the best of friends. They are naturally kind and has the innate ability to see the goodness in people, even to the worst of circumstances. A strong drive to bring out the best in humanity.



INFJ is Se or Extroverted Sensing 

The INFJ when stressed are more inclined to engage with Se activities. They become impulsive and they do it to make them feel good, like a quick relief of the sadness or emptiness they are feeling at the moment. This usually also results to regrets later on.

Se activities are not bad but they are not for INFJs who are Ni-dominant. This means they are not naturally good at it. And when they finally do, they tap the bad sides of doing impulsive things with consequences. When an INFJ continuously engage and mishandling the weakest function, it could undoubtedly end in self-destruction. Again, self-destruction.



What does an undeveloped Se to an INFJ looks like: overeating, impulsive shopping, obsessive exercising and exerting too much, car racing, motorbikes, swimming and mountaineering to name a few. They might even appear as dare devils. Who isn’t afraid to risk their safety because – thrill of the rush, and the goal of overwhelming the senses and can badly result to life or death situations aka accidents, could be on the road or on a mountain because of climbing.



It still depends on the person which Se-related activity he chooses to engage in, it could be just overeating or impulsive shopping. Or combination of them. You know it’s an unhealthy behavioral manifestation because it’s the usual “they don’t act like themselves.”

Being “in the moment” or in the present, is almost eerily unfamiliar to Ni-dominants because we live inside our heads.

We thought we were just born clumsy, so there is this sort of disconnection with our mind, hand and body coordination. Sensors are naturally good at being physically present than Intuitives.



The Ni also works as our inner compass. When it is clouded then this means, our sense of direction internally is gone.

The Ni absorbs information, picking up cues along the way and our subconscious mind digests and analyzes it. When we don’t access it because the Se became our temporary madness. Our gut feelings will not be there to co-pilot us. This is dangerous in the turbulent winds. We are flying blind. Anything can go wrong from here.

It naturally takes us a lot of effort to be in the now. Sensors have no troubles with this.



But this is not the case when an INFJ is stressed, it flips. The cautious lamb becomes a lion at a moment’s notice. Capable of doing thrill-seeking, life-risking activities, anything which overstimulates the sensory.

It will be very frustrating for an INFJ to wake the next day, realizing he’s broke. When he just spent a yearly worth of salary buying a rare antique. Having an expensive taste and admirer of beauty is another INFJ trait which is when stressed, it’s blinding. Then all all-consuming emptiness, unhappiness and regrets follows.

Looking at the aftermath of the tragedy and the reality of the situation.



This is one of the reasons why INFJ has a trouble of keeping money. They like to spend it occasionally, they also save excessively and then voila – also overspend. It doesn’t make sense I know. It is one of those contradictions among the many.



Shopping has that “browsing action” that makes the bad Se devilishly feels good. Or also tweaking into the screens and yes, the act of swiping.

Online shopping must have a blinking danger sign. Or better yet command an AI (Alexa or Siri) to tell us not to go there – DANGER ZONE.

When they are finally forced to see the consequences of their actions. They will somehow question their own integrity. Knowing they’ve been a part of something they were strongly against. Since shopping can be connected to consumerism or capitalism. An INFJ can see all sorts of wrongs. Their mind will go haywire.

This time frying their own brains.



I used Lisa Simpson because she is a good example of an INFJ. You can also notice how mishandling the inferior function will just hurt you more badly. It’s a lose-lose situation no matter how hard you look.



Tread carefully. Navigate the unexplored open ocean within yourself – and find all the right reasons to smile on your voyage.

The world is waiting.




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