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INFP or INFJ: The Value of Introspection


The examination or observation of one’s own mental and emotional processes.

Welcome to the third part of my entry about the ever-confusing question: Are you INFP or INFJ?

Through introspecting, you will have your very own questions answered in no time.

You only need to dig deeper within you and be honest with yourself. Use your own mind, treat it like a magnifying glass in knowing and understanding yourself, this time up close and personal. 

You are in for a surprise – of a lifetime.

Brace yourself. 

This time, we will be digging deeper in the cognitive function stack or order. On my previous posts, Part One and Part Two, I have shared and talked about the first two cognitive functions so far.

But there’s more and a lot to talk about. The last two may be our weakest but they are also as equally important. We will also be seeing how they work together and be a willing spectator wondering on how they do a great balancing act. How well they performed together. Bringing you a life you have always wished for in your heart. A life you have imagined, dreamed for and now doing what it takes turning it to reality. 

Introspection is such a delicate process kinda like dancing ballet. So many elements to consider, to touch or understand… and peel, layer upon layer. It’s a moving art, it takes so much time to practice, many hardships and struggles you have to get through, it should completely consume you to be good at it.

We are so complex individually that we are no doubt a breathing art. It only takes one small pause, a step back yet this time look at yourself differently. Ask yourself: Who are you? What is your true self?

You are beautiful. You are enough.

Cognitive Functions are also a lot like ballet when it comes to that balancing act: the beautifully pointed toes of ballerinas. Flexing their feet and gracefully moving arms, all muscles working harmoniously together for that one spectacular performance of art. It will only take your breath away. 



The Mediator 

The third cognitive function or the tertiary function will play a key role in balancing your first two functions. It can be well-developed starting on your mid-20s. You approach it later in life so you’re mostly likely just shyly getting know more about it. Clumsily and childishly playing with it from time to time.

Like a moth attracted to flame. You are curious. You wonder. 

INFP = Si 

INFJ = Ti 

One way to tell an INFP and INFJ apart is looking closely at their tertiary function. How it affects and pleasingly teases their first two cognitive functions.

Si or Introverted Sensing

Si stores past experiences and organizes them into drawers for necessary or later use. A trusted clerk with a dusty desk on the back of their mind. Dusty for INFP because Si is a weak function being only a third preference for them. When they finally approach it, let’s say when they ask for a file or a folder from one of those drawers. They are normally accessing it because they are stressed.

Si is also equal to having strong memory. A person with strong Si is normally a sentimental or nostalgic person and someone who remembers a lot (details) about their past. Si catalogs important events and even the horrors that happened to them.

Ne is all about these wonderfully brilliant and crazy ideas (and schemes). Ne can trap the INFP by not seeing the present. “N” has that habit of “living inside your head” or imagining. It helps with seeing possibilities and meaningful patterns but too much is always bad. Fi is there to back it up whatever the Ne generates by supporting “is this ‘out of the box’ idea lines up with what I believe in?” or “I value this strongly so I come up with at least seven different ideas and ways of doing it.”

It is not exactly how they phrase it of course… but that’s the gist of it. A sneak peek to give us an idea of how their inner mental or thought process works. Fi and Ne working together like FBI partners. The project should be something they both agree in.

However, an INFP getting caught up between Fi and Ne may have a problem with finishing projects and will hop from one shiny subject or object to another. Just like FBI partners, Fi and Ne also don’t agree with everything.

Fi being solid, final and set on stone beliefs and judgments that has formed from their individuality and self-awareness. Ne being free-flowing wanting to go where the wind blows. It is no wonder there will be a power-play when both are overworked, tired and have come to misunderstanding or a glitch.

Si helps validates an INFP stance/beliefs (Fi) and backing up decisions/ideas (Ne) by providing very detailed examples from their own past experiences. The knowledge of what has worked in the past will give a solid confidence to the INFP. It will drive them to move forward (into action) with their ideas and apply these solutions to the present. Also bringing their attention to the now. To face what is in front of them. 

Si helps free the INFP from the trap of Fi and Ne. 

It creates an inner harmony in the work space of Fi and Ne, makes both of them enjoy a relaxed, flexible and friendly environment.

Once well developed for an INFP, Si will be their favorite breathing room. 

But the trick here is huge, since Si is a tertiary function, that means it’s weak and so an unhealthy use of Si is common. Fi – Si loop is born from this unwelcome process.

Fi – Si loop is normally triggered when an INFP is stressed. Tunnel Vision, fixation, withdrawal and despair are one of the side effects. They would replay the same thing over and over again inside their mind (Si). Then judges the recent past or memories according to their beliefs and values. (Fi)

But past is past and they would just usually beat themselves up with this process. They would only blame themselves more, will withdraw and would lose touch with the balance that an Ne would bring (seeing possibilities/ fresh insights).

Hang in there, if you’re in this loop. Fi – Si is an analysis mode but at one point, one should stop replaying the events and instead focus your energies and reestablishing what is left to be done and if not – move on and forgive yourself.

There are always better tomorrows.


Ti ( Introverted Thinking) 

Most INFJs are highly sensitive, Ni plus Fe is a deadly combo that gives the INFJ that “mystic” vibe. Ni being mysterious and Fe that empathizes. This pairing is no doubt can be very draining. Both functions “absorbs” information (whether it is an emotion or energy or subtle cues) from the external environment. So you got a human sponge who thinks she can save the world, huge burden on her shoulders I must say. But next thing you know, she has to go and disappear… 

She has to run away, hide in the woods, recharge her batteries. Getting ready to face the world again and all its earthly inhabitants. 

What about those INFJs who doesn’t have the liberty to escape from emotional and mental fatigue? Then you will have an evil witch manipulating you by your side (whispering in your ears) – muttering curses left and right. Just kidding. 

Ni plus Fe are both a gift and a curse just like exactly being an INFJ. We feel like we can understand the people we met especially the ones close to us. But once we explode being a patient, peaceful ticking bomb that we are, at that last second we realized how alone, isolated and misunderstood we really are. 

My mother once yelled at me that she can’t understand me. I instinctively thought to myself: How can you understand me when I cannot even understand my own self? 

We feel lost inside our head. 

We feel lost outside our mind.

We feel lost in how we feel.

But we know how you feel better than you do. 

So yeah, where is the justice in that? 

Ti is a gift from heavens for an INFJ who gets lost a lot. And God knows how lost we feel we are, 90 percent of the time. So even though, being an INFJ are somehow idealized or “unicornized” by many. There is really no fun in being one. At least try asking one… and they will let you know. It’s a lot better to be you. 

The strangeness, isolation and mysterious quality of the Ni can be very lonely. Fe tries to counteract that to make you always want to be with people, to connect with them or maybe at least just watch them. Feel their energies vibrating in the air around you, and feeling it simmering inside you. Wanting to belong or to be one of them but then you can’t because you just can’t. There is a wall of who you truly are. 

Ti is the tertiary function for INFJs. Ni can be used to recognize patterns (a perceiving function) and Fe is a judging function whether to trust a person or not. But it is not as good as Ti which relies heavily with a logical approach for decision making process. 

Without Ti, an INFJ can be really out of his mind. Ni and Fe cannot be always helpful in all of situations. As an INFJ, you tend to rely on your feelings a lot, following the heart while your mind is busy with something else. Being dreamy and idealistic doesn’t always makes castles in the air sounds good to everyone. It will only be a good idea when there will be a time it is no longer just a make believe.

Ti helps balancing the Ni and Fe bantering. It acts like a diplomat or a peacemaker telling both of the parties what’s realistic or not and what to expect. Telling them: You know what, I have come up with logical solutions and better alternatives. I have heard from both of your sides. But let us negotiate what to compromise and set more guidelines. I know how to do a logical step by step approach or process. I have decided we can make it work.

Ti is a judging function just like Fe but it works internally instead. That means, you analyze, get your facts right, correct data and information then processed them all internally. It is the function you use when you try to solve puzzles, or play strategic games like Stratego, Chess, Catan or video and online games that needs thinking.

INFJs are naturally good at analysis, Ni helps with that wonderfully but we also need to convince people and make our thoughts coherent and clear enough for them to know what’s exactly on our mind OR at least have a slice of it. Ti is that bridge, we can tell them and they will get it about innovations, ideas and things most people cannot see but that we can… because of the mysterious quality yet also a positive edge of having Ni. 

With Ni, you can see two up to ten steps ahead than most people.

But with Ti, you can help them see it too. 

INFJ may be a feeling type but we are deep thinkers and have that innate hunger for knowledge. We seek what’s out there and we see what’s not our there. It is a shame, if we don’t use this knowledge we got from indulging most of our time reading, anything from quantum mechanics to spiritual awakening to Psychological types. Add to that, our natural prowess of analytical mind. 

It is no wonder when a gentle, keeps to herself and mostly quiet INFJ surprise someone when she says something intellectual – out of the blue.  As closet intellectuals, this is also a reason why that INFJs can actually be more like an INTJ than an INFP, especially later in life when they have finally developed their Ti.

A healthy Ti can have a lot of benefits to an INFJ. It can tap a lot of their sleeping potentials with it. The world can’t wait for that “saving the world” castles in the air that only an INFJ would dare to dream of.

Being a tertiary, a Ti is a weak function for most INFJs. It starts to develop only from mid-20s. That means, we naturally only tap it when we are stressed. Overthinking, over-analyzing and over-planning are one of those mental tricks (and tiring gymnastics) that Ti brings us.

How does it look like. Easy: Thinking of how you’re going to do it, thinking of many ways how it’s going to work. Million ways of how it’s not going to work. Thinking of gazillion worst things that can happen. Falling into this trap is a huge pitfall and unfortunately also a very common unhealthy use of Ti to an INFJ. This is the infamous Ni-Ti loop that is pretty much paralyzing.

We talk ourselves out. Period.

If you are an INFJ, you are so familiar with this Ni-Ti loop. The cause of procrastination and unproductivity to any INFJ you know. Talking yourself out from doing something means you end up not doing anything at all. Not even trying it because of seeing how much things should be done and many ways it’s going to fail. But also resulting to having multitude of regrets later on, self-punishment and guilt. It’s hard to get snap out of it. It’s like getting sucked in a vacuum. Well, it is a loop after all.

One solution: Don’t think when you’re planning of doing something instead just do it. I repeat: JUST DO IT. 

Then you will be happier, I promise. 


Part Four The Inferior Cognitive Function



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