Lo and behold. Welcome to the last installment on the subject of “Are you INFP or INFJ?”
PART ONE, PART TWO, PART THREE links are here if you haven’t yet.
I am glad we have come this far. It wasn’t an easy task but I am honestly enjoying writing all of it.
This last entry will tackle on one of the most misunderstood cognitive function in the stack/order. It’s the infamous inferior function… the black sheep of the cognitive function family.
I dare say it’s the most beautiful.
But before all this, I have a favor to ask. I want you to at least suspend your belief of the physical world as we know it. To forget momentarily what you have learned so far about the inferior function. Let us rediscover her instead. She is not a black sheep but actually a muse.
A muse to each of us. The hidden key to our actualized self.
Now, I’m on a mission to show it to you – how this “muse” works.
Every poet, painter, writer or just any artist will probably can tell you how frustrating it is to have a block. A happening however subtle it may be is enough to inhibit the creative flow.
Let’s take this thought further, this block not only happens for artists but to each of us. As a student of life. They come to us in different forms.
We can call it stress, crisis or just anything bad that made you not function and would say with a passion “I’m not acting like myself today.”
Then something happened, we met someone… this mysterious woman or a man. Who takes our breath away. Our every definition of beauty doesn’t seem to fit her. She seems to be more than just that. But there is one thing we can all agree, we call her a muse.
But before I will lead you on to the next part. I want to make it clear for you, the thing is – this muse and the block is one. This is the role of Inferior Cognitive Function.
We have already discussed on my first post, that one of the major differences of an INFP and an INFJ is how they react to stress. Thanks to the inferior cognitive function for this. Each type has a unique cognitive stack or order. We function differently internally and externally or officially in terms of introversion and extroversion.
Please do not say that, oh it’s just the difference in letters. Nah ah, trust me that’s not how simple it is. They are world’s apart. Ni and Ne, for example… are universes apart. Okay, maybe it’s the same players just like in the concept of parallel universes. But try to dig deeper… glance through the looking-glass. They are clearly opposites.
How each of them are placed in the stack or order has a significant role. Every type have their own unique combinations and thus have different processes and cannot be replicated. The letters are only representation. An “N” (Intuition) means an entire different thing when the end is attached to an i or e (introversion or extroversion).
Each cognitive function has a different role depending on how they are placed in this stack. So the Fi for example has a different effect to an INFP compared to an INFJ. Same thing with the Ni to an INFJ compared to an INFP.
This is when you will realize that the Ni and Ne are two universes apart. The Ni cannot even be found on the main stack or on the first four cognitive functions of the INFP. Same thing with the Ne to the INFJ. Don’t be fooled how they look similar on the surface. Take a deeper look instead.Then you’ll wonder why you haven’t seen it before. It was just in the dark all this time.
So hold this thought as we go along. Then you will not argue why you’re an INFJ and not an INFP or vice versa.
INFERIOR COGNITIVE FUNCTION
Generally, we encounter our inferior cognitive function when we are stressed, in conflict and especially in the brink of depression – grip. This is understandable because we haven’t developed it fully. It doesn’t come out naturally and when we do, we think “we don’t act like ourselves.” This is not who I am.
This is explained because our inferior (the fourth) function is the complete paradox of our first or dominant function which is our “go-to” in every waking moment or when just merely breathing staring at the beauty of the woods and mountains.
But it is still a part of who we are.
Actually, this phase is crucial to the process. It introduces us to our truest self which doesn’t come wrapped in ribbons with glitters by all means. We learn it best through a couple of mishaps, pain and adversities. Through this inferior function, we can approach our barest – most naked form. The purest part that have always been there, as if locked in the deepest part of our subconscious just waiting to be freed.
This is the missing piece to a puzzle of our being. A key and lock mechanism to an enlightened fully-evolved personality. The optimal and the highest peak there is in human experience and existence. We know it as self-actualization.
INFP “Te” Extroverted Thinking
Time to look at how this relationship plays out with INFPs.
Fi (dominant function) and Te (inferior function) have opposite workings. Opposing roles.
Introverted Feelings or Fi are focused on one self. This helps INFP to empathize by mirroring based on their own values, belief-system, individualism and authenticity. This makes them see clearly who they are. Understand themselves better than any other type and does this naturally. Self-awareness and a strong drive for self-improvement are the byproducts.
Extroverted Thinking is all about managing other people and thinking in a logical approach on how to improve other people’s lives and one’s own which involves fixing problems here and there. Quick decision making. Maybe even nosing and bossing around a little to achieve goals. But mainly this is all about good management, efficient organization and natural leadership. Te is your man.
It is obvious that they play different and opposing roles. But ask yourself why? Why would mother nature give us exactly that? Is this just to confuse us… for us to act like “this is so not me!”
What is the significance?
Naturally, an INFP being an Fi-dominant can benefit a lot once she fully developed Te. This means she no longer uses or approaches Te when stressed. But can tap on it anytime especially when she’s in good mood and surprisingly the main reason why she is having fun at the moment and enjoying the best days of her life.
The signs of a stressed Fi-dominant user and approaches an unhealthy Te are narrow-mindedness and have tunnel vision. Fixated on making rushed decisions that have illogical basis (unhealthy Te). Fixing problems but not only their own and can be self-critical then especially harsh and critical to others as well. Might even tell them they’re fake, unauthentic, shallow or superficial and that they should do better.
Thinking by doing this, they are helping improving other people by lashing out their flaws or what’s wrong with them and what they should do. They might also want to be left alone or avoid people and situations so that they don’t have to deal with them. They can be paranoid, suspicious, cold or cynical, uncaring and accusatory (unhealthy use of Fi-Te pairing). So not INFP right?
I have an INFP friend who became a lawyer. She is so nice and kind, a dreamer and wants her solitude. Every time she talks to me about her problems especially about work. It is no wonder she is having these problems and causing her stress because it has something to do with her weak Te.
She was given an assignment or at least the main focus of her job right now in the establishment has to deal or manage people. She’d rather do a project alone or at least she thinks, this is when she can do her best. That’s Fi right there being her dominant. She can do her best when left alone and be innovative, no one’s there to offer challenges either on her ideas and how she manages tasks or executes them.
Channeling her Fi to her job and with the help of Ne (second function) she can be very innovative with her ideas, reflects her passion and interests, standing up for her beliefs and writing it all over on her works.
But to go further especially when it comes to careers. One should be “out of your comfort zone”. Must also be the reason why, a lot of us discovered we can do something remarkable even when we were in a deep mud of a situation. And naturally, our first instinct would have been looking for a way out.
But it looks like you’re only running away from yourself. There’s a new truth inside of you wanting to get out too.
For an INFP, to go beyond… reach the skies (and “skies the limit”).
But the higher you fly, the deeper you can also fall. The inferior cognitive function works like this especially when it’s not fully developed. It’s kinda like a tug of war. When one loses, means the other wins at the end. Then it becomes a vicious cycle…
You feel really good once you accomplished something you thought it won’t never work at first. You have the right to think, it won’t work.
From our experiences, you can look back at those exact moments. You just wondered how you made it. How come you were winging it, then it turned out spectacular. Out of your ordinary. Thinking maybe how much more if you were on your natural state or your normal self? Or when you can do your best and perhaps have been well-prepared.
It surprises you.
For an INFP, with the help of Te… for instance, as a lawyer. You can be very persuasive with your innovative ideas and can discuss them to a large group of people without shaking knees. You no longer avoid people to be on your own when working. Or feel deeply hurt when someone contradicts you or tells you something that’s against your own beliefs or opinions. Thinking people are people, we all have differences. You respect their opinions but you hold yours with a passion and still work well together for both of you have a common goal.
You also don’t shy away from opportunities.
Thinking it’s not for you or way out of your comfort zone. How I swear many of us did just that. In reality, there is no such thing as a comfort zone. Just uncharted territories. Waiting to be explored and most often later these strange lands became our new homes.
This is becoming the person who we want to be. No short-cuts, just continuous growth and self-improvement.
Te helps the INFP manage projects efficiently and delegate tasks. As an INFP, it’s easy for you to see each person have their own strengths and put them there where they can do their best and shine. As a leader, you can inspire others and help them improve themselves (this is Te and Fi working together in harmony) which later trickles on how well they do their jobs and enriches their life. It is a pretty picture isn’t it?
Best of all, Te helps an INFP handle quick decision making especially in high-demand situations. We all know how an INFP are known for not making their minds. Indecisive. They often gets lost in the process and can live there for weeks or months and maybe forever. Avoiding always sounds a better option.
See where I’m getting at?
Fi and Te are naturally the worst enemies, but can be the best of friends when you can give them a chance especially later in life.
As an inferior to INFPs, Te usually comes full circle to them around their 40s up to 70s. A time when they can fully developed it. Or I dare say – have finally mastered it after many awkward stumblings. The aha moments and have often opened doors to the possibilities especially the breakthroughs of Einstein, Tesla, Marie Curie, Edison. Spectacular masterpieces of Mozart, Monet, Picasso and many others.
But sadly, this also means, many of us… haven’t come to a point where we can evolve and grow and just blindly missed our chances.
We grew up, moved on with our lives but are still way “cognitively functions” behind… this is true for those who are still fixated, hang-ups in the past, fears that intercepts with activities of daily living or that can’t make you function anymore, have significantly stopped growing emotionally and are also unstable mentally… vicious cycles.
See it this way.
INFP ( Fi – Ne – Si – Te)
= Understanding others by knowing own self – I see many possibilities – I know what made me who I am today and what worked in the past – Thinking of ways to help the humankind (saving the society) through self-expression and staying true to myself, sharing my ideas, managing or working with people and by seeing their true potentials helping them improve themselves.
So don’t run away from your muse, INFP.
Learn to develop your Te as much as possible when you’re in a good mood. Appreciate it for what it is. Do not avoid the situations or chances or events where you can manage people, I guess to be a little organized and have a few solid plans and situations badly call for it. To be quick in decision making when you need too or in a crucial time. To fix problems that are staring and screaming right on your face.
Try to be in a company of someone or in a group when working. Sharing your “out of the box ideas” and solutions, perhaps even brainstorming with them. Learning from each other’s differences and most of all enjoying the whole experience. Purely just having fun.
Here – take the key. Go on…
INFJ “Se” Extroverted Sensing
Ni and Se have a sensuous love and hate relationship. A spiritual and physical bond. They hate each other but can use this to fuel the passion they feel for each other. Opposite attracts they said. It will be fun they said.
Good luck with that.
Dominant Ni or Introverted Intuition means that you live inside your head most of the time. Have your own bubble, have your own little world. Ni also absorbs information in different forms. Can see abstract patterns effortlessly through this. They see the bigger picture, the subtle cues in the background… but maybe missed the physical details that jumps out to most people.
Ni-dominants are known to have slow reflexes as a side effect, they are generally a clumsy bunch of people. They are somewhat disconnected with their body. If you ask them, where did they get a bruise? They will answer you… “I don’t know I just inhabit this vessel.”
Ni makes an INFJ a natural deep thinker. Always having constant thoughts and seeing a lot of things that people don’t seem to notice. They look beyond… they look through… and just like the saying goes: they can see through you.
No wonder why they mostly keep to themselves. They have already experiencing sounding strange or weird to others even just as a kid. So they only choose a few who they let them in into their world.
Ni also makes them maybe physically there but their mind or soul is hopping from one strange land to another.
This cognitive function also what makes most INFJs often feel misunderstood.
A some sort of an outlander. An outcast. Even in the company of close friends and family. This is when they developed certain, elaborate and intricate layers with the help of Fe to at least pretend they belong in a group for a brief time yet feeling alienated deep inside.
Their mind is bursting with a lot of information their Ni have picked, filtered and processed. An idea or a concept is so vivid and clear inside their head. Sometimes, they are excited to share it but once they are trying to tell it… it always doesn’t come out right. It’s like there is a missing link. The idea was lost in translation.
Ni can make you feel lonely, alone, isolated and alienated.
Most often you will just think, maybe there is something wrong with me.
Ni is also the most misunderstood of all the cognitive functions. In effect – it became mysterious, blurry and most people just associate that glitch with INFJs being mystics. Like they know something we don’t know.
Forgetting that Ni just simply absorbs information working endlessly in the background and in the silence. It helps deducting what works and what’s not. Seeing that bigger picture. Recognizing abstract patterns. The finish product will come out as a hunch, a gut feeling, an aha moment, they all bubble on the surface – simmering. Giving the INFJ a nudge, a kick in the guts and a nagging feeling that just won’t go away.
All this are very useful to an INFJ.
But of course, when you overdo it. Ni can drive you crazy. Living inside your head too much can dramatically do you bad and can alienate and isolate you from living life itself. Depression is the most common enemy of INFJs. They take the hardest blow from it out of all the types.
Too much doses of Ni can make you lose touch of reality. Forgetting you are a physical form. Forgetting to sleep, eat and especially being in the here and now.
This is when we send a distress call.
Extroverted Sensing or Se is all about being in the present. Using as much as the five senses as possible. Taste, touch, hear, smell and the sense of sight.
Se can tame Ni.
It’s like that ironic expression… calling “Earth to Ni” for some of us who keeps zoning out.
This is why meditations are very healing to those who cannot quiet the mind. Thoughts can be uncontrollable, when you lose rein over it… they are just endless, mindless chatter. It makes you worry a lot because negative thoughts are there as well as the positives.
You forget to breathe… really breathe and be aware of it, to pause and take a step back, take a look of your surroundings, be physically there and to be in the way of beauty. When our thoughts begin to drown us, you are blinded and physically lost. Not really looking at the sunset… missing the chance to admire it. To really see it.
Ni likes to time travel and make you glimpse the future. Taking the mind and giving it a ride to somewhere. Making the INFJ fixated on planning, daydreaming, imagining, fantasies and why they are such a stubborn idealists too.
Si is loving the present, more into the doing, the more hands-on the better, they are so good with their hands with the sense of touch… celebrating the textures, crafty, have good and quick reflexes and delights with the excitement in the here and now. Nothing matters but what’s in front of you. The reality. The present.
Ni and Si relationship with each other sounds like they are star-crossed lovers.
But then you can also see why they needed each other, and are strongly attracted and have lusted after each other. If the two can work well harmoniously, finding that well-aimed balance. The right timing and flavor, the perfect blend and the mind-melding that spreads and radiates to the body. Imagine the benefits they can get from each other. It will be endless… and extraordinary.
It will be a party to delight the senses and its marriage to the mind or intellect.
But before that, let us take note. How an unhealthy use of Se looks like to an INFJ. I’m sure you have heard about how INFJs usually lives in extremes and in constant paradox. When stressed, an INFJ would most likely to overindulge to anything physical (an Se approach). It usually manifest as something an INFJ would do impulsively (to have a quick relief or instant gratification and could lead to serious consequences).
Few examples are the infamous overspending or the impulsive shopping. Loving the browsing action it offers without minding about the end result. Of course, over-exercising, over-cleaning, fast driving or speed racing and excessive eating. As an INFJ, I would eat a lot and do it so excessively I have gained 20 pounds in only a few months and also impulsively shops online or in the malls then feeling all guilty about it afterwards. Feeling trapped.
My husband, he is also an INFJ. When he was younger, he over-indulges himself to fast rides. He developed such an impulsive hobby which is speed driving or racing motorcycles. Loving the strong Se-eque feel in it. It was harshly ended because of an accident that land him to the hospital… in the ICU. In a life or death situation. Hitting his head hard and the helmet was heavily crushed on the side.
Now, he has a little difficulty with his hearing and seeing clearly at night. Also lose a little bit in his spatial ability (which he was really exceptionally good before) and as well as cannot vividly remember a lot about his childhood.
He again later in life, just before he met me made a big mistake to indulge his Se. This time developing an expensive hobby which was… take a guess, renovate a crumbling house. Not his own. He bought another house and lot. Did the building all alone, even taught himself how to do the complicated electrical and of course has to spend a lot for it. Has to eat peanut butter for a week during the economic crisis to keep paying for it.
He loved doing all the physical work with it at first but it became frustrating, very tiring and end up dreading doing it. Forcing himself. Remember he has to do this everyday after his 8-hour day job. He starts at five in the afternoon then has to stop around 10 in the evening. He did this for three years… he fully renovated and sold it at the end.
It was a beautiful house though.
But not everyone was lucky enough – others end up not coming back from hiking a mountain or racing a car. I’m glad he came out alive from the motorcycle accident. If not, I wouldn’t be able to meet and marry him.
Se-naturals or dominants know exactly what their doing, they have naturally quick or good reflexes and are connected with their body which results to having a good coordination. Flexibility, muscle strength, agility and many others. You can see this with the athletes and watching sports.
You cannot do a lot of elements and combinations like in ballet, gymnastics or figure skating if you didn’t learn the essential skills to be able to perform. They make it look easy but huh, I’ve tried… it was hard, and painful falling my butt on ice.
They have mastered their physical abilities from a lot of practice. But they are just naturally more attuned to their physical environment and with their physical presence and so… although we planners are cautious with a lot of things and we look at them just plainly being impulsive and dare-devils like in car or motorcycle racing and mountain or cliff climbing.
They are actually “in the zone” or in their zone. So they do it (Se activities) a lot more safely than we actually thought, because they simply know what their doing, and we just don’t truly and fully understand them or how it works.
A well-developed Se usually happens around our 40s up to the 70s. This is only possible if we approach it when not stressed. We can do it by taking part in any Se-activities and truly enjoy it.
Some examples are cooking, painting, dancing, driving, crochet, knitting, snow-boarding or ice skating, surfing, swimming, pottery, even cleaning, biking, yoga and gardening. Any physical activity that can take you off of your mind and be physically present. The more senses you use on that activity the better.
One noticeable factor that me and my INFJ friend strongly share is that, we have a difficulty when it comes to descriptive writing. We seem to write more about how we feel, how we think or about a spiritual experience yet not much to say about our physical environment.
We try to incorporate physical details when it’s necessary yet not compelled to do it but sometimes they even come out awkward, vague or out of place. This just shows how much we live inside our head and really not minding our physical environment that much.
We can’t be super successful descriptive writers like Sensors can but we can write in depth about human conditions and raw human emotions since this is what we are passionate about and naturally good at and compelled to do. Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy and even J.K. Rowling are examples of INFJ successful authors.
Writing is another Se activity with a touch of Ni, Fe and Ti all working together in harmony.
We need the Se to link and create a bridge for us to express what we see in the world, to help the humanity realize its fullest potential.
The Ti can make our thoughts clearer and Se to reflect our realizations to different and various materials or mediums (shortening that gap), whether it’s on canvas through a painter’s brush or on the paper through the writer’s pen.
A film with such a finesse and expressive cinematography or in photographs to capture raw human emotions and showing its viewers the harsh realities of life and the present world we live in.
There is no limit on what an Se can do to help the INFJ platforms, in different causes and ideals they believe in and strongly feel for.
The Se can make it all happen, their individual saving the world ideas to materialize, to drive them into doing their missions and put it into action.
Life is more than just merely coincidences. Not because we are hardwired or programmed that way. We are complex individuals. Sentient beings. We cannot be fully boxed. But there are a few explanations why we behave. It’s such a shame to blindly pass on them especially when we can use it: to help understand ourselves better and our relationships with others, to improve our lives and the lives of others and maybe even impact the world and make it a better place.
As star-crossed lovers, Ni and Se should make compromises to keep their relationship alive and make it work. It’s not easy, it is definitely complicated finding that balance between living inside your mind and in the doing. But this is where it really becomes interesting, for INFJs to achieve their purpose in life and to find their place. To have self-satisfaction and to be happy in life is to make use of Se in a healthy way.
Ni-Ti loop which always preys on an unsuspecting INFJ. Makes each of us having a hard time doing something new, exciting and for the most part: into the doing. We also have a difficulty dealing with change in general. Why do you think, you have these itch in penning your plans or making plans or thinking about our plans? And paradoxically: Thinking of doing it instead of just doing it.
In getting caught up with the process: We talk ourselves out.
Realizing our Se-potentials can make us very productive.
Putting our ideas that Ni-Fe-Ti have generated into action. Look at it this way.
INFJ ( Ni Fe Ti Se )
= See the big picture – Save the World (for the love of good and bad of humanity) – Think logically on how to make it happen – PUT IT INTO ACTION
Notice how the Dominant and Inferior contradicts themselves by nature with their respective roles. Both Dominant functions of INFJ and INFP are also introverted and thus both of them need an extroverted inferior function to balance them out. Each has a power in harmonizing and opposing each other, to bring out both the worst and best from us.
So don’t just imagine, envision and plan my gentle INFJ… you have to make them happen.
Stop thinking about doing it… just do it.
That’s the beauty of living in the present. Living in the moment.
To really savor every bite, to really feel the embrace of your love-ones. To feel the sand between your toes. To really see the sunset. To really listen to the songs of the birds and their message. To really hear the laughter of the babies. The crashing waves, the humming rain and anger of thunderstorms. To really see the vivid colors of flowers. To really live and be physically there. To enjoy it all. Savoring each moment enriching our lives.
A meaningful life. A fulfilling one.
The best day of our lives is actually happening everyday.
It just takes us sometimes a lifetime to realize it.
This is like the priority lesson for all INFJs out there. We know we have a purpose but our purpose in life is not looking for that purpose in life. It’s in the doing. The key to our ultimate truth is in the Se. To just dive in. We know our purpose in life is saving the world… wherein “saving the world” can change from one INFJ to another. It could be from saving sharks to saving whales or turtles to bookstores. Or just anything that speaks strongly to you. What matters is: you make them happen.
You got to start from somewhere. So start from where you are… do it from there. One step at a time. One day at a time.
It may look like a daunting task, intimidating from where you are standing now. But fight for your dreams. No matter how crazy you may sound. The world needs your castles in the air. In time, they will materialize in time.
Try to not get overwhelmed by glimpsing the future, which our mind loves to wander as its favorite secret garden. This is where I suggest to see things through the looking glass. That everything is possible as long as you believe at them strongly. It’s in the believing and in the doing – then a beautiful life is waiting on your doorstep.
Take a chance, take a step.
Take your key.