Understanding INFP Cognitive Functions (A Guide to Mature Growth)

Understanding INFPs - Cognitive Function Growth

Understanding INFP’s: A Guide on Mature INFP Growth

I have recently started learning about the Cognitive Functions pertaining to MBTI Personality Types – and I still can’t believe how complex these inner-workings play out in real life. As an INFP – I can see how each of these cognitive functions have matured throughout the course of my life… And it inspired me to write this blog post for any INFP’s wanting to learn more about themselves or other types interested in trying to understand INFP’s. 

No person will grow in the same way – even if we are the same MBTI type. Your life experiences and thoughts are going to dictate the best growth rate and path for yourself.

However, here is my own personal insight on how each INFP Cognitive Function manifests itself into my way of thinking and living. 

I hope you find this interesting – and I hope this inspires you to take a look at your own inner thoughts to see how each Cogntive Function may be manifesting itself into your own life.

INFP Primary Cognitive Functions

Below is a basic summary of the Primary Cognitive Functions in INFP’s from the most to least dominant function.

INFP Cognitive Functions

A Guide on the Mature INFP: Growth & Potential

Maturing dominant introverted feeling

There is nothing that comes more foremost to an INFP than the importance of developing one’s Fi (Introverted feeling function). I find that if Fi is underdeveloped, it keeps many of the other functions from developing well – and can perpetuate many of the negative behaviors and habits that INFPs are prone to. 

Here is how I have changed this within myself.

From my own insight, I believe that unhealthy Fi tends to be more rigid: More black and white, good or evil, does it fit or not fit in with my personal values; When in-fact, Fi has the ability to be more powerful in INFP growth when it becomes more flexible and open. 

When we stop rejecting all that is “bad” in the world.

The weakness of having Dominant Fi that many INFPs will run into when first developing is that we will be hurt time and time again – because we have this grand idea of ideal self and high esteem of our own feelings; Yet, not all of society will strive for these same values and beliefs… Some even being completely blind to the feelings of others or their own morals. 

And this insensitivity or bluntness hurts us.

Because of this, in order to save ourselves from this hurt – We might be tempted to completely remove ourselves from the lives of these people who are more prone to hurting us.

But I implore you that if this happens to instead, forgive.

Fi has the greatest potential to grow when we push ourselves into the realm of the unsafe. Yes, the heart may not feel comfortable at times – but I find that remaining steadfast and trusting of my own strength has led me to the greatest insights about not only others, but my own strengths as an Introverted Feeler.  

Being able to go through these experiences helps us understand ourselves and build upon our value system. 

So whatever values you decide to take up in your life: Make sure self-love is one of the ones at the very top. Self-love is self-discipline, self-responsibility, and self-respect; And without these, it causes a lot of indecision and feelings of deep sadness within INFPs.

introducing Auxiliary Extroverted Intuition

The secondary function (Auxiliary) Function in INFPs is Extroverted Intuition: The cognitive function that focuses on seeing future possibilities in the outer world.

I find that I am constantly coming up with different futures, scenarios, and “what-if” situations. Many of them do not logically make sense and have the slimmest chance in reality of actually playing out, but that’s not what is important to me. I explore these possibilities to learn and feel things about the world that are at the cusp of reality.

The auxiliary function aids the dominant function; And I find that Ne (Extroverted Intuition) is just one way we experience the world since our blind spot is Se (Extraverted Sensing – INFP’s find it really hard to tune into the details of the physical world and experience the moment fully as is). 

Ne plays a large role in helping me in the present moment because I am always thinking about what might happen in the future, which dictates what the best course of action should be in the present moment (Te).

However, most importantly, Ne kicks in strongly during social interactions (as people leave the most complex feelings and impressions to me). I think about all the ways in which I may affect someone (Fe) – which constantly affects my Fi value system and how I can shape myself to be a better person in the future.

I also find that I play out full-blown possible conversations (with “other” people) in my head all the time. I’ve always thought this to be strange – but I guess that’s just my Ne doing its thing: Trying to explore all possible futures including potential conversations and what kind of emotional significance I can learn from them.

introducing tertiary introverted sensing

An INFP’s Tertiary cognitive function is Introverted Sensing: The function that experiences the world by looking at what has already happened.

The tertiary function is often called one’s Child function and often manifests itself when you are relaxed – unless you have matured this function. Then, it should be working alongside your auxiliary function, as Auxiliary and Tertiary lie on the same cognitive axis (According to Carl Jung’s theory on Personality).  

The way in which I experience Si is that I replay or loop prior experiences in my mind, based on the emotions I felt at the moment or if I have a gut feeling I need to remember that moment as it played out. 

Even though I do tend to use it naturally when I am in a relaxed state, I find that I am now able to use it even during times of stress (While taking a test to replay memories of when I was studying or replaying a social situation where I feel as if something didn’t quite feel right and I missed something critical due to my blind Se). 

I sometimes find myself replaying memories (Si) seconds after an experience – simply because I have a gut feeling that something felt off and I need to understand why… Especially during social situations – as I can fix moments of confusion immediately after they have played out.

Some people sometimes ask me if I have photographic memory – and I don’t. I don’t remember little things (what color hair someone had, what color shirt, or the exact words written on a piece of paper). I believe what they are sensing about me is my developed Si function instead. My Si focuses on the feeling of each individual detail happening to create something like a “video” that replays what happened. 

I use this form of Si as a way to check on myself because I am so prone to going through experiences in the here and now in a foggy-feeling, mindless manner (Se Blind Spot). There are so many times I ask myself “what the heck am I doing” because I am simply not aware of not just the present moment, but also my physical state of being and doing (Read how I get around this in my Understanding INFP Shadow Functions Blog Post

If it weren’t for having a stronger Si, I would be completely blind to so many things about life and people.

Maturing Ne and Si Cognitive Functions

As I mentioned before, one’s Auxiliary and Tertiary Functions are located on the same cognitive axis and thus, both work together to aid one’s dominant cognitive function.

One of the greatest strengths of INFPs is the ability to see various futures and possibilities (Ne) and wander through different memories in an almost flowing manner (Si) connecting different experiences, thoughts, and ideas that may not at face value have much correlation. 

This future-thinking and past-thinking oftentimes play out all at once, interchangeably flitting back and forth into one huge train of thought. It causes us as INFPs to live through a countless amount of imagined experiences from just one experience. 

We ponder “What if this happened instead – how would the future play out for that past?”; And we feel so deeply from these experiences as if it were actual reality (Although we know it isn’t reality). 

This process of “daydreaming” acts as an exploration of each individual INFP’s values. For me, I do it to explore the depths of my own emotions and the emotions of others – as I have a strong care for people. I worry a lot about how others feel and this helps me explore feelings that are more rarely-felt in reality, but I can multiply it and explore it to my heart’s content in these worlds I create in my head.

I believe that INFPs have a way of making whatever experience people give us significant due to this Ne-Si combination. Even if you think you contributed nothing during an interaction, we as INFPs will find a way to make the experience significant, and thus you significant. 

Ne-Si also tends to be a secret pleasure I indulge in: This is how I create complex, creative stories in my head – down to even each character’s dialogue. If you ever find an INFP suddenly start crying. smiling, or laughing at something out of nowhere – this is probably what they are doing. This is also what I believe makes INFP’s such great writers and poets. They do this naturally through Ne-Si combo.

Maturing Inferior Extroverted Thinking

Extroverted thinking is an INFP’s inferior cognitive function. It is the last function and thus one that requires more work to mature in our Primary cognitive function stack. Extroverted thinking (Te) is the cognitive function in charge of planning, organizing, and executing action to achieve an end goal.

The inferior function and the dominant function lie on the same cognitive axis – And thus, as an INFP, we might find our feelings (Fi) play a large role in our inferior Te function. 

And sometimes one’s Fi is SO blaring that it results in an almost nonexistent Te. 

Having low Te (and not a very mature Fi) can cause some INFPs to be extremely lazy, unorganized, and prone to procrastination. However, since Te is still in our primary stack, it is something that can be improved upon.

I find that maturing one’s Te is one of the most self-fulfilling things because as INFP’s, we live so much in our heads – And utilizing our Te is one of the best ways to get that inner world out and manifest it into the physical world. 

Maturing Te starts with maturing Fi in a healthy way. It is building a complex value system that is open to possibilities, yet one you can fully stand behind because it is fully based on authenticity, self-trust, and self-respect… Because the most important thing about maturing Te is the ability to set aside your feelings (Fi) in order to get the things you need to get done, done. This can only happen if you value and love yourself as a person, and can set aside one’s immature feelings (the feeling that you don’t want to do it) for more mature feelings (Self-discipline, self-respect, and self-responsibility).

Another way I find that my Te kicks in is when my Fe (Extroverted Feeling) Worry Function (one of the Shadow functions that I will go over in another blog post) comes into play. I worry about how my laziness can affect others, and thus I make an effort to work, plan, and execute the things I know I should do.

The last important point about Inferior Te that I’d like to cover is that the more we work on our Te, the more easier it becomes to perpetuate it due to our Si function. Through our positive experiences that Si remembers, it gives us more reason to work on our Inferior Te, in order to continue creating these positive experiences for us in the future that our Ne is excellent at getting us excited for.

It is possible – It simply starts with maturing our Fi function to be one that is less constraining to self-growth. One that makes self-growth inevitable.

Maturing Te helps to improve one’s confidence as INFPs, which in-turn results in further maturing of our Fi. 

Areas I still need to overcome

As an INFP, there are still many issues that I need to address and find a way to overcome. 

For example, I find it is so hard to open up to people. Despite being able to easily love people unconditionally, no matter if their viewpoints are different from mine – I have an extremely hard time fully trusting someone. My guard is always up and I have absolutely no control over it. This aggravates me to no end. I can tell myself a million times I can trust this person in my head, but the guard doesn’t come down. Then – for some people, the guard is practically non-existent upon first conversation and onwards. I am trying to understand why I have no control over this, but I’m hoping that one day, I can find a solution to this issue.

Another issue I tend to face is that even though I care and worry a lot about the feelings of others, I tend to be still clueless about social norms and protocols. I believe this is due to blind Se on my part, but I am completely fine with silence or doing nothing – when this may bother others. I guess I need to work harder on observing the “social environment” because this too is a part of Fe that I tend to easily ignore.

And the last thing I would like to improve on is the translation of these more abstract, inner feelings into a logical train of thought that can be relayed to others (Te). I am very terrible at this. When people ask me questions, I oftentimes do not have an answer because I have a hard time trying to put the inner-workings of my mind into effective words. This also has to do with my blind Se, as I find that throughout many of my experiences (reading a book, watching a movie, having a conversation with someone), I experience it so mindlessly that I often have nothing to say; I simply don’t have much reaction to what has happened in the present moment. It isn’t until much later through Si experience, that I can connect all the parts I found significant to form a (somewhat) logical insight. It takes a lot of thinking-time, persistence, and practice to get to this point though. 

Ne can sometimes be useful as well, but I find mine a little on the crazier side to be used in a logical manner.

So… I’m sorry if this blog post was rambly at times – I am trying to work on it! ^w^

Well, I guess I will end this blog post with just the INFP Primary Cognitive Functions and how they can be matured. Before I began writing this blog post, I was hoping to also include how to work on one’s Shadow Functions, but because of the length of this post, I think I’ll save that for another blog post (Read Part II Here: Understanding INFP Shadow Functions). 

I hope that this blog post was able to help any of you INFPs who are striving for personal growth. Were there things in this blog post that you agreed or disagreed with? Are there any tips for growth you have for me and others? Please share down below in the comment section your own experiences!

And thank you my lovely readers for sticking around to the end of the blog post. I truly appreciate you.

And I hope you have wonderful day/night where ever you may be in this world. xx

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  • Hello!
    Thank you for writing this very informative, reflective post. I am a young INFP that has been really struggling to develop and mature. I’ve always been frustrated with how mindless I am throughout the day and have often wondered why it was so hard for me to be in the moment. Now I know that it’s because of my “Se Blind Spot”, something that has haunted me for a long time. After reading this, I also realized why I am so lazy and unmotivated, always struggling to act out on my plans. It is because my Te function is extremely immature, due to my underdeveloped introverted feeling. I hate that I am really stubborn and narrowminded when it comes to other people’s values, so I would like to change this. I also want to become more open to having the self-love I need to strengthen my Te so that I can actually achieve my goals. Overall, this post has given me the hope that I am not a lost cause, that I can actually experience self-growth.

    • Hi Rachel, thank you so much for your beautiful comment. It means the world that this post was able to be helpful and informative to you. Knowing and understanding your personality type is a huge first step in growing yourself in the best, most healthiest way for you. I know that when I was younger and had no clue about MBTI, I had so many harsh expectations for myself that really ended up hurting me for the long-term. Now, I know that much of myself is just my personality, and there is always room for growth. Maturing as a person, no matter what type you are, is always difficult…and sometimes painful. But as an INFP, I’m sure with each experience life throws at you – you will always find a larger-than-life lesson from it. Afterall, that’s what we do best 🙂 Lots of love <3

  • Hello. Your post is wonderful.. Especially the ones about shadow functions.. I would describe my INFP ness as going really well. Personal growth has been important to me for as long as i can remember. Im 27 now. I crave to understand all that i am and fix the broken parts.. Im still working. Thanks so much. From a Nigerian INFP