Understanding INFP Shadow Functions
This is Part 2 to Understanding INFP Cogntive Functions: The Shadow Functions.
Read Part 1, which goes over the Primary Cognitive Functions of INFPs here and how I understand each of the Cognitive Functions manifest themselves into my life.
Shadow Functions is a term coined by Carl Jung as the Cognitive Functions that lie at the edge of our unconscious mind. It may not be the primary modes in which we live the world, yet they serve in conjunction with our Primary Cognitive Functions in both positive and negative ways.
These functions are so easy to overlook, yet doing so can lead to feelings of unhappiness, stress, and even anger. Thus, developing and maturing one’s Shadow Functions can oftentimes be just as imperative as developing one’s Primary Functions.
Here are my own insights on how I have matured (or attempted to develop) my own Shadow Functions as an INFP. I hope you can find something insightful from my experience to help you in your own personal journey.
Understanding extroverted feeling (Worry Function)
The 5th cognitive function of INFPs, also known as the Opposing Role or Worry function, is Extroverted Feeling. Extroverted Feeling focuses on the feelings of others, rather than one’s own feelings (Fi). And since, this is an INFP’s worry function, we tend to worry quite a bit about the feelings of others. And perhaps in less mature types, Fe can seem like an opposition to one’s Fi.
This can end up being a double-edged sword for many of us.
Maturing as an INFP means finding a compromise for our Primary Function Fi and our Worry Function Fe – so that they can harmonize and function peacefully.
When they are in conflict, INFPs can be more prone to anxiety, always worrying about what other people think; Yet not truly knowing who they are or where they stand (I suffered from Social Anxiety during my younger years). This can lead to feelings of not being good enough, low confidence and self esteem.
When Fi is able to accept Fe, I’ve noticed it leads to our very gentle, caring demeanor/aura INFPs are known for. We fully trust ourselves and our values, and are able to extend that to others so they can be at peace being themselves… even if there are parts of ourselves that don’t agree or clash. It is being authentic and true (for all parties) that is far more important to us than any ill feeling that a disagreement can bring us, at least for more mature types.
We will find a way to work through the ill feeling on our own time, trusting in the goodness of others and ourselves.
When INFPs have matured their Fe, it lends to a more calming effect on others. Plus, our high Fi tends to feed the Fi of others, making them naturally want to be better versions of themselves. Seeing this happen in the smallest, most gentlest ways in other people is one of the most gratifying feelings of being an INFP.
Understanding Introverted Intuition (Critical Parent)
Our 6th Cognitive Function as INFPs is Introverted Intuition (Ni). Ni is the ability to see how different thoughts, ideas, and concepts are interconnected.
The role of the 6th function is a stepping stone between one’s 2nd and 3rd function. I find that Ni is what connects our Ne concepts to our Si experiences, and leads to many of our “a-ha” moments when deep in our thoughts.
I find personally that Ni doesn’t come as easily to me as I would like – I have to actively search for these connections. However, as I have grown and have actively been looking for ways to better myself as a person, I find these moments of Ni becoming more prevalent.
One of the best ways to practice and mature Ni is analyzing literature, poetry, films, songs, etc. I know when I took Humanity classes in college, I used to struggle with not knowing how to analyze, as Fi tends to give a more blanket overview of a work.
However, as you explore a piece further and further, you may realize just how unique of a perspective INFPs have through their Ne and Si, and what unique connections can be strung together through one’s 6th Cognitive Function Ni.
I find that my Ni comes most naturally to me when I focus it on people – Trying to find connections between conversations, actions, and behaviors so I can better understand those around me.
Understanding Extroverted Sensing (Blindspot/Trickster)
Extroverted Sensing is an INFP’s 7th Cognitive Function, also known as their Blind Spot or Trickster function. This is because it is the Cognitive Function that that certain type is not aware of or the function that is deemed as least important to that person.
Extroverted Sensing is the desire to experience and engage with one’s environment. It is having fun and finding inspiration from one’s physical world.
I find that this manifests itself in a sort of careless way around me. I don’t have a care for the state of the physical environment around me: I could be in a messy room or a crowded space or a quiet room, and I wouldn’t care (or even notice it). I also don’t notice physical changes in people or the environment around me in the moment. I may also not care about immediate engagement with others or having fun in a setting.
Having this as one’s Blindspot can be pretty disadvantageous. However, there are ways that I get around this Blindspot in my day-to-day life.
The one practical thing that has made the biggest difference for me, is double-checking everything I do. I developed this skill during my years in school: As I would work through a problem, I would double check it immediately as I went. Now, I do this during work or any activity where my focus is imperative. Otherwise, everything I do would be done mindlessly.
As for my lack of engagement with the environment or others, this still poses a challenge for me. Usually what happens is someone will say something and that causes a dozen different thoughts or ideas to flood my mind at one time (Ne). I then go through the different ideas and either filter them out or explore it further based on my Fi. And then further, my Si may kick in and I’ll explore the idea even further from that angle. My mind is going in a dozen different directions and it’s difficult to find the right words to say at that moment because so many thoughts are bouncing around in my head.
There are times in which I can have fun just for the sake of having fun in the moment – but it happens with certain “safe” places or people, and I do notice a quietness to my Ne when this happens. I guess, it is all about finding a middle ground with certain Cognitive Functions. Ne is amazing – but sometimes the mind just needs to quiet down… And this is something I have been working on more and more. Not to oppose my self – But to find a healthier peace for all parts of myself (no matter how small).
Understanding Introverted Thinking (Demon Function)
Understanding the role of Introverted Thinking (Ti) in INFPs is difficult, as it is the Cognitive Function I am least familiar with. Even though I am blind to Se, I see it so often around me in those that have it as their dominant function, that I become aware of my blindness to it when I see it to such a high degree in others. Ti, however, since it is an introverted Cognitive Function, is a little more difficult to understand for me.
Introverted Thinking is the Cognitive Function that focuses on one’s internal framework built on one’s understanding of the world or a system based upon facts and logic. It is understanding the parts and how they individually function in order to understand a whole.
I personally like to start with a whole concept and see how the parts function to contribute to the whole. There may be times when I have to logically think things through in my day-to-day, but I am truthfully not sure if I do it well.
The main times in which I use Ti would be during my schooling years – as I was excellent at Math and Sciences. There is an almost “on-and-off” type of switch inside me when I have to become that more logical side of me. I’m not fully able to understand this part of myself so I’m not sure how or if it plays into MBTI Cognitive Functions – but I am able to make that switch when need be.
My Ti is definitely not as powerful as someone with it as their main Cognitive Function – but it did help me learn what, why, and how things happened. I was a slower learner because of this, but I learned the material thoroughly.
I believe that for me, I can use Ti a little more efficiently during school because in STEM classes, Fi is so rarely used. However, as soon as I am outside the classroom, even the tiniest things activate my Fi, and thus Ti rarely ends up getting used. It truly depends on the situation whether Ti has the chance to be practiced or not.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post on INFP Shadow Functions. It’s a lot of information, but I hope you found something insightful from all these ramblings.
Please feel free to comment down below to share your own personal insights or experiences on maturing your Shadow Functions. I’d love to hear from other INFPs or even other types!
Thank you again my lovely readers and I hope you have a wonderful day <3