Welcome to the first of a new series here on INFP Insights, where we’ll be discussing each cognitive function of the INFP personality type and how it plays a role in everyday life. Hopefully this will be helpful to anyone new to MBTI or Jungian cognitive function theory, or if you’re just wanting to learn more about the INFP personality. Let’s start with the INFP’s dominant function of Introverted Feeling (Fi).
What is Introverted Feeling (Fi)?
Introverted Feeling is the INFP’s primary mode of living. It can be described as an internal value system of personal and closely held values, beliefs, ideals and sense of identity. While everyone may have their own moral standards, the difference in INFPs is that they make decisions based on these personal values. This is because Fi is a judging function; it forms the basis of the INFP’s decision making process and how they see and interpret the world. It is defined by Dr Dario Nardi as “staying true to who you really are” and is to “choose and stick to what you believe is congruent to your personal identity.”
Introverted characteristics & expression
Being an internal, inwardly directed function, Fi can be difficult to articulate in the external world. While it may make perfect sense in the INFP’s mind, trying to externalise it may feel confusing or make whatever it being expressed seem “muddy”. Therefore, INFPs may find it difficult to outwardly define their deeply felt worldview, beliefs and values. However, INFPs often find effective ways to express themselves as they develop their extraverted functions (Ne and Te). This may surface as abstract ideas and symbology (Ne), or occasionally, programatic matter-of-fact statements (Te). Also, this may be why INFPs often enjoy expressing themselves through an art form such as writing or music.
A common stereotype or misunderstanding of Fi users like the INFP is that they are outwardly emotional. Although INFPs have deep feelings (and lots of them) this usually manifests as an internal stability rather than outward emotional expression. Therefore, INFPs may appear more like a thinking type on the outside. Introverted Feeling is similar to Introverted Thinking in that they are both a process of constantly building and changing an internal structure. As an INFP myself, I know the frustration of being perceived as cold, aloof and distant, when on the inside I am a deeply caring and passionate person. Fi does develop close attachments to people, things and places, it just takes time. An INFP may be fiercely loyal to something or someone they find personal meaning in.
Fi vs Fe
To better understand how Fi works, it is useful to compare it to Extraverted Feeling (Fe). Here are some differences:
- As an introverted function, Fi is intensive, whereas Fe is extensive. Fe distributes its energy across a wide breadth of individuals, whereas Fi fixates its attention on the self, or the “subject”. Therefore, Fe is objective, and Fi is subjective.
- Fi is formed independently, whereas Fe is formed collectively.
- Fe is often focused on interpersonal harmony, whereas Fi is more focused on helping individuals who have personally moved or affected them. Fi users can also care about interpersonal harmony, but it may be more often due to a dislike of conflict.
- While Fe is stimulated when engaging with others (interpersonal), Fi is stimulated through introspection (intrapersonal).
How Fi plays a role in my life
Lastly, I thought I would share a bit about how I personally relate to Fi and how it plays a role in my life as an INFP. I would describe my Fi as an internal compass that provides direction, meaning and purpose to my life. It is like a guiding light, an internal flame and the foundation of my life. I also feel it leads me to deeply care about individuals, and understanding what is behind the exterior of the people around me. It leads me to be very independent and private in terms of dealing with emotional issues; a sort of self-sufficiency which is both a blessing and a curse. My Fi can be as overwhelming as it is enlightening, and as I mature it offers a sense of self assurance and a quiet confidence.
Thank you for reading, I hope you found this somewhat informative or relatable : )
References / further reading
- Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights For All Types of People 1.0 (2011) by Dr Dario Nardi
INFP Cognitive Functions Series:
- Extroverted Intuition (Ne) in INFPs
- Introverted Sensing (Si) in INFPs
- Extroverted Thinking (Te) in INFPs
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