Welcome back to the INFP Cognitive Functions series here on the blog, where we discuss the role of each cognitive process in the INFP personality. Today we’ll be focusing on Introverted Sensing (Si), the tertiary function of the INFP: what it is, healthy use of Si to aid personal growth, and its unhealthy use (i.e. the Fi-Si loop).
What is Introverted Sensing?
Introverted Sensing can be defined as the ability to compare present incoming sensory information to a storehouse of past experiences. While Extroverted Sensing (Se) takes in information through the five senses in the present moment, Si works by reliving past events through its internal, subjective framework of personal sensory data. It also plays an important role in the perception of internal bodily sensations and awareness of the body’s internal state; it allows access to a ‘sense of being’ that is removed from external stimuli.
Health, Balance & Personal Growth
Developing a healthy use of Si is vital in enabling INFPs to find a sense of balance and stability. It can help in the following aspects of personal growth:
1. Providing a ‘reality check’: The INFP’s Si can serve as a grounding force, fine-tuning the open-ended nature of their Ne to bring the INFP closer to certainty. While Ne explores many different possibilities, Si can offer guidance regarding what path to follow to create stability in the INFP’s life. In this way, Si serves as the ‘reality check’ to Ne. This could be helpful for things like choosing a career path and other decision making processes.
2. Learning from the past: By remembering facts and life experiences, Si can help INFPs learn from previous mistakes. INFPs often place a lot of trust and importance on their personal experiences, which can create a unique and individualistic perspective and worldview. This may also lead the INFP to have a sense of fondness towards their past. Even if they had a difficult childhood, they may feel a great deal of appreciation for their past experiences due to what they continue to learn from them. (However, too much emphasis on reliving the past can be unhealthy, as will be discussed later).
3. Providing relief and comfort: The tertiary function is often nicknamed the ‘relief’ function. INFPs may use Si to develop some routines and traditions, which they may derive comfort, or relief, from the challenges and demands of everyday life.
4. Developing healthy habits: Si thrives on and promotes consistency. This may help the INFP develop habits to maintain health and mental balance. These activities may include yoga and meditation, which also engage the aspect of Si that involves internal body awareness.
The Fi-Si loop occurs when an INFP uses Introverted Feeling (Fi) and Introverted Sensing (Si), with the exclusion of other functions (i.e. Ne and Te). This can lead to a lot of destructive mental patterns, when their unhealthy use of Si suppresses their Extraverted Intuition (Ne). The Fi-Si loop is a state of debilitating self-torment, where the INFP may get stuck in a cycle of replaying and overanalysing emotions and past events. This can result in feelings of despair, guilt, self-blame, powerlessness, tunnel vision and hyper-sensitivity. The INFP may withdraw from their external environment, removing themselves from new possibilities and experiences that would stimulate their Ne, and in turn enable them to grow.
The key to freeing yourself from this loop is allowing your Extraverted Intuition to flourish. This can be difficult, because Si and Ne (like Fi and Te) can both suppress and complement one another. Ne may want to explore and try new things, while Si may want to shut out new experiences in order to stick with what has been tried and true in the past. However, these two functions can work together, when Ne gathers new information, and Si filters it and stores it to draw upon later. For more about how to develop Extraverted Intuition, check out my previous post about Ne in INFPs (link below).
Overall, developing their Introverted Sensing function can enable INFPs to find a sense of stability, security and comfort in their everyday life. This is as long as equal importance is placed on Extraverted Intuition, to avoid unhealthy mental patterns. Remember, balance is key.
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