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 Extroverted Thinking (Te), the inferior function of the INFP: what it is, how it can be developed to help personal growth, and the inferior ‘grip’.
What is Extroverted Thinking?
Extroverted Thinking (Te) can be described as the process of objectively organising and making logical sense of the external world. Te is a decision making process based on logic and facts, rather than emotions or values. It involves the ability to see tasks in a logical, sequential order, and is focused on achieving outcomes and goals. Where Introverted Thinking (Ti) will see flaws in a process and its accuracy, Te is more concerned with the efficiency of the outcome or achievement itself. Te has a need to control the environment, and is very good at organising it and the people within it to create maximum productivity.
For INFPs, Extroverted Thinking is the inferior function, meaning it can be a largely unconscious and underdeveloped process. In the earlier stages of life, Te often comes out in times of stress or when under pressure, and often manifests as counterproductive, negative and childlike. This state is often referred to as ‘the grip’. I also like to call this my ‘ESTJ mode’. When I am feeling stressed, I can become uncharacteristically pragmatic, bossy and short-tempered. However, I can also become quite productive (for a short period of time) during these Te ‘explosions’. It’s also important to note that every type can experience the inferior grip, where they show characteristics of their opposite type (for example, an INFJ may show the fast-paced action of an ESTP when stressed).
During ‘the grip’, INFPs may become harshly critical, obsessing over the search for accuracy. During this state they may judge other’s (and their own) incompetence, and experience the urge to take action to compensate for this. They may also become hyper-sensitive to inconsistencies in their environment. For example, when I am more busy or stressed than usual my room will get more messy than normal. This in turn makes me feel more stressed, because I can’t concentrate in the untidy environment.
It is this lack of efficient use of Te that accounts for many of the common struggles that INFP’s experience. These include struggling with making logical decisions, problem solving, productivity, time management and fluent verbal communication. Moreover, a lingering feeling that that you will never achieve your goals or reach your potential. Therefore, developing this function can really help INFPs create balance and productivity in their life.
First of all, I think its important to accept that we will never have perfect use of our inferior function, because we will always place more importance on our personal values when making decisions (Fi). However, Te can complement our Fi, by helping us find a sense of direction and implementing action plans to achieve goals that are based on our personal values.
The inferior function (for all types) has an ‘aspiration role’. While it doesn’t usually develop until midlife, as we learn to trust it and develop it it can provide a deeper sense of meaning and balance in our life. Often our sense of passion, purpose and ideals have similar attributes to, and is connected to, our inferior cognitive process. For example, as an INFP you might desire to achieve a certain goal, that your Te inspires you to work towards. It may take time to discover what that is, and that’s okay.
You can’t always have conscious control of ‘developing’ certain functions, and particularly as Te is the inferior function it may take years to be able to effectively use it. However, a couple of practical ways to encourage this process include:
- When making important decisions, organise all the information regarding your decision into a list of pros and cons. Include in it both how you feel/how the decision aligns with your values and the logical outcomes of the decision.
- Organise your daily tasks and your time by writing lists, and try to stay task oriented for a period of time.
Overall, Te is a struggle for most INFPs. Just remember to celebrate and value your strengths, and give yourself a little credit whenever you accomplish a goal, however big or small.
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