Understanding the INFJ Shadow Functions
Each Myers-Briggs personality type has eight cognitive functions. These functions make up the way in which we receive, process, interpret, and transmit information. They are essentially the blue print for how the brain operates.
While all personality types have the same cognitive functions, it is their order which determines one’s personality type.
These functions can be split up into two groups:
- Primary functions which are more developed and make up the majority of your cognitive processes.
- Shadow functions which tend to work on a covert level in the subconscious.
While we have addressed the four primary functions before, the shadow functions tend to go overlooked. These processes are actually responsible for a large amount of our negative thoughts and behavior which pop up in times of discomfort, stress, fear, or threat.
Here is a glimpse into how the INFJ’s shadow processes function and play out through our shadow selves:
Extroverted iNtuition (Ne)
This process allows us to hold a host of ideas and possibilities in our mind at once. It weaves together a variety of outcomes and thoughts to create strategies for tackling situations.
This piece of us is also what makes an INFJ stubborn. The ability to see a variety of perspectives makes it easy for us to poke holes in another’s stance or arguments, making us say things we’ll regret later.
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Introverted Feeling (Fi)
This is the process through which information is filtered and decided whether it fits within our value system or works against it. Often working as a gut reaction more than logical thoughts, Fi allows us to assess the world around us against that which we already believe.
This is also, unfortunately, the critical piece of our personality which causes INFJs to be passionately judgmental against the actions and beliefs of others. It fuels us to attack those who appear to be a threat to our values.
Extroverted Thinking (Te)
Te categorizes our environment. It takes all the external data fed into our minds and arranges it in neat and concise categories allowing for efficient thinking and action.
This role is great at deceiving us into thinking things are more important than they really are. Based entirely in data, it excludes emotional reasoning, leading us to jump full steam into things that appear necessary on paper but are, in all actuality, pointless or a waste of time.
Introverted Sensing (Si)
This process is like the computer of the mind. It is all about comparing and contrasting existing data. People, events, situations, bodily responses, or any factual sensory information is compared to previous or similar situations to make assessments and evaluations.
As feelers, INFJs use this process in an extremely negative way. Because we respond to many events with a clear layer of emotions, similar events become triggering in biased ways. Seeing someone who appears similar to another who has harmed us brings about unfair calculations. We may be tricked into thinking an idea is good because it brings up positive feelings associated to previous similar situations. These instant comparisons cause us to make decisions or act in ways we regret later.
While these four shadow functions often play a negative role in our thoughts and behaviors, it is important to recognize that they are not in and of themselves negative functions. In fact, within our subconscious mind, they are often working in helpful manners which can enhance our primary functions. The key to bringing these positive traits to light is through understanding each function’s purpose and learning how to flip them around, making them work for us instead of against us.
I cover exactly how to recognize the ways in which the shadow functions appear in our daily lives and how to flip them around, utilizing their positive traits and shining light on our shadow self in the program, Emerge from the Shadows.