The MBTI test is probably the only commonly-used personality test that I consider legitimate. Of course, I still have some doubt when the test isn’t administered professionally since I have had gotten highly differing results online as opposed to when my school paid for us to do the official test. Therefore, sometimes I harbour suspicions towards others’ personality types, especially when they display obvious traits contrary to their identified personality type. Still, in general, the MBTI is grounded in developmental psychology and is a very accurate and useful tool when you read from the right sources.
I identify as an INFJ, whose nicknames range from ‘the Counselor’ to ‘the Protector’ to many other confusing terms. It matters not, because what counts is the function stack:
Dominant Function: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
How this manifests in the INFJ:
Ni is the way through which an INFJ perceives their inner world. It dictates the way they store and perceive information, and the path that their train of thought will take. Ni tends to store information in a spread-out manner with all the pieces of data connecting to other pieces of data. In other words, Ni seeks connection in all things. The results is a dense web-like mass of information that is too large to be viewed in detail as a whole, but can be focused upon to highlight intricate clusters and threads of thoughts. This network of data rests in the subconscious, giving Ni a mystical quality. This is why Ni is often perceived by others as an almost fortune teller-like ability. Ni is experienced in images and impressions as opposed to concrete facts. As the focus of Ni perception is constantly scanning the whole but also frequently zooming in on carious thoughts and feelings, Ni-dominants tend to experience their inner world as a constant fluctuation.
Auxiliary Function: Extroverted Feeling (Fe)
How this manifests in the INFJ:
Fe is the INFJ’s primary extroverted function and is thus utilised when interacting with the outer world. It is also the filter through which they receive communication from the rest of the world. Fe is focused on other people and their emotions. In other words, when interacting with other’s, INFJs tend to consider how others would feel. Fe is the reason why INFJs are often extremely empathetic people.
Tertiary Function: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
How this manifests in the INFJ:
Ti makes decisions based on logic and operates internally. It helps to stabilise the otherwise fluctuating and turbulent nature of Ni, allowing the INFJ to interpret their Ni connections in a sensible way. How this manifests is the INFJ’s tendency to try to substantiate their ‘gut feelings’ (Ni) with concrete logical thought (Ti). This function helps them fully understand the connections that Ni naturally makes, translating them from the subconscious to the conscious.
Inferior Function: Extroverted Sensing (Se)
How this manifests in the INFJ:
Se is the INFJ’s last and least developed function. This function perceives the outer world as stable, concrete and structured. It helps an INFJ to be aware of their surroundings, appreciate beauty and be fully present in the moment. Operating at a low level on the INFJ’s awareness, this function gives them only the minimum input required for the tasks they are doing, unless the INFJ actively engages the function. Unfortunately, the INFJ can experience the outer world as overwhelming and stressful if they spend too much time taking in outside stimulus.
Explaining the INFJ Phenomenons
One of INFJ’s greatest gifts to the world is their ability to understand others on a deep and complex level. If you have an INFJ in your life, you may find that your connection with them is never a shallow one – they understand you in a way that others cannot even come close to. This is because of the way the INFJ’s functions stack and the fact that they are so rare.
Ni is a perceiving function, so INFJs tend not to make immediate judgments upon receiving any information. Instead, Ni fits that information into the large web of data within their head that comprises of everything they’ve ever known. They take into account the other person’s personality, their circumstances, etc. etc., fitting what they hear into its best possible position. From there, they travel along the web towards the possibilities of resolution.
Fe then steps in. Given all the possibilities of resolution and responses, Fe takes into account how the other person could possibly react/feel. Ni still contributes in the prediction, but Fe takes the mainstage in prioritising the other person’s emotions. After determining, through the interaction of Ni-Fe, the INFJ then makes what they consider ‘the best possible solution’.
Ti follows, because you cannot advise someone solely based on gut feeling and emotions. Logic starts grinding its gears, bringing what the Ni knows in the INFJ’s subconscious, into the conscious, forming logical reasoning. When the INFJ finally decides to respond, it is through these complicated steps that they carefully consider:
- What the situation is and how they can possibly proceed
- How the other person will react and what the best solution is
- How to logically present their solution in a systematic manner
The whole time, of course, Se is only vaguely engaged, so that the INFJ does not walk into a pole while in deep thought…although they still do sometimes. Why does an INFJ take so long to respond? That’s because their thought process is detailed, intricate and carefully thought-out.
2. Solitude – Not Fitting In, but Simply Camouflaging
Making up about 1% of the world, the INFJ is the rarest MBTI personality type, right before the INTJ. This is a fact that most INFJs consider both a blessing and a curse. We are unique, we recognise that, standing out in a world dominated by Sensing types. Our deep-thinking nature fits like a square peg in a circular square. We feel special, unique, but at the same time, unable to connect with anyone.
INFJs are deeply private individuals and even if they may seem open, they often only reveal enough for the given situation. They create a self for others to connect to, sometimes being thought of as ‘fake’ because they act differently around different people. What this results in is a ‘chameleon effect’, where the INFJ seems to adapt quickly to their given surroundings in order to achieve the greatest possible harmony.
The true INFJ, however, is hidden behind so many layers that even they themselves can lose sight of their complete self. The reality is – the INFJ isn’t ‘fake’, they just aren’t showing you their wholesome self. As a result, INFJs detest it when someone who just knew them for barely anytime claim that ‘I understand you’. It takes years and decades to fully see all sides of an INFJ and those without the patience can never witness them fully.
3. Lie-Detecting and Predictions
INFJs appreciate honesty and bluntness because lies cannot get past us. Once again, it is our Ni at play. As Ni-dominants, INFJs are alerted whenever a piece of information does not fit within that giant web that encompasses all data we have ever received. It starts off as a surge of suspicion and Ti kicks in, bringing that suspicion to the conscious mind. It then begins to rationalise what is ‘wrong’ with what we’ve been told.
Be honest with an INFJ at all times. Lying will not get you anywhere, because you can never get away with it. However, being the Fe-auxiliary that we are, we often do not confront the lie-teller. Instead, we consider the other’s feelings and the possible reasons for the lie. So, while you may think you got away, know that the INFJ has lost some trust in you and we’d rather you tell us the truth than try to get away with it further.
The same process comes with predicting the future. It is not that we are fortune-tellers. Our ability to engage our Ni and Ti, creating that famous Ni-Ti loop is the key. While under stress, the loop causes overthinking, it is the greatest contributor to the INFJ’s uncanny ability to foresee everything. From the ability to read a person upon first meeting to the ability to tell what will happen next – it all comes down to the loop. Everything fits somewhere in that huge web of information and once we find where it fits, we know the possibilities of how it can proceed.
So, if you ever meet an INFJ and feel them staring right into your soul, it’s because, technically, they are. While they are simply finding the best place in that web where you fit, they are also limiting the possibilities of how you as a person can unravel to them.
4. Perfection and Empathy
Again, Ni plays a part, but not that big a part as Fe becomes prominent here. We see all the possibilities given our experience, so we know what the ideal situation could be. For every evil-doing, we can see a possibility for redemption. For every imperfection in the world, we can see the possibility for it to become perfect.
Fe allows us to sympathise, but Ni allows to project that onto a larger scale. We don’t just believe in understanding one person, we believe in ‘understanding’ becoming the pillar of world peace. We see that by understanding, we create connections and lower tensions, resulting in lowered possibilities of conflict. Idealistic are the INFJs, but it is only because we see the possibility, however slight.
Next time, before you tell an INFJ that he/she is being too idealistic, ask them why they hold on to that belief. You will find that we are more realistic than we appear – we know that the chances are low, because we can see that the web will most likely not lead to that end, but we also see the possibility of things proceeding that way. INFJs, unlike the other idealists (NFs), tend to have more concrete plans thus.
*To be continued…*