(This is part 3 of a 5-part series. You can go back to part 1 here.)
The University of INFJ continues...
We're exploring each cognitive function in the INFJ’s function stack. Take a look at the previous article in this series to review what we mean by “cognitive functions.” You'll also see how to stay connected to your dominant function, Introverted Intuition (Ni). This week we'll explore your auxiliary function of Extraverted Feeling.
What is Extraverted Feeling (Fe)?
Extraverted Feeling provides the perfect balance to your Introverted Intuition. Your Ni takes in information and your Fe allows you to do something with that information in the moment. Ignoring your Fe, or underutilizing it, is unhealthy. This decision-making, or judging, function allows you to take action. It also reveals your priorities in the moment. Your Fe's motivation is to create and maintain harmony among those around you. It's what causes you to consider how your decisions and actions will impact others. When used to the fullest extent, it’s very powerful. More on that in a minute, but let’s get the uncomfortable aspects of Fe out of the way first.
What happens if you avoid using Extraverted Feeling?
Do you have a habit of doing any of the following?
- Avoiding people
- Always keeping your insights and thoughts to yourself
- Avoiding conflict at all costs
- Doing whatever it takes to keep the peace, often at your own detriment
- Giving, giving, giving to others
- Being overly critical with others, pointing out all the things they’re doing wrong
- Ignoring your own boundaries (If you’re thinking boundaries? What boundaries?...this is YOU...)
These are all examples of either avoiding Fe, or only using it in an under-developed way.
Ok, now wait a second. Don’t go getting all frustrated and guilty-feeling. You’re ok! We’re learning here. This is knowledge, and with this knowledge you’ll be able to start making some changes. Hang in there with me.
Fe is an extraverted function which means it’s not as comfortable for INFJs. It makes sense that you might want to avoid it, or at least have some growing pains while developing it. We prefer using our introverted functions of intuition and thinking. Listen to this Personality Hacker podcast for more reasons we might avoid developing our co-pilot. Here’s what can happen when we avoid developing our Fe:
- You can get stuck in a spin cycle between Ni and Ti.
- You can be stuck in indecision.
- You can feel very isolated.
- You’ll avoid conflict.
- You’ll miss opportunities for authentic connections with others.
- You won’t advocate for yourself and may ignore your own needs.
Without Fe, you’ll be stuck in your head, indecisive, and confused about what you want to do in your life. Your intuitive insights will have no application or resulting impact.
How can you make the most out of your Fe?
Your Fe is what allows you to make connections with others, advocate for yourself, and discover how to meet the needs of others.
You spend the early years of your life (up to about age 7 or so) focusing on the development of your dominant function. The healthy development of an INFJ child means developing Fe after these first few years, but this development doesn't always come easily. As mentioned in this Personality Hacker podcast, our tendency is to use it only when it’s fun or on an as-needed basis. Healthy development of your Fe means discovering all the ways to use this very important part of your mental functions. So how can you do that?
1. Decide what you really want and value.
You first need to be aware of what you want and what you value. Recognize that creating harmony with your Fe involves you, too. Ignoring your own needs does not create harmony for you. Get clear about what you want and value and be willing to share your preferences with others. Moving on to the second item...
2. Practice and get comfortable stating your desires.
Once you know what you want and what you value, get comfortable sharing those desires with others. Take the opportunity to grow by sharing your desires in low-pressure situations. You may not always get what you want, but your chances increase when you make your desires known. You can also look at this as an opportunity to be honest and truthful with those around you. It requires vulnerability, but it opens the door for authenticity.
3. Make your peace with conflict.
Even though we'd prefer to avoid it, conflict is a part of life. Strive for true harmony by dealing with conflict in a healthy way. Check out this article I wrote called The INFJ Guide to Conflict to learn more about how to prepare for and handle conflict in your own INFJ way. Know that conflict brings the potential for greater connection, understanding, and intimacy. Choosing to ignore conflict, always giving in, or always seeking to please is not authentic harmony.
4. Share your intuitive insights with a trusted friend, advisor, mentor, or coach.
Get your ideas out of your head by sharing them. This gives you the opportunity to refine your ideas and get feedback. As an INFJ, Extraverted Feeling is your decision-making function. Using it means you'll become more decisive as you speak to others. You'll gain clarity on what you want to do and how to move forward. My coaching clients gain insight through our conversation as their thoughts meet the light. This light provides clarity in a way that your thinking cannot. Sharing out loud also helps my clients prioritize the steps needed to meet their goal. Does this sound like something you want? You can find out if coaching is right for you through a Discovery Call.
Can you see the importance of your Extraverted Feeling? Developing this important part of your personality takes effort, but the result is personal growth. This area of personal growth is needed to bring you closer to making your vision a reality. Personality Hacker is currently doing a podcast series on developing this auxiliary function, or "co-pilot." Check out episode (0229) to learn more about your Extraverted Feeling.
This series continues with the INFJ's Introverted Thinking (Ti). Click here »