Understanding + using your INFJ Introverted Thinking
This is Part 4 of a series exploring what "INFJ" says about you. If you haven't already, start with Part 1 - What Does INFJ Say About You?
We continue this week with your tertiary cognitive function of Introverted Thinking (Ti).
What is Introverted Thinking (Ti)?
Just like Fe, Ti is a decision-making function. Introverts that lead with Ti are ISTPs and INTPs. As INFJs, we prefer to make our decisions using our feeling function. That doesn't mean we never use the more analytical thinking process to make decisions (see #2 in this article). In fact, INFJs can be quite analytical in their thoughts. This is especially true as we grow older and for decisions that pertain only to ourselves.
Our Ti is more logical and objective than our Fe. Ni + Ti is a powerful combination that fuels our love of learning. Ti looks for ways to solve problems logically and efficiently. When you organize, classify, or prioritize information in your mind, you're using Ti. Ti also acts like a filter to help you analyze your intuitive insights for accuracy.
However, our Ti is also our 10-year-old process. More on that in a minute...
Whereas our auxiliary decision-making function of Fe is extraverted, our tertiary decision-making function Ti is introverted. Because we're introverts, we're tempted to spend all of our time in the playground of our Ni, coupled with our Ti. We consider patterns and possibilities (Ni) and then run them through our more analytical Ti to test them out or make decisions. Are you thinking, "Wait—I'm relying on my 10-year-old to analyze my ideas to help me figure out what to do?" If so, you probably know where I'm headed next.
What happens if you rely too much on Ti instead of Fe?
Your Ti is a less-preferred function and tends to have the development of a 10-year-old. I've known some pretty great 10-year-olds, but they have limited life experience. They also have less ability to see the bigger picture. As an INFJ, relying too heavily on the logical analysis of Ti means you won't consider the impact of your decisions on others. You'll be more critical of others and ready to tell them exactly how they should do things. You'll point out all the things they're doing wrong. Leading from a "my way or the highway" perspective makes creating harmony difficult. Leaning on Ti, instead of Fe, means skipping your empathy—and ignoring the way you're wired!
You'll also put yourself at risk if you avoid people and never talk about your insights with others. This is another example of skipping your Fe. This can lead to the INFJ Spin Cycle, or Ni-Ti loop. When this happens repeatedly, you'll be stuck in overthinking mode and self-doubt.
How can you make the most out of your Ti?
If you're INFJ, Ti will never be your top preference in making decisions. You can read more about the idea of preferences in the MBTI® system and why this is true in the first part of this series. But we don't want to ignore our Ti because it's a quarter of our cognitive function stack. Here are a few ideas to get the most out of your Introverted Thinking:
➤ During stress-free situations, play games or solve puzzles that require logic.
➤ Continue your love of learning, especially when it comes to analysis of ideas and theories.
➤ Use Ti to check the accuracy of your insights (from Ni) and judgments (from Fe).
➤ Find ways your ideas might fit into already-existing frameworks.
➤ Take frequent breaks when working with Ti information (facts, data, details, etc.). It may feel frustrating or tiring since it's not your preference.
➤ Consider the facts, logical consequences, practicality, and reasonableness of your idea or decision. Click here for an article I wrote about how to make better decisions.
➤ Instead of saying, "I just know," use data uncovered while using Ti to support and back up your ideas.
➤ Use facts, figures, or logic to help you verbalize your insights so others can better understand.
➤ Work with others (engaging Fe) to help you discover pros and cons (engaging Ti) you may not have considered.
It's tempting to rely on Ti in stressful situations or in decisions that only involve you. We have the tendency to engage Fe more when our decisions involve other people. This is because of the location (auxiliary) and orientation (extraverted) of Fe in our function stack. Never forget your Fe, even when it involves stressful circumstances and decisions that only involve you. In the last article, we talked about how to engage Fe. Here's the CliffsNotes version: talk to a trusted friend, advisor, or coach.
A word about how Ti develops as you mature...
Good news! We're growing, developing, and maturing human beings (at least that's the hope). This means you may find more enjoyment and ability in Ti as you age, especially in your mid-30s-40s and beyond. You may find yourself relying on it a little more with time, but not every person reaches this stage of psychological development. The process of growing and maturing takes work, self-awareness, and patience with yourself. It will also help you be more right, more often. 😉