The role of Se in an INFJ's vision

Role of Se for INFJ

We're continuing to look at the role of your extraverted functions this week. Last week we looked at the key to an INFJ's development in exercising the Extraverted Feeling (Fe) function. This week, let's discover the role your Extraverted Sensing (Se) can play in your vision.

What is Extraverted Sensing (Se)?

Extraverted Sensing is a dominant function for ESTP and ESFP types. These types are very connected to their bodies, and they're skilled at interacting with the environment in physical ways. They're interested in the here and now and interacting with immediate feedback from the outer world. Connecting to the present moment is their preference and they do this with ease.

For the most part, the INFJ type is the opposite of this. This doesn't mean that INFJs can't be athletes or performers or pay attention to the present. It does mean that our version of Extraverted Sensing is much less developed and fulfills a different role.

Se whispers from the dark

INFJ Cognitive Functions

Extraverted Sensing (Se) is your second extraverted function and it sits in the inferior position within your mental functions (see image). This means it occupies a more unconscious seat in your cognitive function car*, and it has a level of development of a 3-year-old. This means it's common for INFJs to ignore the present, and sensory data from the environment can get quickly overwhelm us.

When Se YELLS from the dark

Your Extraverted Sensing is happy to sit quietly in the backseat except under two conditions:

1. When you're stressed out

2. When you've spent too much time in your dominant, introverted function (Ni)

For the first scenario, an INFJ's Se rises up with a drive to have sensory experiences. This means you may seek physical comforts and may be vulnerable to overindulgence: eating too much, drinking too much, or moving toward addictions of physical pleasures. This is also known as "being in the grip" of your inferior function.

In the second scenario, an INFJ has spent too much time in her internal world of Introverted Intuition and Se says, "Hey! Pay attention to me!" This is a natural safety mechanism to bring you back into balance between your inner world and the outer world.

Se and your vision

INFJs have a tendency to work in bursts which can lead to burnout. It can be easy for an INFJ to ignore her outer world and her physical needs during these bursts—unless you're interrupted, of course. Choosing to "interrupt" your burst by taking a break in your Extraverted Sensing is a healthy choice. Your 3-year-old needs love and attention, too!

Consciously choosing to spend time doing Se activities will help you maintain balance in your life. It doesn't matter what kind of sensing activity you choose, but make it something that you enjoy and that's not too difficult to get started. Choose activities that you won't regret later—like eating an entire bag of cookies. Oops. How did that happen?

Take a walk, go for a run, ride a bike, or dance to music (privately, in your own home?) If you're like me, you may start engaging in a physical activity only to discover that you're not really present in your body. If you find yourself being drawn back into your mind, push yourself a little harder physically. Walk faster or run harder. The point is to push your body a little harder to force you to occupy your body as fully as possible, and to engage more fully in the environment, while distancing yourself from your mind.

The good news is that you only need a short burst of Se to maintain a greater balance. You might even find that you want to pursue this physical activity by allowing it to develop into a hobby or career.

Take Action:

The first step in exercising your Se is to find an activity that gets you into your body and allows you to engage with the environment. Choose something that's fun and playful. If you don't already have an activity you enjoy, here are a few ideas to try out in addition to the walking, running, and dancing I mentioned above:

  • gardening

  • biking

  • sculpting

  • working out

  • boxing

  • cooking

 While watching movies is technically a sensory experience, find an activity that engages your body. This will allow you to exercise your Se in a way that gets you out of your internal world and satisfies your 3-year-old. What other ideas do you have? Pick something and schedule time now to engage in the activity. 

Take a look at Part 1 about an INFJ’s other extraverted function.