The key to development for INFJs: Extraverted Feeling
You're an introvert. Not a surprise, I know. You prefer your inner world over the external world. You prefer it so much more that you see the inner world as more real than the outer world.
Even though you're an introvert (we'd say you "have a preference for introversion" on the MBTI®), you have two extraverted mental processes. It's necessary to exercise both of these functions, but the goal for each is different.
We're going to examine these two extraverted functions in the next two articles to learn what role they play in making your vision a reality. Even if you're unclear about your vision for the future, it's important to understand the purpose of these extraverted functions and when to use them.
The key to an INFJ's development: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
The first of your two extraverted cognitive functions is Extraverted Feeling (Fe). This extraverted partner to your dominant (and introverted) perceiving function (Ni) is a judging function. A judging function is a decision-making function, and its location in your stack of mental functions is what makes it so powerful and important (see image).
Your Ni is your most powerful mental function, but its concern is perceiving (taking in information). It likes to learn, theorize, and future-cast. It allows you to understand how people think and allows you to take on someone else's perspective. Ni is not concerned with doing anything with the things it learns.
Enter Fe. It's second in line and works as a partner to your Ni. Its auxiliary position means it has greater power and ability than the functions that follow it (Ti and Se). Your Fe is a powerful tool to get closer to your potential, have more fulfillment in life, and move closer to your vision for your future.
For many INFJs, it can be difficult to exercise this extraverted function, and it creates vulnerability for all INFJs. The level of discomfort in exercising Fe will vary depending on the person. I grew up in a home where Extraverted Feeling was practiced, encouraged, and demonstrated. It wasn't always a healthy version of Fe, but I experienced it on a regular basis and gained comfort in expressing it fairly early in life.
If you didn't have that experience, it doesn't mean you can't develop this function. I share this with you to encourage you to be kind to yourself as you spend time in this extraverted world, especially if your life contains fewer experiences with this function.
The benefits of Extraverted Feeling for an INFJ
1. Better decisions + refinement of your theories
Exercising this powerful extraverted function helps you make better decisions because it's a litmus test for your insights, theories, and ideas. A theory in your mind may not actually work in the external world. If you resist testing your insights and theories in the outer world, you may become closed to outside information that could help refine and increase the value of your ideas. In other words, you may become stuck in your ways and diminish the power of your intuition.
2. Experience and skill in setting boundaries
Setting boundaries is uncomfortable for most INFJs. We usually have difficulty saying no because of our Fe, which desires harmony and is interested in getting everyone's needs met—but everyone includes you and your needs, too! Setting boundaries in your external world (with your relationships, time, etc.) allows you to conserve your energy to devote to the things you really love and where you really shine. More energy also means you're able to better meet the needs of others.
When you begin to set boundaries, you may need to run experiments to see where you want your boundaries to be. Be patient with yourself and take note of what works and how you respond.
3. Deeper and more nuanced understanding of others
An INFJ who spends time in her Fe has a greater understanding of the people and relationships in her life. This is the genius zone for ENFJs who lead with Extraverted Feeling (Fe)! This Personality Hacker podcast episode with Denzel Mensah gives a clear picture of how an ENFJ uses Extraverted Feeling, and his experience can shine light on what this function can do for you. Denzel describes visualizing the interpersonal relationships between people as lines. The lines, which vary in thickness and color, help him understand what's going on between two people. This understanding helps him have a greater connection with others by identifying their needs. As someone who deeply desires to connect with others, meet their needs, and create harmony (because of his Fe), this information is priceless.
4. Increased ability to express yourself emotionally
Using Fe in a healthy way means recognizing and expressing your own needs. When you practice expressing how you feel about something, others will better understand your needs and boundaries. Getting everyone's needs met and creating harmony involves working to meet all needs involved—including your own. You can even be an example to others by identifying and honoring your needs (like a parent for a child, for example).
Getting into Fe also allows you to process your feelings and emotions so they're not so confusing or bottled up inside. The four types that use Fe in the dominant or auxiliary position (ENFJ, ESFJ, INFJ, ISFJ) will often need to talk about their feelings to make sense of them. This "venting" allows you to release the emotions. This makes conversations with others through relationships, therapy, or coaching especially valuable to Fe users. Once you get your emotions and feelings out, it's likely you'll have greater clarity and understanding of how to proceed.
Activities that involve your Fe include those that give you the opportunity to interact with others. This doesn't mean you have to join a group activity, but it does mean expressing yourself in some way. It's healthy to do this through artistic expression (writing, art, music, etc.) but it's also healthy to confide in a trusted friend or partner.
Which Fe benefit from above do you find most helpful right now? Which feels most needed to advance you toward your vision? What can you do to get into your Extraverted Feeling in a healthy way this next week?
Stay tuned for Part 2 about an INFJ’s other extraverted function.