“No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien, an INFP
Introverted Feeling, Extraverted Feeling, Fi-dominant, Fi-inferior, it can all be a little confusing, right? When I first learned about Myers-Briggs® types, I thought that people were just feelers, or just thinkers, I didn’t understand all this Fi, Fe, Si, Se, Ni, Ne jargon. As my knowledge has progressed I’ve developed an intense admiration for introverted feeling (Fi). Introverted feelers are known for their unflinching values, their authenticity, and their genuine compassion. Introverted feeling types are varied and have a wide range of skills. Joan of Arc, Edgar Allan Poe, even Audrey Hepburn were all dominant introverted feelers!
But what is introverted feeling? And how does it manifest differently based on its location in your function stack?
Introverted feeling focuses on exploring and refining one’s own personal values, feelings, and emotions. Fi-dominant and auxiliary users are often warm and compassionate, driven to help humanity or animals or anyone they feel a personal connection with. Typologist A.J. Drenth says of Fi in his book My True Type: Clarifying Your Personality Type, Preferences & Functions, “Rather than surveying and distributing feelings across a breadth of individuals (as Fe does), Fi focuses largely on one’s own feelings and sentiments. FPs explore and manage their emotions on a largely independent basis.” Isabel Briggs-Myers says that they “Have feelings that are deep but seldom expressed, because inner tenderness and passionate conviction are both masked by reserve and repose”.
Introverted feeling types value internal harmony; they must make sure that everything they do aligns with their values, personal morals, and emotions. Their values and morals are created independently, giving Fi-users a uniqueness and personal resolve that is intriguing to other types. Where other types may pull their values, ethics, and emotions from external sources, or express them externally, Fi-users build their values and emotions internally. Their values are independent of what society says, what culture says, or what authority dictates. They don’t like to conform to all social niceties or to pretend to enjoy things just to get along. FPs empathize with and are driven to fight for the causes of things or people that personally affect them. They select their group or cause and focus on it with a passion and intensity that is mind-blowing. Through this whole process they must always be authentic and true to themselves no matter what.
Dominant and auxiliary Fi-users are intensely aware of their own emotions and feelings and don’t feel the need to express them as readily, or lay them on the table, as Fe users do. They guard their feelings carefully, only sharing them when they feel they can trust someone completely. They are very faithful to their ideals and causes, but they don’t like to push their values onto other people unless those people blatantly oppose those ideals. When that happens, the Fi-user can become fiery and powerful in defense of their beliefs.
Different Types Use Fi Differently
An ISFP will use Fi far differently from an ENTJ. Many thinking types aren’t aware that they use feeling at all, and so this post will (hopefully) help them to identify how they use feeling, and how their perspective on feeling influences their perceptions of others. Here’s a breakdown of all the Fi users and the position of Introverted Feeling in their function stack:
Dominant Introverted Feelers:
INFPs and ISFPs
Auxiliary Introverted Feelers:
ENFPs and ESFPs
Tertiary Introverted Feelers:
INTJs and ISTJs
Inferior Introverted Feelers:
ENTJs and ESTJs
How ISFPs and INFPs Use Fi:
INFPs and ISFPs are supremely concerned with maintaining emotional integrity and inner harmony. They believe in living with purpose, helping others, and staying true to themselves. When they make a decision, the first thing they consider is their values – Does this align with what I feel is right? How will this affect others? How will this impact me? How does this experience broaden my own personal understanding? Fi-users are often greatly impacted by the arts; poetry, literature, cinema, music, and artwork. Because their feelings are so internalized the arts allow them to see an external mirror of what they may strongly feel inside. It is not abnormal for a Fi-user to be deeply moved by a song or a piece of artwork that expresses something they’ve hidden internally for a very long time.
Dario Nardi, a UCLA professor and expert in the field of neuroscience, says in his book Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People that Fi users are “the consummate listeners. They thoroughly engage all brain regions that process voice, words, and sounds; moreover, they may easily enter a unique whole-brain state when listening to other people, whoever those people might be.” According to Nardi, INFPs and ISFPs differ in how they listen. INFPs listen longer, and can hold this whole-brain listening state for ten minutes or more. ISFPS listen briefly and make a quick assessment and then move to action. For this reason, INFPs can really get to the core of who someone is and understanding their psychology because they listen so well for so long. This is one reason they can be such excellent counselors. ISFPs adapt quickly to what someone is saying and are good at helping the person they’re listening to find a practical solution to their problems. Like all SPs, ISFPs are excellent in a crisis; able to quickly find an appropriate hands-on solution. INFPs can be better at listening for a longer period and providing therapeutic help. That said, there isn’t a limit to what ISFPs and INFPs can do based simply on their type. INFPs can provide hands-on help and ISFPs can provide therapeutic help, they will both more easily excel at one than the other.
How ISFPs Use Fi:
ISFPs have a deep, intense compassion that is remarkable in its power. They see the needs of the moment, what is happening around them, and can respond quickly in the most helpful and practical way. They are very creative people, who like to pour their internal emotions into their crafts, their art, fashion sense, or a physical form like dancing. They are greatly moved by beauty in their outer world. Their Extraverted Sensing (Se) function gives them an extreme awareness of what is going on around them and an intense love of beauty. They have an adventurous streak and often like to travel and see new and different places, especially places that offer sensory and visual delights.
ISFPs are very compassionate towards people or causes they believe in. They believe in protecting those who are vulnerable; children, animals, or people who are discriminated against. They will work tirelessly for the cause they believe in, but they will do it quietly, without fanfare, and without the need for admiration.
ISFPs are soft-spoken individuals who are usually very modest, never wanting to draw too much attention to themselves. Many ISFPs excel in general medical practice, which allows them to use their genuine kindness and ability to respond in a crisis effectively. Isabel Briggs-Myers says in her book Gifts Differing, “They may be particularly fitted for work that requires both devotion and a great adaptability, as in the case of visiting nurses, who can never count on standard conditions but must grasp each new situation and revise their instructions to fit the present circumstances.” ISFPs work incredibly hard at jobs they believe in. They pour all their energy into it, believing fully in their purpose. Work has to be about more than a paycheck for an ISFP to be happy; it must be about fulfilling their destiny as a person and helping others. Other jobs they may enjoy involve finding some form of personal expression through the arts or performance. Many great artists and entertainers are ISFPS, people like Audrey Hepburn, Ryan Gosling, and Justin Timberlake.
How INFPs Use Fi:
INFPs are known for their imagination, empathy, and intellectual prowess. They are often found in the fields of teaching, counseling, science, literature, and art. They have a gift for language, and are often skilled writers, able to use their imagination and depth of feeling and emotion to draw readers in and create moving poetry and breathtaking stories. Many of our best authors have been INFPs, people like William Shakespeare, George Orwell, Alduous Huxley, A.A. Milne, and J.R.R. Tolkien.
INFPs have a natural knack for understanding symbols, and as a result are often able to read and write effectively and at an early age. INFPs are driven to communicate and share their feelings and causes through writing. When it comes to speaking they may shy away or feel apprehensive, but with a pen and paper they can command the largest audience.
INFPs are extremely compassionate and driven to help a cause they believe in. They are especially sensitive to other people’s suffering and their own. If they have been discriminated against, experienced abuse or bullying, they will likely take up the cause of those discriminated against, bullied, or abused. They also tend to have a fondness for animals and animal rights. Fi-users naturally feel for those who are vulnerable or oppressed. Many typologists believe this is because INFPs themselves have often dealt with oppression or being misunderstood.
The road of life is not often easy for an INFP. They are very deep, sensitive souls who find themselves haunted by the worlds injustices and wishing desperately that others could share their high ideals. According to the MBTI® Manual, INFPs show the highest level of depression of the 16 types with chronic pain. They are described as being artistic, reflective, and sensitive.
When it comes to careers, the INFP looks for something that allows them to be creative and original. They prefer independent work where they can have autonomy and delve into their creations with passion and vigor. This is why they so often excel in the fields of writing and artistry (Vincent Van Gogh was also an INFP). Unfortunately, most corporate or standard jobs out there do not meet the INFPs desires and they often have to mold themselves to fit into a corporate world that is more in tune with extroverts and sensing types. Overall, INFPs tend to show occupational trends in the fields of counseling, writing, and arts.
How ESFPs and ENFPs use Fi:
ESFPs and ENFPs access Se (Extraverted Sensing) or Ne (Extraverted Intuition) before Fi – so these processes are going to greatly influence how they use their feeling function. Where the INFP and ISFP will instantly know how things align with their values, their emotions, and feelings, the ESFP or ENFP will have everything filter through their perceiving process (intuition or sensing) first. They will access their feeling function more when they are alone and away from people. Externally they will seem more like experiencers (ESFPs) or idea generators (ENFPs) focusing more on what they perceive or their ideas than their feelings. They will be naturally enthusiastic, warm, and inviting people who enjoy social interaction as it increases their energy. They both are open-minded people, emotionally intelligent, and creative.
How ESFPs Use Fi:
ESFPs are naturally in tune with the outer world and are inspired by the beauty and commotion of life. They are usually quick thinkers when they are in crisis situations and are excellent at providing practical support. They are hands-on in their efforts to help other people, trying to see exactly what is needed now and respond accordingly. They often like to express their internal feelings and passions in some physical way; through art, dancing, or music. There have been numerous outstanding ESFP entertainers, people like Bob Hope, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley.
ESFPs are energized by an exciting and fast-paced life. They look for new and novel experiences and are often adventurous. They are known for being friendly and handling human communication with ease. Among ESFPs are the students whose high school class voted them “the friendliest” or “the best sport”. ESFPs may focus more on their feelings, their causes, and their values when they are alone and away from outside influences and pressures. At this point they may withdraw into themselves to discern whether their lives align with their values, how the experiences of the day have made them feel, and whether they are at peace with their current environment.
How ENFPs Use Fi:
ENFPs are naturally in tune with possibilities and potential. They are full of passion and enthusiasm, always looking to open new doors and discover new insights into the meaning of life and the future of the universe. ENFPs use feeling to connect with other people and provide therapeutic support and insight. They can inspire others with fresh perspectives and by offering unique possibilities. ENFPs can see how many events may unfold and how many good things could happen, and are skilled at cheering up even the most downcast friend. Some famous inspirational ENFPs include Anne Frank, Robin Williams, and Ellen DeGeneres.
ENFPs like to live spontaneously and are often adventurous and ready to explore new pathways and challenges. Their feeling function gives them an unwavering set of values that they live by. They check in regularly to make sure they are living in accordance with these values. As they go through life the ENFP constantly expands their inner understanding of themselves, evolving and developing a unique set of morals and ethics that is all their own.
How ISTJs and INTJs Use Fi:
How ISTJs Use Fi:
ISTJs will rely on objective logic (Extraverted Thinking) and past facts and details (Introverted Sensing) when making decisions. Yet underneath it all they will try to maintain a very strong set of values and morals. This can make ISTJs seem like “change agents” in the world. They hate things that are disingenuous and believe in sticking to what is true and right regardless of how difficult that may be at times. In early life ISTJs will have very little conscious control of Introverted Feeling; when Fi is immature it can cause the user to take things personally and hold grudges – this may be something that young ISTJs struggle with. As ISTJs get into their thirties and forties, Fi will develop more and they will become more introspective, aware of their feelings and values, and more interested in the emotional world and self-identification. They may develop a taste for artwork, emotionally-driven music or even romantic movies. They will enjoy traditions that involve friends and family where they can sit back and quietly enjoy the harmonious atmosphere. Above all, ISTJs will still be more centered around Introverted Sensing (Si) and Extraverted Thinking (Te), but feeling will start to soften and balance their personality in mid-life.
How INTJs Use Fi:
INTJs will rely on objective logic (Extraverted Thinking) and insight (Introverted Intuition) when making decisions. However, underneath it all they will hold very strong personal convictions and values that they adhere to at all times. INTJs make no apologies for who they are, and they don’t like to sugarcoat things. Part of this has to do with their NT nature, but part of this also has to do with their Introverted Feeling. Fi is concerned with being authentic at all times, and INTJs hold to this authenticity at all costs. The truth is of paramount importance to the INTJ. In early life, when Introverted Feeling is immature and less conscious to the INTJ, they may struggle with taking things personally, misreading people’s intentions, or holding grudges. However, in mid-life INTJs will develop Fi and become more emotionally aware of themselves and others. They may become more compassionate, and more concerned with understanding themselves in a holistic way. It’s not abnormal for INTJs in mid-life to take up an interest in poetry, romantic classical music, or artwork that mirrors some of their internal emotions. Above all, INTJs will still be more centered around Introverted Intuition (Ni) and Extraverted Thinking (Te), but feeling will start to create a more balanced and gentler version of the INTJ as life progresses.
How ESTJs and ENTJs Use Fi:
How ESTJs Use Fi:
For the ESTJ, Introverted Feeling is the most unconscious part of their personality. It is hard for them to understand and control and as a result they may be suspicious of it. Most Te-dominant types see introverted feeling as “the enemy”. Because feeling is nearly unconscious and often irrational for them they see feeling dominant personalities as being irrational. This can cause conflicts for ESTJs and feeling dominant personalities as they can fail to appreciate each other’s strengths.
Throughout life, ESTJs will try to rely most heavily on Extraverted Thinking (Te), and Introverted Sensing (Si). They will usually repress Fi because it is not a comfortable function for them of use. As a result, they may overuse Thinking and Sensing, especially during times of stress. When this happens they may fall into the grip of Fi and become uncharacteristically withdrawn and sensitive. They may misread other people’s remarks as personal attacks and become convinced that they are unappreciated, undervalued, and disrespected or used by others. They may feel fatigued, depressed, and alone. You can find out more about this here.
Even though Fi is mostly unconscious to the ESTJ, it still may influence their decisions. They may feel a strong tie to anything from religion and ministry to helping animals or children. They may seek to find tangible way to work their goals alongside their values.
As the ESTJ enters their 50s and 60s, they will develop more conscious awareness and control of Fi. They will become more comfortable expressing their feelings, and more aware of their emotions and values. They will become more openly compassionate towards others and more empathetic towards a variety of people. This is why in old-age many people that were once strict and rather harsh become suddenly warmer and more gentle in their nature. ESTJs who repress Fi even in old age may become conflicted and more stuck in their ways, unwilling to accept this part of their personality.
How ENTJs Use Fi:
For the ENTJ, Introverted Feeling is the most inaccessible part of their personality. They feel unable to consciously understand or control it, and thus feel suspicious and at odds with it. The way an ENTJ experiences Fi often feels like “background noise” or an unnecessary interruption. It is normal for ENTJs to repress Introverted Feeling, relying solely on Extraverted Thinking (Te) and Introverted Intuition (Ni). When this happens during times of stress, the ENTJ may over-use Te and Ni. As a result, they can become worn down and then Fi will “take over” the personality. When this happens, the ENTJ will become uncharacteristically hypersensitive and may misread other people’s words as personal attacks. They may become unusually withdrawn and feel depressed, alone, and misunderstood. You can find out more about this here.
Even though Fi is very unconscious to the ENTJ, it still may influence their decisions. They may feel especially drawn to working towards goals that coincide with their values, or they may feel a special need to give to charities that help children or animals. The nature in which Fi manifests for an ENTJ will vary from person to person.
As the ENTJ enters their 50s and 60s, they will develop more conscious awareness and control of Fi. They will become more empathetic and warm towards others. They may become more concerned with discovering their own inner values and understanding their emotions. They will become more balanced and compassionate. Once ever objective and ruthless in logic, the ENTJ will become more concerned with the feelings and harmony of others. As always, they will still rely mostly on thinking and intuition, but they will not repress Fi as fully. ENTJs who repress Fi even in old age may become conflicted and more stuck in their ways, unwilling to accept this part of their personality.
What Are Your Thoughts?
How have you experienced Fi in your own life? Do you feel like this is helpful? Do you have any disagreements? Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear from you!
Want a complete course on your personality type? Personality Hacker has training and courses for each personality type, complete with webinars, a 14-page course, audio advice sessions and more here.
Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type
MBTI Manual: A Guide to the Development and Use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, 3rd Edition
My True Type: Clarifying Your Personality Type, Preferences & Functions
Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People
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