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The INFJ Ni-Ti Loop – What it Means and How to Cope

The INFJ Ni-Ti Loop – What it Means and How to Cope

As an INFJ have you ever felt exceptionally cold, critical, and detached from everything around you? Do you feel like you can’t get yourself out of analysis-paralysis or inward criticism? If so, then there’s a chance you’re experiencing a Ni-Ti “loop”. Why do these loops happen? How do you get out of them? Is there a way to avoid these? That’s what we’ll be exploring in today’s article.

Looping can be understood when you look at the way your own brain is wired. No matter what personality type you have, using all four of your primary cognitive functions is an essential part of staying mentally healthy. Whenever you bypass either your extroverted or introverted functions, you run the risk of getting into a “loop.” As an Introverted Intuitive type, you can be drawn to seclusiveness, solitude, and quiet. None of this is bad, but it can be taken too far.  It can be all too easy for some INFJ to become solitary hermits,  retreating into permanent reflection and circular analysis. This might sound pleasant for a time, but it’s not a healthy place to be long-term.

Not sure what your personality type is? Take our new personality questionnaire here. Or you can take the official MBTI® here.

What is the Ni-Ti Loop?

The Ni-Ti loop occurs when an INFJ focuses primarily on their dominant intuition and tertiary thinking functions. When the INFJ retreats from the outer world and stops interacting with people or objects around them, they can get stuck in a loop and become uncharacteristically cold and withdrawn. I know this might seem inevitable during our current crisis, but there are actually ways to reach out to people even when you’re stuck in your house!

To understand the Ni-Ti loop, we need to take another look at the cognitive functions:

Introverted Intuition (Ni), the INFJ’s dominant function, is a perceiving function. It doesn’t make decisions or act in the outer world. Ni perceives numerous perspectives and ideas from a bird’s eye view of the world. While the INFJ may seem warm and empathetic, they can have a very detached viewpoint and perspective because of the way they “zoom-out” of the world and try to understand how everything is connected from a distance.

Ni absorbs information, perceives ideas, and tries to find patterns and links between them. Ni wants to know how everything is related. Fe, the INFJ’s auxiliary feeling function, is what brings those perceptions into a judgment or decision. Fe brings INFJ perceptions and empathy to life in the form of action in the outer world. Fe is what gives the INFJ their responsiveness to people’s emotions and needs.

The INFJ counselor combines Ni and Fe to understand and reach out to people and give them solutions for their problems.

The INFJ philosopher sees the big picture of humanity and uses Fe to channel that picture into words that will encourage empathy, compassion, and kindness.

The INFJ author uses Fe to bring their imaginative stories to life in a way that will connect with people. They use Fe to give their characters life and dimension and emotion and values.

When INFJs bypass Fe and go straight from Ni to Ti, they get caught in a cycle of perception and logical analysis that often leads nowhere.

What Does Introverted Thinking (Ti) Do?

Introverted Thinking categorizes and organizes logical thoughts and blueprints in the inner world. It creates an internal infrastructure of analysis points and principles that are constantly being refined by new data. Introverted Thinking combined with Introverted Intuition is not concerned with putting anything into the outer world or interacting externally. It seeks to absorb information, analyze, define, and categorize. It learns and analyzes for the sake of learning and analyzing. INFJs caught in the Ni-Ti loop can logically justify nearly any action they take, retreating from friends who need them, not finishing projects they promised to finish, shirking plans, or skipping important daily tasks. An INTP, ISTP, ENTP, or ESTP who use Ti use it effectively because they balance it with Ne or Se. The INFJ who uses Ni and Ti alone isn’t balancing it with any extraverted function.

When INFJs bypass Fe and go back and forth between Ni and Ti they can become cold, reclusive, critical, unproductive, and selfish.

The Reasons for the Ni-Ti Loop

The Ni-Ti loop can be a protective mechanism that the INFJ uses to defend themselves from the outer world. INFJs who have been hurt or abused by people may retreat into the Ni-Ti loop to avoid getting hurt again. INFJs who struggle with over-stimulation and high sensitivity may retreat into the Ni-Ti loop to protect themselves from burnout. Other INFJs simply don’t have enough opportunities to interact with the outside world; perhaps they’ve been sheltered, kept from people, or haven’t had the right opportunities to find friendship.

Is the Ni-Ti Loop Ever a Good Thing?

Any time a person stifles one of their primary cognitive functions, the result is almost always negative. INFJs who have looped for a long time or who struggle with looping may strengthen their Ti by relying on it more. However, because they have no outer-world balance for their perceptions, their intuition begins to feed their thinking process more and more outlandish and bizarre perceptions. They may become more and more detached from reality as they stifle their feeling function to perceive only impersonal, abstract data. Often, INFJs who are in a loop become conspiracy theorists, harsh critics, and highly eccentric and out of touch with what’s real.

Damages of Being in a Ni-Ti Loop:

– Lack of empathy and concern for others.
– Extreme procrastination.
– Loneliness and isolation.
– Inability to complete projects and tasks.
– Damage to friendships and relationships.
– Developing a feeling of imbalance or emptiness.
– Detachment from reality.

How to Get Out of the Loop:

The best way for an INFJ to get out of the Ni-Ti loop is to employ their auxiliary Extraverted Feeling (Fe) function. The good news is this is relatively easy for them to do because Fe comes naturally to them. Here are a few ways to use Fe to get out of a loop:

– Call a friend or family member on the phone.
– Write a letter to a friend or family member.
– Try to find random acts of kindness to complete
– Listen to emotionally rich music and sing along.
– Help out in a homeless shelter or an animal shelter.
– Talk to people about what you’re going through.
– Talk to people about what they are going through and listen well.
– Make a gift for someone you care about.
– Write poetry or a song and then say it or sing it out loud.
– Talk to a counselor or therapist.

Some INFJs try to rely on their inferior extraverted sensing (Se) to get out of a loop. This is NOT a good idea, because more often than not, this will lead to an INFJ “grip” stress reaction. INFJs who rely too heavily on Se can become overwhelmed with outer stimulation and can start behaving rashly and make impulsive, detrimental decisions. They may become indulgent, reckless, and lose their long-range focus and vision.

The INFJ who wants to escape a Ni-Ti loop must accept and nourish their need to care for people. They will find relief as they begin to reach out to people in the outer world, and as soon as they embrace their rich empathy again.

Below is an infographic I made about recognizing the INFJ Ni-Ti loop:

Other Articles You Might Like:

A Look at INFJ Rage

Your INFJ Personality Type and Your Enneagram Type

10 Signs of an Unhealthy INFJ

7 Things That INFJs Experience as Children

What Are Your Thoughts?

Do you have any insights or unique experiences to share? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type,  The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, and The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!

INFJ Understanding the Mystic

Get an in-depth look at what an #INFJ loop really is and how to avoid or get out of one! #MBTI #Personality

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Susan Storm is a certified MBTI® practitioner and lover of all things psychology-related. She is the mom of five beautiful children and loves using her knowledge of personality type to understand them and others better! Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to learn more about type!

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18 Comments

  1. “Introverted Intuition (Ni), the INFJ’s dominant function, is a perceiving function. It doesn’t make decisions or act in the outer world.”

    WOW. This should be something I have read 10 years ago. Never fully understood why it is a problem, and why it is diving me away from driving my life. Because this is not for decision making, and you can’t follow your life without decision making.

    1. I have been trapped in this for more than 6 months. Agoraphobic, angry, paranoid, cold, detached, pessimistic, on edge, easily triggered, reclusive, repetitive, and I force myself to commit to tasks in the outside world that I withdraw from or lose focus after completing or during. Helped a neighbor once weekly, talk to my sister and help her with tasks, talk to a good friend weekly about her goals or what she’s experiencing and sometimes share my own goals or attempts to re-engage the world, joined a support group that covid cancelled, met with a career coach, give advice online, write, use a calendar to set tasks towards goals, but I’m still trapped in analysis and circular processing.
      I have experienced a string of traumatic incidents the past couple years, and I’m struggling with PTSD, ADHD, and PMDD. All are being treated, in fact with PMDD after exhausting all treatment options except oophorectomy, I’ve completely changed my diet, take supplements based on current experiments in clinical research, and branching now into TCM options. Yet I only get two weeks of normalicy/clarity during the follicular phase of cycle.
      I’m not with a counselor after losing faith in counseling when I experienced gaslighting from the counselor who enabled my ex during DV. Had a private counselor back when I had a job with insurance that was only somewhat helpful and had to stop sessions when I lost the insurance. Processing grief after loss of mother and escaping DV, also experienced an episode of violence from my father when I briefly needed to stay with him when the women’s shelter was full. My nonprofit job lost its grant and have been unemployed. On medicaid I had two very bad experiences when trying to reconnect with a counselor, and will not be trying again while on medicaid as my options are limited to a slew of msw’s that behave unprofessionally. Examples: the CMH facility caseworker that never mailed a list of providers after I reported a problem with the online search portal, telling me to come in person to CMH, forgetting that she relayed this and when I showed up to request assistance finding someone in network, snapped at me that I shouldn’t be at CMH, and began asking assessment questions rapidly and speaking over my attempts to answer with her next question and claiming she had to go quickly, and when I set a boundary, asking her allow me to finish a sentence and treat me with dignity… had a temper tantrum of denying and gaslighting that only stopped when I asked to speak with her supervisor, the list she finally gave me… All no longer in network. Finally got a couple of numbers out of a Medicaid United worker, but when looking them up online they had multiple critical reviews indicating unprofessionalism in session, billing and scheduling. In trying to reconnect with a psychiatrist to treat ADHD, the doctor suggested ketamine… when I was simply needing to reconnect with ADHD medication since I was on medicaid (which caused me to lose my previous BCN healthcare providers, and had to change to providers that accepted Medicaid United). Ketamine is not indicated in the treatment of ADHD, but would have allowed him to make $4,000 off the treatment with medicaid. I refused, finally found a psychiatrist to treat PMDD, ADHD, and PTSD, although I had to indicate that I would only work with the female nurse practitioner as the male psychiatrist tried to increase my Adderall dose without any reason. Literally, his office had lost power, and no access to my records said “oh yes you take 20mg”, I said “no it’s 10mg”. He got irritated and insisted he never prescribes 10 and that I must be incorrect, and as I tried to explain that I’ve always been at 10mg since my previous doc, and how 20mg exacerbates tics and pmdd symptoms in the luteal phase… he spoke over me. As he spoke over me, he explained how his patients always think they just need to treat symptoms during work hours (yet I’m unemployed), but that they cause conflict and fight with family members in the evening and make no attempt to get educated on ADHD… (yet he performed no assessment of my symptoms so had no basis upon which to compare the efficacy of change in dosage, if he had he would have learned there are no conflicts at home and that because I was a previous program manager I use multiple systems like alarm reminders, trello action plans, SMART goals, white board calendar, weekly reviews, and visual reminder structures in my environment, I also have read extensively on ADHD, books, journals, new research, support websites, and follow multiple public speakers and coaches on the topic). He raised his voice and changed the dose, the next visit I explained to the female NP that the male psychiatrist behaved unprofessionally and had no assessment to base a change in dose on or compare the efficacy of outcomes to, and she changed the dose back agreed to work with me in subsequent visits. I checked with front desk staff to ensure that it was noted that I work with the female psych NP, yet the next two subsequent visits… I double checked to ensure she was available and that my preference was noted, yet both visits the male psychiatrist tried to barge in first and begin speaking with me. The first time I explained that I was waiting for the female NP who I was told was available and he quickly agreed and left. The next visit… When he did it again I snapped “Nope. I will be speaking with the NP and prefer to work with her only”. He left, but I have been rattled by the unprofessionalism of healthcare providers since my change to medicaid united.
      I’ve lost interest in my hobbies and sense of purpose, but no longer want to pursue fields of service because my previous career fields in healthcare and homelessness supports exposed me to challenges to my ethics and I was exposed to vicarious traumas in client work, I was drawn to fulfilling but challenging fields with risk of burnout, and am thoroughly burnt out. I am also intolerant of any gaslighting, dominating or controlling behavior be it covert or overt. I feel taxed, exhausted, and rigidly guarded when I encounter even a mildly pushy salesman. There is no “I see you pushy person, and can hold my own boundaries, assert myself logically and calmly disengage from your behavior”, it has become something where I tense up, become ice cold and rigid with “sigh, NOPE, Bye now, GTFOOH”, and then I get myself out of there, avoid that supermarket or office for a month or two.
      I have memory blocks around my job description and previous experience, clouded by the memories of DV as I threw myself into my job when my ex tried to financially entrap me and prevent my escape. I try to inch my way through my job search materials and hit blank wall, spinning wall, sentence, rumination, blank wall, detach and repeat… If I push too hard I have a trauma relapse or flashback, and intense paranoia for a stretch of days.
      I’ve been hyperfocused on articles, books, and topics to do with DV, lundy bancroft, critical analysis of the codependency model, current shortcomings in DV supports and approach models, articles on gender, mysogyny, capitalism, oppression, violence, environmental pollution, public policy, law, etc.
      I try changing to topics to do with zen, meditation, philosophy, comedy but the PMDD luteal phase of my cycle exacerbates PTSD healing progress. Trying to treat both to stop their feedback effect on the hyperarousal system, as they hinder healing. I want to rip out my own amygdala or silence the loop.

      I overfocus on chores, cleaning, organization, cooking, anything that makes me feel productive but the tasks that could re-engage me in the outside world have become tremendously difficult. If I stop moving, I’m lost in thought, time whips by and stagnation again. Clean and repeat. Everything is spotless except the mess in my mind.
      I have been fighting to get back to myself, or go forward to who I can be next, but frozen in a purgatory state. Feels there’s nothing left to unearth or process, everything has been analyzed and put together, I know I have a healthy self perception, but I absolutely do not trust the world even as I accept it as it is. I trust my ability to navigate the world but have no desire to. So the mind lock is no longer about self exploration or processing, it’s just circular rumination to the same conclusions. Every attempt to engage or push myself into the discomfort, do something towards those goals in re-engaging, sets me back. Triggered easily. Panic attacks when I tried stranding myself at a library or job center. Become undone and avoidant over silly things like opening mail. Good weeks in follicular phase of cycle, and progress blocked or undone in the luteal phase of cycle. I schedule my tasks and goals around the calendar of my cycle I track, in order to take advantage of follicular and reduce complexity in the luteal. About to try attending a Unitarian church to see if that’s a route that might move me forward more.

      There’s a route left yet that I am not ready to attempt. An oophorectomy would stop PMDD permanently, and might allow PTSD to heal, and make ADHD manageable again. But it would mean infertility, early osteoporosis risk and early menopause even with addback therapies. I am 35 and do not want to give up on having children one day, and do not have any savings to adopt one day or freeze any eggs. Not yet ready to process the grief around the loss of fertility.

  2. I have a feeling I am currently in the Ni-Ti loop. A lot of what I process every day is perceived and judged subjectively. I am also choosing to be isolated and I am procrastinating a lot of my work. I have many opportunities to practice empathy and my extroverted feeling in general with friends. But I do not feel interested to engage in that way these days. I am thinking maybe I should do more extroverted sensing activities. I think those taper my Ni a lot and could help me become more present to experience joy instead of constantly looking for meaning. I just recently started working on my Se. I do not have any opinions yet about its effectiveness for helping with the loop. But in your article you recommend not to avoid Fe by using Se to get out of the loop. I don’t think using Se necessarily result in a grip. I am hoping it will lessen the usage of my Ni. Do you still think I should still force myself to use Fe? Even though I don’t feel interested in using it?

    1. I thought the same thing. ‘Call somebody, ask how they are doing’ or ‘do some RAK or volunteer’ is really pointless advice for those burned out by the neediness of others, who use a faithful INFJ as a problem dump. It is Fe overload that pushes us into the loop in the first place, to retreat from other ppl’s burdens, from the pain of the world, or own unsolvable problems. I found the article very good, apart from the fact that the author does not understand the INFJ defence mechanism.

      I also have an intuitin that Se might be the answer, as it is about the experience of joy and returning to own body. Ni-Ti loop is a pattern of detachment and dissociation. So I agree with you, Rayan, that the first answer is not to go back to making gifts and writing letters. The connection is lost and superficial interactions is the opposite of INFJ’s Fe.

      I think the answer is to come back to’ here and now’ through Se and have some positive embodied experiences. Maybe by having a cup of favourite beverage, art practice, yoga or a run( mind chatter permitting), walking in nature or connecting with the ‘Soul’ in what really matters. The inferior function (our Se) is equated by John Beebe(the guy who developed the 8 function theory following in Jung’s footsteps) with Anima/Animus, the ‘soul’ figure.

      The loop is not only detachment from Fe but also from Se, which together form the core of ‘lover’ archetype, who not only connects with others, but experiences joy in the here in now. Suggesting acts of service as a solution (whether caused by relationship burnout or sensory overload) is a reicipe for more Ni-Ti loop, instead of nurtuting and restoring the capacity for joy, balance in the body and openness to meaningful connection. We are not about any old ‘connection’, even in service. We are about MEANINGFUL reciprocal connection, and the lack of it is devastating and makes us detach from EMBODIED life experience. The problem is not solved with a phonecall, if we do not have people willing to engage on the deeper ‘soul’ topics or if we call and theorize but are unable to use Se for concrete action or experience. We are expert archetypal ‘magicians’, so we have great insight and understanding, but the inferior Se prevents us from following through. Talk for hours to therapists and friends and go bac to the loop and no action.

      Rayan, would you mind sharing how are you working on your Se? I think that unintegrated Se is the cause of many a loop for us.

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