Have you ever felt yourself becoming more scattered, impulsive, and commanding? Do you ever feel like time is slipping through your fingers and you’ve got to hurry up and get things done – in fact, get everything done? Do you ever feel like it’s impossible to just slow down and get into your own mind and soul? You may be experiencing what typologists call the Ne-Te loop.
What is a Ne-Te Loop?
Looping occurs when someone (an ENFP, in this case) lives in their preferred extroverted state at the expense of their personal well-being. As an ENFP you have both an extroverted and an introverted side (that’s right, you’re kind of an ambivert!).
You have four mental processes that I’ll list out below:
Dominant function: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Auxiliary function: Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Tertiary function: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Inferior function: Introverted Sensing (Si)
When you’re healthy, all these functions are working together in tandem. You explore new ideas and possibilities with your intuition, get in touch with your values and ethics through feeling, make progress towards your goals with thinking, and revisit your past and create stability with sensing.
You can find out more about what all those cognitive functions are in my article, An Introduction to the Cognitive Functions.
When you’re in a loop, you become out of touch with the introverted side of your personality. Instead, you cycle back and forth between Extraverted Intuition and Extraverted Thinking, as shown in the graphic below:
While this might seem invigorating and refreshing initially, it can have some serious long-term consequences.
What Do Extraverted Intuition and Extraverted Thinking Do?
Extraverted Intuition is your dominant function, so it’s the part of your mind that functions optimally and is easiest for you to use. I like to think of the dominant function as the air you live and breathe. You don’t have to think about it because it’s automatic!
But what is Extraverted Intuition?
Ne (Extraverted Intuition for short) focuses on creating possibilities, alternatives, and options. You can look at the world around you and find dozens of opportunities just waiting to be explored. You can also easily see connections between things! How is a stapler like a dolphin? I don’t know, but you could probably come up with an example quickly!
While other types see events and situations as fairly disparate, you can see connections between them and unique relationships. Where other types might feel that there is only one good way to do something, you can easily think of ten different ways to do something.
Extraverted Intuition is very future focused meaning that it explores theoretical possibilities more than present opportunities. ENFPs like you enjoy theorizing about the future, imagining scenarios, and contemplating the ways the world will evolve and change.
Extraverted Intuition makes you open-minded, curious, innovative, and ingenious. You see options and potential where other types see nothing but closed doors.
What is Extraverted Thinking?
Extraverted Thinking is the gung-ho, get things done side of your personality. It’s the part of you that streamlines your work processes, organizes tasks, and makes your life more efficient. This part of you takes no prisoners and hates wasting time. It is focused on task completion, objective logic, and order.
How Intuition and Thinking Show Up in a Loop
When you’re stuck in a mental loop going back and forth between Extraverted Intuition and Extraverted Thinking, you feel like you can’t possibly keep up with all the ideas you’re generating. At the same time, your thinking side is trying to make things happen, get things done, and cross items off your to-do list. In a loop you feel overwhelmed by a frenzy of tasks and possibilities you need to accomplish yesterday. You start barking out orders, critiquing people more readily, and working yourself to exhaustion forgetting about time, food, sleep, or how you’re feeling emotionally. All you see are possibilities and options that you need to bring to fruition, and you’re desperately impatient to bring them to fruition as soon as humanly possible.
What’s Wrong with a Ne-Te Loop?
When you’re cycling back and forth between Intuition and Thinking, you become out of touch with the Introverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing parts of your personality. This is a problem because Feeling helps you stay true to your ethical, deeply soulful core. The Feeling side of you is contemplative, thoughtful, empathetic, and conscientious. It’s the part that beckons you to slow down and consider your actions and whether they line up with the kind of person you want to be in your life. This part of you reminds you of what matters in the long run and encourages you to stay true to your individual moral code.
Introverted Sensing is also vital to your well-being. While you tend to ignore this function more than the others, it still keeps you mentally healthy in crucial ways. This part of your personality encourages you to check in with your body and decipher whether you need a drink, a meal, or a nap. It’s the part of you that wants to establish healthy routines and use tried-and-true lessons from the past. It’s the part of you that reflects on what you know and creates consistency and stability. This part of you keeps you grounded and helps you to appreciate the world for what it is rather than getting carried away with all it could be if you just worked harder and harder!
The Reasons for the Ne-Te Loop
The Ne-Te loop can be a protective mechanism that you use to defend yourself when the inner world seems threatening. If your inner thoughts and reflections seem overwhelming or frightening you may choose to avoid them. ENFPs who struggle with past trauma or troubling thoughts may resort to a Ne-Te loop to avoid facing some of their demons. Other ENFPs are simply so busy and over-scheduled that they can’t make time for the introverted side of their personality type.
Is the Ne-Te Loop Ever a Good Thing?
Any time you stifle one of your functions there’s bound to be trouble. ENFPs who have looped for a prolonged time may strengthen their Extraverted Thinking by relying on it more frequently, but it will likely be a bit warped and unbalanced. You need healthy access to your feeling and sensing sides in order to live in alignment with your values and create a sense of stability in who you are as an individual. Often ENFPs who are in a loop become scattered, distracted, impulsive, and critical.
Risks of Being in a Ne-Te Loop:
- Chasing success through a series of superficial, short-lived goals
- Spending an inordinate amount of time on “busywork” without doing anything meaningful
- Overreacting to perceived offenses without taking time to process what’s happening and why
- Burying negative feelings by chasing after achievement
- Low empathy
- Making projections on other people
- Comparing themselves with the successes of others
- Becoming impatient and negative
- Criticizing and bossing people around and hurting relationships as a result
How to Get Out of the Loop:
The best way for an ENFP to get out of a Ne-Te loop is to get in touch with their Introverted Feeling (Fi) and Introverted Sensing (Si) sides. The good news is this can be relatively easy since Fi comes naturally to them. Here are a few ways to use Fi to get out of a loop:
- Take time to quiet your mind, unplug from your phone, and simply be still
- Cancel non-essential tasks and responsibilities and make more time for quiet and reflection
- During a calm moment, take some time to think about what matters to you on a personal level. Write down your thoughts and then order your values from highest importance to least important.
- Think about your relationships and the people you interact with. Try putting yourselves in their shoes and considering the impact you’re having on then, both positive and negative.
- Journal your feelings without worrying about how they sound
- Listen to music or read a book that resonates with how you’re feeling or something you’re going through
- Read poetry
- When you have a decision to make, pause and consider whether it lines up with your values
It’s also important not to forget about the Sensing side of your personality. Here are some ways to get in touch with the Introverted Sensing side of your personality type:
- Quiet your surroundings, unplug your phone, and let yourself rest in the silence. What does your body need right now?
- Take time to stretch
- Think about your environment. Are there any things in your environment that are causing you unnecessary stress? How could you make your environment more pleasing or comfortable?
- Think about your day. Are there any healthy or practical routines you could implement easily? Don’t overdo it. Try one at a time and give yourself compassion if it takes time to get used to it.
- Try calming rituals to calm down like nature walks, meditation, or hot bubble baths.
- When you’re about to make a judgment about something, consider the facts and details and whether or not they actually line up with your judgment.
When you’re stressed, try not to overdo it by leaning on the Sensing side of your personality. Working on Introverted Feeling is likely to be more beneficial with some of the self-care suggestions for your Sensing side. Sometimes working on your Sensing side during stress can just make you more stressed so be aware of this!
Below is an infographic I made about recognizing the ENFP’s Ne-Te loop:
What Are Your Thoughts?
Did you enjoy this article? Was it helpful? Let us know in the comments! Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist, and The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
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