Today we’re going to explore the unique processes at work in the INFP mind. As an INFP you have a creative and ingenious way of understanding the world. You’re someone who values personal integrity to a great degree. This means that you check in with yourself to make sure you’re not being hypocritical and that your values are consistent. You’re also someone who prizes imagination, creativity and thinking outside-the-bounds of what exists right now.
This infographic gives you a glimpse into your mind and how you process information:
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The INFP Mind in More Detail
Dominant Mental Process: Introverted Feeling (Fi)
From the infographic: “INFPs believe in being ethically consistent. They mold and shape their personal values and “moral code” over their lifetime and, once they have accepted a value or ethic, it is non-negotiable. They are also highly aware of the emotional distance between themselves and others and try to maintain deep, meaningful, authentic relationships.”
As an INFP, you have values that originate from a gut level. You can feel really strongly about something but not know exactly how to verbalize it out loud. You spend a lot of time thinking about whether something is indeed good or bad. What society says, what the rules say, what your family says – these are all important to you, but not nearly as important as what your own instincts and personal evaluations tell you. You examine the dark and light sides of life and morality, judging whether your morals are actually true to you – whether you’re really focusing on the things that matter to you. Living in accordance with your developed and examined values is vital to your well-being and sense of inner harmony. Because of this, you tend to appreciate and align yourself with misfits, individualists, and champions of particular causes that are important to you.
Because you spend such a great deal of time examining your identity, values, ethics, and unique place in the world, you hate being quickly labeled. When people come alongside you and try to “sum you up” they often do so without understanding all the unique beliefs and lush inner worlds that inhabit your mind.
Another facet of Introverted Feeling is that it makes you very aware of the emotional distance between yourself and others. You want to understand where you are in alignment with others – do they feel safe with you? Are they trying to manipulate you? Can this person be trusted? Do they need more than you can offer? You take in the emotional cues of the person you’re with and try to understand what those means to you. This means that you can be highly attuned to authenticity or lack thereof, manipulation, or an effort for someone to become closer to you. You highly value sincere, deep relationships where that emotional bond is strong and clear.
This mental process tends to make you:
- Aware of distress and other underlying feelings in people
- Emotionally supportive
- Able to provide space for people who don’t “fit the mold”
- Aware of individual human needs and values
- A talent for connecting to people one-on-one
On a scientific level, INFPs show high levels of activity in region F8 of the brain. This area controls emotional regulation, drawing with the right hand, and ranking things in order of importance. This area lights up when someone talks about what’s important to them (“My values,” “My favorite movies,” “My favorite family members.”) INFPs enjoy examining how people, objects, and events feel to them. They enjoy exploring their unique tastes and preferences and discussing these with other people they trust. You can find out more about the INFP brain in Dario Nardi’s book, Neuroscience of Personality: Brain Savvy Insights for All Types of People (this link is an affiliate link).
Auxiliary Mental Process: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
From the infographic: “INFPs enjoy imagining possibilities and are inspired by the world around them. The sight of nature, an object, or the sound of a particular tune can inspire a multitude of ideas and connections in their mind. They use trans-contextual thinking to find random and ingenious relationships between seemingly unrelated objects or events.”
When you absorb information from the outside world you tend to look for abstract connections and possibilities. Instead of seeing an apple you might think about all the things you could DO with an apple, all the things apples symbolize, whether you could carve a piece of art out of an apple, whether you could write a poem about the apple of your eye. Your mind will instantly wander to tangents and ideas related to the apple. We can contrast this to Se (Extraverted Sensation) which would look at the apple and think, “Should I eat this apple right now? It looks so crisp and juicy! What should I do with THIS apple.” Because you’re an INFP you are more interested in the possibilities that something evokes inside your mind than the actuality of the thing itself.
This mental process tends to make you:
Tertiary Mental Process: Introverted Sensation (Si)
From the Infographic: “Tertiary Si gives INFPs an increased awareness of how current experiences are similar or connected to past experiences. When they see certain images or objects they might suddenly recall past similar experiences in lush, vivid detail. Because this isn’t as advanced as their intuition, they may struggle to prioritize consistency and routine, or they may prioritize new ideas over tried-and-true efficient methods.”
Introverted sensing often feels refreshing and enjoyable for you to experience. In fact, some typologists call the tertiary function the “relief” function because it tends to feel relaxing and playful. Si is focused on reliving past impressions and experiences that are triggered by the current experience. For example, you might look at a rainbow and vividly recall a camping trip where you looked at a rainbow from your grandfather’s lap. You would remember the wrinkles in his hands, the humidity in the air, the joy you felt…you wouldn’t remember all the concrete details about the rainbow itself, per se, but you would remember a precise impression of that moment. This function gives you a particular fondness for certain comforting rituals, hobbies, or types of entertainment. You might find yourself watching certain movies from your childhood when you are stressed, or you might have frequent moments of intense nostalgia.
Since Si is your tertiary function, you tend to not give it the same value as intuition. While you might enjoy tapping into it during stress-free, relaxed times, you tend to prioritize Ne most of the time. When being given a project you’ll probably feel like innovating, switching things up, and generating possibilities. You’re not likely to complete the project the same way you did in the past. You’re more fond of change than sameness when it comes to most things. Unlike Si-dominant types who find comfort in routine and a consistent lifestyle, you tend to get bored when life gets too routine.
Having Si in the tertiary position can make you:
- Comforted by familiarity
- Rejuvenated by consistent rituals
- Prone to replaying past negative experiences too frequently
- Stubborn about doing things in a particular way
- Unwilling to listen to new ideas (if Ne isn’t properly mature)
Inferior Mental Process: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
From the infographic: “INFPs like the idea of creating effective plans of action. They want to put their values into action through efficient, organized means. However, because Te is their inferior function they may struggle to know how best to organize their plans. They may have a hard time prioritizing, segmenting, and breaking down large projects to make them manageable. They also may de-value logic over their personal feelings and values when it comes to life decisions.”
You have a desire to be efficient and systematic. In a perfect world, you’d maintain your ideals and inner values while also organizing and structuring the perfect system to bring your ideas to fruition. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world and it can be difficult for you to stay organized or segment your projects. Sticking with a schedule, finishing projects right away, knowing the most efficient way to complete a project – all these things can feel overwhelming. The good news is that as you get older this process tends to become more mature. During stress, you might even become hyper-focused on this function. When this happens you become rigidly organized, focused on logic at the expense of the feelings of others, and uncharacteristically insensitive.
Having Te in the tertiary position can make you:
- Occasionally skilled at organizing and structuring projects
- Have difficulty knowing how to break down large tasks into sequential steps
- Conform your thinking to measurable facts
- Become critical and dogmatic under stress
- Feel overwhelmed by deadlines
- Nervous when having to organize a large project
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you have any insights or examples of how these processes have shown up in your life? Share your thoughts with other readers 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, and The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
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