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 reclusiveness, 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.

Discover what the Ni-Ti loop is and how it shows up for the INFJ personality type. #INFJ #MBTI

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

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

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interacting with people or objects around them, they can get stuck in a loop and become uncharacteristically cold and withdrawn.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’s not about making decisions or acting in the outer world. Instead, 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.

Extraverted Feeling (or “Fe” for short) is the INFJ’s auxiliary feeling function. This is what brings intuitive 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.

Here are a few examples:

  • 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 is the INFJ’s tertiary function. It’s job is to categorize and organize logical thoughts within the mind. It creates an internal infrastructure of analysis points and principles that are constantly being refined by new information.

Introverted Thinking combined with Introverted Intuition is not concerned with putting anything into the outer world or interacting with other people. 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. This is the dark side of the Ni-Ti loop.

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.

What Not To Do:

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!

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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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27 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for this! I have been reading about MBTI for 5+ years now and this is one of the clearest explanations on Ni-TI loop that I have encountered. I finally understand it, I had one of those mindblowing “a-ha” moments where everything clicked because I (unfortunately) recognized myself so fully in these descriptions. It explains so much about my struggles in the past, over the years. Thank you so much!

    Since this was so clear and well-written, I am wondering if you could do a similar one for the INFP? I am wanting to understand the Fi-Si loop better. I sometimes struggle with distinguishing “Fi-Si” loop (get stuck in reliving emotions from the past) vs Si-Ti (analyze the past). Would REALLY appreciate a Fi-Si loop article about the INFP, if that is possible. THANK YOU so much!

  2. Thank you for this! It helps explain what I’ve been going through this week. I kept thinking, “What is going on with me? I know my menstrual cycle isn’t about to start yet. Why am I so uptight?!” Now I’m smiling because I know how to redirect things. Also, is it weird that sometimes I know what I can do to redirect my thinking, but I choose not to do that for a while? It’s like I just let myself dwell in it a little longer, before I regroup and “make changes” because I’ve had enough of the melancholy. Smh. Thank you again for your articles. They really are gold for this 40 year old homeschooling mom, who is married to an (unhealthy, brooding) ESPF. It’s been like therapy for me. Even though, I still have my struggles (since I am after all human), I am much more confident in who I am as a person and I think I’m a better wife and mother. Since I show my love with action [service], my family has never felt neglected. However, I know that I am in a much better place mentally. My husband’s mid-life crisis, or whatever it is, is no longer “suffocating” me. I’m also the healthiest I’ve ever been since incorporating regular exercise and making sure I’m not overindulging in foods that will hurt me in the long run.

  3. This was just super helpful. I spent the four day Easter holiday introverting and watching endless YouTube videos about a topic that Im newly exploring. I haven’t wanted to get back to work since – creating for other people. I just want to hide in my cave and gather more info. It’s making me cranky. Now I feel like I know what it is and what to do about it.

  4. Hi. Love your articles. Yours and Bo Miller’s writings on the INFJ has helped me to understand and affirm who I am. Thank you very much.

  5. “The INFJ counselor combines Ni and Fe to understand and reach out to people and give them solutions for their problems” This may be shorthand–or a slip of the tongue. It is NOT the role of a counsellor to find solutions for clients. The role of the counsellor is to help the client to find their own solution. This not only finds a solution that fits the client, because it is the clients own solution and not the therapists solution, but this way of counselling resources the client.

  6. Sounds just like what I’m doing! Looping in my brain and trying to hide and being mean cold to people. XD

  7. When I had a heavy analysis job coupled with no use at all for my Extraverted Feeling at my job 45 hrs a week, I didn’t know it but I was living in chronic Ni-Ti loops suppressing Fe and just being able to use it in weekends and at home. I was chronically burnt out and miserable. I became sick and found myself a job where I having Fe Was required and cherished. I rarely if ever get into Ni Ti loopsamymore. I’m too busy and using Fe at work 35-40 hrs a week plus in personal life. I’m almost unrecognizable according to my doctor, family and friends, and I feel happy and more “myself”.

  8. Thank you so much for this incredible article! It finally helped me understand myself and all my struggles from the past. I have read so many authors and articles over the last 5-ish years of studying MBTI and never have I understood the Ni-Ti loop so well as now!

    Would you be willing to write a similar article on the Fi-Si loop? I have had a hard time understanding it and I am hoping that your clear explanations would help me grasp it. I also have a hard time understanding Fi-Si (INFP) vs Si-Ti loops (in ISFJ): Fi-Si is about reliving past experiences vs Si-Ti is about analyzing the past? How do you distinguish those? I often have a hard time telling ISFJ and INFP apart and thought this may help me solidify my understanding.

    In short, I would really appreciate an article Fi-Si loop in INFPs! THANK YOU!

  9. Thank you so muc for this incredible article! It finally helped me understand myself and all my struggles from the past. I have read so many authors and articles over the last 5-ish years of studying MBTI and never have I understood the Ni-Ti loop so well as now!

    Would you be willing to write a similar article on the Fi-Si loop? I have had a hard time understanding that and, with I am hoping that your clear explanations would help me understand. I also have a hard time understanding Fi-Si (INFP) vs Si-Ti loops (in ISFJ): Fi-Si is about reliving past experiences vs Si-Ti is about analyzing the past? How do you distinguish those? I often have a hard time telling ISFJ and INFP apart and thought this may help me solidify my understanding.

    In short, I would really appreciate an article Fi-Si loop in INFPs! THANK YOU!

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