To insecure self typed INXJs (and others needing insight in Fi/Fe distinction)
This is a personal, very recent discovery that I’m indeed INFJ. It took me a very long time to understand, but now that I’m finally here, I want to share this with you.
Maybe you’ve been told you don’t look like an INFJ. Maybe you can’t fully identify with hunches or always being right. You might have read a ton of Ni vs Ne descriptions and found the Ni one always more accurate, but were too filled with self doubt to really go with it.
There’s no surefire method I can tell you will work for you, other than continuous study of the functions and yourself. But maybe some of what I’ve written will help you identify yourself better. This is my very subjective experience only, but I’m sharing it in hopes that this will help at least some of you.
— O —
I get hunches. Constantly. And I go with them so fast, I don’t even notice. It’s an immediate reaction, a bolt of lightning hitting me from above. The reason I didn’t realize it before was because I was much more insecure and self doubting. I didn’t pay enough attention to this happening, nor did I trust it. Instead of implicitly trusting myself, I constantly analyzed and questioned, wondered if I was wrong - running around in constant circles. But tuning into myself a bit more, I caught it. I took it for so granted and natural before, I didn’t see what was meant by ‘hunches’.
I don’t think about it, in fact, I will usually be elsewhere with my thoughts or preoccupied with something completely different, and suddenly the solution to some thing I’d been worrying about appears (provided I have enough/correct info). That’s Ni.
I easily see parallels and similarities between things that may not appear similar at all. That sounds Ne but you need to pay attention to what your mind does with all the impressions you take in. If they converge, that’s Ni. If they diverge, that’s Ne. See, when I draw parallels, separate entities become essentially the same thing. They carry the same meaning, become a symbol for the same thing. Ne would likely assign two (or several) different meanings to a single object instead.
Another thing is that it’s stated pretty much everywhere that Ni is always right. That’s false. Ni THINKS it’s right. It doesn’t have to be. That’s an important distinction to make. Ni’s accuracy largely depends how much accurate information is available. The more there is, the more likely it will be that Ni actually will be right. The less information is considered, the more likely it is that Ni will completely miss the mark.
So, coupled with how insecure I was, how was that stereotype anything I could much identify with at all? I’m very well aware I could be wrong, even believe I will be, because that’s what the majority of my life taught me to believe. It’s really hard to trust yourself if you’ve got no self belief. If you don’t know how to.
So, some advice for insecure Ni-doms, or really anyone - work on trusting yourself, on self belief. Take a step back and stop questioning/analyzing. It’ll become clearer in time and your confidence will grow.
I display a number of behavioral characteristics that are both Fi and Fe. That made it difficult to identify with either over the other. What decided it for me though, was how I process emotion. Of course, Feeling functions aren’t primarily about emotion but that’s an important part not to be overlooked. I use Extroverted Feeling simply because I don’t process emotion internally. I can’t. I need to, ideally, talk them out to truly understand what I’m feeling, the exact nuances of it, why I’m feeling it etc. I share them naturally, openly, one of the few things about me that actually are external. I’m vaguely aware of my feelings, when I have them, but trying to figure it out in my head is headache inducing. I simply don’t work that way. Writing my feelings out works as well, but there seems to be something in the act of sharing or hearing it verbalized that makes it a better solution than just writing.
Fi, introverted Feeling, cannot do this so easily. It feels everything much more internally, and sharing emotion is extremely uncomfortable, impossible even. This is a very clear distinction I can see between real life Fi vs Fe users, more easily in high Feeling types. Fe will tell you exactly what they’re feeling, raw and in the moment. Fi will do that indirectly by hurling insults or accusing you of things. Emotion is obvious in both but one is direct and to the point, while the other is less so.
If I talk about my feelings, they see it as whining about my problems. They don’t see that this is how I process and identify my feelings and problems in the first place. To them, it’s an unnecessary and tedious thing to do.
Now, Fe values are about making sure other people are comfortable first while Fi is about making themselves comfortable first. The reason I use Fe is because of how natural and easy it is for me to look out for how people feel/may feel. That’s not because I value being kind and considerate. It’s instinctive. It just happens.
An example of this is how I react to criticism. I don’t wonder if it’s true or how I feel about it, but panic about how to best adjust my behavior to remedy whatever the criticism was about. I adjust myself to make the other person more comfortable. For example, my family once remarked on how odd it was that I continuously, naturally explained my reasoning behind doing certain things (thanks to one of Charity’s posts I realized that was Fe - sharing ‘emotions’ openly). I’ve grown up in a pure Fi family. No Fe whatsoever. So, doing that was perceived as me being defensive which never even occurred to me. Taking this as an unconscious command of 'don’t do it, it’s making me uncomfortable’, I did away with that. I still want to do it and often catch myself in the middle of it - but wanting to maintain outer harmony is so unconscious, it’s like breathing air. You don’t pay attention or aren’t even aware but it’s still happening.
This kind of stuff has been influencing me so much, I blended in with my Fi family. I now superficially appear like a Fi user despite not being one. Often, I’m told I look like an IXFP. My empathy is so high and unconscious, I take on the attitudes and emotions of others and don’t even realize it until slapped in the face with it. I’m just learning that I’ve adopted a lot that way. The differences only become apparent if you know me (and MBTI) well enough. I’m simply unable to do anything without considering what consequences this may have on someone else.
Now, I’m not the stereotypical host. I’m not particularly warm or fuzzy unless you know me well. That’s because my brand of Fe doesn’t care primarily whether you’re physically comfortable, something that probably has to do with with low Se, but if you’re okay emotionally. That you feel safe and comfortable, unjudged and not rushed. That you feel understood. I want to make sure you’re feeling good. I instinctively wait for others to 'give permission’ before proceeding, all because of this unconscious need to be considerate, even if I really want to do it. Like turning on the AC when it’s hot. My sister and mother just go for it while I always either ask if it’s okay with them and wait until they say yes, or silently consider whether one of them has a cold or whatnot, if the AC will make them feel worse. If they object, I don’t do it.
Additionally, my 'values’ change and expand constantly. Sure, I’ve got a few that are pretty set, but generally, if you can make me understand, it becomes adopted into my world view and values. Live and let live, for example, is a pretty Fi value. Fe is about collective values which is why 'live and let live’ can be bypassed in favor of 'the greater good’. The individual can be ignored as long as the majority are taken care of. I remember my sister telling me how intolerant I was being by not going by 'live and let live’ - now, it’s a natural part of how I think. I can’t even pinpoint when it became part of me, but it did.
Aah, Ti. How I love and loathe thee. Truth be told, I’ve probably been stuck in a Ni-Ti loop for a really, really long time. I still am in one. To keep it short and simple -
Ti needs to understand something before it can apply it/is taken in. It takes apart a thing into its single elements, examines each one from all angles until fully understood, and by the end can put the whole thing back together any way it wishes. It continually adjusts itself with each piece of incoming information, making sure its always consistent with its inner logic. Ti asks 'does this make sense to me?’
I have never been able to apply any concept until I fully understood it, going by exactly that process.
The ultimate blind spot. I get lost embarrassingly easy to the point of getting anxiety attacks. My body coordination is complete crap. I continuously run into walls or door frames (it gets worse the more I try concentrating on how to avoid it). I cannot react right away but need time to process. Try to force me and I become catatonic, unresponsive. I slow down and come to a standstill, a mental stutter and state of paralysis.
I’m wary of physical intimacy to the extreme. I’m quite disconnected from my body or the physical world. The line between my thoughts, imagination and reality is blurred and very easily questioned. But solitary exercise or walks are amazing. They make me quiet my mind until I’m left with nothing but pure physical sensations and the inner peace and calm it fills me with.
— O —
I hope this has been at least a little bit helpful.
I want to thank Charity for her amazing explanations, her infinite patience with putting up with so many of my (sometimes really stupid) questions, and finally for letting me post this.
Charity note: there are no stupid questions. :)