By Andy Davis.
Contrary to many stereotypes, being an “indoors or bookish type” isn’t necessarily consistent with being an INFJ personality.
Personally, I love being out in nature – it’s an equally valid form of introspective processing time, whilst also developing and maturing the inferior function. I have also, on rare occasions, fallen into bouts of hedonistic type behaviours which show little regard for either my health or future repercussions.
For an INFJ, the extroverted Sensing (Se) function is inferior (4th) in their preferred cognitive function. It’s a less matured function, existing somewhere in the half-conscious, and for that reason, it is often mistakenly overlooked as an explanation for many INFJ cognitive drives.
Whilst the low position of Se in our preferred cognitive function stack means we’ll rarely use it for important perceiving roles. But the functional connection into the subconscious means Se is where we can easily retreat to in times of stress and emotional or cognitive depletion. It is, in short, how we seek to ‘spoil ourselves’, whether in a healthy or unhealthy manner.
If an INFJ becomes extremely stressed, mentally or emotionally exhausted, a regression into Se “indulgence” behaviours can manifest quite severely; for instance, heavy binge drinking, debauchery, drugs, promiscuity or even over-exercising. Needless to say, that behaviour is very atypical for an INFJ – it is entirely toxic to us, and the consequences of that behaviour is inevitably guilt and regret.
In less severe cases of cognitive “burn-out”, an unhealthy retreat into Se can manifest less severely; binge-watching TV series, hours of computer gaming, junk food feasts etc. The INFJ will feel frustrated because they’ve been unproductive during that time; which can, in turn, provoke a self-critical inner voice.
I do this sometimes.. often maybe.. and it works as a means of recovering my energy. But simultaneously, I feel frustrated with myself for being ‘slobbish’ and ‘lazy’ – which conflicts with my desired self-image.
A healthy manifestation of Se resulting from stress or cognitive fatigue would be for the INFJ to “indulge” in activities such as; hiking, scuba diving, cycling… you get the idea.
It’s one of those scenarios where we feel drained and won’t WANT to do something active or outdoors, but once we’re doing it.. we’re glad we did.
I don’t know about other INFJs, but it took me a long time to grasp an understanding of my switch to Se indulgent behaviors when stressed, tired, emotionally hurt, physically sick or just burned out.
MBTI research on cognitive functions helped me a lot with developing that awareness.
Se function use is something we can develop. Having an extroverted partner can support us in doing that – as they will typically want to drag us out of our reclusive ‘comfort zones”; but that’s entirely dependant on the extrovert being sensitive, understanding and patient. If pushed, the INFJ can easily become even more entrenched and defensively stressed.
For those hoping to make ‘their INFJ’ friend or partner more active and outdoors focused – do bear in mind that it’s ideally a reflective time for us… and that too much intensity would be a further stressor, not a recuperative experience.
Sometimes all any introvert actually needs is a camera in their hands, or a sketchbook or notepad… and that can transform their experience.
Instead of pushing an introvert to extrovert themselves, merely change the perspective and allow them to introvert alongside you… outdoors.
For what it’s worth…my Se indulgence is scuba diving. It’s a necessary routine in my life; incredibly relaxing and restorative. My mind can drift, as my eyes soak up beautiful sights, my body relaxes as I float effortlessly and weightlessly.
I’ve also recently taken up motorcycle adventure touring. I don’t view it as extreme or intense.. but others might. I’ve shaped my perspective to consider it as a quiet time, enjoying nice scenery and, within the realms of safety, to allow my mind to process and recuperate.
Originally posted 2019-06-10 19:51:43.