“I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.”
– Baruch Spinoza, INFJ
INFJs live in a world of quiet introspection and imagination. They have an uncanny ability see through people, situations, and words to find hidden meanings, motives, and outcomes. They care very little about how something appears to be on the surface, but instead try to peer deeply into what something means, what its essence, or core truth is.
INFJs are known for their strong insights about people and situations. They get these insights through the use of their dominant cognitive function; Introverted Intuition. They also are extremely aware of people’s emotions and moods using their auxiliary function; Extraverted Feeling. This combination of skills means that an INFJ can easily pick up on even the slightest mood changes and inconsistencies in behavior and then intuitively grasp what may be bothering a person. They are constantly aware of other people’s body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions to pick up on hidden meanings, motives, or feelings. This can give them an aura of seeing “through” someone, and it helps them to deeply empathize with and understand others. It also makes them excellent counselors, therapists, and social workers.
Are INFJs “Psychic”?
As far as being psychic, the INFJ can’t read minds or literally see into someone’s future. They rely on their advanced intuition to scan through loads of sensory information and grasp patterns and connections that give them clues about what may happen in the future. They are much better at determining future outcomes than many other types, but it isn’t because of any magical ability, it’s simply the way the INFJs mind is programmed. This is where we get into really understanding INFJ Introverted Intuition.
What Is Introverted Intuition?
Introverted Intuition (Ni) is the most advanced and utilized function of the INFJ. This is what I like to call their “superpower” function. It is the ability to find meanings and connections behind things and then to connect the dots of those clues into a future-oriented response. Why is this here? What does this mean? What does this tell me about the future? INFJs have a tendency to always look forward and to always decipher what current information can tell them about a future outcome.
One of the best ways to understand Introverted Intuition is to compare it to its opposite; Introverted Sensing. While Introverted Sensing is focused primarily on maintaining factual details from the past and learning from them, Introverted Intuition is focused on connecting impressions or patterns from the present that compose a picture or forecast of what is yet to come. This is why INFJs, INTJs, ENFJs, and ENTJs will focus a lot on future ideas and outcomes and ISTJs, ISFJs, ESFJs, and ESTJs will hold on more to the past and teachers from the past. Ni users will focus more on theories and impressions and Si users will focus more on literal details and facts.
How Do INFJs Get Their Intuitive “Hunches”?
INFJs combine dominant Introverted Intuition with inferior Extraverted Sensing (Se). Extraverted Sensing gathers copious amounts of sensory information from the external world that is then stored in a web of information inside the INFJs mind. Using Introverted Intuition, the INFJ then scans through all of the information, connecting dots, seeing which patterns manifest themselves, and interpreting all the clues to formulate a projection of what may happen further on down the road. The Extraverted Feeling (Fe) of the INFJ also helps the INFJ to determine any underlying emotions and feelings that a person may be experiencing to project an accurate insight into what someone is going through or how they may emotionally respond to something.
Much of this intuitive process is done in a nearly unconscious way by the INFJ. This is why many of their revelations may seem to appear “out of the blue”. They themselves may not even realize in the moment how they received these insights, but after careful consideration they are able to understand how the different clues led them to their insight.
Dario Nardi explains it well in his book The Neuroscience of Personality
“The Ni types often show a whole-brain, zen-like pattern. This pattern occurs when all regions of the neocortex are in synch and dominated by brain waves that are medium-low frequency and very high-amplitude….What is this zen state like? When presented with a problem, the Ni types seek to harness all neocortex regions in order to “realize” an answer. Imagine a troop of blind men trying to identify a secret object by touch. One man feels a trunk and says, “tree”; another detects four legs and says “table”; a third feels tusks and says “boar”. Like the blind men, each region offers a different perspective, and a zen-like synchronous state allows the person to reconcile various perspectives to arrive at a best-fit answer (an elephant).”
Someone with strong Introverted Intuition may sense that something doesn’t feel right with someone they know – they are extremely adept at interpreting body language and vocal tones to discover if anything seems out of the ordinary or betrays any underlying emotions. They collect all this information and then their mind, nearly unconsciously, reflects on it to determine what it means – connecting all the significant details that, to others, might have gone unnoticed. The INFJ, in turn, may experience an “aha!” moment of suddenly understanding what is wrong with the person who showed what to others may seem as a barely recognizable difference from normal behavior.
INFJs and Symbolism
Another aspect of Introverted Intuition is that it is extremely visual in nature. INFJs see very striking images in their mind and tend to understand things through the use of symbols, archetypes, illustrations, and abstract terms. When Ni-dominant types explain something they rely largely on these symbols as well as patterns, and metaphor. This means it can be much harder for a Ni-dominant INFJ or INTJ to explain something in a way that makes sense to a Sensor, who relies on literal interpretations; what something looked like, felt like, and sounded like in exact detail.
For example, a sensor might look at a chain and think “Chains are made of metal. They are only as strong as their weakest link. I remember using chains to tie down cargo on flatbed trailers.” An INFJ might see a chain and think; “This chain symbolizes slavery and domination, subservience. Why is this chain here?” While the sensor sees the chain for what it literally is and for its utilitarian purpose, the INFJ sees a symbol of what the chain means. They also question why the chain is there in the first place, whereas the sensor might just put it back where it belongs.
INFJs rarely take things at face value, which is why they may seem to always have a contemplative, analytical appearance. When you say something to an INFJ, while they hear what you say, they don’t really accept the words coming out of your mouth as the entirity of your message. They look at your eyes, your body language, your tone of voice, connect your past and then try to determine what you really mean. This can make the INFJ prone to overanalyzing, but often their insights are very accurate.
There’s a lot more I could write about INFJ Introverted Intuition, but this post hopefully gives you the basics in a way that is easy to understand! In the future we’ll talk about how Introverted Intuition progresses and changes throughout childhood, adolescence, middle age, and beyond.
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