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Understanding the shadow functions of INFJ personality types can be a transformative experience.

Shadow functions, also referred to as the unconscious aspects of our personality, contrast with the dominant functions, offering a deeper insight into our inner workings.

For INFJs, our dominant functions are Introverted Intuition (Ni) and Extroverted Feeling (Fe), guiding our primary ways of interpreting the world and connecting with others.

However, the shadow functions play a critical role in stress responses, personal development, and underexplored aspects of one’s personality. Integrating the shadow aspects can help us tap into our hidden potential.

What Is a Shadow?

In psychology, the shadow is the unconscious side of our personality. It is the part of ourselves that our ego refuses to acknowledge.

Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, defined this concept as “the person you would rather not be.”

The shadow consists of all the qualities we deny or repress about ourselves, including traits that are considered socially unacceptable or undesirable. These aspects often stem from our early years and past experiences.

Shadows are commonly linked with darkness, sometimes seen as negative aspects of one’s character. However, shadows are just part of us that we are unaware of and unconsciousness doesn’t equate to negativity.

Shadows can encompass positive traits too, which we sometimes overlook due to our ego’s self-perception. For instance, a person might overlook their talent in a certain area simply because they haven’t delved into it or believed they are bad at it.

What Are Shadow Functions?

Shadow functions in the context of personality, particularly within the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator framework, refer to the less conscious, opposite aspects of our primary cognitive functions. These are mental processes that operate beneath our immediate awareness, influencing our reactions, especially under stress or in unfamiliar situations.

There are eight cognitive functions in total, four of which are conscious (our primary functions) and four that are unconscious (our shadow functions).

For an INFJ, our top four cognitive functions are:

  • Dominant: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
  • Auxiliary: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
  • Tertiary: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
  • Inferior: Extraverted Sensing (Se)

We recognize these traits and cognitive functions as part of our persona. They give us a sense of self. Even though we can use all eight cognitive functions, we don’t perceive the last four as part of our identity or may lack awareness of them. In fact, we may even reject them and see them as undesirable or unimportant, to protect our ego. Hence, we use the term, “shadow.”

What Are INFJ Shadow Functions?

The shadow functions of an INFJ are essentially the counterparts of their primary functions. They include:

  • 1st Shadow Function: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
  • 2nd Shadow Function: Introverted Feeling (Fi)
  • 3rd Shadow Function: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
  • 4th Shadow Function: Introverted Sensing (Si)

When utilizing these shadow functions (i.e. our last four functions), we deviate from our usual selves.

The MBTI community often used the term:

  • The Opposing Role or Nemesis to describe the 1st Shadow Function,
  • The Critical Parent or Witch to describe the 2nd Shadow Function,
  • The Trickster to describe the 3rd Shadow Function, and
  • The Demon to describe the 4th Shadow Function.

However, I choose not to use these terms in this article due to the negative connotations they carry. As previously mentioned, shadows can encompass both positive and negative aspects.

Just because you don’t prefer to use these cognitive functions does not imply they are inferior or bad. To integrate these functions into your life for personal growth, it is best to avoid harboring a negative outlook toward them.

Also, it is crucial to recognize that these functions can be detrimental not because they are inherently bad, but because we often employ them unconsciously or haphazardly.

INFJ 1st Shadow Function: Extraverted Intuition

Extraverted Intuition (Ne) as the 1st shadow function for an INFJ can manifest as a deep-seated curiosity about the world’s infinite possibilities.

While the INFJ’s primary function, Introverted Intuition (Ni), focuses on understanding patterns and foreseeing outcomes, Ne brings a different kind of insight. It encourages exploring different perspectives and entertaining limitless possibilities, which can be profoundly enriching and stimulating.

Engaging with this shadow function can lead to unexpected connections and innovative solutions, providing a broader understanding that complements the INFJ’s natural inclinations.

How INFJs Can Integrate Extraverted Intuition

Due to our dominant function, Introverted Intuition (Ni), INFJs may sometimes be too stubborn for our good. We tend to rely heavily on our own insights and may not always be open to new perspectives. We may be too fixated on our vision and unwilling to explore alternatives. This may cause us to be stuck in life.

For example, you may be fixated on a specific partner and when the relationship ends, you may feel lost and unable to move on. This is where Ne can come in handy. It helps INFJs look at things from different angles and find new possibilities for growth and healing.

To integrate Ne into our lives, we can practice being more open-minded and curious about the world around us. This can involve actively seeking different viewpoints, engaging in brainstorming sessions with others, or simply exploring new experiences or ideas and stepping out of our comfort zones.

Cultivating a sense of playfulness and curiosity can help INFJs embrace this shadow function.

INFJ 2nd Shadow Function: Introverted Feeling

Introverted Feeling (Fi), the INFJ’s second shadow function is about understanding and prioritizing your own emotions, values, and beliefs. It helps us connect with our inner selves and make decisions based on what feels right to us.

While Fi may not come naturally to INFJs, it is an essential tool for self-discovery and personal growth. By tapping into this function, INFJs can better understand their own needs and desires, leading to a more authentic and fulfilling life.

Due to our auxiliary function, Extraverted Feeling (Fe), INFJs tend to focus too much on other people’s needs and neglect their own. This can lead to burnout, people-pleasing, and codependency. So it is important to integrate Fi into our lives.

How INFJs Can Integrate Introverted Feeling

To integrate Fi, INFJs can start by being more self-aware and in tune with their emotions. This may involve journaling, mindfulness, or even seeking therapy. It is also important to practice setting boundaries and honoring our own values and beliefs, even if they may not align with others.

By embracing Fi into our lives, INFJs can find a balance between caring for others and caring for themselves. We also learn to prioritize ourselves and our well-being without feeling guilty or selfish. This can lead to a more empowered sense of self and stronger connections with others.

Remember, embracing your shadow functions is not about becoming someone else but rather expanding and evolving your true self. So don’t be afraid to assert your boundaries and values or express your needs when appropriate.

INFJ 3rd Shadow Function: Extraverted Thinking

Extraverted Thinking (Te), the third shadow function of INFJs, is about organizing and structuring the external world. It involves using logic, reason, and practicality to make decisions and solve problems.

As INFJ’s natural inclinations veer towards intuition and feeling, we may feel uncomfortable in highly structured environments or using established systems and facts from the world around us.

This function also threatens our ego and can cause it to disintegrate. Therefore, some INFJs may perceive Te-users as controlling, cold, harsh, insensitive, or even manipulative. They may also avoid using Te altogether, leading to a lack of organization and feeling overwhelmed by the external world.

However, integrating Te into our lives can bring balance and help us become more efficient in achieving our goals. It allows us to find practical solutions to our problems and create efficient processes. We can integrate Te into our lives in a healthy way by viewing it as a useful tool rather than a threat.

How INFJs Can Integrate Extraverted Thinking

To integrate Te, INFJs can implement goal setting, action planning, to-do lists, deadlines, and following through on them. We can also practice organizing our time and environment to increase productivity.

As an INFJ, I acknowledge the challenge many INFJs face in sticking to a set plan. My approach involves creating a basic action plan or to-do list and allowing my intuition to guide my daily decisions. By doing this, I harness my dominant function (Ni) while subtly engaging Te to maintain focus. And if I deviate from the plan, it’s alright!

Additionally, using critical thinking skills and considering all available facts and evidence before making a decision can help us avoid being overly influenced by our emotions. This can also help us have a more balanced perspective and prevent us from making impulsive or rash decisions. Remember, integrating Te into our lives does not mean we have to sacrifice our empathetic nature or vision. It just helps us stay grounded and focused on achieving our goals.

INFJ 4th Shadow Function: Introverted Sensing

Introverted Sensing (Si), the 4th shadow function for INFJs, is about inward-looking sensory processing, focusing on memories and personal experiences. Si collects data from the past and uses it to form expectations and understandings of the future.

This can sometimes pose a challenge for INFJs, who naturally lean towards envisioning the future rather than dwelling on past experiences. We may also find it difficult to recall the exact details of past experiences or overlook information that we deem unimportant.

Similar to Te, the Si function can also threaten our ego as it goes against our defined sense of self. INFJs don’t like to follow traditions and may perceive Si-users as rigid, conservative, or resistant to change and growth.

However, incorporating Si into our lives can help us remember important details and lessons from our past experiences. This function highlights what has proven successful and helps us avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Si also fosters bodily awareness, promoting better self-care practices. For INFJs, prioritizing Si is crucial to prevent neglecting basic needs like eating and addressing physical discomfort, which can lead to long-term issues.

How INFJs Can Integrate Introverted Sensing

To integrate Si, INFJs can take time to reflect on past experiences and write them down in a journal. This will help you capture important memories that can be useful in the future. For instance, I enjoy sharing my experiences in my books and videos. But as an INFJ, I tend to discard or forget the details once I form an insight. Thus, documenting my past experiences allows me to recall them vividly, enabling me to offer precise examples when sharing insights with others.

Additionally, INFJs can practice mindfulness techniques that help us be more aware of our bodily sensations. This will not only help us stay in touch with our physical needs but also foster a stronger mind-body connection.

It is important to remember that incorporating Si into our lives does not mean conforming to traditional expectations or being stuck in the status quo. However, establishing and following healthy routines can provide INFJs with some balance and stability in life.

We can also learn to appreciate traditions and routines that have served us well in the past while still maintaining our individuality. Instead of dismissing them as restrictive, we can see them as tools for self-care and growth.

Final Thoughts

Shadow functions when misused or used unconsciously may cause stress to an INFJ. However, by integrating these four shadow functions and increasing awareness, INFJs can develop a more balanced and holistic approach to life.

If you are feeling stressed and unsure what is causing it, read this article on INFJ stress triggers.