In a recent conversation with a guest on The INFJ Personality Show, I was reminded of the importance of two INFJ needs:
- Continual learning
As I reflected on the value of these needs in the lives of the INFJs I know, as well as my own life, I was reminded of two others:
In the past few years, again and again, I’ve observed just how important these four needs can be to the quality of your day, whether at work or at home. They’re certainly not everything, but they’re a phenomenal starting point.
Do they resonate with you? If so, why are these needs so important to us? Read on to learn a few reasons why.
Why are these big needs?
If you take a look at your function stack, why these needs rise to the top quickly becomes clear.
(Want to know what a “function stack” is? Get a free copy of my book The INFJ Personality Guide and find out. Click here.)
Beyond the four preferences that make up your personality – introversion, intuition, feeling, and thinking – lie the cognitive functions, which originate from the work of Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung. The four cognitive functions, or mindsets, that make up your personality include:
1. Introverted intuition (Ni)
2. Extroverted feeling (Fe)
3. Introverted thinking (Ti)
4. Extroverted sensing
These functions occur and a hierarchy. The first (Ni) is the most influential in your personality, and the last (Se) is the least influential, although they all play an important role.
While you may not pursue them in that exact order, learning, impact, independence, and beauty are things that consistently attract the attention of INFJs. Let’s take a look at how each is the source of one of the four needs.
Introverted intuition is a function, or mindset, that yearns to understand the world and how it works. It makes you, and other INFJs, an extremely curious person. When you get into a subject or ask a question, you research a number of angles and perspectives, turning the topic over like a diamond in your hands, until you see all its different facets and can boil it down to its essence.
Annie, the guest I referred to at the beginning of this post, pointed out that’s why she enjoys reading authors such as Malcom Gladwell and Jodi Picoult. I couldn’t agree more when it comes to Gladwell, and I’d probably agree for Picoult, if I had read any of her books.
You don’t have to be an academic learner to be a learner either. I’ve heard from several INFJs who said school wasn’t their thing. No worries.
Instead of reflecting on your school experience, ask yourself:
- Do I learn all I can about an interesting subject for a time, pouring hours of research into it?
- And then, when I’ve learned enough, do I move onto something else new and interesting before boredom sets in?
If you can answer “Yes” to both of those questions, then you likely have a high need for learning and acquiring new skills due to Ni.
The second cognitive function, Fe, causes INFJs to want to help people. Often, more than they want to benefit themselves, they’re tuned into others’ needs and happiness. To some extent, their own happiness is wrapped up in that of the group, and that fact is a big reason why INFJs tend to be peacemakers.
When Fe is combined with Ni, the result is a desire to impact the world on a grand scale. Ni tends to think globally and often isn’t satisfied with impacting the few. As an example of this, contrast the ways ISFJs tend to want to serve humanity with that of INFJs.
This is one reason why Annie and I aren’t satisfied with classroom teaching. Helping a group of 25 students is meaningful, but helping thousands – or millions – excites us. (And please understand me, I’m not trying to belittle the work of classroom teachers, just highlighting a typical INFJ desire.)
The more I understand the INFJ personality, the more I realize INFJs – at least many of them – have a desire to control the process and product. They want to create and accomplish on their own terms; they want to be their own bosses. And that’s one of the quintessential traits of Ti.
Ti hates being controlled. It’s confident of its own logical conclusions and thoroughly enjoys coming up with efficient, custom solutions to problems, which can be hard to do in many roles when you work for someone else.
Interestingly, depending on the specific type of INFJ you are, you may be more introverted or extroverted as a result of focusing more on Fe or Ti. Other sources, such as CognitiveType.com, suggest that INFJs may focus on Ni or Se as well. Depending on your specific interests and upbringing, you may manifest quite differently than other kinds of INFJs. All this to say, that if Ti independence doesn’t resonate with you as much, no worries. You’re still very much an INFJ.
Finally, INFJs need beauty, and this need is a result of the pull of extroverted sensing on your personality. You appreciate attractive surroundings, freedom to think and enjoy the outdoors, as well as new sensory experiences, exercise, long car rides, and similar experiences. You need them in your life to be refreshed and at your best. The influencers behind personalityhacker.com point out that you need to satisfy your Se to be a high-functioning INFJ.
In addition, you should try to brainstorm systems and habits that’ll help you take care of the details in your life, according to Dave Powers of objectivepersonality.com. (Click here to listen to a conversation with Dave.) If you don’t, you’ll be regularly ripped out of your Ni thoughts and dreams for the future in a disruptive and frustrating way, and you’ll have to deal with regular stress and, perhaps, depression. So Se is often a source of pain that you need to proactively tackle before it tackles you.