Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time focusing on sensory activities — cooking, working out, decorating the house, etc. I’ve been spending more time watching Netflix and scrolling through Pinterest than I have, I don’t know, reading Aeon articles about philosophy, or whatever stereotypical things we intuitive types are supposed to do with our lives.
Does this mean I’m turning into a sensor? Of course not.
Personality type goes much deeper than the four letters we receive after taking the Myers-Briggs test. Imagine the MBTI test as a field. Your initial results are the pretty flowers and trees and you can enjoy and appreciate them on their own, but in order to truly appreciate them, you need to understand how they got there. The cognitive functions are like the seeds and roots that created the plants, and once you become aware of their existence suddenly your field makes much more sense.
Okay, rocky metaphor, but you get the picture.
The four letters alone really don’t give us a completely accurate understanding of our personality type. I can read the general personality description of INFP or ISFJ and easily relate to several of the descriptors. It wasn’t until I started studying the cognitive functions that I finally felt confident in my initial test results.
I’ve written quite a few articles on how to determine if you’re an INFJ or another type, but I thought it might be helpful for those still questioning their personality type to look at it from another perspective. Here are 3 ways to know if you’re not an INFJ, according to the 8 cognitive functions.
You think better out loud.
Those who are energized by group brainstorming sessions or by talking about new concepts and ideas with friends most likely use Extroverted Intuition (Ne) and/or Extroverted Thinking (Te). INFJs predominantly use Introverted Intuition (Ni) and Introverted Thinking (Ti). We process best when we can sit in a quiet space on our own. That’s when we have those “Aha!” moments that other types get when they talk out loud about their thoughts and ideas.
When you hear bad news, your initial reaction is to think about how it is going to affect you.
This would be a characteristic of Introverted Feeling (Fi). Healthy INFJs are going to tend to use Extroverted Feeling (Fe) much more than Fi. Fe is focused on the feelings of others, whereas Fi is much more in tune with the individual’s personal feelings. Imagine that a close relative passes away, a grandparent for example. Fe will initially respond by focusing on those who are affected by the loss — how is the other grandparent doing? How are my parents doing? Fi will respond by focusing on how the loss affects them — I’ll never get to spend another Christmas at grandma’s house, I’ll miss my monthly visits with grandma, etc.
You consider yourself extremely sentimental.
Sentimentality is a trait associated with Introverted Sensing (Si). Si is the INFJ’s very last function. INFJs tend to be much more future-oriented, and while we will certainly have moments of sentiment, we prefer not to live in the past. For example, someone with heavy Si might insist that they celebrate an anniversary with their partner at the place where they had their first date. Since INFJs’ Introverted Intuition (Ni) is extremely future-oriented and their Extroverted Sensing (Se) function enjoys new stimulating experiences, they would be more likely to instead suggest trying out a new restaurant they’ve never been to before.
These are just three examples among several. If you’re still not sure of your personality type, check out the In-Depth MBTI section or the explore the dozens of other online resources that discuss cognitive functions.