A Little Loopy

Being an INFJ has its perks, but it also has its downsides.

While being Ni-dominant (introverted iNtuition) with an auxiliary Fe (extroverted Feeling) allows the INFJ a unique insight into people and situations, if we don’t keep that Fe strong, it can give way to a tertiary Ti (introverted Thinking) and, in some cases, our inferior and seemingly uncontrollable Se (extroverted Sensing), which can display itself when we find ourselves driven by conflict into a state of charged anger. But the worst danger for the INFJ, in my opinion, has to be the Ni-Ti loop.

Have you ever obsessed over something? How about becoming so obsessed over something that you seem to forget about reality and can’t seem to find your way back? That’s what the Ni-Ti loop looks like. 

On a functional level, before the Ni-Ti loop can be analyzed and understood, one must understand the INFJ. The INFJ’s dominant function is Ni (introverted iNtuition). It’s auxiliary, or secondary, function is Fe (extroverted feeling). Its tertiary (or third) function is Ti (introverted thinking), and its inferior (way in the background yet seemingly uncontrollable) function is Se (extroverted sensing).

Fe and Se can be thought of as our “reality functions”, which focus on the outside world, while iNtuition and thinking are our introverted functions. On the surface, this should work well, where the INFJ will analyze an experience from every conceivable angle, compare our findings to our set of values (which we primarily gain from others, enter Fe), and from there derive some sort of meaning. If we still can’t settle on a meaning, then Ti enters in and assigns a value to it that simply becomes “our own take” on it that doesn’t matter as much to us as those we care about (because Fe would keep it in check).

However, if the auxiliary Fe is not developed well enough, or is not strong enough, it can become overrun and replaced by the tertiary Ti, which can be largely problematic. Ni has largely to do with foreseeing outcomes, and can feed false (sometimes radical) information to Ti, which will take these ideas and make them even more radical after being analyzed from every conceivable angle. It is highly unlikely that any thing true or practical will come out of this loop, because it continues to function purely within a person, while Fe becomes repressed. What effect does this have on the INFJ? It causes them to only theorize; they can never settle on a meaning.

In other words: in a Ni-Ti loop, I can get stuck inside my head, thinking about something so deeply that I end up obsessing over it and ignoring my “reality” functions (Fe and Se) that are just trying to get me to act on something instead of simply thinking about it. I’ll procrastinate immediate things while contemplating and planning future events (which may consequently never come to pass if I don’t focus on taking care of the immediate present).

Some simply call this “daydreaming.”
I can only describe this loop as a deep abyss that is very easy to get lost in and very difficult to find my way out of. Sometimes it manifests itself in ways that are not particularly socially acceptable: I may find myself interested in someone of the opposite gender and, instead of simply expressing this interest to them when I notice a reciprocal interest, I’ll find myself stuck in the Ni-Ti loop of analyzing every angle of everything that could possibly happen if I did tell them, which can give way to anxiety that can prevent me from ever telling them. By the time I finally convince myself to simply tell them, they’ve already lost interest.

Most times, however it just manifests itself in the mid-class daydream that causes me to miss 10 minutes’ worth of notes that I’ll need to go back and find later. It also manifests itself at night, when I’ll lie down to sleep… if my Se doesn’t quickly convince my mind to sleep, I’ll get sucked into the abyss, the ocean of “what if,” the vacuum that is the Ni-Ti loop. Some nights I can lie awake from 11pm to 2am or later just thinking about things, without realizing how much time has elapsed. Then I’m just grouchy the next day because I’m tired and I know it was my own fault.

I wonder if what was so quickly diagnosed as ADHD when I was a child was really just Ni-Ti loops that sent me into wild and crazy daydreams. If that’s the case, and it wasn’t really ADHD, then the medication could have been more harmful than helpful. Oh well, the past is in the past. I could sum up my current everyday Ni-Ti experience by quoting another INFJ I encountered online: “Sometimes I don’t know what I do all day. I think about things and then suddenly the day is over.”


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