Introverted Feeling is a really weird function.
It’s the dominant function of INFP and ISFP; it’s also the auxiliary function of ENFP and ESFP.
I’ve read and listened to lots of descriptions of introverted Feeling (Fi), but hardly any of them feel right to me.
To me, Fi is like an inner landscape of a strange world with diverse terrain. The things that happen in the real world are mirrored in this inner landscape.
So when something happens that you don’t like, it feels as if the inner landscape has become a kind of dark, arid, and rocky mountainside where you’re struggling to find your footing.
When something arduous and oppressive happens, it feels like you’re mired in a horrible swamp, up to your waist in thick mud.
When something unexpected and wonderful happens, it feels like you’re suddenly in a beautiful mountain valley on a warm spring day.
These changes in feeling can be rapid and intense, and they can occur without you even leaving your room.
In an ideal world, a healthy Fi dominant person would use this inner landscape to navigate the real world. We would make choices and seek out directions that take us to good-feeling places in our inner landscape, and avoid actions and circumstances that take us to bad-feeling places.
But as mentioned in my previous post, Fi is extremely hard to describe, especially when we’re young.
We all assume from a young age that everyone else is like us on the inside. So when people act in ways that make us feel really bad, we assume that they also feel bad, but that somehow feeling bad doesn’t matter.
At other times we are explicitly pressured to act according to external parameters that conflict with our Fi, and we are also pressured to provide non-Fi justifications or explanations for our own choices and actions.
Not only do we get cajoled into situations that feel bad, but being forced to justify and explain ourselves also feels bad, as it denies the integrity and authenticity of our introverted Feeling.
Someone calls you and says “Can you please do this for me?”…and your Fi presents you with an endless, stagnant swamp you’re being asked to cross.
But what do you say?
You can say “No”, or “I don’t want to.” But some people won’t be satisfied with that.
Can you say “Doing that for you would feel like being plunged into a foul and interminable swamp”?
I don’t think that would go over too well.
But “I don’t feel like it” sounds capricious and flippant.
So what do you do?
You look for “reasons” or excuses that explain and justify your refusal.
“I’m busy that day”, “I have things to do”, “I’m overloaded at the moment.”
It’s not that these things aren’t true, just that it’s not how your mind works.
You haven’t sat back and thought “Can I help them? No, I can’t because I have too much to do already”.
So you end up having to translate your Fi into a reason that is completely un-Filike.
Over time you develop the unpleasant feeling of being a foreigner in your own country, translating your inner world into something that others deem acceptable.
The good news
Ah, but there is some good news.
The good news is that once you understand your Fi, and the lesser functions that are undermining or inhibiting it, the path to feeling good again is relatively simple.
I’ve discovered that so long as I recognise the interference of Si (intrusive memories, adherence to customs, past experience, old habits and sensory immersion), and the interference of Te (the demand for outcomes, explanations, efficiency, and step-by-step planning), it’s possible for me to take whatever I’m currently feeling and simply change it.
I might be presently mired in a swamp or stuck on that barren, rocky slope, but if I remove the hindrances I can fly in an instant to an idyllic forest, or a sublime mountain peak.
I can go somewhere magical in that inner landscape. I can let my feeling be the substance of my conscious experience, rather than some unhappy by-product of external forces and conditions.
I can – as terrifying and counter-intuitive as it might sound – let my Fi be the guide to my choices and direction in life.
And in that capacity, it really does feel like something miraculous. It really does feel as though “feeling good” has the power to substantively change my experience of life.