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To understand the INFJ’s development, we have to understand the hierarchy of mental functions for the INFJ. The hierarchy of mental functions for the INFJ is about which mental function (Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking or Feeling) the INFJ is most comfortable with using and which they are least comfortable in using.
Without going too much into Type dynamics, let’s look at the INFJ’s hierarchy of mental functions:
The INFJ is most comfortable with using the Dominant Function Introverted Intuition and least comfortable with using the Inferior Function Extraverted Sensing.
DEVELOPMENT OF INTROVERTED INTUITION
As a child, the INFJ will develop the Introverted Intuition function. They will be most fascinated by stories that stretch their imagination and will often ask their parents to repeat fairy tales or myths to them. They may also tend to idolise their teachers or anyone in authority over their lives.
If they have not properly developed this function in their youth, they may not have sufficient insight to make good decisions, thereby appearing stubborn or narrow-minded.
DEVELOPMENT OF EXTRAVERTED FEELING
During puberty, the INFJ will start developing the auxiliary function, Extraverted Feeling. They will show this development by becoming sensitive and encouraging to those around them.
They will possess a great need for approval from their peers and their parents and will do what is pleasing to these people. They become committed friends as well, willing to step in for others in times of need.
If they have not been allowed to develop this function, they may not know how to use their creative insights to achieve their goals or make their decisions.
Assuming an environment is supportive of their development, most INFJs would have developed Extraverted Feeling and Introverted Intuition by 20 years or so.
Their areas of improvement will most likely come from the underdeveloped sides of Extraverted Sensing and Introverted Thinking. Below are some suggestions for improvement:
• Break your big ideas down to specific tangible steps
• Learn to give negative feedback constructively
• Share your insights early and in specific language so that others can understand
• Learn to be more comfortable with uncertainty
• Socialize and network with people more
DEVELOPMENT OF INTROVERTED THINKING
If these behaviours have not been developed by the age of 30, the INFJ will feel the tension to continue growing, firstly to start developing the tertiary function Introverted Thinking.
The INFJ may start to use objective and logical thinking to approach situations that they used to take a personal stand on. They may also start to learn the value of being straightforward and frank in their language when the time is necessary.
The INFJ can further develop the Introverted Thinking function through these simple exercises:
• Pick up a game that requires strategic thinking like chess, card games or computer games. Learn to make better decisions as you progress in the game.
• Use cost-benefit analysis to make decisions. Consider pros and cons of each using a list. What are the consequences of each decision?
• Study a controversial subject. Study notes, read up for more information while suspending any judgment. Look at both sides of the argument and notice their merits.
DEVELOPMENT OF EXTRAVERTED SENSING
From midlife onward, the INFJ’s focus turns toward the inferior function, Extraverted Sensing.
Their underdeveloped Extraverted Sensing comes out in a childish and undeveloped way when they are under stress, causing them to over-indulge in material pleasure or put their focus on unimportant details.
But in midlife, there is an unconscious shift and desire to develop that inferior function to achieve wholeness and continual growth. It is an uncomfortable but necessary transition.
Here are some simple exercises to consciously develop the Extraverted Sensing function:
• Pick up a new skill or sport which requires full total present focus and attention.
• Eat food leisurely, fully appreciating its texture, its flavour, its smell.
• Purchase something you like (not too expensive!) without thinking about what you need it for or where will you place it. Let yourself enjoy having it before keeping it or giving it away.