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To understand the INFP’s development, we have to understand the hierarchy of mental functions for the INFP. The hierarchy of mental functions for the INFP is about which mental function (Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking or Feeling) the INFP 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 INFP’s hierarchy of mental functions:
The INFP is most comfortable with the dominant function Introverted Feeling and least comfortable with the inferior function Extraverted Thinking.
DEVELOPMENT OF INTROVERTED FEELING
As a child, INFPs will develop Introverted Feeling. They will be sensitive to the emotional climate of the home and will be affected if there are conflicts or quarrels. They are also likely to perform acts of services at home and in the classroom to seek approval and encouragement.
They will also be more expressive with their emotions and will laugh or cry more easily than their Thinking counterparts.
If they have not properly developed this function in their youth, they may run from creative insight to insight, seeking inspiration but never follow through.
DEVELOPMENT OF EXTRAVERTED INTUITION
During puberty, the INFP will start developing the auxiliary function, Extraverted Intuition. They will show this development by their quickness of understanding in grasping new concepts. They may enjoy subjects that deal with abstract theory like Mathematics or the Social Sciences (depending on how its taught).
They may also start developing ‘crushes’ on the opposite sex or their teacher as they unconsciously project ideal futures with them.
If they have not been allowed to develop this function, they may not take notice of current realities and instead make a decision solely on their personal values.
Assuming an environment is supportive of their development; most INFPs would have developed Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Feeling 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:
DEVELOPMENT OF INTROVERTED SENSING
If those functions are not developed by the age of 30, the INFP will feel the tension to continue growing and to start developing the Tertiary Function Introverted Sensing.
INFPs may start observing details of objects and people that they have never observed before. In their decision making, they may also begin to rely on their past experiences instead of relying on inspirations from the environment.
The INFP can further develop the Introverted Sensing function through these simple exercises:
DEVELOPMENT OF EXTRAVERTED SENSING
From midlife onward, the INFP’s focus turns toward the inferior function, Extraverted Thinking. Their underdeveloped Extraverted Sensing comes out in a childish and undeveloped way when they are under stress, causing them to question their competence or be sarcastic to an offending party.
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 Thinking function: