Moving Out Of The Shadows
he end goal of escaping from your shadow is to re-engage your dominant function and return your function stacking to its natural order. However, a direct re-engagement of introverted feeling is not always possible for the INFP who has been operating from their extroverted thinking for a significant period of time, as they will have adopted the habit of guarding their introverted feeling against any possibility of insult—which is, ironically, the exact sort of
exposure Fi needs in order to return to health.
Consequently, the INFP may have to return to their introverted feeling by moving backwards through their cognitive stacking, engaging each function in a deliberately healthy fashion as they go.
This process begins with extroverted thinking. Simply put, the INFP needs to take down several thousand of the dams they have built up around their other functions—leaving only the ones that encourage their introverted feeling to flow onward in a healthy way. This may take a bit of trail and error. Particularly if they are in their younger years, the INFP is likely to have neglected their extroverted thinking for the majority of their lives, as this function doesn’t fully develop until approximately middle age. Until then, the INFP has to be thoughtful and deliberate about how to incorporate Te into their lives in a healthy way.
Engaging extroverted thinking in a healthy manner means:
Learning to re-frame your weaknesses as opportunities for self- improvement.
Setting concrete creative goals that you work toward steadily and deliberately—even on the days when you are not feeling inspired.
Openly advocating for yourself and your work using any means available to you.
Scheduling periods of time to devote to reflection and self-care when you are under stress.
Breaking long-term goals down into a series of short-term objectives.
Regularly checking in on your short-term objectives and adjusting them as need be.
Though the INFP initially loathes placing confines on their creativity, they will soon come to find that the more they are engaging their extroverted thinking, the more they are able to accomplish—and the more their confidence grows as a result. This type has a tendency to set their ideals so high that they become lost on how to even get started accomplishing their sky-high ambitions. This tendency is grossly exaggerated in the grip of extroverted thinking.
The key for the INFP’s return to health is for them to start small. The more this type engage their extroverted thinking healthily—by setting and rising to a series of achievable challenges—the more difficult it becomes for them to label themselves as failures. And consequently, the more introverted sensing picks up on the fact that the INFP is no longer flailing.
Engaging introverted sensing in a healthy manner means:
Taking deliberate care of your physical health—eating balanced meals and getting regular exercise.
Maintaining a routine for a minimum of one month that maximizes productivity (don’t neglect to schedule in self-care and relaxation time).
Keeping track of the goals you’ve been accomplishing and celebrating your progress as you go.
Taking note of which habits, routines and goal-setting strategies work best for you, so that you can continue to employ them in the future.
Deliberately engaging in activities that you’ve historically enjoyed, even if you aren’t feeling enthused about them at the time.
The INFP dislikes acting before they feel ready or inspired to act—but this is exactly what they must do in order to return themselves to equilibrium. This type has a tendency to neglect their physical health when they are feeling
emotionally out of whack, which takes a corresponding toll on their mental health.
By setting up a routine that optimizes their physical well being and
encourages the advancement of their goals, the INFP is setting themselves up for a somewhat boring but nonetheless effective return to health.
After all, once they’ve re-engaged their inferior and tertiary functions, the INFP will recognize their extroverted intuition starting to seep back in—and that’s where the magic begins to re-emerge in their lives.
Engaging extroverted intuition in a healthy manner means:
Exploring routes for personal and professional development that exist in your external environment.
Re-framing struggles as challenges, and trusting your ability to rise to them.
Exploring new activities and interests with an open mind. Brainstorming possibilities for the future without restraint. Welcoming silliness and unpredictability back into your life.
Putting day-to-day struggles into perspective by focusing on the bigger picture.
For the INFP, re-engaging extroverted intuition in a healthy manner means opening their world back up to the sea of possibilities that they usually enjoy swimming through.
In the grip of their extroverted thinking, the INFP is quick to shoot down new ideas and opportunities, as the risk of taking them on seems too daunting. But the more the INFP opens themselves back up to trying new things—even if those things are laden with the potential for failure—the more their introverted feeling bubbles back to the surface and gets ready to re-emerge.
Re-engaging introverted feeling after a grip experience means:
Welcoming creativity and self-expression back into your life with confidence.
Allowing yourself to experience the full weight of your emotions, whether they are positive and joyous or negative and disappointing.
Trusting that you are psychologically capable of pulling yourself out of periods of pain and despair, should you encounter them again.
Learning to navigate the emotional ‘middle ground’ that exists between extreme joy and extreme emptiness.
Reaching out to loved ones to repair relationships that have suffered as a result of your grip experience.
Opening yourself up to others about the struggles you’ve been encountering and accepting emotional support.
Ceasing to beat yourself up over your ‘flaws’—and instead using them to form a framework for self-improvement.
Reconnecting with your values and ideals—and, with the help of extroverted thinking, taking definitive action to work toward your vision of a better, more authentic ‘you.’
INFP Account: Returning To Health
“In the spring of the year following my divorce, I gave up on myself. I’m not sure how else to explain it.
I’d been trying for months to break myself out of my drudgerous habits— scolding myself for not applying for more jobs, seizing more opportunities and making more of the life that God had given me. It was as though I’d resigned to the idea that from that point onward, I would amount to nothing. I would stay right where I was, working part-time at schools that I didn’t belong in, letting my creativity evade me, struggling to make ends meet for myself because I’d failed. I’d failed at love and I’d failed at piecing my life back together when it ended and perhaps this was the life that I deserved as a result. This joyless existence. This unrelenting emptiness.
But as crazy as it sounds, I believe I had to reach that place of hopelessness before things could truly turn around for me.
As soon as I gave up hope on things getting better for myself, I had an epiphany: In all the months following my divorce, I hadn’t actually been
trying to make things better. I’d just been keeping myself stuck because I was subconsciously clinging to the hope that if I refused to move on, things would go back to the way they had been.
Some part of me had been holding on—all that time—to dreams of my husband coming back. Dreams of my writing taking off. Dreams that I would wake up one morning and suddenly everything would be back to normal—I’d be living in my old apartment with my ex-husband and I’d go to my old teaching job and everything would be okay again. I was clinging to all of those dreams so tightly that I had cut myself off from experiencing the life that was right in front of me. It was as though I wasn’t ready to accept any version of reality without my husband in it.
All that time, my extroverted thinking was trying to block my introverted feeling from fully accepting that my marriage was over. But it was over. And the moment I took down my defenses and let myself fully accept that, things began to (slowly but surely) get better.
I kept working as a substitute teacher, but I began writing again in the evenings. I made a deal with myself that I’d apply for one job and go on one date every week for at least one month. It doesn’t sound like much when I say it aloud but at the time it was a significant step forward at the time.
None of the dates I went on during that time panned out—but I think it was good for me to go on them. I’d gotten so lost inside my own mind that I’d forgotten I was an attractive, desirable person! Dating helped me remember that, and it helped me to gain confidence in myself, if nothing else.
I eventually did land a full-time teaching job, and things started to turn around at that point. Once I had a regular routine and a community of
people who relied on me, I felt myself coming back to life. I needed a healthy outlet for my Fi—which pouring my heart into my classroom gave me. I don’t think I realized how badly I needed the stability of a full-time job until I had it again. Even if it was feeble, I had a reason to wake up again in the mornings and that pulled me through so many of the bad days.
What I realized from my grip experience is that denying myself love and belonging doesn’t help in the healing process. I need to let other people into my life—to let God into my life—even when I’m at my most lost.