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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This article is meant to lend understanding to the observational and perceptive skills that INFPs are known for. We will look at how the process takes place in the INFP mind specifically, through our cognitive functions. There are things which INFPs are very observant to, and there are things which sometimes we are not, and this article will help explain those tendencies.

Dominant: Fi - When we are in an environment, it is the things which relate to the interests, values, and fascinations of our Fi function that determine what we will be perceptive to. If there is something in our environment that we relate to in our Fi, our mind will connect to it and attempt to keenly understand it with great interest and focus to help feed and enlarge that aspect of our Fi. Because I have a major interest and value for patterns and geometrical shapes, when I am in nature, patterns and shapes seem to jump out of my surroundings. When I point them out to others, others may remark, "That's interesting, I never would have seen that." The reason I see it is because my Fi has great appreciation for these patterns and symbols, and therefore my mind is wired to observe them.

With people in our environment, our Fi picks up on the appearances and actions that signal a particular area of our Fi, whether it be aspects of attractiveness we favor, deceptiveness, emotions we relate to, or other appearances and actions that correspond to something our Fi relates to as of interest and consequential in some way. Often our perceptiveness involves the reading of others emotions and motives, as these tend to most deeply resonate with Fi.

Say that you and an introverted sensor (an ISFJ) are talking to a woman who has been distressed but is putting on a guise of being completely fine. After the interaction is over and the woman leaves you say to your ISFJ friend, "I think that Claire is going through some stuff right now. She didn't seem as connected and looked like she was hurting even though she was smiling." Your ISFJ friend says, "Yes, I thought so, too. Her voice seemed to be weaker than usual, and her eyes weren't as bright as usual - a little tired-looking. Plus, she always has her hair done so perfectly, but today it looked a little messy." Notice how both of you were very observant, and came to the same conclusions, but through different information processing. You picked up and focussed on the emotional tone that Claire communicated, and detected the emotional aberrations. In the tertiary role, your Si was comparing the usual emotional, and to some degree, physical state of Claire, with past encounters, but for the ultimate purpose of reading her emotional state. Your ISFJ friend immediately and consciously detected the aberrant physical indicators that Claire manifested; the voice, the eyes, the hair, which allowed your friend to determine something was wrong.

Auxiliary: Ne - When our Fi detects and observes something of interest to us in our environment, Ne goes to work to help Fi gain clearer understanding by intuiting information about its nature, and generating some different ideas about it. The information that Ne seeks out is not actually arbitrary or random, but is typically information that will be of relevant interest to Fi. Suppose that you are on a walk and you notice a large legion of ants on the ground in a tight group with different trails of ants going out and coming back with food and pieces of grass. Your Fi is triggered when you notice how such a large group of ants is able to cooperate in supporting the colony in both food and construction, you crouch down and observe them with your Ne. At that point your Ne will mostly be generating ideas that relate to this Fi interest of "cooperation" and "teamwork". You see that the ants seem to follow invisible trails, as if they are reading the scent of the ants before them, and when they encounter an ant coming from the other direction, they pause and keep going, as if they are passing on information, and in the swarming colony, though it looks messy, they are all communicating for the interest of one another. So you think to yourself, "Wow, everything they are doing is so synchronized!"

This example shows how Fi became observant based on a triggered interest, and Ne sought out information and ideas that nurtured that particular interest. But in a case where Fi triggers us into an observant state and Ne is unable to generate much relevant information or many ideas, that is when we experience the process of losing interest or becoming bored; we lack motivation to stay connected. This may occur in a conversation that suddenly goes stale and the person becomes difficult to focus on, or when watching a documentary that was at first interesting and quickly becomes bland. The reason is that something in Fi recognized a topic, theme, value, or interest of some kind and stimulated you, but Ne was unable to find enough within the conversation or documentary itself to feed Fi and retain motivation, either because Fi hoped for something that wasn't there or didn't happen, or because the information was presented in a way that was unconducive to your method of processing. This explains why INFPs can become bored and lose interest in many situations.

Consider again the example of the conversation between your ISFJ friend, Claire, and yourself. Once you and your ISFJ friend came to the same conclusion, that something was wrong with Claire, you then take different approaches to understand why. Because you use Ne to support your emotional investment in Claire, you then begin to generate different ideas as to why Claire would be feeling this way. As your Ne branches out and considers relevant information you reach a hypothesis that seems to correspond well with Claire's behavior. You say to your ISFJ friend, "You know how Claire and her husband are so competitive with one another, and seem like they are trying to feel as successful as the other? Well, I just remembered that last week Claire's husband was promoted to Vice President in his company, but Claire has been telling me how she feels like her job isn't going anywhere. I have a feeling that this disparity in their success is causing Claire to feel inferior, and creating some conflict between her and her husband right now, since their competitiveness tends to make them defensive and combative." Your ISFJ friend remarks to you, "Interesting, that definitely makes sense. That was observant. (ISFJ friend using auxiliary Fe now) You know, I believe that what they really need is to spend more time with one another doing activities that allow them to mutually build each other up and support each other, because most of their activities actually involve them competing and exhibiting their differences, whether they are exercising, playing board games, or trying to share a more captivating story than the other in groups." Then you say to your ISFJ friend, "You know, I think you are really on to something. It's true, they tend to do that."

Here you see that both of you have exhibited excellent observational skills, but you both reached different observations through different cognitive processes. This shows how understanding things, solving problems, and generating plans with multiple people can greatly enrich the process. Though both you and the ISFJ noticed something was wrong, the ISFJ may not have understood why without your Ne observation, and you may not have recognized the interrelational cause without the Fe observation of your ISFJ friend.

Tertiary: Si - Our Si function plays a very significant role in our observational skills. It is Si that is virtually always reponsible for triggering our Fi into stimulation. As Si scans the surroundings, it is busy taking information from the environment and comparing it to information in our memories; doing so in our unconscious. When something in the environment corresponds to a memory of particular power or interest, Fi is awakened and sends out Ne, and our focus increases.

Let me revisit the tendency I have to observe patterns and shapes in nature. When I am walking and scanning my surroundings, Si is busy taking in information and comparing it to other troves of visual memories to see what subjective interest certain things may hold. When Si finds a desirable pattern, Fi signals me into conscious awareness of the pattern, and I use my Ne to consider it, examine it, and see what I can learn. If it is the pattern of a plant, does this pattern tell me anything about the characteristics of the plant? If I don't find find anything particularly relevant about that pattern, I might take a moment of Se appreciation and then divert my attention from it.

Once more we'll look at the situation with Claire, and how Si was responsible for the conclusion that something was wrong with her. Though Fi is the core that enables us to read and feel the emotional tone of others, without Si, that ability would be completely disabled. As you initially observed Claire, your Si was picking up on the sound of her voice, the use of her words, and her body language. While for your ISFJ friend, this was happening in a more detailed, conscious level, most of those observations happened unconsciously, and your Si compared the sensory input from Claire with other corresponding memories of similar voice characteristics, word and phrasing choices, and body language from her and other people. With enough input Si was able to allow Fi to determine that this combination of sensory characteristics represents hidden emotional distress that you related to, and that is when conscious recognition took place. Sometimes when this process is well-developed in an INFP or certain characteristics have particular significance to the INFP, the recognitions may happen almost instantaneously.

Conclusion: This writing was meant to explain in mostly systematic terms how INFP observation takes place, and why certain things are more acutely observed rather than other things, which may be wholly discarded from conscious recognition. This does not mean that we do not have any control of this, because we do, and we can gain greater control of our observational skills through self-discipline. If we are in a social setting, but we are wrapped up in a lot of self-absorbed thinking, we may not recognize and relate to others and observe their experiences, because that process is being subverted by an excess of inwardly-directed thinking. However, if a decision is consciously made to direct the thinking toward the situation and the people at hand, the powers of observation and interrelationship are strengthened. If I am in nature, and my consciousness is set upon detecting patterns and symettrical shapes around me, I will notice a great deal more than if I am thinking about something that happened earlier in the day. What gives our observational skills real impetus and strength is our conscious decision of what our priority is in any given situation. A good tool to use is to, upon entering a new activity or situation, think to yourself about what you would like to be attentive to in that situation.
 

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Wow, nice! Learned a lot from that!

How can one get to know in what exactly Fi motivated by? How to see them? Would love to have a list of my key motivations:mellow:

Tnx, great work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Wow, nice! Learned a lot from that!

How can one get to know in what exactly Fi motivated by? How to see them? Would love to have a list of my key motivations:mellow:

Tnx, great work!
That's a good question.

Discovering and Harnessing the Motivations of our Fi

Here is one way to look at it: Fi ----> Hope ----> Motivation ----> Fulfillment

Motivation is related to hope. When we hope for something, our mind provides us the resources to pursue and obtain it, and we experience motivation. What we hope for comes from what our Fi is made up of.

To understand your motivations, it is a good idea to ask yourself what things you hope for the most, whether things you hope to experience, to learn, to have, and to give. Try taking them down on a list.

If you find it difficult to peer into the heart of your Fi hopes, you can try a difficult strategy. Take notice of the moments and occasions when you are experiencing either focus or motivation, and then ask yourself why you are motivated - what are you hoping for? This can be literally any occasion. It can be motivation you experience when playing a video game, or when you are very invested in a conversation, or exercising. When you begin to uncover your motivations, you will see a pattern to them. It is the pattern of hopeful ideals within your Fi. You will also see why at certain times you fail to experience motivation, because you have not been able to anchor one of those motivating hopes in certain experiences.

Let me give you an example from my life. I don't have a lot of physical energy because of my depression, poor sleep, and other factors, so for me to exercise, there must be something motivating to override the instinct in my mind that tells me, "Rest, don't exercise." I do exercise, though. And I do so quite strenuously most every day. Here is why. If I go a couple of days without exercising, my anxiety levels increase dramatically, and I am more prone to panic attacks. Because I know this, I really want to avoid the anxiety. I also think about how I feel after exercising, and what a relief it is to not have to worry about the severe anxiety. And then I think about how focussed I get when I am engaged in an exercise like basketball, and how stimulated and alive I feel, and when I think about this, I feel motivation stirring inside of me. Then when I go out onto the court and shoot around, within a few minutes I am in a "zone" where I am physically and mentally engaged, even if I'm just shooting by myself. When I examine my motivation to see what it is made of, it is this: I love the stimulation of the challenge to improve my technique in shooting, to try shots that are difficult. It requires focus, and because I enjoy it, my mind provides it.

So let me break that down:

1. To experience motivation to exercise I must consciously think about what I hope to experience, and not what I am feeling right now.
2. Exercise lessens my anxiety attacks. I should think about that...how it feels when I don't exercise versus how good it feels when I do. Thinking about the physical experience of an exercise rush relates the endorphin and dopamine increase (motivation) with the desire to exercise. My motivation is "Lessened Anxiety, to Feel Better."
3. I consider how engaged and alive I feel when I am doing certain exercises. The challenge of basketball to become more skilled and precise is motivating and provides focus and energy. My motivation is "Feeling Alive and Engaged to the World/Being Challenged."

You can understand your motivations in any situation this way. When you are unmotivated when you know you should be, examine the situation to find out what relates to a motivation inside of you and think upon that. Are there certain things that you have no motivation to do or accomplish when you are alone, but when others are around, you feel motivated? For myself, I have very little motivation to draw and do art. But when there is an opportunity where I can use my art to show someone and impress somebody, you can bet that I will feel spurred on and motivated the whole way through the art process. So I recognize that I am motivated by situations that offer the hope of "Approval".

If you are ever motivated or focussed, there is a cause. I've recognized that I am very motivated by approval, and can sometimes do things I never expected I would do because of that motivation. But when it comes to self-motivating, I find it very difficult. Sometimes there are motivations we need to develop. When they aren't there it means that we haven't yet found a reason to hope in something in that particular area. When it comes to my art, I should be just as motivated to create art for the sake of it, as I am to win approval for it, but I KNOW how much I like approval, yet I haven't as solidly understood what to hope for in pure expression. That means I need to search out a reason, and not to resign myself to the problem. I should consider how in expressing myself with art I may learn more things about myself. I can also borrow from other motivations. I can decide to create an art piece that is a metaphor of something that inspires me deeply. I can even borrow from the motivation of approval by reminding myself that if I dedicate myself to working on my art for the sake of developing my skill and imagination, that my increased proficiency will eventually lend me more opportunities for accolades in the future. But because a desire just for approval is unhealthy, here lies an opportunity to adjust it. Instead of being motivated by accolades for self, I can consider how the expressions of my art can touch people emotionally and spiritually, and the more skill and experience I develop, the greater reach I can have for human souls. Here the motivation switches from inwardly focused motivation to outward focused motivation.

Notice a key of the previous paragraph: Delayed Gratification. It is normal for us to side with motivations that promise instant pleasure and fulfilled desire. It makes sense to our basic mind, but it is our advanced mind, the frontal lobe, where focus and future-oriented thinking occurs, that can accept delayed gratification. To develop this, it requires a new cognitive approach. One must consider the benefits that will be obtained in the future, and focus upon them until a bridge develops between those delayed rewards and the relevant Fi hopes, and then the motivation begins to percolate, and focus develops. The mind is being retrained so that it provides motivation and focus for something that is not immediate. Developing this form of motivation is invaluable.
 

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Matchbook,

I joined this forum primarily because of your posts in the "INFP beaten into INTJ submission" thread. I was impressed and appreciative of how you defined, redefined, and stood by INFP-ness and worked hard to keep the conversation focused and productive.

Please don’t worry about writing posts that are too long.

First, it’s an INFP forum – if there’s anywhere you can write a long post, shouldn’t it be here? I can’t imagine “Too long; didn’t read” coming up much. More likely would be “kind of long; skimmed some parts because I felt I knew what you were getting at.”

Second, you write fluently, concisely, and carefully. (I’m an editor, and this is my professional opinion. :happy:) Long posts are difficult when they ramble and repeat themselves. Yours do neither.

Third, you’ve got a lot to say. It would be unfair to the rest of us if you cut it short.

More directly to this post, I appreciate your response about motivations and Fi. The reason I jumped into this forum at the INTJ thread is that I’ve mistaken myself as an INTP for decades. Now in my thirties, I’ve run aground: depression, anxiety, and zero motivation. The lack of motivation is what troubles me most, and your post helps me relate that to my other problem – lifelong repression of anything less than logical. Like, oh-my-goodness, they might actually be the same problem.

I’m on a new adventure to re-see myself as an INFP and find and make friends with my feelings. Your thoughtful and intelligent posts prove to me that moving from NT to NF will not require me to forsake the things I value (namely, thoughtfulness and intelligence). I am intrigued by the possibilities of what I might gain.

So thanks for being a role model!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Dormeus, I appreciate what you've shared, and I am glad you found something useful in what I wrote. I have personally been experiencing benefit from the realizations and methods that I write about, and I have a desire to share it in hope that someone else may need and find use in what I have found use in. Speaking of motivation, that's probably why I can stay motivated writing something so long...the hope that someone else's life will be enriched in some way.

I'm excited to hear about your adventure to rediscover and liberate your feelings and things you value. Undoubtedly it will prove to be a boon to your life, and a key to ameliorating your situation with depression, anxiety, and lack of motivation.

What I didn't focus on in the article, though, but which has been the most critical factor in this growth for me, is the spiritual aspect. The relationship with God I've been pursuing for the past few years was the real catalyst for creating hope in me and giving me a healthy perspective about my individuality, purpose, and personal value. So I'd say that whatever realizations and methods that have come into my life have branched from that spiritual relationship.
 

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Brilliant! I completely related to that!
 

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Fantastic... I will track down all your posts on this site and go through them in depth. Please continue contributing. You are helping a lot of us!
 

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Ah, so I'm an INFP after all..../facepalm. Thanks for writing this; I was looking for a coherent explanation of these cognitive functions in a more practical format for a while.
 

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Fascinating stuff. So glad to know that losing interest in projects is something that can be explained in the INFP. My family laugh about the amount of things I do/have done. I join them!
 

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Wow, that was very informative!! I've been really into Sherlock lately and have been trying to become more observant. I'm getting better at it, but I've noticed that I have a really bad habit of constantly zoning out and nearly always inwardly thinking and never outwardly observing... this is really neat stuff to know. :)
 

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Hello, great post!! How do we go about changing our Fi motivations, because surely we are not born with them and have developed them through our environment? :)
 

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Hi I am new to forum and to be honest after years of thinking I was an 'infj' I tested on similar minds and came up with 'infp'. Question is what are traits true to this group. I sent a post earlier about how sometimes when I meet someone I like or am intrigued by I hyper focus but as I am doing this I feel as though tiny antennae are reaching out and in some way feeling the person and then they bring the info into myself.....hope that doesn't sound too weird...and then I begin to deeply feel aspects of the person. I would compare it to being an emotional sponge but when I have taken in too much....not realizing it....I get overwhelmed and I am not able to quickly retreat to process....Unfortunately I get quite irritable and may lash out. It's really hard because my heart is indeed warm but I come across as cold....even icy at times. Is that more 'infp' or 'infj'? Any insight would be great. Something else that is a bit unusual is that it seems like when I spend a lot of time with someone, once they are gone I find myself mimicking their behavior whether good or bad, like I somehow become sort of chameleon like????? It has taken so long. ....be 40 on the 4th of July.....to learn what makes me tick. Went through a period of intense research into every type of mental disorder thinking something was wrong but I have been like this all my life and sadly life experiences and be used and taken for granted has taught me to guard my sensitive spirit. Can anyone relate to this? I have taught for 14 yrs, high school English, but feel more and more like it is the worst possible fit for me, given my temperament. Picture a hermit in a room full of talkative and often rowdy teenagers......enough to make me feel like I want to jump out of my skin!!! Lol but then I get puzzled because no other teachers seem bothered by it to the extent that I am, so then I feel bad and perhaps more weird!!!

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