Introverted Feeling: Assessing Personal Impact
We like to command ourselves through gritted teeth not to take things personally, but there’s actually a Function whose job it is to do just that! The role of Introverted Feeling (Fi), is to assess our circumstances and determine how they affect us personally. That way we can make better decisions for ourselves based on that assessment.
Those who can keenly attune to their own feelings regarding circumstances and assess the impacts on themselves, are likely to be able to put themselves in the experience of other people, and have empathy for the feelings of others and the impacts of events on others. Over the course of years of observing impacts and assessing them, this function develops the internal set of values by which we live. This is our “moral compass.”
Because it is introverted and assesses emotions, Fi is deep and personal, and frequently hard to share with others (unlike Fe, which is extroverted and vocal). Fi will let you know when you are going off course, acting as your “conscience,” and the stronger your Fi, the more important it is to you to live true to your beliefs as an essential matter of integrity.
Introverted Feeling is your source of purpose and mission when it comes to helping other people and making the world a better place. It’s important to remember that Fi is individualized and personal-experience based; thus, what feels intensely right for you, is not necessarily right for everyone. This also means that as you gather more experiences in life, you may find you need to upgrade your Fi values!
Those with Fi high in their Function Family tend to be highly sensitive and idealistic. They feel the injustices of the world as if they are happening to themselves. They are often fighting for a cause. You will often find them quietly getting their own hands dirty to help out others.
The healthy Fi must develop the skill of separating their own feelings from those of others. They can be compassionate to the point of taking on another person’s feelings in order to really be there in it with the other person. They can easily pick up the moods of those around them, and feel that they are being assaulted by emotions wherever they go. It is good practice for Fi to ask, “Is this happening to me?” The Fi can learn to put up a protective barrier against the emotions of others, giving themselves time and space (and permission) to decide if they have the energy and desire to involve themselves on a case by case basis.
It’s also important for Introverted Feeling to personalize, but not over personalize. This means not reading meaning into events that aren’t actually happening. In other words, are you aware of what’s actually happening in this circumstance, or are you making assumptions about what is happening? It can be hard to make this distinction when it comes to feelings! It can help to ask your Fi, “If I was experiencing this, how would it affect me?” The If gives you a bit of distance, so your Fi has a chance to breath a moment and consider if it does have its facts straight.
Those with an underdeveloped Fi will have less practice at assessing emotions and their impacts on themselves and others. This can lead to (although not necessarily) ruthless and perhaps even unethical behavior towards others. However, a weak Fi will harm the individual as well. Feelings do not go away when ignored. Feelings are very much like bodily sensations — there to give us feedback on our interaction with our surroundings. Just like the heat from a fire warns us to step back from the flames, feelings warn us if we are exposing ourselves to harmful people and circumstances.
Feelings that are ignored, intensify to get your attention. If they cannot get your attention, they may very well join forces with your body and start causing you physical pain to scream and wave louder at you. A lump in your throat so you can’t speak, a band around your center when you feel powerless, agitated intestines when you feel anxious and off balance, tense shoulders when you are consumed with worries. (Incidentally, observing your bodily sensations can give you clues as to what you are feeling!) The longer you let this go on, the worse it’s going to get for you, and it can end up in a debilitating or fatal psychosomatic disease. (Note that I am not claiming all illness is psychosomatic, merely acknowledging that sometimes some are.)
It is much healthier to acknowledge that emotions exist and that you’ve evolved a cognitive function for recognizing them, assessing them, and making decisions about your life around them. Even if you are the most logical person in the world, your feelings will still demand acknowledgement until it’s given. Sometimes all it takes is to name the feelings that are occurring — this can legitimize them and calm them immediately. Other times your feelings are giving you a valid warning, and won’t abate until you’ve heeded.
As a civilized society, we have learned the life-saving benefits of checking in with our teeth twice a day or more. Your life will flow more smoothly if you take at least the same care of your feelings!
If the message of this post spoke to you, and you would like to learn more about exercising and balancing your Fi, contact me to set up a Personality Analysis to see what role Fi plays in your life. ~Julie