Each personality type has four Cognitive Functions. Functions put language to the way they process information and make decisions. Each type is referred to by their top two functions. Internal functions are the ones you use in your head, and external functions are the ones you use to interact with the world around you.
The FiSe’s functions are:
1. Fi - introverted Feeling
Although it’s referred to as “Feeling”, Fi is not internal emotions, but rather values that come from within. FiSe’s might experience a deep well of emotions, but this is not the root of Fi. It is a decision making-process that is very interested in determining its own moral code and what the FiSe’s gut instinct tells them is right, which is often based on how they would like to be treated themselves. They tend to be very considerate of others, and may take a long time to mull over their own beliefs to make sure they seem right. The values-refining process can take quite a bit of time and requires mental solitude. Fi generally puts authenticity in high esteem and is repulsed by anything that seems fabricated or shallow.
2. Se - extroverted Sensing
Se is the main way FiSe’s take in information. It means they use their senses to understand the world around them. They live in the moment and prefer dealing with things that are real and solid over the purely hypothetical. Se is the part of FiSe’s that makes them search out playful new sensory experiences.
3. Ni - introverted iNtuition
Ni is the FiSe’s third function, and it allows them to pull from every area in their brain to find valuable data, to look for patterns in the information they gather, or to skip ten steps ahead and predict what will happen in the future. Ni makes the Fi-led internal world very abstract and can involve lots of jumping around on intuitive leaps.
4. Te - extroverted Thinking
Te is the FiSe’s inferior function. This function may be their achilles heel, and is inherently not as strong as their other functions because their highest priority and focus is on Fi. Te is a very logic-oriented way of problem solving. It is the side of them that naturally looks to find a better solution to a problem, improve the efficiency of a process, or critique and refine what is already in place. FiSe’s generally prefer only to use Te only when necessary, rather than to make all of their decisions. Overuse of an inferior function can be very draining, and may be unhealthy when constantly given priority over other functions.
Dominant Function and Core of the Internal World:
Fi-dominant types are very warm and caring to those they are close to, as they might subconsciously believe that everyone has an inner world of depth similar to theirs. However, they take a while to open up to people, and aren’t likely to approach someone unless that person strikes their interest in some way. Once an Fi user has let someone into their world, they are likely to keep that connection open as long as harmony remains between the two-- i.e. if the other person shows themselves to be inauthentic or living out a strong opposition to a value the FiSe holds, the FiSe will retreat from the relationship. As long as the those close to them remain true to their presentation of themselves and aren’t offensive to their morals, the FiSe will likely be attached to that person for life, whether or not they see them regularly.
At their best, Fi-dominant types (FiSe and FiNe) are masters of self-care and great at putting healthy boundaries in place. They are very empathetic people, so they see the needs of others and want to care for them. However, healthy Fi-doms know that they cannot effectively care for others unless they first care for themselves. They know their limits and aren’t usually afraid of saying ‘no’ when they aren’t able to do something or fit something into their lives.
Fi differs from Fe (extroverted Feeling) in that Fe is focused externally and is constantly asking, “How does the group feel about this?”, whereas Fi is focused internally and is constantly asking, “How do I feel about this?” FiSe’s also tend to hone in on one or two significant relationships that they naturally look for once their own needs are met—a partner, best friend, etc. They are highly protective of their ‘inner circle’, feeling that those they share the intimate details of their persona with are in some ways part of themselves. They will not hesitate to defend themselves or those they are close to when they feel attacked or threatened.
At their best, FiSe’s are great at knowing themselves, as they spend a lot of time on self-reflection. They are very concerned with the depth and nuances of their values; they spend a large amount of their mental space clarifying, sifting, and refining their beliefs. This process can be very connected to deep emotions, and they might find themselves laughing or crying at the beauty of a seemingly random object that has meaning to them, while bystanders who notice their reaction might be quite confused at their sudden outburst. For some people with strong Fi, their emotions run so deep that for them to burst forth, there has to have been a lot of feelings building under the surface for quite some time. They tend to seek out things (movies, books, etc.) that will engage their emotions, because following characters they care about through an emotional journey can be very rewarding.
It’s worth noting that when we talk about Feeling (Fi or Fe) as a cognitive function, we are not specifically referring to emotions. Emotional experiences or expressions can be related to Feeling (Fe or Fi), but they are not the root of “Feeling”. The root of Fi or Fe boils down to a person’s values (i.e. what a person thinks is important based on their own conscience and why). An Fi user’s moral code is derived from what their conscience or "gut instinct" tells them is right, generally treating others the way they themselves want to be treated. This Fi value is not based in emotions, but neither does it need to be 100% logical. It is not overly concerned with the REASON behind treating others fairly… It simply ‘feels’ like the good and right thing to do because they themselves want to be treated fairly.
Fi’s driving instinct is to achieve inner harmony by remaining true to themselves and their values while minimizing the influence that external factors (societal expectations, and maybe even the opinions of friends and family) have on their values. FiSe’s may love discussing or even debating their values with others, as long as they are able to remain true to themselves while doing so. But after a lengthy discussion, they will need time by themselves to evaluate the conversation and consider what the other person said and how they might fit it into their value system. They find their own principles to be trustworthy and valuable, and are inherently skeptical of that others try to impose on them, If something does not line up to their own beliefs, they cannot act in accordance with it. To go against their own values is to cause inner discord, which very difficult for them to endure.
Fi dominant types can get lost in their own world of trying to figure out what a stranger, who is sitting 200 feet away from them in a coffee shop, is thinking, how their day is going, what their life must be like, etc. They love people-watching, but aren’t typically interesting in getting up close and personal with most people. They feel pressured to react and respond appropriately to actual interactions, which can be very draining for them. They might prefer imagining a conversation with someone to actually having a conversation with someone as imaginary people don’t have demands or expectations of them.
FiSe’s tend to have an active imagination well into adulthood. Fi dominant types are very concerned with The Story of/behind various things. For example, they might see a large, sturdy tree and wonder how long it’s been there, trying to imagine the events it’s been around for, or who else sat in its shade, what wisdom might be attached to or inside of that tree, etc. They automatically look for meaning everywhere—in books, movies, a passing remark from a friend, a special cup they like to use, or even why that tree was planted in a particular place. Fi assigns meaning to everything.
Because they are so involved with and entangled with the depth and nuance of the meaning of everything, and how the meaning of something relates to everything else, they can become incredibly captivated by the right idea or story. When something sparks their Fi imagination, or taps into an aspect of meaning that carries a lot of weight with them, they become entranced by the story or idea. Even just the process of a story unfolding might be more meaningful to an them than the sum of the story’s parts.
Second Function and the Core of the External World:
While FiSe’s can handle abstract ideas, concepts, and conversations, they can tire of this type of thought quickly if they can see no practical, real world value for it. While endless speculation about every possibility under the sun will tire them, if you give them one abstract concept, they can often run with it—building on it, and feeling out how to make it a tangible reality.
FiSe’s tend to be very earthy, and are drawn to the mysterious, intuitive aspects of the world around them because of their Ni. They are all about in-the-moment, tangible, concrete, real world experiences and perceptions, and how they can connect their physical surroundings to their shifting, mystical inner world. It’s possible that those with strong Se are the only people who truly live ‘in the moment’, in a sense. They view the world as a solid force, and prefer to take in information in a concrete, solid way. Because they do not experience solidity within themselves, they seek that stability in the world around them.
FiSe’s especially feel that every moment should be spend on something worthwhile and fun, and doing anything they view as ‘work’ is arduous and tedious, even if it’s work they enjoy. They are all about having fun and experiencing new things, so even enjoyable work is rarely a favorite activity for them. They want to be able to do exactly what they want to do, the moment they think of doing it. Anything that hinders that freedom is a frustrating block to their Se.
FiSe’s need a certain level of impulsiveness in life to be happy. Being too tied to a schedule can feel like torture for them and planning too much can lead to a lot of stress. They might enjoy breaking rules from time to time, especially if they feel that others are trying to impose too much unwanted structure on them. They want to do what they want when they want, and crave fun and spontaneity in their life. Even if their work is very fulfilling and satisfying, if it is not engaging to them in a physical capacity, they are going to get bored quickly.
While they are great listeners, they really enjoy doing things with people as a means of getting acquainted. They crave thrill and adventure. FiSe’s need to be engaged with the world around them. Exploring nature, getting involved in physical sports, or getting their hands dirty and doing things in the physical world is very cathartic for them. The Se side of an FiSe makes them value beauty very highly, and they seek out beautiful, serene surroundings, especially in nature. Their surroundings have a strong influence on them, and they are very aware of their physical environment.
FiSe’s are typically very creative. Se likes very tangible, 5-senses (sight, touch, taste, smell, sound) experiences, so creating art with their hands (i.e. playing an instrument, painting, drawing, sculpting, photography, etc.) is very gratifying to them. In creating tangible art, they get to put Fi and Se to use by expressing meaning in all kinds of real-world ways that other people can experience.
When an FiSe does something to engage their senses, it drives them and gives them energy. Without beautiful, ‘5 senses’ types of experiences, their energy and creativity flatlines and they may turn to unhealthy vices like binging on food, alcohol, television, or video games to try to fill this need for physical engagement. This need is better filled with exercise, exploration, and play.
FiSe’s are excited about the here and now of what is going on around them. They are very present, and might find it difficult to plan far into the future. They are so fully present in the moment that the current situation they find themselves in feels like it’s their whole world. If you were to ask an FiSe what their life is like, they would probably tell you about their current circumstances rather than the big picture.
When FiSe’s are in a crisis mode, they feel like they need to prepare for what might come next (“What should I expect at work tomorrow based on what happened today?”), and especially how they might feel about what they could encounter. Because they are very in-the-moment, they probably won’t be thinking about every possibility 5 years in the future. Their intuition reaches into the immediate future so they know what to deal with next. If their current situation feels turbulent, stressful, or overwhelming, they have the sense that their life in general is now out of their control. If the way out is not immediately obvious, they might feel completely hopeless. To them it feels like their circumstances are never going to change, and that their current reality will be their reality forever.
Third Function and Supporting Role in the Internal World:
FiSe’s experience their inner world in a very intuitive way. In their constant search for meaning in all they see and do and experience, they are always evolving and shifting internally. Their inner world is open and fluid, though they see the outer world as very solid and unchangeable. When they consider various concepts or ideas, they naturally see them from multiple angles and points of view.
They explore their feelings and emotions in an intuitive way, and they have the strong sense that everything is connected to everything else. The mind of an FiSe is like a constellation of values, emotions, and premonitions. Everything in their inner world is linked through constantly shifting and evolving webs. They might have a gut instinct that something is going to happen, often right before that scenario plays out in front of them. It’s a bit like feeling psychic, because their introverted iNtuition (Ni) is subconsciously trying to figure out what comes next. They subconsciously calculate several possibilities based on what is happening around them in the moment. When it comes to the past, most of what they recall is the overall feeling of their experiences, rather than vivid details. Throughout their experience (whether of life in general, the story of a book or movie, etc), their mind naturally highlights themes, and sees patterns of meaning within the overarching story.
FiSe’s are usually very spiritual people. Even if they don’t subscribe to a particular religious doctrine, they tend to have the innate sense that other realms and powers exist beyond what most people would take at face value. They marvel at skeptics of spirituality, because it is a part of themselves that they feel so strongly and obviously. They are comfortable with the unknown, and they feel that they can never be 100% certain or reach absolute truth about most things in life, although they are likely to have a handful of things which they consistently feel are true and real to them. They are constantly reevaluating things and coming at various questions from different angles. Their Ni is like a comforting friend who pats their shoulder and says, “It’s okay. You don’t have to have everything figured out.”
FiSe’s naturally see patterns and make connections. For example, they may read a complex theory that doesn’t immediately make sense, but after moving on to a new activity, their subconscious will connect the dots. Everything will synthesize in their mind and they will have an ‘aha!’ moment where everything becomes clear.
Because of the always-shifting nature of their internal world, it can them take a few days to sort their emotions out. They might have an argument with their friend and know they are upset in the moment, but they have to spend a lot of time afterward untangling the various emotions they felt and the reasons behind them. Because they experience their inner world so deeply, their emotions run very deep and might be very overwhelming and difficult to deal with at times.
FiSe’s are always looking for the core essence of things, trying to get an instinct for how things work, and trying to figure out the next level of depth—spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. They naturally examine things from several different perspectives over the course of their consideration. Their imagination and insight is constantly evolving to account for these perspectives and they often find new developments or insights.
People generally feel safe with FiSe’s. They are able to present different, unusual concepts to others in a way that puts them at ease. They can explain out-there ideas that may normally put people off in a way that draws them in and makes them feel comfortable. Their delivery is gentle and thoughtful in a way that is unique to their type.
Last Function and the Supporting Role of the Internal World:
Te is the last function and the supporting role in the FiSe’s external world. Te is a process that allows them to take in information from the real world, make quick decisions on what the most effective solution is, and put that solution into play right away. This is the weakest, achilles’ heel part of the FiSe. Although it would be exhausting and unhealthy for them to rely on this aspect of themselves all the time, they can pull out their troubleshooting skills when necessary to get a job done effectively.
Because this side of them makes them value excellence and efficiency, they may have trouble getting started with new hobbies, career paths or other big life changes. Although they know it’s not really possible, they want to be masters of whatever they try when they do it the first time.
While they prefer to take their time on decision making, it isn’t always possible or practical. In these situations, it’s useful to have Te so that they can make a quick, in-the-moment decision. Because they are able to rely on their Fi internal compass in the background to let them know when something feels off, they can feel comfortable with their decision even if they can’t articulate a solid reason for it at the time as long as it passes their “gut check”. For example, if they have the sense that someone they see walking down the street could be harmful to them in some way, they don’t have time to untangle why they have that feeling. They just know they don’t feel safe next to this person, and the best solution is the cross the street or take a detour in order to avoid them.
In a lot of cases, Te is the protector function of the FiSe. When one of their values comes under attack, they rely on a direct, matter-of-fact Te communication style to defend it. When they feel so strongly about a subject that they know they must take action on it, they tap into this part of themselves that is powerful and commanding to take a stand for that what they believe is right. Te can also be the part of them that tells them to just pick something (a career, a hobby, an outfit, etc) and stick with it, at least for a short period of time. It’s the smaller part of them that pushes them to come to a conclusion and be decisive. If it was purely up to their Fi, they would contemplate how they felt about it forever.
In general, FiSe’s hate being harsh and judgmental. They are very aware of other people’s thoughts and emotions, and always approach people from a deeply understanding place. Although they might find themselves being overly critical when tired or stressed, they regret any time they come across in a way that they don’t feel reflects their true character.
An FiSe who is forced to act out of this Te problem-solving, critiquing side of their persona for a large portion of their time (for work, or parenting, etc) is likely to become burnt out, and might experience decision fatigue very quickly. They generally do best when they can allow someone else to take over the decision-making in at least part of their life. If they must make all the decisions in their job, and all the parenting decisions, and all the relationship decisions, etc., then when it comes time for simple, self care decisions like deciding what to eat for dinner or what route to take home from work, they are already exhausted and will struggle to know what they want.
FiSe’s best use their Te when there is already a system in place, as it is easiest for them to use the simplest version of Te - critiquing and refining. When something is already in place and needs improvement, it can be easier to analyze it and see the solution. When starting from scratch, they might have lots of ideas, but the act of putting systems and and structures of efficiency into place is harder for them.