Ni can function in two distinct ways; I call them Top-heavy and Bottom-heavy Ni. While both could be said to live in the unconscious or at the very least mirror the unconscious, Top-heavy (TH) Ni is consciously experienced by the INFJ, while bottom-heavy (BH) Ni acts like a quiet yet powerful guider or influencer. Let’s start with TH Ni.
INFJs are more familiar with TH Ni, as they are the frequent insights and thought processes that INFJs experience on a daily basis. TH Ni is generated by a dynamic symbiotic relationship between the INFJ and Ni by engaging in the following process below. This process represents how Ni is accessed as a general rule in the INFJ’s life, but it more specifically represents how an INFJ can actively drill down into a topic or issue:
- The INFJ’s quiet observance of both the outer and inner worlds helps power up Ni in the unconscious. This gives Ni room to send information up to the INFJ consciousness.
- The INFJ’s attention to these Ni knowings leads the INFJ to direct attention towards obtaining and engaging in information based on the Ni promptings. (The INFJ is essentially feeding the Ni what it is seeking).
- This enables Ni to absorb more information, causing more insights and deeper insights to emerge.
- This process can be repeated many times over. With each repeat allowing the possibility of deeper and richer insights and connections.
- The level to which the INFJ and Ni sync this process the more powerful the INFJ’s CPU.
TH Ni can manifest as thoughts, feelings, pictures, impressions, a sense, a gut feel, a memory, a hunch, a range of ideas embedded in a new idea, and so on. Its knowledge often arrives randomly, spontaneously, like lightning, surprisingly and excitedly.
The INFJ can usually distinguish Ni insights from general everyday observations, as Ni information is between the lines of what has been focused on and energises the INFJ. The more the INFJ occupies this space the more centred and connected the INFJ feelings.
TH Ni is fairly well understood in INFJ circles, and is growing in acceptance in the wider world. However, what is not very well known or understood is Bottom-heavy Ni, and how it underpins most of the TH Ni.
If TH Ni is the INFJ’s conscious Ni experience, BH Ni operates as an unconscious leader that ultimately determines and influences TH Ni. BH Ni is like the guiding force that knows what and where the INFJ needs to self-actualise, and so is like the hidden director.
It is hard to find the words to articulate this dynamic, however here is an illustration to hopefully further introduce this concept:
Imagine the INFJ sitting in a boat. The current and direction of the river is the BH Ni directing the course of life for the INFJ; their destiny if you will. Above the surface of the water is the world, with all its experiences and choices that can be made in it. The INFJ’s oar in the water represents the points at which the BH Ni and TH Ni intersect. While the INFJ is being led by the deeper narrative of the BH-Ni current, it is TH Ni that prompts the INFJ to direct and steer the boat in specific ways allowing the INFJ and TH Ni to interact with the environment. The hands on the oar represent where TH Ni and the INFJ connect, allowing them to participate in the process in a very personal way. All three components, BH and TH Ni, and the INFJ themselves, work together to fulfil self-actualisation.
Due to this unconscious current pulling the INFJ along, for many INFJs they can live with a sense of uncertainty, especially in the first half of life. It is as though they know deep down that they are being guided, but feel a lack of control or awareness of what is guiding, and where they are being guided to.
Fortunately, there are a handful of times for most INFJs when the BH Ni shows up in the INFJ’s life in a very powerful, tangible and life transforming way. This can be exhilarating, and can be experienced in a moment or for a period of time as deep self-realisations, revelations, or life affirming and reassuring experiences, that are deeply personal and spiritual in nature. These times seem to be when the INFJ is reassured of their path, and deep questions are answered.
If TH Ni is characterised as static electricity that fires whenever the INFJ is engaged with it, then when BH Ni reveals itself, is like a surge of electricity that energising the entire INFJ themselves. These experiences are powerful enough to energise the INFJ forward into the next phase of their journey for years to come.
Note: Some people reading this may be thinking “Replace Ni with the word God and it fits almost exactly”, or "Is what we think is God talking to us, actually Ni". In my opinion, the God component is on a completely different level to what is being described here. God works with and through the cognitive processors of all the personality types. This is no different for the INFJ, however Ni more than any other cognitive function mirrors many of the features that have traditionally been characterised in the God relationship. It is this mirroring that has created a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. That being said, this is a big topic, and will be reserved for another time.
Please share your own insights on the INFJs Ni cognitive function in the comments section below!
To watch the video version of this topic click here!
Scott Morgan is a professional Counsellor and a certified Myers-Briggs Type Indicator practitioner.