Shadow Boxing #4: The Demon (Si)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 2 Comments A+ a-

Hey, guys. Am soaking up some rays today. Yes, the sun is actually shining for the first time in forever, so I'm curled up beside my bedroom window, enjoying what feels like the beginning of Spring. You never can tell, though, which is why I'm going to appreciate the warmth and try not to think about the possibility of an April snow flurry!

So, we're covering our last shadow function in this post. It's one that we're all pretty familiar with. I see its recurring theme a lot while browsing through images for the Cafe fan page. What's weird is that I pulled up Netflix earlier and randomly chose Supernatural (which I haven't watched in months) for background noise. Kind of ironic, given that our last and most formidable opponent is named after the same kind of creatures Sam and Dean Winchester relentlessly hunt down and destroy.

Gloves up, people, because we're about to face...the Demon.

Shadow #3: Introverted Sensing

Demon? C'mon, it's just sensing. Is that really a problem?

Well, sensing is something that trips up a lot of INFJs from the get-go. You'll notice in the above graphic that it's called our "inferior" function. This means that it's our least dominant function...the lowest man on the totem pole, so to speak, when it comes to how we deal with the world.

And yet, it's anything but inferior. Our extraverted sensing (Se) takes in a whopping amount of sensory data and subconsciously delivers it to our intuition. Images, smells, sounds, tastes, feels...they're constantly being observed and sent. It happens so fast that we often have insights about people, things, and situations before anyone else, which is one reason we're considered psychic.

But the sensory issue can be pretty intense for some of us. If you're INFJ and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), you know what I'm talking about. Not only does our Se collect all that data without asking (it's beyond our control), but if you're HSP, the experience can be uncomfortably stimulating. It overwhelms you, and can even adversely affect your cognitive processes and emotions.

Extreme? Maybe. Now imagine taking that extreme sensitivity, flipping it around, and applying it to your internal self. Tie it to memories, recollections, and past experiences. Connect it to physical needs like hunger and pain. Make it dark. Make it traumatic. Make it ugly and obsessive and uncontrollable.

That's our opponent.

Just writing about it makes me kind of queasy. Like Poltergeist queasy (I never did recover from that chicken leg scene). It's not that Introverted Sensing is's just that we're totally unequipped to deal with it. We're already uber-sensitive, and here we are, facing a much-deeper-and-darker sensitivity in the creature who just climbed into the ring.

What does this look like? A nightmare. You've got a little guy who's overwhelmed by the stage, the lights, the crowd, the heat, the smell of sweat--just to name a few--and a monster armed with intimate details about every traumatic experience, unhappy event, and awful mistake that poor little guy has ever made.

If he wasn't shaking before the monster climbed into the ring, you can bet he's shaking now.

The thing is, Introverted Sensing (by itself) isn't all that scary. People who use it as part of their functional stack are good at linking present experiences to past data. They might walk by someone wearing perfume that reminds them of their grandmother, and recall fond memories. Or they could be a seasoned traveler, able to tap into awkward moments and use them to prevent future vacation snafus. They're also super aware of how they feel internally. Hunger and pain can't be ignored, so you won't find these guys skipping meals or denying their feelings.

INFJs, though, aren't good with this type of sensory processing. We're sensitive, remember? If we're forced to turn inward and process past experiences, we're not likely to be looking at the positive stuff. The traumatic things stand out. Failures. Mistakes. Imperfections. Things we shouldn't have said or done. We brood and obsess over them, re-experiencing the feelings and reinforcing their negative impacts on our self-image.

Because Introverted Sensing is the INFJs Demon, it normally reflects itself in very negative ways. The INFJ can often be haunted by the past and skeptical of it. They see only what was negative about the past, only what traumatized them, only the mistakes they made. They may only see the mistakes and failures of others as well. They will pinpoint all their mistakes and failures as signs that they will never be anything but a disappointment or a failure. They may become immersed in their past trauma or regrets and unable to get out. When in the realm of the Demon function, the INFJ can also become completely incapable of holding onto any details accurately and may distort past details to fulfill their vision of failure and hopelessness. -- Psychology Junkie: Understanding the INFJ Darkness

One of the biggest challenges facing an INFJ is the tendency to overthink, and when we're stressed out, that can easily turn into obsessive overthinking. This isn't healthy for anyone, and because we're so sensitive, it's even more destructive for us. Left to its own devices, our Demon function is perfectly capable of distorting our viewpoint and leading us down a dark, troubled path.

I believe there are solutions, but I don't think they're as easy as the ones for our other shadows. Awareness, of course, is a key factor here. I'm sure Sam and Dean would agree that knowing your Demon and its methods of attack makes it easier to defeat. However, things like brooding over past failures, obsessive thinking, and immersion in trauma/regret are hard to overcome. They involve behavioral patterns, which aren't easily broken.

I recently had someone reach out to me about obsessive thinking. We talked back and forth, and I'll put some of that in a Q&A, because I offered solutions that have helped me. But I'd also like to expand on this more in future posts. Not just obsessive thinking, but all of the Demon areas. It feels like something we should cover.

When I post the Q&A, I'll link it here (same with a series or anything else related to this shadow). In the meantime, if you're reading this and think you might be in the clutches of your own Demon, I strongly encourage you to reach out to a trusted friend or counselor. We can't always identify our own feelings, and talking could help break the cycle.

We're really good with other people's feelings.
Sometimes, we need help working through our own.

Okay, the four contenders have been covered. But we're not done yet. Those little devils can still come together as Autobots...combining themselves into one big, shadow-function-like Transformer (non-nerds, click here). We'll tackle him next time.

See you then!

Image Credit: Shadow, Deep Feels, Battling Demons, Getting Help


Write comments
April 13, 2017 at 9:51 AM delete

Wow, you're right. This one does make you queasy! I've been here so many times in my life, dealing with this demon. Seems like the older I get the harder it is to brush him off. I've so enjoyed reading your Shadowboxing series! Bringing all of these "out in the open" really helps in recognizing them and dealing with them. This one in particular is a tough one and I appreciate your suggestions on what to do with it when it comes up. :)

April 13, 2017 at 1:17 PM delete

Aww, thanks so much! I agree that this one is tough, and is probably triggered more often than the others when we're stressed. Like our Se, the Demon function is subconscious, making it hard to know when we're in its clutches. I want to explore it a little more and try to find ways to beat it.

I'm really glad you like this series...thank you for taking the time to let me know!! *sends you big hug* :)