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To understand the ISFJ’s development, we have to understand the hierarchy of mental functions for the ISFJ. The hierarchy of mental functions for the ISFJ is about which mental function (Sensing, Intuiting, Thinking or Feeling) the ISFJ is most comfortable with using and which they are least comfortable in using.
Without going too much into Type dynamics, let’s look at the ISFJ’s hierarchy of mental functions:
The ISFJ is most comfortable with using the Dominant Function, Introverted Sensing and least comfortable with using the Inferior Function, Extraverted Intuition.
DEVELOPMENT OF INTROVERTED SENSING
As a child, the ISFJ will develop the Introverted Sensing function. They will show their preference for the world of activity and games rather than the world of fairy tales and stories.
They will also be in tune with what is going on around them in the classroom and at home, responding to details in colour, shape, sizes and show awareness when interacting with people.
If they have not properly developed this function in their youth, they may make value judgments too quickly without first considering the necessary facts.
DEVELOPMENT OF EXTRAVERTED FEELING
During puberty, the ISFJ will start developing the auxiliary function, Extraverted Feeling. They will show this development by becoming sensitive and caring to those around them.
They will possess a high need for approval from their peers and their parents and will do what is pleasing to these people to earn it. They become committed friends as well, willing to step in for their friends in times of need.
If they have not been allowed to develop this function, they may not know how to use their stored life experiences to achieve their goals or make their decisions.
Assuming the environment is supportive of their development, most ISFJs would have developed Extraverted Feeling and Introverted Sensing by 20 years or so.
Their areas of improvement will most likely come from the underdeveloped sides of Extraverted Intuition and Introverted Thinking. Below are some suggestions for improvement:
DEVELOPMENT OF INTROVERTED THINKING
If those functions are not developed by the age of 30, the ISFJ will feel the tension to continue growing and developing the Tertiary Function Introverted Thinking.
The ISFJ may start to use objective and logical thinking to approach situations that they used to take a personal (and possibly emotional) stand on. They may also start to become straightforward and frank in their language when they deem it necessary.
The ISFJ can further develop the Introverted Thinking function through these simple exercises:
DEVELOPMENT OF EXTRAVERTED INTUITION
From midlife onward, the ISFJ’s focus turns toward the inferior function, Extraverted Intuition. Their underdeveloped Extraverted Intuition function comes out in a childish and undeveloped way when they are under stress, causing them to over-worry or catastrophize.
But in midlife, there is an unconscious shift and desire to develop that inferior function to achieve wholeness and continual growth. It is an uncomfortable but necessary transition.
Here are some simple exercises to consciously develop the Extraverted Intuition function: