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In this episode Joel and Antonia talk about developing a healthy relationship with your tertiary cognitive function (what we call the 10-year-old in the Car Model).

In this podcast you’ll find:

Car Modelcar model

10 year old cognitive function is the one we go to in place of the copilot. Our chief suggestion for growth is to focus on the copilot. We encourage people to stop giving preference to their 10 year old in place of the copilot.

This is not intended as a demonization of the 10 year old. Today we want to show you how accessing your 10 year old in a certain way can accelerate your personal growth.

Rule of Thumb:

  • We start developing Driver in teens
  • Copilot in 20s-30s
  • Tertiary in 30-40s
  • Inferior 50s +

It is possible to accelerate this process with focused personal growth.

If you spend enough time exercising your copilot you may be ready to start working on your 10 year old.

What is the loop we are always discouraging people from exercising? The loop is the tendency to stay in the same attitude with which you lead. If you are an introvert you get caught in a loop that favors the introverted world. If you are an extravert you get caught in a loop that favors the extraverted world.

How can we use our 10 year old to be a beneficial tool in our basket?

When we get caught in the loop we are usually doing it because our dominant process is practicing confirmation bias. The 10 year old will usually support the viewpoint of the Driver, and sometimes this is exactly what our driver is looking for.

When we have a good healthy relationship with our 10 year old we find it helps support us because it gives us extra tools that we wouldn’t necessarily have access to.

For example:

  • INTJ – Imagine an INTJ in a relationship where things aren’t going too well. 10 yr old may say, “This relationship is doomed,” because that is what the Driver is already thinking.
    • Suggestion: Get into copilot Te* and make pro/con list and create metric around it. What is the dynamic? How are you contributing to this dynamic? 10 year old is telling you that this is completely unfixable, but your copilot may indicate there is a way to save the relationship if you act like an adult and stop asking guidance from a 10 year old.
    • Alternatively, Let’s say you are going to your copilot and using the lens of your best and highest self already. How will the 10 year old show up in this case?
    • It is still there but it is no longer just a mindless support system.
    • For INTJs, the 10 year old is Fi which helps them see how they feel and how others feel. As a support to the copilot, Fi will make and INTJ more sympathetic. It’s about implementing systems that make everyone feel good. Implementing strategies that take everyone into consideration.
  • ENTP – 10 year old Fe – This manifests as disconcerting connections. Social anxiety resulting in emotional meltdown. Copilot helps ENTPs get rational without the emotional variable. ENTPs bring clarity by using their copilot Ti. The 10 year old helps them to communicate truths in a way that is more palatable. Delivering a truth that needs to be delivered in a package that doesn’t trigger its listeners.

The 10 year old helps us flush out our messages and gets us in a space where we are more effective at what we are attempting to accomplish.

More Examples:

  • ISTP – 10 year old Ni: Ti/Ni loop. ISTPs at their best in Se – copilot. 10 year old needs in the moment experience to be used well by ISTPs. An ISTP might speculate wrongly if he doesn’t start with Se and follow with Ni. Ni can support Se in anticipating what can happen in the moment. Great in law enforcement.
  • ESFJ – 10 year old is Ne: in the Fe/Ne loop, ESFJs create patterns that aren’t accurate. Si would look at the precedent and past experience, then 10 year old could form a pattern based upon actual evidence rather than theoretical speculation. Ne becomes more accurate when used in conjunction with Si.


  • How have you gone to your 10 year old in a defensive way? How has it supported your copilot in a good way? When have things gone right and when have things gone terribly wrong? Post your comments below.

*Abbreviation legend:

  • Te – Extraverted Thinking or Effectiveness
  • Fi – Introverted Feeling or Authenticity
  • Fe – Extraverted Feeling or Harmony
  • Ti – Introverted Thinking or Accuracy
  • Ni – Introverted iNtuition or Perspectives
  • Ne – Extraverted iNtuition or Exploration
  • Se – Extraverted Sensing or Sensation
  • Si – Introverted Sensing or Memory

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  • John
    • John
    • July 22, 2021 at 10:19 pm

    As an INFP, my Driver is Authenticity, my Co-pilot is Exploration, and my 10-year-old is Memory. I just turned 30, and I’ve noticed that when I’m stuck in my introverted loop I tend to stick with what’s familiar. I make decisions based on what I already know to be true (or what I think is true). This can be a problem because sometimes I will recall outdated or biased data from my Memory cognitive function instead of engaging my Co-pilot and seeking out real-world data. I really need to get outside of my comfort zone and explore the world for accurate information.
    For example, after I ended an unhealthy relationship, I almost got back together with my ex because I would think of all the good memories between us. I had to remind myself of all the real-world data that pointed to the fact that this relationship was bad for both of us.
    When I need to treat my 10-year-old function I like to indulge in familiar childhood shows or videogames. I’m very nostalgic and sentimental. When I was younger I was much sadder about how fleeting life is, but now I try to get some inspiration and motivation from my past. It’s made me who I am today.

  • Alicia
    • Alicia
    • February 24, 2020 at 2:12 pm

    Fellow INFP here, I can totally relate to the struggle of getting outside the comfort zone and adapting to change. In listening to this podcast, I recognized when my Driver Authenticity (Fi) encounters something I don’t want to do because “I can’t picture myself doing this — it doesn’t feel like me”, my 10-year-old Memory (Si) tends to chime in with thoughts like “we shouldn’t do this new thing, we have no experience to draw on, I’m scared, we should stay where things feel safe and familiar”. But the times I have deliberately pushed past the fear and leaned into my Co-Pilot Exploration (Ne), I have found myself doing amazing things I would have never ‘pictured’ myself doing. It may not have always been comfortable at first, but nowI have a wider band of experience that I can draw on for future reference, and I’ve learned that just because a new thing doesn’t always “feel like me”, doesn’t mean I can’t accomplish it if I approach it with an open mind. (Meta-thought: this entire post seems to come from a place of Exploration with some healthy input from Memory. “We did the new thing and we learned something that informs and broadens our sense of self.”) Thanks to Joel and Antonia for this discussion, love to follow along for the deep dives into personality study!

  • Sara de Hond
    • Sara de Hond
    • July 10, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    Is there any podcast on all the other tertiary functions and how they could potentially aid the person? Really wanting that.

  • Kelly
    • Kelly
    • January 19, 2018 at 2:54 am

    ENFP here! I’m hanging in my 10-year old (effectiveness zone) how do I GET OUT?! My 3 year old (memory) is like my driver! In the dark place here….. Joel? Feeling unhealthy enfp help?

  • Elizabeth
    • Elizabeth
    • May 31, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    INFP here! As a teen (I’m in my twenties now) I struggled a lot to get out of my comfort zone. As a child (like literally ten) I hated change and held onto traditions (such as holidays and vacations) very tightly. I’ve grown out of a lot of that, but I’m still not crazy about change. At work we occasionally change procedures and start doing things a new way and I usually inwardly fume for a few days. I’m learning to tell myself that in a few months it will be as comfortable as the old way and to give it some time! Through my teens, the encouragement of my parents and the necessities of becoming an adult got me to (unknowingly!) start working on my Ne and I grew A LOT! I still have a long way to go to truly develop my Ne, but I have definitely already seen the benefits.

    My Si hasn’t always been my enemy, though. In high school (I was homeschooled) I had complete charge of my schedule and responsibility to get things done. I think my Si helped me stick to a schedule since it involved doing things that same way over and over. I’ve heard that sometimes INFPs can be really opposed to tradition, but for me it is a personal value, so I can have some fun with my Si to create meaningful traditions.

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