Podcast – Episode 0387 – Integrating The Weak Side Of Your Cognitive Functions – Part 1

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia begin a two-part series about integrating your cognitive functions. In this episode they discuss the perceiving functions and how to integrate the weak side of each in your personality.


In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Why do we prefer to talk about cognitive functions in terms of how they work in polarities?
  • Check out our article on Car Model to learn about your functions and their polarity opposites.
  • We can’t fully understand one function without understanding its opposite -why is this the case and how does this show up? 
    • An example of how this works.
  • What is the key purpose of integrating functions?
  • How can we integrate the polarity opposite of our Driver and Copilot?
  • What happens if we don’t consciously work on integration?
  • How to see the limitations of your backseat functions – even if you’ve developed skill there.
  • What does it look like when we purposefully use our backseat functions to support our stronger functions?
    • What happens if we don’t use them to support our strengths?
  • How to integrate your weaker perceiving functions – and the difference in how they show up when they are integrated and unintegrated:
  • xNxPs – integrating Memory (Si) to support Exploration (Ne)
    • How Si helps you to learn your lessons with the gift of wisdom
    • Why you need templates – the concept of “blank page syndrome”
    • What happens if you don’t build on your past?
    • How you can prevent bad habits
  • xSxJs – integrating Exploration (Ne) to support Memory (Si):
    • What’s the main purpose of Ne if you have Si in the front seat?
    • How to move forward when there isn’t an existing template
    • How can unintegrated Ne make you more closed off to new experiences?
    • How integrated Ne benefits your past reflection
  • xNxJs – integrating Sensation (Se) to support Perspectives (Ni):
    • What happens to your Perspectives process if you don’t check in with reality?
    • How integrated Se enhances your inner world
    • What happens to your mind if you don’t look after your body?
    • Thinking of your body as a part of you
  • xSxPs – integrating Perspectives (Ni) to support Sensation (Se):
    • Ni helps Se perform better in the moment- an example
    • How unintegrated Ni can trick you into living in a fantasy world
    • How lazy and avoidant behaviours can creep in
    • What can you gain from using Ni to understand future implications?
  • “Courage isn’t the opposite of fear” – how this idea fits into integrating the opposite polarity function.
  • Remember – the same function may be integrated in some areas of your life, but not others.

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Showing 26 comments
  • Beth (ENTP)

    Thank you for this podcast – it was helpful in giving me an intellectual kick up the backside. I realised that the reason I was procrastinating and putting off applying for a creative course was because my Si had fallen out of alignment / become unintegrated. In turn, my 10 year old Fe was feeling unloved and sorry for itself.

    Like John who posted upthread, I benefit hugely from a fixed routine, but find it hard to get back into it if I break it for some reason. I have forced myself to fix some of the physical annoyances in my environment, clean out my email inbox and reinstate my routine. The sense of control this has given me has put me back on track and I was able to edit 3000 words of creative writing and apply for the course today.

    I am new to your podcasts but not to MBTI and I love your work. Thank you.

  • Sharon

    My experience with Ni/Se
    I think the thing people find the most odd about me is that I can actually forget who I am when I dream. What’s more weird is that I often don’t remember the dream itself – I just wake up and have to slowly walk myself through the construct of what my life is and what my roles are.
    I have no ambition to write – probably because I’m so sick of editing while asleep. If woken up while dreaming, I’ve often been in the process of rewinding and editing things to fix plot-holes or to add to character development. I shake my head at myself and ask “who does that?”
    When I was a young teenager I was told repeatedly that I would move my mouth when others would talk to me. I think it was my way of trying to stay present, but I had no awareness that I was doing it. I think I’ve unlearned that behavior, but now I have a better one. I often realize, in the split second after it’s happened, that my body has reacted to something I was thinking about without me being aware of it. This can happen when I’m alone or in a group (while others are discussing something entirely different). It’s usually amusing to me, but trying to explain to someone why I just dodged, winced, laughed, or shuddered isn’t easy. If I’m on my own, I just have a quick chuckle at myself and move on.

    All this is to say that really noticing my body and my position in my current environment is not a very natural state for me. But while I’d love to say that exercise is a solution, since it has obvious benefits and I love the sound of that kind of efficiency… The problem is that I find that anything repetitive in exercise doesn’t really help the situation. As soon as I know how to do an exercise, my mind is so free to wander (and does!), that I’m really no more connected to my body than when I started. Exercise is a good thing, but while it’s healthy for me and aids cognition and all that, it doesn’t necessarily connect me to my body without the hard work of repeatedly reminding myself to focus. It feels like a double effort rather than a natural win/win.

    Connecting to who/how I am in the present goes something more like this for me:
    – Making a study of body language helps keep focus when in conversation (curiously, I’m observing my own body language as much as theirs and trying to figure out what my body is telling me as well)
    – Challenging myself to find new harmony lines keeps me in the moment when listening to music
    – Walking in nature in any weather is a daily practice, but I have to be really watching for animal/insect movements or my mind wanders and I’m even more distracted than when I started. I don’t find that my thoughts improve in quality for the effort
    – Scented body wash, shampoo, and laundry soaps are good – not necessarily for the obvious reason of personal hygiene, but because I found that I oddly notice smell more than others seem to, and it’s a way of catching my attention in a good way. Fragrant foods work for the same reason. That long, appreciative inhale feels pretty darn satisfying.
    – Making my space colorful and beautiful caught me by surprise. I notice that it kind of feeds my soul to randomly observe that I like to look around my living room and see patterns and colors that I like. I’ve found that it catches my eye just enough that decorating is worth the investment.
    – I’ve also learned over time to notice and change things when I observe that they annoy me. For example: while I have to set alarms to remind myself that I need to prepare to move to the next project/role, any alarms on my phone are carefully selected so they feel as gentle and pretty as possible. Sometimes ‘as possible’ does mean they need to shake me up, but why make that the standard?

    The key to integrating Se seems to be advertised as becoming more aware of my body and it’s movements, but I seem to be more able to do that if I am first connecting to my spaces and to the environmental stimuli I find/create around me. I’m not sure if that’s a full win or if it’s just a temporary bridge to something better, but it works for now.

    • William (ISFJ)

      Hello Sharon,

      Interesting story! I’ve never thought about how the polarities come up in altered consciousness — such as during sleep. You’ve given me neat stuff to think about 🙂

      Here’s one quick comment on your last paragraph. You said, “The key to integrating Se seems to be advertised as becoming more aware of my body and its movements.” I would say that that is a very important side to the key, but there is one other component. I forget whether it was this podcast or another, but I’ve heard Joel and Antonia mention that Se at its purest is like being one with your environment in a way. Se goes into all of the present, tangible moment. Thus, the environment is a very important part to integrating Se, as well as being in tune with how your body relates to the environment. If the environment feels to you like the quickest bridge to finding your Ni/Se balance, I’d totally go for it.

      Now, this is just a thought from a fellow type enthusiast who is certainly not an expert in this field. I hope I was helpful, but please don’t take what I say as professional-level advice.


      • Antonia Dodge

        I fully agree, William. Including one’s relationship to their environment and how it impacts them in the moment is definitely Se territory.


  • Seluxes

    Informative podcast! The distorted Ni due to ignoring Se has me in-frame, so I am working on evening them out to better interact with one another (the INTx Unleashed is giving me quality ideas, too—great program). Looking forward to part two of this podcast topic.

  • Brock

    Another excellent podcast. One thing in particular that hit hard was when you said something to the effect that when Si is not integrated properly you forget the lessons you learned. This launched my brain into a huge moment of clarity on my experience with Si. I often find myself repeating mistakes and beating myself up for doing what had failed before. This has found its way in many aspects of my life, from deciding to carry too many breakable objects in one hand, not writing down lessons learned in my profession (still need a secretary for crying out loud), forgetting appointments/obligations, to how I interact with people. This has led to long periods in my life in which I was afraid to “explore” or make “significant changes” because I was afraid I was just going to repeat mistakes I have made OR that the amount of lessons/corrections were too numerous so I decided to burn the whole thing to the ground and start over only to find I am making the same mistakes. Hahahha what a paradoxical loop.

    The other phrase, I think was mentioned by Joel, was that Si will come back to haunt you. A b s o l u t e l y! It seems the most accurate memories I have are the ones that like an expert acupuncturist turned sadistic torturer pop up to remind me of the worst mistakes and failures I have ever made.

    I have a tendency when I think about my past to not think of it as a progression or a link. The way I often illustrate it is with the Sci Fi character Dr Who. The Doctor dies and regenerates as a new person with completely different likes, style, thoughts, etc. Even though the Doctor is the same person, each regeneration is its own unique being yet it shares the memories of its past iterations. In fact there are episodes in which the Doctor meets past regenerations and they have a love/hate relationship swinging from compliments to harsh criticism. This very much describes how I have often viewed my past self. Almost detached as a thing to be criticized. The goal then is to recognize that though I am a different person it isn’t a result of some death and rebirth like a Phoenix…there are significant lessons learned I need to sit with and make peace with.

    • Antonia Dodge

      Always love your comments, Brock.


      • Brock

        Well now…that made my day. Thank you. Looking forward to next week’s polarities.

        • Karolina

          I’m an Intj and I’ve always been outside a lot because I grew up in a very dysfunctional family, so leaving all day to play or wander around was my way of avoiding the constant conflict or being trapped in my head with the emotions of being surrounded by conflict.

          I’d be one of those INTJs that thinks they use Se well and I definitely do, but I will still be completely oblivious to pain or walk into walls sometimes. I exercise and I’m outdoors a lot, I’m pretty good about taking care of my health. I paint outside. I definitely experience being able to create a richer internal world because of all the sensory information I observed.

          There’s still areas I really suck at Se. Anything to do with dating, enjoying chill relaxing like having a beer in the shade (immediately go into head if I’m sitting peacefully too long), any situation that requires a reactive Se like driving or any fast paced sport. Anywhere reactivity is concerned, I really struggle.

  • Steve

    Great podcast! As an ENFJ I am struggling with bad habits. I often use food as a way to dull the sensory during times of stress and get a brief sense of release followed by a swarm of negative emotions tied to regret as my Ti speaks up. I’m in my thirties now trying to fight the urge and break this habit.

  • Alicia

    So, the bottom line seems to be “Gather information (Ne or Se) and give yourself space and time to process it (Si or Ni) in order to get a more accurate idea of how the world really works, improve the quality of your ideas and actions, and increase your overall confidence.”

    One thing I noticed while writing characters for my book is that I cannot use my dominant Ni to see perspectives that I lack information about. Using Se to see, experience, and hear different perspectives is required for my mental models of different ways to see the world to be accurate. So, it looks like travel could be good for Ni/Se or Se/Ni users.

  • John

    I’m an ENTP who became a bookkeeper and created a weekly routine based approach to keeping books for small businesses with no employees. I also wrote a newsletter (nearly) every day for a year during the pandemic.

    but now and then my routines just totally collapse and i forget that I have been doing something every day for a year or every week for a year. It’slike I don’t develop muscle memory.

    But I benefit hugely from following a routine like this for a long time. they tend to have to be rigid because I am intellectually committed to the routine, not physiologically committed to it. I think an isfj can break a routine and come back to it because it’s the mean to which they will naturally regress, but i tend to lose the routine and much more if i miss it at all.

    I have to set up parameters for such routines that enable them to happen easily. With my newsletter it was:

    I’m going to send
    a thing,
    with words in it,
    in the Morning-ish,
    for a while

    there were no rules about it being high quality or of any length or specific subject or anything. I celebrated the unedited nature of it, calling it a daily newsletter with typos. Some of my sharpest friends (i.e. an intj) ended up reading my newsletter from the prior day the next morning to start their own days so i discovered it was a service to others.

    I’m still not sjure how healthy it is to have such a rigid routine. doing any single thing every single day seems so extreme to me, but again, the loose parameters enable it. I’d like to get back to doing it daily. here’s the link to an index of my favorite newsletters for any interested PH’ers!: https://zoominzoomout.substack.com/p/greatest-hits

  • Victor (INTJ)

    Well, that explains why my brain is toast! I have a progressive degenerative neuromuscular disorder plus a pinched nerve and arthritis in my neck which at this point in my life is causing poor physical sensation in my arms, hands, legs and feet. So, I have permanent nerve damage.

    I’m a creative (music, art, writing) and having a terrible time being productive when I literally feel physically numb! It’s terribly hard to think half the time let alone create. The disease and the neck problems are also disabling and I have no idea what is safe for exercise let alone have the energy when I’m in pain every day. It’s very depressing and unless a cure is found or even a treatment it’s just going to get worse.

    So, I have gained far too much weight and may never be able to lose it. I definitely eat things I shouldn’t. The only ways I have left to feel connected to the physical world is my connection to nature (especially trees), going outside and physically putting my hand on the tree that’s in front of my apartment or going in my power wheelchair to the park. Taking photos of flowers while out there also helps. I use soft plushy throws on my furniture since I still have some sensation also.

    • Antonia Dodge

      I’m so sorry to hear that, Victor. I don’t know your situation beyond your description, so I don’t know how much optimism is appropriate, but radical self-care when an individual is facing physical maladies is almost always appropriate and helps (even if incrementally). In the same situation I would definitely carve out significant time and resource to focus on body care. For INxJs it can seem the last thing they want to focus on, but it’s absolutely a leverage point.


      • Victor (INTJ)

        Thanks, Antonia. There isn’t much that can be done though. My neurologist ordered a nerve block for my neck but nothing else can be done. It’s also really frustrating on another level: I can’t really plan much which goes against my nature. I have no idea how to do radical body care either although I agree with you that it’s the best route. … I used to take baths, but am no longer able to get into a tub. It’s like I just don’t know how to be a disabled INTJ. I’m also autistic which presented more challenges earlier in life than it does now. However, in that case, being autistic and INTJ seems like a more likely combination than being physically unable to be fully be myself. If you have any ideas or know someone who might I’m open to suggestions. Thanks.

        • Antonia Dodge

          I’ll think on this – maybe we could record a podcast on a similar topic.


  • William (ISFJ)


    While listening to this podcast, I put extra attention to the discussion on the Si-Ne polarity, and once again, I felt like most of it just didn’t click, or like I just couldn’t find the part of me that resonated with it. This seems to happen very often when I listen to or read content on my driver and 3-yr-old functions. There are a few thoughts I’ve had about this.

    1. You at Personality Hacker have mentioned many times that the driver and 3-yr-old tend to be the more subconscious functions, and it is possible that I just haven’t dug deep enough to see Si and Ne in their entireties in myself. (Very likely)

    2. I can actually see almost every description of Si matching up with something in my life, but it’s either just that everything feels so superficial to me that I don’t consider it to be actually resonating with me or that I don’t see myself as having “insert talent/predisposition/thought pattern” as a strength in comparison to other people’s,…

    …which leads me to number 3. In episode 384, Joel and Antonia mentioned that since the driver process is usually our “lens” through life, we tend to assume that everyone goes through life this way. I certainly have biases this way too, and they are increasingly often being disproved. Is it possible that this feeling of “well duh!” about the driver process is why I feel that these points I hear don’t really seem to click? Is it possible that I use so much of “insert talent/predisposition/though pattern” subconsciously that I don’t actually think I have it? Am I so subconsciously focused on the past, structure, lessons, etc. that I don’t even think about my thinking about them?

    4. If number 3 is the case, then, I have one last question. I mentioned in 2 that everything seems to click on a surface level. If 3 is true, the surface-level quality of this Si knowledge must be my own biases playing tricks on me, and it actually hits home deeper than it appears to me. If that is the case, then I should probably pursue, reflect on, and apply this knowledge, even if it doesn’t seem to be deep enough.

    I tried to write this in as clear a way as I could, but it may or may not be a bit of a mental workout to get through for someone who didn’t write it. I’d really love to hear anyone’s thoughts on these, and I’d especially appreciate an expert’s opinion.

    As always, I hope you all, PH content makers and PH content viewers alike, have a great week. Looking forward to the webinar in a couple hours!


    • Antonia Dodge

      Is the simplicity of how the function is described the reason it isn’t resonating, or does it seem wrong?


      • William (ISFJ)

        Simplicity — that’s a very fitting word. At the very least, I admire the qualities usually associated with Si, but many of them do just seem to “simple” in my own life.


        • William (ISFJ)

          To expand on that a bit, qualities of Se and Ni feel “wrong,” in that I just hardly view my own mind in those terms. On the other hand, qualities of Si and Ne feel “simple,” in that I can’t seem to compare the complexity of the descriptions to the simplicity of how they play out.


          • William (ISFJ)

            Again, I posted a comment before realizing that I had missed a thought.

            I don’t think that how they play out is nearly as simple as my personal, biased view of it.


          • Antonia Dodge

            I think I’d say descriptions are more ‘straight forward’ than ‘simple’. Ni/Se can be difficult to explain to others who aren’t using these functions, mostly because Ni users themselves struggle to put the function into words.

            Si/Ne can seem more straight forward, but I wouldn’t call it simple. And there are definitely more esoteric elements of the function. One of my favorite descriptions comes from an ISFJ would was trying to articulate the relationship she has with objects, people and environments that have left a permanent impression. She said, “The wand chooses the wizard.” That’s certainly not simple, but it’s straight forward in description.


          • William (ISFJ)

            My bad, Antonia. I thought you had asked if it felt to me like Si was appearing simple in myself, not if the descriptions you were providing felt simple. Totally my bad. I totally agree with your last comment: the descriptions are not really simple, although they may be straight forward. I made my last comments on the assumption that you had said something that you totally didn’t. I think that your descriptions are spot on; it’s just that the limited pieces of them that I can see in myself appear much more simple than the descriptions you’re providing.

            Sorry for the confusion!

  • James

    That last comment about the Si bookends to your Ne was helpful. I feel like that is often the roles that Si and Ne take in our lives.

    Si is the structure supporting the playground of Ne.

  • Mercedes

    Thank you, this really resonated with me!

    The Ni-Se polarity was particularly fascinating since it’s something I’ve been very aware of, so it’s nice to hear it validated in the outside world. I’m absolutely guilty of letting my head float away from my body in service (theoretically) of deeper thought.

    Personally, I find I don’t generate high-quality thoughts unless I’ve gone for a long walk; there’s a direct positive correlation there between the calibre of my thought and the amount of physical activity I’ve had in a day.

    I find it incredibly useful to put language to that experience and understand it not as an intellectual bug, but as a feature of my being that I can learn about and integrate.

    I’m interested to hear Part 2 about the Judging functions and see what the other pieces of my personality have to say to each other.

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