Some time ago I made the unforced error (it wasn’t an error) of promising to answer every serious question in an online AMA with a dedicated missive.
Today I deliver on that promise.
This is the most core of all the hardcore questions I got:
What’s the best way for me to deal with Ace of Wands? Leverage/maximize off it? Transcend it? Both?
A while back I was dumbstruck when I realized that the suits of the tarot deck represent cognitive functions.
The wands are one of those suits. They most closely represent Introverted Feeling.
On some of the most popular decks, they are not wands but sticks of wood or clubs. Ever wonder why the leafy suite on an ordinary deck of cards is called “the clubs”?
What does any of that have to do with Introverted Feeling?
Fi is the “base” function. It has the lowest frequency. It is absolutely necessary at the most basic level of survival. Fear, which is intended to keep you alive, resides in Fi, although a Fi preference doesn’t have to make you more fearful. (If Fi is in the Shadow, the person is more likely to have anxieties instead of fears though.)
Fi is experienced by the observer as dull, heavy, slow, blunt and warm. Very much like a rough club you made out of raw wood on a sunny day – the portrait of the deck of wands. Cognitive types with a strong Fi preference can be perceived as unintelligent when they overuse Fi because of this “dull” expression.
They can also club you with it.
“Out of nowhere.”
Like a baby seal.
Fi-heavy people can waste days and years of your life telling you how they like or dislike this or that irrelevant thing they chanced upon. They can also use it to judge your actions and decisions – or, worse, “you” – without realizing that it does not apply. (Fi is about “me” not about “you”.)
More often, we use our undeveloped Fi to hurt ourselves instead. The most common way to do that is to indulge in opinions and the emotions they are attached to just because we have them.
Having the emotion doesn’t mean you should have the emotion.
No emotion is entitled to your energy.
“But emotions are natural!”
So is cyanide.
If you don’t like the emotion, why feed it? If the emotion doesn’t serve you, why give it your energy? If you dislike something so much, why fixate on it and give it your energy?
That’s why Fi is attached to Te. Without reason to channel it in a constructive way, emotion alone would just as easily kill you. Extroverted Thinking helps us ask the hard questions and challenge ourselves to improve.
Fi is there to feed your growth; it’s the root. But when there is no growth, no tree to feed, it festers.
This is so in a very physical way. Physical activity energizes all the functions, but it’s especially needed to “shake up” Fi out of unhealthy stupor and especially if a person is stuck in “emotional cycling”. Fi is “life energy” and the “root function”, hence its warmth and fundamental need to be fed with movement – more so than the other functions.
If you don’t feed the mindbody properly with food and movement, it’s difficult to tell what Fi is screeching on about. You can be anxious and depressed because you don’t eat enough magnesium or you can be anxious and depressed because your actions aren’t aligned with your values.
Sometimes we can tell the difference. We can learn discernment. But the sensible thing is to take care of the fundamentals of survival so that Fi can focus exclusively on its best work.
An unhealthy, undeveloped, immature Fi wastes on emotions, opinions and empty attachments such as sports teams. The proper role of Fi is to drive our value judgements and harmonize the rest of cognition with our values. It’s our sense of self-worth, but not in the sense of a perfect special snowflake.
When there is conflict between value and (in)decision, we don’t feel right. That’s Fi calling us to attention. We must realize that we must channel that dissonant unsettling energy towards bringing ourselves in alignment with our values, rather than cycling and indulging in its judgements.
Fi is there to serve you, not the other way around.
A healthy Fi is self-worth in the sense that we don’t doubt our self-worth; in our clear compass about it; and in the realization that we ourselves determine what about us has value and what doesn’t.
When our Fi is harmonized with our actions, we naturally “slip” into action with the energy of a warm glow.
One common misconception is that if you have strong values, you will be ubergigaexcited when you apply yourself to manifesting them.
Yelling your values off the rooftops is an expression of insecurity and immaturity. Or the empty opinion treadmill mentioned earlier. Rather, a developed and harmonized Fi is persistent and consistent in its “energetic evaluation” of what you’re doing. Its peak expression isn’t in outbursts but in providing an “energy floor” to persevere.
You can literally see this stability in the behavior of ISFPs and INFPs, who have Fi hero. They mostly appear slow and methodical, even though they are not systematic types. That’s because Fi hero is overconfident, like all the hero functions.
You can directly observe in their behavior that a pronounced Fi preference is NOT the same as being overly emotional. Nothing of the sort. A developed and healthy Fi corresponds to the exact opposite – emotional stability, almost to the point of boredom, and clear Awareness of how you actually feel at any given time and how we value (dis/like) things.
How do we develop our Fi?
First, we must take care of proper nutrition. Otherwise Fi will signal through emotional instability that we are threatening our survival. Proper nutrition means fasting, whole foods, regular water etc. Sleep and exercise are also important, but nutrition is key. Think of Fi as the root of a grand tree.
Next, we must consciously use Fi to make judgements of value about ourselves and our actions.
The cognitive functions are no different from anything else in the mindbody. They ARE the mindbody. You train them like a muscle – by using them DELIBERATELY and repeatedly.
Do you have any values? What values are consistent with your Vision? What values do you want to embody and manifest into the world? What values are antithetical to your Being?
Note that you should not necessarily pick the values that make you comfortable or excited. That’s probably just playing to the infantile cognitive structure.
Instead, choose things that in your Fi judgement will give you a sense of fulfilment on your life journey and will reinforce your Vision as a system of consistent values and goals.
As you do that you may engage with Extroverted Thinking – the pragmatic function – as well. It is no accident that Fi and Te are bound together on the same “axis” of cognition. Don’t be shy about using reason to answer these questions, but do NOT optimize for efficiency and always let Fi – your value judgements – take precedence over Te – your pragmatic judgements of what you should do in practice to manifest your values and how well they fit together. Let Te shoot from the hip in the moment, as you do things, only after you have done the deep work led by Fi.
One thing to remember is that values are not things and actions, but principles that guide what you want and what you do.
Having a family is not a value. It’s something that you do or do not want, something you DO or do NOT do. If you want to have a family, ask yourself what values are necessary to support that desire as it becomes manifest.
While emotions emanate from Fi, they can attach to any cognitive function. You can become emotional because you’re thinking logically about something, for example.
No matter the context, when you experience emotional turmoil, you can call up Fi directly to tackle emotions deliberately. By taking this intentional stance – and the responsibility that goes with it – you put yourself in position to take charge.
If you have developed values and they are in alignment, calling them “up” into Awareness will empower you to handle the emotional situation. You can weaponize them to deal with the incongruent emotions you are filling.
What values are relevant to this situation? Why do I feel this way? Is the way I feel right now consistent with my values?
Should I be getting angry right now if I value strength?
Anger makes weak. Always.
The value serves as a reminder to become Aware that I am filling an incongruent emotion, and what to do with it.
Have you noticed that angry people are always unsettled people? But you thought people get angry because they are unsettled? What few realize is that the anger itself is unsettling because of the incongruence with what is strong (“healthy”) and what is value. Vicious circle closed. Pity party initiated. Circus freakshow launched. Achievement unlocked!
I also have a special question I like to ask myself in rough moments ALMOST as a joke.
What would a god do?
That instantly reminds me to take the pain and laugh at it. When I do apply this technique with genuine intent, my emotional dynamic resets to having a mad celebration instead of whatever distorted emotional position I was in beforehand.
None of this will work every time, especially if you’re a beginner, but IT WORKS in the end.
Using these methods alongside a lot of physical work, I have been able to erase from my life three destructive emotions which are very common – fear, doubt and worry.
We can have emotions about emotions. You can be afraid that you will get anxious. This is the power of Fi. As my Fi tells me that doubt is inconsistent with my self-image (literally “doubt is icky”), I can then apply Te to the matter, which in turn tells me that it is pointless to have doubts if I want to manifest my Vision. Fi calls me to attention, Te translates that signal into action that transmutes the focused energy. One is the value judgement, the other is the pragmatic judgement that follows it. Both are necessary for maximum effect. Then I let go of the doubt. Deprived of the energy investment of my aversion and identification, the doubt melts away.
IMPORTANT: Note that the right action isn’t to repress or deny the emotion. The right action isn’t to negotiate with it (“Maybe I will work out later when I don’t feel as fat and gross”.). The right action is to recognize and engage the emotion with our Thinking, translate the emotion into Right Action and act upon the latter – move mentally or physically.
Of course, I don’t have to use this method with regard to doubt anymore because, with application, the doubtless disposition becomes ingrained in Fi.
Your having doubts is a habit. Which you break by squashing doubt every time it rears its ugly head.
This is what you perceive as confidence when I speak.
It is not confidence. Confidence is not something you add or acquire.
It is doubtlessness. The notion of “building confidence” gets it completely wrong. You just have to obliterate doubt.
This is how we develop Fi:
- We don’t identify with it (our emotions must serve us, our values must evolve) and accept that we aren’t perfect and special.
- We feed Fi with proper nutrition and movement.
- We use our values as weapons in cultivating emotional dispositions consistent with our values and the goals they imply.
This is it.
Feed and cultivate the emotions that will lead you where you want to go. Discard the rest.
Discard, NOT repress.
Questions and comments – let me know immediately.