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Shadow Function MBTI Explained

Shadow Function MBTI

If you want to dig deeper into the MBTI system, then you need to go beyond the functions. Learning about shadow functions and how they affect the personality is a good way to start with the explorations. It will pave way for more development and help you understand what you need to do and on a much deeper level.

Your Primary Functions

There is a lot of debate on shadow functions and not nearly everyone agrees on their existence. The most popular theory is that shadow functions are precisely what they sound like. The theory refers to the parts of you that are concealed, to which you also don’t have access. And while referring to the MBTI system, they refer to the cognitive functions that are in contrast to your strengths.

In the MBTI system, every person has four cognitive functions that guide their behavior pattern and shape their personality type. These are linked to the four-letter personality description most of us are familiar with. They dictate the cognitive functions you use, are comfortable with, and can build strength in. For example, the ENFP has the following functions:

  • Your extraverted intuition is your dominant trait and it perceives the way you to see the world and learn about it.
  • Your introverted feelings are your auxiliary or backup functions that help make decisions about the world and determine what is more important for you. 
  • Your extraverted function is your tertiary or primary thinking pattern. It is an untapped underdeveloped part of your personality that raises your awareness of the emotional state of people around you.
  • Your introverted feeling is your interior function which usually makes its presence in times of turbulence. It is deeply rooted in the past and determines the course for the present and future.

This was a brief mention of your dominants that you showcase often in your personality traits. On the other hand, your personality is also affected by the opposites of these dominants. When you use your dominants you suppress these opposites, and this is the exact reason for the formation of shadow functions.

How Is The Shadow Born?

Every child knows kindness, love, compassion, and generosity but they are also aware of selfishness, greed, and anger. These emotions are a part of our human nature but as a child grows up, something happens. Traits associated with being good become acceptable while traits associated with being bad become disapproving.

Everyone has basic human needs which are biological and innate and they also include physiological needs, need to be safe, and the need for belonging. 

When a child expresses certain depressing parts of himself, he receives negative cues from his environment. Maybe he gets angry or throws tantrums. His parents warn him and send him to his room.

Or maybe the child acts boldly, spontaneously, or playfully on his first day at school. The teacher shames him for his lack of decorum and orders him to sit down.  Whenever these instances have arisen, they have threatened the child’s basic needs. But he adjusted his behavior to fit into the external world. All the unacceptable parts of a child’s personality get buckled up and swept out of the conscious awareness. The child puts all these unwanted parts in an invisible bag and carries the load behind him throughout his life. This repression of the unwanted creates what psychologists call “shadows.”

Continue Reading: What are shadow traits in mbti?

Here are some resources I recommend:

Shadow Work for Beginners is based on my in-depth research and personal experiences with shadow work, projection, sadomasochism, inner child healing, triggers, and all things shadow. This course is updated every year and gets new content at no additional cost.


Shadow Work for Relationships teaches you everything you need to know about attachment theory, practical inner work, and your dysfunctional behavior. By the end of this, you will have developed your earned secure attachment style so you can put an end to your cycle of bad relationships.


A Light Among Shadows is a guide on self-love and being. This short course goes over consciousness, spirituality, philosophy, and makes sense of why people are the way they are. Recommended for people dealing with resentment and self-hate. Learn more here.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Shadow Work Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.

Manifestation Manual: The Path of Least Resistance bundle teaches you some holistic and systems thinking along with how to mend your inner child wounds so you can align with your higher self and move forward in life. This includes 20 video clips as a free bonus.

Shadow Play (or “DsR”) is a small sister website that goes over “sensual” shadow work through my BDSM experiences. If you are 18+ and are interested, go here.

Inner Shadow Work on TikTok and Instagram.

Subscribe to get your free ebook 30 Shadow Work Prompts



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