You know you’re a writer when one of the first things you think after a breakup is, “I could turn this into a blog post.”
It’s taken me about three months to get to the point where I felt I could write the post I wanted to — an article sharing tips for other INFJs going through heartbreak. I was quite certain I would get through this heartbreak eventually, but I wasn’t going to write this post until I felt like I had some good things to share with you.
When INFJs finally let someone in (not an easy thing for us to do), we tend to become very attached to them. We “map” them into our inner world so being with them is almost as relaxing/energizing as being alone. We rearrange our lives to make room for them. We start to consider their needs, wants, and desires as equally (or even more) important as our own. So when a relationship like that ends (whether it’s dating, marriage, or even a close friendship) it leaves a huge hole in our lives.
In some ways, of course, that’s true for everyone who really cares about someone and then loses that relationship. Today, though, I’m just focusing on one personality type. We INFJs don’t let many people in, and losing a close relationship often feels like being cut lose from an anchor. Especially if we still care about the person deeply (rather than in the case of an emotionless door slam).
1) Look To Something Outside You
While not every INFJ is religious, most of us are spiritual in one sense or another. A fairly high percentage believe in a higher power and even those who don’t usually believe in some kind of ideal that transcends just themselves, such as a belief that people are inherently good or that the human race can learn to live in peace.
Looking to the something which gives us hope can be incredibly helpful for INFJs who feel overwhelmed by heartache. For me, as a Christian INFJ, prayer was the first place I turned for comfort. The song “I Am Not Alone” by Kari Jobe anchored me to my faith the day after my break-up. And when I could focus enough to read, Psalm 77 and Psalm 116 were there to comfort me.
2) Talk With People
It’s not always easy for INFJs to open up about our heartbreak. And if we’re dealing with feelings of unworthiness, we might even assume no one would want to comfort us. But one of the most encouraging things to come out of my breakup is the realization that my support system is even stronger than I’d expected.
In the days after my breakup, I talked with my family and spent 3 hours on the phone with one of my best friends. I worked up the courage to let some of my church family in on what was going on and received hugs, comfort, and good advice. I hope you, too, can feel safe opening up to some of the people in your life and that they prove they want to be there for you just as much as you’d be there for them if they were hurting.
3) Get Some Help
I wouldn’t say every INFJ needs counseling after a breakup (or whatever it was that caused your heartbreak). But if there’s something else going on as well or if the circumstances of your heartbreak are particularly trying, it might be a good idea to talk with a counselor.
I’d started seeing someone about my anxiety a couple weeks before my breakup and my counselor and I happened to have a session scheduled the day after my boyfriend and I broke up. We got a bit side-tracked from working on my anxiety for a couple weeks, but it has been helpful to have her there while I’m trying to work through all my confusing, messy feelings. It’s taken a few months, but I’m really starting to feel like I’m healing and we’re making progress.
4) Research Your Heartbreak
We INFJs like research. Our Introverted Intuition loves putting patterns together, and tertiary Introverted Thinking wants a logical explanation for the things we observe. And when we’re going through something stressful, it’s not uncommon to go into an Ni-Ti loop where we obsessively look for answers.
It might help an INFJ to read books about grief or articles about the science behind breakups. Helen Fisher, a senior research fellow at the Kinsey Institute and author of Anatomy of Love says that love acts on our brains like an addiction and breakups trigger a form of withdrawal. Understanding that sort of thing can help an INFJ accept what they’re going through is “normal” and isn’t going to permanently define their lives.
5) Give Yourself Time
When you lose someone who’s an important part of your life it’s not something you’re going to get over quickly. And that’s okay. It’s important to give yourself time to grieve. We usually think of grief as something you go through after someone dies, but any loss can prompt grief. I didn’t really think about this until my counselor pointed out that I was going through a grieving process after the breakup (I spent a lot of time in the Bargaining stage).
While it important to work through your heartbreak so you can move on, you don’t have to grieve according to anyone else’s timeline. And you don’t have to grieve in the exact same way as other people. For example, the article I mentioned about love as an addiction suggests that you shouldn’t journal about your ex. But for INFJs, it might be worse to push down or ignore the thoughts swirling in our heads. Talking with someone or writing down what’s going on in your head as your brain tries to make sense of what happened is often the best way for INFJs to move on rather than become obsessive.
If you liked this post, check out my updated/expanded article on this topic over on Psychology Junkie: “How to Heal From Heartbreak as an INFJ Personality Type”