What do you do with your emotions? A lot of us bottle them up and pretend they don’t exist because we’ve grown up thinking it’s not okay to express problematic feelings like anger, or that strong people don’t cry, or that being too happy makes you look ridiculous. There are also people who swing to the opposite extreme and give all their emotions free reign, but that’s a different issue than the one we’re talking about in this article.
Emotions are a complicated subject. We all have them, but what are they really? And what’s the best way to deal with them? Those are questions typically answered by trial and error or by whatever messages regarding emotion we were targeted with as children. As such, we can make several mistakes when approaching emotions. We might see them as something that’s pesky and distracting rather than a core part of being human. We could make the mistake of thinking everyone has (or should have) the same emotional temperament as us. Or we might decide all emotions are negative and it’s better to hide our feelings than to process them.
As someone struggling with anxiety and depression, I often find myself stuck in negative emotions instead of working through them. In many cases, I also react to situations that could be positive in a negative way. But even people with great mental health can still struggle to process emotions effectively. And the more we bottle up emotions (particularly negative ones) without processing them, the greater the risk that we’ll reach a point where they’re released by something like a burst of out-of-place anger or by collapsing into tears for no apparent reason. So how do we avoid such problems and learn to process our emotions in a healthy way?Read more →
Every personality type has its own particular strengths and weaknesses. For ISFJs and INFJs, their favorite strengths have to do with an internally focused way of learning new information and conceptualizing the world. But introverting isn’t the only thing these types are good at. They also have an extroverted “co-pilot” that goes by the name Extroverted Feeling. It’s a judging function that we use for making decisions and interacting with the world around us.
While Extroverted Feeling isn’t as strong as our dominant functions of Introverted Sensing (for ISFJs) or Introverted Intuition (for INFJs), we can learn to use our co-pilot function very well. It just takes a little extra work. Personality Hacker calls the co-pilot our growth position because developing it can jump-start our personal growth and give us fuller access to the strengths of our personality type. This sort of development isn’t easy, but when INFJs and ISFJs start to grow their Extroverted Feeling they often find that they have an easier time making decisions, feel less pressure from others, and are overall happier with their lives.
Extroverted Feeling (Fe) is a rational, decisions making process. Like the other Thinking and Feeling functions, Fe prompts “us to note how things usually happen and to organize our behaviors accordingly.” It’s called a rational function because “Rational behavior is always based on predictability — things we know to be true because they happen regularly in the same way” (Lenore Thomson, Personality Types, p.39).
When making decisions, Extroverted Feeling types tend to focus on specific, personal criteria such as shared beliefs, values, and moral sensibilities when weighing their options. They also identify with others, readily pick up on unspoken social cues, and prioritize maintain social harmony. Fe types’ primary concern when making decisions is with meeting everyone’s needs and keep relationships working well. That’s why Personality Hacker gives this function the nickname “Harmony.”
Tip 1) Process Your Feelings Through Journaling
FJ types aren’t all that great at processing their own feelings or arriving at decisions in an internal way. We are external processors who need to get our thoughts and emotions outside us in some way before using our Extroverted Feeling to make sense of them. For me personally, there are times I’m not sure what I’m feeling, let alone how to process it, until I’ve extroverted my emotions in some way. Read more →
Do you ever feel like your self-expectations are wearing you out? You constantly want to grow and improve but it’s so exhausting that you don’t have the energy to do focused personal growth. Every time you try to improve something, you burn yourself out or get distracted by other things that clamor for your attention.
This is something any personality type can face, not just INFJs. And I’m sure other types (especially the other Extroverted Feeling types like ENFJ, ISFJ, and ESFJ) will relate to the feelings of guilt associated with not being able to do everything for everyone, including yourself. Even so, I’m mostly focusing on INFJs today because those are the most popular posts on my blog so I assume many of you readers will relate to this discussion. Maybe we’ll do a series of self-care and personal growth posts for the other types as well if it seems like there’s interest.
Often when we talk about self-care, it’s things like drink a cup of tea, make time for exercise, or get better sleep. Those are all great, but there are also big-picture things we can do for long term self-care and they’re closely tied to personal growth.
If we’re not working on personal growth in some form we can often feel “stagnant” and dissatisfied with our lives. If we’re not working on self-care, we quickly become burned out by everything going on, including our personal growth work. We need to take care of ourselves and encourage ourselves to keep growing at the same time.It’s my hope that these 5 tips will help you balance those two things as an INFJ.
1) Remember personal growth takes time
Many INFJs are also perfectionists. We want to get things right the first time and we easily get discouraged if something doesn’t work out as well as we hoped. But personal growth is one of those things that takes time. It doesn’t always happen in a straight line, either. Sometimes it may seem like we’re going in circles dealing with the same issues over and over again. We need patience with ourselves so we can stop negative self-talk about how we’re not growing fast enough. Talking to yourself in an encouraging way is an important part of self-care for INFJs.
Like other FJ types, INFJs prefer to make decisions based on what gets everyone’s needs met. Sometimes we forget that “everyone” includes us. One of the best self-care decisions you can make as an INFJ is to give yourself permission to tend to your own needs first. If it helps, think of it this way: you won’t be able to take care of others if you let yourself become worn down, ill, and unmotivated. So take care of yourself! This includes giving yourself permission to take the time to work on personal growth.
3) Ditch the guilt and shame
You’re not too broken to find healing. You haven’t failed so badly that there’s no point in continuing to try. Not everything is your fault. INFJs often live with ridiculous amounts of guilt, and if you’re going to grow you need to address this issue. This is going to be a personal growth goal as well as part of long-term self care. Make sure that while you’re working on taking care of yourself in this way, you also don’t neglect more short-term self care like getting enough sleep, eating well, and getting recharge time by yourself. This isn’t a goal any of us are likely to reach all at once, so you’ll need to be kind with yourself while you work on it.
I feel like a lot of stress in many INFJs’ lives comes from not feeling comfortable letting other people see who they really are. We’re chameleons who try to figure out who we “should” be in each situation and then be that person. Many INFJs believe that being themselves hasn’t worked out so well in the past and so we try to avoid rejection by hiding our authentic selves. But that leads to dissatisfaction, as well as the aforementioned feelings of gilt and shame. Learning to embrace vulnerability and having the courage to be yourself is often a life-long challenge, but it’s one that will help you take care of yourself better and grow as a person.
If you need to take the time for some self-care and meeting your own needs (like having an introvert night once a week), don’t be afraid to tell people this. Learning to enforce healthy boundaries and stand up for yourself is one of the best things you can do as an INFJ. This doesn’t mean you need to do everything on your own, though. It’s okay to reach out and ask friends for help or to seek professional counseling. In fact, I highly recommend counseling if you’re struggling to work through something, need a trusted person to talk to, or want some help achieving your goals.
Most people who I spend lots of time with are readers. We tend to gravitate toward each other, I suppose, drawn together in part by a mutual love of books. But I also encounter quite a few people who wonder what’s the point of all this reading, especially if it’s fiction. “Do you really want to write/read a book full of lies?” one might ask. Or another may say, “Why bother reading stories? It’s just escapism.”
We all need a bit of escape from reality now and then, and I’d say fiction is one of the healthiest ways to do that. And, as many writers have pointed out, these books full of “lies” are actually one of the most effective vehicles for truth-telling. Those are both excellent reasons to read and write stories, but for today’s post I want to focus on another reason that numerous studies have been looking at since 2013. Reading fiction can actually make you a better person.
Theory of Mind and Fiction
Back in 2013, a study in the journal Science by David Kidd and Emmanuele Castano suggested that reading “literary” short stories immediately improved participants’ scores on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET). This test asks people to look at photographs of actors’ eyes and select one of four states of mind the picture conveys. It’s designed to measure “theory of mind,” which is the ability to attribute mental states to yourself and to others, as well as recognize others have distinct beliefs, desires, intentions, etc. from your own.
The media tends to embellish their reports on scientific studies, so it’s no surprise many popular news outlets said this study proved fiction can increase your empathy. That’s not exactly what the study measured, though, and a subsequent study in 2016 failed to replicate the original’s results. The new study did, however, find that “People who were lifelong readers of fiction … had significantly higher scores on the RMET.” Read more →
Have you ever read one of those self-help books, articles, or blogs that encourages you to think you’re enough? That who you are is “good enough” and you don’t have to keep trying to measure up to an impossible standard?
I’m sure for some people this is encouraging. But what about when you don’t feel good enough?
If you’re really struggling with feelings of unworthiness, then just hearing assurances that you really are good enough isn’t going to help much. Positive affirmations have their place but they can’t dislodge or replace thoughts that are really rooted into your mind. They’re not a substitute for personal growth work and (in some cases) getting help from a professional therapist.
So what do you do when you feel like you’re unworthy? How do you change things when you think you aren’t “good enough” and this belief is part of what defines you?
Figure out where this thought came from
When you struggle with ongoing feelings of unworthiness, combating the voice that says “I’m not good enough” can often be easier when we understand where it’s coming from.
Therapist Karyl McBride says, “this message of unworthiness” usually “goes back to the family of origin” (“Do You Feel Not Good Enough?”). At some point, someone or something that had a deep impact on your formation as a person put the message “you’re not good enough” inside you. It may have been deliberate or accidental, but the fact remains many people picked up the idea that they’re unworthy from other people while they were growing up. Read more →
How many versions of you are there? Are you a different person behind the wheel of your car than you are when speaking to your grandmother? Do you play one part at work and another part with friends on the weekend? Do you hide parts of yourself or change the way you present yourself based on circumstances?
We all do this. To a certain extent, it’s useful to make your behavior fit the context. You don’t want to wear the same clothes, for example, to grub out a stump in the backyard as to attend a wedding. But when the change is more extreme — polite to a date but angry and vindictive when driving in traffic — it can be a problem.
Integrity comes form the Latin word integer, meaning something whole and complete in itself. If you are a person with integrity then there is only one version of you (“The True Meaning of Integrity” by So-Young Kang). You act with honesty and live by strong moral principles whether or not someone is watching. People with integrity apologize when they are wrong or cause inconvenience, they refuse to act viciously even when fighting, and they give others the benefit of the doubt (“7 Signs of People With Integrity” by Seth Meyers).
It’s very difficult to live with complete wholeness and consistency. And it’s well-nigh impossible to do so if you don’t know who you are and what you believe. As the Biblical writer James said, “he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven by the wind and tossed” (James 1:6, WEB). We need an anchor for our identity if we’re to live with integrity. Read more →