A few weeks ago a fellow INFJ named Bo Miller contacted me and asked if he could interview me on his new podcast. After picking my jaw up off the floor and texting my boyfriend to share that I was equal parts terrified and excited, Bo and I started a conversation that led to this interview. Our conversation focused on how INFJs can understand and learn to use their Extroverted Feeling and Introverted Thinking functions.
I already shared this link on my Facebook page, but in addition to the podcast I have a special treat for you all today as well. Bo is a Certified Myers-Briggs practitioner and the creator of iSpeakPeople.com as well as The INFJ Personality Show. He recently published The INFJ Personality Guide and would love to give you a free copy. I haven’t read it yet myself, but from my conversations with him I’m pretty well convinced it’s going to be really good. I hope you’ll grab a copy and check out his website. Here’s more info:
In The INFJ Personality guide, you’ll discover…
• Your greatest strengths
• Your weaknesses
• Why the rest of the world thinks differently than you
• Why you’re so good at discerning people’s thoughts, motivations, and feelings
• How to set better boundaries
• How to cultivate healthy relationships
• What to do when you get down or depressed
• Career advice
• How to manage your thoughts
• How to make your creative ideas, insights, and visions a reality
• How to communicate more effectively with other personality types
• How to handle criticism without getting your feelings hurt
The guide is divided into three sections:
• INFJ preferences
• INFJ functions
• How to develop your personality and reach your potential
INFJs like to look in. Sometimes this habit works against us. Our mind is a busy freeway of thoughts that steer our car off the happy highway. Certain circumstances are particularly disorienting. Our mind twists, turns, and reverses these situations so much that they no longer match up to reality. Here are a few you might recognize:
Small Talk, Big Mistake
It is no secret that introverts would rather eat a brick sideways than engage in small talk. But I’ve only been offered that choice twice in my life, so the chit chat is unavoidable even to the ghostyist INFJ.
It’s even worse when we think our conversation partner is more successful, better looking, or more interesting than we are. When this happens, the chatter milk can sour in an instant.
It starts with rotten self-talk like, “why am I such a loser compared to him?” Or, “why can’t I just relax and talk like she can?” Or even, “why do I suck at life?” Then the pulverized mind of the INFJ has to throw a few words together to continue the conversation. Not good.
One time, I ran into somebody I hadn’t seen for well over a year. He started with, “I haven’t seen you for a while, so I just wanted to say hi.”
I volleyed, “Yeah, so how have you been?” Not a bad start, but the meter on my coherence tank plummeted as the palaver continued.
When he tried to end things with, “Ok so, I just wanted to say hi,” I again replied, “Yeah, so how have you been?”
Realizing I had repeated myself, I answered my own question. “Good, good, yes right?” It was ridiculous, so I excused myself and retreated to the restroom.
It Will Be All Better When…
For the INFJ, successes that should be celebrated and lead to happiness and further growth can actually lead to frustration, sadness, and even depression. This has a lot to do with “I’ll start my diet on Monday” self-promising. We tell ourselves,
“Once I get through this social-event-stuffed weekend, everything will be perfect.”
“As soon as school ends, I’ll get back to writing my book.”
“I’ll be so happy after I lose these ten pounds.”
This kind of thinking ensures that we’re never where we are. We’re not here, we’re in our head. We’re so busy thinking about what would make us happy that we miss out on the present moment. Since no amount of achievement will evict us from our brain, we’re better off focusing on how to make our head a happier place.
There’s Only One Side: Mine
We INFJs will brood, contemplate, deliberate and ruminate the DNA right out of an idea. Other folks might have an opinion, a passing notion, or even a half-baked solution. But if they don’t agree with us, they’re wrong.
Or so we think.
We’re awesome at dissecting an issue, but have a hard time accepting opposing points of view. It’s hard for us to trust that others have as much going on between the ears as we do (they probably don’t, but that’s beside the point).
And heaven forbid that people want to speak about a problem without also brainstorming for a solution. I mean, what’s the point in highlighting a fault if we don’t want to fix it, right?
I’d like to hear from the rest of you INFJs, and from those who love them. What other ways do INFJs overthink or misunderstand social situations? Please share below.
Author Bio: John Lindholm is a middle school math teacher and a writer for the Introvert Spring INFJ Forum (which you are welcome to join). He enjoys writing fiction as well as articles and other pieces about introversion. Check him out at InwardFacingWriters.com.
Two years ago this weekend, I published my first INFJ blog post on this site. It seems fitting, then, that I’m releasing my first e-book this weekend and that it is all about INFJs. Inside, you’ll find:
Quick introduction to Myers-Briggs type theory
Thorough description of the INFJ personality type
Discussions of INFJ strengths and weakness
Tips for personal growth
List of things that INFJs want other people to know
Special section on how other types view INFJs
True-life stories from five INFJ contributors
A very special thanks to Kerry, Rachel, Johanna, Denise, and Yeni — the INFJs who contributed the stories appearing in this book. You should have already received a free PDF copy of this book at the e-mail address I have on record for you. If not, let me know.
You can purchase this book in the Amazon Kindle store. For this first week only, the book is on-sale for $0.99. It will go back to the regular price of $2.99 next Monday morning.
Descriptions of the INFJ personality type often emphasize our peaceful natures and ignore any hint of a “dark side.” For example, one commenter on my INFJ Loki post argued my typing is inaccurate because he couldn’t imagin an INFJ “carrying on a constant fight with everyone around you for the majority of your existence.” He knows INFJs are generally peaceful and conflict-avoidant, and couldn’t buy an INFJ as this type of villain.
People also describe INFJs as disconnected from the world, and unlikely to feel involved in the reality of what’s going on around us. All too often, people incorrectly assume this means we don’t care about what other people do or things that happen. This isn’t true. As Amelia Brown points out in her post The Dark Side Of The INFJ Personality Type, INFJs can be stubborn, judge others harshly, and abruptly cut people out of their lives. We do notice, and care, what’s going on enough to have a pretty decisive reaction in some cases.
Though INFJs are generally peaceful, gentle, and dislike engaging in confrontations, we’re not completely harmless (just ask my siblings). Every personality type has a dark side, and INFJs can be just as scary as anyone else.
I realized Tuesday night when I was reading Fire by Kristin Cashore and crying into the bath water that I wasn’t crying because I felt sad a character had died. I was crying because someone in the book felt sad that this character had died. Once I thought about it, I realized that at least half of the times when fiction moves me to tears, it is in empathy with the characters rather than my own feelings being affected. In other words, I’m crying because the character is crying, not because of what moved the character to tears. Sometimes it is both (Ender’s Game, for example).
The extent to which INFJs report feeling other people’s emotions range from an awareness of how others are reacting, to not being able to remember the last time you experienced a feeling that belonged only to you. “You feel it, I feel it,” an anonymous INFJ wrote. I may not be quite ready to claim my feeling of and for others reaches that extent, but I share her decision to try and avoid encountering strong negative emotions (e.g. a news story about child molestation, a film where a family is torn apart, real-life conflict) because of how overwhelming it is — emotionally as well as physically in terms of headaches and stomach pain.
In INFJ Coach’s series of blog posts on “10 Steps to an Amazing INFJ Life,” part two is “Manage Those Pesky Emotions.” Her article is mainly about dealing with our own emotions when they surface, but the comments point out that this is only part of the problem. One commenter named Jennie wrote that she asks herself,
“Is this my emotion that I’m feeling, or is it someone else’s emotion?’ Many of us INFJs are emotional sponges for the emotions that other people are feeling. Our NF gives us a very high degree of empathy, but sometimes taking on other people’s emotions can be too much to handle.
The other side to this is what INFJ writer Cheryl Florus points out in Personality Junkie’s INFJ Strategies for Dealing with Emotions: Part I. Because an INFJ’s feeling is extroverted, we often have an easier time understanding the emotions of other people than our own emotions (for more on function stacks, see this post). We feel emotions strongly, but need to make an effort to learn how to experience and express them in a way that doesn’t seem overwhelming or uncontrolled. Often, writing down or talking about our emotions is a way to get them outside us so we can look at them more objectively (I keep a journal and talk to my closest family members). Sometimes, until I’ve done this, I’m not exactly sure what it is I’m feeling, let alone how it should be expressed and dealt with.
What about you? Are you an INFJ with experience feeling other people’s feelings (or a non-INFJ who does the same thing, because I’d love to hear from you)? Or are you someone who has never had this happen and thinks we’re crazy?
Over the past few weeks, it has become apparent from comments on this blog and Word Press’s statistics that my writings about INFJs, introverts, and personality type are by far the most popular. Even though it’s been two full months since I wrote Things You Should Know About INFJs, it gets more than twice as many views per week than the newer posts. Since INFJs are one of the personality types most likely to read about themselves and look for answers about how they think, I guess this shouldn’t be surprising.
Am I An INFJ?
If this is a question you’ve asked yourself, that’s a pretty good sign you’re an NF type. If we accept David Keirsey‘s ideas on personality type, NF Idealists are by far the most likely type to be searching for identity.
Do you know your Myers-Briggs type? How did you discover it and in what way, if any, has this knowledge affected you?
I discovered my personality type was INFJ after taking a free test based on the MBTI around the time I graduated high school. Since taking the official test wasn’t an option at the time, I tracked down several free versions online (here’s one that’s pretty good) to compare results. Then, I read many descriptions of INFJ types online and in books, and they fit me so well that I’m certain this type is correct.
Signs You’re An INFJ
Here are a few results I found while glancing over a forum on TypeologyCentral called “You know you’re an INFJ when…” It is 231 pages long, was started in 2008, and is still active. These are all quotes from the first two pages.
You’re convinced you can make positive change for humanity happen if you just keep working on your vision…
You’ve figured out that you don’t fit any other type well.
Had a co-worker this summer tell me about her cheating on her husband. You know, after knowing her for all of a week. It seems like everyone wants to share any dark/weird stories with me.
You can’t act on something you know logically is the right course of action until its ethically justified for you.
You’re pretty sure something is a lost cause, but you have to try anyway for conscience sake.
To a certain extent, all these are true for me (the third one as a general principle — random strangers confiding weirdly personal things with little or no encouragement). The top points on my personal list are a little different, however. The following are typical of most INFJs, and ring especially true for me.
Conflict is tremendously uncomfortable. Even tense moments are hard (especially, for some reason, while eating dinner)
You have a well developed “rich inner world” and/or the feeling that you belong in a fantasy world rather than the real one
It seems easy to pick up on other people’s emotions and mirror them while you are talking.
You’re a spiritual/religious person who frequently ponders deep and/or abstract ideas
You are fascinated by personality types and enjoy figuring out what other people’s types are
There a struggle between needing to be around people so you can connect with them and share your thoughts, and an introvert’s desire for alone time
If you’re an INFJ, what would you add to this list? What convinced you this type is the one that fits you?