being an infj
INJF stands for (I)ntroversion, I(N)tuition, (F)eeling, and (J)udgment. INFJs are gentle, caring, sophisticated, creative and highly intuitive individuals. According to the Myer-Briggs system of personalities (MBTI), there are sixteen personality categories that one could fall under, and INFJ is one of the rarest types.
INFJs are estimated at:
• 1.79% of the American population (sample size 9,320; Myers & McCaulley, 1985)
• 1.7% of the UK population* (sample size 1,634; Kendall & McHenry, 1998)
• 1.27% of the Australian population (sample size 3,373; Macdaid, McCaulley, & Kainz, 1986)
We live in a world dominated by Extroverts and Sensors, as 75% of people are Es, and 75% are Ss.
Due to its rarity, INFJs are often misunderstood.
“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.”
INFJs are intuitive about human dynamics. INFJs have a heightened awareness of human energies that helps them pick up on the subtlest clues about what’s going on with other people. They have a unique ability to intuit others’ emotions and motivations, and will often know how someone else is feeling before that person knows it themselves. Sometimes INFJs will have hunches or gut feelings they can’t explain. The INFJs’ extraordinary empathic abilities can be so strong that it brings pain in certain situations. They are able to walk in another person’s shoes truly, and many identify as being hyper-empathic, to the degree where others’ distress can profoundly affect them.
When feeling overwhelmed, they might withdraw into themselves, sometimes abruptly and desperately. They find home in solitude and need to replete their inner resources and to prevent emotional overload.
They often wish for someone to understand them as well as they know others.
INFJs are naturally trusting, open and curious towards others. Their genuine warmth, interest in and openness means they are sometimes mistaken for being extroverts.
But they are not drawn to shallow encounters or situations that take lots of small talk. In a setting like a cocktail party with people they hardly know, they may find more enjoyment by retreating into their mind and their rich inner world. On the surface, they can seem mysterious, aloof and reserved. However, deep inside, INFJs are capable of deep intimacy. They do not tend to share themselves freely but appreciate closeness with a select few.
Many INFJs feel alienated during childhood and teen years. INFJs are “old souls.” Even as children and adolescents, they might be in the role of counselling and consoling people around them— friends, siblings, and sometimes even adult family members.
Regarding vocation, INFJs tend to be artistic and creative in their endeavours. They are inspired by ideas, perspectives, theories, and think in terms of images, symbols, and metaphors. In fact, INFJs are just as much “systems builders” as their ‘intellectual’ counterparts. But INFJs are more interested in building systems that concern human psychology and humanitarian issues rather than hard science, logic, math, and technology.
Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weighty matters of life. With their “N” and “J” combination, they are capable of both vision and action and make strong humanitarians. Famous compassionate and effective INFJ game-changers include Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa.
INFJ individuals are often emotionally gifted. This does not always lay an easy path, but when they can harness their strengths and own their unique qualities such as great emotional depth, intellectual complexity and drive to make a difference in the world, they are capable of enormous personal, professional and spiritual achievement.
Famous INFJs include Mohandas Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Emily Bronte, Carl Jung, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Florence Nightingale, Shirley MacLaine, Jimmy Carter, and Edward Snowden.
“He who obeys, does not listen to himself!”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra
THERAPY AND COACHING FOR INFJs
— How Can You Thrive?
Different personality types have different strengths and weaknesses. For people with the INFJ personality type within the MBTI matrix, the main strengths include their sensitivity towards not just their close loved ones but the entire world, deep empathy for others’ pain, creativity and loyalty in relationships. The downside is that they can be judged as being overly sensitive, standoffish towards people they’re not interested in and quick to avoid confrontation.
INFJs are Introverted (they get energy from being alone as opposed to from being with others), Intuitive (they’re good at seeing patterns and potential futures), Feeling (they prioritise people’s emotions) and Judging (they’re planners and fans of order over chaos).
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and the real mark of our characters is how we come to terms with that and use our strengths and weaknesses to our advantage.
With the help of a sensitive and empathic guide, the work with you as an INFJ to go from healing to thriving involves the following:
1. Help you to look at your life holistically
INFJs are highly introspective and aware, but because your worldview tends to be self- referencing, and you spend a lot of time in your own imaginary world, sometimes you are too close to your own day-to-day life to see the metaphorical forest for the trees. An external eye can provide some objective input and help you to understand how the different elements of your life and personality all come together to paint a bigger picture. For instance, difficulties in relationships relate not just to that relationship but also your general satisfaction in life, your family history, the trauma you carry, etc. Once one element within the system is elevated, you will be able to feel a shift in all other areas, too.
2. Teach you to make friends with your emotions.
As a sensitive human, you absorb emotions from around you and may, at times, struggle with intense feelings. Not being able to effectively digest challenging feelings may also cause you to act out in ways that you later regret. With the guidance of someone knowledgeable about emotional management and empathic towards the origin of your strong feelings, you can learn to befriend and digest these feelings. Your emotions are not your enemies. They are a portal to your intuition and power. With the reminder of a supportive guide you can learn to have a different relationship with your feeling self.
3. Encourage you to find your life’s purpose
Above and beyond other personality types, INFJs crave meaning and purpose, and this can lead to a negative spiral if you are unable to find a mission to focus on. It’s incredibly essential for you to feel as though you are a part of something bigger than yourself— socially and spiritually. Without a higher meaning, you may feel stifled, stilted and full of ennui.
4. Introduce you to self-love
INFJs often have a hard time loving themselves, even though there’s so much to the personality type to be loved. You may live with the trauma of being misunderstood and pushed to the side and live with a harsh inner critic. As well as encouraging you to bring out your positive attributes and to find new ways to cope with the negatives, our goal is to help you to love yourself for who you are. This includes taking time out to care for your mental and physical health and learn when and how to say goodbye to people who repeatedly and insensitively hurt or misjudge you.
5. Nudge you towards Self- Actualisation
INFJs live with a desire to constantly better themselves, and to develop as a person. A guide who knows you and work alongside you can pay close attention to what makes you tick and provide insights and observations to help you to work on areas where you struggle. Most INFJs are independent thinkers, have strong views and opinions, even when you keep these opinions to yourself to avoid hurting anyone. One of our goals is to help you own your voice, develop a unique way of expressing yourself, without the excessive fear of criticism and rejections. When you are able to clarify your values and beliefs, you also feel stronger as a person.
6. Stop you from being held hostage to your fears
INFJs are often held back because they’re perfectionists who take criticism to heart. They also have high expectations, both for themselves and for others. If they fall victim to a negativity loop, they can end up failing to take opportunities because they’re so scared about what might happen that they choose not to risk it. When this occurs, you can end up in a downward spiral. With a compassionate coach, you can learn to turn that spiral around. If you can allow yourself to learn, not just cognitively but also deep in your heart, that it is safe for you to take risks and to shine as you are, you will be able to achieve more in life and simultaneously feel free and confident.
7. Celebrate you so you can learn to do it for yourself
Because INFJs are often so tough on themselves, you have a tendency to downplay your achievements and to immediately move on to whatever the next task is. This is understandable, but it can also be counterproductive. Celebrating achievements can release endorphins and ensure that you’re not left feeling empty instead of accomplished. It can be useful for you to have a coach, a guide, or a mentor who can help you to celebrate your achievements. With enough practise, you will have trained your brain to automatically give yourself the applause that you need, and it could become a useful, lifelong pattern.
ABOUT TYPOLOGY – A CAVEAT
Contrary to a common misconception, typology is not about putting people in boxes.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicators (MBTI) system is rooted in the theory of psychological types, developed by Carl Jung. However, Jung’s ideas have become diluted and are often misused in modern-day psychology and on the internet.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicators aren’t everything. They’re simply what their name describes: indicators. Human beings are inherently complex, andone of us is just one thing. Jung’s theory does not aim to ‘pigeon-hole’ people into types. His original idea places greater emphasis on the unconscious than is represented within modern psychometrics and ‘commercialised’ personality systems.
When used correctly, MBTI and other personality typologies are great tools to help us integrate various parts of our psyche, heal where we have been wounded, and attain inner balance.
The MBTI system not only helps us to know our ‘dominant function’, but also what we have suppressed, or under-utilised. Repression of any of our psychic functions, due to our social conditioning, holds us back from our full potential. Awareness of the fact that we all possess certain unconscious, under-developed functions is the first step towards realising that they can be developed, both for better adaptation to the outer world and for balancing our psyche.
INFJs typically share attributes such as intuition, empathy and emotional understanding, as well as deeply held beliefs which can occasionally be tinged with idealism and obsession. INFJs are also planners, typically preparing for things as far in advance as possible, so that nothing’s left to the last minute and everything is accounted for.
When it comes to coaching and personal improvement, this can only be a good thing. In fact, above and beyond other personality types, INFJs have both the means and the motivation to picture the future and then to make it happen, whether that’s by improving themselves or by effecting change in the world around them.
If you’re one of the lucky few with an INFJ personality type, you have a lot of potential to be a driving force for good in the world. It’s time for you to live up to your full promise.
The result is that you become a more integrated, fuller human.