Wednesday, December 9, 2015
How to be an INFJ in a world that isn't made for you.
Oh, my dear little INFJs. How complex you are! How difficult to explain. Luckily, this advice is for you, which is way easier than trying to define you to someone else. It definitely helps that I am one of you! And to disclaim, not all of this stuff applies to me, as not all of it will apply to you. We are all individual snowflakes, of course. But there are some themes I've noticed in my personal & professional relationships with other INFJs, so here are some tips to navigate life as an INFJ:
1) You have to make yourself known. I know it's easy to get all "woe is me, nobody understands me" (which is a legit thing btw) but there's something to be said for doing the work to consciously allow yourself to be seen by the people closest to you. You are an onion, and as such it can take years for a person to peel back all the layers of you. And you do want this, right? You want to be seen and understood, right? It is true that you are deep and complicated and can be kind of messy to distill down, and I don't know that it's really a thing to be all the way known, but ultimately you can at least be as known as possible if you allow it and actively invite people in to your world.
2) Speed up the onion-peeling process by offering up access to what you instinctively would prefer people would just know to dig for. Accept that they don't know, because a) most people are not as intuitive as you are and b) you are a treasure island and they have most likely never visited one of those before. Instead of punishing them for not knowing where to find the gold, give them a map. Help them dig. Sift through what they help you unearth; it's likely some of it you didn't even know was buried there. You can discover it together.
3) Be mindful of the vibe you're giving off. I know you are at your core a warm and loving person, but let's face it: you can be kind of prickly sometimes. So remember that nobody wants to snuggle with a porcupine. I know that the prickliness is hiding a gooey center, but I only know this because I have VIP insider access. Most people don't know this. If what they see is a bunch of sharp edges and pointiness, they are not probably going to stick around to find a way around that into the beautiful garden paradise your prickliness protects. They are simply going to assume you do not want them in your space, which sometimes is true but often is not.
4) You have to intentionally make yourself appear open and warm and inviting to the people you actually do want in your space, so that they know it's safe to approach you. Most people are not going to take liberties with you, because they will intuitively sense that you are not someone to take those liberties with. (Although the ones that do are often the ones you love best, because they are brave and undaunted by your forcefield. They bust right in like "you're going to love me, deal with it" which you secretly like. These are gonna be your ENFP types, most often.)
5) Your interior life can be likened to a beehive. Your brain is buzzing alllllll the time. You've got worker bees in like 20 different flower fields at once, working on all these beautifying projects, doing their own thing, and the queen bee (aka your actual conscious mind) can barely keep up with everybody's comings and goings. In other words, you don't even know what's going on in there much of the time, because it's impossible to be conscious of it all at once. You're constantly taking in and sorting information and moving it around and changing your mind accordingly without even being aware you're doing it. You can come off pretty inconsistent because of this (see: capricious, mercurial, moody). You know that's not really what's going on, but you have to tell people where you're at in real time lest you appear wishy-washy and confused/confusing.
6) You cannot possibly expect most people to keep up with you and how your mind works and how all over the place it can be...while also making perfect sense to you. The degree to which you experience (suffer from?) ambivalence is much greater than most others, and most people will not understand it. Ambivalence is when you feel equally powerful but totally contradictory things at the same time. It's like, "I feel this way, and this opposite way at the exact same time" or "My instinct is to respond this way, but then when I really think about it, I think this way is probably better, but that other way sounds good too, and both are true." You really have to clarify how you feel before you try and include most people in your process or they'll be like "what the fuck are you even talking about". Because once you get the frustrated "WTF" response, your feelings might get hurt because you might feel like "nobody understands me".
7) Keep people on your advisory board who are good listeners and keen at reflecting back to you what you're saying. You do not have an internal feelings function that works well, so you need to externally process your emotions before you can really know how you even feel. Don't mistake your brilliance at tuning into other people's feelings for any kind of competence at interpreting your own. You kind of suck at that. You need people to check you on your particular brand of crazy. You need people who know you well enough to bypass your defensiveness and hold up a mirror for you to see where you might be making a mess.
8) On that same note, have at least one friend who can keep an eye on your relationships for red flags you might miss or ignore. Because again, you're unparalleled at seeing what's going on with other people's relationships and intuiting dynamics and hidden agendas, but you can be pretty terrible at doing this for yourself. You tend to want to believe the best of people, and can be pretty laughably naive in this way. When you get in your feels, you cannot be trusted to be rational. Keep people on your team who know this about you and can gently bring things to your attention. Give them a pass to be harsh if necessary.
9) That said, please always trust your INFJ magic. Because it's real. It's legit. You are magic. You know things no one else knows, and you feel things no one else can feel, and you can predict what will come to pass with remarkable accuracy. You are hyper-intuitive in a way that almost literally seems like magic. You may think about people just before they call or text you, or dream about something that comes to pass, or ask exactly the right question because you already know the answer without knowing how you know. Your incredible intuition is a thing to behold. It is your superpower. Trust it. Know that your gut is usually right. Don't be bullied into second-guessing yourself. You know what's going on well before anyone else does.
10) Be careful with your superpowers. Your gift is making other people feel truly seen and held in safety. When you tune in to a person fully, they completely fall in love with how that makes them feel, which (you know) really has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with that feeling. However, it would behoove you to be careful with this, because people are much more likely to feel close to you than you feel close to them, and you can be inadvertently hurtful because they may think something very special is going on when really you're just being how you are.
11) In other words, know that you are not like most people. It takes you a long time (or a very specific and wonderful dynamic that speeds the process) with a person to really feel like you are being seen, but that isn't the case for most others. So when you turn your warmth on a person, they will feel like the sun is shining on them and only them. And it is, but that's because it's just how you are. Your warmth and deep humanness and the comfortable space you provide people to be their authentic self is a thing that connects them to you almost effortlessly. You come off to others as wise and knowing and deep, and it will make them feel like you understand them more than anyone ever has. Which is probably true, but it comes so naturally to you that you may not realize it's making that person feel like they are incredibly special to you. They may be kind of special to you, but in a way that like 85 other people are *kind of* special to you. Be aware of this disparity, and don't unintentionally create a bunch of one-sided relationships where either a) there's a major disconnect in how you feel about each other or b) you end up feeling like they are just taking from you and not giving you anything back, when they don't even know that's happening at all. You may not feel like doing this is costing you energy, but in the end it's not a great dynamic for you or for them.
12) Do NOT EVER respond in anger, to anything. Your superpower allows you way too much access to people's inner soft spots to be trusted with any kind of angry response. You can be mean as fuck when you're hurt or angry, and once you say the awful things you instinctively just know to say, you cannot ever take them back. Bite your tongue, love the person you're mad at enough to take a breather, and come back to talk when you are thinking more rationally. Learn how to manage your feelings and think about them objectively. Learn to shut it down once you get emotionally hijacked, because you are uniquely able to wound people to the core, and you don't really want to be responsible for that kind of damage. You are fundamentally a kind person, so when you feel angry, just STFU for a while.
13) I know you feel like an alien a lot of the time. Like a square peg in a round hole. Like you don't belong here. Like you're trying to color in some bullshit lines that you don't even understand. Like maybe nobody will ever "get" you. Like maybe that's not even a thing. I feel you. It's rough out here for an INFJ. You are so tender, and so tough, and so soft, and so hard, and so clean, and so messy, and so extraverted, and so introverted, and so warm, and so cold, and so brave, and so scared...all at the same time...that it's just hard to be you sometimes! TRUTH. But know this: that complexity, that confusion, that awareness of your fragile humanity, that ability to see the fragile broken human inside others, that is your gift. You are the ones that make everybody else feel like they are okay. You are the ones that show people by example and word how to navigate this fucked up world. You are inspirational. You have wisdom to share that the world needs. You have a completely unique voice that the world is dying to hear. Use it. Lead. Speak. Teach. Don't let your fear of vulnerability (because once that onion gets fully peeled, then what? then you're naked! exposed!) override the desire to be known. Let the world know you. You're amazing. We need you.
INFJ functional stack: Ni Fe Ti Se
Here is a post you could share with your partner to help them understand you better:
If you want to talk more about this: http://millercounseling.blogspot.com/2016/12/new-service-distance-coaching.html