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So you have finally found favor with the universe and the heavens have opened up shedding light on the key to your ever fleeting sanity. You…are an INFJ. Less than one or two percent of the population, depending on which site you came across first in your zealous googling of this mind blowing revelation. You now know that you are not the only person in the world that spends ten times longer setting a story or point up than it will actually take to say what you intended to in the first place. You are not the only person who can tell what an approaching person’s intent is before you can even make out their facial features. Welcome. It has likely been a long journey of insanity and hardships for you. When yet another of the flock is found, we all rejoice. We do. We understand. Mostly. Relax a little and take comfort in your new piece of mind. You deserve it. After you let it sink in and you get done combing every bit of internet and social media you can on it, take a minute and consider a few things. Having just become a newly aware INFJ is not all roses and acceptance. It entails its own lessons and hardships. Most of us have to discover those on our own, the same way we had to come to terms with the things we already knew about ourselves that made us different before encountering Jungian typology in the first place. There are snares and traps you need to be aware of and watch out for. Let me try to save you any trauma and trouble I can. Buckle up. This will be a bumpy ride.
1. You are not Jesus.
I’m not even talking about the fact that I consistently see Jesus typed as an INFJ. If you don’t believe in the divinity of Jesus, this topic may be up for debate and discussion. However, if you are a Christian, then you likely believe Jesus was God incarnate and good luck trying to ascribe a mortal and finite psychological label to him. If you don’t believe Jesus was divine, then his claims of being a deity are delusional at best and inauthentic at worst. Intentional inauthenticity on that level, as you should know, is not really one of our traits. I’m talking, however, more as a metaphor about the notion of being the ultimate clairvoyant and miracle performing savior of humanity. Yes, we have extreme empathy. Yes, we typically put other’s needs before our own to even our own demise or suffering. Yes, the collective unhealth of society is a hang up of ours. But we all have two parents and were not a virgin birth. We are not going to go to the nearest body of water and walk on it. We are not going to ascend to heaven after rising on the third day following our death. It needs to be said decisively and it needs to be said blatantly, so I’ll say it again. You are not Jesus. You are a human being suspect to human emotions and human fallibility. Please don’t ever let yourself hear yourself say that Jesus was an INFJ. You will destroy any good you can and would do in the eyes of other types by displaying what they perceive to be a messianic complex. I know this sounds harsh, but I give you my word, I’m only trying to help you here.
2. Not all INFJ’s are exactly the same.
It’s an easy trap to fall into, and most of us do. I’ve seen it happen a hundred times in INFJ Facebook groups. “I like raspberry pie. Is this an INFJ thing?” or “I really like the color blue. Is this an INFJ thing?” I would imagine that the diversity in our preference of such things as taste in food is as diverse amongst us as it is in and amongst the other Jungian demographics. We are so relieved and blown away that there are others who perceive and think the way that we do, for some reason these profound psychological similarities get reduced under a microscope to insignificant matters of aesthetics. Many of us do like the same books and movies, but we all come from diverse backgrounds and experiences that tailor our preferences and the values we attach to aspects of life and its details. We are so overwhelmed and grateful that there are others like us, we somehow leap to this assumption that we are all exactly alike. Jungian typology, while startlingly accurate and useful, is still subjective. Don’t try to turn it into a detailed absolute, and absolutely do not make it egocentric. You will be sorely disappointed and disenfranchised.
3. You may or may not be psychic, but your predictive abilities as an INFJ are not a validation.
I don’t know who is or isn’t a psychic, and I’m not willing to get into a debate on the credibility of those who claim to be a medium or otherwise. Whether or not I or anyone else believes in the existence of mediums and the sensitivity to some in that realm is not even relevant to the point I’m making here. Due to the way an INFJ receives and processes information, and we receive and process a lot of information, we are extremely accurate in our abilities to predict the flow and outcome of a situation or an individual’s reaction. We take in more information than we can even consciously be aware of, and then process it in a fashion that allows for what I call “dot connecting.” We make the connections and conjure implied variables from before, during and after scenarios that provide us with extremely relevant considerations and factors. All of this is processed and applied as we follow the patterns and cause and effect in our brains. Does this make us prophetic? I guess it depends on your definition of prophetic, but in and of itself it does not make us psychic. It makes us conscientious. Are there perhaps INFJ that are psychics? If there are psychics, I’m sure some of them are or have been INFJs.
4. Our type isn’t the only one that displays extreme empathy.
I’m not going to reference or mention any other types because I’m not trying to show favoritism or draw attention to one over the other. Many of us have encountered types that are most certainly not INFJ that can describe or display empathy as effectively as we can. We are extremely empathetic. There is no disputing that. It goes hand in hand with our functions as social chameleons and mirrors. Do not try to make someone else feel like they can’t experience pain on behalf of others the way you can, however, because some of them can. If you feel like they have no idea what kind of empathy you are trying to describe, then what good does it do to try and convince or explain it to them anyway? If they have no basis for comparison, then again you have found yourself in the trap of being perceived as arrogant and narcissistic. Rather show them. If they find themselves in a traumatic situation and you find yourself at their disposal, they will most assuredly come to understand that there is something different about you. Most of us have already heard it countless times throughout our lives.
5. Don’t go seeking validation for your own “INFJness.”
This is asking for an existential crisis. Most of us are so relieved to have the context of the label at our disposal as a means of understanding ourselves, we immediately invest everything in it. As with all things, tangible or intangible, investment on that level is dangerous. There will be those that act like they have a monopoly on INFJ traits and have somehow been given the power to discern what about you is INFJ and what isn’t, and ultimately whether you are or aren’t an INFJ. Then, on occasion, you get two such types duking it out with each other in a preposterous battle of psychological terms and hypothetical subjectivity. It’s absurd. Don’t be that person, and don’t be the person that watches silently from the sideline trying to decide which one you support or believe in. If the cognitive functions and stacks apply to you, then good. Use them and the blogs and articles on being an INFJ to help you understand yourself and your direction in life. But if you get caught up in trying to assure yourself that you’re an INFJ and why based on how much of everything you read on them applies to you, at some point you’re probably going to get disgusted with how much emotion you’ve invested in it all and just walk away from the whole thing period. INFJ are typically writers and anal about grammar. In this paragraph alone I implemented a sentence fragment as well as started a sentence with the word “but.” Does that mean I’m not an INFJ? That’s the kind of ridiculous crap I’m talking about.
6. Don’t get overzealous in your efforts to find other INFJs in your immediate world.
Once we find out there are others like us, we want to know who and where they are. The internet and social media is sufficient for a while, but then we want to feel what one on one interaction with another INFJ in person is like. This is generally where our constant typing of everyone we encounter starts. It is a consequence of our functions to type people anyway, and once we get through and over trying to figure out who may be an INFJ, we keep typing people almost as a reflex. Trying to narrow down anyone who may be an INFJ in our immediate world often causes us to jump to preconceived notions. I have it down to where within a conversation or two and a little observation, I can type most people accurately on my first try, with ensuing validation down the road when they are comfortable enough with me that I can suggest taking a few free online MBTI tests. The one thing I have found, even as a solid INFJ myself, is that the people I try to type INFJ rarely if ever are and the ones that end up being INFJ are people I typed something else. This has a lot to do, again, with our chameleon and mirror functions. Don’t make the mistake of accidentally and unintentionally convincing someone they are probably part of the one to two percent because you desperately want someone to be. This leads to major headaches and frustration
7. Don’t expect in person encounters with other INFJs to be mind-blowing.
Our initial interaction with other INFJ generally happens on social media in this present age. The internet is how many of us found the MBTI, and consequentially it is the most obvious and expedient option for finding and locating other INFJ. We are so excited that we literally spend hours upon hours immersing ourselves in this new world with likeminded individuals. Then we often take that step of plastering our own social media with MBTI test links and reaching out to those we think may be as well. Once we believe we have found another, a quick push is frequently made to meet up in person, because you know… it’s going to be the most epic atmosphere we could possibly imagine. The energy is going to be so surreal we may very well levitate into the heavens, and then how are we going to possibly be able to reintegrate into society. Spoiler: This is not the case. It can and often is euphoric to interact in person with another INFJ, but I’m here to tell you that I’ve left conversations with specific other types with a greater sense of euphoria. Think about it for a second. We are so into our new knowledge that there are others that think like us, we miss an obvious aspect. The fact that we have spent our entire lives with ourselves and our thoughts on a daily basis, every second of every day. It doesn’t validate any perspective or subjective truth you hold internally simply to partake in an exterior reflection of it with someone else who is in an overwhelming global minority. It is a great experience to interact with another INFJ in real life and we should be excited about it, but don’t expect it to be greater than any movie scene you’ve ever encountered or even supersede any other experience you’ve had in your life thus far.
8. Don’t start attacking other alleged INFJs as mistypes.
It’s a well known and documented phenomenon that we INFJ are extremely protective of our label, and to an extent, rightly so. We took a long hard journey to get to it, but let me say this again. Jungian typology is a subjective psychological theory. I can assure you there are very real and relevant aspects to it, and I find no less credence in it than anyone else. I use it daily, almost hourly, to understand and experience my immediate world. There are harsh critics of it, however, and your understanding or experience with it will mean nothing in a discussion or debate with them. As for your own specific ability to type others based on the MBTI, you are not Katharine Cook Briggs, Isabel Briggs Meyers or Carl Gustav Jung. You may have read every document and research paper available on the matter, but that does not give you absolute and complete context or insight into another human being. So someone took the MBTI and it labeled them INFJ when they clearly do not possess one of any given psychological function. Maybe they mistook their sympathetic nature for an empathetic nature when answering the questions. Perhaps this also caused them to understand themselves as a feeler when their demeanor and rationale clearly gives them away as a thinker. So what. You don’t have to be the one to blatantly proclaim how they most certainly do not display your rare tendencies or perceptions. Ninety-nine percent of the time they are going to argue with you and you are going to get upset and frustrated over a situation that in the grand scheme of things is not impacting the world in a negative way. It’s fine to consider to yourself that someone was mistyped, but use it for your own context and ability to gently guide them towards an evolving understanding of themselves. We are a patient and introspective type, so employ this in the way you handle such individuals. They will likely come to the conclusion that they were mistyped on their own upon further research and interaction with INFJs. Don’t create an intolerant and narcissistic image of yourself because someone may have infiltrated the sacred halls of your subjective label.
9. Don’t get discouraged by your initial exposure to terms that are foreign.
As soon as you dive headfirst into INFJ groups on various social media, announcing with great elation that you are finally home, you are going to begin encountering words, phrases and concepts that sound like they could have come straight out of a medical dictionary. Many will throw these at you almost seemingly in an effort to exert themselves as an MBTI guru. You don’t have to try and keep up. It took you this long to discover yourself as an INFJ, so be patient in your understanding of the relevant and fundamental concepts of it like Ni (Introverted Intuition) and Fe (Extroverted Feeling). There are a lot of accompanying aspects that will help you navigate through your new association. Don’t try to cram it all in like you procrastinated studying for a final that will make or break your academic career. Do patient research of terms you encounter that you are unfamiliar with, and seek out the humble and patient individuals that will help explain them to you with context. I have found many of these people outside of the INFJ umbrella, and many have been far more patient and thorough with me than other INFJ were. You know what you know about yourself. These terms and concepts, while relevant and important, are not your validation.
10. Don’t lose what you and others in your life always loved about you prior to discovering INFJ.
Your individuality. While INFJ has and will continue to change your life, don’t let it become your sole identification. You are still, above all else, an individual. You don’t have to be like the majority of INFJ, and you most assuredly don’t want to get caught up in trying to fit the profile of a prototypical INFJ to fall into every single description you’ve ever encountered. If you do, good luck with that. I don’t question my INFJness for a second, and these days, I absolutely will not fall into an anxiety ridden panic if someone tells me I’m not like other INFJ in one regard or another. In fact, I’m thankful for the opportunities to see that I’m still different, even from the one percent in my own regards. Most INFJ admittedly are not great at conveying their thoughts effectively by mouth. We do better as writers or expressing our abstract and symbolic thought process through some other creative medium. While I do have things floating around in my head that defy words or language, I am a very effective communicator in a predominately non-INFJ way. I can throw out a few possible theories behind this, such as the fact I grew up the son of a politician. Not only was I constantly exposed to public speaking, I was even called on a couple times much to my own horror, to give speeches on behalf of my dad when he couldn’t attend an event. I don’t know how or why I developed the ability to communicate my thoughts more effectively, but in all honesty, I don’t care. I don’t have to fit every aspect of every typical INFJ, and none of us will. We will defy some concepts. That’s okay. We all grew up with different variables and experiences. Don’t try to be the most INFJ that ever INFJed. That will provide you with yet another existential crisis, which at the point in our lives we discover the MBTI, should have had our fill of by then.
None of these considerations are meant as a rebuke or scorn. I only know what my first several months of being a newly aware INFJ entailed, and in many regards the euphoria was sometimes matched by anxiety and despair. I want to see many saved from this process, but it is perhaps necessary to experience it firsthand. On some level, I have been guilty myself of all ten points I made above. I’m thankful beyond expression for having discovered the MBTI as is evident by the fact I’m sitting here writing this piece. I’m not an authority on Jungian typology, but was just a Carl Jung fan boy long before I discovered the MBTI. I no longer use INFJ as a crutch or validation, but rather a development and awareness tool. It has brought so many beautiful people into my life through social media from around the world, and not all of them are INFJs. It has also put to bed years of questioning my sanity. Above all else, let it be those things to you. Use it, but don’t depend on it. Congratulations on your discovery, and welcome. We all rejoice with and for you, and beyond such articles as these, you will eventually discover a network of supportive and intelligent kindred spirits. I hope to be one of them, and perhaps you will be one for me.
~ By Brandon Grubb (INFJ)