Please Understand Me is the title of a book written by David Kiersy. I noticed a friend in college reading it; let’s just say MANY years ago. I love to meander through the local bookstore taking in all the wonderful bookish smells and titles; one day I happened upon this very book. I thumbed through it and noticed at the beginning of the book a personality test/questionnaire. Being all-curious about this little quiz and how it would categorize and define me, I bought the book and scurried home to dive in. Throughout the past 20 years, I have re-experienced the analysis approximately four times, each time wondering if the results would change. Not at all! I am a pure through and through INFJ personality type, INFJ being an acronym for Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, and Judging. They say I am one of the rarest personality types – 2% of the general population. Initially, that 2% did not sit well with me. For the majority of my life I have felt different, abnormal, odd, like and outsider, like an outcast, a freak, a misfit, a loner, etc. and this little test confirmed my deepest fears. I tried to disregard this as silly labeling, but I am consistently drawn back to the reality and truth of this profile. I have done extensive reading on this topic and eventually, I moved past the 2% margin and allowed the description to become valuable insight; it helped me gain a better understanding of who I am, how my extreme experiences and environments molded me, and the idea of nurture vs. nature. Though we all are in a continual sanctification process, I am discovering an appreciation and acceptance of God’s unique creations amidst the species. I believe as the blog continues, knowing my personality, my modus operandi (MO), and that my channel tunes in to a different frequency will offer insights into to how my cogs and wheels turn.
INFJs are spiritual, authentic, sincere, humane, sympathetic, intuitive, insightful, subjective, trustworthy, a sense of principled justice, high moral standards, intelligent, diplomatic, independent, complex individuals who are quite private, reserved, and typically difficult to authentically know and understand. They place great importance on having their world orderly, are meticulous about details, and are systematic in their outer world. They put a lot of energy into identifying the best system for getting things done, and constantly define and re-define the priorities in their lives. They have a great depth of personality and operate within themselves on an intuitive basis; they process information on a different wavelength as if living in a third dimension. They know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. Their instincts are usually right, and they usually know it. INFJs have strong empathic abilities and can become aware of another’s emotions, intentions, and underlying motives – good or evil – even before that person is conscious of them. Such mind reading can take the form of feeling the hidden distress or illnesses of others to the extent that it is difficult for other types to comprehend; they may not always know the exact details, but they know. Even they can seldom tell how they came to penetrate others’ thoughts and feelings and know what makes them tick. Their Doppler radar and satellite systems quickly hone in and pick up others’ emotions, dispositions, nuances, pattern shifts, word changes, deception, verbiage, tone, facial expressions, eye contact, body language, etc. An INFJ will pick up minute inconsistencies in a nanosecond, which causes cognitive dissonance for the INFJ, resulting in mistrust, silent pushing away, and unspoken misunderstandings. Their memory retention of important small and large details get locked in their minds, particularly of those they care for – birthdays, special occasions, events, holidays, likes, dislikes, things in your home, etc.
They are nurturers with a strong sense of personal integrity, gentle, caring, and a drive to help others realize their potential. In relationships, the INFJ is protective, supportive, guided by an upright conscience, and never feel like they do enough good to help others; they greatly desire the success and very best for others. INFJs are introspective and very hard on themselves. They never want to be a burden or a bother and would rather keep it all inside because they would rather the pain destroy them than anyone else. They are friendly to the core in dreaming up how to give meaning and wholeness to people’s lives. They need alone time to withdraw and recharge. However, INFJs tend to feel very lonely though they cherish the solitude. This sense of loneliness is not always because they lack human presence or relationships. They are alone in their mind; they do not connect easily with other people since they are so rare; they often feel alone in the world or “out of place.” They thirst for someone to understand them and make this mental connection. Once the connection is made, they will do everything they can to keep this one person in their life. Close friends are chosen carefully; if you choose to pursue genuine closeness with an INFJ, it could take a very long time – if ever.
Conflict with or in those around an INFJ is painful. They are deeply disturbed by division and discrimination. Conflicts and controversies unsettle them; disputes and debates set them on edge. They consider all such differentiations to be artificial impositions onto the common experience of humanity. These are things they deal with in a very personal way; they care deeply and can become preoccupied about keeping morale high in their loved ones. They are half emotion and half logic. When faced with conflict, they never know which side will take charge. Sometimes they work together harmoniously, but usually one will overpower the other and they just trust their instincts whichever way the road leads. Often they are people-pleasers as a defense mechanism to avoid conflict, disappointment, or criticism, sacrificing themselves on the altar. Harsh criticism causes inner irrational instinctual responses. They can receive ten compliments and one critique, and the only thing they will hear is the critique, which makes them wonder why they even bothered to try or why they thought they could succeed. They distrust compliments; their intuition kicks in and they begin trying to determine what the person really meant or what they want from them; they take nothing at face value. They consider it vitally important to have everyone in their circle – their family, friends, and colleagues – feeling good about themselves and getting along with each other. The INFJ has an interest in human development and are encouraging of other’s dreams, aspirations, and achievements. They are oriented to values and connection, and will search for meaning in the information they take in. They think deeply and often need time to process and evaluate before they are ready to share their thoughts and ideas. They are often talented at making connections to bring people together and integrate ideas, values, and human potential. They are dedicated and have a talent for seeing through situations and people effectively, while skillfully and diplomatically helping others to mediate conflicts with practical strategies for action. With their instinct for seeking common ground, with their ability to interpret each side’s communications in a positive way, with their gift for putting themselves in another’s shoes, and with their metaphorical language easily and fluidly turning one thing into another, they are well-equipped for the difficult task of influencing people’s attitudes and actions and inspiring others to grow. They can settle and smooth differences among others ever looking to enlighten the people around them and to forge unity and harmony among them. 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.
As a feeling type, you might expect an INFJ to show compassion—but what sets them apart is that their empathy comes with a sharp intuitive edge. They are quick to recognize worry and unhappiness in friends and loved ones, even when outward signs of distress are not visible to others. They seek to keep the peace at all cost. Mediating disputes is hard work, but INFJs have an astounding ability to help heal the rifts that divide people. INFJs are uniquely capable of intuitively detecting unspoken and unacknowledged sorrow and suffering and are called into action by their instinctive ability to see beneath the surface. They harness practical insight. Some people are visionaries while others are down-to-earth problem solvers, but INFJs manage to straddle the line between both identities—and they usually succeed masterfully. INFJs dislike conflict intensely and will usually intervene to stop it. Situations, which are charged with conflict, may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger. They may tend to internalize conflict into their bodies and experience health problems when under duress. INFJs particularly live with high stress and frequently deal with insomnia because their minds are constantly “on.”
They trust their insights about others and have strong faith in their ability to read people. They want a meaningful life with deep connections with other people, but only a very select few are ever granted passage. They are sensitive, reserved, and patient. They are a private sort and selective about sharing intimate thoughts and feelings. They do not tend to share themselves freely, but appreciate emotional intimacy with a very select, committed few. They have an unusually rich inner life, but they are reserved and tend not to share their reactions except with those they trust and when they feel completely safe; only a minor few are privy. Although their rich inner life can sometimes make them seem mysterious or private to others, they profoundly value authentic connections with people they trust, but if you show them disloyalty, they will show you detachment. INFJs are quiet, caring, sensitive, externally calm, and may be found listening attentively staring into the soul of someone else’s mind, heart, ideas, and concerns. They are highly perceptive about people and want to help others achieve understanding. INFJs are not afraid of complex personal problems. These reclusive and friendly people are complex, complicated individuals and can understand and deal with complex ethical issues with deeply troubled individuals. They reflect at length on issues of ethics and have unimaginable convictions. Their calm exterior belies the complexity of their inner world. They are experts at hiding their emotions from everyone. Because INFJs are such complex people, they may be reluctant to engage with others who might not understand or appreciate them, and can thus be hard to get to know. Despite their loving and sensitive natures, INFJs have a tendency to close themselves off from the world and do not give people the chance to know them or see the wonderful qualities they possess. They tend to live in their own little world. Even in their relations with family and trusted friends, INFJs can be enigmatic. Friends who have known them for years may find sides emerging that come as a surprise, including a quick witted and visionary sense of humor. However, they are not inconsistent; they highly value their integrity, but they have mysterious, intricately woven personalities, which sometimes puzzle even them. When they are feeling frustrated or introspective, they may retreat from social contact without as much as a word of explanation, which can throw others for a loop. They can suddenly cut people out of their life when they feel hurt one too many times, but rarely reveal the reason why. It is never their intent or goal to slam the door closed, but rather a protective coping defense. Though they always appear to have it all together on the outside, inwardly they are extremely sensitive to people’s words and actions, which they read and take in to their core. When something is bothering them, INFJs will often withdraw into the safety of their own heads, rather than speaking openly about what they are feeling; though it is all very clear in their head, they can be slow to speak because words and explanations become lost in translation. Conversations can tend to have a lot of “Where was I going?” or “How did we get on this topic?” because their mind will link in thoughts and ideas that are related to the topic, even when not relevant, because their minds race with possibilities. Similarly, they seldom express their feelings of love, affection, and appreciation as directly as might be expected given the depth of the emotions they do experience. They have trouble articulating their feelings; most would never know how deeply, sincerely, intensely, and genuinely they are loved by an INFJ. They hold back parts of themselves and can seem to be unintentionally secretive. INFJs are reserved about communication, and often keep their most treasured thoughts, ideas, and insights private. They are not compelled to gossip about others and they do not betray others confidences. Others should have no concern about being themselves or vulnerable with an INFJ; they will never misuse what you share; they will respect your humanness; and they truly value you, besides they would know if you are not being ‘real’ with them. They live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities; their minds being like an epic matrix of a quantum circuit board. The INFJ individual is gifted in ways that other types are not. Life is not necessarily easy for the INFJ, but they are capable of great depth of feeling and personal achievement.
INFJs are guided by a deeply considered set of uncompromising personal values, particularly spiritual. Although they want to get along with others and support them in their goals, they are fiercely loyal to their own system of values and will not follow others down a path that does not feel authentic to them. Because INFJs initially appear so gentle and reserved, they may surprise others with their intensity when one of their values is threatened or called into question. When they sense that their values are not being respected, or when their intuition tells them that someone’s intentions are not pure, they are likely to withdraw. Typically, they will not express anger, but rather will become distant emotionally and physically. They feel an intrinsic drive to do what they can to make the world a better place, but not by compromising their beliefs, principles, morals, standards, and ethics. The INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves – there is always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and do not often take time to revel in their accomplishments. Because of their strong value systems, they need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. INFJs look for the emotional core of an issue to create a meeting of the minds. Although they desire cooperation, they are not willing to go along with an idea that does not feel authentic to them. When it comes to their core values and ethics, they are unwilling to compromise. They can become discouraged by the harsh realities of the present, but they are typically motivated and persistent in taking positive action nonetheless. For INFJs, obstacles exist to be overcome and no problem can outmatch the strength and resilience that these types possess deep inside. INFJs follow through on their ideas with conviction, and have the willpower and decisiveness necessary to see projects through to the end.
INFJs live for the opportunity to solve problems and bring about positive change in the world. Once an INFJ has made up their mind, they tend to be very confident in their conclusions and may not have much tolerance for those who continue to dissent. When someone challenges their conclusions, they can react very strongly and are especially vulnerable to criticism. INFJs are insightful, instinctive, and persuasive. But despite the enormous effort that INFJs invest in developing and promoting their concepts and ideas, sometimes dissidents will remain. INFJs sometimes become disenchanted. No matter how practically oriented they aspire to be, INFJs have a tendency to get so caught up in theorizing the big picture that they forget to account for some of the precious details that can separate success from failure. However, details always matter, and while INFJs may recognize this in principle, in practice they are not always as diligent about the small stuff, but rather the goal. Or, they will go to the other extreme and become enveloped in the details to the extent that they can no longer see the big picture. They are excellent at dealing with both ends of the spectrum, but when tensions are high and arguments are heated, INFJs will do all they can to restore lost cohesion and tranquility. But, their love of harmony and aversion to division is so powerful that INFJs refuse to accept that sometimes the best way to end disputes is to bring them out into the open, where bridges of understanding can be built instead of always trying to sweep everything under the rug.
INFJs typically enjoy learning, reading and writing; intimate settings; playing or listening to music; and have an affinity and appreciation for the performing arts and cultural events such as the symphony, opera, ballet, dramatic performances, art museums, etc. and can become lost in their mind and emotions during the experiences. However, they do not seek out social engagements or special attention as these can leave an INFJ depleted of energy with crippling exhaustion. Too often talented INFJs choose to keep their gifts wrapped up and hidden even though they have much to contribute. Because of their vivid imaginations, they are often seen as the most poetic, even mystical, of all the types. They use an unusual degree of imagery in their language, the kind of imagery found in complex and often aesthetic writing such as novels, plays, and poems. To be sure, they often select liberal arts as a college major, and they may be attracted to creative writing as a profession. In all their communications, they are masters of the metaphor, and will naturally describe a thing in terms of something else. Their great talent for metaphorical language – both written and verbal – is usually directed toward communicating with people in a personalized way. INFJs are productive and effective when they make a concerted effort to focus on one project at a time. But their fertile imaginations frequently undermine their efforts to stay on the straight and narrow, and they will often start new projects based on fresh inspirations – and, before they know it, they will find themselves buried and overwhelmed under an avalanche of work. Dealing with too much at one time can easily overwhelm an INFJ – too many tasks and too much noise mixed with too much commotion, thoughts, and emotions can cause sensory overload and trigger grave disruption to their psyche. There is really nothing INFJs can do to moderate the pace of their mind and inspirations; constant reminders to slow down and take things one at a time would be wise.
INFJ – Introvert, Intuition, Feeling, and Judging
Love you, mean it!