The INFJ Personality Type

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Grace and Benton have been fascinated with personality types for many years. They would have these long conversations, throwing out combinations of letters and talking in some kind of code that I couldn’t decipher. It made me a little paranoid. Finally, Grace convinced me to take the personality test so I could understand their weird language. She read the questions out loud to me and we had lots of laughs as I tried to answer honestly. Turns out she and Benton had very different opinions than I did about my personality! It was pretty useless but it was fun and it got me interested enough that I went back to the website https://www.16personalities.com/ and did the free test again in private. What I discovered is that I am “INFJ.” So now I knew my letters but what did that mean?

Weird Like Me

Each letter stands for something that is indicative of your personality and I must admit, for me,  they are pretty darn accurate. But it’s more than just a personality test that is kinda cool to take, it turned out to be a life changer for me. I don’t use that phrase often as very few things in this world Change.My. Life. However, as I read more and more about this personality type, my understanding of myself and how I interact with others was suddenly very clear. And it was oddly validating. First of all, I’m not weird. Well, yes, I am but it’s a good kind of weird and even better, I’m not the only one! The things that I thought were strange about myself are actually very common in this personality type. And while it is one of the more rare types, there is a community of like-minded people out there and it is refreshing to not have to explain yourself all the time.

Intuitive

For example, the N stands for intuitive. Are you able to sense a room immediately? Or can you always tell when someone is unhappy or struggling with something? How many pregnancies have you discovered before the mother-to-be announced it? (Six for me.) We pay attention to body language and tone of voice and other small details that allow us to interpret intentions or meanings. I have always had a sense of what might happen next or how someone might react. The more we pay attention to our surroundings, watching and listening, the more we pick up on nuances. Being still and being in your own space allows you to connect and understand on a deep level, others and even yourself.

Feeling

But with being intuitive comes another aspect of personality type which is the F. This stands for feeling as we tend to feel what others feel. So when someone is mad or sad, depressed, or even happy and excited, it’s easy for us to get caught up in their emotions. We have to stop and remember where they end and we begin. Are we absorbing their emotions, or are they really ours? This is critical because if we are around angry or unhappy people all the time and absorbing their negative energies, then we might find ourselves getting very depressed and dealing with the physical and emotional turmoil that comes with that mindset. And it’s not even ours!

I worked for many years in a very negative environment. Everyone was always complaining and for some reason, my personality seems to invite others to bitch constantly to me. I would listen politely and then move on with my day. Unfortunately, the person who was bitching felt better about unloading their issues but without realizing it, I absorbed it and made it my own. It manifested in a panic attack and a few other health issues that crept up. The following year, I made the move to a different environment, same job, and it’s like night and day. All those anxieties have disappeared. Obviously it is possible to try to avoid negative people and if you have to interact with them, you can put your boundaries in place. But in order to be successful, you have to first realize it’s happening and then invest the energy to keep yourself alert and keep those boundaries up.  

Many caregivers or people in caring professions such as nurses, teachers, counselors, etc. are feeling. That’s why the burnout rate in those professions tends to be high. We are good at what we do because we are all in, reacting and interacting in the way that makes us excellent employees, friends, people in general. We can anticipate and intervene before anyone even knows there is a problem. Sometimes it comes at a cost and we must take a step back to be certain we are making the conscious decision that it’s worth that cost to us. Often it is, but honestly, sometimes it just isn’t.

Judging

And if we decide that it just isn’t worth the personal cost, know that we have thought it through extensively. The J stands for judging. We judge situations and ourselves almost to a fault. So rather than just jumping into something, we are more likely to study it to death, weigh all the options, study it some more, think about it and weigh the options again. But when we decide something, when we are ready to commit and go forward, we are convinced it is the right way to go.

It’s one of the reasons I named this blog ‘good advice delivered poorly.’ You can trust that I’ve done the research and I’m sharing what I found, after much thought, to be most beneficial and helpful to me and I genuinely hope it can help others. It might not benefit you and that’s okay too, but for me and for those who think like I do, I hope you will find this interesting and maybe useful. And remember, if this doesn’t interest you, it’s not that I’m wrong…it’s just that it’s not for you!

Introvert

So now for the I. It stands for introvert. This is not just someone who is antisocial or shy. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I am fairly social and no one at work would say I’m shy. I get out there and I do what I need to do with energy, enthusiasm and dedication. And then I go home and fall asleep for thirty minutes. And I mean a dead sleep, like snoring and drooling. Then I wake up and go about my evening just fine. I always thought I was lazy or that something was physically wrong with me. But after doing some research on this personality, it makes perfect sense.

In general, an introvert gets their energy and recharges from being alone. People wear us out because there is so much going on in our own minds and hearts that being around others and all that’s going on with them is overwhelming. Some people, my husband for instance, get their energy from being around people. Sitting at home alone is heaven for me and hell for him. Thankfully we figured this out early in our relationship and we accommodate each other.

I’ve seen several articles about INFJ personalities in relationships and they all have the same theme directed at someone who loves an INFJ…it’s not you, it’s them. This is so true. I love my husband and I love spending time with him. And then I need him to leave. And then I’m very happy to see him again. Until he needs to leave again. Over the years we have both learned that it truly isn’t him. It is me and it’s what I need. Thankfully this works for us. He is so stinking social, he can make a friend with anyone, anywhere. And he does. He sure doesn’t need me sitting there wishing I was at home alone!

OMG Stop Talking to Me!

Sometimes it’s a challenge for an introvert to be around an extrovert. Have you ever sat in a room with someone who just would not stop talking? They just have to fill the space with chatter and often will think something is wrong with you for not talking nonstop. Are you mad? Are you sick? Why aren’t you talking? Ummmm…I don’t have anything to say….??? I only get mad when someone doesn’t respect my personal space enough to stop demanding that I talk. If I don’t want to talk, I don’t have to! Keep bugging me and I WILL be mad!!! And then we have a whole other problem!

Into adulthood, it was much easier to have the space and the time I needed but I often didn’t realize that was what I needed. Especially after I had children. I wasn’t comfortable sending them away even though mommy needed some “mommy time.” Instead I’d get run down and sick, developed depression and anxiety and was probably pretty grumpy. All because I didn’t know what my body and my mind needed. I felt bad removing myself and it took a while to learn that when I could be alone and then go back to others, I was a much more enjoyable person to be around.

Benton will tell you he figured this out a long time ago because he is a profound and wise person. And he probably is, and he probably did. But even he couldn’t put it into words. It was just how things were. Thankfully he accepted it and we were able to grow together despite our different personalities.

Knowing Ourselves

So this is a quick overview of just one of the many personality types out there. This is me. Some of it is Grace, Tara and Benton – we are all a mixture. Knowing this has helped us understand ourselves and each other so much better. There are times when I check out of the news for a while because it’s getting to me. It doesn’t bother Benton so he’ll fill me in if anything big happens. There are weeks when I’ll avoid Facebook because of the drama. Politics or complaining about things will get you quietly blocked. Again nothing against anyone else, it really is just me. It’s what I can handle verses what I’m tired of. I mean…life is hard enough.

When you get the time, wander over to the 16 personalities website https://www.16personalities.com/ and take the free test. It’s enough to get you started and get some insight into your own personality. You might spend a good part of it nodding your head yes and wondering how they know so much about you! Then there are countless books and other sites that cater to various personality types so you can find out more. One of my favorites is The INFJ Writer: Cracking the Creative Genius of the World’s Rarest Type by Lauren Sapala. She really gets it and she even made me cry a little!

Good luck on your journey of self discovery and if any of this sounds like you, reach out and let me know you’re there. Easy enough for me to say, I know! But look, I’m writing this stuff and sending it into the world and it just about kills me. If I can do this, you can say “Hi”!

We’re all a mess but it’s okay…it’ll all work out!

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