Hello, my name is Linda and I am an Introvert. More specifically, I am what Myers-Briggs profiling describes as an INFJ. It is a personality type I share with Nelson Mandela, Oprah Winfrey and Mother Teresa and between 1 and 3 percent of the population.
It helps to know this as I have lived the larger part of life feeling like a fish out of water. So much easier to have the traits shared with more dominant personality types and have shared experiences with many more than just 1 to 3 percent. But what does it mean to be an INFJ personality type. To keep it manageable I’ve broken it into a few segments that helped me understand how I respond in different situations.
Knowing which personality type I favoured helped me flourish in difficult circumstances as I learned why I found some circumstances challenging and thrived in others. Maybe you share some of these traits and characteristics and perhaps you’ll be encouraged to explore your personality type. It helped me understand my challenges and strengths and how to address each of them in more helpful ways.
So what do the letters INFJ stand for and what do they mean?
Introversion (I). Intuition (IN). Feeling (F) and Judgement (J).
The dominant function of this personality type is their Introverted Intuition: deep thinking and ability to understand how things are below the surface for others. This is the main way this type processes information and interacts with their world. They use this to figure out how people tick. They notice patterns of behaviour in people and events that help them understand human nature and process the responses of others to themselves and their world. These folk are perceptive and not easily deceived.
This introverted intuition helps us see the big picture, to notice patterns and while we may not be able to foretell future events, we have the ability to see consequences well into the future.
The other characteristic of INFJs are their Extroverted Feelings. Before I took the Myers-Briggs character analysis I’d describe myself as an emotional chameleon little realising this as a major component of our makeup. We absorb other people’s feelings intensely even those of strangers. Because we can carry these emotions we tend burn out easily in our chosen professions of counselling, social work and other helping professions.
If there is a down side to this characteristic it is that we don’t do self-care well. We have been described as the champions and doormats of others. It is hard for us to be assertive in getting our needs met. The sessions with a psychologist during my down time of burn out I did learn a number of strategies to help take better care of myself but these still tend to take second place if others are in need.
INFJs are sometimes called “extroverted introverts” or even “ambiverts”. We earn this nickname because we can be passionate, enthusiastic and talkative when in the presence of those we feel comfortable with. As true introverts we tend to prefer smaller groups of people we know well and with whom we can enjoy deep conversation and meaningful friendships. If you tell me you are “fine” be prepared for me to ask what fine means for you and how does fine feel for you. On the other hand if I tell you I am fine, it is more than likely a guarded response and I’m withholding. Privacy is an important value of INFJs; we are not emotionally public folk.
Things that ring the INFJ bell
- A sense of purpose
- Meaningful conversation
- Deep understanding of themselves
- Human contact – not social contact. We aren’t drawn by small talk and need people who can enter the inner private world for connection
- Alone time to recharge; time to focus on self-development and growth; time to reflect and process our experiences. We can feel drained, irritable, moody and overstimulated if we have to be in large noisy groups for any length of time.
- Structure: we enjoy planning ahead. I don’t like surprises and I like to know where I am going to sleep each night so spontaneous weekends away come with a certain amount of angst.
- Independence: we find it difficult to go with the crowd. INFJs tend to be easy-going but don’t underestimate our ability to be ambitious, strategic and strong-willed. We are free-thinkers and happy to go it alone. We are happiest when given a task and the freedom to function alone and in control our environment, priorities and schedule.
- An orderly environment: I don’t need my books in alphabetic order but I do need them on the bookshelf
- Outlet for insights: we have been called old ones who understand human nature and we value having others with whom to share these insights through counselling, writing and blogging.
- Creative outlet:
- Beauty: we find music and nature calming
- At least one other person who completely understands us. We are not easily understood and can be a pain in the derriere to get close to. I understand why many can’t be bothered but I am blessed to have a few people who absolutely get me. I think I am more fortunate than most other INFJs out there.
Things that make our hair curl
- Superficial conversation: the weather, housework … you get the picture
- Deceit and manipulation
- Arguing for the sake or arguing
- Having to compromise on our core and life values
- Criticism: no one enjoys criticism – or our post-modern euphemism of feedback – but if you’re going to be harsh, nitpicky or accusatory then our hair definitely will be quite frizzy
- Cruelty in any form
How about you? Do you know which personality type you are? If you’d like to find out more there are a number of website that are helpful. This one provides a free print out of your results.
- For the day of rain yesterday and sunshine today
- That others are willing to work on public holidays so we are able to enjoy our down time
- For children’s happy voices and enthusiasm
- For bloggers and others who read my jottings
2020 is the eleventh year in which thousands of bloggers participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge during April. I am combining this post as part of that challenge as well and a continuation of recording the 2nd Stage of our Oz Road Trip.