It’s Hard To Be an INFJ—The Rarest Myers-Briggs Personality Type

Myers-Briggs Inventory

Isabel Myers and her mother, Katharine Briggs—both psychologists— developed the Myers-Briggs Personality Inventory more than fifty years ago.

Carl Jung

Carl Jung

They were looking for a way to classify different types of personalities and describe them using the theories of Carl Jung, the famous Swiss psychoanalyst. They wanted to create a tool to help people understand themselves and others.

The Myers-Briggs Inventory was first published in 1975. Its practical applications have been expanding ever since—in schools and colleges, business, counselors’ offices, and other settings.

The Myers-Briggs scale consists of four pairs of personality traits—each representing opposite ends of a continuum. Myers-Briggs test scores show where an individual’s personality lies along each continuum, with capital letters used to identify the dominant traits.

Myers-Briggs TraitsIntroversion-Extraversion

The introvert (I) needs privacy and solitude, generally avoids large social gatherings, and is happiest either alone or in the company of one or two good friends. The extravert (E) gets uneasy when alone too much, seeks the company of others, and enjoys mingling.

Intuition-Sensing

Intuitive (N) people tend act on their hunches, which are usually sound. They’re skilled at sizing up others and knowing when situations are risky. At the other end of the scale, people of the sensing (S) type don’t trust impulsive judgments. They prefer solid data and rely on what they can see and feel. Privately the intuitive type thinks the sensing type is earthbound and unimaginative, while the sensing type thinks the intuitive type is impulsive.

Thinking-Feeling

The thinker (T) is ordinarily rational and cool when making decisions—not prone to emotional reactions. The feeling (F) person is more likely to be swayed by sentimental considerations and has a softer heart.

Judging -Perceiving

The judging (J) type is more focused and comfortable with closure than the perceiving (P) type. People with a dominant judging function rarely miss deadlines or are tardy for appointments. The perceiving type is more happy-go-lucky, often has several projects going at once, and is more casual about deadlines. When making a major purchase such as a car, the perceiving type enjoys the information-gathering and comparison-shopping part, but is a little uneasy once a selection has been made—worrying that more research should have been done. The judging person is glad the purchase has been decided upon and the check written.

It’s Hard To Be an INFJ

INFJs make up only 1% to 3% of the population, the rarest of the personality types. They tend to be perfectionists who fear they aren’t living up to their potential. INFJs can always list the things they’ve left undone but have a hard time counting their accomplishments.

INFJs hold strong convictions and are deeply affected by the suffering of others. However, because they are introverted, they prefer thinking about weighty issues to talking about them. Those who are activists—a role toward which they gravitate—take up causes for moral reasons, not for personal glory or political power.

The INFJ is often found at disaster scenes as a rescue worker. When a person of this type sees people or animals being treated cruelly, he or she may fantasize about getting revenge on the perpetrators. Although INFJs are gentle by nature, they are formidable in battle.

The highly developed intuition of INFJs warns them when trouble lies ahead—for themselves or the world. Some people find INFJs pessimistic or even a little paranoid. However, INFJs are more often right than wrong because their intuition is so accurate. This ability makes them effective problem-solvers with the ability to act insightfully and spontaneously.

When INFJs move into their extraverted mode, as they sometimes do, they can express a range of emotions and opinions quite effectively as they have excellent verbal skills. However, they tend to be cautious about revealing their positions. Like other feeling-judging types, they frequently feel caught between the desire to express their opinions and their reluctance to offend people. Some INFJs vent their private feelings to a few trusted friends. The friends are chosen with care, and the relationships are usually characterized by affection and trust.

When INFJs turn from their feeling to their thinking function, they may appear aloof. Others sometimes conclude that this detachment reflects cynicism. A friend might fear that the insightful INFJ is so perceptive about human nature that the friend himself or herself is being judged. Generally this is not true at all. The INFJ is simply distracted by the need to focus and think. Under stress, INFJs are likely to overlook what’s going on in their immediate environment.16 Myers-Briggs Types

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160 Responses to It’s Hard To Be an INFJ—The Rarest Myers-Briggs Personality Type

  • Understanding personality type is my current crusade. I am an INFP and use “type” daily and was surprised to see little mention of the heightened anxiety or stress related to intorverts and I have to say that (in my opinion), the INFP has a far more heightend sense of intuition than the INFJ. As you know, the “P” is not for procrastination, but rather it is more reflective of the depth one will go to to be able to wrap their thoughts around an idea, (i.e. “intuition”). This also would include all the unanswered questions about life. You certainly have a much greater sense of the future, yet the “J” will influence you either into action or to move on, while the “P” is yet going deeper. Jung stated that a person cannot fully understand personality type without an understanding of the concious vs. the unconcious and as my seeking “P” nature has pulled me into this concept I thought you might also like to share in this too. This is not criticism, it is simply sharing between two people who are have become fascinated with this subject. I welcome your comments too.

    • Hello, I’m overdue reviewing responses to my blogs in recent months–probably because most of them are spam. Yours was refreshing.

      Being an INFJ myself, I must disagree with you about P’s having more well developed intuition than J’s. On the other hand, perhaps their “P” gives them an edge because they give their hunches more time to develop before they act on them. They don’t have the need for closure that J’s do. INFP’s, by the way, are often categorized as “the therapist type,” which fits your description of yourself. INFJ’s are called “the author type,” and, indeed that’s what I am. I’ve been a writer all my life.

      In regard to stress, I think most introverts in our culture have some anxiety about being “antisocial” because the culture of the West (particularly the U.S.) overvalues extraversion. Most great thinkers have been introverts. In my opinion, if a person doesn’t spend considerable time in solitude, it’s difficult to develop the seeds of sophisticated ideas. Extraverts are too busy socializing. (I can hear my J speaking up there.)

      Thanks for your response to my blog.

      Barbara Cox

      • Aren’t they just preferences though? :I

        • You’re right. They’re only preferences. But not the kind of preferences you’re conscious of most the time. They’re just ways of thinking and acting in the world that you’re most comfortable with.

          If someone invites you to a big party and you’re an introvert, you might say, “Thanks, but I’d rather stay home and read ‘War and Peace.’” As an introvert, you may be okay with crowds at a symphony concert because you’re comfortable in that environment. If a couple of close friends suggest sitting around a fire and talking, that’s more likely to appeal to you than a big party. The extravert will seldom pass up a party. Introverts prefer being alone much of the time but indulge their extraverted side on occasion; the opposite is true of the extravert. All Myers Briggs types need to use both ends of the type preferences at times to stay in balance.
          As an introvert, I dislike sitting in airports because they’re crowded and noisy. When I’m on the plane reading a book, I’m fine.
          Compris?

          BC

        • Not personal preferences so much as natural tendencies. There’s a fundamental difference between the two.

          Think of it like right- or left-handedness. Sure, you can write or throw a ball with either hand, but one or the other probably is more natural for you, so that’s how you usually do it.

          • I have to agree with you, although it’s not the “correct” stance for Myers-Briggs scholars to take. The traits are called preferences, and to some extent that’s true. I am highly intuitive but for many years I made a living as a science writer. I was able to move into the sensing preference quite satisfactorily for that. However, while I think you can make a “sensor” out of an “intuitive”, the reverse isn’t possible. The intuitive can be ambidextrous; the sensor, maybe not.

      • As an INFP that can also fluctuate to an INFJ I’d have to agree, that INFPs have more Intuition.

        • Interesting comment. Perhaps Ps give their intuitive insights a little more time to percolate and therefore act more wisely on them. They’re willing to gather more information before acting. Js like me sometimes jump into action too quickly.

    • Hi im infp as well…:)

    • INFJ here.

      Imo, the J creates greater intensity which compels more focused Analysis and Observation than does the P. The P may take more time, but it is never as focused or intense and that ‘unpopular’ intensity is what results in near-100% intuitiveness. I certainly hope this is not taken as bragging. Based on observation with a lot of other people around me who have taken the test (coworkers).

      • Adam,

        As an INFJ, I enjoy working with perceiving types because they often delay closure on projects until they’re satisfied that we have all the information we need. When the process goes on too long, I get frustrated. The beauty of the partnership is that Ps prevent me from drawing conclusions or putting finishing touches on a project prematurely. I, on the other hand, help them reach closure sooner than they would without me.

    • I cannot speak but for myself alone. I could not help but bust out laughing when I read what you wrote about INFP people having a corner on the ‘heightened aniety and stress’ issues. I would beg to differ, being an INFJ.

      • Melissa,

        Actually, someone else made the comment about INFPs having anxiety and stress issues. The comment was made by “David” in 2013. My recent reply to that post clarifies my own position. Davis suggested that introverts have more stress issues than extraverts, and he has a point. However, I believe that J’s put more pressure on themselves to bring closure to issues than P’s do. Since you’re an INFJ, too, I hope you’ll understand what I mean.

        • To admin: I do understand.
          To David: I’m sorry David for misinterpreting your position.
          To everyone: are there any suggestions about how an INFJ CAN possibly deal with a violent assault on top of the issues assigned to us as INFJ’s? It’s not been easy.

          • Melissa,

            You don’t have to write much before it was apparent that you’re a sensitive, good-hearted INFJ. Thanks for the response.

            About the violent assault: I don’t know your age, but I was sexually assaulted when I was in my late sixties. I was still drinking alcoholic beverages and was, I believe, given a date-rape drug in a hotel bar. I won’t give the gory details, but I had acute PTSD for about two months afterward. I wouldn’t answer the phone or leave the house unless I had to. I had migraines much of time.

            About eight weeks later, I joined a rape victim support group in Gainesville FL (where I live). That was an enormous help. It put me back on my feet, and gradually I regained my enthusiasm for life and adventure. I wouldn’t volunteer for an experience like that again, but I’ve learned so much as a result that it was almost worth it.

            In the years afterward, I had a couple of brief recurrences of PTSD triggered by an uninvited advance by a man. You’d think that men wouldn’t be tempted by a woman in her seventies, but from my thirties on I’ve looked young for my age, which you may be able to tell from my blog photo, taken when I was 78 and on a trip to Antarctica. The image wasn’t photoshopped. I do color my hair.

            Anyhow, a few years ago a man I know from AA, where I have many friends, stopped by my house uninvited. I think he’d “gone back out”, as we say. He acted high. For that reason, I didn’t invite him in. As he was leaving he grabbed me on my front lawn and kissed me on the mouth. I was angry, but after he left, I thought, “No big deal, I’m OK.” Later that night I got sick to my stomach. I thought, “Oh no, it must be the flu.” But when a migraine started, too, I realized that my PTSD had been triggered. Knowing that helped. I figured I’d just ride it out, and I did.

            The episode helped me realize that I can NEVER let a man violate my boundaries like that. I have to stop them, no matter how I do it. It was a good lesson.

            Every once in a while, a man in my AA group who fancies me, but whom I don’t trust, comes up to me after a meeting and puts his arm around me, acting affectionate. I smile and say something like, “Ahem, I don’t think we know each other well enough for this,” and I pull away. I try to keep it on a kidding level. Because I’m taking care of myself, I don’t even get angry anymore. I think, “I have the power here, Buddy, not you. So buzz off.” I know a predatory move from an affectionate one and I’m no longer buying into the game.

            I appreciated your note and hope you get the support that will help your regain your confidence. Hopefully, you can learn the kind of empowerment I’ve been able to get. It’s helped me in many ways.

            Barb Cox

          • Thank you.
            I very sorry that happened. You deserve GRACE not that.
            I am fifty-one.
            While walking home, hit from behind on the head with a board, knocked out, dragged away.
            PTSD is now my life.

          • Melissa,

            If I got over acute PTSD, you can, too. Women who have been attacked need support, warmth and compassion. I found these in my victim support group and from a therapist. Validation was important to me. I needed help finding my personal power, my center. I needed to learn to stand up for myself. In your case, that was impossible when the attack took place. But it’s possible to recover from PSTD, I believe, by learning how to identify and preserve clear boundaries. I wish you the best. You can do it. You’re an INFJ!

            Barb

          • Hi,

            INFJ here. I also suffer from acute PTSD. I was curious if you were aware of your personality type before your traumatic event(s)? I know before being aware of my PTSD and all that includes I tested differently (though I can’t remember exactly what). I am trying to see if the PTSD changed my personality that much or if I have just become more self-aware and matured. I find it very interesting the amount of PTSD survivors test as INFJ, could be a connection or a coincidence. Opinions?

            Tyanna

          • Tyanna, I’ve been an INFJ as long as I’ve been taking the Myers-Briggs inventory, i.e., over 30 years. I can understand how traumatic events would influence type preferences, but in my case they didn’t. Types do tend to shift as one matures. I used to be extremely introverted. Now my scores are closer to extraversion. My feeling preference has become less pronounced, as I have greater access to rational processing of information. The same is true of my judging preference, which has eased off as I’ve become more relaxed. My intuition, thank goodness, has not changed.

          • I have known for over thirty years that I am an INFJ. I never thought about the possible effects of being an INFJ compouding my PTSD or the other way around until you suggested it. I really can’t answer equivically but I would venture to guess that the events causing my PTSD do make me much, much more self aware and isolating. Taking and staying on a path of isolationism has never been more seemingly important and prudent. Saying ‘hello’, working up the courage to go outside alone again, looking for a job have all been almost insumountable tasks. I am making small accomplishments, I did just land my first part-time seasonal job since March of 2012. I wish I was different, I wish I could see and feel differently and I wish more than anything I was not an INFJ or PTSD. Sorry. I belive INFJ’s are innately strong souls but PTSD is devestating to me in many more ways than I really want to know or understand. For myself time and denial seem to working best right now.

          • Melissa,

            I would probably have recovered from my own PTSD faster had I been another Myers-Briggs type. The combination of introversion, the introspection that goes with intuitiveness, and the “feeling” reactions to events can make recovery from trauma more difficult, I think. Support groups helped me a lot. It was important for me to recognize that I did not invite the attacks. I was simply walking through someone’s “sights” when the attacks occurred. Removing self-blame was important to my recovery.

            Still, I’m susceptible to triggers that catch me unawares. A couple of years ago, a man I knew from AA who had a crush on me came to my house uninvited. I’m pretty sure he was under the influence of drugs. I had the sense not to invite him into the house, but he did put his arms around me on my front lawn and kiss me. I was shocked. I went into my old automatic mode of laughing it off and suggesting that he leave because I had things to do in the house. I thought I was fine. That night I went to dinner with a friend, came home around 9 pm, and started throwing up. I suspected food poisoning or perhaps the flu. Then a migraine started. It took me about an hour to recognize the symptoms of PTSD and to realize that they’d been provoked by the man’s earlier unwanted advances. After that I was able to regain my balance. By morning I was still a little shaken but no longer confused and helpless.

            If I could replay the scene, I would have backed off the moment the mane made body contact, put on a stern face and said, “Get out of here. NOW.”

            BC

      • Agree with Melissa

    • David,

      You mentioned heightened anxiety and stress related to introversion. I hadn’t considered those dimensions of the “I” preference, but it makes sense. Extraverts are out in the world more and less likely to dwell on troubling issues. You may also have a point about perceiving types dwelling on unanswered questions longer than J’s, who reach closure sooner. On the other hand, I see P’s as less likely to get anxious about deadlines, looming decisions, etc. As a J, I find it hard to escape the pressure of getting things done on time, making the right decisions, and achieving perfection in my work. Maybe it’s human nature for J’s like me to think P’s have it better!

      • Exactly. When under stress, the INFJ thought process goes crazy. Me, personally, as an INFJ diagnosed with severe anxiety, I go through hell. I scramble everywhere, I can’t think straight at all, I lash out on anyone in my way, and if I can’t perfect what I do, I completely meltdown. I have no clue what to do except burst into tears and practically vomit my emotions in the most dramatic way possible. If there are any snags in my daily plans I move past them, but they still really, really hurt.

        I also remain in this state ALL DAY. Nothing will ‘cheer me up’ because I cannot take any focus off “you totally screwed up. BAD” Even mistakes that are seen as completely petty to others will butcher me.

        Let’s not forget that if any of your loved ones feel like crap or have a bad attitude, you immediately catch those emotions like a sickness. It can get physically painful.

        I don’t know any INFPs personally, but my boyfriend is an INTJ and he goes through pretty much the same thing. He says “It must be an IN thing. Every time you’re hurting it physically kills me”. I think it’s an INJ thing, honestly.

        I never really see any other types describe emotional pain like an INFJ. It’s emotional, physical, mental..everything hurts and it can be transferred from other problems as well that aren’t even yours? It’s really, really hard to exist as this type, it’s also really hard to die.

        • Kitten,

          Are you under thirty? You remind me of what my life as an INFJ was like when I was in my teens and twenties. I was overwhelmed when relationships, studies or projects went wrong. It was all I could think about. Failures made me feel worthless and unable to function. You’re fortunate that your melt-downs last only a day. Mine used to last for days and sometimes weeks.

          No more. Years of experience have helped. But I’ve picked up many strategies to soften my misery. For one thing, I began studying Buddhism about 15 years ago. It’s helped enormously. I do guided meditations recommended by Thich Nhat Hahn, the famous Buddhist teacher from Vietnam who now runs a monastery in France but travels around the world. There’s one meditation I particularly like that’s based on breathing. On inhaling, I whisper, “Breathing in, I see my five-year-old self.” When I exhale, I say, “Breathing out, I smile.”

          You’re right about INFJs being energy sponges. I absorb other people’s sadness and suffering too easily. I don’t even like spending much time in public places such as large, open restaurants, because I’m so aware of the energy people give off. It’s the reason I dislike air travel. Being on the plane isn’t hard. It’s sitting in the airport with all the human chaos that disturbs me.

          INFJs more than most other types need to be seekers after their own truths. They need to search for things that bring them peace and joy. I find a lot of comfort in animals and am involved in wildlife sanctuaries and pet rescue organizations. When I’m depressed or frightened, I remember that I’ve always recovered my enthusiasm and joy eventually and probably will again.

          Barb Cox

        • I am an INFJ. I wish I could express myself as beautifully as you did. As I sometimes do I never got lost in your words. Beautiful.

          • Kitten,

            Thanks for your kind words. I think about every reader’s comments before responding. Thirty years ago I earned a graduate degree as a mental health counselor. I sat in a room with clients eight hours a day. I decided to return to writing as a career because all the human contact was too intense. (I’m very introverted.) In this blog I try to treat each person as a “client.” I have a responsibility to help as much as I can.

            Best,

            Barb Cox

  • Sorry I’ve been so long in replying. I get so much spam in with bona fide responses that it’s discouraging. Feel free to use my blog content in any way you like.
    Best wishes,
    Barbara Cox

  • Feel free to share my blog contents in any way you like.

    Barbara Cox

  • As an INFJ, I am comforted by information about my personality type that can serve as scaffolding and help me better understand my course in life.
    I am almost 24 and trying to find myself. Since I was about 5 years old I have said I was going to be a doctor. I lived by this and justified paths I took in life by how they would help my medical school applications. With a college degree in Biochemistry and Pre-med qualifications, I took various jobs in health care, such as an emergency medical technician, patient care assistant, and others.

    In the end, I decided not to apply to medical school. I think I grieved about this decision for a while, not because it was a poor one, but because I didn’t keep my promise to myself. If I was capable of being a doctor, I thought I owed it to myself and to society. This was the first time in my life when I got off track and felt uncertain about my future.

    Since then, I’ve been told I am a born salesperson. This made me decide to become a medical device rep in the OR. Not only am I good at sales, but I have the biochemistry background and enjoy working in healthcare settings. I love being in the OR.

    I took a management position at a small medical device company and doubled their sales within 3 months. The job was a stepping stone but offered no growth opportunity. To break into the larger medical device industry, I’ve been told I need at least 3 years’ experience in another area—such as selling household appliances or office machines. My sources say that people with such experience make excellent medical device reps, but I don’t want to do this kind of selling for years before I do the work I’ve chosen.

    Going to medical school was a path with a known result. People tell me I’m bright, but without a clear plan I’m like many other INFJs, wondering whether I’m wasting my time. Above all, I want to be challenged and “make a difference.”

    Uncertain INFJ

  • Thanks for your input, Gina. If you’re like many INFJs, you ask a lot of yourself and underestimate your potential. My guess is that any medical device company would be glad to see you walk in the door, and you wouldn’t have much trouble finding a job–without having to sell refrigerators and copy machines for two years before qualifying.

    BC

  • Hi,
    My psychologist diagnosed me as an INFJ a no. of years ago. I was a teacher for many years and found myself advocating for the children in my care when others would not. I was always trying to make things better when I saw children who were hungry or thirsty. I was criticized for this by my fellow teachers and some administrators. I have also gotten involved in situations where I see older children bullying younger children in grocery stores with their parents not paying any attention. I have reported shoplifters and confronted them myself in grocery stores. My friends shake their heads and wonder why I bother. My social conscience is so strong that I can’t stop myself. I wish that I could change but I can’t. It would certainly make my life more peaceful.

    • The world is a little better place with INFJs like you in it. That’s the service we perform.

    • Kathy,

      I suffer from an overdeveloped conscience, too. When I can act in a way that improves a situation for others, that’s good. But this trait becomes a hindrance when all I can do is wring my hands. The pain of others is often painful for us as INFJs, but when we can step in to relieve their suffering, it’s good for the world. Did you know that Nelson Mandela was an INFJ?

      Barb Cox

  • I first took the Myers Briggs test when I was 29 years old. I was surprised that the test results were so detailed and accurate about my personality. Yes, I am an INFJ, and for the first time, learning about my personality type was an excellent way for me to understand not how I navigate through the world (this I knew) but rather, why. It was extremely comforting to learn about my temperament. In fact, when my friend, a psychologist, asked me, “So, have you always felt like an alien among most people?” I said, “Yes, and I feel okay about that now. It’s not just ‘in my head’. My personality may be in the minority, but it is still valuable.”

    • Good for you. I, too, no longer feel like an alien. I know that I’m blessed with a rich interior life that takes me places most people can’t go. My solitude rewards me in many ways. I can always find people to spend time with when I want to, but I enjoy being alone for long stretches. I went to Alaska by myself when I was in my late 70s. I camp with my dog (no humans). And I often float in my little pool watching the clouds, life in the treetops, and hawks surveying their territory.
      My introspective nature prevents me from being carefree all the time, but I still find the cost-benefit ratio favorable.

      Barb Cox

      • Barbara, I enjoyed your Alaskan story, your a marvelous 80 years old, I feel 80!

        I’m 38, but I feel 80 for all the GREAT things it represents…I feel I can float on my back through life, watching clouds, like you’ve said, because that’s so rich, life is rich when you are an INFJ,

        I can enjoy being myself. Being complex, intense and like you guys choose to not share anything deep with people that doesnt understand and have that depth themselves.Not judging them for it, they are great in other things.
        Before I knew my personality type I risk to share personal info with too many people,I couldn’t draw boundaries…Its hard for us, typical humanitarians to say no. I’ve helped all over the earth and then realized:” I deserve a life as well”, and then stopped.

        The way I help now is just different, but now I’m not alone. I’m happily married and near my family and even tho day to day tasks are difficult I bake and just burn every second cake now.My husband an ENTP just smiles and rescues me daily for domestic horror.We haven’t been in hospital for food poisoning and I think he will give me a medallion for that this Valentines day.
        I have realized its OK not to be able to share deep convictions, political perspectives and spiritual information in various social circles.Some people live a different live and doesn’t want to explore deeper things.I do challenge when I feel led and is not afraid to go against the grain, but I pick my battles and try to see things in the bigger scheme.

        I’ve come to know that everybody DOESNT always wants your help. Others you will irritate( even if you sy nothing), because they can see that you can see right through them.
        I use to feel bad about it when they then reject and persecuting me, but now I just smile and give them more love and grace…well mostly…if its not that time of the month, in which case I just lock myself up and watch movies, ha ha!
        I don’t feel bad anymore if people say I’m snobbish if I want to be alone for a time, I know that’s how I recharge and that is how s givers don’t burn out if they don’t spent quality time with oneself and trusted friends.
        I’m OK with the fact that I’m too intense sometimes and try to speak about mundane things as well( how bloody boring, but anyways!)I’ve also come to the realization that my internal feelings aren’t always true.How shocking!
        Idealistic thoughts can be challenged by more realistic personalities and the fact that others does’n manifest the principles that I live by can be review in grace now… well…most of the time,,, ha ha.This all has happen because I was granted the grace to discover my own personality type and short comings and by the grace of God I can have grace for others as well.This is a journey tho.
        I’ve buried my craze to help others and feel more at peace. Sometimes people are not ready to be helped.I help those who wants help and learn to help not just in humanitarian ways like church, schools and medical fields, but in writing inspirational pieces. Don’t worry I do that in another language!This is my second language.So yea…I love the company of older people, I can learn so much from them!Glad to see all the inspirational pieces here.

  • Ahhhhhhh. My old ‘bug under a microscope feeling’ as I’ve described it for over 40 years. I had not realized INFJ’s were so rare. Makes me wonder how well 2 would mix since I don’t think I’ve ever met another.

    • You’ve undoubtedly met other INFJs but didn’t realize it. They’re often hard to spot. People swear that I’m an extravert not an introvert, but that’s because I’ve developed a personable facade. Also I enjoy the company for others for short periods. Most of the time, I prefer being alone. My best friend is also an INFJ and we have a wonderful time together. We understand each other deeply. Another good friend is an INFP. It’s the “NF”, I believe, that’s critical in these intimate relationships.

      Barb Cox

    • I come from a family of 4; my mother, father, brother and myself. 5 years ago we encountered a life altering situation as a family and began family counselling as a way to cope and heal together. Our councillor had us take the Myers Briggs Test so she could determine how to best help each of us. It turned out we were all INFJ’s. When I realized just how rare our type was, and even rarer that we were all INFJ, it was at that moment it finally made sense why I always felt no one in this world understood me like my family. The love, respect, understanding and devotion we have for each other has been invaluable and unique in so many ways.

      I’ve come across many people in my life, and like a true INFJ I reserve extra love and time for very few. I feel like who I give my time to is amplified even more given how secure and loved I feel by my family since they simply understand me without judgment and vice-versa. I find it fascinating how elevated my relationships are with my immediate family since we are all INFJ. It’s special indeed and I feel blessed.

    • My mom and I are both INFJs. Is that usual?

      • It’s common. Personality tendencies and talents are linked to DNA as well as early environmental influences. I’m an iNFJ and both my grown daughters are, too. I love it!

      • My 46-year-daughter & I are INFJs. My 52-yr-old daughter is an ENFJ.
        I do believe that personality traits are genetically influenced. Sharing this common ground is great.

        BC

  • Is it possible to change over years? I took this test in 1999 at age 23 and was INFP. Now I believe I’m INFJ because I’m pretty focused and plan ahead, unlike when I was a more flighty college student.

    • People’s ratings on the Myers Briggs Inventory do tend to shift over time. If their scores are extreme in any of the dimensions, they tend to move toward the center as they adapt to the circumstances of their lives over the years. It seems that this has happened to you.

    • According to Myers Briggs theory, people do change as they age. If they are at the extreme end of a certain dimension, they tend to move toward the middle over the years. It happened to me. I was once extremely introverted. I’m still introverted, but I’ve moved closer to center. My intuition has remained strong, of which I’m glad. My feelings are under better control now, so I’m able to use the thinking function more effectively. Unfortunately, the J hasn’t changed much. I could use a little more P.

    • Kelly,

      It’s not only possible to change your type preferences over the years, but it’s desirable. When I was younger I was so introverted I scored almost no points on the extraversion scale. Now I’m closer to the middle. I’m still a little too heavy in the Judging department, but not as much as I used to be. This makes me more easy-going and less “Type A.” Even my pronounced Feeling scores have moved slightly toward the Thinking end of the continuum. That’s good because it protects me from becoming inappropriately emotional.

      Barb Cox

  • Dear Barbara
    Thank you for sharing about INFJs.
    I found that the Myers Brigg Personality Test is only the first step to understanding someone, especially our dearest and friends. Even within a group of INFJs, rare as they are, people can differ from each other considerably. I guess, it is more calming to realize hat “Everyone is beautifully unique”, what do you think?

  • Thanks for the e-mail. Sorry to be so tardy in responding. Yes, 1-3% is correct. It was reported by researchers at the Myers-Briggs Center in Florida.

  • Wow is all I can say. This is the first time I have ever come across others feeling like they are alien, just as I do. Although I must say I am 22 and at the hardest moment in my life. That indecision about where I belong as many of you have described above has landed me hopeless and behind. I honestly don’t know what to do though. I am talking to a therapist, but I have talked to 10 since I was a child, mostly because my father died young, and no one has helped me. I don’t know what to do with my life but as I am 22 now it is decision time, I can not sit in school and not decide a major any longer. I can feel I am getting worse and worse by the day, my depression is deepening and more and more it all seems pointless. Can any of you shine any light on how you found your reason for being around. I am just so lost and hopeless.

    • Timothy, many INFJs lead lonely lives before they find themselves—always searching for their essence. As an old woman, I can now say I’m glad to be an INFJ. But I suffered a lot getting here. INFJs have complex inner lives, intuition that gives them unusual insights, great compassion, and the courage to do the right thing when those around them are behaving like sheep.

      You are 22 and in a muddle about your future. Take comfort. People in their 20s are in a turbulent decade of life. They’re trying new ideas and behaviors and contemplating directions to take without foreclosing their futures. They approach life in an open and often painful way. They get into emotional scrapes, stumble and grope. But if they have the courage to continue, they become huge assets to their friends, families and society at large.

      Some famous INFJs from history include Jimmy Carter, Gandhi, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alec Guiness, Aristophanes, Garry Trudeau, Goethe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Nelson Mandela. You’re in good company! And you’re a treasure to the rest of us.

  • As an INFJ I believe it’s imperative that you take heed off your inner voice of good. If you’re an INFJ and don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s time you conquered the shadows within and reclaim your hope.

    As an burdened, INFJ. I feel blessed for my gifts, and I enjoy doing good in this world. If you focus on the doing what feels right to you, you will be a happy INFJ. Trust yourself above everyone else.

    Just embrace your role as a guardian and shepherd of people, and submit to your intuition; he’s got this shit together.

  • This information came from research data collected by the Myers Briggs Center.

  • Wow Gina, my story is very similar to yours. I’m a 23 yr old INFJ and the profile really resonates with me especially in the characteristic about being a very complex person, even so complex that I don’t understand my own self. I remember when I was 5 the first thing I wanting to be was an artist, specifically a painter. Then I remember someone telling me that most artists are “starving artists” and I scraped that Idea knowing that I didn’t want to be poor the rest of my life. I decided I wanted to be a doctor sometime around middle school and I devoted my whole life to becoming one. I liked the idea of helping people and being very successful at the same time. I got a degree in BioChemistry did medical internships and even took the MCAT, Every time I had doubts I just told myself that that was the weak part of me that was trying to give up. But when it came time to write my admissions essay I didn’t have anything to say and realized it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. I needed to find a new path so I set off on a Dream to become a hot shot artist manager in the Music Industry. After a year of trying that, I became very successful but I found out that it is not at all what I want to do. I am terribly miserable being an introvert and having to deal with people 24/7. I am now in another struggle with what career to pursue. Since there has never been a clear path to me I worry that whatever my next choice is I will end up finding out AGAIN that it’s not really what I want to do.
    I have been trying to do a lot of soul searching lately thinking back to what I first wanted to be when I was young. One of the main reasons I stopped the Med School route was because I felt like my life was missing a huge component of who I am, the creative component. I know that whatever my next path is it has to be something artistic that includes that creative aspect, problem is I just don’t know what it’s going to be. I dream about designing clothes or shoes, sometimes I think I should be some kind of web designer (I’m very good with computers), and then other times I can see myself being a videographer or a director, Even a lot of my dreams are movies that I’ve made up in my head and I play one of the characters (I don’t know if that’s normal). And then other times I just want to say the hell with it all, sell everything I own and go backpack through South East Asia. All of these career options seem to need some kind of school or financial backing to start a business and my problem is that I’m broke and I’ve already finished college. Considering my student loans, I can’t go back unless I’m absolutely certain I’m on the path that I truly want. However none of these stick out as thee ONE. I am terribly lost and without a set path I feel like my life has no purpose. I hope that some of you INFJ “Counselors” out there can help me find the right career and path in life, any positive advice is helpful.
    -I am just another lost and misunderstood INFJ

    • Alexis,

      Intelligent, creative INFJs often have trouble settling into careers that satisfy them. I certainly did. First I wanted to be an artist. In fact, I majored in art in college, then decided not to make a career of it because you have to be really talented to make a good living. It’s chancy. Since I always got A’s in science and math, I went back to school in my late 20s for premed credits. I was about to apply to med school but chickened out. It scared me. I’d also been a good writer, editor of the school paper, etc., so I drifted into science writing. That was my career until I was 50. Then I got a graduate degree in psychology and became a therapist, only to discover that I did not want to listen to people talk all day long. So I established a writing agency and worked at home for corporate clients. I loved working for myself, away from a lot of bossy men. Plus, I made lots of money. When I reached retirement age, I dropped the science writing and began doing graphics, marketing, and photography for nonprofits on a volunteer basis, mainly animal welfare organizations. Although I have more than enough money, it was hard to give up my six-figure income for one reason. It made me feel important. It was a measuring stick. I’m glad I could let that need go, because now my happiness comes from helping animals and children.

      In graduate school, when studying the Myers Briggs, I learned that the twenties are a time of experimentation, trying on different hats. It’s a mistake for INFJs foreclose their options too soon. Their Introversion will be best served by a career that affords enough privacy and offers more one-on-one interactions than group contacts. The strong intuition (N) of INFJs makes it important for them to do more creative problem solving than repetitive tasks. It also gives them skill at sizing other people up. Their F (feeling) makes them compassionate, with high ideals and the desire to help others (that includes animals). Their J (judging function) makes them conscientious and reliable, always meeting deadlines, arriving places on time, etc., but they have a tendency to be hard on themselves. They expect themselves to do everything perfectly.

      BTW, I think your idea of backpacking through Southeast Asia is great. I traveled through North Vietnam with my daughter a few years ago, staying in junky little inns and eating bizarre food (like “dragon’s head soup”). It’s a wonderful way to clear your head and get a fresh perspective on yourself and the world.

      • Hi Barb,

        On searching articles writing about INFJ I have found your page and it captivated my interest at the very first moment. As an INFJ, I have been struggling so much for all my life, since my early childhood. It was so difficult for a child to fit into the society, whether at school or even in a family. I still remember those old days when I felt lost most of the times, I felt like being a alien who hardly found someone to talk with. I had few friends, actually just one by one over the times who would stayed close and understood me.

        Now when I getting older, at late twenties, I am struggling with finding a suitable job that inspires and allow my creativity. It is really hard to be a perfectionist, when you try to do everything at your best without much appreciation from colleagues. I sometimes have some arguments and conflicts with them when they cannot understand why I am so serious about everything I do. Simply I just could not take things superficially. I find the meaning in everything I get involved in.

        It is really interesting to know that you have been to Northern Vietnam. Did you visit Hanoi? It’s my hometown :)

        • Almost every INFJ I know feels the same way you do. We struggle to fit in with our peer groups, families, and co-workers and never feel quite satisfied, not matter what our outward achievements.

          My best friend, an INFJ, is a world-famous entomologist, one of the smartest people I know. His brother taught him calculus when they were 7th and 5th graders, respectively! He has a photographic memory. And yet he still feels like an alien sometimes, both socially and professionally.

          Work colleagues aren’t much help, as a rule. IMHO, the ESTJs (who abound in the general population) sail around feeling sure of themselves and telling everyone else what to do—without apparent qualms. To be happy and fulfilled, INFJs must find their own inner light, follow their dreams and listen to their hearts. Usually we know the truth of matters, no matter what other people say.

          Rarely do we have more than one or two close friends. That’s all we need. I have many acquaintances, people I enjoy, but my INFJ friend and my INFJ daughter are the only people I open up to completely. They’re wonderfully affirming.

          You’re from North Vietnam! I stayed at what was known as the Governor’s Palace in Hanoi about ten years ago. It was a stately but slightly shabby hotel for foreign visitors at the time. The beds were terrible. I loved the city, although I was terrified of crossing the street with all the crazy motorbike traffic. I visited several villages north of the city with a small group of fellow supporters of PLAN International. We woke up in our small hotel every morning to the sound of a loudspeaker apparently manned to encourage Vietnamese residents to get up and exercise outdoors.

          You may have seen my photographs of the area in the gallery section of my website.

  • This has been so interesting and reaffirming. As a now 43 year old I have spent my whole life feeling different somehow to everyone around me, wanting to understand the why and feeling for everyone’s situation, trying to be supportive. I have never found a career path that’s satisfied me for long and that’s despite giving jobs plenty of time and university study and postgrad study. I have changed direction many times and that’s been interesting for a while but not long. I am now wondering about writing. I so envy people with simple ambitions and single minded focus as I can’t stop thinking! I need to step into new challenges and problem solve and feel I am helping and also feel valued. If that’s not happening and things are repetitive or too “tasky” I move on! The complexity of things is what I love and also what bothers me. I love animals and I struggle majorly with loud, overbearing people… “new souls”. It’s good to read about others of my kind

    • Jill,

      You sound like an INFJ, for sure. We think we’re alone because there are so few of us. Since we live in a culture that values extroversion, we think we’re somehow lacking a critical ingredient of human personality. Actually, we need time alone in our heads to process the world around us. Too much exposure to people wears us out. The world would be a very shallow place without introverts.

      INFJs want to understand everything—why the armadillos dig up our plants, what Laura Bush is really like, why our best friend turns mean sometimes, etc. We end up understanding more than most people, but that’s seldom enough to satisfy us.

      We’re often not sure of our career path. Over a time interval of about sixty years, I’ve been a professional writer, graphic artist, photographer, and counselor (after four years of graduate school in my early fifties). I was successful in all these careers but finally came back to writing and graphic arts. The “simple ambitions” you refer to are fine for some people, but not for me or most other INFJs. Because I’ve allowed myself to experiment with my ambitions and pleasures, I’ve had a rich, interesting life—not that I was encouraged by anyone, to be sure. Some famous INFJ women include Eleanor Roosevelt, Mother Teresa, and Oprah Winfrey.

      INFJs love new challenges, ideas, and activities. An ESTJ will take her dog on the same walk every morning. An INFJ will find new routes because sameness and repetition bore her. Even when she’s scared, she loves new adventures and fresh experiences. INFJs usually love animals and are often involved in animal welfare causes.

      Joseph Campbell, the American philosopher said, “Follow your bliss.” Every INFJ should have this motto pasted on her bathroom mirror.

  • I love knowing that my INFJ self is NOT alone! I am a 47-year-old eighth-grade science teacher and am having a daily dialogue with myself about why I continue in this career path. It is getting excruciatingly hard to be around the noise and chaos every day. I love my students, of course, because they are funny, loving, and crazy but their energy on a daily basis is too much for me. I long to do something different and quiet! I want to be creative. I do draw mandalas for a hobby and will begin selling them soon but it is very hard to eke out time for that and be a public school teacher, as well. I’m drained when I get home and start my second job as a mother, wife and housekeeper! Beacon, you will have to tell me what a science writing is and does! I think I need to move into that line of work. You would not believe how many people have told me I should be a writer. I don’t even feel like I have ever had what it would take to be a writer but what do I know? Maybe one day I will grow up and decide who I want to be:) I will take any and all suggestions to heart! –Amy

    • Amy,

      All their lives, INFJs tend to dream of the things they wish they could be or do. They’re complex people who want to reach their full potential in life. As idealists, they try to leave a mark for good in the world. Often they dedicate themselves to helping others. At the same time, they’re always in search of private time to explore their dreams and creativity.

      In the course of my long life, I’ve been an editor, writer, graphic artist/photographer, teacher, and counselor. I’ve made a good living at each of them. But I’ve always come back to writing. My background in science plus my writing ability allowed me to find a lucrative career in medical writing early in adulthood. I interrupted my career briefly for a graduate degree in psychology. Now I’m finishing two books for middle school readers—”Great Animal Escape Stories” and “Wild Dogs of the World”. Maybe they’ll sell well. Maybe they won’t. But I love researching and writing them. I believe in them.

      The American philosopher Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss.” If you do that, things will work out. Aspiring writers, I think, should write about what they believe in and love and find their way from there. It’s always worked for me.

      Barb Cox

  • I am an INFJ and am truly in awe at how much this personality matches me completely. I am a writer and librarian, love to help others, am compassionate and have very good intuition, so much so that in the past, I’ve somehow known when overwhelmingly stressful things are about to occur, including the death of a pet and a failure in life. I am vivid memory for places, both real and imaginary (dreams) and recall visual details with great clarity. My imagination and creativity have always driven me to write. My perfectionist side often impedes my ability to write with certainty and I often find myself quite critical and rarely praise my many accomplishments. If others praise me, I find reason to find ways to doubt their sincerity, not that I am doubtful of their honesty but I feel like I can always do more, give more, be better, thus their praise is not worthwhile. I am a great thinker but rarely share my thoughts with others. Thanks for the article! I’d love to chat with other INFJs. Twitter me if you tweet, chirp, whatever your calling #TheQuietGem

    • Liz,

      Thanks for the e-mail. Like you, I’m almost clairvoyant in some situations. So is my INFJ daughter. We have uncanny mutual experiences even though we’re 1200 miles apart. As a young person, I’d often ignore my hunches if they were unpleasant or overly optimistic. Now that I’m an old woman, I respect most of them.

      You talked about being critical of your accomplishments, especially your writing. I suffer from this even though I’m a professional writer and have made an excellent living at it. Yet when I return to a book or article after an interval, I’m usually agreeably surprised by its quality. I doubt praise because I suspect friends are trying to make me feel good or their judgment is colored by their affection.

      I published a book about three years ago that I made available on the internet even though I was uncertain about its potential and never actively marketed it. It’s been selling well month after month without any effort on my part. That’s been a good lesson. I need to have faith in my instincts, do what I can to add a bit of beauty and goodness to the world, and then move on.

      I like your idea of chatting with other INFJs. If you can think of some way to set it up, please let me know. I’m not much into social media, but if someone makes it easy for me I enjoy it.

      Barb Cox

  • Reading this blog is the first time I have felt ‘normal’ in all my 57 years. I have a wonderful husband and two college student children with whom we are very close. With them I am comfortable but I have always felt like an ‘alien’ out in the world as someone else commented. Now I finally know why! I know why I could never decide what to be when I ‘grew up’ now. Why I had trouble settling on a college major. I have not been employed outside the home since my children arrived – by choice and now I finally do not feel guilty about the reason – I instinctively knew I needed a lot of calm time to think to,observe to well- just contemplate. I have never found another person who has felt this way. Not that I have not been active in the world – I always have enjoyed working with children when my kids were little, volunteering, fostering animals for a shelter etc but I could never imagine having to be around so many people and be ‘on’ 8 hours a day every workday. Even the thought drained me! I really need time to just watch the birds. Walk and watch the clouds move. Sit and read with our pets close by. Just time to think about things from the personal to the political et al. Looking back I think my mother was possibly an INFJ but the rest of my small family and my in laws are most definitely not. I am the weirdo( possible in my own mind – lol) because I ‘think too much’ and do not produce ‘things’ or have a desire to climb a corporate ladder or be ‘the boss’. I love my life and am very lucky to be able to live it the way I do but now I actually have a much better understanding and acceptance of myself. Thank you! —MER

    • MER,

      What a wonderful post!

      INFJs tend to feel like aliens. When they’re young, they don’t know what college major to choose. I’ve attended several colleges over the years, majoring in art and design, then pre-med studies, and finally (in graduate school) research methods (M.S.) and counseling psychology (Ed.S.) I always came back to professional writing.

      You love animals. INFJs are tender compassionate folks. Caring for animals is natural to us. I support a number of animal welfare organizations, sponsor monkeys in a primate sanctuary, and pay vet bills for people who can’t afford them. I’ve always had at least two pets. One of my daughters–also an INFJ–is a vet and opens her home to a variety of otherwise-homeless animals. She and I also sponsor families in developing countries through secular nonprofit organizations.

      I’m trying to be a vegetarian, working my way down the phylogenetic scale to fish. I gave up pork about 20 years ago, beef 5 years go (suffering a brief dietary relapse after chemotherapy), and chicken 5 years ago (same thing, except I currently allow myself one free-range chicken a month. Since I know that I’d never eat a chicken I had to kill, I hope to be poultry-free again soon.)

      INFJs think A LOT. Usually their conclusions are insightful and correct. When I, as an INFJ, don’t trust someone whom everyone else thinks is fine, the person invariably turns turn out to be untrustworthy. (Excuse me for the political note, but I always believed George Bush was a sneak. I knew he was stealing the Florida presidential election in Florida when it started happening.) When friends tell me—as they often do—“You think too much,” I reply, “Someone has to do it.”

      Be assured, INFJs are not weirdos. I will accept that many appear eccentric, but what does that mean? Eccentric people do what they want to as long as they’re hurting nobody. The hell with convention.

      What do we value in life? I used to make a lot of money. I admit that I felt good about it at the time. But the money itself wasn’t so important. Mainly, I used it as a measure of my value in the world. I didn’t buy or flaunt expensive “stuff,” never bought prestigious cars, and usually dressed like a hobo (albeit a clean one). When I retired fifteen years ago and gradually discovered that people valued me for many other reasons, money was important only because it offered security and let me have some extra fun. I finally knew who I was.

      I discovered what Popeye already knew: “I yam what I yam.”

  • As an infj and been through traumatic events and having two children and being 23, I feel my thoughts may be deeper… I understand the alien thing somewhat because I feel as if I lost touch with reality. . As if I may not be here.. I suffer panic attacks from over thinking. Though my thoughts are logical and quite precise, I can never express to others for the simple fact they think I’m crazy… and hey I might be but I find struggles with myself… who I am. I feel obligated to please others. The need to be known. I swear my happiness can onlu come from helping homeless…I never feel satisfied. My kids drive me nuts… I will think so much that I will end up with a migrane. Tonight for example… I couldn’t sleep… too many thoughts rushing through. I love it but hate it cause I will go so in depth that I question reality and wonder why I am here. Why me? Day to day battles with my head. My eyes glitch…feel paranoid. .. I think I caused myself some mental problems from over thinking things.

    • You’re 23 and you have two children? You have a lot on your plate. Under the best of circumstances INFJs have trouble juggling many tasks at once. We tend to be focused people.

      You say you “over-think.” I’m often accused of this. Like you, my thoughts are usually logical and precise. Ultimately I’m usually correct in my judgments. Because most people aren’t highly intuitive and analytical, however, they don’t get it. I, too, get migraines from trying to figure out problems and hanging onto them.

      While my cognitive abilities are strong, they don’t help me much when I get so obsessed with my thoughts and “story lines” that my functioning suffers. I can learn only so much from rehashing ideas over and over. Buddhism and the practice of meditation have saved me. I’ve learned that my mind and heart usually know the truth about matters without my having to spend long, sleepless nights playing detective. To help you put aside obsessive thoughts, I’d recommend two books by Jon Kabat-Zinn: “Wherever You Go, There You Are” and “Mindfulness Meditation.”

      I’ve found therapy helpful off and on over the years, mostly when I can’t see my way out of a dilemma or feel lost. However, good therapists are hard to find, so I screen prospects carefully. Often social workers specializing in counseling (LCSWs) are best. I avoid psychiatrists (MDs) and most PhD psychologists, although some are excellent.

      INFJs are idealists. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to save the world. Most of my causes involve animal welfare. I’m easily enraged by animal cruelty, irresponsible pet owners, and the use of elephants, monkeys and other animals for entertainment. What good does my rage do? Not much. About 20 years ago, I started volunteering at Gainesville Pet Rescue, Jungle Friends Primate Sanctuary, and other nonprofit organizations. I donate to Farm Sanctuary and other animal welfare organizations. When I put my money where my mouth is, it helps. When I’m driving around town, I stop to help an animal in distress or a dog who seems lost.

      A Buddhist principle that I’ve learned is not to generalize my rage, inflate my self-righteousness, or focus on the wrongs of others. Instead, I try to attend to the circle of life at my feet—to do what I can to live with compassion and tolerance for others and to reach out when I’m able.

  • When I was typed in college I was told I was an E/INFP/J, and now at 49 I’m definitely an introvert but still feel close on the P/J. My most defining part of my personality is that I’m an emotional sponge, soaking up all the feelings of everyone I’m in contact with or witness. I worry deeply about things that I feel threaten the world-hunger, weather crises, water shortage, pollution-and cry whenever I see someone else crying. I know exactly what you mean about feeling caught between wanting to voice my opinion but not wanting to offend. I love who I am, but think it would be easier to be someone else.

    • Kris,

      EINFPJ? You’re lucky, because in my opinion you have the best of both worlds. Your introversion and extraversion are equal, so you’re happy alone or in the company of others. Your perceiving and judging functions are split, giving you some of the happy-go-lucky qualities of the P and the conscientious, productive qualities of the J. As an N, you’re highly intuitive—a person with insight and vision. Personally, I value this more than the sensory, data-oriented skills of the S. And as an F, you experience greater depth of emotion than the T.

      You say, “I love who I am, but think it would be easier to be someone else.” I feel the same way. If we were Ts, we wouldn’t feel the pain of others so deeply. But we’re able to live life fully and can give more to the world than almost any other type. Some famous INFJs include Carl Gustav Jung, Robert Burns, Martin Luther King, Eleanor Roosevelt, Gandhi, Garry Trudeau, Goethe, Jimmy Carter, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Noam Chomsky, Oprah Winfrey, Plato, Robert Burns, and Simone de Beauvoir.

    • Kris,

      Your comment about feeling like an emotional sponge will ring true for many INFJs. Our intuition allows us to pick up on the psychological states of others readily, and our feeling ability gives us compassion and the ability to identify with them. As an introvert, I have to protect myself from overexposure to people because I can get overwhelmed. I don’t even like sitting in public places for long because I absorb so much energy from others.

      Barb Cox

    • I hear you, about being an emotional sponge! A lot of people, for instance, seem to get support from support groups, but I can hardly handle them. I don’t like the feeling of sharing thoughts, emotions, or experiences with strangers, but most of all I absorb all the pain and sadness of the other “sharers.” Therefore, I leave not having expressed myself and not presumably getting support, while everyone else’s grief, despair, frustration, anxiety, and self-loathing gets seared into my brain and I think about it and mourn for those people, and want to help, but don’t feel like I know what to say.

      • INFJs are sensitive to the energy in groups of people, or even the energy of one individual. Many of us feel uncomfortable in public spaces for that reason. Our shields are permeable. Our boundaries are soft. As far as helping others who are suffering, the INFJ has something powerful to offer than most folks don’t. We can listen with empathy, see another’s pain, and let them know that we hear them and feel for them.

  • I am an ENTP. Irreverent, caring, risk taking teasing, messy, – make many typos and feel irritaed at having to correct them, and hate being controlled by people or procedures. I had a crush on an INFJ for years after hugging her and having this sense of amazing once in a life-time communion. But she picks partners she can hide from. To me she said : “you analyse everything I say” (true, I did) We almost got together sexually a couple of times but my sense that she was holding back/hiding made her “moves” on me feel odd. Now I am finally getting an INFJ of my own! (Filipino girl) the deep/sassy/entertaining/shocking/philosophical conversations have been flying. She gets her visa any day now. Ok my take on INFJ’s: they battle with/deny their proud judgmental thoughts on people – a strong super-ego commands them: thou shalt not judge – but they do. It comes as a relief when some-one behaves so inhumanely that INFJ’s can let fly ! I have deliberately tried to show her that she can say it all but alas, on rare occasions she HAS offended me – so she has retracted a bit :o( but she is exhilarated by being given permission by me to tease. I’m getting bored now… ah your writing has the ring of the one-ness clear – insightful- intelligent – truth, with a subtle garnish of pride.

    • Brendan,

      You’re lucky to be an ENTP. There are days when I’d gladly trade places. I’d be glad to give you my J in exchange for your P.

      I agree that INFJs often struggle with proud, judgmental thoughts and superego demands. I have a Nazi on the committee in my head telling me what’s wrong with me and what I should do. At the same time, I have an angel who urges me to help suffering animals and people. I wish someone would educate the angel that I, too, need relief from suffering sometimes. Your funny comment about the the INFJ letting fly at someone who acts inhumanely on rare occasion is right on. When I finally cut loose at some form of human cruelty or greed, the spectators cringe and then applaud. I know no fear.

      INFJs, when treated kindly, are the most loyal friends and partners one can have. Their ethics are well developed and their thoughts are deep. Did you know that Nelson Mandela was an INFJ?

      Barb Cox

  • I’m 16 years old and have always felt that I sang a song which no one else could understand.I’m an INFJ. I love thinking and getting into philosophical debates with my friends but always feel that I’m not doing enough. I have almost no sense of achievement. But I’m very optimistic about life and what it holds for me even though sometimes I think it would be easier not to be me.

    • Maria,

      You already have important insights about yourself. INFJs ask a lot of themselves in terms of helping the world. Achievement, I’ve found, is best measured by contentment, compassion and joy. I’ve published a great deal in my life, but that’s in my past. I’ve made lots of money. It makes me feel secure, allows me to share with others and allows me to have a little fun, but that’s about it. Now my important achievements consist of things like finding a home for a stray dog and watching a warm relationship develop between the dog and happy owners. None of this has come easily, though.

      BC

  • Thank God I finally figured out I am INFJ! A few months ago (I was 24 then) I was trying to find myself and figure out what was “wrong with me” and why I was so hard to “get.” I had just decided to take a leap of faith and change out of engineering to go to medical school. I felt so strongly that engineering was wrong for me and that as a doctor I could do so much more to change the world. I took a personality test and have never been so well-described as by the description of a typical INFJ. I now feel more comfortable with myself and my decision to change paths, and I am now actually quite proud to have a rare and different personality type.

    • Morgan,

      Comments like yours give me joy.

      The INFJ personality type and the engineering profession aren’t good matches. Most engineers are STs, not NFs. Their work depends more on observation and data collection than on intuition. Moreover, the profession requires more thinking than feeling. In contrast, INFJs usually make wonderful physicians (mainly family practitioners, pediatricians, internists and psychiatrists) because they develop sensitive diagnostic skills and compassion for their patients. (Surgeons, pathologists, and neurologists are more likely to be STs, or at least Ts.)

      Your introversion gives you space to contemplate the world in private, taking time to look at all the evidence and draw wise conclusions. Your J will give you the persistence of a bulldog. You won’t quit until you’ve done everything possible to accomplish what you set out to do. Anyone who has an INFJ physician is blessed.

      As an INFJ, you’re in the company of Chaucer, Goethe, Ghandi, Carl Jung, and many others (including Ophrah Winfrey) who have made major contributions to the world. You’re an idealist with compassion and courage. Your patients will be fortunate to have you.

      Good luck!

      • Dear Hannah,

        Your wonderful post gave me the goose pumps. I’d like to pass it on to every INFJ 16-year-old girl in the country.

        First, you are different from about 98% of the people around you—INFJ being the rarest type. Most people aren’t going to understand the way you think. Treasure that. You have things to offer the world (and yourself) that others don’t.

        It’s not surprising that you have insights into people and visions of what will happen next. Intuition is strongly developed in the INFJ, and usually it’s on target. If you don’t know what you’ll do with your life, your lack of clarity is an asset. Life is an adventure, which I define as having the courage to embark on ventures when you don’t know what will happen. It means facing the unpredictable and getting the most of it. If you sign up for a Disney Cruise, that’s not an adventure.

        Making career decisions at a young age is a bad idea for INFJs. Once you lock yourself into a career, you close out untold options. Over my 81 years of life, I’ve been a commercial artist, editor, publisher, therapist, founder of a science writing agency, and freelance writer. I was good at all of them. I’m still publishing books and articles. If I’d locked myself into one career when I graduated from college, I’d have short-changed myself. Joseph Campbell, the famous American philosopher and mythology expert says, “Follow your bliss.” Then things will go well for you.

        I have an ESTJ friend who tells me “You think too much.” I say, “Someone has to do it.”

        Barb Cox

  • I have recently taken the test and I am an INFJ and this whole thing has been so relieving to read! I’m 16 years old and feel so alone. I’ve got a few friends but I’ve never felt understood by any of them. I am the youngest by 10 years in my family, so I’m basically an only child, and I’m very much the black sheep. Really I’ve always felt different from the rest of the world, and I’ve always felt that life was harder for me than everyone else, like I’m inadequate for life and don’t have what it takes in some way. But most of all I’ve really felt different. It seems like the way I look at the world could never be understood by anyone else, which leaves me very alone in my own little world. I’m also very hard on myself for not doing more to help the world around me. I’ve got high self-esteem, but I’m desperate to add my contribution to this life.

    I’m so thankful for this article and everyone’s comments because now I know that I’m not alone in these feeling of loneliness, outsiderness, and inadequacy. I’m not the only one who thinks all the time in ways other people don’t quite get. I’m not the only one who feels weird compared to the rest of society, and a little bit insane because of it. I’m actually normal, just rare! It’s so wonderful to know that I’m not alone! And that I’m okay!

    On the more positive side (because that sounded very depressing, I quite enjoy my life actually) I also know why I understand people so well, and why sometimes really weird things happen (like randomly kind of knowing what people are going to say before they say anything). And I’ve also been stressing out about what I want to do with my life, I would really like to firmly decide so that I could point my life in that direction as to do well, and be as prepared as I can. But I can never really pin point what I want to do. I’d love to be a director, or at least a big part of film making, but then I’d also like to be a children’s book illustrator, or maybe a photographer, or maybe something to do with science, and I also want to travel the world! Oh so many things, but after reading that people like me have changed the direction of their life many times and it’s just kind of who we are, I’m more content with just letting my life turn out the way it should by my intuition and my God. I think I’ve always wanted to give myself the permission to just let my life be the adventure that I want it to be, and let myself not be so hard on myself that I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life. I feel much better now about just trusting myself and God when the time comes to take flight into the world.

    But really this was just a big thank you for all of this! You wouldn’t (well yes actually, I’m sure you would) believe how much confidence I feel at just seeing with my own eyes that I’m not the only one like myself! I know that I feel so left out because there’s only one person like me in a crowd of 100 people! I think so much and so deep because that’s what I’m made for! And I can’t pick what I want to do because I’m not necessarily supposed to stay in one career all my life! I’m just so happy to have stumbled upon this and to have found others just like me. Thank you for existing ^_^

    -Hannah, the girl who’s not alone
    (this ended up way longer than I intended it to. Whoops.)

    • so this is really weird. o.O
      I’m 17 and also an INFJ. I have the same problems with choosing a career path, although I want to “start” with being a set decorator. I also felt alone before I took the test and also had this strong feeling of relief when I finally learnt that I’m not the only one. I hate that I can’t talk to some of my friends about things like that because they wouldn’t understand, they would say “stop hanna, you’re too hard on you, finally stop critisising yourself, you’re not alone etc” but they won’t understand my desire to know who I am and what the h*ll I am supposed to do on earth…
      yeah, this sounds really creepy and I apologize for my english, I’m german.

      greetings from another INFJ-Hanna that completely agrees to your comment above.

      • Hanna,

        Thanks for your comments. Unfortunately, people of other personality types often are unable to understand intuitive INFJs. They’re rooted in a concrete and often unimaginative view of life.

        You say you’re not sure who you are and what you’re supposed to do in this life. Our paths as INFJs are rarely clear. That’s because we’re open to new discoveries and adventures. By definition, an adventure is an experience with an unknown outcome. While an unknown future can cause anxiety, it’s also a great gift. If you close off your career options and life decisions at an early age, you’ll shortchange yourself of beautiful experiences throughout life.

        At 82, I have traveled to Asia, South America, Europe and other parts of the world–and not on guided tours. I took my chances, found interpreters, hired drivers—and as a result had amazing experiences.

        Don’t expect many people to understand you. But over your life, you will find a few. And follow your heart, even if your heart isn’t sure where you’re headed.

        Barb Cox

  • I am currently in nursing school, and part of an assignment we had to do was to find out our MBTI personality type. After completing the assignment, I was so intrigued by what I learned about myself as an INFJ that I have continued to research further. It is nice to have a “place” to put myself as I have always felt in some weird way so different from most other people and have often felt alone in the way I think of the world. I think the fact that I am so different from others has left me feeling like there is something wrong with me, and this has caused me anxiety as I am always so hard on myself. Learning that there are others with my personality type is a sort of comfort, and for the first time in a while I really love who I am knowing there is nothing “wrong” with me, I’m just different.

    • Ashley,

      Most assuredly there’s nothing wrong with you. In nursing school, you may not find many other INFJs, as the profession tends to attract sensing, not intuitive, types. When intuitives collaborate with sensing types, frustration often results. Intuitives can’t understand why sensing people don’t get their drift, nor why they don’t have more vision or imagination. Sensing types, on the other hand, often think that intuitives are over the top or weird.

      I believe that an extravert can usually understand an introvert and vice versa. A thinking type can understand a feeling type and vice versa, although they may get impatient with each other. A judging person can understand the laid-back ways of the perceiving type, although perhaps with a little difficulty. But I don’t believe that the sensing type ever really understands the intuitive type. It’s up to the N’s to be sensitive to the limitations of S’s.

      Because as an INFJ your type is shared by only 1-3% of the population, you have to develop confidence in your gifts without expecting a lot of people to understand them.

      Barb Cox

  • I don’t enjoy being an INFJ; for the most part, it has not been fun at all. I often wonder what the point of my existence is, and I have difficulty finding that point. It can be extremely painful. People sense my terrible shyness and sensitivity and exploit those traits of mine to the nth degree. And I’m excruciatingly aware of all of it. At the same time that I’m aware that people I care about and who I thought cared about me are using me, I’m unable to do anything about it because I cannot hurt their feelings. I would never even know how to do that. I’m not completely aware of how much pain this sort of thing causes me until well after the fact, after it has been processing inside me for quite some time, so then I couldn’t even do anything about it anyway. The window has passed, and I’m left with the knowledge that I just have to Stuff It. I’m not surprised it’s such a rare type, because it sucks so much to be one.

    • Ginamaria,

      I wish I knew your age. Being a young INFJ is harder than being an old one. If you’re lucky, age will bring an understanding of your gifts as an INFJ. I find that my life no longer requires lofty goals that take years to achieve. I’ve written and published books, true, but not to become rich and famous or change the world. I wrote them because the process was exciting and fulfilling. I’m just finishing two books for middle schoolers–”Wild Dogs of the World” and “Great Animal Escape Stories.” I want to help young readers appreciate wildlife, especially wild dogs. I’d also like them to learn about the suffering of food animals–but in a way that’s warm and pleasant. For example, one of the stories is called, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Pig.” It’s a true story of two young pigs who escaped slaughter in Britain, crossed rivers and fields to safety, and were taken in by a family who gave them a “safe house.”

      If you can afford it, please consider seeing a good therapist–someone who can help you search your heart, find your spirit, and open creative, fulfilling paths for you. Don’t try to tough it out on your own.

      My best to you,

      Barb Cox

    • I just took a test and it told me I was INFJ, but it also said it is rare. So I really don’t know anything about yhem , but oh well

      • If you read my blog “It’s Hard To Be an INFJ” as well as the many comments from INFJ readers, you’ll learn a lot. You can ask questions yourself and I’ll answer them personally. (I have a graduate degree in counseling psychology and the Myers Briggs was my major field of interest.)

        BC

  • When I graduated from college in 98, I tested as an ISTJ which was perfect for my career as an engineer and strong interest in math & science. I went to law school and knew that I didn’t want to practice law in the traditional sense (litigation), but use my knowledge to help people. Over the last few years, my priorities and interests have changed I am not happy doing engineering. I felt and still feel completely unfulfilled. I feel misunderstood by so many people and have struggled with depression for years. I’d rather spend my time helping people who are truly in need and want to do more with their lives. I started my own engineering company a few years ago in order to have more time doing things that interested me like community service, tutoring, writing and helping people start businesses as well as work on community enhancing projects as opposed to making Fortune 500 companies richer. While I was researching writing conferences, I came across an article discussing writers and personalities and redid the Myers Briggs to see if my profile had changed. Needless to say, my profile is now INFJ and I’m actually relieved. I’ve spent a number of years wondering what was wrong with me because nobody understood why law and engineering don’t make me happy.

  • I have always been an introverted person who spent lots of time alone reading, writing and reflecting on the world around me. Since I am have a to-do list for everything and had a love of numbers, I decided to study engineering in college. At one of my interviews, I was given a personality test and I was an ISTJ, which was perfect for engineering.

    However, along the way, while I still love numbers, my true passion is improving the community around me and encouraging/mentoring those who want to do more with their lives, but for whatever reason are struggling. I went to law school thinking that it would be a way to help people, but quickly realized that I didn’t want to defend insurance companies, Fortune 500 companies or put together paperwork for companies to acquire each other. I’ve battled depression for years for a number of reasons but I have felt for a long time that nobody understands me, the way I think or how I see things.

    I started my own engineering company with the thought of focusing on community enhancing projects as well as have time to do things I really enjoy like tutoring, community service and writing. My company is profitable, but I’m still not happy. I feel torn because I make a decent living as an engineer, but I am not fulfilled because it’s not what I want to spend my time doing. Earlier this week I was researching writer’s conferences and came across and article about writers and personalities and was fascinated by some of the things that I read.

    Long story short, I retook and Myers Briggs test and discovered that my type is INFJ. As I’ve started looking into it deeper, I am simply relieved because so many things that I didn’t understand or just frustrated me about myself and my discontentment finally make some sense. When I tell people that I have no desire to be engineering anymore they say that I’m crazy to give up the money. Yes I need money to live, but money does not make me happy. I want to spend my time writing, helping people start small businesses and non-profit organizations and developing affordable housing because there is such a huge need for it. One of my mentors told me that I should go to seminary and study urban ministry.

    I’m glad that I stumbled across this site to know that there are others like me out there.

    • SJB,

      You talked about becoming an engineer partly because you loved numbers. It’s true that engineers like numbers. But their approach to tasks is more concrete and data-oriented than visionary and creative. So, of course, engineering isn’t the best career choice for INFJs. Lawyers have a hard time as INFJs, too, because their ideals and compassion are so strong. It’s hard for them to walk away from injustice and greed—something most lawyers face on a regular basis.

      I, too, have battled depression over the years. Even today, I can slide downward because I feel misunderstood and estranged. Currently I’m seeing a Jungian analyst. She’s brilliant and she helps me feel grateful for my gifts as an INFJ. She also helps me speak my truth in the world without worrying about whether people understand it. Most won’t, but a few will.

      Don’t let people talk you into life-consuming commitments because of money. It’s true, I ended my paid writing career doing well financially, but that’s not why I became a writer. When I retired, I had a hard time giving up my six-figure income—not that I needed the money but what people paid me had become a measure of my worth in the world. It took me a few years to learn that my self-worth was pretty cramped if it had to rely on money. Now, at 82, I’m completely happy. Money buys security and a little fun, but that’s all.

      I love your plans for the future. I believe that your new path will bring you much satisfaction and happiness.

      Barb Cox

  • Hi again (I am the 16 year old from the last big comment). So at my school we have a program called Running Start. In this program Juniors with high enough grades get to take college classes instead of some, or most high school classes for their last two years. They also graduate with an Associates Degree. The ups of this is that the classes are far less expensive, and of course graduating with a degree. But the downs of this is that I would be highly separated from the rest of my high school experience and probably my friends. But then at the same time I would get an earlier start on my life. And then again, I would have less time to feel out what I want to do, and would have less time to just be a high schooler. And then, I get so tired of the sameness of the school and classes, and being bombarded with so many people every minute it would be nice to just escape! College probably isn’t much different with the people aspect, but I just can’t seem to make a decision!

    The whole thing sounds like a really smart idea, but I don’t know if it would ultimately be a smart one for me. It would be scary and different, but also a real adventure. I also feel the pressure to do it from that driving INFJ force to do everything perfectly and efficiently. I really just don’t know.

    I would love to hear your opinion on this. If you think it’s fine either way, or if it would just be a horrible idea for people like us or something. I can normally made decisions like this after awhile of thinking, but I can’t seem to outweigh either side this time.

    Thanks so much,
    Hannah (again)

    • Hannah,

      You’re faced with some difficult decisions. Don’t be pushed by the speed with which you can “get on with your life.” The main thing is to have rich, rewarding experiences in the world. Above all, don’t rush into a career choice. You may need to experiment throughout your twenties until you find the best path.
      Adventure is the name of the game as far as I’m concerned. Many of the things I do are “scary and different,” but I do them anyhow. Almost always, they turn out to be wonderful opportunities. And don’t try to do everything perfectly. You have to fail sometimes to find out how to adjust your approach, strategies and skills.

      Take time to follow your heart, even if you’re not sure where it’s taking you.

      Barb Cox

  • So nice to run across this. It feels good to be understood! :0 )

  • I’m currently 30 year old male, and have just recently in the past year found out that I am an infj. It has helped me realize a great deal about myself
    And why I feel so differently from everyone else. It’s like I see the world as it really is and I’ve been trying to open the eyes of those I come in contact with.
    But at the same time, I feel completely lost in my path in life. It seems like I’ll keep a job for maybe 2-3 years, than get fed up, quit and find something else to occupy my time for the next few years.
    My 20′s were the roughest decade for me so far. I fell completely from grace because of how I saw the world around me. It seems I care much more than most people do and It took a devastating toll on me in my twenties. Every time my heart was broken by a lover, friend or family member, I began to hate people more and more. I was suicidal for a few years. I even became a drug dealer and prayed on the weakness of others. But in that whole experience, I realized I cared about people, even if they didnt care about themselves. People would try to sign over their whole paycheck to me for drugs and I would refuse. If I felt the we’re overdoing it, I would tell them to take it easy with their drug use. What drug dealer does that? My subconscious was the thing that ultimately made me stop because I couldn’t live with myself and what I was doing. So after that, I felt so guilty I sacrificed myself for others for many years in anyway that would help them. But this led people to abuse me. Now a days, I’m just trying to get control over my inner world. Writing seems to be the only thing I’ve be the thing I’ve liked to do the most, but I’m still unsure which path to follow. I keep following my heart in life hoping it will bring me to the right place in the end. Its hard to live life with your heart with so many cruel people in the world.

    • Justin,

      What a powerful contribution you’ve made to this blog! If you feel lost on life’s path, you’re probably where you should be. Thirty is still young. I had a checkered career path, too, until I decided to be a freelance writer. There I found my métier. I needed to get out of corporate life, as I don’t do well with conservatism or conventionality.

      I once managed a large department of writers at a drug company. One day I was so fed up with the “suits” that I wore roller skates to work and cruised up and down the halls. I couldn’t have caused more chaos if I’d gone naked. I believe it was my way of saying “sayonara.” Not very many colleagues thought it was funny.

      Off and on through my adulthood (until 15 years ago) I was habituated to drugs and alcohol. My use was controlled enough that I could work all day long without pharmacologic help. But I was on the road to nowhere spiritually and physically. I went into rehab and became a Buddhist at about the same time.

      Yes, it’s hard to live in a world where people can be so destructive to other humans, animals, and the planet. But Buddhism has helped me focus on what’s in front of me. I love the apocryphal story of the boy picking up starfish stranded on the beach and throwing them one by one back into the water. A man approaches him and says, “You can’t help those starfish; there are thousands of them!” The boy replies, “Well, it helped that one!”

      Barb Cox

  • Thank you so much!! I discovered Myers-Briggs yesterday and completed 6 personality tests, all of which resulted in INFJ; so I guess I definitely am one :) It’s amazing seeing yourself written down on paper- parts I did not understand about myself- it all makes sense now. At school I always thought there was something wrong with me… in class discussions I never participated and only observed because I felt like I didn’t belong. Everyone’s immediate ideas were so simple and robotic- like they were all wired to tick at the same pace whilst mine were so extremely different. Even last year as a first year law student, I entered law for the cause of justice. But now I despise the idea of working within a legal system that does not prioritise morality. It frustrates me- If people respected each other, admitted fault and valued mercy over justice there wouldn’t be conflict. I never perceived this as a strong values system but indecisiveness and a weak-will- like I was making excuses to eliminate law as a career path. It didn’t help that others didn’t understand this reasoning and why it bothered me so much…

    • As an INFJ, you’ll be guided by your morality and your heart all your life. Your insights are likely to be more profound and creative than those of more common personality types. Some people may think you’re eccentric (as they often do in my case). Too bad. I love my vision and creativity. Joseph Campbell, the great American philosopher, liked to say, “Follow your bliss.”

      I can see where law practice would be a challenge for many INFJs. Not that the profession couldn’t use more of our personality type. But lawyers witness a lot of injustice without being able to change it. It takes more fortitude that I would have.

      Barb Cox

  • Hello, I recently took the test and was pleasantly surprised to receive the INFJ type. I have also taken the Disc profile as well and that is much more generic as I have qualities almost evenly from all categories which seems pointless in determining how to use it to my advantage. When I read the description of the INFJ it was spot on. However differing from the other individuals who are around my age (25) I LOVE my type as I have always felt more “aware” of everything in the world, maybe skipping on the details of how many lightyears are from here to the sun and that type of stuff but we can sure tell you how to make things work better in this world. Also i was wondering if being Religious is a common aspect of the INFJ i am deeply rooted in my Christian Faith and it is that, that is at my core of all decision making. But just contributing to another INFJ out there and wish yall the best!

    • You are fortunate to appreciate your uniqueness as an INFJ. I don’t think being religious is any more common among INFJs than other types. I am a Buddhist and an atheist, although I believe in the forces operating in the universe. (Being an atheist and a Buddhist is not a contradiction in terms.) My decision making is based on what is most nurturing for me and other sentient beings.

      Barb Cox

  • It’s interesting to read about other INFJ’s. Thank you for sharing this blog.

    Perhaps the most profound aspect I’ve found with INFJ research is the mention of not just intuition but being psychic. I knew things since I was a child but assumed everyone had the same ability, so never mentioned it.

    As an adult I never mention it but it continues. The knowing. Small things, big things, and sometimes I find myself surprised that other people don’t see the things I see.

    Another issue I would never mention to someone is that I’m not an extrovert. They’d swear I was, so what’s the point of bringing it up.

    Enjoy my own company, who of us doesn’t?

    Find I’m afraid of nothing. Am devoted to animal welfare above all else. Sometimes dread the thought of long telephone conversations. Nature inspires me. The beach sustains me. Children make me smile with the things they say and the way they say them. Books are friends, and family and friends I really ‘know’ are priceless.

    Thanks for sharing….

    • Etienne,

      Wow. Are you sure you’re not me? Both my 45-year-old daughter and I are INFJs and we both have psychic abilities. We don’t talk about this with others, but I know when something major has happened to her even though she lives 1200 miles away. She often asks me to do Tarot readings to help her find lost objects, make a decision about adopting an animal, etc. (She’s a vet and currently has four dogs and five cats. She works half-time at a wildlife refuge and rehab center.)

      Like you, I’m frequently mistaken for an extrovert. I’m not. I just know how to act like one. I treasure days when there’s nothing on my calendar. I don’t even answer the phone if I don’t feel like it.

      I have no fear, either. My heart knows the right thing to do, and if danger is involved I just forge ahead. (Even at 82.) I, too, am devoted to animal welfare. When I see a dog wandering on the street, I try to befriend it and find its home. I love to camp with my dog and watch wildlife. The beach! Ah, I just returned from a weekend at Vilano Beach with my dog. At sunrise, we watched about 15 pelicans silhouetted against the rising sun as they flew north. Others were diving for fish. I also read a lot—sometimes a book a day.

      Amazing—the similarities between us. Thanks for writing.

      Barb Cox

  • My test was done in the 1970′s by University of Florida-Typology Laboratory copyright 1946. Signed Isabel Briggs Myers in 1975. On an ancient paper on what appears to be first computer ever!

    Weird that I filed this in a folder and found it all these years later, (am now in my 50′s).

    I was a student at U of Florida at the time, and I recall that after the test, the teacher of the class, (Women Studies) sought me out personally to speak to me.

    I was wondering ‘why is she speaking to me?’ There were over 150 people in the class…All women as I recall. My response to her was reserved. Cool. Wondering ‘why is she talking to me…seeking me out?’ and afterwards went on my way without another thought. INFJ? So what? That was then, they didn’t give statistics, but did give an excellent description of type.

    Yes, it’s a way of being in the world, all the thoughts I expressed. Am glad to meet another IFNJ! Vilano Beach? We own a small oceanfront condo vacation rental south of there. Small world!

    Since I posted my dog had what was to be a ‘teeth cleaning’ by a major vet dentist, who travels the east coast of the U.S. The dog was under a light anesthesia and x-rays were done. The dental vet called me and said 10 teeth would need to be extracted. I was in shock as our dog had his teeth cleaned (but w/out x-rays) by our regular vet 2 years earlier.

    Ten teeth removed by a ‘real’ vet dentist cost over 2000.00. Our dog came home, and was on pain meds. He was supposed to be ‘healed’ yet he’s been in excruciating pain since, with trips to my regular vet, cultures done etc..Nothing revealed.

    This ‘famous’ dental vet who travels the U.S. has finally agreed to see our small dog again and do new x-rays under light anesthesia to evaluate. Our dog is back on very powerful pain meds 3 weeks after surgery. If you’ve never heard a dog cry and weep, it’s heartbreaking.

    Sorry to share this, but am hoping someone might have a ” picture in their mind.” and share… The dog was in perfect shape when he went to the dentist and the dentist required comprehensive blood work before he would do the exam, cleaning and what turned out to be a surgery. Teeth are a genetic issue in small dogs and not a reflection on the owner.

    Sigh…This is a heartbreaking time. Our dog Jack had the extractions done 3 weeks and 3 days ago, and will see the dentist again for re-examination next Tuesday. A long time. (The dentist did not offer this willingly…He feels his work is beyond reproach.) On the other hand after so many tests done my regular vet he did agree.

    Of course he feels he could have done nothing wrong. He’s considered a ‘world famous’ vet dentist, but our dog is broken in pain. Absolutely broken, and he was in perfect shape when he went in.

    Thank you to INFJ friends who may have a thought, an image, an idea. I’m appreciative. Any thoughts are appreciated because the world moves in mysterious ways, as we know. It’s a box of chocolates…Never know..

    Best and thank you…

  • Etienne,

    Your dog’s suffering is heartbreaking. My tendency is to get angry (read “enraged”) when one of my companion animals suffers at the hands of a vet. I suspect incompetency unless proven to otherwise. Fortunately, my 45-year-old daughter is an excellent small animal vet. She lives in Oklahoma. I’d be glad to talk with her about your dog if you like. You can email me at barbara@beaconstreetusa.com. I hope you’ll keep me posted.
    Barb Cox

  • I hate being an INFJ. I’m constantly misunderstood and hated. When I want to be left alone, people bother me with their problems. I’m always ready to help and feel bad when I don’t. I’m attracted to wounded people and end up getting hurt. I don’t even understand myself sometimes. I hate it.

    • There are times when I don’t like beng an INFJ, either. When you think about it, it’s only reasonable that people of other personality types misunderstand us. INFJs are gifted with unusual insights, intelligence and skills. Over time, though, we are usually respected—even admired. There’s a saying “A prophet has no honor in his own country.” That’s the curse of being an INFJ. While we’re usually correct in our predictions, people don’t like hearing them, especially if they’re unpleasant. “Shoot the messenger,” is their reaction.

      Maybe over time you’ll learn to use your impulses to help others more judiciously. Some people are takers and latch on to those willing to reach out and rescue them—a lesson it took me a long time to learn. Some are manipulators. Perhaps that’s why I focus mainly on animals. I understand them and they understand me. They don’t accuse me of “over-thinking”—a charge often leveled at INFJs.

  • so after a friend of mine had a heart to heart discussion about his life, he told me to take the myers briggs test and even said my result would prolly be infj. i took it and it turns out i am an infj type… i kinda wish i wasn’t. i feel like the way i understand the world around me is purely intuitional/vibes/auras/feelings etc. the fact that i right 9/10 doesnt make it any better. i can realize a situation before it happens good or bad and as of late only negative things have happened in my life and the worst part is they are not things i can control. i wish i didn’t have this intuition because it brings out my anxiety… i have enough of that as a med school student.
    the only thing i do like about this is the fact that when it is something i can control or change, it changes into a favorable outcome for me. it doesnt happen often but when it does it is awesome.
    i have always been like this my entire life, but it took me this long to realise why things are the way they are. everyone im close to appreciates me and the way i can understand things differently from them and it makes sense because im always giving good/helpful advice. so at least i can say i’m happy because i can help others with their problems

    • Moe,

      Your Myers Briggs friend obviously has well developed intuition–like you as an INFJ. I sometimes wish I were another type, too. INFP would be nice. I wouldn’t be so intense and hard on myself. However, it is what it is. Take heart in the company you keep—Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Mother Theresa, and Oprah Winfrey for starters. Life isn’t always easy for INFJs, but we make a difference in the world. And we can always find adventure wherever we go, no matter how old we are. Life stays fresh.

      Don’t believe everything you’re told in medical school—-either by the teachers or your fellow students. Do what’s necessary to stay in the game, but follow your heart. You’ll be a good doctor.

  • I don’t really know where to begin. I’ve read the majority of the comments posted here and I can deffinitely say it makes me feel so relieved that there are others like me out there. Sure, I could assume there had to be someone that was at least occasionally accused of “thinking too much”, but I just figured that if there are between 1% and 3% INFJs in the world that covers a substantial amount of people!

    I’ve always felt plagued by my over-thinking, although at times I was proud to be me and happy that I am “different” from others. When I was a little girl, I used to spend hours looking at shiny rocks while other kids ran after each other or talked incessantly. I’ve always felt this urge to change the world, to make sure I do something for it, to relieve a little bit of its suffering by helping small – taking care of animals, homeless people(it breaks my heart every time I see someone beg or an animal hurt or mistreated), and helping big ( inventing something that would change the world, becoming like Mandela or Gandhi or just someone that has something to say in this world so it can make it a better place.

    I guess over the years I’ve let myself believe that I’m just a huge weirdo for liking my own company, or prefer a quiet evening outdoors observing nature in all its beauty, rather than partying like a wild animal).

    I’m 23 now, and have finished university as an EXploration and Resource Geologist because I couldn’t trust anyone else to do it better than I could – meaning, with good intentions, reasonable and having the world’s best interests at heart rather than just massacre the planet for never ending china -quality merchandise that cannot be recycled.

    I have moved to France since graduation to be with my fiancee and things are hard sometimes as I have felt for a few months like I don’t know where I shuld be heading from here. A Master’s ? A PhD? A long wanted trip through India? Volunteering in an animal reserve in Madagascar or China? A job in Australia? I just feel lost. And have this feeling that time is somehow running out and before I know it I’ll be 30 and would have done nothing with my life.
    Also, I should probably mentioned that I speak 12 languages and have painted since the age of 3, so my mom always thought I should either become a translator or an artist – I used both these passions to make money through the years as casual jobs, but they somehow feel like they’re not enough on their own.

    I love geology, history, philosophy, art, architecture, religious studies and linguistics, but how can anyone find a way to integrate them in one job? I consoled myself with the idea that I will keep hobbies, but so far I’ve spent 6 months in the south of France in seclusion thinking my options but paralysed at the idea of making a move towards any of the options available.

    Geology is so industrialised, you have to know the right people to get in the stupid corporate game, and though it makes me feel important thinking that I could be part of something like that , I know it is a mere illusion that society has taught me to appreciate although my true nature dislikes it completely.

    I am penniless, with a degree on my wall that I don’t feel proud of because I didn’t graduate with the highest scores ( as a proof of my own abilities) , and feel disappointed that my entire life I didn’t put all I had into something – I go by just by doing the bare minimum and yet accomplish stuff that other people take a huuuge amount of time to do. Example: It took me 2 weeks to write my dissertation, my uni colleagues took 6-8 months. If I had not stalled starting it and would have worked for let’s say a month or two, I would have done a much better job at it. Yet I still got medium-high scores. It’s so disappointing to keep disappointing myself with my fear of starting things.

    Anyways, I am blabbering on as I usually do, but I would like to say thank you dear universe for having given me the opportunity to know it’s ok to be me and that my life isn’t just the life of someone that no one could understand why she had so many interests ( even my high school career adviser told me I could do anything, while also telling me I’m in trouble for not being more precise about liking a certain kind of activity only).

    I want to believe now that my move to France wasn’t a bad thing and that actually I feel alien because that’s how I am, not because I am a foreigner here. Also, this will deffinitely help me getting a job here is going to be easy because hey, I can do anything – I’m an INFJ and I’m proud of it! Every day, we’re deffinitely changing the world.

    • Simona, you covered a lot of ground. I hope you’ll let go of the idea that there’s something wrong with over-thinking. Many of the world’s great people were deep thinkers and INFJs. Not many, to be sure. But we need them. Gandhi, an INFJ, changed the world!

      As INFJs we get impatient with peers who seem only to run around laughing and chattering. I (an INFJ) put Facebook in this category and refuse to get involved. It takes too much energy. I’d rather spend my time volunteering with animal welfare organizations such as Farm Sanctuary. I’m not a total mole, however. I enjoy my friends, but my idea of a really good time is to go camping with my dog and limit my exchanges to the park ranger, convenience store clerk, and tollbooth attendant.

      You worry about time running out. Time runs out only when you’re wasting it in mindless activity—say, parking yourself in front of the TV every night or partying nonstop.

      Never close out your career options before you have to. I was an art major in college, but worried that I couldn’t make a living at it and abandoned this ambition. In retrospect, that may have been a mistake. In my twenties I despaired of finding a job that would satisfy me but found that my writing skills were highly marketable. In my 50s, dissatisfied with my corporate success as a science writer for drug companies, I opted out and attended graduate school, becoming a therapist. When this didn’t suit me, I opened my own communications agency and went back to writing full-time. All these endeavors were important to my development even though they resulted in a checkered job career. Now, at 82, I’m back to writing and publishing full time. It’s a great life.

      You expressed disappointment in your grades. Grades are a measure of a sort—but mostly they reflect how well you toed the line and how hard you worked. Grades don’t really measure how much you learned and how you apply the knowledge creatively. After college, working in the corporate world disappoints many INFJs. No matter how much they hear the profit motive praised, they don’t buy it. To be happy, they need work with purpose and meaning.

      The world has many ways to give us scores. Their scores. The only evaluations that really matter are our own and those of the people we respect most.

      • Still at rather young age some would say, standing at the edge of 19, been feeling more or less *whole for a while already, enjoying,accepting and assimilating to my existing. I used to feel very passionate and frustrated on how to change, how to affect the world. That feeling isn’t so intense anymore but its still there, i intend to learn and examine, heading to study genes and other things like that, i’m not still quite accurate on that part but it doesn’t matter, it’s the life i enjoy. It’s almost like i’m constantly drugged, feeling alive, loaded. All the pain and frustration i have learned to turn into recharging me, things that might frustrate other merely bemuse me, even if it hurts it still feels so… intense, alive. I often feel like unloading that energy to other people. Still i have much to make stronger in my mind and i keep developing myself. There’s so much to feeling out there to involve myself into.

  • Hi, I’m an INFJ 13 year old girl. I know, I’m so young, but even I was startled by how accurate this was. It seems to open up my mind, and it is exceedingly true. I noticed how it said, “Creative writer” I’ve wanted to be a writer for quite a while. I am happy to know that how I think is explained in incredible ways such as these.

    • You are very fortunate to know so much about yourself at the age of thirteen, Gillian. Believe in your intuition, creativity, moral beliefs, and talents. I was lost at your age, and now I’m 82. It took more than half my life for me to discover who I truly was. As an INFJ, I now know that my instincts and predictions are almost always right. I also realize that I have often underestimated my potential.

      You’ve got a great head start!

  • My wife of 42 years says I’m too intense, so I did a search on “intense” and I came up with INFJ. Fits in most respects, but I didn’t see any references to curmudgeons, rebels, difficult, trouble maker, non-conformist, and other assorted anti-social personality types, all of which I qualify under. On the other hand, I found one source that said Jesus and Ghandi were INFJ’s. Pretty select company, although both died unnatural deaths. If you had to name one occupation that INFJ’s excel at, what would that be?

    • If you’re an INFJ, being intense comes with the territory. Whether you’re too intense is a subjective call. If your wife is a sensing-thinking type, she may well think so. If she were an INFJ or, say, an ENFP, I doubt that she’d reach that conclusion. INFJs are definitely not antisocial. They’re probably the most socially conscious of all the Myers Briggs types. Ghandi was an INFJ. The Dalai Lama is an INFJ.

      As for jobs, INFJs need careers not jobs. They want their life’s work to be compatible with their strong value systems. They want to know that what they’re doing has meaning. Occupations that satisfy INFJs include psychologist or counselor, teacher, physician, religious or spiritual leader, writer, artist, photographer, interpreter, translator, and organizational consultant. In some Myers Briggs texts, the INFJ is called the “author type.” I’m an INFJ and that’s what I’ve done all my life.

  • Hi everyone,
    I’m 16 and going into my senior year of high school. I’m quite distraught and nervous about it as I have to be more decisive in selecting my career path in order to take the necessary requirements. I’ve recently done the Myers-Briggs test and came out as INFJ, which is truly, for the most part, really on point about me. The thing is, I constantly doubt myself and my potential. I truly want to help others in the world and its absolutely painful for me to see others suffer. Its even worse when I know that they’re suffering but I can’t do something that can truly help them. Although I know a little action can go a long way, I want to be in the actual field and be on the spot, helping them. I’ve always had the thought of being a doctor in the back of my mind but I know its easier said than done. Whether or not I do become a doctor, I know that I want to be in the medical field. But another part of me says that I might not be capable and possibly be bad at the job. But my heart to help others is really big and true and I’m extremely compassionate and concerned. I do not know whether it is my bad mindset or teenage/hormone years or something…. I don’t really know. I know that I have quite a bit of time for me to decide as I’m still young its just that I don’t want to waste unnecessary time & frustrations trying to figure this out (but if anything, I will go through whatever necessary for me to find out my true calling in life.. its just this is quite mind boggling for me and making me upset & frustrated haha..) if the answer is right there in front of me & its just me being ill sighted that I cant see it. ‘ve contemplated being a Marine Architecture as it really fascinates me but I dont know whether its something I want to do for the rest of my life. For being a doctor, I’m not sure if dealing with people all the time is what I want to do, which is quite opposite of helping? Because I get burnt out after a while of being with others and I fear that this may cause my work to suffer, But I believe I can sacrifice myself for the needs of others. As I do feel that they are more important than myself.
    So my questions in addition to any of your inputs are:
    Have you ever doubted yourself?
    What have you done to balance out your hobby and what you really want to do? (such as me liking marine architecture but know and feel that I may be more happier being a doctor)
    Have you ever had this similar dilemma?

    Sorry its so long, I’m in a dilemma & I’m not really good at expressing myself at all whether its writing or vocally… but Thank you so much in advance!

    • You mentioned being nervous about entering your senior year in high school. You feel you should be more decisive about your career path.

      People who make big career decisions when they’re sixteen are jumping the gun. At that age, it’s more important to be aware of your general interests and needs for personal fulfillment. For example, if you’re compassionate, love animals, and are interested in biology, you should probably steer clear of engineering or computer sciences and think about being a veterinarian.

      Instead of doubting your potential and limiting your options, explore them. You can’t help but worry about failure, of course. Failures aren’t fun, but they’re usually great learning experiences. How many prima ballerinas have never taken a fall? How many skilled surgeons have never nicked an artery by mistake? We learn from our failures.

      If you want to become a doctor and worry that you won’t be good enough, give up the fortune-telling business and try it. Maybe you won’t make it into medical school. There are lots of other options. Maybe you’ll get in and flunk out. This almost never happens. The school makes sure that everyone with a heartbeat graduates. Maybe you’ll finish and be a mediocre doctor. Go into research or work for a corporation. Switch specialties.

      You said you’d like to help people, but you’re not sure about being personally involved all the time. I decided, in my fifties, that I wanted to be a professional therapist, so I enrolled in Counseling Psychology at the local university. When I got my degree, I saw clients all day as an intern. After eight hours, I was worn out. I finally decided I didn’t want to listen to people’s problems nonstop. So I went back to being a full-time writer.

      Now, in retirement, I work with abandoned animals and volunteer for primate and wildlife sanctuaries—mostly as a public relations and marketing person. I enjoy intimate contact with the people who share my values and being around the animals is rewarding.

      The main thing is, never foreclose on yourself. I’ll tell you a secret. I was admitted to medical school when I was young but didn’t go because I didn’t think I could make it. What a fool I was. As a writer, I’ve worked with many doctors and have been smarter than most.

      You asked about balancing your hobbies with what you really want to do. I had a number of hobbies and skills that didn’t seem to go with a career. I thought things had to be kept in compartments. I went to art school and loved painting, sculpturing and photography, but I thought they’d have to remain hobbies—and not ways to earn a living. Later, I incorporated graphics into the publications services I offered.

      I’m finally using my love of animals through my work as a writer. I’m finishing two books for middle school readers: “Great Animal Escape Stories” and “Wild Dogs of the World.” The purpose of the first is to raise kids’ awareness about the fates of food animals. The second book educates children about the importance of preserving wildlife around the world—in this case, wild dogs (dingoes, coyotes, jackals, etc.). Interestingly, working on the first book turned me into a vegetarian—my philosophy being, if I’m not willing to kill an animal myself or watch it being killed, I shouldn’t eat it. Now I allow myself fish about once a week.

      You don’t have to sort your life into neat boxes. There’s room for everything in one box.

  • I have 2 questions also (this is really an eye-opening experience to know that there are quite some others with the same personality as me)

    1) I’m wondering if any of you feel the same way that I do in which, you’re bad at expressing yourself vocally & often in writing as well.

    I read that we’re great at writing and from what I’ve read in previous comments infj really are except for me I think. My English is not that good and do not do well in written essays/paragraphs. Right now, if you think my writing is alright its because I’m typing & can take my time in thinking out my paragraphs. But I find that I have writers block a lot, especially in time constrictions & under pressure. In a similar situation when asked to express my views, often times I give the basic answer but I know & feel there’s a deeper meaning! It’s just I don’t know how to express it or pin-point what exactly it is. Like if someone said what I’m trying to think out to say, I would definitely agree with them. Its hard for me to express and its so frustrating!! I feel like my insight is going to waste and no one will realize what is truly important and is the deeper meaning which often its over looked and it is because of my incapability to express and actually pinpoint what exactly it is & execute/say it in a way that people will understand.

    This is also another reason for me doubting myself. Because I can’t even express & say what exactly is my insight/feeling.

    So in turn of my inability to express in writing/vocally at least I know I can express myself musically.
    But this, I truly want to fix because it truly is frustrating. And I need it for university as well.
    I’m trying to read books again as in hope that will help with my vocabulary, sentence structure like the way I say things and fluidity. I know it also comes with talking to others but I heard that this is effective in addition.
    The thing is I’m trying to find a book I will not get bored of
    So my 2nd question is: I’m wondering if you have any suggestions?
    I like action, thought provoking, or fast-paced stories for the most part. I absolutely adore and am fascinated by history and philosophy.
    I’m open to try anything though, since we are infj I think we can find some common ground
    Thank you for your time!

    • You’ve covered a lot of material in your post!

      YOU: You worry that you don’t express yourself well in conversation and sometimes even in writing.

      ME: When I was young, I had no confidence in my ability to speak or write persuasively. But then I became a writer and got lots of practice, at least on paper. I also read voraciously—all kinds of books: fiction, autobiographies, self-help, etc. I attribute the broad vocabulary I now have to all that reading.

      My current ability to speak convincingly and entertainingly took many years of practice. I still do better in writing than speaking. When I have something complex and sensitive to share, I resort to the written word when it’s feasible.

      YOU: Sometimes all you can give someone are basic answers. You get frustrated because you can’t express the deeper meaning in your mind.

      ME: INFJs, with their complex minds, are always going to have more depth of perception that they can express in words.

      YOU: You doubt yourself because you’re not sure exactly what your insights and feelings are.

      ME: Over time, you will. Maturation is a much longer process for an INFJ than it is for most other types. Our wisdom is gained slowly, but over the years it becomes rich.

      YOU: At least you can express yourself musically.

      ME: That’s a great gift. I experience that, too. I participate in improvisational music events where my feelings come through without words—either in song or on one of the instruments I play.

      YOU: How can I find books that will help me?

      ME: Read anything you enjoy. Anything. If you read only for self-improvement, you’ll probably get bored and abandon if. If you read for pleasure, you’re more likely to develop a habit that will stay with you through life.

  • In July I turned 48, Today is my birthday. For today I learned why I am the I am.
    I have read everything and it 100%. I disagree with the person who said it’s worse when your younger. I beg to differ LOL… Over the maybe last 6 years I noticed things more.. I can’t control my thoughts, going in a million ways. I have always since maybe the age of 16 taken what people say, it goes in my brain and I filed it away.. Conflicts always filled my brain, then somehow info compressed and I had more room.

    Over the years I have learned how to get the info back when need. I have millions of draws in my brain they are mis draws. I separate my everyday ones closer. Anyhow when something don’t make sense I go looking for the info… Takes time with a million draws, but I can’t always find things :(

    When I do I look at the info as a scattered puzzle on the floor. I think Puzzle cause it’s a way I find comfort as a child I would do those 1500 pieces ones and loved that time with her…

    A lot of the times this is how I make info work for me.
    It feels like I went through life meaninglessly, I could never control all the thoughts going on. I don’t have the math stills but I am a Science freak they say it rarer, good I deserve it :)

    So as I enter this world on my birthday, I want to say Hello to all INFJ’ers :)

    • The energy and field of the INFJ mind are amazing. There’s a problem, though, when we confuse “information” with stories–all the things that happened in the past, who did what to whom, and the reasons for our suffering. As INFJs, we must be aware of stories we create in the present, too. Because our intuition is correct 95% of the time, we may go around thinking it’s 100% right. As a result we sometimes misinterpret events. We can compensate for this by asking questions before we jump to conclusions and tell someone we know exactly what’s happened.

      I’m 82 now. I’m happy with my INFJ personality type because I recognize the gifts it’s brought me. About 15 years ago I began studying Buddhism and now practice it regularly. Meditation has helped me calm my mind and turn off the racing thoughts, at least for a while. It’s also taught me to combine honesty and straightforwardness with compassion.

  • Hi Barb,

    Thank you for your post. Like many INFJs that commented (and probably more who read it) I feel overwhelmed, and still need to digest and analyze what I learned here. Recently I ordered the original book of Jung of Personality Types to learn more on this approach and hopefully to understand myself better. I’m 29, and like others here, I find problems in finding the right career path for me. The story given by Tran Ngoc touched me the most.

    I would really like to thank you for giving this space for “us”, and for sharing your own experience and personal life to support people here. Reading your own life story and your conclusions from your long path is inspiring and relieving. Like yourself, I would like now to go to a Jungian analyst.

    The main problem that gives me the most pain is dealing with people. As I can see through them and recognize the bottom of their intentions, I get anxious and extremely frustrated. I cannot accept that people are acting against principles of common good and benefit for others, but rather behave selfishly. Well, what’s new for an INFJ… How did/do you deal with it? Naturally I cannot give up on the human society (although I would jump on an opportunity of moving to an INFJ-only island).

    I learned Buddhism in the past and try to approach it with compassion, but I learned that this also has its price on my energy levels, since I have to deal with it on daily basis. But I’m not a zealous practitioner either… Perhaps that’s why. But ideally I will work in a place where I will not *need* to deal with these problem in the first place and pursue my path which gives me the most pleasure.

    I share with you the great love for animals, and if I were extremely wealthy I would have probably do the same. However, I do feel that by being in a place in which I cannot solve complex problems and use my brain a lot, I will not be happy. (in an online test I did, I was on the border of F/T, this could explain the above).

    Thank you for your time!
    Daniel

    • Daniel,

      Thanks for your post. Bravo for you, undertaking Jung in the original. I’ve never been that ambitious. There are several good books available about Jungian personality types. Mostly I use two: “Type Talk: The 16 Personality Types That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work” by Kroeger and Thuesen and “Life Types: Understand Yourself and Make the Most of Who You Are” by Hirsh and Kummerow. “Type Talk” ratings average 4.5 out of 5 on Amazon; you can buy a used copy for 11¢. “Life Types” ratings average 4; used copies are available for as little as 1¢–plus $3.95 for shipping in each case.

      You mentioned that dealing with people often gives you pain. You’re an INFJ for sure! You’re fortunate that you can see through their words, strategies and motives. Unfortunately many people DO act in ways contrary to the common good. I try to remember Buddhist principles and recognize that they’re suffering. They want to make themselves happy but, being misguided, shoot themselves in the foot. How many tyrants in history died happily in their beds with a loving family around them? Maybe you can think of some but I can’t.

      Some days I’m in the mood give up on the human race, but then someone does me a good turn with no expectation of a reward and my faith is restored. Recently, a kind policeman sat with me in my hot, broken down RV on a Florida highway for 3 hours, waiting for a tow truck. He could have enjoyed his air-conditioned police car but he wanted to relieve my anxiety and get my mind off my moribund RV.

      These things happen often if I’m open to them. Helping others makes me more optimistic, too. It reminds me that compassion is something I share with others. If I’m driving and see a dog wandering in the street, I usually stop to check his tag and try to find his home. I’m tempted to drive on, of course, because I think my errands are more important than doing someone a good turn. My first thought is, “Catching this dog will probably be a pain, much less finding out where it lives.” But I stop anyhow. And no matter what the outcome, I feel better about life when I’m done.

      I agree with you that it’s important to find work that allows you to solve complex problems and make good use of your brain. Being on the border between F and T, you’ll need opportunities to practice compassion but also deal with intellectual challenges. Both are important parts of your nature. Also, you’ll need to honor your drive to be productive, which your J encourages, while at the same time avoiding premature closure on issues. My Buddhism helps me with this.

      For example, something troubled me yesterday, and my J mind was ready with quick solutions. Every morning around 8:30, I get on my adult trike and take my dog Trudy around the block. On our route, I give treats to a wolf hybrid and his companion, a husky. Yesterday the husky barked two or three times in greeting. This brought the homeowner out in her pajamas, looking cross and yelling at me for waking her up. She told me to come after 11 am from now on. Well, by that time it’s over 90 degrees in central Florida, and neither Trudy nor I can take the heat.

      By the time I got home, I had several clever solutions to the problem, all of which involved confronting the woman in a seemingly noncombative way but making her feel guilty and stupid. I felt self-righteous but glum by bedtime . This morning around 5 am (when I do my best thinking) I decided to apply Buddhist principles to expand my perceptions. When I got up, I left my ego in bed and took Trudy on a different route. I decided to write the woman an apologetic note and include a great photo I took of her dogs recently. I’ll tell her that I’ll drop by with the dogs’ treats later in the day so they’re not disappointed. (If she feels guilty and stupid, hey, that’s a secondary gain.)

      I’m in a better mood today.

      Best,

      Barb

      • Hi Barb,
        Thank you for your reply, and for sharing those life experiences. Indeed giving is one of the ways to deal with this situation. I fight very hard not to judge people as ungrateful or for not showing the same interest and care as I do, but I rather try to focus on the notion of giving without expecting a reward. Difficult!

        It is wonderful that you find the power to react so compassionately towards that woman. If you managed to change her mindset, you have got your goal!

        May I ask you about “avoiding premature closure on issues”? Is it something that our type faces frequently? If so, what causes it? It is a subtle point that feels familiar, but I am not sure how.

        Have a great day!
        Daniel

        • Daniel,

          “Avoiding premature closure” means making a decision too hastily. J’s tend to do this when they don’t bother getting enough data before making a choice. There’s an amusing saying about premature closure as it relates to choosing a spouse: “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.”

          Often J’s benefit from the advice of P’s when a big decision looms. The P is likely to recommend getting more information. Of course, the INFJ—being blessed with great intuition—leans toward impulsive decisions, since he or she is right 95 percent of the time. The important thing for INFJs to remember is that they aren’t right 100 percent of the time!

          Barb

    • The statistics came from CAPT (Center for Applications of Personality Inventory), the U.S. MBTI center for research and data collection. Often one sees the prevalence estimate at 1 percent; 3 percent is the highest. More information is available at http://www.capt.org

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  • Hi.. I read your blog… And a few comments here and there. Im so impressed and happy that I found someone actually explaining so many things about myself. I went through a test and found out that I am an INFJ. The characteristic traits like being intuitive and the love for humanity is so true… It’s like everythiI’m 25 and my life has been a roller coaster.

    • Hi.. I read your blog .. And a few comments here and there.. I’m so impressed and happy that I found someone actually explaining so many things about myself. I went through a test and found out that I’m an INFJ. The characteristic traits like being intuitive and the love for humanity is so true… It’s like everything mentioned falls in place for me. I’m 25 and my life has been a roller coaster. And thus there are so many questions it have regarding myself… I don’t know maybe I’m a complex person as u have rightly said. I think good and do good for people but I’m disliked and envied for God knows why. Friends cheated, an ex cheated… They misunderstand me and find me enigmatic and mysterious which even I fail to understand. And thus even my relationships… Especially love gets messed up. The points you wrote about being orderly is so so true. Even in the path of choosing careers I end up choosing something challenging … I don’t know if I’ll succeed .. But as you mentioned.. My intuition strongly tells me I’ll be good. But still… I feel my life is much more difficult and challenging than many others… My question is … Is it because I am an INF J ? Though being a rare personality gives a good feeling… If I succeed in the end and can make others happy.. I wouldn’t have any regrets :)

      • Thanks for your comments. Your intuition that many people dislike you may be incorrect. Often people are a little awed by INFJs intuitive understanding of the world, and they’re nervous around them. They don’t understand the INFJs’ gifts and are suspicious of their ability to see through facades. Also the INFJ’s unwillingness to follow along with every convention and fad makes other types uneasy. INFJs do what feels right in their hearts, not what’s “in.” People who let their thinking be guided by the masses can be uncomfortable with this.

        Yes, your life will be more difficult and challenging than that of most other types. But your rewards will be greater, too. In the words of the American philosopher Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss.” You’ll succeed in your endeavors if you do–and if you don’t foreclose on your options. If you do your very best in life-—in a relationship, job, or residence—-and find that you effort just isn’t working, move on. Don’t get stuck. INFJs should always honor their genius.

        BC

      • Hi,
        In my case, many problems with people come up when I feel that I give more thought and action than the other side. Do you recognize this feeling?

        Also, about disliked and envied – I will follow up on Babara’s comment and would add, that those envious people might envy everybody and not only you. However, INFJs are able to see and recognize envious eyes from kilometers away, while others don’t.

        • Daniel,

          If you’re an INFJ, it’s your nature to consider the world more thoughtfully than most people. Also, you’re motivated to step up to the plate more often than others. When you find people or animals suffering or in need, you’re there to help. When people don’t reciprocate you may feel short-changed. It helps to remember that you’re also more gifted than most other types. Cherish that.

          BC

    • The roller coaster ride goes on. I’m 82, and all I can say is that the highs are less high and the lows less low.

      BC

  • Hello from a 35-year old, mom of two in Sweden :-)

    I took the test for the first time a few days ago and when I read the description of an INFJ I both laughed and cried. Since then I´ve read a little here and there and love your posts and even more so the comments. Things are falling into place for me, it´s really an aha-moment and I suddenly feel more at ease about things I´ve been beating myself up for my whole life. I´m also starting to realise what I can work on myself, the areas where I can push myself and that it´s okay, so blissfully okay to withdraw. It´s just not me, it´s just not that I´m a less valuable person who need tons of rest and solitude to have enough energy for everyday life. I feel relieved. What a difference a few letters makes…

    • I’m glad to hear that another INFJ is on the road to self-discovery. The type is so rare that most people don’t understand us. INFJs are complex.

      Beating up on ourselves seems to come with the territory. When I get into circular thoughts about how I failed others—-and myself—-I use a Thich Nhat Hanh meditation technique. “Breathing in, I hold my 5-year-old self. Breathing out, I smile.” I play with the words, and say things like, “Breathing in, I hold my angry (or impatient, frightened. etc) 5-year-old self. Breathing out, I smile with compassion.”

      It’s important for introverts to know when to withdraw—for withdraw we must at times. We’re easily overloaded and stressed by too much human contact. Extraverts are energized by socializing. Introverts are capable of enjoying it, but after a while they feel depleted and need to be alone. That’s how they refuel.

      As an INFJ, you’re blessed with intuition. Some days I call intuition “my heart.” My heart knows the truth about myself and what I should do. I don’t have to argue with myself or others. The truth is inside.

      I’m so glad you’re learning about yourself. You’ll have a rich, fulfilling life if you “follow your bliss,
      in the words of humanist philosopher Joseph Campbell.

      BC

  • Discovering that I was an INFJ and seeing myself, quirks an all, described so perfectly, was (surprise, surprise) a fairly emotional experience for me! I’m a 39 year old man and it has been a hugely difficult path thus far. I was a ‘jock’ at school, excelling at sport, but late in education discovered the artist within, even mocking it myself in the early stages. I studied biological sciences at university and then joined the military, working in intelligence. Since, I’ve worked as a security consultant in conflict zones for over a decade, but I’m passionate about literature… and photography is the reason I am still here and of sound mind. Both are about the same thing: people and the human condition. Long before I knew about MBTI, I had a name for my inner world. People could never understand how I could always link topics together and talk about love and art, while pumping iron in the gym, after disseminating a detailed post terrorist incident analysis. I have always felt like a mess, unlike everyone else, whose paths seem much simpler. My family has tried, but none have truly understood me. Some shook their heads with dismay after I passed by career opportunities they thought amazing and which I considered too narrow, or lacking in interest or human quality. What I am is impossible to say. I am not a ‘this’, or a ‘that’ and this has frustrated both me and others; after all, there is no box that feels like home, for me or for them to put me in! I am proud of my achievements, but I have always felt a little at odds with a world that I feel I understand much better than those who claim to know far more. As the years have progressed, my N function has really come into its own and, in my analyst role, some people have been left exasperated at my apparent ability to forecast the future, whether it’s a strategic picture or a personal scenario and outcome. But I struggle to be happy, because unless I am in the company of those who understand, I feel alone. I rattle around in this huge inner space looking for company. When I step outside, I find very few people who could ever understand. Most think I have taken leave of my senses when I get even 25% into ‘my zone’, but I am very good at convincing people I am like everyone else, because its essential to survival. Its inside, looking out from those eyes at everyone else in the room, that I sometimes feel an epic disconnect. I just see the world so differently. After it was apparent our relationship would not work, an ex GF once said “you are nothing like anyone else I have ever met” and that relationship was truly magical, despite the problems, because she absolutely understood what made me tick. Sadly, the aftermath made me realise how rare this level of understanding is. As the years passed by, I’ve noticed how many people come to me for advice, unaware that I would not regard my own life as remotely successful. I have become a life coach to many, but still wish to round out my own (why do them come to me?!). Like many INFJs, I know that this will not come in the form of promotions or big pay checks, but in sharing my life with people that I can love and share this magical, absurd and one way journey with! Being an INFJ is often hell, but I would not change it for anything. I have two wonderful sons and can already see in my eldest reflections of my own confused youth. It makes me so happy to know that I will be there to make easier that which for me was so hard. INFJs, well… we’re…. we’re not better or worse, but we’re most definitely very different.

    • READERS:

      This correspondent, Tom, and I exchanged several emails after his first post, above. They appear below:
      ___________

      Tom,

      Interesting post. Your writing seems more like that of an intp than an infj. Can you tell me a little more about your background?

      BC
      ____________

      Hi,

      Sure.

      As for the INFJ verdict, my percentages were something like the below:

      I = 55%
      N = 65%
      F = 12%
      J = 50%

      I’ve done two different tests and even with a little license, my percentages were within about 3-5 of each other, which surprised me. Having read through various INFJ profiles, I was amazed to hear how accurately I was described, particularly in the small habits, quirks and idiosyncrasies. In some respects the only one that feels close to me is INTJ, which is also reflected in the low F score I have, but then again INTJs are definitely more cut and dry than me, both in description and when referring to those I know. While I can recognise the profile, but it is most definitely only a very partial description and does not hit the centre of the target at all. INFJ does. It’s me, there, on a page and this really surprised me considering the relatively low F score. I think my extreme difficulty finding partners that are right for me (who remotely understand who I am), my approach to friendships and career all stand out as INFJ. I do not have and have never had an enduring career thread and collect a growing number of very special friends as I glide through life in a bit of a dreamland. Inner fantasy, as part of an often overpowering inner world, has played a high part in my life and I do have trouble making pragmatic decisions, despite being able to be very cut and dry when looking at problems that have no emotional component. I definitely talk a heck of a lot, although this reducing with maturity. I’m definitely a better listener than when I was younger, but those J traits are there pretty strongly and its something I do have to temper.

      The last five to ten years of my life have been extremely difficult (read failed relationships, career and life-purpose issues) and in the last couple I have gotten a seriously good measure of who I am. Reading a few books (including one on Highly Sensitive People) has helped a great deal, as has an enormous amount of web research. This all began as a result of a failed relationship with a woman who has a (probably) narcissistic mother. During this episode, I realised there were many dynamics I did not understand, both about others and my role in events, not to mention the affect it all had on me. It was during this phase I decided to look into my own needs, traits and personality in detail.

      What sort of things are you interested to know?

      Tom Stanworth
      __________________

      Hello again,

      I was just thinking about my writing and suspect years spent writing intelligence analyses (after a science degree) may have affected my approach to ‘a topic’. Here is an example of me writing closer to home: http://thephotofundamentalist.com/?p=341

      Tom
      ________________

      Tom,

      Thanks for taking the trouble to reply in depth to my questions about your background. The “narcissistic mother” issue rings a bell with me. Only when I focused on the Myers-Briggs Inventory and Jungian theory in graduate school (in my 50s) did I realize the extent of dysfunction and damage that resulted from my relationship with my narcissisic mother—a beautiful, intelligent, intuitive, but entirely self-involved woman. Exploring those dynamics helped me figure myself out. It’s taken years of graduate study, work as a counseling psychologist, Eastern studies (mainly Buddhism), participation in AA for over 15 years, and hard introspection to find my way along this dark path.

      I’ve grappled with addictive relationships with men, substance abuse, and workaholism. At least I can now see when I’m up to my old tricks–soon enough to “freeze frame” the action. I doubt that I’ll ever be capable of a sexually intimate relationship with a man, although the question is academic since I’m now 82. I do have a couple of satisfying, nonsexual relationships with men (ages 60 and 63, another INFJ and and INFP, respectively). With us, the Emperor has no new clothes. We laugh a lot.

      May I have your permission to post your second email on my blog? Also, I may want to include your comments in an ebook I’m considering: entries from blog readers, along with my responses. If you have any hesitation, please say so. The project interests me because this INFJ endeavor has proven amazingly helpful to many people. I believe I’ve collected well over 100 posts, and generally I reply to each one. I’m not sure what to do about confidentiality issues. I may have to contact each individual (as a matter of ethics, not legality).

      Best,

      Barbara Cox

      ________________

      Tom,

      Your photos are stark and heart-wrenching. Who but an INFJ could capture those images?

      Barbara

      _________________

      Hi Barbara,

      Wow. Your journey sounds like a much harder version of my path. At least I benefitted from being one person removed from the source of the chaos…

      Before I was sucked into the realm of a narcissist, I had always felt pretty comfortable with the way the world was. I felt I had a pretty good understanding both of myself and others and could therefore navigate life without great worry. I had recognised that my approach to life was very different to almost every person I had met, but although they did not understand my way, I could understand theirs. I just seemed to ‘get’ people and understand how to pick a path through complex interpersonal issues with relatively few bumps and scrapes. It also amazed me how well I could show my sincerity to others and how readily they recognised it, even where they had trust issues before. This was until I met my then girlfriends mother. Its a long story, but I had no idea what I was letting myself in for.

      The mother had made repeated reference to finding my ex-GF a ‘perfect partner’ even when we were together and my ex and explained how happy I made her. When I met her, I felt no soul, just dead eyes behind which there was only an empty chill. I thought this was my intuition failing and ignored it. Ongoing ‘steady state’ efforts to split us apart were in vain, largely because my GF’s sister was very much on side, but that relationship faltered, when I found myself uncomfortable with her histrionic attention seeking and remarkable immaturity. Having been the ‘best thing since sliced bread’, the sister slammed the door shut on me (I never saw it coming), defected to the mother’s side and the two of them (with father in tow) then launched an all out offensive to break us apart. I now know the trigger was the sister not taking kindly to me encouraging my GF to defy her mother’s emotional blackmail. It as if a fundamental law of the universe had been broken and I had to be destroyed. I was their existential threat and my character was torn to pieces. I was described in many highly negative and generalised ways, none of which were described in detail when pushed. There were no explanations or examples, but they always returned to what I threat I was, how badly I was going to abuse my ex if we stayed together, how awfully I was going to ruin her life and why I needed to be run out of town.

      My GF received the full onslaught and after 48 hours of the most awful threats, guilt trips and family obligation-mongering, our relationship broke. We got back together, but the attack was relentless, ranging from hate filled phone calls at 3am to formal notice that she was responsible for her father’s future death, existing heart condition and would not be allowed to attend the inevitable funeral. So, after resurrecting our relationship in full knowledge of what the family was doing, it eventually buckled under the pressure and we broke up for good. This was three years ago and I have spent a lot of time since trying unpick the complex web of contributory factors, both at their end and mine. During that fateful visit to the US (I am British) we were planning our life together and looking for houses. As you can imagine, it was not something I could just let go and say ‘hey, ho, this stuff happens’. My GF spent time in therapy and is now on a journey to develop the core her mother never allowed to develop. She had and still has serious commitment issues, trouble making and sticking with decisions and needs regular external validation. I just floated off into a bit of a dream for at least a year, trying to figure out how my life could have fallen to pieces so quickly.

      After speaking to a psychologist specialising in family relationships, her prompting took me in the direction of toxic families and cluster B personality disorders (of which that family could claim their fair share of traits) and left me needing to better comprehend why I was sucked in so deep trying to protect her, even when it was obviously futile. This helped me understand how my ex-GF was part of the problem and that I’d spent a lot of time in the relationship helping her with areas that stemmed directly from her awful mother’s influence. She’s a wonderful person in many ways and saw me as someone who was strong enough to carry her away from the bad and nurture the good. I think she thought I could protect her, without realising she had to play a much more active part. Anyway, that was the first time in life I have ever had what I would describe as a catastrophic defeat, where none of my skills really helped and where my loss was total. I was devastated. I had lost the love of my life, my soul mate and a little bit of my sanity along the way. As for confidence, my trust in my own instincts was the first casualty. Over time I came to realise my instincts were good and that the only problem was that I had ignored the voices telling me just how bad it was. Those voices had literally screamed at me and I had hushed them away because it all seemed too extreme to fit in with my understanding of the normal world.

      Looking at my vulnerabilities and exploitation of my dedication and commitment by others (my ex-did this in quite a few ways that I only saw afterwards), took me to HSPs, which too me to MBTI, which took me to, well, revelation. It was the missing piece. I can recognise INTP (like you suggested) but I take the need to understand mechanisms and processes less far. I get bored with detail after a point and want to do something more imaginative. As for leadership, I enjoy it very much (unlike an INTP) and was a commissioned office in the military. I have absolutely no trouble making decisions either, for better or for worse, but do think them through thoroughly when I have the time. I am certainly not someone who procrastinates, like an INTP might. When I have reached my verdict, I am happy to press on. I am definitely a dreamer though, that part is true, but in those dreams I am in a very creative place, where introspection, intuition and analysis all come together to give often wordless understanding. Words come after the feeling. Sometimes photographs come long before the words that describe the feeling that inspired me to take it. Sometimes its months.

      Life has been difficult, not because I have led a hard life, because I have not. It is because the world seems to be constructed around paths and choices that make sense to everyone but me. Brilliant careers, which I could have achieved academically, lacked adventure, or were too narrow. Almost none allowed me to pursue my penchant for understanding life in the broadest sense. Perhaps this is why I have started big (biological sciences), moved through military intelligence (geopolitical/social realities) and now spend much more time closer to individual people (documentary photography and… guess what?). For some time, I have been looking at studying to do a MSc in Psychodynamic Counselling and Psychotherapy. This feels like the next step and one which will satisfy my desire to do something positive for others, while satisfying myself. It feels like it was meant to be.

      Overall, however, there is a theme I just cannot escape and which is quintessentially INFJ. It is the sense that everything is in some way connected. For me they appear to be. Sometimes its something I can explain and at other times its more tangential and felt. However, no matter what, that link is always made. I feel like a gibbon swinging through a forest of trees with no need to touch the ground! Maybe its imaginary and maybe it does not matter, but it characterises the experience of being alive to me.

      So there you go.. a very long email, after I have finally remembered your question: yes, please use any material I have written for your study, writing or for the benefit of others. I think this sort of sharing is of the utmost importance. In the last year, three years after splitting with my ex-GF and seven years after my divorce, I feel stronger, more independent and more at peace with myself than ever. I can see how I was on a trajectory that was always going to hurt but had no idea how much. Digging myself out has been everything to do with the people who have taken the time to share their experiences and bare their souls. INFJs are invariably a troubled lot, this much is clear and we need to look out for each other!

      Oh, yes, and I make lists all the time!

      Best,

      Tom

  • Barbara,
    I cannot thank you enough for this blog as it and all of the replies have made me feel part of something – people that finally understand!! I’m 20, and just found that I was an INFJ a few days ago. I’m surprised I hadn’t come along it sooner as throughout the last few years I’ve been desperately searching for answers because I thought something was wrong with me. I have seen several counsellors from age 12 on, psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors.. this summer I spent 2 weeks in the psych ward because of suicidal tendencies, alcohol and drug abuse, I was also put on medication for depression and bi-polar (which I am now off of and feel fantastic!!). I’m sharing this because I feel like being an INFJ has caused me a lot of pain (especially when moving on from high school into the “real world”) and led to my substance abuse and, in my opinion, false diagnosis. I wonder if anyone else has experienced this??
    Understanding my personality type has helped me immensely with the internal struggle. Your comments on these posts in particular, hearing about your several career changes, has put my heart at ease (as much as possible lol) as I am in my first year of university and am really struggling with career options – as I feel by choosing one at this time, that I am going to regret it or lose/waste so much of myself and my talents. This thought used to be so strong that it is what caused me to become suicidal in the first place, so I took some time off after high school to work and give myself a break from the stress of “choosing my career”. I grew up always wanting to become a tattoo artist, or musician then once I realized I had strong science and math skills as well as compassion I wanted to become a doctor (with meaning! I had seen so many doctors and knew exactly the doctor I would be). I flip flop between them almost daily. I get a lot of flack from family and friends for being so indecisive… the problem is I feel SO strongly about both of them!! I am currently in sciences and I am finding it very awful being at a school filled with thousands of people, especially in my math/physics classes because I just cannot fit in with the personalities surrounding me. I do better talking to the few friends I have made in my English class but I just feel like I am almost being fake if that makes sense, I really have no interest in pursuing friendships as I have a few that I like to focus my energy on.
    The blogs, videos etc. on the INFJ personality have also really helped me understand my relationships better. Whether that be with family, friends, romantic interests or colleagues. I have always felt that I was different, that no one really understood me. I found myself being judgmental and not accepting of people that I thought were untrustworthy/shady and subsequently getting frustrated with my friends who did accept these people. This was its worst when I was in high school and everyone was going to parties and making what I called “party friends”- I just could not understand being friends with someone that I couldn’t have a sober conversation with. These people eventually faded out of my friends’ lives.
    I now look at it in a much different way, to each [personality] their own. Discovering spirituality has helped immensely as well as changing my eating habits to a vegan-ish diet. Working on going raw vegan.. I also wonder if the majority of vegans/vegetarians are INJF / similar personality types??
    Sorry for such the long post, I am just so happy to have somewhere to express all of this!
    I’m wondering also if you could help me with something since you have had a lot of experience!! I feel like I spread myself very thin, mainly in my interests/hobbies… I have so many I don’t feel like I can excel/focus on one like other people seem to. Do you think there is a way I can use this to my advantage or actually choose one for a period of time at least to focus on it and get better??
    Again, thank you for your post!!!

    Nicole

    • Nicole,

      Thanks for the great post. It’s a valuable addition to our collection of INFJ experiences. As INFJs, we tend to be intense. Like you, I was once a substance abuser. After attending AA meetings regularly for over 15 years, I’m convinced that the fellowship has an unusually high percentage of INFJs——a lot more than the one percent representation in the general public. We’re more prone to mood swings, substance abuse, and depression than other folks. On the other hand, we’re creative, interesting, and intelligent. Most people don’t understand us; this includes health professionals unless they’re INFPs or INFJs.

      Career choices can be hard for gifted INFJs. That’s a challenge. On the other hand, we’re fortunate that the problem is caused by our multiplicity of gifts. As an INFJ, you should never foreclose on your options because of outside pressures, especially early in life. You’re not cut from the same cloth as other people. Most lack the depth required to understand the INFJ personality. If you want to be happy, you need to cultivate all your talents and enjoy them. Eventually, you’ll see them overlap in interesting ways. I never dreamed I could combine my creative imagination, artistic abilities, and writing talent in my work, but I have.

      If you want to be a tattoo artist, try it for awhile. It will be an adventure and you’re bound to meet interesting people. A musician? Try that, too. I kept up with my music over the years and, when I was 80, attended an improv music retreat led by Bobby McFerrin and other musicians. The week was thrilling and made me glad I hadn’t given up my music. Cultivating my left-brain science and math skills over the years made me a successful science writer. Making lots of money was not my primary goal, but it worked out that way.

      You mention not fitting in with the students around you. As you come to appreciate your intelligence and intuitive gifts more over the years, you’ll be grateful when you don’t let more conventional types keep you earthbound. As Joseph Campbell, the famous American philosopher, advised, “Follow your bliss.”

      Growing older, you’ll find it easier to relax and become more transparent in the world. As you practice being authentic, you’ll discover that you’re more attractive to others without trying. They’ll sense a spontaneity in you that may have faded from their own lives. Some people will be wary of you because your accurate intuition and insights make them uneasy——but they’ll respect you. Their discomfort is their problem.

      INFJs are not crowd people. We do best with a couple of close, like-minded friends. We take pleasure in relationships with depth.

      My Buddhist path has contributed immeasurably to my happiness. From the time I was in grade school, I had trouble accepting Christian dogma. Buddhism has shown me how to discover my inner truths, respond to people and animals with compassion, release attachments, and live in the now. I don’t need a book of rules. The rules are in my heart.

      Like you, I’ve changed my diet as the result of my spiritual path. My choices in life need to be congruent with what I believe. As a result, I don’t eat the flesh of animals I wouldn’t be willing to kill myself. Right or wrong, this leaves fish, which I eat about once a week.

      You referred to the danger of spreading yourself too thin. I’ve been susceptible to this all my life. I seem to dash enthusiastically from one project to another—camping with my dog, traveling with my daughter to remote places on the planet, writing books, creating art, rescuing animals, and so on. Then I beat myself up for jumping around and failing to focus. A book I’m writing about wild dogs of the world has been languishing on my desk for three months because of other projects. My friends say, “You have such an interesting life! You’re always doing something exciting.” They’re right. Why am I complaining? At 82, I’m not stiff and inflexible (well, not my mind, anyhow). I’m excited about the possibilities still open to me.

      If I were you, I wouldn’t force my focus on one particular career path at this point in your life. Trying watching over your own shoulder. Observe your experiences and learn as much from them as you can.

      Barb Cox

    • Nicole,
      Your write up was very touching and insightful–and, yes, typical of other INFJs like me.
      It’s so great that you discovered your type at the age of 20. The INFJ discovery was one of the biggest milestones in my own self-questioning journey. You can’t imagine how lucky you are. The fact that you can accept yourself as different will be a great relief.

      As for career path, in the last 8 years I changed my field of work once, after 2.5 years. Choosing something rather than not choosing at all can be daunting at first, but you actually learn a lot on your way – dealing with people, finding your ability to deal with tasks, and learning what gives you pleasure and, more importantly, what doesn’t. Student jobs can be a good way to discover these things. If you would like to be a doctor, and you are capable of the math and other hard subjects, just do it. One field of study can always take you somewhere else that’s rewarding. As you saw from Barb’s replies, life has many career paths in different stages. Nothing is “fixed” and you can always change direction. People pursue new studies and training when they are 30, 40, 50 and 60.

      About being an artist: INFJs are characterized with introverted intuition that helps them to find connection between different ideas and and themes. This is one of the reasons why INFJs respond so strongly to beauty and art (literature, music and etc.) In my own experience, it was painful to realize that while I can appreciate beauty, I can’t necessarily create it myself. I really liked graphic design and tried to work with it using computer software, but then realized that I didn’t have the gift. If you’re an INFJ with artistic talent, you should explore it.

  • I am 69, a retired college professor, and sometimes painfully a INFJ. I have always felt keenly not only my own pain, but also that of others. I can remember as a child feeling so uncomfortable watching a TV show in which the character was humiliated that I left the den, went into the living room, and hid under a sofa. I also would shut myself up in a closet to get a break from feeling overwhelmed by trying to meet the needs of my bipolar mother. My only confidant was a stuffed zebra. For the first forty years of my life, I had an abusive best friend as a child and two abusive husbands. I gave and gave and gave until there was not much self left. Everything was my fault. The only relief I got was to engage in various crusades to make the world better. By my mid thirties I was burnt totally out and escaped into alcohol. Finally, at age 39, I asked for help for the first time in my life. A great therapist helped me learn to maintain boundaries and to love myself.

    Now I offer a few hard earned insights: Compassion does not require taking on the other person’s pain, in fact doing so hinders my ability to help them and others. I had to learn how to say no or crash and burn. I finally accept that almost no one understands me, after all I am rare. What anyone thinks of me is none of my business, and I can’t take everything personally. People are drawn to me whether I like it or not and I can’t be there for everyone all the time. Not everything is worth my best efforts. My mind is sometimes too active for my own good. I need to turn down the volume of life and accept my limitations. Life is so much richer for a giver if they marry another giver. I finally found my soulmate at age 43, only after I realized that I did not need a man to make me feel complete. He was an ISFJ. Life is difficult, especially for us INF types, but that is not a sentence, it is a challenge that is worth working. Every now and then I have to read about INFJs in order to stop being so hard on myself for not being able to solve all the world’s problems. I usually find joy in each day, if I look for it.

  • I am not sure if I hate or love being an INFJ.

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