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

*   *   *

88 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

    • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

More Posts