“Just go see a therapist and maybe take some medication.”
This is the classic response that you hear from others when you open up to them about sad feelings that you can’t shake off. There is definitely value in seeing the right therapist, but I can empathize with why INFJs seek more profound answers into why they feel the way they do. (Not sure of your personality type? We recommend this free personality test.) A quick and common fix, such as, “Stop worrying about what others think” or “Just let it go,” isn’t usually enough to heal the INFJ’s hurting soul.
The INFJ personality type is nicknamed the Counselor because we love to help others by listening and sharing our pearls of wisdom. However, inspiring others to reach their potential doesn’t mean that INFJs are immune to having their own problems. In fact, some INFJs may become so preoccupied with other people’s feelings that they forget to check in with their own needs. This can lead to INFJs neglecting their own problems and feeling burned out and unhappy. When INFJs do realize they’ve left some issues simmering on the back burner, they may turn to others for guidance and direction. But INFJs might be disappointed when the people they turn to can’t offer the same level of insight that INFJs can give to others.
Of course, all personality types experience unhappiness at times. And it’s completely normal to not feel “up” every moment of the day. But here five reasons why INFJs may feel unhappy. These points are based on my subjective experience and what I’ve gleaned from other INFJs:
1. You’re surrounded by the wrong people.
Have you heard the popular saying, “Before you diagnose yourself with depression and anxiety, make sure you’re not hanging around jerks”? Who you hang out with impacts how you feel, especially when you’re an INFJ who absorbs other people’s emotions. Before I knew I was an INFJ, I wasn’t aware that some of my “overly emotional” responses were stemming from being around people who were abrasive, controlling, and critical. Like me, even though your intuition whispers to stay away from certain people, you may find yourself involved with a narcissist or an emotional abuser. You may have wanted to give such people the benefit of the doubt (INFJs are compassionate and forgiving). You may have wanted to comfort others in need. You may have felt sorry for someone. Suddenly, you find yourself in toxic relationships but you feel too guilty to leave, even though you’ve noticed multiple red flags. After all, the wrong people will say “I love you so much!” and “I am just trying to help you!” For me, it was eye-opening to realize how calm and relaxed I felt when I stopped talking to people who weren’t good for me. Walking away from the wrong people can guide you to the right people, who treat you the way that you should be treated. When you’re around the right people, you will likely notice a positive difference in your mood.
2. You’re in the wrong environment.
Not only are INFJs sensitive to people’s emotions, but they also pick up the vibes of where they live. Growing up, I was one of a few Indian girls living in Alabama. Dealing with white classmates who told me to “go back to your country” in their Southern accents wasn’t fun. Even though my school was top-notch and teachers said I was smart, my grades were awful. I now know that I wasn’t thriving because I was in the wrong environment. I remember shutting down and feeling flat, as a way of surviving the cruelty and ignorance of my classmates. When my family moved to Chicago, I suddenly found myself in a big city full of diversity and friendly people—and I flourished. My grades sky-rocketed. I smiled more. I got out of the house. So, INFJ, remember that a simple change in your environment may be enough to boost your happiness.
3. You aren’t living your life’s purpose.
Getting a paycheck is nice. Paying your bills and buying things you want is nice. But those niceties will probably not be enough for the INFJ who is yearning to champion a cause. Before I got my current job as a sexual assault counselor, I felt like an empty gasoline tank. I tried my best to adapt to my circumstances, but something wasn’t quite right. Now I wake up and come home knowing that I’m standing up for something important. Isn’t it an incredible feeling when you’re contributing to society in a positive way?
4. You’re pretending to be someone you’re not.
INFJs are rare, and other people have no problem driving that point home. When you wish you were like everyone else, you may find yourself emulating extroverts in the hope that your life will be happier. I knew a woman who was an ESTJ personality type; she told me to be more ruthless, because she thought my empathic nature was weak. Another ESTJ man told me that men don’t like intelligent women, which led me to dumb myself down. Eventually I learned that what worked for those two ESTJs didn’t work for me. Pretending to be someone you’re not is exhausting. Taking someone else’s destructive advice leads to beating yourself up. Be your best authentic self, and see how liberating it feels.
5. You haven’t learned to trust your intuition.
Your Introverted Intuition is there for a reason, despite what skeptics say. One of the biggest regrets I have is allowing other people to talk me out of my intuitive hunches. It can be an everyday challenge when you want to please others and maintain social harmony, but your intuition is screaming at you to do something else. Learning to trust my intuition and not feeling the need to rationalize it to others has paid off well. When I let my gut feelings guide me to better choices and good people, I feel happier. When I ignore my intuition, I have to deal with the aftermath.
Unhappy INFJs may be seen as blaming their problems on everyone else or complaining chronically. But it might not be that you’re too sensitive or not trying hard enough. Tap into your inner wisdom to identify what’s causing you to feel hopeless. Re-organizing your life and taking the steps to change may clear the emotional clutter. Of course, I know what I’m saying is easier said than done. But hold your head high and realize that some of the darkest moments in your life can lead you to a brighter path that you thought couldn’t exist. You may eventually look back on your difficult past and see how it got you to where you were meant to be.
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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an INFJ
Learn more: Type Talk: The 16 Personality Types That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work, by Otto Kroeger
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