A Letter to INFJs About Growing Through Pain

Amelia circleDear fellow INFJ,

I hope you can excuse my hiatus from writing to you. I realize I have not written since the beginning of the summer. The last few months have been challenging for me, to say the very least. I want to be honest with you, always. I want to share some things I have learned over the summer. I want to shed light on the not-so-great stuff… because that is what is real and raw and what helps all of us to grow.

As I stated earlier, this summer has been difficult for me. There are many reasons why, but mostly because I landed at a crossroad as to what to do next in my life. The first decision I had to make was whether or not to complete the second Bachelor’s degree I was working on. I decided to take a step back from my studies, though I love studying psychology. It was what made the most sense for my time management and finances. Though it made sense for good reasons, it was still a heart-wrenching decision for me. I have written before about being a perfectionist. Letting go of that goal seemed impossible, but I knew what I needed to do so that I could live a more balanced life.

I am still trying to find my footing right now. I’m rearranging parts of my life and this process always scares me a little. I like knowing what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I thrive when I have a plan and a goal to accomplish. However, my tendency to go into overdrive leaves me overworked, exhausted, and frankly, miserable. I think this is common for many INFJs, as we tend to overwork ourselves when we are passionate about something.

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I learned a lot about my perfectionism in therapy. I found a connection between my personal struggles and the struggles I’ve heard about from other INFJs. You see, I am my own worst critic. I push myself too hard. I do not tolerate my own weakness. I strive to be the best version of myself at all times, often failing to take the time to love myself when I can’t be my best. For some reason, whether it’s my personality type or not, I feel I always have to be strong. I have to be strong for others so that they can be strong too. Over these last few months, I have wondered how I can be accepting of others’ weaknesses, but why I struggle to accept my own.

I have already written about the darker side of the INFJ personality type. We tend to be moody and highly sensitive. Our capacity for human emotion is wide and far. We feel absolutely everything. On top of that, we are perfectionists who just want to be strong for everyone else. Recently, I have realized that not everyone I invite into my life will be able to accept me when I’m not at my best. Seeing people choose to leave me because of the imperfections I’m already aware of is painful. Having my flaws pointed out to me hurts. I can say I will work on them. Trust me, I am trying.

But just because I have weak areas and bad moods does not mean I do not deserve to be loved. The same goes for you, my INFJ friends. Do not allow the opinions of those who cannot understand you to define the way you view yourself. So you are flawed. You have terrible days, weeks, months. But you are still lovely and lovable and made of magic that few could ever comprehend.

I have taken a step back, but I think it’s more like taking some steps forward. I am grateful to have people in my life who have supported me through everything I have decided to do thus far. I honestly will never be able to say I did something all on my own and that’s because of my support system.

My advice to you, INFJs, is to surround yourself with the people who do understand you and love you exactly as you are. Treat yourself the way you would treat your five-year-old self. Spend time on your own doing the things that make you feel like yourself. Indulge in the things that make your inner child get excited again. Get plenty of rest, take long walks, listen to music, and dance around your house. Care for yourself. Writing has always been my favorite outlet. I never thought in a million years I would ever submit my writing for other people to read. I know I have said this before, but I’ll say it again: sharing my words with you has been one of the best things to ever happen to me. Your kind words never go unnoticed.

This summer was difficult, but growth can only occur where there has been pain. Although I don’t know exactly what is going to happen next in my life, I am welcoming autumn with open arms.

Your INFJ friend,

Amelia signature



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  • This was beautifully written, and such a timely post for me! I’ve had so many people walk out of my life due to my imperfections! It’s discouraging when people walk out while you’re walking on the flaws that you’re painfully aware of. But my momma tells me those people weren’t really mine to begin with if they walk out during my time of pain. You have a gift with writing!

  • Danielle says:

    This was wonderful!!! Thank you for writing this. I’m an INFJ myself, yes life is so hard sometimes. It’s nice to know someone can relate. People often tell me I’m way too hard on myself and I beat myself down a lot. I do , Bc INFJ’s have a need to be a perfectionist and that isn’t realistic.

  • Erika says:

    Wow, This all resonates so much with me. Thank you for writing your thoughts Amelia, it’s so comforting to hear that others are going through similar, although I am so sorry to hear that you’ve been going through some tough times. It’s absolutely right that it makes you stronger. Us INFJs seem to beat ourselves up, well at least I know I do! I take on too much because I’m too set on the end goal and then end up getting overwhelmed. It’s difficult to admit needing a break from things but it’s SO necessary. I withdrew from a university course that I was doing at the beginning of this year, it was such a tough decision and I felt so lost afterwards, but I know it was for the best. I’m learning to just try and be in the moment a bit more and to have faith that things will work themselves out, this is tough as I have a tendency to be forever planning (an INFJ trait it seems!), but it is also refreshing and super important to try and relax a little more, as well as not beating yourself up over your flaws. Everybody has them and it takes a special kind of person to be self aware and reflective enough to try and make yourself the best version of yourself. It’s also extremely exhausting. Thanks again Amelia for you’re writing but do remember to give yourself a break and room to breathe, you seem like a really special person. Take care, Erika

  • Lu D. says:

    Thank you for this Ms Amelia! It means a lot to hear those words. I hope the light is shining close ahead for you.
    Hold your head high and keep on!

  • Miriam L. says:

    Well said, Ms. Amelia! I didn’t have such a great summer either even though on the flip side it brought some benefits when it came to being able to take care of myself and mom better financially. My former co-worker moved to a different department in April so I was placed in charge of her responsibilities in addition to what I was already doing. She only had a few weeks to teach me everything she knew and on top of that my supervisor was let go and replaced. There was so much change going on, I still have no idea how I’ll be able to keep up. In addition to the increased workload, people call on me constantly for something. Although I love being needed by people, at times I feel like I’m being stretched too thin, so much so I have to close the door to my office or go to the bathroom to cry from feeling so overwhelmed. It’s also one of those jobs where you’re constantly engaged in conversation with others and by the end of the day I’m drained beyond belief. I’m hoping the situation changes soon and that we’ll hire extra help but in the meantime, I just focus on what I can control and that’s my anxiety levels and the need to be perfect. Thanks for the letter, it’s nice to know that I’m wasn’t the only INFJ having a tough summer. 🙂

  • Rocky says:

    I wonder how many infjs get a second bachelors? I did, then went on to grad school and dropped out of that. I don’t regret the latter because I didn’t have any kind of sensible thesis project. Ten years later though I feel I could go back because my intuition finally put together some clues that might be a major discovery, yet I can’t financially afford it and socially find it so difficult to make connections that I doubt i’d find a professor to take me as a student so late in life. Always got to do this the hard way!

  • Francesca Colaiacomo says:

    oh wow!! this post was amazing! cause while I was reading it, I felt exactly my thoughts and feeling of this august, this last period! I was thinking about my way to be so damn perfectionist, and how hard is for me to accept and love myself completely! As you said, sometimes I find myself realizing how it’s easier for me to accept others, more than accept and be patient with myself! It’s just so hard loving myself the way I am, with all my struggles, and my time to process everything happens around me!

    Another part of your writing, that I felt very close to me, it’s when you talk about the people who supports you and cheers you up in the lowest time of your life! I realized lately how much important it is to have positive and good people who loves life and are good souls, cause it helps to stand up and take your energies back and keep going forwards your goals! And I completely appreciate your statements about the lovely words you have to give to yourself as you were a five-years-old girl!It’s very good advice!

    It has been such a good reading this post , because it was like reading some of my writing!! it was good to read something so close to me, from someone else! Thanks!!

  • Henry says:

    This is a good description – and a gentle one, too!
    As a kid i made unconsciously a promise to myself an everyone that I would never complain about anything, that I would endure and always give my best. Twenty years later and I am still keeping it. Because I hate to disappoint. Because I am a perfectionist…still.

  • Kayla says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. I really needed the perspective. That perfectionist tendency and planning part of me has been struggling with work and home life a lot lately. I try and tell myself to let go and let things happen in their own time, but it’s so difficult when all you see in front of you is what’s wrong in life. I think that’s why self care is so important, especially for INFJs. We need remember to take that step back and re-evaluate from an objective point of view.
    Thanks again!

  • Simona says:

    Hi Amelia!
    The post is wonderful as everything you have written. I have been just wondering if I could write you mail? There are some things about anxiety I would ask you. It would mean a lot for me to know your point of view and your personal experience.

  • Jason says:

    Thank you so much for this post! It was exactly what I needed to hear, right when I needed to hear it!

  • Brenton says:

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  • Another INFJ perfectionist here who also had a shitty summer. Thank you for your honesty, and your insight. I love the idea of treating myself like my 5 year old self.

  • Emilie says:

    I thank you very much for this article. It’s very encouraging to me. You made me realize some things, especially to accept me as I am.

  • Joselyn says:

    Thank you so much you don’t know how much I need this. ~from an INFJ in Oregon

  • Taylor says:

    This resonates with me, it seems like even though we all are apart, INFJ’s are on the same wavelength together. We feel certain ways at certain times, and it’s great.

  • Shariew says:

    Thank you so much for this, Amelia. Especially for being so open and honest. I feel every word you written.

  • Tracy McCullough says:

    Thank you for having the courage & loving spirit to share this. You have no idea how much I need this right now. I will read it over & over. Thank you!

  • Sally says:

    Thank you for sharing what sounds like a difficult time for you. It’s great how you say that you’ve taken a step back, but actually you’ve also taken several steps forward in understanding yourself and what – and who – you need in your life.

    I can relate to what you say about perfectionism and being hypersensitive, as well as the tendency to go into overdrive and then burn out. I’m thirty years old and feel like I’ve drifted from one job to another and from one career path to another for the last ten years. I just can’t seem to settle with one thing, either because I feel like I’m not good enough (I guess that’s perfectionism) or I decide that I’m more suited to another field. Some people would say that I’m just picky or don’t persist long enough – maybe they’re right. I am fine with maintaining relationships long term, but when it comes to work…I have a feeling of being trapped in a way. I’m again at a crossroads and not so young anymore – most of the people I went to school with have been on a single career path since graduating and are now buying their first house. Sometimes I really wish I could change my personality or my brain so that I could just settle and be a normal adult!

  • Cassie Long says:

    I would love to start an INFJ group on facebook, if there are others that are interested.

  • Brenda Filan says:

    Hi Amelia. Your words are no doubt fantastic! The pain is very important for us. Take a time to us is precious.

    I really love read your posts.

  • Phillip says:

    Thank you so much

  • Heleen Hofmeyr says:

    As one INFJ growing through pain to another, thank you, Amelia. Pain so often feels random and unnecessary. How wonderful to be reminded that it’s essential for growth.