How INFJs and INFPs deal with emotions differently

Are you an INFJ personality type? Or maybe you’re an INFP. Unless you understand the subtle differences between these two Myers-Briggs personality types, it can be hard to decide which one you are. Both types are sensitive, creative, and compassionate. They care deeply about humanity and seem to possess an almost magical ability to understand and empathize with others. However, one difference is the way they deal with emotions—both their own feelings and the feelings of others. (Not sure if you’re an INFJ, an INFP, or one of the other 16 personality types? Take this free, quick test from our partner Personality Hacker to find out.)

INFJs absorb emotions.

If you’re an INFJ, you might feel like you’re a sponge who soaks up the emotional energy of other people. Empathy has been described as “your pain in my heart,” and for the INFJ, this description couldn’t be more true. Whether it’s a friend, a foe, or even a stranger you encounter in a restaurant or while walking down the street, you have the uncanny ability to detect and empathize with the emotions of others. Sometimes you feel others’ emotions so strongly that you experience them in your body as if they were your own. You may not even realize that you do this, because you’ve been doing it automatically your whole life.

INFJs use their dominant function, introverted intuition, to understand other people’s perspectives (the “dominant function” of any personality type is that type’s preferred way of thinking, gathering information, or interacting with the world). The INFJ’s secondary function (or second most-used way of thinking) is extroverted feeling, which puts other people’s emotions on their radar all the time.

Literally. All. The. Time. INFJs often report not being able to turn off this super power even when they want to. They’re always aware—sometimes hyper-aware—of how the people around them feel. This is especially true when INFJs are physically close to someone, like in the same room.

“This isn’t post-processing emotional experience,” explains personality profiler Antonia Dodge, co-owner of Personality Hacker. “It’s an emotion hitting the INFJ due to energetic proximity.”

In part, this explains why even though INFJs tend to be very social, they frequently retreat from others and spend time alone. This can surprise and hurt those close to the INFJ, who feel the INFJ is withdrawing from them and withholding time and attention. In reality, absorbing other people’s emotions is draining, so INFJs must get away from others to stop this process for a while and recharge. Being bombarded by other’s emotions also means it can be difficult for INFJs to tune into their own feelings. Spending time alone allows INFJs to reconnect with their own emotions and reflect on them.

As an INFJ, your ability to absorb others’ emotions is a super power that inspires incredible compassion and empathy for others. However, with great power comes great responsibility, or in your case, great opportunities to become overwhelmed and exhausted. Make sure you care for yourself and make decisions that are respectful of your own feelings and needs. Stay in touch with your own feelings by getting them out of your head. When you feel strongly, try talking about your emotions with someone you trust, and if no one is available, write about how you feel, then read your own writing. Whatever you do, don’t internalize your strong emotions, as introverts and INFJs tend to do. Because of your extroverted feeling function, you’ll feel at your best when you can, appropriately, release your emotions by expressing them outwardly.

INFPs mirror emotions.

On the other hand, if you’re an INFP, you’re extremely in touch with your own feelings because of your dominant function, introverted feeling. You don’t absorb other’s emotions directly like INFJs, but instead, you put yourself in other people’s shoes and imagine how you’d feel in a similar situation. Mature INFPs do this with incredible accuracy, because they’ve been mapping feelings within themselves their entire lives, explains Dodge. Because internally mirroring other’s emotions is so easy for INFPs, they may be surprised to learn that other people can’t come close to doing what they do. Furthermore, because of their introverted feeling function, INFPs are more private about their feelings and reactions, believing that their emotional experience is something very personal and sacred. They don’t share their feelings with just anybody.

Unlike INFJs, INFPs don’t have to be with someone in real time to reproduce their emotions. In fact, INFPs often have a special relationship with art, music, movies, and literature, because they can easily recreate within themselves the feelings of the characters or actors. They’re incredibly moved by artistic works in a way that few other types experience. This often propels INFPs to be quite artistic and creative themselves. They use writing, music, or art to recreate their own feelings for the world to experience—and they do it with surprising depth and accuracy.

Image credit: Deviant Art (la-child)

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an Introvert


  • kris says:

    Wow this is so me. I was starting to think I was the only one like this. I’m so thankful to know other people is like this and it’s normal. Thanks

  • Beij says:

    The test did not tell me if I was an INFJ or INFP…

  • If you are TFC then you don’t know what a INFJ or INFP is other than a four letter acronym…. here’s to being TFC.

  • Yuv says:

    Omg, this article finally solved my puzzle that I’m an INFP, always thought I was an INFJ

  • INFP23 says:

    I found this to be very interesting insightful and accurate. most places I read that INFJ’s are really the only ones who understand people the way they do but that’s not always true they just do it differently but I’m glad us INFP’s are getting a little more recognition in the area of understanding people. just to clarify Im not jealous or anything ive just kinda been feeling left out this whole time and my INFJ friend thinks shes the only one who understands everyone but no one understands her and I keep saying I do and she doesn’t believe I do so maybe now I can prove I do understand her better than she thinks lol. INFJ’s and INFP’s just take very different paths of understanding people but both are just as effective at it. INFJ’s, as stated, use Fe to take in people’s emotions and Ni to put them into perspective while INFP’s use Ne to take in people’s perspectives and Fi to put emotions to it but we both end up with the same level of understanding like how 2+2=4 and 2×2=4 different equations same answer.

  • INFP23 says:

    although I do have to admit INFJ’s do tend to more frequently interpret people’s emotions due to Fe and the fact that it just kinda happens for them as an INFP we do have the benefit of consciously deciding whether or not we want to “feel what others feel” it seems. also I just wanted to point out the art thing is totally true with me but my INFJ friend also has an amazing capacity for artistic potential like seriously we read our poetry to each other sometimes and she definitely knows how to use a pen too but just like how we take in other’s emotions differently it is really interesting to see our differences in how we ourselves communicate our emotions to others. that’s something else I might want to look a little more in depth to now that I think about it lol

  • Sydney says:

    But what if you do both of these things equally? I certainly do.

  • Janie@ says:

    My husband is an infp and I’m an infj and this describes us both perfectly. We both seem to know what other people are feeling but we can never explain to each other how we know. Now I see that the process is different.

  • Steve says:

    I’m embarrassed to admit that for the longest time I had no idea what the difference between an INFJ and INFP was and now I understand it perfectly. Great post Jenn!

  • Kayla says:

    I am wondering how being an HSP might affect both these types and how they deal with emotions. I always read things like this and say, “Yes, that’s me. but a thousand times that!” I just wonder if being an HSP makes it different for both of these types. Any ideas?