How to Balance Socializing and Alone Time When You’re an ISFP Who Needs Both

an ISFP personality balances socializing with alone time

I love hanging out with people in my social circle, but there come moments in time when I need to retreat into myself, taking refuge in isolation. This need for solitude can last for days, weeks, or in rare cases, sometimes even months.

I get told things like, “You’ve been missed,” or that I cannot simply “disappear.”

Upon reflection and research, this scenario is one that is part of the kit and caboodle of being an ISFP, one of the introverted Myers-Briggs personality types. When ISFPs are in the right mood, we can become social butterflies, almost appearing to be ESFPs, our extroverted counterparts. But ISFPs are indeed introverts, and as introverts, we need to take time to recharge — alone.

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Here are five ways for ISFPs to balance their need to socialize with their need for alone time.

How ISFPs Can Balance Socializing and Alone Time

1. Take yourself on an “artist date.”

ISFPs are the artists of the Myers-Briggs world. Whether it’s music, fashion, or art, we introverted-sensing-feeling-perceivers have a strong need to create. So it’s important to take ourselves out — alone — to enjoy the beauty around us. These excursions can be as simple as taking a stroll through the neighborhood, or it could involve a trip to the museum, cooking a new dish, going to the cinema… the choices are plentiful. One rule of thumb, though, is to vary the different types of excursions that are being done — or else boredom will ensue. This is especially important for ISFPs, as we thrive on having new experiences, especially ones focused on the five senses.

Julia Cameron writes in her book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity, about the importance of what are called “artist dates.” She writes, “an artist date is a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist.” Introverted artists may need more than two hours to recharge — in order for me to be truly creative, I need at least a full day of indulging in solitude. When an introvert needs recharging, it’s tempting to sleep that time away, but as Lacey Sturm sings in Flyleaf’s New Horizons, “You can get your sleep when you are dead.” Harsh words, maybe, but there is some truth to them!

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2. Pour your thoughts into writing.

Let’s be honest. We ISFPs aren’t the most disciplined of MBTI types, even when it comes to doing things that we love to do. We may be filled with so many ideas, dreams, thoughts, and feelings that those things preoccupy our attention — to the neglect of practical matters. 

The solution? Write down all your thoughts and ideas in a journal. Journaling can appeal to the ISFP’s artistic sensibilities on many levels. For example, just choosing a journal cover (or designing your own!) can be an act of artistic expression. The pen, too can be chosen with great care. (By the way, the journal and pen don’t have to cost a ton of money, and will still be beautiful instruments). The point is to be motivated to put down all of your powerful thoughts so that your ISFP mind doesn’t have to struggle to remember all of them at every moment — thereby freeing up brain space for practical matters and other people.

A journal is also a way to vent your negative thoughts and feelings. After all, the ISFP is a pretty sensitive personality and is far from impervious to self-doubt. Dumping those thoughts can help you see them for what they truly are, altogether reducing their power and grip.

While drinking in the beauty that has been poured into your journal, having a planner for the practical tasks (which includes putting those brilliant ideas into action) wouldn’t hurt, either. Otherwise, without an action plan, those dreams probably won’t come true.

3. Don’t neglect your friends — make an effort to stay consistent.

I cannot stress this point enough. When an ISFP disappears and your loved ones cannot understand this type of action, there will be a lot of hurt feelings to go around — both for loved ones and ISFPs. Trust me, I’ve been there.

Remember that your friends, family, and others love you and need your attention. While it is important for ISFPs, as introverts, to make time for ourselves, we can make time for the people in their lives, too. Likeable, quietly charming, and friendly, ISFPs are people who are naturally fun to be around. Don’t overcommit, but if you attend a social event or group regularly, make it a point to actually be a regular.

It is tempting to stay at home and indulge in alone time, but if you have somewhere to be and people are counting on you to do so, frequently choosing alone time over your loved ones sends the message that they are not valuable to you. As an ISFP, this is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way. Choose carefully the number of activities where you are expected to be around people — not too many, but also not too few. ISFPs really like people, but for us, socializing too often can be extremely draining. When choosing a social group, remember that other people will expect regularity from you. Again, the planner will come in handy, this time for time management needs.

4. Decompress.

Like anyone else on the planet, it is important for ISFPs to relax. Without that personal time, burnout will ensue. Making sure to separate the activities that determine our sense of meaning from the purely fun activities is necessary, although sometimes difficult to distinguish. 

Hang out with friends over brunch or a home-cooked meal. Enjoy the conversations going on around you. Listen to music that you enjoy. Play a video game that suits your temperament. Light a nicely scented candle now and then. Each ISFP should have a list of relaxing activities on hand, especially when the need reaches nuclear levels.

5. Make time for your craft (or crafts).

We ISFPs tend to gravitate towards creative activities that give us meaning and a sense of purpose to our everyday living. When we’re young, there isn’t much pressure to succeed in these activities, but when we become adults, the pressure can intensify. For example, I remember drawing a lot in my spare time as a child, sans formal instruction. I had no concerns about it leading to a career or something bigger. Now, as an adult, that’s something I always worry about.

Yet, the pressure we feel about our meaningful activities simply means that these activities are important to us — important enough to put effort into our work.

Not everyone is going to understand this need — questions will come up, indicating skepticism or disapproval for not pursuing more conventional activities. The things that give ISFPs meaning are really creative activities that could include playing a musical instrument, writing, drawing, and more — activities that don’t immediately translate into high-powered jobs but nevertheless create beauty and meaning for us. And, if you’re successful at your craft (or crafts), that beauty can reach others and, at some point, could create money for you.

Since talent doesn’t come automatically, making time for those artistic activities will help make the case that there is a point to the unconventionality that some consider to be madness.

Despite being a fairly common personality type (about 8-9 percent of the population), ISFPs can be puzzling to a number of people. Despite being an introvert, we cannot function in the world in a solo fashion and sometimes need to find ways to accommodate the people we regularly interact with.

However, we need to honor what matters to us too — regardless of what anyone else thinks. The key is to find balance.

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