A Letter to INFJs About What I’ve Learned From You

IntrovertDear.com INFJ INTJ letter

Dear INFJs,

I’m an INTJ personality type, but I seem to be surrounded by people who identify as INFJs. My mother is an INFJ, as well as a couple of close friends, and I find myself balanced by their heart-centred approach to life. For this reason, I want to share some lessons I have learned from them that I hope can support other INFJs. These lessons have been learned through observing the world, through seeing my own life run parallel to theirs, and through watching them as they find their way. I hope these six points can help you, too.

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1. I’m not certain I will ever understand you. I don’t mean this in an abstract way, such as the idea that we can never really understand another’s experience. I mean this in a concrete way that acknowledges just how differently INFJs see the world. I know this is a source of pain for you, as one of your greatest dreams is to feel understood (although you seem to believe that this can never happen). But I won’t let that stop me from trying. What I do understand, however, is that despite some similarities in our approach to life, you see the world in a unique way. We both live inside our minds — inside intricate worlds made of memory and fantasy and creativity and abstract, speculative ideas. Whereas my world is based off sometimes harsh, logical reasoning, yours is calm and warm and always kind. We need more of that in this world, so please don’t hide it. And, most important, please don’t stop trying to help me understand. I think we are both better and more complete people because of it.

2. Don’t let me shield you. This is a relatively new realization for me. When I see you, with your seemingly constant pain and soft surface, I automatically want to shield you with my tougher exterior. Don’t let me. You can manage just fine without me and actually grow faster and better without the restriction. Released from those benevolent bonds, I have watched you learn and exhibit an assertiveness that is in no way diminished by the gentleness you extend to everyone who crosses your path. By trying to shield you, I prevented you from the chance to grow and protect yourself. Don’t let me do that again. The next time I see you reach out to someone who is in pain and try to stop you, afraid of the suffering you are knowingly taking on, remind me that this is how you shine, and that pain is sometimes a natural part of that.

3. Keep showing me a different way. As an INTJ, I am blunt and assertive, often obsessed with completing tasks and sometimes forgetful of the extent to which my actions can affect others’ lives. But watching how you move through the world — ever tender with the borders of the lives around you — has encouraged a deeper understanding of how the emotional world can intersect with my rational, fact-based world and peacefully coexist. Thank you for this lesson, and please keep it up.

4. You help me see a simpler way. I sometimes make things difficult. This is probably an understatement. I assume the world is difficult and hostile, and when a problem comes up, I automatically react as if the solution will be complex and time-consuming. When I have conflict with others, I often assume ill-intent where there is none, or even anticipate all the ways people might oppose me before I’ve even started something. But you see the simpler, truer side of things. You see that the world may be harsh, yes, but that sometimes the solution can be simple and straightforward. That agile, flexible brain of yours sees past the surface and right to the heart of things. You see a straight way through when I see only obstacles. In my life, this has been as simple as your advice to simply ask for help when I don’t know things, rather than eventually working it out through a long process of research and making mistakes on my own. To you, it was so simple, but I had been doing it the long way my whole life and never even considered that there were lots of people in my world who would be happy to help. You reminded me that people like to be helpful and kind when they can. I may never be able to see the world in this way, but as long as you’re in my life, I won’t have to.

5. The dark is never completely dark. If there is one ubiquitous thing I’ve seen you struggle with, it is this: You have a tendency to get lost inside the pain that you feel and remember so easily. Every insult, every wound, every injustice collects inside you. You collect it from your own experiences, from friends, from family, from media, even from listening to a seven-times-removed story. It collects inside you like malevolent, hungry dust, and sometimes you get lost in it, unable to find a way out, and unable to see a time when you will not be drowning in it. But I know you can find a way out. I’ve seen you do it, time after time. I’ve seen you reach out to help another soul even while struggling yourself. I’ve seen you use your generous heart to comfort and find comfort in the simple act of serving. The dark is never completely dark, and as an INFJ, you can always find your way out. You just have to remember that you can.

6. And finally, thank you. Thank you for a glimpse into another life, a softer world. Thank you for accepting my hard edges and sometimes ungenerous brain. Thank you for continuing to try to show me kindness in a world that sometimes seems to have none. And thank you for seeing enough value in my place in your life that you continue coming back to my side.

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an INFJ Personality Type

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    • Carolyn Burke Hoppe says:

      This is a beautifully written tribute to INFJ’s and how they impact you as an INTJ. Thank you Gayle. The same is true in reverse. INTJs affect us in many positive ways. I am fortunate to know a number of INTJs. Many of us INFJs aspire to be INTJs; we often mistype as INTJ. I am in awe of your ability to quickly decipher essential components of complex issues. You know how to advise others on best courses of action in ways that surpass our abilities. I admire the knack of tackling difficult personality issues among group members with incredible skill and finesse. You are not timid about speaking your mind. People allow you to influence a group in ways they often won’t accept with other types. INTJs can be very artistic and creative. I can often connect in a unique way with INTJs with a creative flair. Thanks again.

    • Lauren Sapala says:

      Wow, this is so beautiful. THANK YOU.

    • Thank you for this beautiful letter, Gayle. I identify as INFJ myself and it is perfectly alright to admit you can’t understand me. I’ve found there are quite a few people who can say the same (and have said the same directly to my face). Being the perennial wall-flower in the very edge of the room has given a lot of people pause to think when they realize social situations aren’t my forte. I’m glad to show people different ways of seeing the world, especially if they’ve never thought about it the way I see things.

      • Gayle Aggiss says:

        Hi Lisa,
        I can definitely identify with the idea of the wall flower in the corner of the room, as an INTJ, a party would be on my list of places I’m least likely to be. Your last comment is the part that I think I appreciate most about INFJ’s, despite the similarities between our types, that one different letter results in major differences in the way we see the world. I’ve found that these differences can help my overly rational and emotion-mistrusting brain negotiate the world so much more kindly and gently, and I really appreciate that and need it sometimes.

        • Sometimes a new way of seeing things can mean the difference between having an argument and a calm discussion. I still remember when I first found out I was an INFJ. It gave me an INTJ when I first took the test about 10 years ago and it gave me INFJ this past year when I retook it. I’m not sure why it did that but I’ll take it either way. I can definitely relate to the distrust of emotions, though, since I’m the same way to a certain extent. I’m definitely mistrusting of people in general and it must show in the way I look at some people I’ve never met before.

    • Jane. England says:

      Thank you for such a lovely letter. I only identified recently as being an INFJ and what I crave most is to be appreciated despite all my idiosyncrasies. Even if you don’t understand us, at least you try to and that’s enough for me. Thank you.

      • Gayle Aggiss says:

        Hi Jane, You put it beautifully there. I don’t know if it’s really possible to completely understand someone else, we can’t get behind their eyes. But when you come across someone who is willing to keep trying, that’s the best feeling in the world.

    • Samantha says:

      Thank you so much Gayle for this very touching letter. I’m an INFJ & often feel like I can be a burden to those who don’t experience the world as I do, as I usually am looking at the big picture, the long term affects, the heavy emotional impact of things. Which is probably why #5 hits so close to home for me. I love the INTJs in my life…I’d love it even more if they’d let me peek inside their hearts once in a while too! Again, such a sweet letter <3

    • Jair Júnior says:

      So touching, thank you.

    • Nicole Marie says:

      So touching. I’ve shared this with my INTJ boyfriend and my two INFJ best friends, (I also happen to be an INFJ). This article made me feel less misunderstood, and more appreciated. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

    • Ceci Casasús says:

      I think that this letter is a great thing that we of diffeeent personalities should write to each other. Because in the MBTI realm many take their personality as the best there ever was and have no room for improvement from types they dispise or whose stereotypes as a group do not agree with (such as being too emotional or too socially awkward, too focused on the now, too aloof, too cold, too dominant, too harsh, too arrogant, etc.). They parade their own flaws as assets and sometimes refuse to see the other ways people process things believing them to be beneath them. Instead we could stop being so self-centered and validation-seekers and look around and write a thank you letter to other people of other personality types. This letter was very touching and useful as it showed the positive impact not by our own standards that tend towards martyrdom, but by the testimony of someone different in type than us that is recognizing at a personal level how the way we do things are actually appreciated by others in different ways.
      Thank you, Gale, for sharing an insight into what non-INFJs like, understand and apppreciate of the way we are. I have known many INTJs and their portayal as arrogant and know-it-alls that want to control the world because their ideas are the absolute best is a pathetic exaggeration of the stereotypes of this personality and following your example we could, using absolute honesty, let others know that their ways, albeit not always as ours, have had a good impact on the rest of us.

    • Stacy Reeves says:

      Thank you so much for writing this. I got a little teary at the end.