The One Word You Must Learn as an INFJ

an INFJ personality learns to say no

It seemed to come out of nowhere. They were so adamant that you didn’t know what to do. Maybe I’ll end up having a good time, you thought. You felt guilty when you considered refusing.

And now, here you are.

You look at the clock; you only have an hour left. Laying back down onto the bed, you stretch out and let out a long, deep sigh. There’s no real way to get out of this now.

You have to start getting ready or you’ll be late.

Slowly pulling yourself back up to stare at the outfit you had picked out the night before, the usual reasons you store in your arsenal of excuses begin to come up:

“You know, I don’t think I’m going to make it tonight. I don’t feel great/ I’m too tired.”

“Oh my gosh! I am so sorry! I totally forgot we were having the party tonight! I thought it was next week!”

And so on.

But then, following these (usually) mostly untrue excuses, is the guilty voice in your head.

You can’t cancel this time. You’ve been saying no to these parties for weeks. Everyone is going to think you’re a stuck-up prick.

If you don’t go, what would you miss out on?

Cancel this and everyone is going to hate you. They’ll all think you’re no fun at all.

INFJ, do any of these sound familiar?

No matter what time of the year, it can be virtually impossible to dodge the barrage of invitations from friends, coworkers, and family. This means a lot of us are going to end up playing out a version of the scenario this article opened with. You, dreading the plans you unwillingly agreed to… again.

As INFJs, we have a penchant for wanting to please others, and we absolutely despise confrontation. So is there really any way to please everyone and find balance while also staying true to ourselves?

The Big Question: Why?

Some INFJs find themselves trapped in an exhausting cycle of “martyr syndrome”. The idea is that we feel like we always have to be there for others, no matter how utterly tired and tapped out we feel.

(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)

But in order to take care of ourselves — so that we can continue helping others — we need to add a new word to our vocabulary.

That word is no. Otherwise known as setting boundaries.

Why Boundaries Are an Absolute Must for INFJs

The INFJ is one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types most likely to struggle with setting boundaries. But having healthy boundaries in place is important for everyone, introvert or extrovert, INFJ or not. Here’s why:

  • Healthy boundaries allow us to prioritize. They allow us to take care of ourselves first so that we can be refreshed enough to take care of others.
  • Saying no allows us to work with how we function — instead of against it — so we can be our best selves.
  • Boundaries teach us, and others, to respect us.
  • Saying no gives us the freedom to look inside and see what we really want and need and to be honest about what those needs are.
  • Boundaries give us the freedom to feel guilt-free when we’re enforcing them.

When to Use Your New Vocabulary Word

It often happens something like this:

Someone approaches you at work or school, or you run into them while grocery shopping (God forbid!). They drop the whole, “Oh yeah, what are you doing tonight? We are (insert popular extroverted activity here) and you should totally come. What do you say? Please?!  And don’t say no, it would be good for you to get out.”

You’re filled to the brim with awkwardness. Guilt begins to cloud your resolve to say no.

Suddenly, the plans you had to stay at home and catch up on the new book you’re reading seem selfish and sad.

You feel cornered. And though your entire being already feels the self-loathing you will have when you reflect on this moment, you cave.

Faking enthusiasm, you grin and say, “Sure. I’ll be there.”

Or maybe you were invited to a party and everyone has made a point to mention that you need to “stay to the end this time and not leave early like last year.”

These are classic guilty INFJ moments; the times when boundaries are your best weapon of defense.

When someone poses you with an invitation or asks you to take on another project at work, etc., know your limits. If you feel you can’t answer on the spot, be firm and tell them you “will have to get back to them.” Give yourself time to think about it in order to decide what you feel and need.

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DIY Boundaries: An INFJ’s Guide

So what does setting boundaries in these types of situations look like?

They’d look like this:

Person approaches you at school/store/etc.

“Hey, I’m having another party tonight at 6, and I’d love it if you’d be there.”

“Well, let me think about it. (You remember you haven’t had more than a couple hours of alone time this week.) Actually, I think I’m going to have to pass. Thanks so much for inviting me though.”

And even though they may beg, you hold to this decision. You keep reminding yourself that it’s not selfishness, it’s self-care. This will help you remain able to continue being the caring, empathetic person you are.

Another scenario:

“Don’t forget the company party everyone! It’s at 6! Tonight! Be there!”

You do go to the party (since it’s basically mandatory), but once you’ve made an appearance, said hello to a few people, and then feel the need to be back home in the comfort of the quiet, you slip out.

You are in tune with your feelings and aren’t ashamed of who you are.

After all, maybe you don’t like to party hardy in a crowd, but by jove, people are not cookie cutters.

And thank goodness for that.

So although we INFJs struggle with martyr syndrome, making us feel like we need to sacrifice ourselves and our desires at all times, this is not the case. Balance is key.

While it can be hard, it will also minimize the feeling we often have of being taken advantage of. You’ll begin to have more energy to actually do those things you like to do, like lending a listening ear, being your friend’s and family’s counselor, infusing your caring and creativity into your work, and so on.

The more you allow yourself to be who you are, the easier it gets. You’ll develop more of a sense of self and not allow it to be lost in always being the “savior.”

After all, as much as we don’t like to admit it, we INFJs are only human. And saying no allows us to remember that as much as we want to take care of the world, we also need care, too.

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