4 Pitfalls of the INFJ Personality (and How to Avoid Them)

We INFJs are empathetic, creative, and deeply committed to our values, but like any of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, we can fall into negative behavioral patterns. In a world where introverts are often shamed for their behavior, I believe it’s crucial that we empower ourselves to avoid these pitfalls, and as a result, thrive and succeed as INFJs.

Here are four personality pitfalls that INFJs can fall into, plus four ways to avoid them — and become the healthy version of ourselves that we are meant to be. These pitfalls aren’t exclusive to the INFJ personality type, but they are common experiences for us introverted-intuitive-feeling-judgers.

Pitfalls of the INFJ Personality

1. Isolating ourselves

This point might come as a surprise. After all, INFJs are devoted to their loved ones and can easily be brought to tears over someone else’s pain. We truly care — and ache — when other people struggle. In fact, it’s one of our best qualities.

However, it’s the INFJ’s constant feeling of being misunderstood that can potentially drag us into a self-involved space. We INFJs may come to feel as if it’s us against the world, that no one truly understands, that no one knows what it’s like, that no one gets me. This can create a strong sense of loneliness and distance, to the point where we alienate ourselves from the people around us simply because we feel so lonely. We may push people away because we just don’t see the point of the relationship. We burrow deeper into our heads, and this can be dangerous.

Yes, we can become trapped in our own minds — trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s miserable. We’re thinkers, but it’s more than that; we live in our minds, and too much time spent there distances us from other people’s perspectives. It falsely leads us to believe that we need only ourselves.

How to combat this pitfall:

It will look different for everyone, but the important thing is to get out of your head and get a fresh perspective. This may mean setting up an introvert-friendly coffee date with a friend or attending a lecture or artistic performance where social interaction is minimal. It could even be as simple as reading, watching, or listening to a source you don’t normally consume — anything thought-provoking will engage the cerebral INFJ.

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2. Taking things too personally

Whether it’s a text, an email, or a comment on your social media post, it’s easy for the sensitive and emotional INFJ to over-analyze. We will pour over the punctuation and even overthink the emoji (or the absence of one). All too often, we take things more personally than they were intended to be.

I do this constantly. If the friend I’m conversing with over Instagram DM doesn’t include a smiley face in her message, I’ll convince myself she hates me. If someone else sends me a brief and simple text with no punctuation or emojis, I may be hurt and jump to the conclusion that they’re dismissing me (when the reality is they were just in a rush to respond).

Other times, when someone has left a group event without saying goodbye to me — or they don’t greet me when they arrive — I’ll become paranoid. It may not seem like a big deal, but to the INFJ, it is. It can feel like a stab to the heart. Instead of accepting that they just forgot, or they were in a hurry to leave, I start to wonder if they hate me. That they don’t think of me as a friend. But in those situations, all I’m doing is feeding my self-hate by putting words and thoughts in other people’s mouths and minds. It can be crippling.

How to combat this pitfall:

Dear INFJs, the world does not hate you. It’s time to practice some self-love. To avoid letting unjustified negative thoughts ruin you, celebrate something positive about yourself. Call yourself out on something you did well. If you think about it, your over-analyzing is often based on nothing; you’re imagining the worst, and it’s you who is taking the fall. It’s cruel! You don’t deserve it. You’re beating yourself up for something that a) might not even exist and b) is pointless self-loathing with no evidence to justify it.      

Whenever you start to overanalyze someone’s actions, whenever you get to the point of wanting to smash your skull against the wall, give yourself a pep talk along these lines: “Who are you helping by stressing over what someone may or may not think about you? You can’t control it. Stop trying to find affirmation that people dislike you. Stop finding ways to hate yourself.” Then go read a book, watch a movie, or distract yourself in some way. Take a moment to appreciate the good things and the good people you have in your life.

You are your greatest asset. If you’re against you, how do you expect to thrive and put those amazing qualities and talents you have within yourself to use? The world needs you at your best, INFJ. So counter those negative thoughts by congratulating yourself on what you do well.

3. Avoiding conflict

INFJs hate conflict. There’s hardly anything we hate more than tension, unresolved issues, and aggression, especially when it’s between us and the people we love. We want everything to go smoothly. We want everyone to just get on. And we will do anything to fix it… even if it means just glossing over the problem.

INFJs, we need to be careful. We can’t afford to ignore simmering issues, just because we want everything to go back to the way it was. We can’t be so desperate to fix things that we just shove peace at anyone, without fixing the root cause.

How to combat this pitfall:

INFJs are brilliant listeners. So let’s listen! It’s honestly that simple. Turn the situation around, turn yourself around, and trade out this potential pitfall with one of your positive qualities: empathy. Think of it like a switch. Instead of glossing over conflict, make use of your incredible capacity for empathy, for understanding, for wisdom, and listen like we INFJs can do so well. My friend, we can’t fix everything, but we’re blessed with qualities that can be useful during conflict. The hurt people involved need those qualities. Let’s share them!

Make the swap: Instead of dismissing out of fear, share your deep empathy and take pride in the fact that you have the capacity to do that. Offer emotional support.

4. Getting jealous

INFJs ache for companionship. We have little patience for superficial connections, yet time and time again, we struggle to initiate the relationships we do want.

There are only a few people in my life who I have a lot in common with. And yet, we’re not actually friends because neither of us has initiated a relationship, let alone a conversation that went further than mindless small talk.

Because of our passionate need for meaningful connection, we INFJs can get jealous easily when we see other people connecting and having fun. We might compare ourselves to them, or worse yet, when someone close to us has friends of their own, we might pull away, feeling unwanted and pathetic. We want a friend for us and us alone – someone who chooses us and sticks with us, no matter what. Then we may lash out when the precious few friendships we do have are threatened.  

How to combat this pitfall:

INFJs can get so consumed with self-loathing that all we feel is hurt, shame, and despair when friendships between other people appear to affirm our negative thoughts. We may become so tightly bound up in our own fears and insecurities that we take it out on ourselves. And that’s not fair.  

Dearest INFJs, a way to combat the jealousy you might feel is to redirect it. Instead of pining over something you don’t have or can’t do, take small steps in a different direction. Whether it’s leaving a warm and bubbly comment on someone’s Instagram post, or simply wishing them a “Happy Birthday” via text, you’ll feel better because you’re doing something that strengthens your bond with the person.

It’s a small step, but an important one. We need to appreciate what we do bring to the relationships we have. We show love in our own way, and if we think that passionate public embraces and verbal declarations of friendship are the ideal, then we are letting the world dictate that extroversion is more important than being our awesome introverted selves.

Another tip: Put all that energy that would go into jealousy into something else that focuses on you in a positive way. Create something. Help someone. Do something productive, celebrate your achievements, and start feeling good about yourself again. If you’re secure in who you are, you won’t be jealous for something else.

INFJs, we can’t afford to let these potential pitfalls cripple us. We can be healthier and happier. We can rise above. We can own any negative pitfalls our personality tosses at us, and we can learn to let them go.

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