Are you an INFJ personality type, or do you have one in your life? If so, you know that INFJs can be complex, mysterious, and at times, downright contradictory. (What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality test.) Here are 14 contradicting things about being an INFJ. While these things may not be true of every INFJ, I believe they are generally true for most of us:
1. We find people to be both fascinating and exhausting. INFJs love discovering what makes people tick. It’s often said that when INFJs look at you, they stare directly into your soul. We rarely miss a thing, from the flat way you said “everything’s fine” to the far-off look in your eyes. Nevertheless, we’re truly introverts who need plenty of quiet downtime. Too much time with people and we’re left feeling tired, unwell, and emotionally drained.
2. We’re in tune with other people’s emotions, but we often don’t understand our own. We know when you’re cautiously excited, mildly conflicted, or doubting yourself, because your body language speaks volumes to us. Sometimes we notice how you’re feeling before you consciously realize it yourself. But, paradoxically, we often don’t understand our own feelings right away. For some INFJs, their emotions feel like a completely separate thing, almost as if they belong to someone else entirely. We often don’t fully understand our feelings until we spend time alone.
3. We care deeply about others, but we often want to be left alone. Likewise, INFJs are always looking out for other people — especially the ones we love. When someone we care about is hurting, we want to make things better for that person. Due to our Extroverted Feeling, we love supporting others emotionally, and even when we’re alone, we’re often thinking about people. Sometimes it can be hard for us to get the alone time we need because we don’t want to let anyone down. So we exhaust ourselves being around others and tending to their needs.
4. We think big thoughts, but we also worry about the small things. How did life begin on planet Earth? What’s the point of all this? What will society be like thousands of years from now? INFJs like asking deep questions and pondering the mysteries of the universe — especially as they relate to human nature and the fate of humanity. But we also find ourselves worrying about the mundane details of life. What am I going to wear today? Did I make a typo in my email? What exactly did my boss’ words mean?
5. We’re deeply emotional, but we may have trouble expressing those emotions. INFJs tend to have a calm, zen-like appearance, as if no disaster could shake them. Inwardly, however, INFJs experience a torrent of strong emotions. And we rarely share these strong emotions with others, sometimes bottling them up in an unhealthy way. Only those who know us well know how we’re really feeling — but sometimes we don’t even tell them.
6. We believe strongly in the causes we fight for, but we may have trouble standing up for ourselves. INFJs are on a secret mission. We want to make the world a better place, whether it’s fighting for women’s rights, helping abandoned animals, or spreading the message of self-love and acceptance. We probably won’t readily tell others about our secret mission, but every day, in some small (or large) way, we’re fighting for it. However, paradoxically, we may have trouble speaking up for ourselves and our own needs. Because we put others first — and want to make them happy — our own needs sometimes go overlooked and unmet.
7. We’re otherworldly and philosophical, yet we crave earthy experiences. For INFJs, deep discussions about meaningful topics are our food and water. But despite our otherworldly (and perhaps spiritual) appearance, we crave experiences rooted in the five senses. This is due to our inferior Extroverted Sensing function. We relish beautiful surroundings, quality craftsmanship, fine meals, sophisticated art and music, and nice clothes. In other words, INFJs have very refined tastes. This often clashes with our desire to live a life of simplicity and shun the hollow, materialistic ways of society.
8. We’re in love with the idea of spontaneity, but really, we like things to be planned out. Nothing sounds better than a spur-of-the-moment romantic weekend getaway with our significant other. Or quitting our soul-sucking job and getting in the car and driving with no destination in mind. But you will rarely find an INFJ acting truly spontaneously, and it’s even rarer that we’ll be reckless. Even when it seems like we’re doing something spontaneously, we’ve probably thought a lot about it in our heads, and we’ve tentatively planned out some aspects of the act. As judgers, we feel the most comfortable when we have a general plan for things. We probably already know what we’re doing this weekend, and we have a basic idea of what we want our lives to be like in 5, 10, or 20 years from now. Our minds are always making plans, and it’s actually really hard for us to turn off that part of ourselves and just let things go.
9. We’re both creative and analytical. INFJs often love writing poetry, journaling, creating music, making art, or doing other creative things. However, we’re not your typical free-spirited artist. Inwardly, we’re more like a scientist than an artist. We analyze everything, especially people. We’re strategic and rational. We’re always testing out our ideas and seeing what happens.
10. We can be perfectionists but we often miss small details. INFJs can be the ultimate perfectionists. We obsess over just the right words to say. A small typo in something we’ve written can drive us crazy. When we do something we care about, we give it our all and do it well. Sometimes we go overboard trying to make everything perfect. However, as intuitives, we’re focused on the big picture. This means we may miss small things. We lock our keys in the car, forget our lunch on the counter when we leave for work, or completely overlook someone’s text.
11. We like things to be clean and organized, but there’s often one or two areas we’ve completely neglected. Because of our judging nature, we like our surroundings to be tidy and organized. Cluttered, busy surroundings can overwhelm our sensitive senses and subconsciously stress us out. However, because we’re intuitives, we often aren’t as tidy as, say, an ISFJ personality type. In fact, there may be a few areas that we completely neglect. For example, our bedroom may be perfectly orderly, but our car is full of forgotten items, food wrappers, and various junk.
12. We crave deep connections with others, but we have trouble opening up to people. INFJs crave intimacy, perhaps more than most other personality types. We like when people are honest and real with us, and tell us what’s really going on in their lives. However, we can be private and unwilling (at first) to share intimate details about ourselves. It takes a while for our real personality to come out.
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13. We feel like we came from another planet, but we want to make this world a better place. We INFJs often grow up feeling like we never quite fit in. We’re just a little too different from the people around us, and we’re highly aware of it. Nevertheless, we have a strong desire to improve the world and the lives of the people around us. Rather than shunning the society that feels so alien to us, we want to shape it for the better, using our ideals as a guide.
14. We feel like we understand others better than they understand themselves — but they don’t understand us. INFJs seem made to understand, but we’re often misunderstood.
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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an INFJ
Learn more: Type Talk: The 16 Personality Types That Determine How We Live, Love, and Work, by Otto Kroeger
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