Following my 10 Contradicting Things About the Elusive INFJ Male article, I want to further explore some of the INFJ personality type’s unique traits and how they affect us in both life and work. Whether these things are true for other INFJs, I don’t know, but I would be interested to see if you relate, and if so, to hear your own stories. Leave me a comment below.
(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality test.)
1. All-or-nothing syndrome
This is an affliction that has plagued me for as long as I’ve known, and will probably continue to do so until I shuffle off this mortal coil. Love fiercely, or not at all; exercise relentlessly and eat well, or pig out on the sofa and eat junk food; work 20 hours a day for days on end, or sit and procrastinate all weekend like it’s no one’s business. I cannot do middle of the road, at least not for any appreciable length of time. I’m not sure why. Could it be that we INFJs are simply wired to do things “with Passion or not at all”? Perhaps middle of the road feels like a stagnant approach to living? It seems bland, uneventful, uninspiring. No room for development. No opportunity to go off the beaten track in search of your own path. I suppose it rids us of the opposites that we need in order to experience the full spectrum of what life really is — which I believe is the true nature of our existence. Although I worry that this constant going from one extreme to the other could simply mean I remain on the wrong path and am aimlessly searching for the right one.
2. The inability to settle
This is related to the all-or-nothing syndrome. INFJs are searching for the “one,” although not necessarily in the romantic sense (although that still applies), but in the sense of a life mission. INFJs seem to be on an eternal quest to find an endeavor or field of work that gives us that feeling of contributing to the greater good, of helping others, or of creating a legacy. I often feel I am “burdened with glorious purpose,” to quote Loki, but have no clue what that purpose is, nor how to find it. So when settling into an occupation or project, if I’m not feeling it, I invariably move on. I would rather escape and look for something else than pursue something that doesn’t stir up any emotion within me and/or restricts my capacity for personal and spiritual growth. But that seems to bring with it its own set of problems — a lack of regular income for one thing! I’d like to think this is my entrepreneurial spirit in action, but I don’t know. The inability to see something through that I started is becoming tiring. I would say that it seems like a Perceiver trait (as opposed to a Judging trait) but perhaps it’s P for perfectionism?
In my entrepreneurial endeavours, if something doesn’t go as planned, or if people let me down, then the initial passion for the project wanes. People or companies just don’t live up to my (albeit I admit, too high) expectations and disappointment sets in. And lo and behold, I move on to the next project. As this happens more and more, I feel it reflects badly on me. Going from project to project, vision to vision, but seemingly unable to realize those visions and in turn struggle to make a living. Wrong people, wrong time. Or is it my fault in the way I’m doing business? Granted, I can be too soft and naive (believing the best in people), which invariably sets me up for disappointment. But I’ve made a promise to myself to never get too negative in my outlook. Rather, I try to see the positive lesson I need to learn from those experiences.
4. Solitude vs. friendship
I can count the number of close friendships I have on the fingers of… well…one finger. I’m talking IRL friendships here btw, not online. Given the INFJ’s Extroverted Feeling (Fe) nature, this seems somewhat of a contradiction. I have the need to develop intimate ties; I crave deep, meaningful relationships. Ones that inspire, motivate, and sustain the growth of both parties. In order to develop that degree of closeness, intimacy, and freedom, a lot of time/energy needs to be expended. And therein lies the problem. If I have a friend or partner, I want to be able to give them my all, so anyone outside that small circle usually gets relegated to “acquaintances.” If I can’t give my best to any one person, I’d rather not give at all. That’s probably why I see many INFJs with a small friend circle.
5. Full of contradiction
Again, this relates to many of my former points. I can go from opposite ends of the spectrum on a gut feeling using my Introverted Intuition (Ni). Others can’t fathom it. So to others, I appear contradictory, mysterious, and enigmatic, but more often than not, incredibly frustrating (for both parties).
The INFJ’s Ni/Fe functions are also great for mirroring and adapting to different environments and people, so I can appear vastly different in different scenarios. I can be the life of the party amongst those who “get” me (very rare) but come across as painfully shy, solitary, and quiet to others (very common). I can fit in when I want, but more often than not, I rebel fiercely. I suppose this rebellious nature has come about later in my life when I started to settle into my INFJ skin, when I decided to drop the mask and to live true to my beliefs, even when they conflicted with society. The transition from being a people-pleaser (mirrorer) to not worrying as much about conflict can be confusing for the people around me, especially those who have known me a while. Because I now have a firmer sense of self, I don’t feel the need to fit in with others, and I suspect it comes across as jarring. I am more careful these days in choosing how to expend my energy/love and not afraid to reject the ones who don’t fit that pattern (e.g., the people who don’t respect my boundaries or those who have a pessimistic outlook on life).
6. Writers not talkers
Although I’ve yet to meet an INFJ in real life (that I know of), I’ve heard this said many a time: we have difficulty talking on the spot, on the phone, and in person, but when it comes to writing, we can often knock out masterpieces. No wonder there are a disproportionate number of INFJ writers. We can mumble, splutter, stutter (well that might be just me) or just be plain mute. In writing, our ideas seem to flow effortlessly — although I have to reread several times and tweak often before I’m happy with my writing. What might be the reason for this? I think it boils down to time: we have the ability to see many different possibilities, eventualities, and gray areas in a given scenario. Our Ni also means we live inside our heads. So we may have several conversations going on at once, arguments even. And all this internal cacophony serves to create a bottleneck, which we have to verbalize. Sometimes it spews out in such a random fashion that it makes no sense, even to us. Yet when writing, we have the time to sit down, process the influx of ideas, then refine them until they come across eloquently and succinctly. Our writing brings order to our mind’s chaos and allows others to understand it.
7. Seeing the big picture and the details
This can be a good trait if we are balanced. However, given our contradictory, all-or-nothing nature, it can be an ongoing challenge. As visionaries, we INFJs see the big picture and play out scenarios from any given circumstance to its logical conclusion. But we also have the ability to delve into the minutiae of a project, which can help realize that vision. The problem arises when we stay at one extreme or the other, which fails to drive the project forward.
8. Dot connectors. Visionaries. Doers.
For all the issues we INFJs experience, I believe we have one great thing going for us: we are compassionate visionaries and doers. We may not finish every project or realize our perfectionistic vision for it, but we almost always give it a go. If we have the passion for an idea, and it will serve others, then we endeavor to accomplish it and make a difference to at least one person. The world, I think, needs more of us.
A version of this article was originally published on Misterp.ink.
Did you enjoy this article? Sign up for our newsletters to get more stories like this.