The introvert’s way of interacting with the world is to quietly explore it, and the same goes for our internal world. We’re constantly having existential discussions in our heads, pondering life’s meaning, and so much more.
This is true for certain personality types, especially the INFJ. The wheels are always turning in our brain, which can be exhausting though usually rewarding. Along with existential thoughts come an exploration of how we’re feeling and why. INFJs are all about the “why.”
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We rarely let ourselves experience an emotion without trying to figure out why we are feeling that emotion — and the same process occurs as we try to figure out how other people are feeling, too.
It’s no wonder INFJs are known as the “counselor” type. We desperately want to know the inner workings of ourselves and our people (and yes, even random strangers, like the person scanning our groceries). We’re extremely in tune with how others are feeling, and if negative feelings are being felt, we want to know why — so we can do something about it.
As a result, INFJs are always ready to act as detectives in order to figure out why a loved one is feeling blue. Then we will take leaps and bounds to help them feel better. We ask for emotions. We beg for them to be communicated to us. And in general, people are massively thankful to have a sounding board for them to bounce their emotions off of.
Why INFJs Have Trouble Expressing Their Own Emotions
But as rewarding as it is for INFJs to know they are helping their people, it often leads to them not expressing their own emotions. Why is that?
Because of our intuitive and feeling traits, INFJs feel deeply, and that’s likely the understatement of the year. But because of our complete willingness to put others first — combined with our need to have complete trust in someone before opening up — we rarely communicate our own emotions. INFJs strive to never burden other people, likely because we know what it is to carry the burdens of others.
Intuition is also a big part of our personality, giving us the ability to figure out why someone may be treating us poorly. And because of our strong empathy, sometimes this leads to us making an excuse for others’ bad behavior (“he doesn’t know any better; he was raised this way”) and not expressing our hurt. Our selflessness can be our downfall. Sometimes we tell ourselves that we’re strong enough to not need support or that we’re feeling too much (a.k.a. overreacting).
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How to Express Your Emotions When You Don’t Want to Rock the Boat
To my fellow INFJs, here are six things to keep in mind when it comes to expressing your emotions (even when you desperately don’t want to rock the boat).
1. Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling.
To feel is to be human, and INFJs are not exempt from this. We INFJs have just as much right to express our emotions as every other individual on the planet, and that is something I believe the rest of the world believes as well. If a friend is upset with you for expressing an emotion, they might not be a friend you want in your life.
2. You’re probably better at expressing your emotions than you think.
INFJs have intricate inner worlds, and we can process our feelings for hours, days, and beyond before even thinking about saying them out loud to another person. This means you are extremely in tune with whatever it is you’re feeling, which naturally lends itself to being better able to express your emotion when the time comes. Give yourself a little credit here — INFJs are masters of emotions, and that includes you!
3. Process what you want to say before you say it.
As much as INFJs are introverts, we are external processors. It’s for this reason that I believe every INFJ needs an INFJ friend (or at the very least, another “Feeling” type). Expressing what you’re feeling to a trusted confidant (preferably completely outside of the situation) can be a practice run. Having a third party help sift through what needs to be communicated to the other person can also be beneficial. And that brings me to…
4. Watch out for the emotion dump.
Because INFJs can be so in tune with every single emotion we are feeling (as well as the feelings of others), we have a tendency to completely unload once we gain the courage to do so. INFJs avoid conflict like the plague, which means our emotions can pile up over time, just waiting to be dumped out. Once we are in a place to do so, we have the tendency to completely unleash, catching the other individual completely off guard, flooding them with information, and often hurting feelings. This is not helpful in the end and tends to do more damage than good. Prioritize what you need to express and stick to it (this is where processing with a confidant is helpful).
5. Reflect the other person’s feelings back to them.
If you are in conflict, reflect the feelings of the other person back to them. For example, as you’re expressing your feeling of being hurt and the other person’s anger starts flaring up, try saying something like, “I can see you’re feeling angry. What’s coming up for you right now?” This communicates to them that even though you’re expressing your own emotions, you still want to honor how they’re feeling. In doing so, you de-escalate the conflict.
6. Trust that your loved ones genuinely want to know how you’re feeling.
INFJs have the tendency to put on a facade of perfection, which can make us come off as inhuman, leading people to assume we are completely fine because we haven’t given them any hint that we’re otherwise. Being vulnerable shows the rest of the world that we do in fact have feelings — and that can actually be a comforting experience for those around us.
As hard as it is to rock the boat, sometimes it leads to calmer seas. It’s worth it and you, my fellow INFJ, deserve it.
More INFJ Resources
- Here’s What Each Introverted Myers-Briggs Type Secretly Wants for the Holidays
- The 19 ‘Extroverted’ Behaviors That Annoy Introverts the Most
- 21 Signs That You’re an INFJ, the Rarest Personality Type
- What Is the INFJ Door Slam, and Why Do INFJs Do It?
- 4 Curious Traits of the Enigmatic INFJ Personality
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