INFJ: 6 Therapist Tips to Express Your Emotions (When You Don’t Want to Rock the Boat)

An INFJ personality hesitates to express her emotions

INFJs feel deeply, and that’s likely the understatement of the year — but they often struggle to express those feelings.

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 Myers-Briggs personality types, especially the INFJ. The wheels are always turning in their minds, 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.”

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

We INFJs 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 emotions 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 most likely 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.

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Why INFJs Have Trouble Expressing Their Emotions

But as rewarding as it is for INFJs to know they are helping their people, it can lead to them not expressing their own emotions. Why is that?

Due to 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 may fail to communicate our emotions. INFJs strive to never burden people, likely because we know what it is to carry the emotional burdens of others.

Intuition is also a big part of our personality, giving us the ability to figure out why someone is treating us poorly. 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 that 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).

All of these INFJ traits can lead to us not expressing our feelings, and as a result, getting walked over, feeling bitter, or at the very least, being lonely.

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). INFJs aren’t the only Myers-Briggs type to struggle with expressing their emotions, so these tips will help other personalities as well.

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 better expressing it when the time comes. Give yourself a little credit here — INFJs are masters of emotions, and that includes you!

Do you ever struggle to know what to say?

As an introvert, you actually have the ability to be an amazing conversationalist — even if you’re quiet and hate small talk. To learn how, we recommend this online course from our partner Michaela Chung. Click here to check out the Introvert Conversation Genius course.

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 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 someone completely outside the situation) can be a practice run. Having a third party help sift through what needs to be communicated 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 feel (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, often catching others 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 an “everything’s fine” facade, which can actually be counterproductive because it makes us come off as inhuman. (No human being is perfectly fine and together all the time, after all.) It can also lead people to assume nothing’s wrong — because we haven’t given them any hint 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. If you struggle with showing healthy vulnerability (as many INFJs do), here are some tips to cultivate it.

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.

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