Generally, INFJs are warm, caring people who are deeply sensitive to the needs of others. If you get them talking honestly about their life’s purpose, they will probably tell you that they have always felt they were placed on this planet to use their insights to help others and make the world a better place. It’s speculated that Nelson Mandela, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were INFJs — no wonder this personality type has been nicknamed “the counselor” and “the advocate.”
(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality test.)
However, just like with any other personality type, maturity goes a long way. A healthy, balanced INFJ is going to look a lot different than an INFJ who is unhealthy and underdeveloped as a person. So, here are 12 signs that an INFJ may be unhealthy:
1. They let other people walk all over them. They don’t have strong boundaries that protect them from others taking advantage of them. Babysit your kids all day for the third weekend in a row? Sure, they’ll do it — even though it means they have to cancel their own plans. Meet you at that sushi restaurant, again, even though the thought of a spicy tuna roll makes their stomach turn? Unhealthy INFJs never want to disappoint.
2. They bend over backwards trying to make everyone around them happy. They live to people-please. Generally, INFJs are generous people who gain immense satisfaction from making others happy. This is an admirable quality, and it’s okay for INFJs to do this to some extent. However, unhealthy INFJs constantly put other people’s needs ahead of their own, to the degree that they become exhausted, unhappy, and disconnected from their own sense of self.
3. Everything they do has to be perfect. At work, they read an email six times before sending it to make sure there are no mistakes and that the tone is just right. In school, they spend much longer on projects or papers than other students do — they can’t live with anything less than an “A.” An unhealthy INFJ’s self-esteem is inherently tied to how well they perform on any given task. They figure that if they do everything perfectly, no one will have a reason to criticize or dislike them.
4. They door slam too easily and hold grudges. The door slam can be a healthy mechanism that protects INFJs from toxic people, and at times, it is necessary. However, underdeveloped INFJs will slam the door on important relationships — their spouse, close friend, or parent — without first trying to resolve the root issue. Instead of being a last resort, the door slam becomes the first and foremost way of dealing with any issue that pops up in a relationship.
5. They have yet to master the art of saying “no.” They irrationally fear that their friend will hate them if they turn down the party invitation. They worry that their boss will fire them if they say they can’t work overtime.
6. They let toxic people, narcissists, and other emotionally needy people run their lives. INFJs have a light that burns brightly — which, unfortunately, can attract people who will take advantage of them. Unhealthy INFJs will make excuses for other people’s toxic behavior. (“He was raised in a broken family, so he doesn’t know better — that’s why he hurts me.”) In fact, due to their inherent desire to help people, INFJs may find themselves unconsciously dating or befriending toxic people in order to “save” them. This usually results in the INFJ drowning in the other person’s noxious mess.
7. They become so involved with other people’s problems that they can’t focus on their own. Likewise, they become so bogged down with other people’s emotions that their day is constantly ruined because someone else is having a bad day.
8. They rarely let anyone in. Private by nature, INFJs tend to open up slowly to others — and that’s okay. However, this tendency can become a problem when INFJs won’t reveal themselves to anyone (not even a significant other, best friend, or close family member). Unhealthy INFJs rarely share their true thoughts and feelings with others because they fear being judged. However, when they close themselves off, they are likely to become lonely and depressed. INFJs, just like any other personality type, need strong relationships to be at their best.
9. They put their type on a pedestal. They become so carried away with the fact that they are the rarest personality type that they start believing they are superior to other types.
10. They use their personality type as an excuse to continue unhealthy behaviors. They believe they can’t change themselves or their lives for the better because of their four letters.
11. They don’t let their emotions speak. INFJs are not emotional in the sense that they weep loudly in public or hug everyone they meet. On the contrary, INFJs tend to keep their feelings to themselves and may dislike strong outward displays of emotion (these displays can feel manipulative to INFJs). This may lead INFJs to suppress their emotional side. Of course, there must be balance — INFJs shouldn’t live at the whims of their feelings. But, mature INFJs recognize that they are indeed emotional creatures, and that they can live their best life when they tune into their emotions — and respect and protect them.
12. They are extremely passive. INFJs are natural observers; they love sitting back, analyzing, and reflecting. They’re also pretty chill in groups/relationships, and they’re usually fine with letting other people have their way. However, these tendencies can lead them to be too passive. Unhealthy INFJs let other people make all the decisions for them. (“What do you want to do tonight?” “Whatever you want to do is fine!”) That way, they can’t make a “wrong” decision. These INFJs may lack a sense of control over their circumstances. Life is something that happens to them.
What causes an INFJ to be unhealthy? A number of things. Some INFJs have not had enough life experiences, so they have a very narrow perspective. Other INFJs have simply not invested much effort into developing themselves. Still others are “unhealthy” through no fault of their own — they learned unhealthy behaviors and coping mechanisms from their parents, or suffered emotional abuse at the hand of a close friend or partner.
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