A Letter to INFJs About Dealing With the Pain of Disappointment

IntrovertDear.com INFJs disappointment

Dear fellow INFJ,

You are a dreamer. Under that hard shell of yours, there’s a person who sees what could be, but isn’t. Thanks to your dominant Introverted Intuition function, the possibility of what could be is very apparent to you. Because of this, it’s sometimes difficult to face reality knowing all the potential you’ve built for it in your mind. This stands true for all parts of your life, whether it be in your relationships, in the way things are run, or even in yourself.

(Not sure of your personality type? We recommend this free personality test.)

This vision of the ideal is why INFJs are sometimes called “visionaries.” Your sense of the potential that things have, coupled with a naturally empathic nature (which is your Extroverted Feeling function at work) create a world that is seemingly so much better for everyone. But, sadly, this world usually exists only in your head. And the moment you realize that is devastating. If something doesn’t live up to how it could be, everything suddenly comes crashing down. In a single moment, it can feel like the hope you had kept deep in your heart was wrenched away; like the light you saw in every being around you was abruptly turned off.

As an INFJ myself, this sort of thing has happened to me many times. I distinctly remember one day at school when my classmates were being especially disrespectful to our teacher; they were thriving off each other’s meanness. Being the INFJ that I am, I got so frustrated and angry at them (mostly in my head, of course). Why couldn’t we all just get along? Our classroom would be so much better if we respected one another. But I was powerless to make a real change in that moment: I ended up feeling numb and angry at the same time, and after class, I had to take a break to cry alone.

Although it might not be apparent from the outside, most INFJs feel things profoundly. This may be due to the fact that many of us are highly sensitive people (HSPs) and/or empaths. The extent to which we feel things is amplified in situations in which our hope is snatched from us and things don’t happen like they “should.” The disappointment may cut so deep inside you that you will try to protect yourself from feeling it again. I know I have. After realizing that someone I had idealized for a long time wasn’t in fact who I thought they were, I cut myself off from even the possibility of ever feeling that way again.

But in doing so, I also built a wall between me and the good in people. In short, I built a wall separating me from personal growth, from feeling things, from life.

INFJs Have High Expectations for Almost Everything

As you probably know very well, INFJs are prone to perfectionism. The truth is INFJs unconsciously set high expectations for almost everything. So it’s only natural that something will fall short of them at some point. And when that happens, as it inevitably will, the truth will beat you down. Once. Twice. Three times. Your sensitive heart will get bruises, and you will tire of getting back up again.

But, guess what? Hearts heal. And you must get back up again.

The hope you have in people and in the world is what makes you who you are: a wonderful human being, full of light, love, and possibilities. As you navigate your way through life, remember these three things:

  1. Some things will get you down, but others will turn out just like you planned (yay!). Either way, you will learn from every experience and grow as a person.
  2. Everyone is trying their best, given their circumstances. And that is ultimately all you can ask from someone. This applies to you, too (so don’t be too hard on yourself, either!).
  3. If you try to make something happen, it might, whereas if you don’t try, it won’t. So don’t give up hope on the vision of what can be. Because even if you start with the smallest baby steps, that vision will eventually be.

INFJs are feelers. It’s in our nature. Some emotions are amazing and exhilarating, whereas others, like disappointment, are not as great. Ultimately, once you realize that it’s okay to be disappointed, that emotion will start to lose its grip on you.

Take a few seconds to really think about the phrase “it’s okay.” Maybe close your eyes, say it out loud a few times, slowly, and really try to feel it deep in your bones. It’s okay.

The journey to really accept yourself is a long and arduous one. And accepting that life isn’t as perfect as it is in your head might be even harder. But keep in mind that you will get through it, and that things can and will get better, especially if your awesome self works on making what you know can happen, happen.

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an INFJ  retina_favicon1

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    • recklessPerfectionist

      Hi Ella,

      I would like to ask if you could give your view on these two things; have you experienced social withdrawal?
      the second is how have you found you vision.

      Thanks for the article!

      • Rocky

        The words – ‘I built a wall between me and the good in people. I built a wall separating me from personal growth, from feeling things, and from life’ is all but real. I totally understand your phrase of social withdrawal. Just a few months back I was endlessly searching for property with acreage that almost required a boat or plane to reach. I kid you not! Today I still want acreage (space from social) but a car is all that is required. I feel so much energy and pain constantly around me. I went through the worst year of my life last year and I still am having trouble taking down majority of the wall of hurt I built. But I know I am slowly getting there with subtle signs. Before I use to reach out in love and compassion to everyone around me (almost to a fault). These days my trust has limited my ability to do that which is part of who I am. I miss that part of me. That innocent abundant desire to love without conditions attached. ‘A wall between me and the good in people’.. I can cry thinking about that which seems so distant as it’s what I want so close! Time is what INFJ’s/Sensitive Empaths hope in.. Don’t loose that vision of yours 🙂 It’s still in there to be shining again.

        • Ella Boutros

          I’m sorry that the past year was so tough. It sounds like your experience of ‘building a wall’ was almost literal! And the more solid the wall, the harder it is to break down. The world seems to have hurt you in some way. Being an INFJ empath I’m sure you felt it very deeply: as if the world somehow betrayed the kindness and compassion you gave so freely. Like you said, only time will completely heal your wounds. In the meantime, I hope that you regain your hope in the world, because despite its wrongdoings, it is still worthy of compassion and love (as are you!).
          I thought the advice you gave was pretty great, so I’m just going to repeat it back to you: Keep in touch with that vision of yours. It is a bright light in a sometimes dark world, just waiting to burst out again and spread love and warmth to everyone.
          (oh and good luck on your search for that property!)

      • Ella Boutros

        Hi there!
        I have definitely experienced social withdrawal on some level, in the sense that I have isolated myself from people in the past (usually unconsciously). The first time it happened was probably when I felt like I didn’t (and couldn’t) fit in with my peers at school. Subsequent social withdrawal instances have been the outcome of things not going right for me: if I felt way too overwhelmed, drained, or disappointed in someone/thing. I realize now that I feel at my best when I’m able to foster deep connections with people, while keeping a substantial amount of my time for myself.

        For your second question, how have I found my vision? I think it’s less about finding it then it is about having it. I think for a lot of INFJs, the ‘vision’ in our minds of the world around us develops in tandem with our experiencing the world. It’s kind of like having an innate sense of what things could look like in an ideal world. Obviously, it’s usually pretty optimistic and sometimes unrealistic, which is why it’s so hard for a lot of INFJs (myself included) to face the sometimes grim reality. But then again, you can always try to change things and create this world yourself! That’s where having such a positive image of the world comes in handy for everyone.

        I hope my reply is satisfactory! If not, we can always continue the discussion 🙂

    • Qinn

      I relate to this article on so many levels. Actually, once when I was younger and everyone was talking loudly during class, I boldly stepped up and firmly told everyone to shut their mouths. After the lesson, our teacher came up to me and thanked.
      As an Infj now, I couldn’t imagine how I managed to pull something like that…

      • Ella Boutros

        That is so awesome! It’s important to not get trampled on: standing up for yourself is something that even INFJs can (and should) do. Silence is sometimes very much needed! INFJ’s minds are busy enough, the outside world doesn’t need to contribute to the chaos 🙂
        I’m happy you could relate to the article. Keep standing up for what you believe in!

        • faithesper

          I agree. Infjs and all introverts can go beyond their usual character. Though it’s funny to think that only at the age of 16 I began to question my personality. And I was in middle school when the situation happened. Time goes by so fast…

    • armand

      Sadly true

    • Chrissie McLain

      Hello.

      I’m an INFJ, and found bits of this letter misleading, if not offensive. Perhaps “planning” for someone’s outcome is more of a personal experience, than typology. That would fall, typology speaking, under a form of micromanagement best delivered by sensors.(mistyped ISFJs?) We INFJs cringe at the task of managing anyone, though we can be encouraging, and we loathe such trespasses from others who assume they have the right. (Typically those in positions of perceived authority, who mistake their day job for superiority. Don’t boss us around! We’re forgiving, but we’ll grow to resent you!)

      Perhaps enneagram factors into this, though I having a 1w9 in my own tritype, am well aware of my own brand of perfectionism, would rather walk away than control anyone, much less those I desire connection to MOST! (Who, ironically enough, I do have higher expectations of, over time, in a well established relationship. Otherwise, all dreams and curiosities are kept at a safe distance)

    • Emily Markulis

      True for me as an INFP also