There are certainly many great things about being INFP, one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. We’re highly creative individuals who inspire others. We have a rich inner world that allows us to escape the dryness of a life filled with routine and structure.
We show an amazing amount of compassion for others, despite being so different from the rest of the population. We’re deeply sensitive and caring, and the best part is, we usually don’t expect anything from anyone in return.
Yet, I feel there are a few challenges to being an introverted-intuitive-feeling-perceiver. Here are eight problems INFPs will understand.
(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)
1. Never really being able to finish anything you start
We live in a world of endless possibilities, and we INFPs always want to explore something new. We’re often good at starting something, but we’re rarely able to finish as we expected — or worse, never at all.
If I were to write a list of things that I had started but left incomplete, I wonder if even that list would be completed. I have enrolled in tons of online courses over the years but I haven’t completed a single one. I barely finish any book I buy, and I don’t think I’ve ever watched a full season of any TV series.
I know our souls don’t know a thing about deadlines, but unfortunately, our bosses and professors do.
I’ll be completely honest. I was quite excited when I started writing this article, but now I feel really lucky to have actually finished it.
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2. Not being assertive enough
When we’re alone, we often find ourselves mentally playing out a conversation with our best friend in our head. But, paradoxically, when he or she shows up, we go quiet.
We INFPs have a rich inner world where we often speculate about ideal possibilities. But sometimes it acts more like a cage and prevents the words within us from finding their way out.
At times, we’re guilty of not being assertive enough when it really matters — even if we were really excited and motivated going into the situation.
For example, I often have some problem on my mind that I want to talk about, but I don’t bring it up, because I don’t want to burden the other person. Other times, someone hurts my feelings, but I stay quiet, because I don’t want to damage the relationship.
Similar to #1, we INFPs tend to procrastinate to the very end.
For example, in college, I found it impossible to study the day before an exam, even when I hadn’t yet studied anything. Often, when I had a big project due, I didn’t start it until the day before the deadline. But even on that day, I barely did anything.
I wasn’t much different from my peers, except that they actually studied the day before the exam, and they usually completed projects before the deadline.
4. Over-planning or no planning at all
There are times when we INFPs check out every single book on a subject from the library, bookmark every single article available on the web, and watch every single video on YouTube. But we end up being confused and simply can’t figure out how to start planning our next travel adventure or writing our novel. Then we may finally realize that all this over-research was simply a way of procrastinating.
And there are times when we simply go with our gut feeling, with little or no planning at all. We simply move forward without caring about the details (thanks to our intuitive focus on the big picture), only to realize that we should have done a bit of research beforehand.
I wish I could be in the middle of this spectrum, but unfortunately, I often end up being on either extreme.
5. Offering compassion to people who don’t care about you
I don’t understand why I worry about inconveniencing the store clerk when he simply walks by and pretends he didn’t hear me. I don’t understand why I felt sorry for the professor who was correcting my not-so-perfect assignment who never seemed to care about my education.
I never understand why I feel guilty when I do not buy something from a salesperson (just because he used a few cute words), even though I know that it’s his job, and he just cares about his own profit.
When you’re an INFP, you easily slip into other people’s shoes and see things from their perspective — and this naturally brings empathy. You end up sympathizing with people even when they don’t have your best interest in mind.
6. Spending your energy constantly validating yourself instead of focusing on your goals
I don’t know how many I times I just keep telling myself that what I’m doing is okay, and I should not bother if someone does not like my idea. We INFPs sometimes move through a cycle of self-doubt instead of working our way toward our goals.
For example, I want to start my own location-independent business. I know that in order to do that, I’ll need to do some research and develop some skills. I had this thought about four months ago, yet here we are — I still have not taken any steps to get started.
That’s because I’ve been spending most of my time reassuring myself that I’m on the right track, and I should just focus on the present. Today, I am exactly where I started. Had I focused on making progress when I first had the idea — instead of doubting myself — I’d already have something to show.
7. Worrying about helping others when the one who you should be helping is yourself
Even when we have no idea how we’ll pay our rent, we feel sorry for not giving money to a homeless person our own way home from being fired from our job.
As an INFP, I simply wish I could just let it go when I come across someone asking for help. But my highly sensitive soul simply doesn’t allow me to do so. So I end up helping them, even when it comes at a big cost to me.
8. Having high standards but a low self-esteem
We think that we should be a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, but we may not want to enroll in a writing course because we feel we do not deserve that sort of luxury.
We think we should be able to code the next Facebook, but we may be afraid of even trying to learn to code, because we feel we are not worth it.
We realize we need many things to achieve that “something,” but we may feel unworthy of anything.
And that’s the reason we may feel like we’ve never achieved anything of great importance. We’re perfectionists. Our high standards can backfire and lead us to take no action.
Despite all these problems, I love being an INFP — I wouldn’t change it for the world. I just often find myself laughing at myself and wondering what on earth I am.
Want help solving these INFP problems? You might like:
- 5 Tips for INFPs Who Are Constantly Doubting Themselves
- 3 Types of Unsafe Friendships for the INFP
- Why Routines Are So Important for INFPs (Even Though We Hate Them)
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