The ‘Kryptonite’ That Secretly Blindsides Each Introverted Myers-Briggs Type

a Superman toy representing each introverted Myers-Briggs personality types' kryptonite

Every personality type has a superpower. But with any superpower, there’s always a blindspot — something that catches you off-guard, bypasses your defenses, or simply knocks you down. Here’s the “kryptonite” that secretly blindsides each introverted Myers-Briggs personality type — and how to leave it in the dust.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)

Each Introverted Personality Type’s Kryptonite

ISFP

Sorry, that came out all wrong, didn’t it, I think?

When at their best, ISFPs are the type I’d vote “most likely to walk around in a constant state of flow.” They are deeply aware of their own values and preferences, yet they’re not pie-in-the-sky dreamers; they’re very much in tune with their body and the world. As a result, they make things seem effortless, and tend to perform most activities with a sort of easygoing clarity. Even at their clumsiest, an ISFP has a certain catch-it-at-the-last-second grace.

This is part of why ISFPs are called the artists of the Myers-Briggs world, and indeed, their creativity knows no bounds; whatever they touch tends to turn prettier, or more interesting, almost by accident. But it also applies to other kinds of activities: I’m in awe of how one ISFP friend threw together a last-minute four-day trip with her two babies to the other side of the world.

So what is the ISFP’s secret weakness? Self-doubt.

Turns out, for many ISFPs, their outer ease is balanced by inner uncertainty, including worry and anxiety. This can take many forms (fear of the future, for example, or of what others think), but it’s most painful when it’s turned back on the ISFP themselves. Self-doubt can sap their power like kryptonite saps Superman.

And there’s a reason for it. ISFPs let their values guide their decisions. They do what “feels” right, and they express those feelings very strongly — not only in their artwork, but also in their identity and how they live their life. That means ISFPs can feel every setback as a very personal blow or a judgment on who they are.

Add in the fact that ISFPs are chronic non-conformists, and you have a situation where they can quickly feel like an outcast or a failure. Even when they’re doing well, self-doubt can sneak up and undermine them. Only at the best of times, when they are being truly appreciated for who they are, does this doubt go away.

Is there a way to change that? Yes. ISFPs should seek a source of validation that comes not from outside, but from within — even if it’s through a simple morning ritual. One friend, for example, takes private time in front of her mirror every morning to do her hair and makeup, a process she describes as “putting on my armor.” She takes the person she imagines herself being and almost literally paints it onto herself, cementing who she is with no validation needed.

That’s eerily similar to the ritual that suspected ISFP Lady Gaga described in an interview: “When I wake up in the morning, I feel just like any other insecure 24-year-old girl. But I say, ‘Bitch, you’re Lady Gaga, you better f*cking get up and walk the walk today.'”

ISTP

You do it your way, and I’ll do it mine.

ISTPs don’t so much live life as perform it, gravitating toward the most unique or clever way to do any task. But make no mistake, this performance isn’t for an audience. It’s for one person and one person only: themselves.

The ISTP is the one who will start a home brewing project but, instead of a trendy IPA or easy-drinking pilsner, they’ll recreate a 3,000-year-old recipe for ancient Egyptian beer. For good measure, they might decide to brew it in a cleaned-out gas tank instead of a carboy, because it’s what they had lying around. And besides, it looks cooler.

They’re also the one who buys almost exclusively the most practical, comfortable clothing, preferably from a secondhand store for a few dollars, if they remember they need to go clothes shopping at all. But then they’ll spring $500 on green hand-tooled cowboy boots. The craftsmanship was superb, after all.

Of course, if they have friends who will ooh and ahh over the Pharaoh Fuel beer tank or compliment their striking boots, all the better. But they’d be just as happy with those little creations completely on their own.

Which brings us to the ISTP’s kryptonite: teamwork. Because, as charming and ingenious as the ISTP’s individualism can be most of the time, there are situations where’s it’s a major pitfall.

This comes out most often at work (there’s a reason so many ISTPs prefer self-employment or solo gigs), but it can also crop up in games, sports, or group social events. The ISTP’s I-do-it-my-way ethos can not only cause hurt feelings and ruffled feathers, it can also deprive an ISTP of would-be friends (who they actually do enjoy being around), lead to career consequences, or in some cases, even derail a project and cost the whole team a victory. If left unchecked, this can become a spiral where the strained relationships make the ISTP even less willing to play with others.

But it doesn’t have to be that way — nor do ISTPs need to fit their square peg into a round hole. One simple solution is to simply make a point of asking the team or group what their objective is. If the ISTP can apply their outside-the-box approach to making sure that goal is met, it’s much less likely to cause resentment.

ISFJ

Don’t tell them I said this, but…

ISFJs are relentlessly supportive and caring. They tend to put relationships first, and they don’t like to do things that injure or rock those relationships — even the most casual ones. This is one of their superpowers, and it’s what makes them such lovely people to be around.

It’s also what keeps them from being direct.

Directness, after all, is where hurt feelings come from. It’s how people start feeling pushed around (“he’s saying I have to do this…”) or personally attacked (“How could she say that to me?”). Directness doesn’t always have this effect — not by a long shot — but ISFJs have seen it happen enough that many of them have made a choice: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

But directness is also where change comes from. It’s how you correct misunderstandings, change bad behavior, and get policies revised at work. Being direct with someone is how you establish personal boundaries (and enforce them). And it’s absolutely called for in many situations — like when someone is out of line.

But for ISFJs, it’s their kryptonite. That’s why many ISFJs end up spending time with “friends” they’d really rather avoid, getting roped into plans they don’t enjoy, or even suffering in a job they dislike. All of these are situations where there’s power in politely but directly speaking up. Because, often, hints and nuance (an ISFJ’s preferred tactic) won’t do the job.

I don’t think ISFJs have to be stuck being put upon, and I don’t think they have to compromise their desire to be nice and friendly. It helps to remember that sometimes, being a little honest is the kindest thing — even if it ruffles some feathers — because it creates a better situation in the long run. It also helps to confer with a couple people you trust first, and if the group seems to agree, bring up an issue together, not just as one person speaking out.

And, even when being direct, it never hurts to put some ISFJ honey on those words. For example, “Could you do me a huge favor? I think I’m actually getting tired of our usual Thai place. I’ve really been wanting to try this Italian place instead. Any chance we can go there?”

ISTJ

I’m fine doing it the same way I’ve always done it.

ISTJs are, in many ways, the unsung heroes of the world. They know how to do things, they know how to do them right, and they’re happy to put in the time it takes to do so. Pair that with their strong sense of duty, and you have a personality that is reliable, skilled, and has a sense of honor and loyalty — even if sometimes they’re a little too blunt for other people’s tastes.

But what goes hand-in-hand with that sense of “doing it right”? A certain rigidity. ISTJs thrive when they can take past experience, apply any rules or instructions, and act methodically. The more uncertainty there is, the more it puts them out of their comfort zone.

And nothing involves uncertainty and guesswork more than risk — which also happens to be ISTJ kryptonite.

ISTJs don’t like risk for three reasons (yes, ISTJs, I made a nice tidy checklist for you):

  1. Risk means there’s a chance things won’t go right and that your experience, knowledge, and work ethic may not change that. So your biggest strengths are of no help in this situation.
  2. Risk undermines what you already have — the money, home, family, or life you’ve made. Many types of risk aren’t just a gamble on whether your hard work will pay off, but endanger the things you already have. It’s simply not worth it.
  3. Taking risks is uncomfortable, dangit!

And, frankly, this ISTJ weak spot can be a no biggie — if things are going well. Many ISTJs live perfectly happy lives by playing it safe and sticking to what they do well. It’s only when disaster strikes, or when an ISTJ wants something more in life, that they’ll suddenly have to learn how to deal with risk.

But I’d like to suggest that ISTJs can dramatically improve their lives by learning to take moderate risks. I say “improve their lives” because many ISTJs are already enormously skillful and trustworthy people. By taking a chance and playing big — even just a little — they can get the recognition they deserve.

Taking moderate risks also builds an important skill in a way that’s relatively safe. My ISTJ father, for example, decided to start a chimney-cleaning business when money was tight. He kept his main job and did the sweeping on the side, which involved risking time and money but not his home or job. It became successful and he eventually sold the business when he was ready to retire.

Another ISTJ friend quit her engineering job to become a realtor, which she believes she could make a huge profit at. But you can bet she made a multi-year savings plan first and had more than enough emergency cash in the bank before she pulled the trigger.

A little bit of practiced risk doesn’t just expand your comfort zone, ISTJs, it can help you realize your full potential.

INFP

But what if we did it THIS way…

The INFP brain is wired to create, create, create. From vivid daydreams to imagining whole inner worlds, they dream up what is new and interesting and powerful, and they bring it into the world through their convictions, actions, and art. Which means almost nothing matters more to INFPs than expressing that truth burning inside them.

That’s why INFPs live a life of unbridled authenticity. They express their ideas and ideals not just in writing and artwork, but also in the way they run their lives. And if anything tries to constrain that, it feels like an attack on who they are.

Which brings me to the INFP’s kryptonite: overlooking the value of learning from what’s already in place.

Imagine starting a new job, your first position in a new industry. You come in bursting with enthusiasm — and ideas for how to do things. Within days, you’re suggesting new approaches, new tactics, even solid reasons to scrap some long-standing policies.

But your boss tells you to drop it and just do things the way you’re supposed to do them.

For an INFP, this is often the moment when the whole job loses its joy. The enthusiasm vanishes like a fickle muse. And honestly, it’s understandable that INFPs would feel this way. No one likes being told what to do, especially when creativity is your jam.

But it can also be your kryptonite talking. After all, who’s going to end up having more impact in the industry: the person who takes a year to learn the why behind how things are done and earn respect, then suggests innovation from a place of expertise? Or the person who simply changes jobs?

This is a hard skill to master, because it means allowing your authenticity to be tamped down temporarily in order to channel it even more effectively over time. If genius is a river, you’re basically building a hydroelectric dam. The goal isn’t to stop the flow of ideas, but to use them to power whole cities.

If you’re an INFP, how can you learn to do this without hating every minute of it? I think it helps to set a timeline. If it’s a career thing, you might give yourself two years (or three, or whatever you choose) to master the way other people want things done and build up your reservoir of exciting new ideas. After that, if you’re not getting the freedom to try things your own way, give yourself full permission to push back or move on. Having that end date in sight makes it much more tolerable to temporarily suck things up.


Like what you’re reading? Get an email whenever we write about your personality type. Subscribe to our type-specific newsletters here.


INTP

You know at some point you need to finish something, right?

I used to live in a house in New Orleans that was owned by an INTP.

The house was gorgeous — in 1880. But it had been devastated by storms and neglect, and he bought it for a low price hoping to fix it up. Just walking up to it gave you a thrill: It was the perfect picture of a Southern Gothic haunted mansion.

The inside, however, was a different kind of chaos. My INTP friend quickly turned the rooms into artist housing, but only some parts of the house had been fixed up or made livable. My friend himself lived there, and so did his contractor buddy who helped him. And the INTP had a lot of big plans for the place.

“Let’s make sure we get the bedroom walls done first. I want to make the rooms nice for people.”

“I got a bargain price on some energy-efficient water heaters. Hold off on finishing the walls till we get these installed.”

“Huh, I just read about the dangers of old plumbing. Let’s redo the plumbing first and worry about the water heaters later.”

“Wow, I didn’t realize there was so much termite damage in the walls. We gotta do this before we do the plumbing.”

“Hey, while we’re at it, maybe we should update the wiring — I don’t want a fire situation. Yeah, tear out the bedroom walls we started to do.”

You get the idea. I’ve been over to visit the house many times since then, and while work was always taking place, I can’t say there’s been any appreciable difference in how “finished” it looks. Which is funny, since the owner’s whole plan is to restore it to a beautiful mansion and make a profit.

In my experience working with other INTPs, I feel comfortable saying this is the INTP kryptonite in general: They have a tough time finishing the big-picture project, purely because of an endless stream of extra ideas they come up with to improve it.

And most of those ideas are brilliant. Every single one of them could help make the project better — whether it’s restoring a home, starting a business, or building your own hover-car in the garage (I mean, we are talking INTPs here, right?). But none of them will pay off without the patience to put them in order, follow the steps, and see each one through.

How can INTPs overcome this? The classic advice is to partner with someone who can help you execute, whether it’s a friend and fellow hobbyist, a business partner, or a colleague. But that only works if you listen to them and let them guide the way things are done. Remember, as an INTP, you can out-envision almost everyone, clearly making a case why it’s time to switch to Idea No. 27. But if you work with someone you trust and heed their pushback when it comes, you can see dozens of your ideas succeed and whole projects come to fruition.

INFJ

Well, I don’t want anyone to see this

INFJs have a reputation for reading other people well — and for good reason. Most of them have had the experience of absorbing other people’s emotions, and striving to create wellbeing for others is a core part of their wiring. In many cases, they even understand the feelings of others better than their own feelings.

Unsurprisingly, that means INFJs are used to seeing the vulnerabilities of others — even when people try to hide them. That can result in an INFJ creating stirring moments of empathy and human insight, helping a person feel truly “heard” or understood for the first time. Or, in moments of door slam, it can result in the INFJ striking right to the heart of a person’s greatest weakness and shutting them down.

So, in a way, no matter what your kryptonite is, INFJs probably already see it, and even keep some stocked in their refrigerator (not that they would use it on you, of course).

But that doesn’t mean INFJs are without their own blindspot. And it turns out that, for them, turnabout is not fair play.

Because the INFJ’s kryptonite is vulnerability.

Yep. For a type that almost magically senses the feelings and soft points of others, the INFJ can get uncomfortable to the point of freak out when their own vulnerabilities are put on display.

And, to a degree, that’s true of everyone — especially other “J” types. But for the INFJ, it goes far deeper. INFJs have deep, complex, and sensitive feelings. At the same time, they’re constantly pulling in and processing the feelings of other people — which aren’t always a walk in the park. In other words, they deal with a lot of mental and emotional garbage that shouldn’t be sitting in their dumpster in the first place.

At the same time, because of their desire to create harmony, they tend to want to be part of the group. Every INFJ knows they are different from most people (1-2 percent of the population, y’all!), but they don’t want to be total misfits. So there’s a reason they keep 98% of themselves deeply hidden.

So if someone else starts to see their hidden side, INFJs don’t just feel judged or vulnerable. They may feel a sense of panic that they will not only be “exposed” as something different than they strive to be, but also left with a flood of negative emotions — their own and others’ — that they have to deal with.

And INFJs, remember: It’s okay. You hide parts of yourself to protect yourself, because you know from experience that the world isn’t always gentle with you. There is nothing wrong with this kryptonite.

But you can shine even more if you take at least small steps to reach past it. INFJs were not designed to be loners or hide behind a wall — they are at their absolute best when they are engaged in deep emotional exchange with other human beings. That kind of exchange must be, by its very nature, honest and raw.

One thing that helps? Open yourself up selectively. Only YOU know which people in your life truly get you, so if you’re around someone who feels comfortable, share more than you normally would. Take a deep breath and confess the thought or feeling you’re afraid most people would misunderstand. If even two people in your life can be your “soul friends” to discuss your inner truth with, you will feel a great burden lifted off you.

INTJ

Be careful what you scheme for…

We all know that INTJs are great at planning and, more than that, doggedly pursuing the plan until all the pieces come together. This is one of their superpowers, and it’s what makes INTJs so well-suited to jobs in management, science, and leadership of any kind.

However, it’s also a curse.

It’s a curse because an INTJ’s hidden blindspot is an almost total inability to take their own happiness into consideration — especially when making a plan for their lives.

I say this as an INTJ myself. I can vouch firsthand that the same powers of goal-setting, planning, and big-picture thinking that serve me so well in other areas pay off terribly when it comes to my personal life. I can picture something I “want” and make a plan to get it, but all too often, I’m too blind to my own emotions to factor them in. The result is achieving exactly what I “wanted,” only to to discover it doesn’t actually make me happy.

Want to spend your 20s saving money so you can retire early? You might find out you don’t enjoy the free time as much when you’ve lost your youth.

Want to be married and start a family in three years max? You might ignore all the red flags that you’re not actually compatible with your partner.

(This is why I refer to emotions as “the invisible world.” When something happens in the invisible world, it has effects that I can’t see coming — although I’ve gotten dramatically better at it.)

But fellow INTJs, you are not doomed to misery. You just need to take a different tool from your how-to-achieve-things toolkit: outsourcing. Outsource that emotional awareness to someone who’s competent at it, and leverage their strength to help guide your own decisions.

The best way to do this is to choose one friend you’re very close to and ask if you can schedule a once-a-month get-together. The point isn’t to hang out; it’s to both come with any problems or struggles you’re facing, discuss them, and give each other advice. Sort of like a personal mastermind session. As long as it’s someone who you trust to be honest — and someone who’s leading a happy life themselves and is more emotion-focused than you are — they can be your emotion-compass.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to take their advice at face value. And don’t give up doing the hard work of learning to tune into yourself, emotions and all. But the very act of talking personal matters through with a trusted advisor can help you actually sort them out.

And you? You can return the favor by being their planning compass. It’s a wickedly powerful combination.

You might like:

This article contains affiliate links. We only recommend products we truly believe in.

Andre Sólo is an advocate for introverts and highly sensitive people, and the co-founder of Highly Sensitive Refuge. He writes about heroism, spirituality, introversion, and using travel as a transformative practice. In 2013, he released Lúnasa Days, a novella set at the height of the Great Recession. Reviewers have described Lúnasa Days as "a masterpiece of magical realism." In his spare time, he pesters his cats, makes up stories, and swears he's fixing his bicycle.