I have spent almost a decade studying the INFJ personality type and the many myths and stories surrounding this personality type. Often, when studying the INFJ, I was lead to stories of men and women who took on the role of healers, guides and seers in their society.
The INFJ, in flow, was someone that could naturally understand and soothe the emotions of others. INFJs would often get images and ideas in their heads about what people were and what people could become.
Often, they would passionately dig into books and stories, hoping to learn something of value they could give and share with the tribe. The INFJ rarely thought of what they could use for themselves, and instead saw what they, themselves, could do for others. The problem was they often could not see the world around them, as they would become so detached from reality. Beyond that, they would often be misguided: while they have good intentions, they often lack the tactical prowess to analyse the rational consequences of their actions.
INFJ Personality Traits
INFJ Flow Type
The INFJ personality type in its most base form is primarily focused on its own personal emotional state and its own world of ideas and intuition. It primarily sees what it can construct with its own creativity. This type is primarily focused on what ideas they can bring to life and how they can live in harmony with their own feelings. In this, they follow the principles of a healer, believing the world is an echo of their own inner emotional state. If they can find harmony, so can the world, and conflict of the world, is a reflection of conflict inside. If you can make peace with yourself, the world can find peace too.
It then takes these things and tries to put them to practice in its own behaviour. INFJs try to shape the world according to their own ideas and values. It is a Judging, proactive type that has ethical goals and ideals it seeks to make real in the world around it. In this, INFJs live according to a universal law of karma, believing the world is what you put into it. If you put good things to the world, the world will become good. If you put bad things into the world, the world will be bad. Bad things, are then, a sign to the INFJ that they have put something bad into the world.
The INFJs first priority then is the self: and what you personally can do for the world, not what other people can do for you. The INFJ seeks resources from within, answers to difficult questions, insight, wisdom, meaning, purpose, whatever they can find that will give them strength to face the world. INFJs follow the philosopher’s way, and love, and respect their insight deeply.
There is a deep love for just knowing what things are and for understanding the answer to complex questions. Beyond that, the INFJ is a type that will seek its ideas out to the end. The INFJ sees themselves as ultimately responsible for the realisation of their own ideas. I must act and make what I see happen: I have a responsibility to my ideas and to my insight and into making my vision for the world come true.
The INFJ Weaknesses
The weaknesses of an INFJ are, to not mince words, many. INFJs feel hopelessly ashamed if they can’t meet the expectations of other people. They feel terribly afraid that they won’t be able to see through their ideas to the end. They feel anxious that they have misunderstood something, that they haven’t been able to read things deep enough, that they have missed an important truth. They can feel upset with themselves, because they have not found what to do or say to maintain harmony and balance in the world. They feel dissatisfied if they can’t explain something or find an answer or insight that they perceive as deep enough and can get lost searching for “the right answer”.
These weaknesses on their own would be enough for many to disqualify the INFJ at several tasks and situations, but I have not even begun yet. Beyond what I said above, INFJs tend to think themselves as weak, powerless creatures. They obsess about their invisibility in the tribe. They feel the tribe will never understand them, and that they will never be able to adapt and fit in with the world and the people around.
The INFJ, beyond this, is prone to refusing or missing out on any real shot or opportunity even when it is presented right in front of them. They stress too much about what the world is, and miss any real chance to change it. They hide and mask unethical behaviour as good because simply their intentions are good. They stare themselves blind at the long road ahead of them, and miss any alternatives or shortcuts they could have taken to get there faster. And they fail to accept any help or support that is offered to them, not seeing there are friends and people available that could help in what they did.
The INFJ Hero’s Journey
Refusal of the call
I’ve found most INFJs journey to personal growth tend to start with first, being offered a chance to do real good, a chance to understand a greater wisdom, a chance to gain some kind of personal insight. But you’re not ready yet – something will cause you to refuse this opportunity.
Perhaps an insecurity or a feeling of weakness gets the better of you, and you end up feeling you are too weak, or too stupid or untalented, and so, you can’t follow through on it. Perhaps you simply refuse to believe it is possible, because you have too much doubt in yourself.
The journey begins
But saying no to your core values is difficult. These values keep gnawing at you, and you find yourself thinking about a way to meet them. Perhaps, if you become stronger, if you develop your skills, if you go out and gain evidence, if you can learn more about the world around you, you can come to be of greater help to others.
So, the peacocking starts. You believe that you need to master your weaknesses before you can acknowledge or face your strengths. Shamefully, and nervously, you take a step into the light, and you get out into the world. The journey always begins in the opposite end of the destination you seek, we always start looking in the opposite place of where we really should be looking.
The first part is done when you realise you are lost, and that you no longer fit in where you are. You’re no longer like everyone else, and you are no longer able to make it where you are. With that realisation, you’re forced to move forward.
Temptations and pitfalls
Beyond what I said above, you also find yourself ill equipped to perform the tasks you do. Instead of wearing your strengths, you seek to master and use powers that you lack. Instead of empathy, you choose intelligence, instead of vision, you choose discipline.
The two sound so similar, but their values are completely different. INFJs will find themselves blindly sticking to a wrong path. Instead of putting good into the world and trying to set a positive example, you blind yourself into thinking you have to fix the world. But you don’t need to take the world into your own hands, you only have to wave. In this stage, you recognise the weaknesses you have and you develop a healthy modesty, recognising limitations and blind spots.
You recognise iNtuition requires an open-minded approach rather than a more practical one. You understand it is more important to understand than to explain what you understand. You recognise you don’t need power – you only need to help awaken the power in others.
Drawing the sword
Realising nothing has gotten any better through your logic or through your control, and realising people can’t be controlled, and that the world doesn’t need your power, you instead have to resign yourself to being good enough just the way you are.
You may not be able to fix the world, and you may not be able to correct its wrongs, but you may be able to soothe and heal the people who are suffering in it. You may not be able to reform the system and you may not be able to prove or demonstrate your ideas are valid, but you can still share the insight you have.
Drawing the sword is the act of taking your power into your own hand and acting with confidence and bravery to do what you have always seen you could do. When you do, you appear to almost shine with all the focused intuition and with emotional strength and inner calm and stability. The weaknesses you have been forced to admit may still be there, but just because you are weak, does not mean you can’t be strong.