As some of you know, I've been fascinated by the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) for several years. In the past couple weeks, I wrote the following list. I first shared it in one very small online group of INFJ friends, and then in a much larger Facebook group. It seems to have resonated for a lot of INFJ folks and kind friends have persuaded me to post it here to make it easily shared via social media.
A lot of the stuff on the internet written about INFJs, doesn't seem to have been written *by* INFJs. A lot of it also reads like a newspaper horoscope, generic and vague. Some pieces aren't vague, and instead are written with a pointed agenda. Here's my antidote to all that, a list of things that I really want folks to know about me, as an INFJ.
Obviously, I'm not speaking for every INFJ. Even within personality types, humans are marvelously diverse, but I hope some of this will ring true to fellow INFJs!
1- I'm not infallible and I don't want to be on anyone's pedestal. People who idealize me, or idealize INFJs in general, make me squirmy.
2- I am very sensitive to criticism and while I value straight talk and integrity, if I like or respect you, your disapproval or snark can cut me to the quick. Even if you're trying to hide it, I feel it and it hurts. And I STILL want you to tell me the unvarnished truth.
3- Personal transparency isn't always safe or tidy, but I really hate being misunderstood, which is why I so often tend to lay all my cards on the table. I realize that people often find me opaque, and I try to compensate for that in situations, and with people, I value.
4- I believe in the power of words and communication. There aren't many situations in this world that can't be improved with a few kind words.
5- I also believe in the power of research, planning, and then contingency planning. Planning a vacation (or anything else) is at least half the fun.
6- Making people happy makes me happy. If I do you a favor, please don't drench me in gratitude. Your happiness, and a few brief but sincere words of appreciation, is all I need.
7- Don't. Ignore. My. Warnings.
I can't usually explain my intuitions, but if I caution you about a person or situation, odds are I'm not imagining things.
8- My patience is not infinite. I might give you the benefit of the doubt for months or years longer than anyone else has, but when I'm done, it's irrevocable.
9- Don't mess with my loved ones. People who don't know me well often think of me as "sweet", "gentle", "kind", and even "soft spoken". Hurt someone I care about and I'll prove to you just how wrong you are.
10- I'm really not interested in what's socially acceptable. Conformity isn't my thing, nor is tradition. I'm far more interested in what's healthy, what's kind, what's wise, and/or what's effective.
11- I'm not a perfectionist about everything, only the things I value the most. Oh, and my personal code of conduct. Because I value that the most, obviously. When I struggle with deadlines, creative blocks, and insecurities, perfectionism is always at the heart of the struggle.
12- I often know when you're in pain (physical or emotional) before you become conscious of it. My instinct is to try to ease your pain ASAP, and I'm not always subtle or discreet. I'll try to get you to talk about it, to journal, to see a counselor, to take vitamins, to use an ice pack or heating pad, to practice my favorite breathing technique, or whatever my most recent self management skill acquisition has been. Please try to be patient with me while I learn that letting you identify and address your own pain, in your own time, might actually be the most helpful thing I can do.
13- If you want something from me (behavioral or concrete), don't yell, blackmail, threaten, or browbeat me. Don't try to manipulate me, trick me, or massage my ego. Don't nag, wheedle, or beg. Remember, I respect honesty and I like making people happy. If you want something from me, the easiest and likeliest way to get it, is to ask me respectfully and directly.
14- My body and I have communication problems. I feel like I operate my body by remote control, and it frustrates me to tears on a regular basis. I've always longed for grace and dexterity, but find I'm much better at toughness, and being a pack mule than at dancing. Not only do I struggle to grasp new kinetic tasks, but I nearly have to hear ambulance sirens before I recognize I'm experiencing a medical emergency.
15- I tend to operate in all or nothing modes. As I've gotten older, I've become more adept at seeing shades of grey and valuing what lives there, in those middle latitudes, but at my most visceral levels, I exist in black or white, on or off, loquacious or mute, driven or apathetic, fast foreword or off, love or utter disinterest. Don't mistake this for me being in distress or needing to "calm down". This really is how I naturally move through the world and it works for me.