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A little less than two years ago I found out I was an INFJ. Up to that point, I always had self-identified as an INTP. My first reaction wasn’t great. “Are you telling me I’m just another female Feeler?!”

It took me awhile to wrap my mind around the idea that I had a whole new personality type to learn, explore, and make fit. However, this one was a natural fit. All the pieces of my life started falling into place. Why I loved being a massage therapist and felt such intense gratitude when I helped someone heal, and why I had always connected with people on a three-dimensional level. 

On the surface, I embraced my new role as a Feeler and even became a bit of an emotional basket case for a few months. Suddenly I was feeling everything with nerves that weren’t used to it. I would cry at the drop of a hat. Fortunately, things evened out, and I became less… unstable.

But in reality, I was suffering from some pretty deep bias. I still gravitated toward Thinkers and considered Feelers… well, weak personality-hacker.com_car-model_infjand unstable. I didn’t trust them to play fair with me. The stereotypical Extraverted Feeler, in my mind, was neurotic and manipulative.

It didn’t take me long before I fell back into old patterns. All the while I was telling the rest of the world to exercise their Copilot function for personal growth. I still used “Harmony ” (Extraverted Feeling) while I was giving a massage, but I gave preference to “Accuracy” (Introverted Thinking) whenever a situation arose that was unfamiliar to me, or I was triggered by emotions.

I wasn’t aware of this continued tendency until I kept making embarrassing mistakes. I would let my 10-year-old Accuracy make a decision and end up regretting it – a lot. After a few of these errors, I told my husband, “I must be profoundly flawed. My decision maker is broken!”

But my decision maker wasn’t broken. I was just using the wrong one.

After speaking to a close friend, I realized I didn’t have any respect for Harmony. I viewed it as weak and reactionary. Whenever I would try to convince myself otherwise, all I needed to do was think of all the examples of neurotic females I encounter on Facebook and re-convince myself that Harmony was my least favorite cognitive function. So many Harmony users would write into PH expressing giant boundary issues. It seemed like it was the lot of the INFJ to be taken advantage of. I didn’t think that was me.

My problem was the reverse. My boundaries were so thick nobody could ever dream of getting through. I kept everyone at a distance, and while I would let some people in I always expected them to disappoint me in some way. So, nobody got to my deep inner core that could be injured so profoundly.

Harmony – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

There are only two Extraverted decision makers – “Harmony” (Extraverted Feeling), and “Effectiveness” (Extraverted Thinking). So, Effectiveness is the cousin of Harmony. Nobody can say that Effectiveness is a weak pushover. Just look at the Underwoods on House of Cards if you want a good example of how powerful Effectiveness can be.

Harmony has the same leadership abilities as Effectiveness. Instead of leading through structure, it leads through morale. Properly used, Harmony can be a kick-ass decision maker.

Harmony can also be incredibly empowering, believe it or not. It just requires that we trust it. When Harmony users are experiencing pain, it is usually due to mismanagement. Either someone thinks Harmony equates with doormat status. Or, like me, they find it only rears its ugly head after ignoring it in preference for another cognitive function that isn’t so warm and fuzzy (i.e. Accuracy).  

Can you imagine every decision you make being the right decision? Where you feel confident every day because you trust your judgment? Imagine paralyzing anxiety fading away as you competently handle whatever life throws at you – and do it in a way that is beneficial for all concerned.

I am here to say that this is the kind of superpower that Harmony can bring when it is properly used, strengthened, and perfected. In such a guise, Harmony is not a thankless curse but a sophisticated tool. It reminds the world that we are all one family. We all need to share this planet, and it becomes less messy when we remember to consider the needs of others – in the grocery store, on the freeway, and in business. Harmony reminds us we can’t exploit each other. Everyone needs love, acceptance, and nurturing. These are the gifts a healthy Harmony user can bring to this world.

What gifts can a healthy Harmony Copilot bring to those who possess it?

  • Profound understanding of the people around you. As I mentioned above, people become three-dimensional as you innately understand what drives them and what needs may be going unmet at any given time.
  • Profound compassion for others – even total strangers. Aged men always pull my heart strings. I see them as they once were. I see the wisdom in their eyes. I imagine that I see and experience what they have seen and experienced. And I understand the disappointment they feel to have their body breaking down. They are no longer as strong and capable as they always were. Their families no longer rely on them for everything. And yet so many of them smile and reach out to anyone willing to take their hand. They still have a strong desire to be valued and seen.  I never see an old man that I don’t want to hug.  
  • An instinctive understanding of social rules and obligations. ENFJs can do this more naturally than INFJs. If an INFJ has not developed their Harmony copilot, they may find themselves the exact opposite of socially eloquent. INFJs, who use their 10-year-old as a decision maker, will usually realize they have made a social faux pas only after they register the public social reproof, which is what makes being an INFJ so painful at times. They have the full knowledge of how much they have screwed up without the foreknowledge of how to avoid it. Strengthening Harmony and recognizing when it is making the decision as opposed to Accuracy is the best way to prevent social censure. Also, INFJs need to take the time to make a decision in the right way. Introverted Feeling is said to be the slowest decision maker. Well, I think Extraverted Feeling is a close second. It takes time to gauge the responses of those involved and predict how our choices will impact everyone – including ourselves. If an INFJ is pushed to make a quick decision, they will likely go to their 10-year-old because it is a faster decision maker and gives the impression of complete confidence. I am reminded of the saying, “Marry in haste and repent at leisure.” For INFJs, we could say, “Decide in haste and repent at leisure.”

How can we use Harmony properly?

  1. Get regular exercise. All the cognitive functions in our car interact in various nuanced ways. The front seat passengers influence each other, as do the back seat passengers. The right side and left side of the car affect each other. And the Introverted and Extraverted functions influence one another. So Harmony is affected by our 3-year-old “Sensation.” (Extraverted Sensing) Keeping Sensation healthy and happy makes all of the passengers in the car happy, but it gives an extra zap of inspiration to Harmony. When INFJs are showing proper love to their mind and body, they can reflect that love to others. If INFJs are indulging their toddler with junk food and other harmful sensory stimuli, they don’t have enough resources to give unconditional love to the world. I imagine myself as a vessel. Exercise keeps the vessel supple and adaptable. Neglecting our vessel will result in rigidity and excess until it can no longer hold all the contents and everything comes spilling out. Unfortunately, it is hard for Sensation inferiors to maintain an exercise routine. Things easily get in the way and upset the schedule. A bad day will have us avoiding exercise and consuming entire bottles of wine. So, it is imperative for an INFJ to maintain consistent exercise. Walking, yoga, swimming, martial-arts, and jogging are all great ways for Intuition Drivers to use their exercise as a time to engage with their Intuition. Love yourself, and love for the world will overflow.
  2. When you feel the need to reach out and help someone, go ahead and do it. Don’t sit back analyzing how someone will respond to your overtures or the opportunity will pass. Engage the elderly man or woman on the park bench in conversation and listen to their wisdom.  Spend some time volunteering at your local charity or soup kitchen, or offer your services for free to disadvantaged people. Never stop looking for opportunities to help others. It feeds the soul of the Harmony user.
  3. Set boundaries and maintain them, so the people in your life have a clear idea of what is, and is not, okay.
  4. Don’t become a doormat by ignoring your needs in preference for everyone else’s needs.  
  5. When you are triggered, walk away, turn off Facebook, and button your lips. Because triggering emotions can launch us into our 10-year-old, all sorts of highly accurate stuff may come out, and it may even honestly represent how you feel, but if it doesn’t take into consideration the feelings of others, you will likely regret your harsh words. (When I say walk away, I don’t mean spend the next 10 minutes stewing until you formulate the perfect response. I mean wait until you have stopped stewing, which may take days. But it also takes days [or even weeks] to recover from the guilt that comes with poorly chosen words.)
  6. Make sure you are practicing Harmony first and foremost with yourself. Learn to say no if you don’t want to do something. I screen all my phone calls so I can think my response through before I give someone a reply. If I don’t feel up to giving someone a massage or going out for coffee, I will send a quick text to the caller. Text allows me to get out the facts without pressuring myself to say yes. I am very unapologetic about the fact that I don’t like phone calls. “I’m an introvert. I hate talking on the phone,” is my standard MO.
  7. Spend time in quiet contemplation, meditation, and self-reflection. Introverted Intuition (“Perspectives”) needs quiet to function at peak capacity. If you don’t give it the time it needs to reflect, it will take that time from your sleep cycle, and you will find yourself tossing and turning with a thousand thoughts rolling around your head. A relaxed focusing of the mind strengthens the spirit. A strong, bright spirit keeps us free from dis-ease and strengthens our intuition. Couple this with regular exercise and proper nutrition and emotions will harmonize naturally. Self-respect will grow as we begin to treat our bodies and minds with the same respect we expect from others.PersonalityHacker.com-what-is-intuition-develop-beach

An INFJ, who has mastered the art of Harmony and made it their chief decision maker, will be transformed. The social anxiety will be gone because the INFJ has gained mastery over their mind, body and tongue. The neurotic tendency to obsess about everything is gone because they no longer expect perfection of themselves or others. The exhaustion that comes from not maintaining boundaries is replaced by endless amounts of energy because they are giving their own physical and mental health priority.

An INFJ can be their best friend or most vile critic. The key is to stop approaching life from a defensive perspective. Stop reacting to the energies and circumstances that surround you. Instead of being a thermometer that only reads and mirrors the temperature of others, be the thermostat. The thermostat controls the temperature of the room. Harmony gives its users the ability to control their reactions and also manage the reactions of others. That is why so many Harmony users are diplomats and therapists. Harmony is the secret weapon of the INFJ. It is the gift we bring to the world. Taking the time and effort required to perfect this process will make our lives easier, and open doorways we never thought possible.  

 

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Charis Branson
Charis Branson is a Master Reiki practitioner, professional massage therapist, speaker, author and thought leader. As an INFJ (Perspectives/Harmony in the Genius System) she understands many of the challenges that the Intuitives in the Personality Hacker community deal with. Charis is the Director of Operations for Personality Hacker.
Showing 64 comments
  • Alice
    Reply

    This might be the most helpful thing I have read this year so far! In the last year I also realised that I was INFJ not INTP and the realisation was not always pretty….

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Alice! It’s nice to know there are others out there like me. 😉

      • hanne
        Reply

        One more right here. I thought i was an INTP for years, it was a glove that didn’t completely fit. Finding out i was an INFJ was like coming home, finally, after all those years

  • Katie
    Reply

    Thank you very much for sharing your experience! I’ve been constantly frustrated by Harmony users for awhile now (including myself) and also wondering how all the pieces of the INFJ puzzle fit together. Thanks for the practical tips and encouragement.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Katie! I hope you found something you can use. 🙂

  • Merja
    Reply

    Fabulous article Charis!! Love it!!

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks Merja! 🙂

  • Alex walsh
    Reply

    Awesome. I have a very hard time keeping a regular exercise routine. I know it’s good for me, but…!
    You really explain how everything relates really well. Thanks

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Alex! I envy those people who love exercise. 😉

  • Hidri
    Reply

    On the boundary of theory and practice. Thank you.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Hidri!

  • Jo
    Reply

    Thank you for this insight into ‘Harmony’ Charis. I’ve had the opposite experience to you in that, after wrestling with ISFJ/ISTJ, I definitely AM a thinker. Your article, particularly the leading with structure or morale comparison, confirms it.

    Incidentally, what happened to the ISTJ/INTJ Purging Emotions article from a few days ago? I read it quickly once, then came back and can’t find it…?!

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Jo! The author of he ISTJ/INTJ article wanted to make some changes to it so we pulled it. It will be back. 🙂

  • Catherine
    Reply

    Very interesting! Really identify with many of these issues. Never thought of harmony in this way.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Catherine! My intention in writing this article was to shift our perspective a bit regarding Harmony. Hopefully I’ve done that. 🙂

      • Shawn Thompson
        Reply

        You certainly have Charis! Thank you for caring enough to share!

        • Charis Branson
          Reply

          Thanks Shawn!

  • Jo
    Reply

    Thanks,! I’ll Look forward to the revised edition. Like this article it explained A LOT!

  • Chrystene McAdams
    Reply

    Absolutely spot on!! I have also on the rare occasion allowed my 10yr old to take over control, usually when I am particularly exhausted. I can’t believe what comes out of my mouth, it’s often true but said in such a brutal way, I feel guilty for weeks months after. I am proactively engaging in pausing and observing before speaking or writing and walking away from triggers thus allowing my innate harmony to strengthen. Harmony is most definitely the way forward. Great Article and advice Charis

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for your observations Chrystene! I’m glad I’m not the only one who pummels myself for eons. 😉 It’s just not worth it. I can’t tell you how many times I have apologized for something years afterward only to have the person I apologize to not remember the situation I am apologizing for. It just goes to show, most of the stuff we obsess over is all in our head.

  • Tom
    Reply

    I first became aware of Myers Briggs over 30 years ago and I must say the car model is the best explanation of the cognitive functions I have seen. And now I have just read the most insightful explanation of an INFJ. Reading it was like deja vo all over again. Remembering in flashes all those time when that spoiled 10 year old got behind the wheel. It was certainly scary at times. Now as one of those “aged men” you talked about, I no longer fear the “female feeler”. Thanks so much.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks Tom! See, I knew I loved you guys. 😉

  • Kristi Marx
    Reply

    Oh, my. I do believe you may have taken up residence in my head for a while Charis Branson! When I was younger I did not “control” these emotions very well and was so reactionary! Therefore, I have RUN from them for years all the while trying to make my 10 yr. old accuracy equal to others who could master control. I still find myself floating in and out of that 10 year old accuracy and then self-flagellate when it backfires. Oh, what a vicious cycle. Thank you for the suggestion of exercise/eating right(my intuition continues to hound me since I’ve been indulging that 3 year old for the last several years)! Your insight, “When INFJs are showing proper love to their mind and body they can reflect that love upon others,” is spot on and I know from experience this to be true. Thanks again for the insightful article and I hope to be an INFJ who will gain mastery over her mind, body and tongue 😉

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      You and me both, Kristi. 😉 I occasionally have insight into the world of self mastery – just before I get a little too big for my britches and end up crashing and burning. Alas, it is a muscle that needs continued exercise. 🙂

  • Ashley
    Reply

    I really needed to read this, thank you! I’ve been struggling with balancing myself out ever since I found out I was an INFJ about 4 years ago. I’ve learned some over the years, kind of gave up a few times, but not enough self discipline to keep it up. I’ve also been accused of being ‘fake’ because I value harmony and it’s very easy for me to see other’s perspectives. I couldn’t really explain how I’m not being fake because they didn’t want to listen. Would you have any advice on how to explain this to an INTJ?

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Ashley! It’s hard to explain something to someone who doesn’t want to listen.

      When I really want to get through to my INTJ husband, I wait until he is in a good mood and totally relaxed. For my husband this usually involves sunshine and/or good ambiance, with a dash of alcohol. Then I would talk about how much happiness I get from meeting the needs of others versus the mental turmoil I experience from not meeting someone’s needs. Use some examples to illustrate your point.

      Don’t start out by saying, “I want to talk to you about something.” That will likely put the INTJ on guard and you will quickly find yourself in a defensive position. Just talk in a relaxed way so they can stay relaxed. Don’t get confrontational or make accusations. Get them to understand your point of view without pointing out their faulty reasoning. Keep them relaxed. A relaxed INTJ is an open INTJ.

      That has been my experience, at least. My strategies may not work for you. At which point you need to ask yourself, why is this person so dead set on believing you are fake? How does it make you feel when you are called fake? Have you communicated those feelings?

      I hope some of that helps. 🙂

  • Eva
    Reply

    Thank you. I wrote something like the part about the harsh words and regret a few months back but then took it off a blog i had started about being infj when I decided I was not infj afterall. Have just now editted it to be an FJ issue or an Fe-Ti issue in a more general blog. Its about how Fjs should avoid heated debates around causes especially against Fi users simply because the after-math of the Ti “bombs” dropped in a heated debate is usually too high a price to pay for the FJ. It’s never worth it in the long term. Relationships are simply more important to us in the long term.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Great observation, Eva! I struggle with engaging Fi users. I always seem to be tripping over my tongue and/or opinions. Pausing adequately before responding, and asking myself what potential fallout could come from my words seems to help. 😉

  • Naomi
    Reply

    As an INTP with Harmony in the inferior position, I actually find this all pretty useful as a rough guidebook to “how to Fe” when needed.

    I know Accuracy is my ace in the hole for decision-making, and Exploration is what keeps Ti out of trouble (most of the time), but these are all such Thinking-heavy processes that it becomes extremely hard to know how to act when trying to interface in a Feeling realm.

    My biggest takeaway as an INTP would be to exercise compassion when connecting (your “old men” examples are great — I feel what you’re saying, completely), and let Exploration do its work through Harmony, giving Accuracy better information.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the INTP perspective, Naomi! Isn’t it a fascinating nuance when you start seeing how the different passengers in the car interact? I think you are really on the right track re: Harmony and Exploration. I would be fascinated to hear how that pairing works in the real world.

  • Bronwyn
    Reply

    Brilliant post Charis. I am exactly the same. I typed myself as a thinker originally too (INTJ) and rejected the notion of being a feeler for exactly the same reasons you’ve identified. I realised recently I am actually INFJ when PH did a podcast on INTJs developing Te (which sounded REALLY BORING!) and when I read a similar post on INFJs developing Fe it sounded like fun. So I worked out I am an INFJ who relies also on using Ti for making decisions. Since I figured this out I’ve been using Fe a lot more and have learned that it is just as logical as Te or Ti.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Bronwyn! I think it was Antonia who said that INFJs sound like Thinkers. Thinkers don’t typically use a lot of voice variation. Since INFJs Thinker tendency is conscious, we can really look like Thinkers – especially when Fe is undeveloped. I’m glad you are beginning to appreciate the strength of Fe. 🙂

  • matthew
    Reply

    nice article really good take on fe ,but i get how you could mistake yourself as a thinker why not intj? intp is a bit of a stretch with the ne/si and all .

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      It is because of Introverted Thinking. INFJs have it as a tertiary function and INTPs have it as their Driver. I also am not your stereotypical Judger who needs order in my environment. I’m happier when things are ordered, but my dad was a hoarder so my tolerance for disorganization is higher than your standard Judger, which made me think I was a Perceiver. Also, Extraverted Thinking and Introverted Feeling are completely nebulous to me. Like hoodoo magic. I don’t get them and never have.

      • matthew
        Reply

        that cleared things up but were did the extroverted thinking and fi come from. nether intp or infj have have those functions . & i never mentioned or implied them.

        • matthew
          Reply

          opps no need i just reread it now it makes sense . man i feel stupid .
          i really should have read this more. ohh & i answered my own question when i was asking it

          • Charis Branson

            No worries! I should have been clearer with my comment. Sometimes I forget to leave a bread trail for my thoughts. 😉

      • Kristina
        Reply

        Your life experience is interesting- it mirrors mine so closely! My dad was also a hoarder- I would feel suffocated, but helpless to create the freedom I needed. Now that I can control that, I notice I have built up a much higher tolerance for clutter than most other judgers I know- until life becomes stressful. Then the suffocation comes back again until I can find a clean little corner. I’ve also wondered at times how I could be so tolerant of the clutter and still be a judger. Yet, I feel so much more comfortable and happy to explore when I have a plan, as much information as possible and several contingencies and escape plans if things don’t go as I expect!

        • Charis Branson
          Reply

          Environment is such a huge factor in how our personalities manifest. That’s why two people of the same personality can look so different.

          I’m with you on the contingency plans. I overthink everything so I’m not surprised into paralysis and embarrassment. Then I rarely use any of my plans because the situation was far simpler than I had anticipated. 😉

  • Brenda Knowles
    Reply

    Dear Charis, I was just writing a post about how to be a leader in your own life when you’re a sensitive introvert. Your article aligns with my thoughts so well. I am an INFJ but also find a lot of INFP in myself. I struggle with quick decision making. You explained why so well. I also try to use Ti quite often because I find myself surrounded by Ti or Te dominants. I want to be able to hang with them.;) Ti usually comes out in regrettable reactions, which I continue to work on managing. I’m aware of the consequences but need to stop the knee-jerk timing and pause before I blurt them out.
    You made a good point about needing time to let Ni process or it will affect your sleep. I experience this all the time because as a parent and business owner, I struggle to get enough Ni flow time.
    Thanks for further insight regarding my type. I will use it to help others and spread the positives of harmony.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      I appreciate the comment, Brenda! I’m glad you found something that can be of use to you. 🙂

  • Emily S.
    Reply

    Wow, Charis, thank you for this! It’s so good to come across someone like me. I also used to identify as a thinker, looking on feeling as weak and unsophisticated. Reading some the other INFJ articles on this site was helpful, but when they talked about INFJs having poor boundaries, being enslaved to others’ wishes, I felt guilty. I’m not doing that much for other people. Now I see there are other INFJs who have been in the same place.

    You’ve encouraged me, and given some practical insights into the way forward 🙂

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Emily! There’s definitely a lot of variation in the INFJ community. 🙂

  • Aleksandra Hawrasz
    Reply

    Thank you so much! I’m so relived that I found that website

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for commenting Aleksandra! We are glad you found us too. 🙂

  • Faustine Cavanaugh
    Reply

    You’re a prophet.
    Thank you for sharing these deep words, profoundly felt, by many.
    Reading this was a giant breath, a weight lifted, aided by your insights. I often feel i want to fight harmony, as a warrior. Beat it bloody- for this inherent weak feeling about it.
    What an odd stigma to have acquired?

    Thank you, Charis. You are appreciated!

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      I’ve never been called a prophet before…but I kind of like it. 😉 Thanks for the feedback!

  • Michie
    Reply

    Thank you Charis for this insightful article on INFJ’s who are leery of their Fe! Growing up it was so disorienting and painful to get hit with others emotions, that I spent a long time trying to shut it off. I only let harmony come out in small doses and retreated easily when accuracy made situations awkward. Having learned about cognitive functions this year, I’m realizing I’ve been spinning my wheels trying to develop accuracy while trying to suppress harmony. Thank you for both articulating my INFJ experience so accurately, and giving some useful help on growing harmony.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Michie! I’m glad you found the information useful. 🙂

  • A
    Reply

    HOW on earth does an INFJ confuse themself for an INTP?! LOL! An INTP would choose death over touching another human any day of the week. You either crunch data for breakfast or not.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      To be perfectly honest, I would have to say that I didn’t fully comprehend what it is to be an INTP. I really thought I was crunching data because I love to learn and study. I’m naturally good at math. But I wasn’t crunching data to the extent that INTPs crunch data. Since I had never personally known an INTP, I didn’t have a point of comparison. I took the Please Understand Me test, was typed as INTP, thought the written description fit pretty good, and went with it.

      It wasn’t until Antonia and Joel came and spent a few weekends with me that they realized I was not an INTP – no way, no how. I actually argued with them a bit about it. But they finally convinced me that an empathic massage therapist who spent all her time worrying about the needs of others was most definitely not an INTP. 😛

      • A
        Reply

        Interesting. I’ve personally observed that individuals who have had an unhealthy upbringing tend to have more difficulty typing themselves and take much longer to arrive to an accurate conclusion, if at all. For example, my mother was a hoarder and extremely unhealthy. Coming from that background I tested as INFP. Since I didn’t identify with the description at all I took it again and scored INTP. Once I read that description I had an out-of-body experience. I was in complete shock that someone could quantify MY brain and write about it! Fascinating how the way we’re treated when we’re young can skew our perceptions and behavior so drastically.

        • Charis Branson
          Reply

          It sure is! I think that is one of the greatest injustices. The fact that we are the most helpless during our most formative, impressionable, years. I’m glad you found a type that fits you so well. 🙂

  • Jamian
    Reply

    Thank you for this article Charis. I’ve read it several times and resonate so much as you know we have been in the same boat as INFJs masquerading as thinkers for many years. I’m realizing I do a lot of Fe in my work in psychiatry – my recommendations are often at odds with what patients and families have in mind and I’m becoming increasingly adept at identifying and framing win-win situations that help patients get the most benefit from treatment and present less friction for other staff. I’m still finding though that I have a scarcity mentality about Fe. I feel so drained at times that I don’t have kindness left for less critical staff interactions, I come across cold and even abrasive, putting up those walls and making the quick Ti slice and dice decisions. I certainly don’t have patience and kindness for strangers. I’m hoping that this year as my hours are scaling back a bit will help me have more reserve, but I’m not sure how to level up to the abundance mentality in regard to Fe. Anyway, thanks for the insightful and inspiring thoughts you shared here.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for sharing your journey, Jamian. I think about you all the time and wonder how you are getting on. Here are some things I have learned about myself, which may be of help.

      When I’m overextending myself – mentally, physically, emotionally – I start eliminating stressors. I call it Cost/Benefit Analysis. This is how my thoughts go: “I’m already extended. Are you piling something else on? Then you need to prove its worth. If it is just busy work, I will refuse to do it. I know what I can take on and what is important to take on, and anything beyond that is a waste of my time and energy. I’m sorry if I’m coming off as a cold hearted bitch, but my energy reserves are my most important asset.”

      The fewer reserves I have, the more I notice how much I clean slice priorities. It may be your Ti if you are stressed, but it may also be self-preservation. Energy management is key for INFJs.

      I think you’re right. Once you scale back, you will have more energy to dole out as you like.

      Which is something else I have noticed – I like to show my Fe love in my way. It doesn’t feel right if I am just responding to the demands of others. Fe teamed with Ni feels really good when we can use it to predict the needs of others. It feels awesome when we get the feedback that our prediction was eerily accurate. Don’t mistake Fe for doing what someone tells you to do. There’s no fun in that. Find ways you can show your love for others in a way that you have thought up. Like the win-win situation you created at work. It sounds like an insight you had that is distinctly your’s, which probably feels pretty good.

      One more thing: positive feedback is huge for INFJs. So, if you don’t get that at work, find another outlet that will feed your need for reinforcement.

      I hope some of that helps! 🙂

  • Lisa
    Reply

    Thank you for this posting! I have only recently discovered that I am an INFJ. I vaguely remember learning about Carl Jung and cognitive functions in nursing school but never applied them to myself. I have always been very driven to my own demise at times. I recently completed my Doctorate and am trying to figure out what to do with my life next. I grew up in an abusive home with an INFP mother (we just realized this yesterday when I showed her personality typing). She was married 5 times to various abusive husbands and stepdads. She coped by numbing out and I coped by becoming overly driven to succeed. I went through my own divorce from a narcissistic person four years ago but have since found and married the love of my life (I can’t figure out his personality yet). I feel great with my husband and have an eight year old daughter who I adore (I believe she is also an intuitive type although I am not sure which). Realizing I am an INFJ has been very insightful for me about myself and yet I still feel more confused than ever about my career. I also love to analyze, research and learn but I feel miserable in my current job. I have felt betrayed by my co-workers and my boss after I have achieved seven major awards for my hospital through my work and dedication (in an office job). I think some of my confusion may be that I have given that 10 year old the reigns to figure out what to do next. Here you are telling me to let go and listen to that Fe which I have been thoroughly disregarding for the past few years. I feel like I am turning and noticing that beautiful co-pilot (whom I have quite literally punched in the face)and taking notice of her. I am wondering if she might be my ticket to really solving this puzzle (or rather stop trying and get busy actually doing something). I am not sure if this makes any sense to anyone, but I figure if anyone could understand, it would be other INFJs. Thank you for this meaningful piece. It hits me in the right place in my heart.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Hey, Lisa! Thanks for sharing your struggles. We can get really attached to our 10-year-old. I imagine my ten yr old as an IT guy who happily works in the basement of some company thinking, researching, not needing people, and completely impervious to the emotional harm of the outside world. We especially seek his protection when we feel wronged somehow and want to rest into our rightness (dare I say self-righteous rightness?).

      This place of detachment makes us think we are choosing logic over emotion, which is way more preferable. We are getting a huge payoff with this because it prevents us from confronting all those messy emotions. But since we never deal with the messy emotions they just keep resurfacing. Our strategy to distance ourselves from them doesn’t work.

      The only thing that works is using Fe to create compassion for the people we feel betrayed by. Can you shift perspective and get into their heads and try to understand their actions? Can you at least get to a place of empathy for those who have wronged you? I don’t mean become their best friend, but understand why they made the choices they did. That is a way to exercise Fe and put Ti back into its proper place. Have I mastered this? Nope. Still working on opening myself back up to someone after I discover the empathy for them. That INFJ door slam seems to be a door made of sturdy oak with rusted hinges. 😉

  • Selena
    Reply

    Wow I resonate with your words so much. I also am a massage therapist and an INFJ, sometimes I struggle with being in an intimate setting with people all day, I can feel drained at the end of the day and just want to be alone for the rest of the night, but somehow before knowing that harmony was my co pilot , I knew that being a massage therapist, working so closely with people and helping others was healthy for me to do

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Selena! I think Massage (or some sort of healing art) is ideal for INFJs. I have never done it full time, though. I only do a few a week, so I don’t get too drained. But even at the end of a long day, I still feel like I am buzzing. Do you work for yourself? Or do you work in a spa of some sort? I worked in a spa for a short time and since I couldn’t control the energy it was a more draining experience for me. I prefer a space of my own that I don’t have to share.

  • Linda
    Reply

    Charis, Thank you for this post. For years I believed that I was an INTJ because through life circumstances I was forced to lead with Extroverted Thinking. My ex loved to create constant chaos, which he then threw into my lap to fix. We also adopted an older sibling group of three children with Reactive Attachment Disorder who created almost as much chaos as my ex. In my free time I worked in an inner healing ministry where I used my NI & FE. This became my passion and I felt most alive when active in this ministry. Recently, after a year of intensive counseling following my husband of 29 years (who has extreme Narcissistic Tendencies) divorcing me, I realized that I am an INFJ. Having used TE for so many years left me incredibly confused as to my MB type, as well as very burned out and shut down. Until recently, I tested at 90% thinking and 10% feeling. INFJ just didn’t fit with the TE. I also used some TI and was not allowed to use my NI because my ex didn’t trust my intuition. Is it normal for an INFJ to use TE in extremely stressful circumstances? Would the genus information on the web-site for INFJ help me to understand how things got so twisted? I read about Shadow Processes on another personality site and it showed how TE is a deceiving function, but didn’t not go into further explanation. Is there a way to find out more about how and why we use shadow functions? I am working on boundaries and learning to stay away from unhealthy people in order to have better self care. I believe that will help me to naturally stay in my natural INFJ cognitive functions. Any suggestions that you have would be appreciated as I sort all of this out.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Hi Linda. Thanks for the comment. It is not common for an INFJ to use Te since it is not part of their cognitive function stack. You may use a form of Te if you spent a lot of time around someone who used it, however, I will wager it is not true Te. We all have the ability to use various facets of all the cognitive functions, but they won’t show up with the same mastery as someone who uses them as a strength. If you are an INFJ, you are likely using your cognitive functions (Ni, Fe, Ti, Se) in a way that is unique to you due to the chaos you had to endure. It probably looks like Te, but isn’t. You might learn a lot from exploring your Enneagram. That can also affect how we interact with the world – especially in times of stress. I found the Enneagram test at enneagram institute to be fairly thorough.

      Here is a podcast Antonia and Joel did on Shadow functions: http://www.personalityhacker.com/phq-questions-shadow-personality-types/

  • stephen
    Reply

    thank you so much!!for the very first time i realize why i keep avoiding peoples when i am drained of energy.i will let my 10 year old take control and start finding fault with them so that i can justify my distance from them .

    the best way is to set healthy boundaries and tell them truthfully who i am and why sometime i need to be alone in my solitude.

    thank you for your written article ,i will try to put it into practise.

    have a good day!!!

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Stephen! I agree that healthy boundaries are hugely important.

  • Maureen
    Reply

    I just found this! I also used to think I was an INTP, but that identity always felt like a shelter to hide in. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I’m an INFJ, but I’m nowhere near healing or anything like that. Mostly I just hide in my office/closet. 🙂 But at least I have found a starting place. As a creator, I want to be as real with myself as possible so I can be as real in my writing as possible.

    Thanks for this article.

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