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 and 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Set boundaries and maintain them, so the people in your life have a clear idea of what is, and is not, okay.
- Don’t become a doormat by ignoring your needs in preference for everyone else’s needs.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
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.