PersonalityHacker.com-INFP-personality-type

In a few days I’m heading to the airport to pick up my ex-husband-in-law (aka Antonia’s ex-husband) for a visit. He’s an INFP personality type and over the past few years we’ve become friends.

Our personalities (ENFP and INFP) complement each other in many ways and I’ve learned a lot more about my own personal development journey by spending time around him.

We’ve had long conversations about the challenges he faces as an INFP. I’ve also been observing INFPs “in the wild” for a while now and the feedback we are getting from our INFP survey shows a few of the recurring challenges I’d like to tackle in this article.

As an INFP (Authenticity/Exploration in the Genius system) your mind is fundamentally wired differently from other personalities.

You’ve probably already heard that you are an introvert, intuitive, feeler, perceiver. And a lot of articles and resources focus on the behaviors you show the world as an INFP.

Behavior can be helpful – but it isn’t the complete picture when figuring out your personality.

I want to give you a peek inside your mind to expose the mental wiring that makes you an INFP.

Let’s get started.

INFP | The Mental Wiring Of Your Mind

Your four letter code INFP gives us insight into how your mind is learning information and making decisions.

The primary way your mind makes decisions is a mental process we’ve nicknamed “Authenticity.” It’s technical name is Introverted Feeling.

When evaluating any decision – Authenticity asks the question “Does this feel right?” It’s a feeling process concerned with core values, motivation and conviction.

Imagine a four passenger car.

If one of your mental processes could drive – it would be Authenticity. Using this mental process puts you in flow. You’ve been using it your whole life. It’s how you decide what to do each day.

If Authenticity is how you make decisions as an INFP, then the mental process we’ve nicknamed “Exploration” is how you learn new information. The technical name for Exploration is Extraverted Intuition.

When looking at the world – Exploration asks the question “What if?”

  • “What if time is relative?”
  • “What if everyone was forced to hug each other instead of handshakes?”
  • “What if numbers had gender assignment – what gender would you assign to the number eight?”

Think about that four passenger car again… if Authenticity is the Driver seat – then Exploration is in the front passenger seat. It is your Co-pilot mental process and what we call your growth state.

personality-hacker.com_car-model_infpOf course, this is a four passenger car, so you also have two mental processes in the backseat.

Sitting right behind the Co-pilot is a mental process we call “Memory.”

Memory is all about precedent, safety, doing the reliable thing. It’s about realizing who you are based on your past and your ties to the past.

This mental process has the development of about a 10 Year Old child.

Finally, behind the Driver of Authenticity sits a mental process called “Effectiveness.” We call this your blind spot or 3 Year Old mental process. Effectiveness is a thinking process and asks the question, “What works?” or “What gets the job done?” without regard to personal feelings.

Notice – we haven’t talked about INFP behaviors.

Instead, I’ve been talking about the mental wiring of your mind.

Behaviors can only give us clues to how your mind is wired. It’s far more interesting to dive into WHAT CAUSES our behaviors as people.

Here at Personality Hacker – We don’t talk about personality types for their own sake. We think understanding your personality is one of the best ways to frame your personal growth journey.

And we attract INFPs who are interested in personal growth.

Next, I’d like to address some of the most common INFP challenges.

INFP Challenge | Motivation

Okay, so motivation might be the single biggest challenge for INFPs. Remember that you make your best decisions using the feeling process of Authenticity.

So it’s easy to get into action when you feel like it. And when you don’t “feel like it?”

Well… good luck.

If you are another personality type and you’ve ever tried to motivate an INFP who didn’t feel inspired to action, then you know what I’m talking about. It’s all but impossible to encourage an INFP to take an action when they don’t want to.

On the other hand, if an INFP is inspired to take action nothing but death can stop them.

There is immense power in the Authenticity process in creating motivation for INFPs.

How do you as an INFP activate this Authenticity process, the very seat of your motivation?

Conviction.

Conviction is the INFP secret weapon to change the world.

Show me an INFP with conviction and I’ll show you an INFP getting. Shit. Done.

Conviction comes from knowing your inner wisdom and what matters to you in this life.

Not all conviction is created equal. You may have conviction around tipping servers at restaurants. You may also have conviction around not cheating on your spouse. One may be easier to over-ride than the other. So there are degrees of conviction.

“My feelings make me indecisive”

Conviction isn’t difficult for INFPs to develop. It actually feels right for you as an INFP to develop strong feelings about how things should be. Like I said, it sits with your Driver process of Authenticity.

The challenge is having a myopic view of what to be convicted about.

As an example, let’s suppose an INFP grew up in a home with an alcoholic parent. They may develop an understandable conviction against the use of alcohol. They decided early in life that they would completely abstain from any substance they have deemed dangerous. Alcohol in their mind has become public enemy number one and can never be used without causing harm. They have decided that they won’t even allow themselves to be around someone who is drinking.

Imagine this INFP, as they reach adulthood, petitioning local jurisdictions to temper the availability of alcohol. They may even extend their conviction to include other drugs like caffeine, tobacco, cannabis, etc.

The INFP in this hypothetical situation is absolutely CONVICTED (despite their very limited personal experience with substance) that alcohol is a great evil in the world.

And this INFP may be over valuing their own experience. The reality is, not everyone who uses alcohol abuses it.

So how would this INFP broaden their perspective on alcohol?

They could drink a beer. They could actually get buzzed a little. They could try alcohol for themselves and see if it always leads to abuse. Or at least hang out with people who are drinking to see for themselves if it always leads to abuse of the substance.

If you are an INFP with this exact conviction, what I just suggested is going to sound like heresy. You may even be turning off your ability to take in the rest of this article. But that’s the point – one can generate convictions based on singular experiences (as painful as they may be) and then close themselves off to new information.

Though understandable, “closed circuit” convictions are no longer about reality or even right verses wrong, they’re about self-protection. These ethics are no longer thoughtful and they become armor. And then we project our trauma onto the world turning it into a right versus wrong stance. 

If you as an INFP unconsciously create a ‘one size fits all’ morality, you turn into the type of person you would normally rail against. The goal is not to compromise your convictions. The goal is to be thoughtful and open to new experiences.

The solution is activating your Co-pilot process of Exploration.

Remember that Exploration asks “what if?” questions. Exploration wants to see patterns in the external world. Exploration helps an INFP take in more information and craft better and better convictions over time.

So that’s my recommendation for staying on track with your convictions.

Now let’s get back to this idea of motivation.

There are two primary ways you can motivate yourself.

Conviction is the internal motivation we’ve already talked about. It’s the first piece of the puzzle for you as an INFP. Without a deep sense of conviction about the “right thing to do” you will flounder without direction.

The second part to motivation is external. This comes from already knowing what you want to do and enlisting the help of outside people and systems to help you get there.

I love the movie The Sandlot. The plot centers around a group of preteen boys in the 1960s who bond over backyard baseball, girls and living the “Tom Sawyer” style childhood. In one iconic scene they hit their only baseball over a neighbor’s fence. On the other side of the fence is a fierce creature they call “The Beast” who has now made it his personal business to prevent the boys from getting their ball back.

With no money to buy a new ball, it is inevitable that they find a way to get over that fence to retrieve their baseball. These boys want to play baseball – so they have the motivation to be creative and conquer all odds to get their ball back.

This is a great example of how you will create motivation for yourself as an INFP.

Let me explain. After you have sparked an internal motivation to do something how do you ensure you follow through with your decision? How do you follow through on what you know is right?

Create a circumstance that makes the outcome you desire an inevitable emergent.

A mentor of mine calls this “throwing your hat over the fence.” It basically works like The Sandlot movie example.

Figure out a way to make your desired outcome inevitable by setting up external systems to force yourself to completion.

My father is an Authenticity driver. He used this technique to motivate himself when I was growing up.

About a week or two before major holidays (when he knew my mother had invited guests to our house) he would start a major home improvement project. It wasn’t uncommon in early/mid December to come downstairs on a Saturday morning and see our kitchen floor tile ripped up, or a huge hole in the wall to the living room.

My mother would nervously bite her nails hoping that my dad would lay the new tile or finish the new walkway BEFORE family and friends came over for the Christmas events she had planned. He always finished (sometimes hours before guests arrived). He had no choice not to. My dad “threw his hat over the fence” and ensured sustained motivation long after his initial inspiration started to wane.

An example of this for you might be scheduling a seminar that you want to teach. You announce the date and time to your friends and family and post all over social media about your new seminar topics.  You have committed to showing up at a certain time and place to deliver content that you must now create and refine. Talk about motivation!

This is how you as an INFP can create external motivation for yourself.

How will you “throw your hat over the fence?”

Leave me your personal ideas below in the comments.

INFP Challenge | Unrealistic Expectations

It’s common for INFPs to daydream and allow their heads to float in the clouds of imagination. An INFP’s imagination is super-charged, rich in color, texture and detail. The dreamland of the mind is amazing to an INFP and feels just as real as a walk along a sunny beach.

And yet when an INFP interacts with the “real world” of things and stuff, it never seems to match up. The fantasy is often way better than the reality.

PersonalityHacker.com-Clouds-Dreamer-INFP

“I’m disappointed in reality when it doesn’t match my ideals”

 

 

It feels to many INFPs that this world just isn’t made for them. If it was, people would be interested in individual expression, causes and improving how we honor each other as people instead of the cyclical financial reports of Wall Street, major corporations and governments.

As an INFP you may find yourself thinking…

  • People SHOULD be more loving.
  • People SHOULD be more honest.
  • People SHOULD live their individual expression.
  • People SHOULD live life to the fullest.
  • People SHOULD affirm the very essence of life and why we are human.

The above statements point to a deep sense of idealism that you as an INFP carry around in your daily life.

Idealism is good for INFPs. Idealism is what helps you know what is humane. Idealism helps us see the humanity in everything we do. Idealism helps cast a vision for what the world SHOULD look like.

The trouble starts when an attitude sets in. As an INFP steeped in idealism, you are tempted down one of two extreme routes.

First, you can develop a deep sense of helplessness and simply become disillusioned. Disillusionment feels awful and a lot of INFPs struggle with this emotion.

Second, you can try to make your idealism a reality and get frustrated at the lack of progress. This can lead to righteous indignation.

But Idealism can be good for an INFP if harnessed well.

As an INFP you CAN effect change and become a transformational leader.

It’s not your fault if transformational leadership seems to be out of your reach. Most businesses and governments reward “command and control” style leadership. That’s just not your style.

My guess is that nothing turns you off faster than hierarchies and rigid organizational structures that cripple individual expression.

So your INFP leadership style is going to be much different than a fortune 500 CEO or military leader. Remember your 3 Year Old process of Effectiveness we talked about above? That’s the Driver mental process of many of the “traditional” leaders you see propped up in popular culture.

Effectiveness is your blind spot.

So your leadership will become something different. Your best leadership comes from using your Authenticity to INSPIRE others to greatness.

I’m going to be straight with you here. As an INFP, projects will probably take longer for you than most people. However, you can accomplish a great deal if you can empower and inspire others to work along side you.

Start small and build up. You may not be able to inspire others to completely change the political system in the next five years. But you may be able to inspire your school board to change the curriculum in the local high school.

And once you have an example of inspiring change, you can start to scale up from there. Start small and build.

Your idealism wants to do it all RIGHT NOW.

Patience is needed. Keep at it and develop your inspiring passion. You will get there if you stay with it.

If the challenge for you as an INFP is unrealistic expectations, then start by bringing a new reality into the world one small step at a time.

When you acknowledge the world as it really is, you gain tremendous power for shaping a vision for what could be.

INFP Challenge | Validation

The frustrating thing is… no one will ever fully understand you as an INFP. In fact I believe that INFPs don’t fully understand themselves.

The reality is INFPs don’t actually want to be completely understood as individuals. If that statement causes you to pause, hang in there with me. I’m going to explain what I mean.

As an INFP you know it’s impossible to truly understand yourself. You can experience yourself. You can feel your emotions and motivations deeply. You can get very close to full understanding – but you can never fully understand why you feel the way you do.

If you know this about yourself, how in the world can anyone else understand you?

They can’t.

If you are another type… Imagine that the criteria you use to make all of your decisions is perpetually questioned by nearly every person you encounter. And now add to that the phenomenon that you usually don’t know the best decision to make until after you’ve already made it. To put a cherry on top, it’s based on something you can’t possibly explain to another person (because it has no language) AND once you know the right decision, you know it with such certainty that you would die for it.

But you still can’t quite explain it beyond, “It just FEELS right.”

This is the Authenticity process. The criteria Authenticity uses is something so personal and subjective it can’t be fully explained to others. Authenticity users ‘know’ something is ‘right’ because they ‘feel it inside of themselves’. To anyone else other than an Authenticity user the usual response is, “Why do I care how you feel? Do the thing that [fill in the blank whatever is the other person’s criteria].”

As an INFP you have so many nuanced and unexplained emotions that feel absolutely real. And when you articulate them – it feels like no one understands what you are actually feeling or expressing. It gets worse when other people start to project ill intent onto your expressions that are absolutely authentic and good natured.

It’s my opinion that it’s much better to seek VALIDATION rather than understanding.

Validation is about acceptance. Validation says “In spite of not fully understanding what you are trying to say – I know you. I KNOW you are a good person with good intent.”

It’s this lack of feeling validated that leads you to avoid conflict. When you disagree with someone they want to know your reasons. Stats are demanded from you. External proof and measurements are tossed around as the only real evidence for a viewpoint in an argument.

The INFP knows that the human spirit, core values, inner wisdom and authenticity need to have a voice in any debate. You as an INFP are hoping for validation on your viewpoints without data. But no one seems to care unless you have data to back up your claims.

The worst thing you can do as an INFP is let this isolate you. A lot of INFPs feel lonely for this very reason. No one seems to understand that just because an INFP doesn’t have a spreadsheet filled with numbers that their points are still valid.

Validation is huge for you as an INFP. And guess what?

You can’t expect ANYONE in the outer world to give you validation. Some may. But you can’t expect it.

So you can turn to internal validation. And many INFPs do this. The challenge again comes from not taking in enough actual experience to “validate” your internal validation.

In other words… if you as an INFP know that you are responsible for giving yourself the validation you need, you better be sure that you are experiencing enough of reality to test out your inner knowledge.

Your inner wisdom is only as good as the experiences you feed it. Get more experiences and you can trust and validate your own inner wisdom more and more.

How do you as an INFP get enough experience to help you validate your own conclusions and convictions?

Your mental process of Exploration of course. (Are you starting to see a theme emerge here?)

INFP Challenge | Communicating Ideas Clearly

Maybe you’ve had this experience as an INFP.

You’ve been sitting in a business meeting at work listening to your marketing team talk about how to integrate a new strategy into the business. Everyone is having a difficult time coming up with solution for the marketing challenges facing the company.

You’ve been quietly listening and letting your creative intuition do its magic. All of a sudden a clear deep impression strikes you about what to do. The solution is brilliant. It will completely solve the challenge and help meet your marketing goals for the year.

You wait your turn, raise your hand and begin to speak about your brilliant idea.

And everyone looks at you like you just uttered something in Pig Latin. You sense that people are confused about your idea. So you take another stab at explaining it. Your boss develops a very twisted and confused expression. People shift uncomfortably in their seats. Blank stares. Awkward coughs. Someone excuses themselves to the restroom.

You start to panic that you look silly in front of your co-workers. So you try again to explain your idea. Finally, halfway through your third attempt your boss cuts you off and says, “Thanks. That’s an interesting take. Why don’t you and I talk about this offline,” and moves onto the next person.

You feel marginalized. You feel foolish for even speaking up and trying. As an INFP, you hate feeling like this.

Why can’t your words seem to make sense to anyone else in the room? The ideas are clear in your own mind. Why do people act like you are speaking gibberish?

Later that day you write down your thoughts in a well crafted email to your boss. She writes back a few hours later praising your idea. She asks you to present these ideas at the next marketing meeting.

PersonalityHacker.com-talking-love-INFP

“I can’t verbalize my thoughts, but I’m excellent at writing them out.”

 

We hear all the time from INFPs who complain about expressing themselves. The crazy thing is that INFPs can make some of the best communicators. Some call INFPs wordsmiths.

And yet, when put on the spot, it can be a challenge for an INFP to verbally articulate all the ideas in their head.

Writing ideas down allows you to organize your thoughts before putting them into the world. And if you hone the skill of writing you can probably become very good at expressing yourself through that medium.

But how can you express yourself verbally?

Stop explaining things.

Instead, embody your communication. This can be obvious and easier for INFPs who are in the arts. It is fairly straightforward for an INFP to express themselves through their art, photography, painting, performance, poetry or music. Some of the great artistic visionaries of the world have been INFPs.

The challenge comes when you as an INFP need to interact in the business world or school or government. How do you embody communication in non-art type contexts?

Storytelling.

Show me an INFP who has developed the skill of storytelling and I’ll show you an INFP who can communicate their ideas verbally.

Your INFP mind already thinks in terms of narratives and stories. So use your natural talents.

It may seem weird at first to tell a story in the middle of a marketing meeting, and yet think about how humans work. We all LOVE narratives. Netflix has over 65 million subscribers at the time of this writing who prove this. Tell stories to illustrate your ideas.

Learn to work with metaphor. Learn the art of spinning a great tale that inspires people to listen to what you say. It’s my belief that most INFPs identify themselves as artists. Fine artists. Performance artists. Business or marketing artists.

Live your art. Life is a stage after all.

Your voice and storytelling ability is part of how you “live your art.”

Try this out and leave me a comment below.

INFP Challenge | Trusting Yourself

Self-doubt plagues many INFPs. I think this is due to “seeing” the dark parts of your heart.

Human beings are emotionally complex. We don’t always have altruistic emotions and motivations. Sometimes our motivations and desires are downright frightening and dark.

Authenticity can see these dark parts of the human heart. It feels the darkness. It has the potential to resonate with truly evil and life terminating attitudes.

It is my belief that we all possess this ability in our hearts. We all have good and evil inside us. It’s just that Authenticity has a closer connection and the ability to find and feel these motivations directly.

As an INFP feels this internal darkness and begins to express it outwardly to other personality types, they can often feel invalidated. Other types don’t resonate with seeing this in themselves like the INFP.

And now the INFP begins to wonder if they are truly evil at the core. And again the loneliness sets in.

As an INFP you might say something like, “I know I’m not a bad person, but I look around and I seem to be the only one who is in touch with this heart darkness. Maybe I really am bad or wrong at the core of my identity.”

But deep in their heart an INFP could find reason for a bad motive or intent if they need to. So there’s an underlying insecurity that they aren’t truly acting in the best interest of others. You deeply fear that you are as flawed as others might suggest and your own heart seems to show you.

If you add this “heart darkness” element to an INFP who is already insecure about their ability to stay motivated to accomplish tasks, vocalize their ideas in a clear manner and feeling a lack of external validation from others, it can cripple the self-esteem.

PersonalityHacker.com-personal-growth-INFPAnd yet embedded in the phrase “self esteem” lies the solution.

SELF. Esteem.

You are the only one who can give it. It’s job number one to grow yourself as a person.

Embedded in your personality description is a prescription for growth and I recommend you start with your Exploration mental process.

If you as an INFP begin expanding your experiences, you will see patterns in the world that bring new ideas, insight and understanding about how the world works.

It will help you gain a new sense of self-confidence. Your ideals about the world will be tested with feedback.

In your heart, you already know that you are unique and have deep wisdom. But you will always feel a nagging sense of insecurity unless you test your deep wisdom against the feedback of the “real world.”

At first it will be disheartening that the “real world” doesn’t match up to your ideals.

You may even be tempted to shrink back into daydreams, fantasies and feeling comfortable. And yet as you read these words you sense a deep intuition screaming from the depths of your soul that I’m right.

As an INFP it feels truly authentic to stand up and grab life by the throat. You get one ride on this planet. Why waste it in a fantasy land of wondering “what if?”

Instead, use your natural “What if?” Exploration process to live out an authentic and fully expressed life.

Your future self will thank you.

Your turn. I’m handing you the microphone.

Love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

~ Joel Mark Witt

 

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Showing 141 comments
  • Joni
    Reply

    Thanks for this! Someone understands!

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thank you for reading Joni.

    • Sadyia Bashier
      Reply

      A great article to say the least … l loved the part about the motivation.i will try to use this method. .Thank you

    • Rayne
      Reply

      Wow , thanks so much for this . For the first time in 35 years , I feel like someone has completely delved inside my brain , and figured me out to a T. Wonderful article , and so thought provoking .

    • Jennifer Dunn
      Reply

      Wow! This really reached right down into my soul!! The part about the darkness really got me! It’s so incredibly true! And I really don’t know how you know all of this!! I am always questioning my motives… I don’t want to be selfish but I always find reasons how my actions are or could be selfish. I am always asking myself if I am really actually doing my best and always feel like I should have and could have tried harder and done better… and I am always asking “what if”… constantly!! “What if I actually did do my very best? That wasn’t my very best! What would have happened if I DID do my actual best?” And always end up disappointed in myself. Thank you for writing this. I wish I could ask you a thousand questions! Lol

  • Michele
    Reply

    Wow, you really know me well! Thank you for this enlightening article. I plan to read it a few more times.

    Sometimes as an INFP, I feel so very weird and alone. It really helps to be reminded that I am simply wired differently from most.

    Thanks again!

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Hey Michele. Thanks for sharing your experience. Love to hear what actions you’re going to take after you let some of these ideas settle in your heart.

  • Marie
    Reply

    Thank you 🙂

  • Firefly
    Reply

    Great article. I’m an infp and it rang eerily true. Thank you for this! Helped me confirm my type 🙂 and figure out what I can do with my weaker points.

  • Gina
    Reply

    I’m going to study this a little more deeply later, but the biggest aha moment was when I read the section on “Communicating My Ideas Clearly.” This is a huge, frustrating problem for me. Now I need to figure out how to be a storyteller! I just can’t seem to get my fully formed ideas to come out through my words in a way that makes sense to other people. It always seems so clear to me, but then they stare at me like I’m crazy! Thank you for your work on this!

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thank you Gina for reading and giving your feedback. Can’t wait to hear more takeaways.

    • Ed
      Reply

      Ditto, Gina.

  • RP
    Reply

    Great article. Thanks!

  • Jessica
    Reply

    Thanks for the article, Joel.

    I am chuckling:

    In a conversation (about religion) with a former employer, I told her that to me the Divine (or any other name for evolving consciousness) always asks “what if?”

    Motivation: Yes! Because I live on a planet with other people (and their expectations), I have learned how to push myself to meet their objectives, etc. At times it has almost killed me! For myself, I do find that my “mood” or focus actually cycles, and I do the very best work when I honor that. However, I also use the same technique your dad used in “throwing the hat over the fence.” I’m currently working madly on an aromatherapy course because I was asked to do it by a student. Closing in on the completion of Workbook One as I type this…(taking a sustenance break and checking my email, so here I am at your article).

    Not sure I’m excessively judgemental of others, as I had a rather harsh childhood which has inspired compassion in my responses to others’ decisions. Certainly there are behaviors I can do without, but I feel folks are entitled to do them “in their own yards.” We all have our own paths through the 3-D realm.

    My childhood also inspired me to constantly examine my own motives, so in general I have a pretty good handle on my “why.” I love it when I discover something new about myself – part of the exhilarating experience of living.

    Challenges: “…projects will probably take longer for you than most people. However, you can accomplish a great deal if you can empower and inspire others to work along side you.” My business tagline is: “The purpose of my life is to inspire you in yours.”

    Validation: Growing up, I was sure the song “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” was titled for me! LOL

    I have actually spent a lot of time researching (I love research!) so I’m often able to back up what I’m talking about with references. (However, I still encourage my students to “argue with the books” and honor their own intuition if they don’t agree with what they are reading.)

    Communication: Yes, I’m a writer/storyteller. It works.

    Self-doubt, “insecurity”: I think my appreciation for this quality changed immediately when I heard Stuart Wilde talk about women and insecurity. He pointed out that it is our capacity for insecurity which often leads to a more harmonious outcome for a larger number of people. When used effectively, it is a self-checking tool causing us to stop and ask ourselves, “what type of impact will this have beyond myself?”

    In terms of self-doubt arising from the “dark heart,” I think this culture could truly spend more time exploring the Underworld rather than suppressing it. Greek myth describes the realm of Hades as one of hidden treasures. In my work, I always bring “the dark” in when it’s appropriate (and it’s almost always appropriate).

    Back to the Workbook…

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thank you Jessica for sharing your feedback. Hope we get to see you around the Personality Hacker community. Good luck on the workbook project.

  • Mark8v29
    Reply

    Thanks! This leaves me in less doubt that I am INTP with non-stereotypical interests (spirituality) and not an INFP even though I relate to the word “authentic”, but for me the word means “say what is true about myself even if there are consequences”. I never ask myself “does this feel right”. But I might on rare and extreme occasions notice what my gut instinct wants when it is in conflict with my logic. Furthermore, I don’t ask explicit “What if?” questions. I use my Ne to connect widely separated ideas and concepts. I use my Ne to forget what I know so I can create new ideas without the need for them to be consistent with any older ideas.

    I lack what others call motivation, preferring “being” to “doing” and nothing anyone says can motivate me. The motivation I have is 50%“self motivation” and 50% “will power”. I am able to force myself to do something I dislike if there would be consequences (e.g. force myself to do good work even if I don’t like the work). But if there are no consequences (leaving the dishes until the morning or not putting the trash out) then I only do something when I “feel” I have the energy to do so. This often means I do chores at unusual times, e.g. I wash the nights dishes the following morning.

    As for the “should” word. Off the top of my head I cannot think of another word I hate as much as the word “should”. It makes me flinch hearing it or reading it.

    As for “effectiveness” I dislike the word because its management-speak. I use the word efficiency. But for me I only want to do something if it works, and as soon as it doesn’t work I want to stop doing it.

  • Danielle
    Reply

    Thanks for the article!

    Communication: Yes! I’ve endured enough crazy looks, I’ve often not spoken up at meetings because I don’t want to deal with the awkwardness. The idea of storytelling is an interesting one that I’m attracted to, the problem is being able to do it spur of the moment under pressure.

    Motivation: Had to laugh when I read this, my husband would completely agree. My refusal to do something until I want to and my drive to do something once I’ve decided it needs doing has often been called stubbornness. I’m working on it…. This makes sense as to why I often work better under a deadline; because by then it HAS to get done. Now that I know that this is why I’ll have to deliberately “throw my hat over” more often.

    Unrealistic Expectations: Explains why it hurts so much sometimes to come out of a good movie or finish a good book. I like the ideas presented, I guess that my problem is that inspiring others involves both motivation and communication of ideas, two things that I struggle with. Am I even convicted enough about anything to dedicate so much time to it? How do I even communicate my ideas to one person? It all seems so very overwhelming.

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thanks Danielle for sharing your experience. It can seem overwhelming… but hang in there and keep working on your Exploration mental process. Keep me posted on any new insights you come up with 🙂

  • Su
    Reply

    This article resonates so well.

    About motivation:
    I can’t figure this out yet and I’m still finding my way. I do find that if there’s a sudden conviction to something, it’s easier to translate my thoughts and feelings into action.

    I also notice that it’s very easy to take action if it’s for others’ need, but I lack motivation if it is for things related to myself. If my friend is in trouble, I can stay up all night doing problem solving and coming up with so many solutions.

    For myself, I’d probably just take a nap and brush it aside. Then I’d spent a lot of time doing stuff that doesn’t help me directly in solving my own problem. Strange. I don’t know why.

    To combat this, I set simple to-do list and reminders for my pet projects. Not doing so well in that, but trying to be better! Also, I learn better with clear structure and guidelines too (But I personally detest guidelines)

    About Exploration:
    Ever since I’ve heard the version of Personality Growth: Exploration/ Authenticity, I have been exercising Exploration for a couple of months now. Actually before that, I was relentlessly ‘implementing’ my Te, which brought me to a lot of embarrassment, lowered my self-esteem and an end to a full-time job.

    Looking at all the challenges here, I have to say Exploration helps in all of that. It helps me frame my thoughts, ethics and value. It makes me much more opened to new experiences. I’m a less judgmental person now.

    The first step to act upon something new is always hard (especially if it involves people because I’m really shy), but after I went through it, it’s almost like “okay, it’s nothing”.

    I still daydream or in my ‘emo’ zone a lot but it’s a little different. Before this, it was like I was constantly switching from a bird flying in the sky to a worm crawling on earth. Now I’m like a giraffe, I still see the sky but my feet on the ground. Weird metaphor, I know. Hope it make sense.

    Anyway, may I bring up some questions?

    1) Is it right to say that Aux function are naturally there to help others and Dominant functions are usually kept close within self – like not imposed to others? For both introvert and extroverts.
    2) Who will be the best mentors or coach for INFPs? There are so many online coaches nowadays – how does it work? I am wondering if imitation/putting self into others’ shoes will be quick learning process for INFP.
    3) Sometimes, it also seems like I’m executing Exploration blindly without having a purpose or implications? Will this possibly end up being like Ne-Te behavior loop instead of Ne supporting the Fi? Hope this question makes sense.

    And

    “Communicating Ideas Clearly
    Your INFP mind already thinks in terms of narratives and stories. So use your natural talents.”
    –This is such a great tip. Thanks.

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thanks Su for sharing and your questions. Let me take a stab at these:

      QUESTION 1: Is it right to say that Aux function are naturally there to help others and Dominant functions are usually kept close within self – like not imposed to others? For both introvert and extroverts.”

      ANSWER: It really depends on the personality type. For example – an ENFJ will lead with a process we nicknamed “Harmony” (technical name Extraverted Feeling) and will have the “Perspectives” process as the Co-pilot. The dominant (or Driver) process of Harmony is all about connecting with people and will be very others focused. So the Co-pilot (Aux) function is about going inside for an ENFJ.

      As an INFP – your Co-pilot of Exploration will be much more externally focused because Authenticity is internally focused.

      QUESTION 2: Who will be the best mentors or coach for INFPs? There are so many online coaches nowadays – how does it work? I am wondering if imitation/putting self into others’ shoes will be quick learning process for INFP.”

      ANSWER: It has been my experience that INFPs are some of the best coaches for me as an ENFP. INFPs help me get into my “Authenticity” process.

      So it works the other way too. An ENFP with a Driver process of “Exploration” will be helpful to you as an INFP.

      QUESTION 3: Sometimes, it also seems like I’m executing Exploration blindly without having a purpose or implications? Will this possibly end up being like Ne-Te behavior loop instead of Ne supporting the Fi? Hope this question makes sense.

      ANSWER: My suggestion is to not treat exploration as as something you “execute” but rather something you just let happen.

      Let me know if you have any more questions. And thanks again for the thoughtful response.

      • Sarah
        Reply

        As an INFP who has been mentored by an ENFP, I agree that they make great coaches to our type.

        After being under the influence of my ENFP Best friend, I’ve found that I am far more open to new experiences, enjoy them, and in fact- look forward to them. New experiences and experimentation has become a pleasure for me.

        I would definitely consider her a “healthy” ENFP. So when looking for an ENFP mentor or coach, look for one that will broaden your horizons but won’t push you to anything before you’re ready to.

    • Eliz
      Reply

      I liked your comment a lot. I also find it easy to dedicate lots of time to helping people work through their problems, but a lot harder doing it for myself.

      Oh, and the bit about worrying about exploring for explorations sake. I enjoy it, but every so often stop in my tracks and wonder “what’s the point?”.

      Gonna follow you on WordPress!

  • Teresa
    Reply

    I need to read this again, but a few things struck home quite heavily. Being idealistic, loneliness, seeing the darkness, telling stories when misunderstood to name a few. Self esteem and validation, wow, thank you. These are things I struggle with yet am ‘convicted’ to seek. The cycle is working in self, but recognizing that others do not in the intensity that I do, thus I question myself if this is normal, compare myself to others and their journey, which stops all self work that is positive, until I know that I need to again reevaluate my self. Have many times tried to conform to how things are done, how to think about things, play by the rules of others. This all leads to confusion and self destruction, because it does not work. At least not for me. You have reminded me that this is ok. I may dance though others do not hear my music. I should choose to experience rather than shut myself away in a private mental bubble (masks can be dangerous). And if others do not understand, this is ok. I am not inferior or superior to them, I am just wired differently. I feel I could write for days about your article, which makes me giggle about that conviction in authenticity.

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thanks Teresa. Love your feedback. Hope to see you around the Personality Hacker community.

  • Miss
    Reply

    SO many “yes” moments while reading this!! When the article started talking about the “shoulds” I had to laugh because I had just been talking to my family about all the “shoulds” of how people should interact even with something simple like going to the grocery store and how much better the world could be if people found and lived their potential and truly cared about each other (including strangers)wherever they went. I have struggled with allowing my idealism to negatively impact me during different parts of my life – over the past year though I have really been learning that it is not my job to ‘change’ anything or anyone, but rather to inspire with all I am and let what will be, be… Your article really spoke to me about that.

    The section on motivation also cracked me up – INFP sort of equals stubborn? Whether when it comes to not doing something or moving mountains we know how to stick our heels in! I love the idea of throwing the hat over, which is what I realize I do automatically if something means a lot to me, but it will be helpful to learn to do for more ‘ordinary’ tasks.

    When you talked about living our art and allowing our ideas to be conveyed through stories I had to dance! This makes so much sense I can tell a good story and everyone will understand it, but when ever I try to explain stuff like others often do I get blank stares. I guess I really just need to explain things in my quirky story way instead of trying to blend – and people will actually (hopefully) appreciate and understand it more.

    The darkness and loneliness is real, but learning that there is a certain beauty to it and that I am not alone is like a breath of fresh air. I desperately want to be validated, so seeing that I need to develop more self validation is great.

    Thank you guys so much for sharing all this information with the world and for all you ware doing to help people know they are worth something simply because of how they are created. That each persons’ wiring is necessary and wonderful for our world. I am looking forward to more articles and podcasts in the future. Thanks again and please keep it up!

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thanks Miss. You are so right. It’s not your job to try and force change. I’m reminded of the quote “be the change you want to see in the world.”

      • Rachel
        Reply

        My mantra for life. Very interesting information, I only recently learnt about the personality test and INFP was my result. I am noticing as I read through more articles on the INFP type that there are a lot of similarities to numerological and astrological descriptions of the number 7 personality and the cancerian personality. Was Jung associated with either of these esoteric studies?

  • Amanda
    Reply

    This article was great and so true. My friends are often confused by me. They claim I am full of contradictions. I’m a great leader at times, but scared to speak up in crowds at others. I’m laid back and easy going with most things but if something happens that offends my sensibilities I won’t ever let it drop until it is fixed. Etc. But this article explained it all so well.

    The part about expressing ourselves in meetings made me laugh because I am a fiction writer so as I was reading it, I was jumping out of my seat to say, “Tell them to use stories!” People understand when I use illustrations. Example: “Remember how you felt when that kid had to shoot Old Yeller? That’s what I feel like when I watch people get made fun of on American Idol.”… then you did it! You hit the nail right on the head. Congrats! Way to rock your job!

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Amanda. Thank you for the kind words in sharing you feedback. I agree that INFPs are filled with paradox. That’s why they have such richness to bring to the world.

  • Charlotte
    Reply

    I always love reading these articles, because it gives me the comfort in knowing that I am not alone. I honestly can’t thank you enough for all of this!
    Self esteem is and has always been a major issue for me. I find that I have confidence when I think about something prior to when it happens, but when the time comes comes, I’m sweating, shaking and can’t seem to keep my focus stable. It’s as if the presence of other people unnerves me. I’ve always seen this as an issue within myself, and I often tell myself to pull myself together, since other people can talk aloud without looking like utter fools. (Or at least I feel that this is how it works)
    The issue is that when I get nervous, I feel as if everyone else in presence can FEEL that I am nervous, which only causes my anxieties to excellerate. Then when I finish making my point, I spend the next half an hour hating myself for even suggesting that my point was valid, and end up going to cringe in a corner all by myself where no one can see me.
    I watch everyone else being so confident and continuing life like a normal person, whereas I can’t even ask a colleague if they have a pencil that I can borrow without freaking out internally.
    I simply avoid the spotlight to deal with this, but I’m not sure if this is a healthy way if dealing with it.
    And I can definitely feel the dark side to me too. I have to question causes and motivations, and I even question myself and ‘what am I doing? What can’t you be normal, Charlotte?’
    Then I go back to my creative roots with a book or a notepad or something and forget about the while thing.
    The only problem is that it happens again. And again. AND AGAIN.
    It’s constant, and very, very annoying, yet I have an inner conviction that perhaps I am not the one who is wrong, but maybe it’s everyone else???

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thank you Charlotte for sharing your personal experience. I’ve found that when I’m nervous on the inside no one else can really tell. It’s a matter of realizing that I’ll never FEEL fully confident and it’s my job to go ahead and do it anyway. Sounds like you may have had some experience with this already.

  • Ed
    Reply

    This resonated with me on a deeper level than any other comment, or analysis I’ve read. I like the way you compartmentalized this, and the suggested steps to overcome challenges are on point. Everything just fits together (I see the patterns). 🙂 I’m in my early 40’s, and while I’ve managed to challenge myself and pick up a few tricks along the way, the struggle is still there, although different, but still very real, and it takes effort to be, or feel, or act, or appear “normal.” Anyway, thank you very much.

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      So happy that this resonated with you Ed. Thank you for sharing.

  • Darcy
    Reply

    Thank you for explaining why after hours of meditative dance, I can verbslize my thoughts , ideas and problems.

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving feedback. I really appreciate it Darcy.

  • Lee
    Reply

    I want to thank the author for publishing this, they’ve obviously done so much work in the field of Jungian personality types I’m inspired to help others as articles like this one have helped me.

    It’s only been around 4 weeks since I stumbled upon the very idea of personality types. I’ve always been different to others, in every way an INFP had been described over the countless articles over read since then.

    It has changed my life. My outlook on myself and others, and understanding my own self esteem. Suddenly I understand why I do the things I do, and why I stand by so much conviction.

    It was difficult in truly determining whether INFP was really me. The fact I spent so much time making sure is testament. I had to be sure, I’m INFP! Another thing which gave me doubt is that I’ve been able to accept my differences, and invent ways to overcome such differences and appear ‘normal’ to regular folk. The self help sections don’t really apply to me because I’ve been practising my whole life! Although I would never turn down the opportunity to acquire knowledge in a bid for even further improvement.

    While I have taken so much from this article, there is one thing which frighteningly stood out to me. In the section ‘Trusting Yourself’ it is written, “Authenticity can see these dark parts of the human heart. It feels the darkness. It has the potential to resonate with truly evil and life terminating attitudes.”

    I am not a bad person, I try to do the best I can with what I have, and to share love with others, but somehow I’ve always been able to put myself on a level with the type of people who commit evil acts. I needn’t name any. I’ve explored this also: If I can understand why people do these things, does that make me as bad as they are? And would I ever commit such a horrible act myself? Have I just come so used to blending in with others I have taught myself to be good, rather than evil?

    Perhaps the answer really is that I can simply understand such emotions, whereas other people are so fascinated because they cannot understand. One only needs to look towards all the crime shows broadcast on the telly to see how fascinated people are with evil. I’m not fascinated, I detest such things as a negative influence and negative impact. This particular section has given me so much closure on a part of my psyche I’ve always considered rather scary.

    I would be interested to know if this has enlightened anybody else.

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thank you Lee for sharing your deep and personal experience.

    • Hilde Vesaas
      Reply

      I have had the same expierience of feeling very bad about myself because of the knowledge of the dark side of the psyce.As a child and adolescent this almost killed me and it sure killed my spirits. And it all got so much worse when my mother died when I was just 17. Imagine the immense guilt that plagued me. For years. Only now – more tn 30 years later I am recovering. I wish I had learned about the personality types before. .

  • Jarek
    Reply

    Hey Joel.
    I like the fact that this article focuses on practical advice and aims for future improvement of an INFP.
    That is actually what makes this article stand out among other articles I came across. Other articles on MBTI and INFP tend to be purely descriptive. And description can only either entertain you or make you understand yourself better. Yet, description alone is not guidance. Description alone does not provide solutions. It requires the reader to draw conclusions on their own.

    Thus, it is much more useful to share achievements and step-by-step road map for a personality type. At best, the actual experience of real people. What they used to be and what they are now. And how they got the where they are.

    So, in essence, I am more interested in “WHAT WORKS” instead of just “WHAT IS”.

    I am glad this article had some of these workable solutions. So that’s for that and keep up the good work!

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thank you Jarek for the feedback. Help us spread the word to others.

  • Betty
    Reply

    ‘Throw your hat over the fence’ Brilliant! Perfect insight into motivation patterns that feel very familiar to me! Thank you

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      My pleasure Betty. Glad you were able to stop by for a read and that this resonated with you.

  • Peter
    Reply

    I went through a very dark phase in the past where i was battling with the good and evil inside me. Eventually I decided to test out how far this evil could take me emotionally. All with the knowledge that i was conciously letting myself do this. I fell into a state of depression and I sort of enjoyed being at the bottom of this pit where I kinda didnt want to be bothered by anyone. I kinda just wanted to lay here till I died. Eventually over time my core told me that it was time to get out of this state, that I wasnt going to accomplish anything down here.

    And I remembered.

    I was more than my situation and how I felt. That I was meant to do more. I personally believe in God so he was my core. It took me a few weeks to get out of this state but what I found most interesting is that knowing my emotional state and gaining knowledge of where I was and how I felt and why I felt the way I felt was a learning experience to me. Would i do it again. probably not(but then i think I would just in case i forgot how i felt then just to remember again). But now i have the knowledge to relate to others who have been there. I too felt that hopelessness and maybe will come off as “cold” because im makign it seem like I came out of this so easy and depression is just a state of mind and it’s really not a problem… but im not sayign that at all. Depression trully is an ugly thing, but i have seen beauty in it. probably in experiencing that spectrum of raw emotions that come with it, But i truly feel like it has somethign to do with where your mind is…

    i dont knwo if that made sense. lol

    As an INFP I totally understand this constant battle between wrong and right and good and evil specially within my value system. I just wanted to share that because everything you guys say is right along the lines of who I am as an individual and i believe that this knowledge of these types of personalitites you guys share can honestly be used to grow in oneself and not only that but help others grow.

    We are all different elements that feed off each other and are neccesary to get through life.

    Anyways I kinda just wanted to let you guys know that i love reading your articles and listening to your podcast. I just recently found you guys like 2 days ago and ive devoured your website and several of your podcasts. haha.

    Thanks again and blessings your way. 🙂

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thank you Peter for being so raw and sharing your deeply personal experience with us.

  • Meia
    Reply

    Oh god. That was painfully good. Lately it’s been really hard being an INFP *cries* But I’m so grateful to you both for making it easier. It’s hard to be brave enough to keep exploring when I keep burning my hands. At the same time, the cave I hide in is too small for me now. Stupid world. lol

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Meia. Thank you for sharing. You have all the bravery you need just as you are (just use fireproof gloves) 😉 Of course you already know this. And sometimes it’s still nice to hear someone else mirror it back to you.

    • Speranta
      Reply

      I really agree that being an INFP can be discouraging at times, but I also found that burning ourselves just means we are all the more courageous for trying. I really felt the same with exploring, and living in a cage that is also too small, but it’s nice to know that there is someone else who tried hard also. Thanks for being there 🙂

  • Lias Malerba
    Reply

    Joel, I had to stop halfway through, my brain is going to explode! I made it to “validation”. I’ll tell you I had a major conflict several months back with my boss of ten years because she refuses to acknowledge and validate (understand) me. She basically told me my standards were above everyone else’s and that things will never be good enough for me, which isn’t true. It all started with the lack of protocol in their system to flag a convicted felon. We had a gentlemen that I found a criminal record on and they had booked him with me for a massage. Long story. Bottom line is I came from a management position where I was responsible for coming up with solutions to make things better for our clients. I am still at this job, by the way, and I work with the type of people who wont replace the empty toilet paper, sheets etc. You get the drift. I see flaws in the day to day operations and training opportunities of the front desk staff (turnover is ridiculous). She told me if I wasn’t happy that I needed to reevaluate my job there. I told her nobody was happy because we are taken advantage of every day and recognition is a term she isn’t familiar with. Basically, her family owns the franchise and you can’t go over her head. My gratification and fulfillment comes from my clients who remind me how valuable I am. I stopped trying to “change the world” which is hard because sometimes their incompetence effects my paycheck. UGH I watch my peers take from my examples of professionalism and it is very rewarding. Funny thing is she would always begin by saying “I value your feedback” but then she’d take it as an insult to “her” business and make it personal. I is definitely in my core to make the world a better place. I have these laminated magnetic sleeves that you can put flyers in and I’m forever daydreaming about quotes and posters with statements about parenting, abuse, be kind, meditate, domestic violence etc. “You don’t get a “Dry Run” in parenting, school isn’t a correctional facility, teach kids RIGHT”. “If you can’t LOVE them, keep your pants on!” “If you wouldn’t give him custody, don’t sleep with him!”
    I have often wondered myself why I defy normal human behavior. I set my home page to Google because Yahoo has gone MAD with the garbage of the world on their page. Thank you for your insight. I will have to read the rest in a bit.
    Lisa

  • Rachael
    Reply

    On your analogy to the meeting and difficulty in verbal communication:
    I think out of all the types, INxP types are the most grateful for the uptick in the popularity of internet communication. Blogs and e-mails allow us to take our time and be brilliant despite being clunky and awkward with words in person. One of my faults is I’m prone to telling people big life news over the internet. It’s just so much easier because I can craft my words to be more emotionally impactful than if I tried to explain verbally.

    On “heart darkness”. So. much. yes. I once read something online about INFPs that said something like “they walk with purpose towards the light, yet are always looking over their shoulder at the darkness behind them”. And I love that imagery because I think it’s really accurate.. INFPs want to be righteous, they want to be good, they want everything in the world to be as it should be. Yet they constantly look at the darkness, the murder, the hate.. they study and watch it and see it in themselves. I think everyone does has that sense of darkness in themselves. I could be wrong, but maybe our INFP nature just makes it resonate with more intensity. You were on point with that section.

    On Authenticity: Absolutely agree about how it can pendulum between helplessness and indignant righteousness. I’ve never heard it phrased so accurately. I think staying grounded in realism helps too. The more impractical I let myself be (opposite of the “throwing the hat over the fence mentality, not forcing myself to attend to real life responsibilities and challenges) the easier it is to get lost in this theoretical world where “everyone hates me, the world is irreconcilably evil, you’re a horrible person, and I can’t find my keys.”

    Thanks for another great article, Joel! 🙂

  • kay
    Reply

    Thanks so much for this post. So much of it really resonated with me. I really appreciate the presentation of strengths and challenges, you’ve provided lots of food for thought.

    I’ve been studying mbti and my own makeup for a few years, and it’s always refreshing to see a new spin on these issues.

    I’m a writer and I love to explore the scariest parts of our desires and habits. I had been having difficulty lately believing in what I’m writing, and of course my motivation dropped off considerably. Thanks for explaining why. Your term “heart darkness” helped me think about what I’m trying to explain in my stories and why I’m trying to do it. The way you presented the information sparked new ideas, and motivation followed. Thank you so much!

    The image of the hat thrown over the fence is a great one for me and I’ll try to remember it when I need to give myself a push. I wish you well with your project and thanks again for your insights.

  • Alexandra Cook
    Reply

    Thank you! Throwing a hat over the fence is a very good advice!
    I don’t even try to stand up and speak at the meetings but often send an email to the person in charge afterwards.

    Had a real “moment of darkness” recently when got involved with a group set for the benefit of all the community. I had a growing feeling that only people who were benefiting were a few ones in charge of the group. I could only speak for myself so I told them all (in an email) that I as a member of a group have no benefits from contributing despite of the need, which was of course, selfish and far too personal and emotional, yet, I think, had to be done by somebody, or the things would go on indefinitely. Fell like hiding or leaving the town now – or joining with other partly like-minded members for a complete take over and make over of the whole enterprise. But then, we could end up with the same situation of receiving the benefits and telling the rest of community “let your volunteering be your reward”.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Alexandra. I was part of a similar group in my community. I finally decided to leave them all-together. It just wasn’t worth the mental and emotional annoyance.

  • Dee
    Reply

    Thank you, I just had this conversation today as to how I come off as a person who does not get her ideas out clearly…it has been a theme in my life forever…reading this has lightened my load…I can’t tell you how many times people look at me with WTF…when I try and it is crystal in my head but comes out like Martian gibberish…I feel better now…

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Dee! I totally get it. I’m the same way. I am always floored when my thoughts come out of my mouth and I realize, “Wow, I said that exactly how I intended to say it.” It happens more often the older I get. 😉

  • Kate
    Reply

    INTJ here. I feel like I have a whole new understanding of INFPs after reading this and I also see a lot more common ground between my type and INFPs… especially the whole inner darkness thing. Also that authentication process, while certainly different in the tertiary position, is a huge motivating factor behind many INTJ actions.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the INTJ perspective, Kate! I love it when people seek to understand others and can see the distinctions and similarities so clearly. That is how we create symbiosis in the world. 🙂

  • Mara
    Reply

    This is all true for me. I use the ball over the fence all the time… I will invite someone over when I know I need to clean and will wait until the last second to start a book I’m illustrating to push past my perfectionism and create motivation. I hate that I do this but it’s what works. I also do understand the dark heart but I don’t judge myself for it. I accept my shadow as part of me and express it through my art instead of my actions.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment Mara! What kind of art do you prefer to express yourself through?

  • Jan
    Reply

    Hi guys, thankyou so very much for this article and all your others.Wow it really helps to feel so understood and validated. Its certainly added to my understanding of my type…very very well written and accessible. My throwing my hat over the fence happened in therapy a few years ago when I decided upon more honesty in my long-term relationship despite knowing this may lead to it ending which terrified me…I loved the guy deeply…still do. It did indeed lead to the end after a couple of years. Coupled with health issues both physical and mental it was the most distressing time of my life. I was made homeless, had no money, couldn’t work due to mental health and he had cheated on me…argh…horrendous. However two and a half years on though still grieving I recognise throwing my hat over the fence was my authenticity showing up and I couldn’t do things any other way. Its who I am and I see also that the guy was totally wrong for me in terms of values etc. Now Im about to do it again…throw my hat in….Im moving to the coast with a friend I hvnt know for very long yet I absolutely know its the right thing to do and feel so alive…..Thankyou again

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Jan! It sounds like you have been tried by fire. Congratulations on coming through it and recognizing your worth. Good luck on your new adventure!

  • Hilde Vesaas
    Reply

    I just want to say the same as so many others:THANK YOU!
    Articles like this one and others from your website make me feel GOOD about myself. As an INFP. As a human. I dont need to be ashamed for being ME.
    And yes – Ive learned to tell stories (I am an educated storyteller, a professional) and that really was a turning point for me in my life. And that was a long time before I knew about personality types.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Hilde! We are always thrilled to find out we are making a difference to others. 🙂

  • Lyn
    Reply

    So it seems to contradict one of the statements you’ve mentioned- that no one can every understand an INFP. Because all these thoughts show that you did! (Haha I kid) 🙂

    Thank you so much for this. Exploring and engaging in the real world, although shattering, frightening and disappointing at first, is really the key to manifest our Idealism.

    I once had that very “Myopic” belief system way back then. I highly value morality before to the point of being unconsciously judgmental towards the people who do things that ruin themselves. But only when I teach teenagers in high school and deal with people who are alcoholic, drug addicts, prostitutes, atheists… etc. did I able to learn that people may make mistakes but they aren’t a mistake. And by hearing their stories, I was able to developed genuine care which strengthen my core value of loving the humanity (not by imposing what I believe is right on them but simply by accepting them for who they are. It also tested how deeply I could stand on my principles.

    “Throwing hat over the fence” is also a bulls-eye. I always like conceptualizing designs and arts before. But I was always lazy because I don’t know where to put them, so I ended up forgetting about that. But, in an organization that I committed myself, I was given a task to do the planning and creating of props and themes during events. I enjoyed it, really and it is only then that I start doing arts and crafts again. Because not only did I want to- I HAVE to.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Lyn! Don’t worry. You INFPs are still an enigma. 😉

  • Suzan
    Reply

    Oh god. Thank you SO MUCH for this. Mostly for throwing the hat over the fence, because I had never realized it, and yet, now that I think about it, it’s trully what makes me act. I think now I’ll try to use it more, so thanks !
    Then about validation, yes, it’s true that my need for understanding and validation is really deep, but I accept myself a lot, so it feels okay. But I really accept myself way more since I’ve discovered about mbti, because I’ve discovered that a lot of things I feel are valid. For example the fact that I, like you said, considerer myself as an artist: I felt a little bit childish, or sometimes naive to do it. I felt that I didn’t deserve it. But now, I feel it’s okay. So I’m very glad.
    And about the darkness… God, thank you! I had never read about it but this is EXACTLY what I feel. I have a very deep connection with my dark side, which always feel so paradoxical since I’m so idealistic. I mean, I’m so puzzled to see that people are not in touch with their dark side and yet are ready to do horrible things. Thank you again!

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment Suzan! I’m glad the article resonated with you so strongly.

  • Mariam
    Reply

    Excellent analysis of the INFP type 🙂 I can definitely relate to it. I am actually at that inner validation level where I am trying to work my way to what I want to do and practice more than just stick to the negative “what if” assumptions. I know that I have great ideas and I can tell them in stories but I’m still sorting out the channel and the format.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Mariam! I’m glad you are recognizing the need to get out of your head and out into the real world.

  • Onita
    Reply

    Thanks for the article! I honestly was laughing while reading through this because of how true it was (I was still trying to figure out if I really was a INFP). I can say that yes, writing is a lot easier than trying to verbally explain first. I often find myself asking, “does that/this make sense?” midway through.

    I’ll definitely be using more of these tips for future reference. Thanks again!

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Onita! I’m glad you found the article so helpful. 🙂

      • Onita
        Reply

        No problem! I’m just glad this was put out here. So really, thank YOU! 🙂

  • Dana
    Reply

    I suspect I’ve listened to too many PH podcasts in the past few weeks, as I read this using Joel’s voice in my head. I’ve often considered tattooing “Stop Explaining” on the inside of my left wrist. I always look down when I get uncomfortable, and those words would be a visual reminder for me when I get those lost, blank, or quizzical stares. Thanks again for all you guys do to help the rest of us understand ourselves a little bit better.

  • Tina
    Reply

    Thank you. Helped me tremendously. Now I have more clarity on moving my life forward.

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thank you Tina for taking the time to leave your thoughts.

  • Margaret McIntyre
    Reply

    Joel, I am very impressed with how well you have taken complex Jungian theory and made it accessible to ‘interested adults”. I also think you have done so much more for the INFP type than all the other literature published to date, much of which is just repeat of other’s descriptions and theories. You have generated some unique and concrete explanations here. I am sure the INFPs of the world are finally feeling validated. I’ve been Myers Briggs certified and a practicing career and vocational coach since 1997. Your discussion of INFP motivation, conviction, desire to be a motivational leader, the issue of being in touch with ‘evil” (of all types closest to their shadow)–all of this and more simply has not been available to interested adults. You have made an amazing contribution. I have an INFP child and everything you said here…. validates.

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thank you Margaret. Your words mean a lot to me. The most exciting thing about Personality Hacker is how many really cool people are attracted to our community. So thank you for being here.

  • Brad
    Reply

    Thoroughly engrossed and had a major “self validation “…..after a year or two of intense personal struggle with low self esteem and dealing with the physical realitys of its side effects not to mention the hurt I’m causing to loved ones as they stand by helplessly watching a trainwreck in slow motion I know the little balls I sprinkled around the neighbours backyard were the best thing for me to do….. Yet to collect on most yet but this reanalysis of self in secret on line has given me more conviction I’m on track
    Major career overhaul in need
    Major “attitude check “for not so needed aquaintences in deed too!

  • Dovile
    Reply

    Thank you, very much Joel. Your article helped me to confirm that I really have INFP rather than INTP type personality. It also helped me to identify my weaknesses and become a little bit more “unlost” about myself.
    I recognized so much of myself in your article. The good and the bad: the eternal struggle to find motivation, indecisiveness, disillusionment, being unclear while trying to explain my ideas, but also superb quality of dreams, love of stories and very deep instinctual understanding of right and wrong, of recognition of humane qualities that we should all strive for.
    What convinced me most was the last paragraph about connecting with my inner darkness and ways of overcoming self-doubt. 6 out of 10 tests have put me into INFP category (other 4 put me into INTP). But I felt that I was too unsympathetic, selfish, reason rather that empathy driven to be an INFP. And yet, it always puzzled me, how people who thought that they were good people, could sometimes act so prejudiced, so hurtful and not even be aware of that. Also, I believed that I knew that to finally grow up as a human being what I have to do is to start to fight for my ideals and to seek new experiences. But I was (and still am) afraid to test this conviction, because to my reasonable mind it sounds both unrealistic and a little bit childish. Now I feel a little bit reassured.

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Dovile. Thanks for the comment. I totally get “feeling childish.” The more I focus on personal development – the more I’m confronted with feeling childish or foolish in my efforts to grow myself. I’ve found in my journey that it’s a temporary feeling and on the other side is a sense of self ownership that I’m glad I didn’t allow my fear of looking silly hijack from me.

  • Che
    Reply

    “As an INFP, projects will probably take longer for you than most people. However, you can accomplish a great deal if you can empower and inspire others to work along side you.”

    Really? How about inspiring myself to get my own shit done? I am not here to inspire or empower anyone, I am here for myself. Having a inferior Te doesn’t mean I cannot accomplish anything without having to “empower and inspire others”. It means I cannot and will not be happy being the CEO of some major company. It does mean I have the ability to get my own shit together if I don’t neglect and develop my Te instead of pretending it doesn’t exist or is some helpless child.

    The fact that certain personality types are more sensitive and attuned to the feelings of others doesn’t mean that that’s what there here for. I’m also not here to heal anyone. I can if I choose to. INFP’s can be as warm as they can be cold, depending on their feelings towards someone. So “Healer”.. no. I’m here to express my feelings, explore and create. And I don’t need to inspire anyone but myself to do that.

    • Michael M.
      Reply

      I can understand your taking offence at “As an INFP, projects will probably take longer for you than most people. However, you can accomplish a great deal if you can empower and inspire others to work along side you.” but the article isn’t a one-size-fits all kind of deal. Nor are personality types. Every person is 1/infinity not 1/16 in likeness. Thanks for sharing your unfiltered, honest opinion.

      My opinionated response to yours below:”Really? How about inspiring myself to get my own shit done? I am not here to inspire or empower anyone, I am here for myself”

      I believe this article was written with a certain belief that the personalityhacker community of writers along the lines of “By taking care of yourself through understanding and loving that which makes you – YOU – you are better able and equipped to help others.” I believe the writer of this article articulated the importance of the INFP simply growing and keeping themselves challenged and by maturing into an INFP who lives realistically and purposely in line with their ideals, naturally those around them will benefit from that self-actualization the INFP works towards.

      Like an overflowing cup.
      Or like a tree that bears fruit.
      By taking care of yourself and being the best you that you can be, others around you naturally are healed and inspired. As a servant leader. Someone who it rings to when another says “don’t say about it, be about it!”

      I don’t think you’re wrong but I don’t believe the article to have supported the idea that 1. INFP’s aren’t competent simply because Te is their inferior (just that we have to work harder and longer than most) and 2. INFP’s are automatically this fluffy, healer, femenine type (because we know deep down we can be bad ass lol)

      Hope that makes sense!

      • Michael M.
        Reply

        Sorry for a few typos and missing words. I meant to edit and fix those but I haven’t figured out if/how to do that yet! xD

  • meera
    Reply

    My authenticity resonates to be No Mind , in the moment where mind stops and spontaneity and bliss resides. only after listening to you guys I came to know that how my mind is influencing me , for the first time I don’t resent my mind and its playful games of stopping me what I set out to do. I look forward to use my mind to be NO MIND.

    Thanks guys

  • Michael M.
    Reply

    This article left me a lot to chew on. I’ve been a lurker, as they say, reading various publications on this website for about a week now but this one really got me Mr. Witt. I imagine you probably wrote all of this with your close INFP friend close at heart because everything written here felt so personal and validating (validating… I am stealing that word lol!). I appreciate it! I found this page to be inspiring, reassuring, and challenging at the same time.

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Awesome Michael. And thank you for your thoughtful responses to others here too.

  • Lorin
    Reply

    Thank you so much!! I feel much assured after reading it. As an INFP my thoughts are very idealistic and in my mind I wish for a world with no war, hunger and poverty. However when I grow I realize the reality is cruel but I am learning to accept the divergence between dream and reality. Instead of keep imaging I start to reach out to the crowd and seek out for different “real-life” experience. Indeed it’s hard to adapt in the first place, but through trying and getting myself out of comfort zone I become more confident and courageous to embrace both hard times and good times of life.
    Keep going and look forward to your new articles:)

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thanks Lorin for the comment. Keep us up to date on how your journey progresses.

  • Fifi
    Reply

    Wow this is me to the T. This year it is my main goal to really get to know myself and get out of this rut I am currently in. Things are starting to look brighter already. Thanks alot!

  • Jennifer
    Reply

    1. When I read your article, I felt like my brain had been “hacked.” I agree wholeheartedly and immediately shared it with my good friend who is also an INFP who I met in 2014.
    2. I have felt isolated in my own mind, despite my successes, and to know I’m not alone is uplifting. I’m so different from my local culture….despite my
    upbringing and traumas. I’m 32, and I’m finally empowered.
    3. I was meant to read this. Thank You!!!

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thank you Jennifer for sharing the article with another INFP. Hope we see you around the Personality Hacker community.

  • Fifi
    Reply

    First step is to get out of my comfort zone and push myself into situations that I usually avoid. I think this is good way to build confidence, reduce my anxiety and gain experience. I will also start a journal to write down my ideas and feelings so that I can better understand myself. I will also practice meditation to get in touch with my true self. I will also try to not take things so personally. People have their unique personality traits and different views on things, and I should try to accept, listen and learn more. I will start replacing my destructive habits with more productive ones. This is very important. I will focus on smaller goals one at a time so that I do not get overwhelmed by the bigger ones. I think this will naturally lead to my larger goals and dreams. I have to learn not to swim against the stream but to go with the flow. Learn to let go. I am very fortunate in my life and their should be no reason for holding myself back. Thanks for listening and again a super article!

  • Cai
    Reply

    I don’t think I’ve ever felt more understood than at this moment.

    The personality types aren’t discussed much. Most people don’t even know their types, so they don’t exactly know themselves. And they don’t know other people can be incredibly similar to them. I’m always worried that nobody ever gets me or my ideas or my words, and they think I’m really odd and annoying. I didn’t know so many others felt the same way.

    One of the points I connected to most was the communication aspect. The work example is similar to what I feel most of the times I try to speak up and then regret it when people don’t seem to understand. I also work best with words when they’re in metaphors and similes. I think at least half of the sentences I speak start with “you know, it’s like when…” I also have a pretty bad stutter when I start to speak without thinking about it first, because in the middle of my speech, I realize I have no clue how to translate my thoughts into words. I remember one time I was trying to explain to my friend how a really good remix to a really good song made me feel, and I stuttered helplessly for an absurd amount of time before going silent for a moment and then saying “same plot, different setting.” And he immediately got it. That was the best feeling.

    Also, the darkness of the heart. I’m always worried I’m secretly evil. I’m afraid people are all as nice as they seem and there isn’t anything dark in their minds and I’m just incredibly screwed up. I write short psychological thrillers and then scare myself when I realize how morbid and bizarre they are and delete them. I’ve done it ever since I was a kid. I found a story I wrote in elementary school about a little girl who was kidnapped by a man so he could take her to his cabin in a forest to cook and eat her, and she came back as a demon, killed and ate her murderer, and continued to lure men into that cabin so she could cook them into meat pies… I was horrified. I eventually realized that the story wasn’t because I was insane, it was a mashup of the scary news reports about child abductions and my empathy for the children and my desire for karma to come back to the bad guys. If anything, that shows how sympathetic my heart is.

    Self doubt is a huge problem for me as well. It’s something i struggle with constantly. I’m so grateful for your advice and I’m going to try to remember it when I make decisions.

    Thank you ever so much for this article. It’s wonderfully written and very relatable. Your understanding of infps is amazing!

    • Dan
      Reply

      Cai, so much of your experiences and behaviors resonate with me. When it comes to speaking, I will often begin a sentence and sort of just stop midway through while I a.) work out the rest of the thought b.) think about something completely different and internally move on to my next thought. My wife often tries to finish my hanging sentences for me, and being that she is not at all intuitive, she often finishes with something in a completely other direction. It’s humorous, but it does make me realize that I should finish my thoughts to her if I want her to understand me.

      Also, self doubt is a big factor for me as well. I’m often turning something in my head for ages before I will act or speak to it, simply for fear of getting it wrong. I am fortunate to have people around me who are generous and honest in their affirmation and approval of me. So that certainly helps me combat the doubt, as long as I can force myself to believe their praise is true and that I am actually worthy of receiving it.

  • Betterment
    Reply

    Oh my Gosh! Joel, do you realize how bang on this is? You know what is the best part?
    How you can plant an idea in our heads. In. Our. Own. Language.
    Not only do you tell us that this is, you convince our SELVES to tell us that it is.
    Awesome. And I think that’s one of the things INFPs are supposed to be masters at. But, we haven’t patented it, of course ( Yes, you can be gracious about that 😉 ).
    And, yes the best parts.
    The allusion to Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage.”…specially since he was a fellow INFP. I have a feeling it could be both accidental and purposeful. Do tell.
    Then this part:
    It’s my belief that most INFPs identify themselves as artists. Fine artists. Performance artists. Business or marketing artists.
    Fabulous. Perfect. I cannot imagine a better way to present it.
    Also, as an INFP, I have found myself to be quite appreciative of Presentation, Expression, Appeal of an idea. Sometimes even when I am indifferent to the idea itself.
    And you know what, I think I am quite developed as an INFP. I grew up with an ENFP best friend. We have both been extremely beneficial to each other.
    My boyfriend is ENTJ. He is awesome. And you know the validation thing? That I TRUST you, your decision making, your motives, even at the lack of information! He is that. Totally that, But you know, we have just starte

  • Sylvia
    Reply

    Authenticity. That’s all I ever want to know. At my very core, I understand that I’m an artist and writer with this insane talent to produce the crap out of something. I’m a leader that instigates and champions the best out of others.

    As I grow older and the demands of adulthood become very very expensive, my chosen career in the arts isn’t enough. What I’m butting heads against is that IT SHOULD BE ENOUGH. I can’t make myself get a job in just anything unless my heart is in it. I also want to be the f’ing boss, and hate being micromanaged in any way, shape, or form.

    I’ve started my own businesses. At my own expense of my own finances, I believed in what I was doing so much that our lights got turned off and water shut off. All of our money went into our theatre company. My explorer has explored, and ultimately learned that art making can’t sustain me even though it breathes life into me.

    I’m at a stalemate. I am completely immobile at this moment, and I just live inside my head fantasizing about the day when I get both of the things I want most in this world—financial stability through making art/writing.

    I don’t think it will ever happen.

    Le sigh…

  • Joakim
    Reply

    “You may even be tempted to shrink back into daydreams, fantasies and feeling comfortable. And yet as you read these words you sense a deep intuition screaming from the depths of your soul that I’m right.”
    This line made me laugh out loud. Love it. You explain very well what I need to hear. Latley I have been trying to develop my other mental processes that is not Authenticity and it works wonders. I just need to do the things that will help me be secure in myself so I can believe in my convictions. If I can believe in the inner wisdom, I can be the person I want to be. It is so simple yet so hard, because of all the different wants in myself. But in the end they want the same thing. Just that they are confused on how to get it.
    Need to learn myself that there is one road where I can get it all. But to walk that road I need to prepare. Get the right shoes that can walk both in mud, water and plain land. The Jacket which is adaptable to different weather, the trousers which just always is there. Reliably warming my legs. And then the hat which is ever changing to correspond and balance the rest of my clothes.
    Thank you for your great insight into INFP and MBTI personalities.

  • Chess
    Reply

    This is quite possibly the best article I have ever read. My spouse is completely 100% opposite of me and is always baffled by how I go about things. So I sent him this link, and I bet it will help him see me a little better. It all seems accurate. It kind of sucks being his personality type, and not being understood on anything. But at the same time, I would rather know than not. So thank you! It’s a wonderful blog.
    Chess

  • Chess
    Reply

    This**

  • Eliz
    Reply

    This article is excellent!

    I love that you looked what is behind INFP behaviours rather than just telling us what our behaviours are as I’ve seen in sooo many other posts on INFPs. I know how I behave, but felt like the ultimate weirdo for not understanding why lol. This has helped a lot.

    All five points resonated with me. I would say that the proposed solutions are the most effective I’ve found through my own experience too, so I’d really encourage INFPs to try them out if they’re feeling stuck.

    I could write so much, but I’ll just talk about the one I felt some resistance to, which is ‘Unrealistic Expectations’.
    Because I’m so sensitive to the things people say to me, I’ve gone down the path of closing myself off and doing what I want without involving others for the most part. However, as you pointed out, my progress is slow. I see myself continuing to plod along, and meeting people I connect with along the way when the time is right (i.e. when I’ve built up my trust in myself and self-validation enough to not be deterred by lack of understanding or negative comments). It’s what’s been happening so far.
    I do get impatient and frustrated though, and periodically throw in the towel for a day or even a week, but I always return to pick up the towel (and the time time period for my return is getting shorter, which is nice). This is due to the fact that I’ve created a situation where I HAVE to continue it, which relates to the point you described in the section on ‘Motivation’ about throwing your hat over the wall.

    Really refreshing post – thank you! 🙂

  • Danny
    Reply

    I first discovered I was an ‘idealist’ in elementary school after doing a personality questionnaire in the gifted program. Later on, I found out about the MBTI, my INFP type, and started down the rabbit hole, so to speak. I have to say that Personality Hacker has been the most informative in actually providing insights that lead to real personal growth. For that, thank you!

    Personally, I grew up in the Mormon religion. In it, I was indoctrinated with a lot of dogma, or absolute truths, that became a foundation for my convictions to build off of. I was a great inspirational teacher and speaker, and could, even as a teenager, make a whole congregation feel moved to tears. That was one of my gifts, and Im now aware that other INFPs share that, too.

    As fate would have it, I was born gay, and the Mormon church created an environment that was hostile and damaging to my self-esteem, and mental/emotional health. I was often suicidal and depressed throughout my youth. Eventually, I left that church and came to the conclusion that religion is overall more harmful than it is good.

    I started opening my eyes to what ‘reality’ really is all about. I now base my sense of morality and ethics around the philosophy of Secular Humanism. Basically, it is being “good without God”. We, as humans, can realize that we are all here on earth at this given time, and we have the capacity within us to cooperate and make life for each other better.

    For my own growth, I have been trying to temper my high expectations and idealism with reality, and that has been going well. I still feel existential depression that Im not achieving my wildest dreams and pursuing what I want most in life. But, I remember what Dumbledore told Harry, “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

  • Sandra Riley
    Reply

    This is the most amazing thing I have ever read. I have been struggling for years to grasp my personality – loving my uniqueness yet suffering the abhorrence I am SO different that I cannot even understand myself. I have recently begun to overcome this anxiety of not knowing myself for the adventure of discovering the many facets and pieces of myself instead. Part of me bristles at the INFP descriptions “INFPs dislike details and routine work” or “INFPs cannot deal with hard facts and logic”. Experience tells me these statements shows a huge lack of understanding the INFP (misunderstood? no way?!).

    I can deal with these things. Routine work is something familiar, not challenging, and therefore comforting (unless I have to do that same thing for 8 hours straight, then it is mentally draining.) I use facts, logic, and detail every day to survive in the IT world, yet certainly I do temper those facts and figures with their effect on the person I am attempting to help.

    I had become discouraged of seeing “This what an INFP is” over and over, as if someone repeating an ignorant statement will make it true. This is the first time I’ve read WHY and I have to admit this resonates with me. I feel in my gut this is right (hey Authenticity, stop driving for a moment already!) Truly though, this insight for those of us that have insight into everyone else but ourselves has given me a sudden courage in myself I didn’t even realize was lacking. Reality – I am not understood. There is a reason I am not understood. And that’s ok. I can still navigate the world, I just have to approach it differently utilizing my unique abilities instead of constantly trying to mimic everyone else. (Wait, I get to be unique and it’s ok? Alright!!) Maybe that is all I ever needed to hear… Thanks!

  • Tracy
    Reply

    THANK YOU! – I finally have some insight into who I’m like I am and who I am. Until doing this test I didn’t know I’m an INFP. It’s been a truly refreshing moment to read and think – wow, that’s me!.

    I’ve known for a very long time that I’m better equipped to unscramble my what I feel most of the time messy head with the written word. I find it helps center myself and thoughts when putting them to paper. Once I get going, the words and thoughts just flow. I really feel at peace with myself when writing.

    I’m very lucky that the very few people I’ve let into my life understand me enough to fondly let me chatter my jumbled explanations to them, they eventually decipher what I’m saying to them ha!

    I’m still reeling how accurate your information is in regards to myself.

    Just knowing that someone else gets that I’m wired differently, that I see the world and everything in it for a different angle is a great feeling.

    Thank you for making my day!

  • SunnyFlours
    Reply

    Fellow INFP – BE PASSIONATE and STAY passionate!!! The world would be a duller, and more complacent place without us. Don’t you dare ever dull that fire!

    • Dan
      Reply

      As long as I can be passionate about this new thing, because that last thing I was passionate about bores me now. 😉

  • MICHAEL YOUNG
    Reply

    I’m 60 years old in October. Your right, INFPs like me will never fully understand themselves. But thanks, now I know myself ,0000000005 % more, haha

  • Katka
    Reply

    Thank you. Now, my weirdness finally makes sense. Sadly, I do not know any other INFP personaly. If I would, I would probably suffer less. Questioning every my action, doubting myself, caring too much for things and others, feeling lonely and misunderstood all the time.. it’s tiring and I wonder if I was born to the eternal struggle..

    • Crystal
      Reply

      Growing up as an only child of an estj and an intj, as an infp I was “lazy” and “flaky.” But neither of them could do my job (kindergarten teacher to at-risk kids) without my conviction and idealism.

      I feel your struggle! But there are others of us out there, functioning infps 🙂

      And joke on my intj dad, my 11-year -old half brother is another infp. Or in school terms, a daydreamer who is unmotivatable :).

  • Kimberly Rose Arpon
    Reply

    It is so amazing to know my personality type. And I love being an INFP. I was laughing when I read this, saying “oh my! how did you know that?”

    Thanks Joel Mark Witt for the technique of how will INFP be motivated.

    I used to think, throw the key over the fence. and try to get it in there. lol.

    Since I really feel that I really have to give an importance to my conviction.

    You know, I hate injustices. Abuses inside the church that is being covered up.

    And I was thinking, if a child is being abuse and need someone to be their voice.. then, I was thinking about Journalism.. it might help, right?

    i know it might help. lol! im crazy.
    throw the key over the fence! lol..

  • Tiffany
    Reply

    Thank you! This is helpful.

    I’m reading this article because I’m struggling with motivation. I’m trying to sustain motivation to accomplish authentic desires, and I’m feeling isolated in a way that is challenging my motivation, so I’m coming to this article trying to understand that and get past it. I appreciate the image of keeping my exploration function in the driver’s seat. It helps me understand why isolation is demotivating for me when it’s what my introvert function needs.

    Although the discription of the conundrum is excellent, I do want to give you this feedback about your suggestion to throw out intentions and deadlines into the world. The reason to do that would be to motivate yourself by avoid public failure, and therefore work to avoid it. The problem with that for INFP is complex. For one, when we’ve done that and people start trying to motivate us in *their* way to do this thing we authtically love, it can set up this whole other thing where now we feel like we’re doing it for UNauthentic reasons and held to external standards. If someone decides to become our task-master over a long period of time in a style that isn’t helpful, it can make us start feeling an internal rebellion against doing what we authentically love. Even worse, we feel we’ve lost connection to the power of that authentic love by outsourcing it. Combine that with the way we just set ourselves up for public failure and it can be a disaster. That said, what you’ve described about the synergy between the different mental functions and their needs makes so much sense. I like the thought of thowing my hat over the fence as an act of directing my “what if” questioning with a plan to gain real world experience and validation that has a deadline (because “P”). I think challenging ourselves not to outsource this function so that the motivation remains authentic and nurtures the fire itself is the key. However, I do get how we pretty much need to be working against the most dire of failures in order for the motivation to avoid destitution itself to click on.

    Some additional feedback: I do wish you would describe our memory and effectiveness functions without implying we have the mental wiring of children – it sounds like you’re implying immaturity rather than invoking an “inner child”. Words are important to us, so it makes a difference.

    Thank you also for the suggestion of storytelling as a concious way to explain ourselves. That is how we came up with our convictions in the first place.

    I haven’t discovered the answer of how to apply these suggestions to my particular scenario yet, but thinking of my challenges in terms of authenticity and putting my explorer in the navigator’s seat, continually tossing my hat over fences where my ball is incredibly incredibly helpful. Thank you!

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Thanks Tiffany for the comment. I actually do intend to imply immaturity in the mental processes of Memory and Effectiveness for INFPs.

      But it doesn’t matter what type I would be talking about. Everyone has these less developed and immature parts of their personality. And here lies the power of the system.

      Understanding where the immature parts of us can hijack our happiness – then ensuring we don’t allow that to happen by focusing on growing our co-pilot is a major personal development leverage point.

  • Mike W
    Reply

    Wow! One of the best INFP articles of the many I have read. This article goes beyond just being informational. It’s actually helpful. Thanks for the insight!

  • Roberto L.
    Reply

    This is amazingly beautiful. I’m a 27 years old INFP, and I’m willing to be a writer full-time. I hope I can make it, and your article gives me hope.

  • Khania
    Reply

    Thank you for this great insight as to who INFPs truly are and giving us practical steps to follow into making our idealism a reality.

    My self-esteem has always been crippled by a lot of self-doubt and little failures in life. My sensitivity to people meant that I can’t go further than what they would expect me to be. Sometimes I feel as if I can be alone somewhere and would have felt genuinely happy about it , and even amongst INFPs I still felt out of place.

    Life has always been kind and unkind to me , and I really seek for success in whatever I do , yet motivation is exactly what I lack because I lack conviction , internally or externally. I am still learning and some tips here really helps me to explore my ideas further and take the courage to just try. So thank you. Thank you for understanding and giving valuable advices, and here I am almost tearing up at your words because I feel as if someone finally understands how it’s like to be an INFP, and I’ve been lonely for so long.

  • Joakim
    Reply

    It is not easy balancing all these processes. Like authenticity and effectiveness. When I know something is right it is easy to use effectiveness to boost the authenticy. But it is harder coupled with exploration.
    What if I want to try to experience it, but it feels like I already have yet maybe it is smart to see if there is something I missed?
    And when there are two or three choices gathered in a roadfork and you just know it is go time. “Pick and Stick” kind of situation, this becomes incredibly hard. Because staying open so I can gather information into conviction means looking at things thourugly to see as much as possible.
    Luckuly life moves in circles so you always get a second chance 😉 IF you look for it that is..

  • Ron
    Reply

    Thank you Joel. I’m completely new to the Personality Type idea. Took the quiz and found out that I’m an INFP. Started reading about it and am shocked: From top to bottom your article describes me to a T. All of the challenges you talked about are stacked on top of me right now to a point where I can barely move. No career, no life that is worth a squat. We’re dying financially and my wife can’t understand why I’m not doing anything.. I am going to reread the article and start putting the solutions to work. Thanks again.

  • Arril Mike
    Reply

    Honestly, at first I don’t accept myself as an INFP because all I do is daydream when a problem gets in, be supported by other people because I don’t know if I can do it and feel miserable then cry afterwards if something went wrong.

    But now little by little, I’m starting to understand WHY am I like this.

    The experience is like a very small step but firmly planted on the ground.

    Overall, thank you all for taking the time to understand us ☺️

  • Brandon
    Reply

    Thanks! I have known my personality type for ages by now, but I love how well you explain the functions. MBTI is awfully useful for staying on track with one’s self. I had a really tough year, as I had really brushed off the concept of personality type, yet here I am again, no longer will I let people change how I feel about anything like I did. I now know for sure I am an infp, no doubt whatsoever especially with your explaination. This motivates me. Thank you!

    (I just noticed all of my self referencing. I’m a textbook infp, I gotta be)

  • Rin
    Reply

    This will be my one of favorite article about myself.
    I love your insight. I can relate 80% of what you said.

    And I really like the part about how we work our job in a project. I like this part:
    “I’m going to be straight with you here. As an INFP, projects will probably take longer for you than most people. However, you can accomplish a great deal if you can empower and inspire others to work along side you.”
    I always have high motivation in the start of the project but it’s hard to be discipline and persistent, so I really have hard time to finish something. I always plan something ridiculous unrealistic plan (too much) but the reality is that I can’t accomplish it by the time and it makes me guilty. Thank you for being straight about it.

    I love your advice about story telling. I relate a lot about how I can’t explain my idea in a meeting. I will try story telling.

    I hope you will write an article about relationship because I always failed until now.

  • Liz
    Reply

    Hi Joel,
    Thank you for the informative and well written article. I came across it as I did a Google search for “what motivates an INFP-A” because that is my brothers personality type and I’m an ENFJ…so I guess that’s enough said. I’m really hoping you get this message as my reasons for wanting to motivate him are quite literally a matter of life and death. He was recently diagnosed with stage IV cancer and has chosen to opt out of treatment options. I totally understand not wanting chemo but my mom has been talking to him about clinical trials of immunotherapy that wouldn’t make him sick like chemo would. The problem is she’s been too pushy, nagging him each day which, as we know has an adverse effect. I told her to drop it and I’d handle it.
    I’m an RN but have many years of a proven track record in sales. I know I can pitch this concept but feel I need to do it in one fell swoop, as the more we pester him the less likely he is to comply. In a recent conversation he stated that to prolong his life would just be for the family right? I couldn’t disagree. I mean we’re all dying, but it is certainly us as the family who are much less prepared or accepting of his potentially sudden exit from this world.
    I also could relate to his musing, “so I die in 3 months or three years. But what am I going to do with those three years? Deliver pizzas?” Insinuating his current transitional place being between careers (he’d just started school for the new career). It doesn’t make much sense to go to school for two years so u can work for one. I know what motivates me, and in daydreaming of all the ways he could potentially help others thru community education and awareness, or how many lives could be saved or prolonged down the road from him just taking part in a clinical trial…well admittedly I’ve gotten really excited about the possibilities of all the ways he could make a difference and how rewarding it could be for him.
    And then all the wind is taken out of those sails as I realize gosh I don’t even really know what he’s motivated by. How is that possible? So I could potentially put together a really compelling presentation of these ideas…but if that’s not what motivates him, it’ll be all for naught. Unfortunately, time is of the essence as his days are numbered based on what docs have said. Could you please share some ideas of what are ways to get thru to and motivate this personality type. We’re quite different as in sure you can imagine and I just want my delivery to be as effective as possible. I hope it is clear that this favor isn’t being asked of you in any sort of manipulative way. However, despite our close relationship and closeness in age, we don’t communicate the best (I always joke that I talk too much and he not enough). He’s my most favorite person in the world and the only family I have, so please help me pitch him on the value of at least fighting and not throwing in the towel.

    Thank you in advance!!

    • Joel Mark Witt
      Reply

      Hi Liz.

      I’m sorry for you and this intense and trying time for your family. I’m sure it is a very challenging experience.

      I don’t know your brother – so it’s hard to give advice that will resonate specifically with him.

      Other INFPs that have also commented here may have some ideas for you. You can also feel free to pose your question to the Intuitive Awakening community on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/PHIntuitiveAwakening

      I can tell you that your brother – as an Authenticity user (Introverted Feeling) – is probably not as motivated by connection and doing things for the “greater good” unless they are tied to his sense of self.

      And, based on my experience, it’s also a very difficult to want something for someone more than they want it for themselves. You may need to just love him unconditionally and support his choices – even if they aren’t the choices you would make.

      In general – Authenticity is motivated and inspired by biography. Can you find a similar story of someone who chose to live life to the fullest in the face of incredible difficulty? These inspiring stories of human spirit can often spark a fire in the belly of the Authenticity user.

      I’m sending positive vibes your direction Liz. Your brother is blessed to have a sister who cares so deeply about him. We need more people like you in the world. Thanks for being you.

      ~ Joel

  • Liz
    Reply

    Thanks so much for responding! I know that was a tall order to assess a situation of someone you’ve never met. Great minds think alike-I’ve been looking for stories of soldiers who tried this immunotherapy business. Fingers crossed. Thanks again! You rock 😉

    • Ann
      Reply

      Hi Liz, We are all motivated by love, but for introverted feelers it is not so much that expressive lovey dovey love, but more the personal sentiments and memories. He would benefit from hearing what it would mean to you and the family for him to live longer. He might be motivated by something in particular that he can do for you or someone else. People emphasize how extroverted feelers want to do things for others, but so do introverted feelers. It’s just that we are less general (more particular) about it.
      Best wishes in supporting each other.

  • Nigel
    Reply

    I understand all of these and what you’re saying. But I’m still not feeling motivated. I want to do something, but I don’t know what.

    I wish I can write more, but I just don’t feel very authentic

  • Sandra
    Reply

    This is an amazing article. It feels really comforting to know that there is someone who can understand my INFP inner process. So thank you for that. I feel less lonely and less weird.
    The part that touches me the most is about understanding the darkness of human hearts. It really is how I see the world. And sometimes is pretty hard to deal with all that empathy and ability of understanding. It’s like a curse: I can understand everything and anyone, but no one can understand me (not even close….plus, it’s true that I don’t even understand myself). Sometimes it drives me crazy when I find myself capable to understand why someone did something really bad. It makes me question myself if I’m just as bad as that person (cause why else would I understand it :/). And then I wonder if I would do the same in that kind of situation. It’s scary not to be completely sure of answer. Cause I think that we can never be sure about anything untill we experience it actually.
    Anyway….thank you for showing me that it’s not just me. There are others like me…I guess….somewhere out there. And it makes me happy to know that.

  • Kgatle
    Reply

    This must be the best INFP article i have read thus far never has an article encapsulated so much of what is going on in my mind i resonate so deeply with the work that is presented here some people think their temperament is a curse,however, after reading the contents of the findings brought forward in this article i can never get around how special and lucky one is to be an Introvert.

  • Hilmi Ahmad
    Reply

    This is very articulate and well written. Bravo! However, it leave me in a such deep conflict, as I had never doubt my identification as an INTP until I read this article. There’s so much I can relate to and so much that ‘feels so right’, that it shakes my conviction on my self-identification as INTP.

  • Arian Armstrong
    Reply

    Today is my birthday and this article feels like a gift. I feel understood and less crazy. I came upon it through a chain of links after googling “can infp’s be happy”. I’m going to have to re-read and chew on it a bit, figure out how to apply it. I’m 37 today and desperately want to “take life by the throat”. Thanks for giving me some tools and insight on how to do that!

  • Ritu
    Reply

    Love this so much ! I have read this a few times already. I think you have great insight into breaking down what makes INFPs tick and where we get stalled.

    I agree with throwing your hat over the fence. I started doing it earlier this year, and as I have started understanding that this works for me and as I have implemented it, I am naturally more productive.

    The Going with what feels true or what inspires me right now is a piece that I used to discount a lot. Not anymore. If I feel like doing some specific thing today, then I am practicing to LET myself do it, instead of trying to act like some other type and trying to be disciplined. Inspiration, in itself, has little to do with being linear. I feel my art and my work growing and expanding more easily as I let inspiration move me.

    I love your take on Ne. I have done both – use Memory as a Defense and used Exploration. This is something I need to do more of. Thank you for your work. It is so cool, and it is so obvious that you guys are good at this and also good at communicating what you yourself understand.

  • Paul Hardy
    Reply

    Wonderful article, Joel, and I deeply resonate with it…your work and writing it helping me emerge from an unmotivated rut. What a gift! Deeply grateful, Paul

  • Nikhila
    Reply

    Joel, such a well written and thorough article. I regret for not having read this earlier. Such a wonderful find! I have never ever connected with an article at such a deep level as I did with this one. You got me at “Communicating Ideas Clearly”. I am a hard core INFP and I spectacularly fail at verbalizing my thoughts especially in words. I can also resonate to the “self plague” point. Despite how much skilled I am and how much experience I have, I always doubt my skills and keep thinking I am always short of what is required of me in career and personal life. Could you please elaborate more on “storytelling and live the art”? How can INFPs get better at storytelling and what exactly is storytelling according to you?

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