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PHQ | QUESTIONS FROM COMMUNITY: In this episode Joel and Antonia answer a question about INFJs being the rarest type.

 

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Showing 21 comments
  • Wulfex
    Reply

    I couldn’t resonate with this more. I think the reason why INFx’s gather here, or even INxx’s as a whole gather here is because we grow up thinking we’re broken or we feel like aliens. As I went through college, I continually felt more broken. Thoughts of “Why don’t I ‘get it’ like everyone else does” or “Do I have ADD?” streamed through my mind. I just started googling things, which eventually brought me to MBTI and INTP/INFP/INTJ/INFJ forums.

    Anyway, because we grow up in a world of sensors, that feeling of being broken or different causes us to gather. The few INFJs in the world now have a place to share their experiences. I also feel that probably most sensors won’t discover MBTI because they fit in with the world. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. So I would say online statistics will be skewed because there are communities of people that just know that they’re not quite the same as everyone else.

    The other thing you mention about, I’ll call it “type bullying” is kind of sad. I thought I was an INFJ and on forums, INFJs were so upset I was there. They were right, I am an INFP but a few of the forum members made it their duty to ostracize me. We could all learn from one another, the person’s type doesn’t make their input irrelevant. 🙂

    • Nora
      Reply

      My therapist gave me the written, 78 question MBTI several years ago and scored as INFJ when I was 40. I’ve continued to test as INFJ in the 5 or 6 online tests I’ve done. During my childhood/adolescence, I was categorized as “agoraphobic”, “schizophrenic”, “living in a fantasy world”, “shy”, “antisocial”, etc. Middle school was hellish, being a person with really varied interests who never fit in. The inept guidance counselors there only did the ink blot tests, and their verdict was the above mentioned “diagnoses” — imagine if I’d been given the MBTI back then! At home, my single parent mother was domineering and hypercritical of me – I now know she’s a narcissist and ESFJ. She continually told me (and I often read between the lines as an intuitive) that I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t extroverted and social like her. “Oh, just come out of your shell!” “You need to make more friends!” “You’re too into in music, and are becoming obsessed!” – Ha!! Music was my escape from everyone who told me I was broken, flawed, crazy, “too scared to go to school”… My introversion was a character “flaw”, and forced interactions (and I did try to do as I was told and be social, because I bought into the school’s and my mother’s BS) made me feel like an alien, and like there was something seriously wrong with me. I hated it. My spirit was broken when I was forced to be someone I was not. I loved being by myself, even for days! Leaving home at 18 helped, but I didn’t realize my type until more than 20 years later. 30+ years of therapy, and not a single therapist thought to do the Myers Briggs until I was 40. “First do no harm”, eh? But I do feel blessed that I was able to learn about being an INFJ… and sometimes I have to remind myself to tell the 13-year-old hurt and grieving me that I was really OK back then… they (mother, “educators”) just couldn’t relate to such a rare type. There were less than 1,000 kids in my middle school, so only 10 or so INFJs, statistically speaking…? Once I learned my type, it was like a thirsty man in the desert who encounters a cool, sweet stream. I WASN’T a fruit loop?! I was a rare type?! I was really OK?! Hotdog!! It was liberating and heartbreaking at the same time. It was ok to like heavy metal and play with dolls at the same time? There were OTHERS like me?!! Successful others like me?!! WOW!

      As an adult INFJ who’s trying to learn and heal from all that rejection and pain, I still encounter sensors and others who just do not “get” me. I’ve also encountered other people I know who tested as “INFJ”, but I don’t think they are– knowing them personally, and knowing how different they are from me – LOL – my mother the social butterfly, member of many clubs, get-out-and-run-for-public-office, who didn’t understand her INFJ daughter at ALL — she even tested as INFJ on an online thing, so I question the validity of some of those online quickie tests. She even commented, “Like mother, like daughter!” – which HORRIFIED me – we’re not alike, and she just doesn’t want to believe that. She’s def. an ESFJ. ES is oh-so-different than IN. Another person I know well got the same INFJ result – they are definitely NOT INFJ, but ESFJ, the same gregarious, needs lots of attention and social interaction personality like mom.

      I agree with you, Wulfex, that sensors (like my mom and the other person I mentioned) just aren’t much interested in learning their type… when my mom did another MBTI and got the ESFJ result, my ISTP son and I read through the extensive description on the site… Yep, that was her, to a T! Mom didn’t have the time or inclination to read through any of the descriptions, just took the opportunity as a narc to say “YOU are like ME”…. even if it was patently untrue. Was it because of her Myers Briggs type, or from the narcissism…?

      I also agree that we can learn from each other. My sons are ENTJ and ISTP, and I love learning about their types (ISTP son said, “Yeah mom, bro is TOTALLY like that!”), as well as my bully mother. I’m sorry you were ostracized… whichever type, don’t we want to feel accepted and supported? Don’t we all share a little bit with everyone, whichever type we are? I can relate to the “_N_J and the “I___” with my sons somehow… And YES, I can relate to the “__FJ” of my mother, even though we are all totally different. And we each carry snippets of the other letters– part of me is ESTP, I guess…? Each a unique snowflake, no matter the type. And each of us has our own cross to bear.

      And I’m STILL obsessed with music!! Now, it’s without shame, because I know it’s good for me- always HAS been, and there’s worse things to be obsessed with. It’s amazing to learn what some of my favorite artists are on the MBTI… Jon Anderson from Yes (they were nominated to the R&R Hall Of Fame this year) – is INFJ, and when I learned that, I was like, “Gee, everyone else thinks he’s a whacko, or can’t understand what he means. No wonder I always felt like my mind and soul shifted into a neutral/intuitive space when I listened to his lyrics– he’s the same type as me!” That sort of thing really resonated with me- that an INFJ can be successful, and we don’t need to feel marginalized anymore. There are so many outlets now than there were all those years ago.

      • Steven
        Reply

        Sorry Nora, that is an awful experience that you’ve endured, and I can relate to a lot of it. I came from a bit of a rough childhood myself, though I won’t get into it.

        Often times when I ponder my past and find myself wishing something had been different, I wonder what sort of person I would be today had I not been through every single trial my past had given me? I know I have a lot of room for improvement, and sometimes comparing myself to others leaves me feeling inadequate, but I still like myself on a fundamental level. I also love my children and my wife, and I wonder if any deviation in the past had occurred, would I still have my wife and children exactly as they are?

        Regretting the past is something my mind drifts upon often, but I always end up coming to the same conclusion at the end of it: I wouldn’t change a thing.

        I hope you feel the same about yours, and I’m sorry, I don’t mean to trivialize anything you’ve said, I just hope you’re at peace with it.

        • Nora
          Reply

          Hi Steven, Oh, I’m definitely at a sort of peace with it – I’ve learned to be more comfortable with myself, accept myself. What bothers me a bit is that I see people who haven’t accepted me and are still so surrounded by themselves that they can’t see beyond themselves. For me, it’s all about learning from everything that happens. The reason why I wonder why I wasn’t tested for Myers Briggs as a young person is because I hope that others don’t have to go through the same trauma that I did, believing that there’s something “wrong” with them, when it’s other people projecting what they “should be” onto them. That’s why I had both my sons do the test, and why I accept them – one’s VERY social, and that’s cool; the other is introverted, and that’s also cool. BUT – I see family members who cannot accept the introverted one’s introversion, and still act like it’s a malady that needs to be changed.

          • Steven

            Sorry if I read too much into that. It kinda hit me in a soft spot of my own, and I couldn’t help myself. -.-

            > What bothers me a bit is that I see people who haven’t accepted me and are still so surrounded by themselves that they can’t see beyond themselves. For me, it’s all about learning from everything that happens.

            That is something that can really get under my skin too. However, if I am able to remove myself from the situation, I start to wonder if maybe I am misunderstanding them too? How did this person grow up? What lessons did they learn from their own experiences? Who made their life hard, and is it possible that they are now a shadowy representation of that life?

            I like to think that every person is inherently good, and that most of us are simply at the mercy of circumstance—it affects us all in strange ways. I would love to fix the system which produces such alienation. At the same time though, I like to think that the system is currently producing en masse people with a deep motivation to see that system changed.

            I think that is what groups like Personality Hacker, et al. are trying to accomplish, and why I have so much admiration for organizations like them and the people who make them up.

            I really wish I could talk more with you in length, but I feel like I’m already talking way too much for the comments section here. -.-

            Hopefully I’ll see you around elsewhere though! Take care! =)

    • Bih
      Reply

      I was very shocked, intrigued, and skeptical when I heard that INFJ’s were so rare. I thought this type might be more common than shown.

  • Meliss
    Reply

    I am an INFJ. I took a Myers-Briggs
    2 step type indicator test a few years ago, it was huge, seems like it was 400 questions or something. I am an experiential, critical INFJ, because my F is very close to midline and a little out of context in some areas (ie I am more critical and want proof first rather than being immediately accepting and trusting) I often come up as a T on the little online mini tests. Even yours! But in comparing effectiveness to harmony, I am definitely harmony. I think perhaps many people are taking these little online tests and reading a few things and trying to self type based on likes and dislikes as opposed to how they learn or make decisions. I really like how you guys have described the different functions as it makes it so much easier to understand and explain.
    As to why there seem to be INFJs coming out of the woodwork, I’m sure it’s as you’ve said, we are more comfortable sharing online and we desire a community where we feel accepted. That coupled with the fact that, for me anyway, I have a strong desire not only to be understood but also to understand others, especially those I’m closest to. Personality typing is not an end all of course but it does give me another tool that I can use to better understand how the brain of my loved ones works, if I can understand how they process information I can better relate to them and also be better equipped to help them grow, which is what I most want for them.
    I have found many who claim also to be INFJ so I had a similar question, only these are people I know in person, not online. I know at least 4 other people that say they are INFJ (and I don’t have a real large community) so I’ve wondered if it was so. Where did they get their assessment? Are they certain? To be honest, of the 4 of them there is only 1 that seems accurate to me. In fact there is 1 other that I can’t see it at all. At All! But then I think, well how well do I really know her? We’re not besties or anything so who am I to say she doesn’t learn or think that way? But it still confuses me a little, I just don’t see it, and if this type is so rare then how are there so many in the mere 150 people I know?
    As to the type bullying, I haven’t personally seen it (but then, am I bullying by questioning my acquaintances, not to their face of course?) But I’m not entirely surprised by it. Unfortunately the internet lends itself to that more than any other place. People who would never do so in person take it upon themselves to get embroiled in arguments or pick on others because there’s a certain amount of hiding that can be done behind the keyboard. It’s probably as you said, people who are not confident enough in themselves that they feel they must question or ‘call out’ anyone else in order to try to feel special. When are they gonna learn that that doesn’t actually work? I for one am glad for the info provided by you and others, no one test is going to tell us who we are, that’s not really testable, but having tools available to better understand my husband (ENFP) or my older children (female INTJ & INTP) is something I am very glad for and I thank you guys for the work you do to put it all into to layman’s terms for the rest of us.
    I kinda like being ‘rare’ (suprise!) But even if I’m not as rare I think that would be ok. Some of the things that make INFJs special are some of the things the world could use a little more of anyway.

    • Nora
      Reply

      I’m looking at my written MBTI score, and like you, my score was close on some things, where I feel like I can be super-logical in some instances… but not all; I generally am more ‘successful’ in my decisions if I go with my intuitive feeling.

      Raw point score, showing preference; larger number indicative of type.

      E – 1 I – 20
      S – 12 N – 14
      T – 10 F – 14
      J – 20 P – 2

      • Meliss
        Reply

        It’s not surprising at all. In fact I remember Antonia saying something about INFJs typing as T as being common especially if there was some early trauma. We have a need for a protective wall and sometimes we build it up a little too thick.
        I too am better off listening to my intuition than trying to be Spock though.

    • Steven
      Reply

      I have a theory that people show more of their introverted functions online than offline, and so people don’t really represent themselves as well online at times.

  • Steven
    Reply

    I was going to post something really long about my experience with MBTI and MBTI derivative personality profiles, but I am recalling the ‘not turning the comment section into a tome’ comment I read a while back, and I thought I might heed that in advance, hehe.

    Both Joel and Antonia made _so many_ excellent points here in regards to the personality type community in general, but the one I wanted to comment on (because I struggled with it myself for a while) is about getting protective over ones type.

    I am absolutely guilty of having felt this urge, though I have always suppressed it by keeping in mind that there is another person at the end of that comment, and you have no idea exactly how much personal value they have placed in their identification to that type. Being critical about it with them is just going to make us both feel bad in the long run, so I just keep in mind that they are doing what they need to do to get by. If they are happy with where they are at, then that is good for them, if they aren’t they are eventually going to question themselves seek clarification on their own.

    The purpose of a lot of those communities is to socialize, have fun, and share experiences. They are not structured in a way that the information can/will ever really be truly reliable, and so the serious critical hat needs to be set aside while in those places.

    I’ve heard someone say before that the moment you lose the ability to find humor in a situation is the moment that you need to take a step back from it and collect yourself, which is a policy I have been trying to hold myself to. It’s a work in progress for me still.

    • Steven
      Reply

      Oh, and another question I try to ask myself often: “Who is benefiting from my being critical?”

      Usually, my answer is nobody, and so as hard as it may be, I resist the urge to continue, although I might shift into a line of thought questioning where the urge came from.

      • Charis Branson
        Reply

        That is an awesome personal growth exercise, Steven! I think there is huge leverage in the simple act of tracing our reactions back to their onset and questioning whether or not they are still necessary. Thanks for your comment. It was just the right size. 😉

  • Chad
    Reply

    First, I value the MBTI as a useful tool for self-understanding, career guidance, job enrichment, and relationship help.

    Second, I’m a psychologist and researcher and familiar with the psychometrics of the MBTI (official). There are no perfect psychological instruments in terms of reliability and validity. I think the MBTI can be difficult to successfully identify at first, particularly around teens and young adults. There are errors and distortions in self-understanding, problems with self-reports, etc. I think some degree of outside, objective reports can be very useful for a person attempting to identify his or her true MBTI. Once a person reliably establishes his or her MBTI, it then becomes quite useful. That being said, the frequencies reported for the 16 types are usually those found by the official MBTI records, which is a massive database. I would not say these numbers are fuzzy or soft and would actually argue that they are pretty accurate reports of the distribution of the 16 types using the official MBTI in the general population. Remember that a large number of people take online tests which have no supported psychometric properties and are not included in peer-reviewed research reports on the frequencies of MBTI types.

    Third, I believe INFJs seem overrepresented in online communities for a number of reasons like those mentioned in this podcast. I expect the biggest reason is because it is in the nature of INFJs to be more interested in self-understanding and personality. Thus, they are more likely to visit online communities, listen to podcasts on personalities, and take online tests.

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      Cool, thanks for the comment. I’m still not 100% convinced that even the official MBTI instrument has a high enough degree of accuracy to call them ‘hard’ numbers, but it’s still the best we’ve got and I’m totally okay relying on those stats.

      -A-

  • Kristi
    Reply

    For me the answer is kind of simple: INFJs struggle to connect with others of like type/people who understand them and the way they think – so seeking it out online only makes sense. It is the best, fastest way to collect and collate as much feedback from other INFJs or personality professionals on being an INFJ. So we can start making those patterns! I am voracious for information on any subject that interests me or in which I need to make a decision… with the “Perspectives” model I finally see why.

    Another podcast (the one with Introvert, Dear as co-host) also gave me a huge light bulb moment – I have struggled so often with word retrieval, I literally started to worry I was developing some sort of early onset memory problem. Now I know it is because my brain needs to access long term memory. What an aha moment.

    Have been learning so many helpful things from the podcast – specifically as an INFJ. I have been stuck for awhile, and listening to your podcast is really helping me splay it all out, so I can make the connections I need and start implementing changes – particularly in the way that I am thinking (about life, about being an infj, about happiness.) Many many thanks for your focus on INFJs… Now I really need to learn as much as I can about ENTPs – my husband’s type. I know a lot of our struggles come from how differently we think and approach the world… but I need to better understand HOW he thinks and particularly how to help him when he is stressed.

    • Charis Branson
      Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Kristi! I’m glad you are using our content as a springboard to discover things about yourself. That is how it is intended. 🙂

      ENTP week is coming.

  • Tess
    Reply

    Hi, thank you for your excellent work! Like just about everybody, I’m INFJ :-).

    I believe you’re missing one reason that INFJ:s behave like bullies towards the “fake unicorns”: Often these mistyped forum members are INFP:s. And while we share a lot of experiences and have plenty in common, I’m convinced that most INFJ:s have a hard time with Fi/Authenticity. It grates and grates against our Fe, and in my experience Fi users are the ones I can really lose my civility with. And especially INFP:s. To us, their Authenticity, the constant need to have a subjective opinion about everything, feels selfish and judgemental. So, when too much Fi shows up in a forum where INFJ:s are opening up and being vulnerable, I believe it can be quite painful for us. (The way I see it, INFJs are rarely aware of even having subjective opinions, and when we do, we feel quite pretentious for it).

    I have an INFP sister, and I was married to an INTJ for fifteen years. I love them both very much, we have excellent conversations and shared values around most things. And yet, I experience total emotional exhaustion after being around either of them for too long. I’ve learned not to open up emotionally around them because I inevitably get hurt, through no fault of theirs, just “emotional incompatibility”. And often, I’m the one who ends up being mean and behaving badly, despite the fact (which they’ll readily admit) that I’m normally a lot more skilled as a people person.

  • Michie
    Reply

    I have taken the various online Myers-Briggs test over the years and find that my personality type does not come out the same all the time. I am wondering if another reason INFJs are scientifically registering as such a small percentage is because of the INFJ tendency to see the world through others eyes.
    Most of the time I come out as an INFJ, but I have gotten INTJ once and INFP a few times. It wasn’t until reading the descriptions of how the different types are wired, that I both felt comfortable describing myself as an INFJ and realized my answers were sometimes reflective of other people my mind wandered to while taking the test. For example, I have a close friend who encouraged me to take the Myers-Briggs test in the first place who would not tell me what he was beforehand, but I came back telling him I tested as an INFJ or an INFP and he turned out to be an INFP.

  • Jill
    Reply

    What I want to know is why, after learning anything about INFJs, anyone would want to be one. We are known for having pain. Being an INFJ has not been fun. I’d love to be another type.

  • Heather
    Reply

    Pain pain so much pain and suffering. I used to think I was cursed. I didn’t understand why I was made like this where I could understand everybody but they couldn’t understand me, my mother got my hearing checked as a child because she was worried that when she called me I never answered her. I was in my own little world. This past year I started getting anxiety attacks and I hate it because there are no patterns so I can’t figure it out. I always find patterns pretty much with everything except this. Just my luck. Found out I’m an infj this past year and it was like the gates of heaven were opened to me. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. Having that ahh moment. It felt like got had mercy on me and gifted me the knowledge of my whole entire existence. I have spent my whole life in confusion and not understanding. Thank god for Meyer Briggs. Now I don’t have to suffer as much because I understand. Now if I could just get my kids to take this test I would love to get inside there brain. I say this all the time but knowledge is power. Learning is fascinating.

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