The INFP “Healer” 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 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.

“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.

“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?


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. 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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To get inside the experience of the INFP personality type it’s important to acknowledge how they enter the world and how the world responds back. #INFP #MBTI #Healer #INFP personality

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  • Emily

    Joel, thank you so much for your insight. I listened to the INFP podcast episode earlier & was sobbing. 4 years ago I quit my job to develop an app and I have struggled endlessly with motivation. At first I was really inspired, but after it was taking so long, it became a huge source of insecurity. My parents and friends have been so perplexed by me & why I won’t just figure it out already or get a desk job. I feel as if I’ve lost my passion, inspiration, and self esteem. Honestly, I’ve spent majority of my time drowning in psychology, self help, and entrepreneurship books to try and understand myself and why I can’t just DO it already. I feel that this app is my life’s mission, will make the world a better place, and I feel this so deeply in my bones and refuse to be taken off course. I did teach myself graphic design and designed and built a prototype, and I’ve been learning coding too and have a pitch deck, so I do finally have a tangible product, but I’ve been stuck at next steps. I don’t trust other people to help me. I know I’ll get eaten alive in an investor meeting without analytical, data-based evidence that is not a natural area of understanding for me. I am also petrified of putting a creation of mine out into the world that could potentially expose me to the harshness of the world. I was badly bullied growing up and I have a crippling, perhaps irrational fear that I will be bullied on a national scale if I’m somehow successful. I don’t want to fail. And I’m scared to succeed. So I just do nothing.

    Per the podcast, it really helps to know that I need to not marginalize people that can help me and to let my passion inspire and use storytelling. However, when we are in that place where we are scared to involve others, and of criticism, how do get past that and trust – when the worlds cruelty has dimmed our idealism and faith?

    Would you consider doing a podcast episode furthering the discussion on building a business as an INFP? I loved the last 15 minutes of the general INFP one and would love to hear more of your thoughts. It feels impossible to do as an INFP! Thank you so much!

    • Charlotte @40

      Congratulations on getting that far! I’m 16 years into my novel. Organization is a sleek, pointy-eared little girl dog.

      My experience is that if you use personal criteria and connections and what feels right to build a business, you will end up with other INFP’s. Who will inevitably depart as soon as there’s a smidgen of offense or difference in vision.

      If you have the ability to actually hire someone, go about it like a boss. Know what you want going in, and don’t hire anyone on the spot. Use contracts. Contracts is a trust-hack.

      If you can’t hire, find a partner who loves your vision but is more practical than you. And still use contracts.

      And emotionally detach yourself from the app once you’ve given it your best. (Have a new project on the horizon if that helps.) I had an INFP defraud me as a publisher, because she couldn’t do that with her poetry book.

      She was a fantastic poet whose book I was to publish. We edited the whole thing together and it was a labor of love for me. We were sympatico the whole way.

      Then she found out I wanted to do the responsible publisher thing and hire a cover artist, instead of using her (quite drab and amateur) painting. (I did NOT critique it to her.) I believed in her work more than she did; and I felt that with the right cover and reviews, we could actually make a little money.

      She was so panicked at the thought of someone else’s art representing HER art (even though I was ready to involve her at every step and make every accommodation to her vision) that she ran off with the book.

      When I confronted her she said she didn’t want to make money with her poems. Never had. Just wanted them in a pretty little jacket of her own design.

      She also said, “You should have made me sign a contract.” Unfortunately, her knowledge of contracts was so pathetic, she didn’t realize we HAD a contract based on our emails. I could have sued her, but I decided it was too much trouble. Lucky her.

      Anyhow, that is what they call being “precious.” It’s more evil than it sounds.

      I got nothing for months of work, and she couldn’t have cared less once her precious poems were safe from my evil money-grubbing grasp.

      It’s a classic move for INFP’s and ISFP’s who are so undeveloped that they believe the beauty in their souls exempts them from the rule about not injuring other people.

      Long story short, if you’re going into business, you might want to find someone who has a very hard-headed sense of what he owes you as his boss or partner. And who has skills you don’t. And you may want to inure yourself to the idea of the app being reworked in future by better coders.

      Just do your research on contract law first.

  • L. B. R.

    I don’t know if this is the same episode I heard on the podcast, but I’d like to comment here on this whole “understanding” or “being misunderstood” topic as it applies to INFPs.

    I am sure you-all will continue to maintain that you think you know what INFPs think or “mean” about being understood or not, but the fact that you, as NON-INFPs continue to invalidate such feelings that are OFTEN expressed by INFPs –as though they aren’t real, just because you have some notion that INFJs are “really” the only misunderstood types. The fact that you DON’T accept what an INFP says about their own feelings and you invalidate them actually supports the premise that INFPs are NOT understood.

    No, and don’t waffle back and say that “validation is better than understanding”. There is a saying: “Perception is reality” and this seems to hold true for most people. Why can’t that be the case for INFPs? If they FEEL misunderstood, might it not, in fact prove that they ARE misunderstood? It’s as if you are saying they are just whining about nothing! No, it is their reality because it is what THEY perceive.

    INFPs are deep about their feelings, that is true. There is an infinity of “knowing oneself” and of gaining self-knowledge and self-understanding, that is true. The process of this is always ongoing, but, to an INFP, at any given moment, the level of self-understanding is at a point on that continuum. OTHERS CAN “understand” the person to that level. No, it wouldn’t be a completion or an end of the discovery or understanding process, but it is current to that momentary point.

    I don’t believe that a person or ANY personality type reaches a clear end-point in their self-knowledge or self awareness or understanding so as to say “this is all there is and I know everything”. NO one can be truly “understood” in an ultimate sense, but INFPs (at least, I know this is true of me) WANT to feel understood by others.

    To say the INFPs don’t truly WANT to be understood is a strange generalization, too. It seems unkind and cruel, in fact. As if to say, “You LIKE your pain!” If this is true of other INFPs, I am not aware of this, and, as for myself, it is NOT true. Having lived with the frustration of NOT being understood for all of my life (or at least, as far back as memory goes), telling me that I really, secretly WANT it that way is a slap in the face!

    I recognize the INFP has a responsibility to communicate as clearly as possible. An INFP has to communicate (this has been my explerience) in the “language” of the other person. It is almost NEVER the other person who communicates in the INFP’s inner language. This is yet another example of the “not being understood”. WE (INFPs) can “put ourselves into the other person (type’s) shoes” and think from their perspective, but the other types do not and will not do this for the INFP.

    I would suppose (other types) are incapable of doing this, with the exception of, possibly, 2 types: ENFPs and INFJs. The INFJs because they are introverted, intuitive feelers, and the ENFPs because they are intuitive, feeling perceivers.

    To tell an INFP that they are wrong, that they are NOT misunderstood is something akin to gaslighting: “No, you’re wrong; YOU DON’T REALLY EXPERIENCE this! (You must be crazy or at least pretty stupid!)” I feel higly insulted by these comments, and the fact that you THOUGHT you had “figured it out” makes it a doubly heinous mistake!



    • Charlotte @40

      You must be very sensitive to anything that, in some possible world, could possibly imply a group of people you may or may not be part of is even mildly delusional.

      That’s quite an activation you’ve got going on there, buddy ol’ pal. I mean, you are SOOOO activated.

      Wowsies. Lay off the weed, will ya?

  • Rohit

    What an excellent article! My journey to find my MBTI has been long and confusing. I mistyped as several different types but never fully resonated with any. And what’s worse is that I tried to change myself to try and better fit into these type descriptions, so much so that I ended up losing sight of who I really was in the process. I tried to ignore my sensitive nature, my affinity for daydreaming, and my love for art, writing and all that is beautiful, in an attempt to resemble someone else – someone who I thought was better.

    Reading this article truly touched my soul, and spoke to the person that I’d buried under several false personas. I’m very glad that I discovered I’m an INFP, because now I feel I can start to really grow as a person.

    Anyways, I guess I kind of got lost in that train of thought, lol. Thank you so much for this article, and I look forward to reading more content about INFPs.

  • Dmitry

    Absolutely fantastic article about INFP (apparently me as various tests steadily reveal my personality type)! Studying all these personality types makes me even more compassionate towards others (and even my exploratory nature wants to try them out on myself and experience them personally). The whole 16 personalities concept brings me back to mind exploration and to being more attentive towards myself and others instead of procrastination for whatever reason (apparently to escape already almost subconscious fears and doubts). But now my soul is inspired and truly wants to act while having such amazing information!

    • Shru

      I’ve never felt so understood as an INFP up until now. I felt so included throughout the article and I’m excited to work on my problems

  • Dennis

    It may have taken 1yr for me to come across this,but this article has brought outstanding insight in ways i could never imagined. You have done service to Humanity right here Joel.
    Awesome stuff!!

  • Sarath

    That was fgreat advice. “Grab life by the throat and test my deep wisdom”. Perfecto

    Self-Esteem might not be the right answer, Joel! I believe the right answer is “Self LOVE”. Self Love has already transformed my life in a major way.

  • FraV

    Hi, here is a mistyped INFP/INFJ. I’ve been taking MBTI-inspired tests and studying personality types for years now, but still have trouble understanding which type I actually am. The first time I took a test I typed as INFP, then I started typing mostly as INFJ and sometimes still as INFP. I’ve been sticking with INFJ for years, because I felt that mi Fi was not strong enough for a INFP and that I was not brave enough to be driven by such function. Fe seemed more fitting, because I often play the social chameleon in order to protect myself, but something with INFJ doesn’t feel quite right for me: I don’t have that famous ability to instantly read people. At all. I think and speak in a quite egocentric way, too, often discussing other people’s issues by giving my own experience or point of view as an example. This honestly seems more of an INFP than of an INFJ. Then I read your description of the INFP type and it resonated so deeply I cried. I almost never cry while reading. This is relevant. So I took your test: INFP again. So my question is: is it possible to be INFP while more often than not lacking the courage of your own convictions? I have strong convictions about how things “should” be, about what “would be” right. And I judge mostly in terms of right/wrong, instead of true/false. But I have a hard time speaking these convictions out loud and acting accordingly. Basically, I am a coward INFP. Is it possible? Or am I just a confused INFJ?

    • Rory

      I have never typed as an INFJ, but your story resonates deeply with me. I recently typed as an INFP on multiple tests after being typed as an INTJ and other types in the past.

      Otherwise, everything you wrote here really resonates.

    • anna

      listen to the podcast about cognitive function loop then u will understand ur cowardness as u call it 🙂

      • Lori Mirgan

        Yes it’s true and no it’s much more than all that too-lost in translation language betrays and leaves me tongue tied I live in places where there are no words so how can my voice be heard??? Telling is the tedious talk of word-salad my lack of inclusion gives me a freedom to know I know not to say a word why would I want to tell anyone anything they can’t hear anyway?

    • [email protected]

      I know an INFJ who is literally fearless. And I know lots of INFPs who are confused and afraid. I wouldn’t make courage the criterion for being an INFP.

      More likely, if you’re an INFP, there’s some core loyalty which you protect from sight, which you feel you would die if it were torn from you. If you don’t have that, you may feel empty or bereft.

      Anyhow, the tendency toward conviction beyond reasons – the loyalty toward wordless Deep Reason – this can manifest in many ways. There are billions of people, but only 16 types.

  • Rory


    Thank you for this amazing article. I feel like you described me so well, like you wrote this about me only you didnt have the full picture.

    The more I read from personalityhacker, and the more podcasts I listen to, the more my life begins to make sense. I felt so lost and confused by myself and my place in the world. And, of course, I still do. But it wasnt until I listened to your podcast and read your articles that I realized I am an INFP. I can feel it deep in my bones as you would say, haha.

    Thank you for opening my eyes to who I am, and helping me take a huge step in my journey.

    Lots of love, brother.

  • Michael

    Man, I rarely comment on blog posts. But this… It’s a masterpiece. Thank you honeslty, I’ve learned so much about myself! You’re an INSPIRATION!

  • Jenny Bengtson

    As a designer, I have difficulties following other people’s thoughts on ”what could be” – when ppl are freestyling with lots of “possibilities” with technology and ways it can “change our lives” – but, after reading this article it made me clear over how this has to do with my personality, hardwired in my brain, the INFP way to commit only to what subjects feel authentic. Have had a hard time trying to justify this for myself, surrounded by hardcore developers and business architects and the sky is the limit… Funny, I have been in the IT business for a long time and have had a hard time to commit to “brainstormings” that are only based on technology, since it doesn’t feel at all relevant to me, can even have had bad concious for feelings of it to be very boring, IF there aren’t any real authenticity behind; stories on the needs that users of technology have, the actual problems we should solve a s o. I understand now this is so core to my personality and motivation in my job! It happens to be me that create those narratives to add authencity to the devemopment and workshop, and the reality checks with the end-users world, since I am an Interaction designer/working with usability and IT Also understand my private struggles and missions better now. Like your tone of voice as well. Both your and Antonias. Very comforting.

  • Alex M.

    Thank you for great article. I have a question. Is it possible to change your personality type. I got tired to be INFP. Who in the world needs such an sensitive and complex personality type which doesn’t know who he is and what he wants. I want to be like Dirty Harry with 44 Magnum in a holster under my jacket. It is so boring to be INFP.

    • Sophia S.

      In short, no – you can’t change your personality type, because that would require a rewiring of the mind of which humans are incapable. However, just because you’re an INFP doesn’t mean that you’re stuck in a box – you’re going to have qualities that overlap with other personality types, especially if you develop your weaker sensing and thinking functions. And as an INFP myself, I find that my personality is most often influenced by fictional characters whose traits and principles I admire, so if you want to be like Dirty Harry, go for it. 🙂

    • Patchi

      Lol how ironic ’cause your want and your comment is what exactly makes you an INFP. INFP doesn’t want to be boring and “like everyone else”. Their want and goal is to discover what their purpose in life is and have a definite grasp of it. Having a character as an ideal and wanting or feeling connection with it, whether it is a celebrity/icon or fictional character, INFPs are drawn to them because of their ideals. Your MBTI is how you take in and make sense of the world around you. Being an INFP is actually not boring, it is challenging which is why most INFP go out their ways to explore the world to discover new ideas, perspectives to understand themselves and the world around them. Healthy INFPs are driver of the world. They are the ones who think differently than most people, it’s easy for them to come up with new and unique ideas and perspectives that most of the time, others don’t understand what they meant and think their ideas are absurb because they aren’t wired to think like that. INFPs are actually hard to control if they have and know their own conviction/s. They see what’re wrong in society and system because they are wired to see things differently than many, they use this ability to start a cause just like BLM, Feminism, or Free education campaigns to list some. You’re mbti can change depending on the influences around you and if those influences affected your insight and behavior of things.

  • Dave Magoon

    I’m an INFP, and a great fan of your podcast. I loved the idea of storytelling as a way to ‘explain’ ideas. Explaining my feelings or intuitions has always felt like a burden, and often ineffective, but people do love stories. I recently retired an am in the process of developing my new life. One thing I am trying is to unquestioningly follow my intuition. It’s easier to do without the strictures of a job, and yet what I’m discovering is that I have run roughshod over my feelings and intuition for most of my life. The way I know this is that now I’m paying attention to even the smallest promptings (walk over that direction, give that person a call, etc.) that I likely would have ignored previously. Self trust, I think is the first step toward self esteem.

  • Nancy C.

    Wow, this article was everything and more. I don’t think anyone in my life understands me as well as you do and you’re a complete stranger! I want to thank you so much for writing this article. It had me in tears. Everything was completely spot on. Even the part where you had predicted what statements would cause me to pause, I was flabbergasted to say the least. I feel like you’re inside of my head. I have many friends but I feel very much alone in this world and that no one really understands me. People tell me that I’m the nicest person they ever met, but I always tell them that I am not as nice as they think and now I know why. I even feel some type of guilt when people tell me that. I never realized that we as INFPs have a closer connection to these “dark” parts of our heart. There was nothing in this article that was untrue to me. After scrolling through the comments, I saw that some people did not agree with this article. I think this is because just being an INFP does not mean that we are all the same. Everything falls within a spectrum. For me, I scored 86% introverted, 76% intuitive, 86% feeling, and 68% prospecting, and 97% turbulent. Some people may be a bit more balanced and score just above 50% on the scales, maybe this is the reason that they did not connect with this article as much as I did. Anyways, I just wanted to thank you again for this as I am currently on my path to self growth. I NEVER post comments on the internet and although it seems like a miniscule thing, this was a big step for me. I can’t thank you enough Joel for taking the time to write this article and help people like me who feel like they are struggling with this every day.

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Thank you Nancy for your thoughtful words. I’m so happy you found this article helpful for your life. Sending positive love and light in your direction. Peace.

    • Samir T.

      THIS. A billion times this!!! I could have written this comment down to punctuation! I’m 43 and have discovered that I’m an INFP only a few days ago. All the articles I’ve read and podcasts I’ve listened to so far, especially on, (together with their comment sections!), have had me on the verge of tears countless times already.
      I do feel that exploration is the right path for us to overcome our typical struggles and yes, writing a comment (AND hitting on “Post”!) on the Internet is already a big step to get out of our Fantasyland comfort zone!
      Bon voyage on your personal growth journey my fellow INFP’s, and let’s make it a fun ride!

  • Canaan Collier

    This article was enlightening to say the least. Everything from the reason why I wait until the last minute to do school projects to what I tell myself when I am sobbing in the corner is explained here with impeccable accuracy. The situations illustrated were incredibly realistic and true to countless similar situations I’ve experienced in the past, and had merely classified as “life” or “just another awkward moment”. Nothing is more self fulfilling than reading about my own quirks and character traits exactly as they are from the perspective of somebody I’ve never seen or met before in my life. Thank you for documenting this information so that I don’t have to spend a week “thinking introspectively” just to have a sliver of the effect reading this had on me.

  • Marsha Sakamaki

    I have taken many versions of the MBTI test. When I was younger (30 to 40 years old), I would often test out as ENTP. As I got older (I am now 70), I test out reliably as an INFP.

    My career started as a CPA, and I flourished for about 20 years. Then a head injury forced my early retirement. For the next 15 years, I was utterly wrapped up in my brain rehab and cognition improvement. I realized that as a CPA, I had denied the existence of my feelings and forced myself into the public light. I always followed my gut feelings but made sure I had “hard evidence” to support my decisions.

    I regained some of my lost CPA-type skills. However, I still could not reliably operate my CPA firm. I was no longer inspired to run a CPA firm. At the time of my accident, I was only interested in my firm, my clients, and my family.

    After the accident, I realized that I had no hobbies, no outside interests, and no real life-skills. During the 15-year rehab period, my health fell to pieces. Western medicine failed me. The doctors believed that they were managing all by health issues by prescribing seven daily medications.

    I would not accept a life filled with medications and more down the road to handle the side-effects of whatever drugs they recommended. I started to research and buy alternative health equipment, etc. Eventually, I reversed my diseases and have been medication-free for about seven years.

    I can see the INFP influence through-out this period. I honestly was inspired to regain my health. I spent ten plus hours a day working n restoring my health. After achieving that, I opened a Wellness Center to change peoples’ perceptions of their health choices.

    Everything I have read on INFP resonates for me except for the importance of art. Artistic expression – be it painting, music, photos, etc. says very little to me. Visiting a museum is my definition of a painful and tedious activity. Am I not an INFP?

    • Joel Mark Witt

      I would say that INFPs are interested in expression. Most people equate that with art or artistic expression. But I know many INFPs who express themselves as scientists or with math or other hobbies or professions. Self-expression doesn’t have to be artistic.

  • Robbie Weed

    Loved the insight and helpful suggestions. Oft times, especially as a male INFP, I feel like a Salmon swimming upstream with only one fin, looking for a path through the row of hungry bears up ahead hoping that I don’t get caught, and dare I say eaten alive. Good thing for lots of Hobbies to safely explore and re-energize from the corporate life that we tend to live. And yes, animated and heart felt story telling works wonders these days.

  • Jennifer

    This is do true to the very core, I am curious is if you’ve done other research o. This personality type and how do we over come these false flaws that we place upon ourselves. I often do this the same they as self sabotage when you feel like you have no support or understanding at me question is do you have recommendeations of certain models to.take s all steps to overcome what we know that we should not carry o. I. The future so we can flourish as human beings so we can spread light and motivate others without feeling so alone?

  • Steph Gilliard

    This is by far the most accurate description of me, in every single way. I have been dealing with childhood trauma that has plagued my life in so many ways, for such a long time. After I had my son, I vowed to better myself, or the belief that I had of myself rather. I know that I have made progress in ways that most who have gone through what I did, can not progress. I know this because I was told by many psychologists, therapists, and counselors, that my brain would never allow me to have a completely normal life.

    I refused to believe that. I raised my son on my own, without the help from the government or his dad. I ended all of the emotionally draining and co-dependent relationships I had. I returned to college and went from being a “C” average student my entire life, to, now my third year in, maintaining a 4.0 since I started back.

    I forced myself to think about my experience and to acknowledge the way it made me feel, then tell myself to let it go, every single day. I did this so often that one day, I just felt this weight lift from me. I knew, in my heart and my brain, that too much was already stolen from me, and I refused to let it define me anymore.

    I say all of this because I am so used to assessing myself and my feelings, and often cannot discern if I am feeling the way I feel because of an unhealthy processing habit that I can’t pinpoint or define because of my experiences, or if I just tend to feel more than other people.

    After reading this article, for the first time in my life, I feel normal and okay.

    So, thank you for that.


  • Hannie

    I laughed mostly because it’s nice to have someone put into words your world view. Had one of those ugly idealism implosion moments yesterday. This was just what I need to get me moving forward again. Mostly I was really unmotivated to move forward.

    • Nikki

      I think an INFP could totally misinterpret this article in the wrong way. To me it sounds like u want us to do bad things. Thank God for the comments otherwise I would’ve believed everything I read.

      • A

        Not necessarily, I didn’t see it that way. -INFP

  • Tory

    I’d like to say a big thank you for this.

    • Rumfluff

      I’ve waited all my life to hear this…. I kinda knew it anyways…. Also got issues blood group and natal chart…feel like this is worth a longer look…. Phwuueeeyyy 🙂

  • Megan

    Wow. Amazing. I stated multiple times whilst reading this, “yes, me to a T” thank you for the extremely helpful tools to put to use on the areas I need working on, but didn’t know how to start. I’ve known my purpose in life for almost a year now. My results were dead on. Healer.

  • Tomas

    I recommend author of this article to make revisit. There so much garbage in this article. This website is pseudo knowledge. People should seek education instead they get seduced by qwaks.

    • Antonia Dodge

      You should start a website with much higher quality content to drown out the quackery, er qwak-ery of this website.

      Then people will have a beacon of education to arm themselves against seductive machinations.


      • Molly

        What does it mean if I don’t relate at all to the “what if….blah blah” type of personality? For example, my husband is Very much like that and it has always bothered me, or annoyed me a little bit when he wants to talk about “why” does the world have gravity, or what would you do if you won a million dollars, etc. etc. I am more pragmatic than that and don’t enjoy that type of dreaming…not that i dislike it so much, but it bothers me and I want no part in that discussion. Like can’t we talk about something that actually matters or something we can change or help? Rather than waste time on something so silly. I am All about Authenticity!!! I hate fakeness, (which isn’t even a word, but it Should be!) And fake ppl, fake on the surface conversation, etc.. I honestly don’t know if I am INFP….or INFJ?

        • Hannah

          Are you really INFP if ‘what if’ questions bother you? This comment is exactly why websites like these are so important. It serves as a starting point for understanding your own personality type but also (more importantly in my opinion) it serves to help raise awareness and understanding of the personality types of other people in your life. It’s so sad that your husband tried to open up to you about something that is interesting to him and you just wrote it off as something that doesn’t ‘actually matter’. I’ve spent my whole life as an INFP having my ideas written off by others. I couldn’t imagine my mate doing something that detrimental to me. I encourage you to take this information as a gentle reminder that everyone has varying interests and strengths and just because they aren’t aligned with yours doesn’t make them any less valid.

        • Ally

          I don’t think it necessarily has to be that kind of “what if.” Like… have you ever imagined yourself in a different situation, and how you’d think, feel, or act in that situation, even if it’s something as minor as having a different job? Imagining yourself in different situations is a “what if” in and of itself, I think. I also hate those reality-bending ‘what-ifs’, and find them annoying for some reason; despite that, I know I’m an INFP.

          • A

            I love the what if questions… ESPECIALLY reality-bending what ifs! theorizing. It’s fascinating.

          • Jenny Bengtsson

            If you, as I have myself, have difficulties following other people’s thoughts on ”what could be”, then that seems to go with the INFP way to commit to what subjects feel authentic to us. I have been in the IT business with ppl who like to explore technology. That doesn’t feel at all relevant to me, can even be boring, IF there aren’t any real authenticity behind; stories on the needs users of technology have, the actual problems we should solve a s o. I understand now this is so core to my personality and motivation in my job. It happens to be me that create those narratives to add authencity to the devemopment and workshop, and reality checks with the end-users world, since I am an Interaction designer/working with usability and IT

  • Brenda

    Hello, I too am an INFP. I’ve taken several different tests through the years, and they always come up INFP. I know I’m a dreamer, because I could spend hours in that world and could actually get a bit miffed when I’m pulled out of it due to life’s responsibilities. I love the way the writer puts into words what I’ve been doing all my life — “throwing my hat over the fence”. I’ve always called it “waiting till the last minute” or “procrastination” because it motivates me to work quickly and thoroughly. The fact that I know I CAN do it vs the fact that I don’t really WANT to do it has always perplexed me. I’m a list make extraordinaire, but rarely follow through. I can even psyche myself out from doing a job just by putting it on a list. Because then I feel like I “have to do it” instead of “wanting to do it”. Even if I have all intentions of doing a job (like say cleaning out the closet) and my husband asks me very innocently before he leaves for work “what are you doing today?”, and then I answer him “I think I’ll clean out the walk-in closet!”, it’s just the same to me as putting it on the list. Now I have sabotaged my efforts to actually do it, because now it’s out there and I MUST do it, therefore I WON’T. Somehow I managed to raise seven children in a very clean house I might add. But most of the cleaning was done in a rapid-fire 2 hour all-out cleaning spree because someone was coming over. I feel like I had parties and invited people over often just so I could keep my house clean (throwing my hat over the fence). I hate a mess, so the part about blinders doesn’t really apply to me. I definitely can see it and it lays on my shoulders like a huge weight until I can get it done. I’m not sure if there are any other INFP mom’s out there like me? But I would love to hear of any suggestions that have worked for you.

    • Christy

      You and I are mind twins. You are not the only one and you described me on point. Thank you for your comment. Now I know I’M not the only one with these issues. Except i’m not a mom.

    • Marcy

      I could not quit laughing as I read this bc I do the exact same things!!

    • Molly

      Brenda. Wow as I was reading your comment, I was actually confused and surprised for a moment, thinking someone wrote MY life!! Because I too have seven children and I am Almost Exactly like you! I would do the company, guests thing as well, then run around frantically cleaning house, at the same time, wondering WHY I do this to myself and cussing myself out that I let this house get So bad and what is wrong with me and just stressed. But also it seems my whole life was like that during those years. However now that I only have a few older kids at home, I am not like that. I feel like my personality has flip flopped on me thru the years, rather depending upon what is going on in my life??I also have wondered if there’s such a thing as addiction to stress/last minute personality lol! Idk but I absolutely love you ha! It’s so great to know there Are others out there like myself!! Lets be friends! 😁

    • Cara

      This is crazy. I almost never add to the comment section, but I SO related to what you wrote that I actually typed up a silly comment about us being “long lost twins!” etc., etc. Before posting it, though, I read further and realized that we are definitely NOT “twins”– but sextuplets (or maybe octuplets?!)

      This INFP stuff is absolutely bizarre. I have a hunch that other types don’t find this feeling of similarity/connection so “amaaazing” because they run into it all the time! We, on the other hand, are not only the RAREST type — we’re also fairly introverted & therefore less likely to meet and really get to know the people who are the most like us. Fascinating…

    • Carolyne Buckley

      Brenda I read your response and thought this lady is ME! 🙂

    • Beverly Jobber

      Hello, I too am an INFP, and put it down to me being lazy,(unmotivated) I find it very hard to motivate myself, not that my house is not clean, but all intentions go to the wind and then I will rush round, and it will be clean in an hour, I have done this my entire life , not until now do I realise what I am and I am in my seventies, wow, having worked most of my adult life and raised 3children by myself, procrastination wasn’t a problem, because I didn’t have time to think, when things have to be done, they have to be done, essentially a loner who likes my own company, because people are just so fake,(oh dear) what does that say and a mind so openly wide that it takes in everything, including the dark side and anything that is not of the ordinary, everything is an open book, what an eye opener this has been, and being also a procrastinator and a dreamer, I felt sorry for the person who didn’t think her husband was worth hearing, what a shame, thank you to all of you, so good to know I am not alone and there is nothing wrong with me.

      • kate

        I had a successful flower farm/ wedding floral business for 20 years. I became much better at planning and scheduling my time, making to do lists and charts for who does what but I never really liked it. I did my best design work when I was put on the spot. When there was a problem which had to be solved, right now! It was actually less stressful than planning and scheduling. It drove other people crazy but I actually enjoyed coming up with unique solutions which needed an immediate resolution. There was no time to think, only time to use my intuition and design skills. It got me out of my continual, what if questioning, and into an immediate flow state. My employees learned not to mess with me in this state!

  • Janet

    This is amazing! Thank you so much x

  • Paul

    And the continuation of my message. I shared my message in the first one for the reason of helping the other infps to not fall into the trap of fearing to voice out their truths because of the thought you shared that no one will understand them. Lol, sorry but I have to be rude at this, since I have already mentioned my facts in the first one sir.

    Secondly, I deeply appreciate the help you gave in this article, other points are good and helpful. And I’m thankful as well for this time to excercise my conviction on balancing things I perceive in the moment. Thank you!

    You can personally message me at [email protected] thanks again!

    • Jaz

      Thank you for these insights. I really appreciate that someone should care about the development and growth of other people. I do believe that texts like this can only resonate in other people‘s hearts, because they are well meaning and borne out of even higher than honorable intentions.

      What struck me while reading it is realizing that every person will have gone through an own personal history in the discovery of their own personality by the time they read your article. (While I have taken the MBTI test in a professional context long ago, we didn’t get any individual analysis like this or coaching afterwards.)

      As for me, I identify with much of what you have said – the way you describe the processes in my mind, as well as, the challenges I face. Interestingly, it looks like the solutions you offer are things that an INFJ could potentially also discover by themselves, sooner or later. As for my journey, I am happy to say that I seem to be on the right track. I discovered ways of “throwing my hat over the fence” as a teenager, while the challenge only lay in managing the reactions of the people around me (as no man is an island) and I realize that this challenge will always exist. At the same time, I have accepted that I will always be “elusive” to people around me and to myself (and the word has been my favorite word for half of my life now). I am just feeling inspired now to know that people like me are “seen” as we are and that there are people around who also believe in the good I hope to be able to contiribute the world in my quest to explore it in order to make the most out out myself. So kudos to you and your team for a good start at making the world a better place! My heartfelt thanks!

    • Janet

      This is amazing! Thank you so much x

  • Paul

    I totally disagree with him about what he said on the area of validation. Sorry sir, but we infps are really good at words, that means we are capable of putting our feelings, experiences, thoughts and other observations into sentences or word, plus with clarity and beauty. I just feel so offended that the author’s content tries to show that he fully know this type of personality.

    But I commend with what you said on the car model, it seems like it’s good and helpful, and about the discipline of infps towards their work.

    I am an Infp and I am not yet done reading the article sir, but there’s one thing i like to say, we are all complex in many different ways and for me it is impossible that some other types will be able to put into words the whole picture of someone else personality.

  • Liznel R

    My ex boyfriend got so tired of my what if he would turn and say “ what if my mother never met my father”.? I also wrote novels in texts because I can not remember what and I scramble what I wanted to say when in person. I never feel like I belong anywhere with anyone.

    • Yusa

      I appreciate so much what you write. It really feels right to me, being an INFP myself.
      Have been working with my shadows, as well as my Anima, which turns out opposite from what my INFP Ego. Knowing more from what you write about INFP Persona, it adds up more inventories of “shadows and anima” blind spots, I hadn’t seen before. Thank you so much. Keep it up!

  • Cindy

    What a great article!

    Just yesterday I mentioned to my husband (of 35 years) that I do not understand why I cannot explain myself like other people do. He can talk about something for 45 minutes straight – and – make sense. But if someone asks me what I think after that – I have no idea what to say. I have to think about it for awhile. After reading this and finding out my personality type I feel much better. Thank you!

    • Nadine

      This was an amazingly well articulated way of describing who I am. Sometimes I feel like Horton Hears a Who. I have been fortunate for many years to have a boss who recognizes that I can see the right thing to do, even if I can’t articulate it in the moment ( and who helps me articulate it) and that I can go back and craft an email which explains all. I just got a promotion and I am so struggling with this with a new boss!

  • James Green


    This article does an excellent job of probing the depths of the INFP mind. Here are some personal reflections:

    Understanding vs. Authenticity: The friends and family that I trust are the ones who validate my non-linear, creative brain and my convictions, even they don’t quite get it or agree with it.

    Inner vs. Outer Self: During social interactions, I tend to play up my Extraverted Intuition (using hyperbole, frequent puns, quoting hip-hop lyrics in conversation, etc.) and play down my Introverted Feeling (explaining or exploring the relationship between my life and my values) in a misguided attempt to win the approval and acceptance of others. Sometimes it works, many times it doesn’t. I’ve found I’ve had much more social success in using my Fi and Ne to proactively connect with others on their own turf:
    – Before entering into a social situation, tapping into my own core value of connecting with other people and making them feel loved, valued, and respected
    – During alone time, write down various ways to make the people in my life feel special.
    – Discern other people’s personality types, strengths, weaknesses, etc., using Ne.

    Thanks again!

    • CA

      Thank you for writing this article. Now that I’m accepting myself and learning about my true personality type after being mistyped for so long (ESTJ – I know! Completely different. But the thing is, as I found out that Te works on my inferior/aspirational role, I had been fooling myself to think that I’m ESTJ. I had been wanting to lead with Te but it never works for me and only brings me so much stress I cannot handle.) Now that I know better I can start the process of accepting and developing my strengths and weaknesses. Thank you again, Joel.

    • Christine Moten

      Thank you is not enough, I am here in tears right now from your words. I felt you speak directly to me. You were writing about my life, I am that corporate, single INFP Mom who gave away my power to my children. HOWEVER I HAVE A CONVICTION TO REGAIN IT AND ENJOY THE 3RD CHANCE AT LIFE I’VE BEEN GIVEN! This 46yr old INFP my coworkers call sunshine had 2 heart attacks last year including a quad bypass and now I swear I have a case of Benjamin Button lol I am convinced I am here for a reason and determined to know why! So again thank you, thank you for your knowledge and wisdom, you are appreciated!!

      • Cheri White


  • Sandra D. Farmer

    I want the world to know more of the awesome man thatwrote this, knows this, and gives the kind of in-depth wisdom to a very misunderstood group of “types that I am speaking of including myself even at my age. I thank you sir for your profound genius and I wonder at your ability and love of others to give such a all incompassing study back to those like myself. You walk with God, and I thank you completely from my heart for this understanding you have given to so many . Sincerely. S.F.

  • janet cade

    I think i have probably already commented, b u t each time i re-read this i find more in it. HoW did i miss it the first time? This is SO TRUE. Having a thought – even a great – sometimes even brilliant though. Try to articulate it in the real world– even worse if yet one more person gets added into a very small group a n d – mouth turns to mush. Writing that same idea though and it is focused, understandable and can be quite good. Writing is definitely a strength. Joel you really rock on with this stuff. Thank you for putting this out there. Truly one of the biggest epiphanies is from this text. Brilliant!

  • Erin

    Wow. INFP or INFJ? This article makes me feel like someone finally understands me–so did the INFJ, though maybe slightly less so. Almost every personality test I have taken has come up INFJ. In fact, I may have an INFJ email from Personality Hacker way back in my email somewhere. I have a whole Pinterest board about INFJ, and I’m now working on INFP as well.

    I know that the label is probably less important and don’t believe that anyone fits nicely into a little box, but part of me just wants to KNOW, you know?

    Anyway, I have discovered the podcasts, and I am looking forward to exploring this further and discovering how this can be useful to my life. Also, I am looking at a few (major) parts of my life (relationships in particular) that don’t quite fit with me and that I feel are stifling. It is terrifying to think about some of these potential changes as they would hurt people I love very much. Besides, how do I know which decisions are right when making said changes would mean reaching a certain point where there is just no turning back–even if it feels afterward that I have made a huge mistake.

    Anyway, it probably feels like I’m rambling, so enough of being vague. Thanks for your work. It is engaging and informational, and exciting to understand myself and some of those around me on a different level.

    • Lizzy

      Wow. I feel like I’ve finally found my personality. This article was deeply insightful. Thank you so much.

    • Brett

      Hi Erin, after reading your comment, I’d just like to say. I had the same trouble as you. INFJ or INFP, or INXX?? Turns out I’m INFP. I did 3 different tests, and tested as INFJ. I never once tested as INFP. I felt I could relate to INFJ, and because I’ve always known I was different (but always comfortable with it). And as a male INFP just made me fell a little more different. Though I’ve always managed to fit in with everyone, without having to hide my true self.

      Once I got a better understanding of the function stack and heard other INFP’s on Youtube. It hit me like a tonne of bricks. I thought, “how could I have not seen I was INFP”. And it had a profound affect. It hasn’t changed me. Just validated me. Now I know just HOW different I think, and see the world. Compared to everybody else. I didn’t come across this because I was struggling. It was because an older couple I know well, said something to me one day that made me stop in my tracks. And I thanked them for it. They said something like, ” Just when we thought we knew you. You just dive even deeper with your passion on everything. Then we realise we hardly know you at all, just can’t fathom the passion and the depths of you”. They apologised the following night. Thinking they may have offended me. I reassured then, not at all. I appreciate your honesty, and thank you for it. I know now why they are fascinated by me. One in ISFJ and his is ISTJ. They will never grasp how I see the world. Though they appreciate me for who I am, and bringing a breath of fresh air, and many more varied insightful ways of viewing things, that they would otherwise never bother to look at.

      Anyway, now I’m rambling. I hope you made the right decision for yourself, and everything has worked out for the better. Knowing who you really are will help you make the right decisions.


      • Chad

        Hi Brett, I had the same issues. I more frequently test as INFJ, but there were certain aspects that I couldn’t reconcile. What threw me off the most was Fe vs. Fi. I don’t have strong feelings myself, such as a close family member passing and me not feeling anything myself. There is just sort of an acceptance that they have passed and knowing that they won’t be coming back. I guess I just believe that I will see them again when I leave this body. On the other hand, if I observe someone else’s emotional reaction, I can put myself in their shoes and then I begin to get choked up. Then, as a contradiction, I can be moved to tears by lyrics or a Feed the Children commercial. Since I had these reactions I thought I was actually feeling what they were feeling. From my understanding, Fe is experienced in the moment and actually absorbing what they are putting out. I am actually uncomfortable with emotions other than anger and happiness. I think because of my age, I just have an extensive internal map of emotions. I have always worked in male-dominated environments, so I feel like a freak when something touches me emotionally, though I’m getting better at accepting who I am and being more authentic. It’s weird, but I also prefer the company and friendship of women.
        The second thing that misled me to think I was INFJ was my ability to be a chameleon. I can mask my true self and fit into any given environment. I am the only one that knows that I’m not thinking like everyone else. I am a skilled actor who knows the right thing to say and do. It really bugs me that I have the ability to be inauthentic. This causes an internal struggle which causes me to dream about greener pastures (moving on to a new job). I served in the USMC for twenty years and the only thing that kept me going was the ability to ask for orders every three years. Once I have a basic mastery of a job, I get bored and lose interest. I haven’t found my calling yet and I am eight years into my second career. It is said of INFP’s, that we are extremely loyal and can endure. I endure because I am married to an ISTJ who values security and becomes deeply troubled when I talk about doing something else. The pay and benefits give her a sense of security. I could give it all up and risk financial ruin in exchange for happiness. Tiny House living is appealing to me as long as I still have my workshop to pursue my wood working. My art is my sanity. I have the ability to look into the future and see that a second retirement is a reality, so I force myself to be practical and keep doing something I don’t care to do. I find ways to rationalize staying in my current job. I now work with some deeply troubled people who are difficult to deal with. I hate it, because I hate conflict, but occasionally there is a success story and I feel re-energized for a short period of time. It might last a day or a month and then I’m back to feeling stressed and un-inspired again. Oops! I just realized I went on a tangent, which I often do.
        The third reason I mistyped is my self-identification with being a judger. Getting things done in the outside world. Most tests give you a this or that option with the questions. I would look at my ability to design a piece of furniture and be able to make a cutting diagram and complete list of materials, including pricing and actually bring it to life. When you read descriptions of INFJ’s and INFP’s, there is a stigma that INFP’s only have ideas and can’t bring them to life, where INFJ’s are creative and doers. This caused me to believe that I must be a judger and not a perceiver. It may be Te inferior which caused me to do this since Te is associated with getting things done in the outside world in the most effective manor. This is what caused me to believe I was a judger and not a perciever. The thing I wasn’t allowing myself to see is that it is the stuff that I feel like doing, that I really put effort into. When I set my mind to something, I will sacrifice sleep and eating and drinking to get it done. I become disconnected from my body when I am creatively inspired. I have gone to bed late at night and can’t get my brain to shut off, because I have a new idea. Ultimately, I wind up getting up and returning to my shop to put my idea into action. On the flip-side, I wasn’t being honest with myself that I will procrastinate with things I don’t want to do, but will eventually get them done because I know what the repercussions will be. I think I also considered myself a judger, because I am never late and if anything else, I am very early for work, appointments, etc. This is probably just my concern with my image and what people think about me. I have lied to myself and others that I don’t care what others think about me.
        I thought I was an INFJ for years now, but secretly, I wanted to be anything else but an INFJ. I looked at all the negative things about being INFP and thought, there is no way I can be this type because of certain aspects I didn’t want to identify with. The truth is, I really believe I am an INFP now that I am truly being honest with myself. I am becoming okay with who I am, but I am still dreaming of the ideal job and life. Thank you everyone for your comments. If you see error in my logic, please reply. I will not be offended.

        • Ben Willmott

          From my first day at school I knew I was different. I remember it like it was yesterday. My mother walking me to the tiny classroom at the end of the hall. Inside, through the patterned glass, I could see a group of outgoing children who didn’t have a care in the world. I turned to my mum and grabbed her tight, sobbing my heart out. ‘I don’t want to go in mummy, it is too loud. The children are going to want to speak to me, what do I say back?’.

          She looked at me and said, ‘Don’t be silly, you will do great.’ As the door opened, there stood a tall lady with round spectacles. She held my hand and told me that she feels exactly the same as I do. Her heart was fluttering too. She guided me to the smallest table, the children where sat with their heads down colouring. This was my table. I felt happy at this table.

          For the next two weeks, the classroom felt like it grew every day. My teacher would get me to sit with one person a day and get us to talk and do activities together. It made me feel much calmer and school was joyful. The kids where just as nervous to meet me as I was them. I made a few close friends and the bond grew as the years went by. I had a purpose here.

          Sitting back, I think about my teacher. I can’t remember her name, that frustrates me! But she helped pave my way to navigate primary school the way I wanted to. She was quirky, quiet and very abstract. Caring, nurturing and kind. I absolutely think that she was an INFP like me. Maybe she also had issues guiding through life and found it in the playfulness of children.

          When I am around youthful souls, I too feel that creativity. The wonder you feel when you don’t understand. You push to achieve an understanding. That is how I live my life! My daughter brightens my day, she always asks questions. In my brain, I am asking the same questions. What if? Why? How come?

          Being an INFP to me, feels like you never really exited that childhood phase. I kept asking those questions. Unlike others who fall in to line, the INFP always thinks outside the box. Like children, we see the world through our view. Through imagination. I for one feel that the world needs more of this. Go and sit with children, understand their unbiased way of thinking. That to me is pure. Unfiltered.
          We, as a people, need more of that.

          I am proud of who I am.

          An INFP.

          • kate

            Your reply made me cry. I wish I had had your kindergarten teacher. I spent most of my school days with my head on the desk or staring out the window. I didn’t talk, I kept to myself. I didn’t know how to talk to the other children or the teacher.

  • AM

    This is the best explanation of myself I have ever read. I have been looking towards personality types and personal development for a while to try and understand myself and others. I am always looking for a default setting to go to when I am not sure how to act. It always feels like I need to understand where people are coming from more, and understand how they are perceiving me more. I feel blind to it, so this subject helps with that.
    I also look, to try to understand the point of life. Self growth is where I turn when I start thinking that there might not be a point.

    It took months for me to correctly identify my personality type. I suspected INFP and now I know for sure.

    It all paid off because you didn’t just describe behaviors I relate to like many other articles on this subject, you described the why and the origin of the behaviors.

    I truly felt like people just didn’t understand me because maybe they didn’t want to, I didn’t know. Reading what you wrote about not being able to verbally articulate clearly (when what I am saying, seems perfectly clear to me) REALLY HELPS ME. Knowing the origin and the why is how I can change myself.
    I really related to every word, Thank you.

  • kate

    So I’m just going to put this out there. Sometimes trauma will force someone to develop their copilot. In my case my son, an only child, shot himself 4 years ago. My husband and I were home when it happened. Seeing him lying dead on his bed with a hole in his head was obviously the most traumatic event of my life. My husband and I lived in the house, and I ran my flower farm there for another 4 years. I felt my son’s presence on the property. I wasn’t ready to leave. Once I decided I was ready I made all the necessary preparations to move to Mexico. My husband wasn’t as on board with the idea as I was so I did 90% of the work. Lots of stuff I wasn’t comfortable doing. Interacting with moving companies, talking to officials about visas, finding a house. Now that I’m in Mexico I am learning a new language and adapting to different cultural norms, eating different food, shopping in open air markets figuring out how the transportation system works. I threw myself into the fire and am finding out just how competent I can be dealing with the world of action and experience. I am very tired but satisfied that I have made so much progress working with my extroverted intuition has given me much more self confidence. I don’t wish this type of trauma on anyone I’m making the best of a very bad situation and I’m becoming a better person because of it.

    • Jessica


      I’m so sorry about the loss of your son. Your story is a great example of how we can dip into our other functions in positive ways – even our inferior function – during difficult times. I tend to focus on my usage of tertiary and inferior functions when stressed or during hardship as negative experiences, but as an INFP I can relate to getting to that point where your Fi quiets down, and your Te comes in to get sh** when we need it most. I also appreciate how you utilized your Ne in a major way after that. i would think that would be important after such a personal trauma that dealt directly with family and home, given that our tertiary (or 10 year old) is Si (Memory).

  • kate sparks

    Wow! I’ve tested a few times as an INFJ but more often as an INFP. Every point you made about the inner workings of the INFP mind and personality resonates with my life. My favorite pastime is talking to another person one on one, bouncing ideas around. Spirituality is very important to me but religion is so off putting because I can’t force myself to agree with any social system that wants to put me into the “I believe this box” just because someone else says it’s true. Conversing actually comes more easily to me than writing. Writing seems to make something more final. What if I have another experience causes me to change my mind about what I’ve written? Now I’ve put myself in a box! Too many existential crises make me want to crawl under the covers and never come out.
    Anyway, this is the best article I’ve read about my personality type. Thank you for making me feel a little less weird.

  • janet cade

    I so agree with Lucas. Happy inner INFP is elated with this !
    I can’t say it – (now (to contradict with a wink and a smile though) can’t even seem to write it. There is a shyness there, s o am just reiterating Lucas, b u t Yes I am happy to say that ‘on a good day’ i can write and articulate and have humor and all the rest. Lack of exposure (after growing up in a restricted religious group) has left me not wanting to ‘experience’ but craving it all at the same time and realizing – you are So Right – that provides perfect validation when what i know can be checked and validated by just that – getting out there and checking and re-checking to be sure! Thanks a mill Joel!!!

  • hannah

    talk about spot on! wow. it’s incredible how INFPs have so many wonderful, positive, colorful traits but the weakest of those traits seems to always win out (at least in my case). Crippling self doubt. after reading and absorbing all of the insights from this article and thinking about how they apply to me (especially loved the hat over the fence trick), the strongest feeling i finished with was the feeling that this article was telling me i don’t experience life enough. there is a voice screaming at me saying “the author is calling you close minded” and that i need to broaden my horizons more. but in my heart of hearts, i KNOW this is a false voice. i love my life and am fairly confident that it is full of exploration and i seek out new experiences frequently! it’s fascinating that such a tiny part of me and my dark thoughts has such weight on my overall identity. going to check out your podcast. i really enjoy learning about how people work.

  • Ken

    I think we don’t understand ourselves completely because every new insight leads to even deeper layers to be explored.In that sense I don’t think anyone understands themselves completely.It’s just we gone on where other people will say “well i found what I need so this is enough”and we will think what? Don’t you see that whole new field of exploration?…and there you are…alone again

  • Marlien Coetser

    Thank you, this is so spot on. I’m 43 and really frustrated. I feel that I should be an artist in something but it feels like I have no talent at all. I can’t paint, dance, write, play an instrument, but I always feel that I want to burst with ideas and passion but I have nothing to project it on!!!! The joys of being an INFP….

    • greg

      Maybe your talent is not in YOUR doing the work, but your leadership. From above: “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.”

      Give people your visions and let them help you make it a reality.

      • Alisa

        Fantastic comment! I use my creativity in my teaching… how to teach robotics and mechatronics in a better way. Hands on science experiments are my art form. There is an art medium for everyone.

    • Yvonne

      Marlien, I am the same way. I feel that I am supposed to be an artist, but I don’t have a wellspring of creativity. How can we fix this?

  • Justin P Rodriguez

    Hi, im a person facing many internal and external struggles right now. I keep hitting roadbocks in both worlds also, which is whyim here. Physically, sitting in a friend’s driveway using wifi on a tablet, because iwas delinquent on my phone bill and service was shut off, instead of just going to work as a indivual labor contractor, which i love but am terrible at on the efficiency side of things. In my nice truck that’s halfway paid off but a current target for the repo man. It’s very important to stay close or in this necessary part of my trade because its also my home. I sit ad read this, looking for a clear answer about myself as i often do.

    I randomly took a free test about a year ago, and cried because thoughts i couldn’t even seperate were described to me about myself fur the first time in my life. I was typed as INTP. i was suspicious of my type being intj, but clarified the best i could that i was still intp but barely on this side of the dividing line. I felt…. flattered? Proud?

    Ive been typed in person by a trusted(on this subject ) intj as being an istp. I agreed with about half the description.

    Lately I’ve felt weary and hopeless again, and tested on your site as infp. The first half of your description brought anther tear to my eye. The second part either didnt match up or was not as enthralling. I really should get over how late i am to this job, but am so panicked and overwhelmed ive taken this extra hour reading and typing on my tablet, which is annoyingly slow without swype due to cracked screen.

    I very rarely check comments following mine the few times ive had the courageor conviction on a subject, not because i dont care. because im fearfuul of poor reception or my going back on my thoughts. This time will be the same, reason more being fear of confusionby random subscribers speculating or advising. So can the person in charge just email me.? I could use some credible insight. Thanks

  • poorva deshpande

    I have been listening to your podcasts and now reading your articles and I have been doing it over and over again and every time I have multiple Aha! moments. Thank you for articulating this so beautifully-I feel I know myself so much better!

  • Karen Ulrich

    It is unfortunate that if you want to learn more about the other types as comprehensively as one’s own test results provide, you have to pay for some starter kit. Thankfully, I found your article comparing INFP with INFJ’s. Psychology Junkie is where I found Personality Hacker to do the “most reliable test.”

    So, in your own words from your own article comparing INFJ to INFP, I tested as an INFP (first time ever on any test) but I am an INFJ according to your article. All of the clips below are what I relate to as an INFJ. I actually could not understand or relate to most anything about an INFP.

    The Harmony person might ask themselves something like…
    “What get’s everyone needs met?”
    “How do I create harmony both within interpersonal relationships and the context/environment?”
    mature Harmony makes sure all of our needs are understood and taken care of.
    Some INFJs, accustomed to being misunderstood and feeling like an ‘outcast’, will sometimes identify with the concept of being true to oneself over ‘society’ and identify with this aspect of INFPs.
    “serving other’s needs first in order to get your own needs met” (Harmony)
    Harmony (having other people’s emotions on their radar all the time) seems to converge into this super power (absorbing emotions)
    INFJ emotional absorption is done in real time/synchronously, whereas for an INFP emotional mirroring can be done through time/asynchronously.
    INFJs are far less interested in validation and are more interested in protection. They don’t need you to agree with them, they need to know you’re not going to hurt them, even if the fear of hurt is deeply unconscious.
    INFJs – using the Perspectives process – often solve problems and persuade others by offering alternative perspectives. In fact, they generally solve problems by shifting perspectives until the solution becomes clear. They offer these shifts to others as ‘a-ha’ moments.
    NFJs to bring ‘insight’
    INFJs never lose awareness of other people.
    INFJs are leading with an intuitive, learning process
    INFJs never lose awareness of other people.
    People would call me the counselor before they would see me as the healer as well.

    • Antonia Dodge

      I’m not sure what you’re referring to when you say you have to pay for a starter kit to get comprehensive info on other types. There is a resource page for all 16 types with podcasts, articles and other resources we’ve curated to be relevant to each type. They’re in the drop down menu on the home page. Pretty easy to locate.


    • Cheri White

      I agree most definitely

    • Cheri White

      Most definitely
      I found some truths here but also contradictions
      Although the author is spot on in some areas
      Well written 😀

  • Lara

    Wow, estou realmente impressionada com esse artigo. Falou muito bem sobre nós INFPs e nos deu soluções de vida geniais. Estou surpresa que você não seja INFP e conseguiu escrever esse artigo sem ser genérico e usar estereótipos como a maioria dos outros sites faz. Muito obrigada por isso.
    Você foi tão bem que chegou no Brasil.

  • chinwendu amachree

    Well i mean what you have just written I’m sure has been a delight to every infp. Who has taken time out to read this.. In regards to the accuracy and how relatable it is. We sure have felt some sorth of validation .. Especially myself, i had a lot of ahhhnnn!!! Moments knowing that I’m perfectly me and normal , weird becomes a beautiful word ; which is more of different from the usual but definately amazing, and not a big mind bugling word. And knowing that we can get better is exciting and I’m very optimistic about exploring, strengthening my convictions and straightening them out. I need a lot of assistance though. I’m experiencing some dark times. Presently in the disillusioned state.

  • Leanne

    This is a great article and provides some really good solutions to problems.
    I would like to echo Peter’s question and ask, Can an INFP who has stopped using his authenticity function eventually mutate into another type? Or does an under-used driver process just produce a lot of low-grade discontent? I tried to suppress my Fi function for a long time in order to win approval from thinkers, and even typed myself as an INTJ with Fi in the ten-year-old position because it felt so much like a defensive posture. Yet, when I look back on my unselfconscious teens, I can see that Fi was a strength because it enabled me to cherish ideals of a better world and inspire people to see hope and goodness in others. It’s so encouraging to hear that idealism can serve me well, and to learn that storytelling could be my most powerful means of communicating.

    • Bam

      I am a retired engineer / project manager and through my life I have changed my personality type 3 times. I was INTJ when I was young, starting my career and climbing the ladder of corporate hierarchy. Once I reached the top and no longer need to prove myself, I turned into INFJ. Today I did the test again and to my surprised resulted in INFP type. Is this common, I wonder.

      • Lisa

        My life experience echos yours exactly! In my youth, while striving to grow in a technical field I tested as an INTJ. Like you, as I became comfortable in my knowledge I tested as an INFJ. Most people who know me would consider me that as well. I was surprised when we took the test at work recently to have tested as an INFP. I’m curious how common this may be as well.

  • K.

    So many “wow” moments while reading this article. I’ve always been hoping that I could find someone that would understand me and today I’ve finally found what I was looking for. It’s this article.

  • Erica

    I have been searching so long for something that will explain me to me…. and this is it!!! EXACTLY!!!! I feel like finally someone gets me and I am validated somehow! I can’t believe it !!! Everything you explained is like a story from my life from my point of view! Thanks you for the insight!! This is amazing to me!!

  • Shayna G

    My hat over the fence is registering for college classes. It forces me to complete the degree I want to, because I’ve decided that is very important to me in order for long term fulfillment in my life. I know getting a degree will Help me develop my Ne and also Te. I am also challenging myself to choose one discipline to focus on, with two secondary focuses. This gives me good structure but also flexibility. Thanks for the article! Very nuanced interpretAtio of the INFP type. Enjoyed it a lot.

  • KJ

    “Throw your hat over the fence”. I love this. I’ve done this a number of times without realizing it until reading this article! It always seems to be over something “really big” (in my mind anyway). One recent example happened just a couple of months ago. Before my brain could tell me “you hate flying and always get sick!” “you are uncomfortable meeting strangers!” “you don’t like to spend a LOT of money on yourself!” “you hate cold weather!” “you’re not a good enough artist to study with the best!”. I threw my hat over the fence. I booked the 9 hour flights, the pricy European hotels, paid the early bird art convention fee, announced it on social media, bought the travel books and bought a new winter coat,… all months before the date… and then I met and socialized with 50 artists whom I learned a great deal from and it was an inspiring experience! Even though I did hate the flights, got pretty ill, was uncomfortable with the small talk with new people, and it was fricken cold… it was all worth it. I guess I knew what I needed to do so I wouldn’t talk myself out of it!

    • V

      I have just done this same thing! I have been wanting to take a little road trip all for going to a specific museum. I decided to enlarge this into a mini-vacation rather than just going to the museum (if I’m going to spend 10 hrs driving somewhere, it better be for more than a museum!). I considered asking friends to come along, but I feel like this trip is important in that it will help me develop the skill of solo traveling. I hadn’t booked the Airbnb and every weekend up until the weekend I wanted to go had been booked. I procrastinated on booking the room, and about half a week later I decided, “okay, if the Airbnb is still available for that weekend, I’m GOING”. And, of course, it was. Now all that’s left to do is tell my boss I’m taking two days off, but it falls in what may become a somewhat critical time, so I’m not sure how to approach that problem…anyways, hoping my trip goes as successfully as yours! 🙂

  • Lynette

    I’ve never read “me” before. Today I know I exist as I was meant to be, not as I should be in other’s minds. Today I have a new direction for what to do with the rest of my life. It won’t be in the same place, in the same way, I’ve done it so far. And I’m 58. I’ve been so unhappy and so “should’ed” in my own mind because of where and who I work with. No more! Thanks!

    • Levi

      Love your comment. Love this article. Love humanity.

  • Steven Martin

    I felt some much needed validation while reading your article. I often feel like I have too many perspectives to explain when commenting on things. Part of your article touched on this, and your suggestion to embody the thoughts in writing before sending out to the real world is invaluable. I have found that when heeding this advice, I am much more likely to use language that is less provocative to individuals with shorter tempers or opposing ideologies. I have always been mystified by the mechanisms my mind uses with which I perceive the world. The stark differences between myself and others has always been obvious to me as well. This article helps me to understand myself and my challenges more clearly. Thank you for that!

  • Zubir

    Thank you for this article, Joel! I think this is one of THE best INFP articles I’ve read. After reading your article, I’m even more convinced of my type. Growing up, I wasn’t able to develop my Exploration process that much. It is easy to grow up in an environment when certain (types of) behaviors are expected of you. Now, I’m finding my sense of freedom by developing more of Exploration over time.

  • Lucas

    This is amazing! really well articulated, so clear and sharp! My inner INFP really thank you for this article

  • Katie

    You read me like a book! This was so insightful and validating I could almost cry! It was so refreshing to see how my mind works as opposed to mbti behaviours which sometimes get confusing and the strategies for INFP challenges were so helpful…gonna start throwing my hat over! All I can say is a massive Thankyou!

  • Amiya

    Great article! I love reading what INFP is about again and again but this is one of a few website (or maybe the only one?) that doesn’t focus on our behaviour. The way you explain every challenge and how we can overcome it is really easy to understand. Not to mention, i’ve always find it hard to understand the Fi Ne things, this is the first time i truly understand what it means. Thank you! 🙂

  • Nigel Thompson

    You killed it. This is an excellent and extremely practical summation. Well done.

    I have been reading MBTI-related material for years, and am always looking for the next ‘missing piece’ that can take my understanding to a higher level.

    This genuinely contributes something new. There is more to be plumbed, of course. This presentation shines in its applicability and in its coherence. I think I am going to use ideas that I’ve read here.

    But there’s more to be said about the internal ‘structures’ of the mind. About the precise nature of Introverted Feeling processing. I hope you continue to explore and write about this topic. You’re clearly gifted.

  • Jaime

    Joel, thank you for this article. This type of solution and growth based article is not as prevalent as I wish it were! Reading other INFP breakdowns is always frustrating (because being an INFP is frustrating), but I don’t need it all enumerated and left to stagnate! This spoke to me deeply and encouraged me in what to strengthen next. I will be reading this from time to time. You said to seek validation instead of understanding, yet I do feel understood and, what’s more, challenged—which I will meet hell or high water 😉 Thanks again!

  • Sarah

    This article is very insightful. It spoke to me on so many levels. I can completely see myself in this – from challenges with motivation, to the INFP’s deep darkness of the heart. I’ve been searching for help with these things. I will definitely be taking these thoughts on board. Thank you.

  • Liz

    Absolutely brilliant. I am an INFP with majority of these challenges. It truly is nice for someone to spell it out for you ?

  • Sha

    You have no idea how much this means to me . Thank you for revealing everything about myself that i could Communicate with words

  • Yen

    Hi Joel,
    Thank you for pointing out the underlying causes of the behaviours of INFP. It’s sharp and accurate.
    May I know how would you suggest me as a dental student to convince myself to this career?
    I have read countless articles and it all shows that this profession needs a person with Thinking, Judging & Sensing. None of it I posses. ?

  • Sheharyar Malik

    God Bless U!!!
    The problems and analysis of thought processes many websites provided but for a chnage YOU provided the SOLUTIONS!! And all of them were (my intuition tells me ) true
    Just one thing … Could u Come up with more solutions ? To some more problems?

  • Peter

    Dear Joel Mark Witt,

    I really resonated with this article and believe much of it was spot on, at least for me, as an INFP. I have a question I would like to ask. Say you are an INFP who, over the course of life not fully understanding how these processes worked, had the Explorer process–and even the Memory and Effectiveness processes–sit in the driver seat most of the time instead of the Authenticity process. What if after doing this for a long time a person gets so used to exploring and using memory and effectiveness without a vision of what it is they are looking for, and thus is floundering because they lost touch with the Authenticity process and their true convictions they want to believe and follow. They don’t recognize what it is they want or believe in even if it stares them in the face because they have been away from it for so long. I know the article touched on this sort of thing with things like “throwing your hat over the fence”, but it is confusing when you don’t understand or recognize the hat you are throwing. How does someone get back in touch with that Authenticity process again, let it do the driving, and recognize the internal feelings and convictions they are looking for? I know this was put in very vague terms, so sorry about that.

  • Nicolas

    I am INTP and I do often “throw my hat over the fence” too, sometimes unconsciously. Maybe I do it in a different way than INFP. I think the way it works with me is that I choose to put myself in a situation that would break the commun value I respect and share with others. For example, I see that inviting people at home can force myself to do something at home (I would not have done). It is a way to provoke my Fe, because Fe is about the value we share in harmony with others. I would say that INFPs does throw their hats to provoke their Fi (in a calculated way, put them in a situation that would oppose them to their value system if they do not act), unless it is provoked by their Fi (they feel that their value system is threatened and start to act impulsively and then they are forced to continue). I don’t know. Maybe both, depending on it is conscious ou unconscious. I would be interested to know. Good article by the way as many in the website.
    (Sorry for my english, I am not a native english speaker)

  • INFP at Heart

    Hi Joel,
    Thank you for this article. It resonates so deeply with me, in particular in my current struggle areas. I went through a period of exploration where my heart opened wide to possibilities for restructuring my life and leaping into living more fully and authentically. This les me to end a long term relationship with an ESTP that has been beautiful in some ways (affection, physically fulfilling, companionship, security), but was missing a depth I desperately desired. However, I didn’t follow through, and my heels are dug in deep. We are still living as roommates in our house over a year later and I cannot bring myself to get the house ready for sale or listed. He wants to stay together. Anyway, I keep wondering how I am hurting him and myself by staying in this place, but I cannot budge. My sense of exploration deflated and is gone, and momentary times of inspiration to just do it are fleeting. My wise ENFP friend labels it inertia. I’m so afraid of what is motivating me to leave something beautiful that may be the best there is for me, based on intuition.

    So much more to say and ask…but thank you for this article that I will reread and ponder in hope of finding my motivation and letting go of fear/insecurity.

  • John

    Hi Joel. This one of the best articles I’ve read about the INFP type. I love that you included actual solutions to the common INFP conundrums. One thing that is bothering me: I’ve read in other sources that the inferior is less conscious than the tertiary function, however, this does not match my experience. My extraverted thinking seems to be much more developed than my introverted sensing. I spent 10 years working as a web programmer. Yes, dealing with all that logic was a bit painful and, when I was under pressure it was not pretty. I did pull it off though and I was fairly creative and successful at it. Introverted sensing, on the other hand, seems like something from another planet. When my friend, an INTP, and I read about introverted sensing, we start laughing because it seems like such a strange way to reference – and a complete lack of fun compared to extraverted intuition. Our theory about this is that the tertiary function is stranger than the inferior because it’s the inferior of the auxiliary function – make sense? I’m also wondering if any other INFPs experience introverted sensing as less familiar, and less trustable than extraverted thinking. Thanks again for your post and I am enjoying your website. Regards, John

    • Rose Marie

      Hi, John.

      Are you sure you’re not ENFP? You can be a cognitive extrovert while having predominantly introverted tendencies. One of my friends is the most introverted looking ENFP I know. She could never relate to Ne dominant descriptions and yet she’s truly ENFP. So I would look at ENFP and decide whether you can relate to dominant Ne and inferior Si. You do sound like Si is your inferior.

      Ne and Si work together almost in perfect harmony in an INFP since they’re so close together and they feed off each other: Ne feeds Si ideas which are transformed into memories which serve Ne to make new connections and explore patterns taking past experience into consideration.
      At least that is my experience. In fact, I used to think for the longest time that I was ISFJ because all I could spot is my Si. It is a very important function for me and it is often said that the tertiary function is most noticeable and visible in oneself, yet I’m not nearly as good at it as I thought.
      If Te is like this for you, then chances are you’re ENFP. You sound like one who believes they must be an introvert, even though they might be an extrovert.

      Hope this helps. 🙂

  • deema

    throwing my hat over the fens seems to distroy me more…

  • INFP girl

    Hi, just wanted to say huge thanks for this article, it made me feel so understood. I’ll definitely try your tips, as I struggle a lot with the motivation, and I have such a hard time doing things I don’t see point in (which is a real struggle when you’re trying to earn money for living). The others are really true too, especially trusting myself (although I believe that comes more from the fact I grew up with an ISTJ dad with narcissistic tendencies, for whom what I was doing was never “good enough”). I seek lots of validation/appreciation and I have so unrealistic expectations that are really bothering me sometimes – I’ve read somewhere that an ideal soulmate for an INFP is someone for whom you don’t have to invent anything in your mind, as they are already better than your fantasy. Hope that’s true, we’ll see.

    The only one I don’t really resonate is the expressing of the ideas – I have trouble when I have to take steps implementing them, but not in “generating” them. Probably it has to do with the fact that I’ve been developing my “extroversion” for years working with clients, which was a great experience as I don’t struggle with small talk and initiating conversations as much as the other INFPs do.

  • Audrey

    Can any other INFP’s relate to this?

    I tend to be a very project-oriented person. I’m not good at multitasking and prefer to focus on one thing at a time (I’ve often heard that women are multitaskers moreso than men, who are compartmentalizers…but I’m a woman and absolutely suck at multitasking). And when I start a project I will hyperfocus to the point of forgetting to eat. Hours later I will “come to” and find that hours have passed and I’m super hungry and REALLY have to pee. But I will get whatever it is DONE. And then I’ll step back and admire my work with extreme satisfaction.

    On the flip-side I struggle with daily discipline. Anything long-term is frustrating; from excercise and health goals, to budgeting, to, well, any sort of goal that would require daily or frequent disciplines and no instant payoff.

    Anyone else operate like this? Anyone learned how to overcome and stick with healthy discipline behaviors long enough to make them habit?

    I can “throw my hat” and have done so many times for a project, but how for losing weight that will take a while and how to keep that weight off after it’s gone so it’s not just another project?

    • Sheila Vildan

      Audrey, I can certainly relate to you. I especially have trouble with day to day, more mundane tasks. I can even neglect self-care when I’m really enthralled with something. I find that of I am really passionate or interested in what I’m doing, I do it whole-heartedly. But if I don’t feel the value or results pretty quickly, it’s hard (nearly impossible) to maintain motivation.
      I feel that what Joel mentioned above about conviction is important. As INFP, I feel nothing and no one could stand in my way if I’m convicted. For me, I’m still working hard to try and train myself to develop healthier habits on a daily basis. Right now, I’m trying small, short-term goals. Instead of trying to go from no exercise to regular weekly workouts, I’m trying to drink more water each day by increasing what I did in the previous day on the following day. Also, beginning to incorporate healthier recipes that are quick and easy. The reward is completing the goal itself bit also journaling the small steps and being a to look back to visually confirm this progress helps. Also, validation from important people in my life is so comforting, such as my therapist, sponsor, etc.
      I’ve been wanting to begin a yoga practice at home but have yet to really start. I’ve even got the mat, videos, checklists, journals, pose indexes and more but the physical action is M. I. A.

      • LS Reynolds

        Yes. I can totally relate.

    • M.

      What works for me is following extremely small steps rather than thinking about the entire goal (which can be overwhelming and put me off from ever starting it); starting small and building it up; stopping an activity before I reach my limit, when it’s still good – that’ll leave me looking forward to the next time I can do more. Then, as I begin to see and feel the progress, the desire to do more will come naturally over time.

      When it comes to exercise, I need to find ways to have fun with it or to feel extremely good – making the exercise almost a side effect of what I’m doing. (For me, that’s yoga, cycling while listening to music, dancing/jumping around, going for walks and hikes while listening to podcasts.)

      Eating or doing other mundane tasks can be rather difficult for me, but I’ve developed an inner voice through journaling that is extremely positive and reminds me to be proactive, to get things done even if I don’t feel like it because they get me closer to reaching my true goals. This voice validates me and gives me the strength to pull through. The more I do it, the easier it feels and the more difficult it is, the more empowered I feel. It’s a constructive process that takes a lot of experimentation to see what works and what doesn’t.

      I especially recommend yoga (I recommend an app called Down Dog, it’s free and you set the time and difficulty that you want) because it teaches you how to be more mindful, more patient and to control your breathing, which extends your endurance when doing anything physical. While journaling is to me a way to program my thinking, breathing is a way to control my body (and make it hotter or colder, faster or slower, wake up or fall asleep, etc).

    • Warren

      I find that the key is to make a small change, consolidate it and then make another small change. Repeat. It has worked for me and becsuse it is a long, slow game, the changes are maintsined and progress us iterative.

  • K

    I would say that this is extremely accurate and helpful in a way that is very un-INFP. It’s like excellent outsider feedback from someone who has taken a lot of time to understand INFPs. It’s really top notch. I do feel a little pinch from some of the suggestions. I have an ENFP mom who has in the past been frustrated with me many times. One of the things I dislike is when she used to compare herself to me and want me to do things her way. I do feel that the heavy emphasis on utilizing extroverted intuition for growth sounds like trying to encourage an INFP to do things more like an ENFP. The extroverted intuition of an INFP is much more hypothetical than I think it is for an ENFP. It wants to play with ideas and will only internalize and use those that are applicable. INFPs are much better at sorting information to see what applies and what doesn’t. We only take in so much from experience. A lot of great personal growth for an INFP can come from clear explanation rather exploration. We are not extroverts and our extroverted intuition does not always pick up signals from other people in a way that makes them useable. Rather, having a safe person explain how other people think, reading books, and articles such as this one, help us to receive information to our introverted feeling much more effectively. We may sense things in the outside world, but we often find it difficult to decipher them.

    • Sheila Vildan

      K, I disagree with you. I think the suggestions in this article are spot-on for me. I’m still grasping all of the concepts behind INFP intricacies, but personally I feel that I do limit my experiences of “reality”, perhaps it’s ingrained, because my internal idealism is far more comfortable and natural feeling. I back down from much inter-personal experiences and social gathering only partly due to being highly sensitive and it draining me. The other piece is when I “throw my hat” or orchestrate things to cause that to happen and I’m put in those situations where I do actually answer my phone or my door, I’m always energized by the relational songs we as humans are capable of singing when together with certain types. It’s just knowing what types to avoid and when it’s too much. I think it all goes back to the intuitive part of us. Perhaps even growing the extraverted intuition.
      From what I’ve learned, any type of personality would benefit greatly from incorporating other types positive traits into their own life. Perhaps our mothers domineering us to be more like them is not the best means of accomplishing it, nonetheless, we need to be the ones who enact such exploration of other parts of reality. Speaking for myself, I have always felt differently from most people I’ve known, and I’ve also made great strides at maintaining that uniqueness, and I’ve also been envious of others who seem to be able to work solely as a means of financial survival, and whom have regular exercise habits, even those who seem to be able to juggle it all with ease (even though what it appears may not be what it is at all)
      My point is, for me, at 36 years old, I can see how some of my tendencies have hurt me and I am looking for ways to remedy those wounds. I think half the battle will be acting opposite of what I think.

  • Charly

    Thank you so much for your work on this website and the podcasts.

    I’m an INFP in the science field married to an ENTP. Without realizing it, I’ve been depending on my inferior function (Te) because of work, and because my husband values logic and rationality. However, after years of catering to his T, work, managing the household, and more recently, taking care of a baby, has left me feeling stuck and suffocated. Having a baby has forced me to get in touch with a part of myself that made me feel so alive and real, brought awareness of how out of touch with reality I’ve been living, and how ‘buried’ I’ve been feeling without realizing it.

    I was first trying to type my husband (there was a lot of tension after having the baby!) as I knew we were on different ‘mental pages’ and I thought that tension was what was making me so unhappy. It led me to also delve into my own type and understanding both have been life-changing. Learning how an ENTP’s mind is wired has helped me understand my husband better and manage my expectations and the way I interact with him. He is still on the fence with MBTI and Genius system (which I like so much more!) but I am trying to subtly guide him on his own personal growth as I see him stuck as well and think he has soo much potential and so much he can accomplish (I feel quite emotional (sad, excited) when I think about this).

    The car model and listening to the INFP podcast shed so much light. I felt like I was given permission to let a part of myself that I was forcing to live hidden in the basement all these years to finally come up and live in the house, be free, in the light, breathing fresh air. It is liberating and scary, but also really feel like I’m living life.

    I first found out my MBTI type years ago in college, read a few websites and forums trying to understand it, felt validated but still had questions. Never got myself to put myself out there and comment or anything. This is the first time ever I am posting anything online like this. Just letting you know how big a deal this for me :). This turned into a long comment, but just wanted to thank you for your work and give you context in how your work is making an impact.

    P.S. I am ALWAYS using metaphors to illustrate my thoughts and feelings. It’s the only way I’ve found to effectively communicate what’s going on in my head and heart. However, I think I will give myself permission/push myself out of comfort zone to explore music, art, and writing in my journey of personal growth. Thank you so much again for your insights!

  • cipher

    One of the best INFP articles I’ve ever read. I can’t express how well this resonated with me.
    I love every advice this article has given to me, I feel enlightened.
    I feel like I want to print this article and give it out to everyone I know, haha.

  • Mark E

    The thing about conviction: Yes, it’s true for me, and it feels good (validating) to have someone understand.
    What I have been learning about my convictions is that they come from a place that is narrow minded, all-or-nothing. This way is great, everything else is bad. The thought process goes: I need to embody the right way and show people how much better things could be if they’d only do things the way I show them.
    This has, to understate things, led to some disappointment and disillusionment.
    However, without knowing about your theory until now, I have been developing my Exploration process, questioning my own entrenched heartfelt views and assessing the various aspects of things rather than putting my eggs in one basket (i.e. I like this and I don’t like this).
    As I have done this, gradually, I have a greater appreciation for how the world works and I don’t need to try and change it like I used to feel I did.
    Which is good.
    But now, those convictions I had have lost their solidity, and I feel I want to try and hold on to them sometimes, but it’s like trying to hold a pile of sand in your hands; it just slips away.
    Why do I want to hold onto the convictions? Because they give me a sense of purpose. Now I don’t feel I have a sense of purpose and I feel empty inside.
    What do I do now?

    I wonder if you can offer some insight, but by articulating it I’m asking the question of myself too; it’s good to get it written (again, as you said in your article!).

  • Kristina

    Gee…With all those people feeling exactly like me i dont feel so special anymore ?
    Reeeeally amazing article!

  • Hallie Marshall

    Validation is huge for an INFP! I wish more people could appreciate what I bring to the table in terms of how I can see the “energy” of people. And now that I’m more mature and can articulate and advocate better for myself I think it’s easier to help others see that. I love being around thinkers because it helps me explore the logic and then I can build a consensus with my feels. I just want others to truly value my intuition, feelings, and skills even if they don’t understand how or why!

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Thank you Hallie for stopping by at Personality Hacker and sharing this feedback. Much appreciated.

  • Mistie

    Hello, I am the parent of a infp. We homeschool and I am constantly looking for ways to tailor his school experience to his personality. Do you have more information on a Infp’s learning style, or things that can help provide a positive environment for him? His brother is a isfp they seem to complement and challenge eachother. I am a ENFJ. Most challenging for me is being an extrovert in their introvert worlds and the lack of communication. Reading all of the articles here though has given me a lot of insight. Is there information available that would give me insight on the how tos of providing them a supportive and “growth” teaching environment from home?

  • v2webster

    Ahaaaaa! Wow. Thank you guys so much. I have been “mis-typed” for a looooong time! With your help, it is now clear that I am NOT an INFJ! The clarity of your testing and descriptions have shown me that I am actualy an INFP. This is a life-changing realization. I just purchased The PersonalityHacker Starter Pack, and am finding it very, very helpful. For years I was extremely stressed and stuck, and primarily acting out of my tertiary/10 year old Memory functions. This made me rigid, and I just craved (ahem – demanded) external order. That made me test out, and think I was, an INFJ – Harmony type. But with your system, test as INFP, and this rings deeply true.

    Have you guys seen this before?

    Wow, I can’t tell you how freeing and exciting it is to see my true type. It explains so much, and gives me such hope and excitement about ways to grow.

  • Christine Sweet

    This is unbelievably spot on. Thank you. The work y’all are doing is life giving at its core. I cannot tell you the impact you’ve made on my life. Truly.

  • T

    Good article. I need to get motivate to change finding I have a fixed mindset. Low self esteem and confidence. Really need to try and be positive. My fixed mindset created change that was detrimental. I need to find more positivity and try and learn new job. Especially after not appreciating all the good stuff I have. Need to be able to change. Take in everything and do a good job!

  • Nikhila

    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?

  • Paul Hardy

    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

  • Ritu

    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.

  • Arian Armstrong

    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!

  • Hilmi Ahmad

    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.

  • Kgatle

    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.

  • Sandra

    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.

  • Nigel

    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

  • Liz

    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

      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.

  • Liz

    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

      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:

      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

  • Rin

    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.

  • Brandon

    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)

  • Arril Mike

    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 ☺️

  • Ron

    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.

  • Joakim

    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..

  • Khania

    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.

  • Roberto L.

    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.

  • Mike W

    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!

  • Tiffany

    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

      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.

  • Kimberly Rose Arpon

    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..

  • Katka

    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

      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 :).


    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

  • SunnyFlours

    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

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

  • Tracy

    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!

  • Sandra Riley

    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!

  • Danny

    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.”

  • Eliz

    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! 🙂

  • Chess


  • Chess

    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.

  • Joakim

    “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.

  • Sylvia

    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…

  • Betterment

    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

  • Cai

    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

      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.

  • Fifi

    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!

  • Jennifer

    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

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

  • Fifi

    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!

  • Lorin

    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

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

  • Michael M.

    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

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

  • meera

    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

  • Che

    “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.

      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.

        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

  • Dovile

    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

      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.

  • Brad

    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!

  • Margaret McIntyre

    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

      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.

  • Tina

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

  • Dana

    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.

  • Onita

    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

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

      • Onita

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

  • Mariam

    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

      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.

  • Suzan

    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

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

  • Lyn

    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

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

  • Hilde Vesaas

    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

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

  • Jan

    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

      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!

  • Mara

    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

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

  • Kate

    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

      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. 🙂

  • Dee

    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

      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. 😉

  • Alexandra Cook

    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

      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.

  • kay

    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.

  • Rachael

    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! 🙂

  • Lias Malerba

    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.

  • Meia

    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

      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

      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 🙂

  • Peter

    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

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

  • Betty

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

    • Joel Mark Witt

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

  • Jarek

    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

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

  • Lee

    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

      Thank you Lee for sharing your deep and personal experience.

    • Hilde Vesaas

      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. .

  • Darcy

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

    • Joel Mark Witt

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

  • Ed

    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

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

  • Charlotte

    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

      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.

  • Amanda

    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

      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.

  • Miss

    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

      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

        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?

  • Teresa

    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

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

  • Su

    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.


    “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

      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

        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

      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!

  • Danielle

    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

      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 🙂

  • Mark8v29

    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.

  • Jessica

    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

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

  • RP

    Great article. Thanks!

  • Gina

    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

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

    • Ed

      Ditto, Gina.

  • Firefly

    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.

  • Marie

    Thank you 🙂

  • Michele

    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

      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.

  • Joni

    Thanks for this! Someone understands!

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Thank you for reading Joni.

      • leah

        That was amazing, thank you joel! I resonate so deeply with what you have written and feel that no one could ever describe me quite as acurately. However, one point that you mentioned is a common INFP trait is questioning motives and a feeling of being ‘dark hearted’, for me is not a concern. That’s such a darkness I’ve not experienced And was kind of frightening to read when everything else was so accurate. As mentioned though you were truly spot on with my insurcurity, trouble communicating opinions, motivation and the need for validation from others and myself which are self esteem hurdles I face every day.- these qualities also make for an easy target when growing up in a family filled with their own problems.I always feared I’d hurt an already hurt/ aggressive person so wouldn’t and verbally couldnt stick up for myself. Ending on a pleasent note though, thanks so much for the insightful information! 🙂 These are some things I did know about myself but struggled to put down in dot fform and strategies which can help build those self esteem issues. everyone’s got something to work on to better themseves right?! so thanks again 🙂

    • Sadyia Bashier

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

      • paula

        Thanks to this article i realise that after staying put in our cool city apartment for the last decade i am even more motivated to move house for the 4th time in the last 3 years. It gets less scary each time, even when moving states after being happily ensconced for so long.
        Not only that but now my brain is hurting less as I stop struggling with understanding myself. It drives me nuts that I don’t know why I am who I am and I’m sick of saying ‘you don’t understand’ as my catchphrase (along with ‘whatever’ and ‘I don’t know’ lol). It’s all as clear as mud and I couldn’t be happier.
        Exploring the external world is also going well. My husband can now say ‘did you see that dog with the fluffy tail?’ when we go out and I can usually say ‘yes I did!’.
        Now to throw my hat over the fence so I can clean the house before that dinner party.

        • Paula

          Just thought of three best bits of advice an INTJ ever gave me:

          1 Slow to speak (it’s all part of being more self-aware and less self-conscious)
          2 Use your head (your feelings are NOT you)
          3 Communicate it (take the risk and let it out….)

    • Rayne

      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

      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

      • janet cade

        I think i have probably already commented, b u t each time i re-read this i find more in it. HoW did i miss it the first time? This is SO TRUE. Having a thought – even a great – sometimes even brilliant though. Try to articulate it in the real world– even worse if yet one more person gets added into a very small group a n d – mouth turns to mush. Writing that same idea though and it is focused, understandable and can be quite good. Writing is definitely a strength. Joel you really rock on with this stuff. Thank you for putting this out there. Truly one of the biggest epiphanies is from this text. Brilliant!

    • Peem

      This is the single most insightful article i have ever read in my life. I love how you show things but not in an invasive kind of way, but more of a “how about this” kind of attitude. Good stuff.

      • janet cade

        Ditto Peem!

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