Patterns and Causes of INFJ Wounding
INFJs are a very special breed. We can be the most giving of individuals as we serve the people we love and uphold the ideals in which we believe. But this level of contribution comes with a very specific price. When our contributions are not appreciated, our wounded-ness surfaces and we can be left feeling lonely, under-appreciated, misunderstood, and even misrepresented.
Few people understand the level of commitment INFJs offer to the world. Even as a young child, we learn that the world is a serious place. As we grow up and begin to yearn for a community, we accept that we need to carry our share of responsibilities, as well as help others carry theirs. Since we see the bigger picture, we naturally assume a lot of responsibility for ourselves and our community.
We love to help people; we love to show up and pull our own weight, but most importantly, we have an innate need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves – something that makes our hearts sing. We need a purpose, but getting there takes work. The biggest wound of an INFJ, the self-sacrificing wound, is what stops us from pursuing our dreams and becoming the fullest expression of ourselves.
Without purpose, our life feels somewhat incomplete. After all, we know in our heart of hearts that there is so much more to life than what is right now. We need a purpose so that we don’t just exist at the receiving end of the world and others’ emotions. Just being a conduit for the emotions of others is not enough for the balanced INFJ.
What stands in the way of full actualization for a balanced INFJ is the patterning of deep wounding that occurred in our childhood. This wounding exists on different levels of consciousness: the conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind. Depending on the degree of knowledge and healing we can offer the wounding, it may end up running our lives – knowingly or unknowingly.
To become aware of the presence of your wounding, ask yourself if and when you are likely to exhibit one or more of the following:
- You feel overly sensitive to certain things and stimuli, such as noise, distraction, visual stimulation, or “psychic junk” (others’ emotions).
- You regularly seek approval from others for how you are living your life only to be bypassed or belittled, or ever worse, being told that you are overreacting to and over thinking things.
- You consistently go above and beyond what’s required to serve people around you both at work and home, and never feel your efforts reciprocated. You feel like your everyday relationships are very one-sided, and that others don’t offer the same kind of commitment to you as you offer to them.
- You feel that you are addicted to helping others. Trying to fix everyone else’s problems does not help you personally – instead, it takes the “you time” away from you, and puts it towards others’ issues. As a result, you feel constantly depleted, tired, and disappointed in yourself for not having performed “better.”
- You search for permission to be yourself from perceived authority figures. Or you feel the need to prove your worth by outperforming everyone else so that you can feel acceptable, which is where your perfectionistic tendencies come to the surface. That inner 10 Year Old’s “Accuracy” (Introverted Thinking), which constantly leaves you feeling like you are not good enough.
These are just some of the external challenges that wounded INFJs face on a regular basis. If these patterns are not understood and accepted, they will unconsciously continue to run your life and leave you feeling at the mercy of others’ whims; this often results in a lack of authentic direction and purpose, and can make you feel overwhelmed and ungrounded.
All these wounding patterns develop early in childhood – usually in the imprint period – and we can trace the pain points to life events of a very specific flavor. Here are some examples of how the INFJ pain points come about:
- Constant feelings of being singled out or “left out”, usually by family, friends, or circumstances of perceived authority; this leaves us feeling like we are always searching for that sweet place of belonging in our lives.
- The regular frustration of being the only one who sees the bigger picture left you feeling unsafe, which makes us rely on our own intuitive skills rather than trusting other people. And when we don’t learn to extend trust properly, we end up with very poor judgment on who we can trust; this is why INFJs often end up in relationships and friendships with highly manipulative people such as narcissists and sociopaths.
- As we grow up, we soon learn to become little perfectionists. It becomes second nature for us to control our environment to feel like we are our own person. If not healed, this patterning will leave us in the perpetual cycle of anxiety and depression.
- Many INFJs report having at least one parent, who was physically, psychologically or emotionally controlling. As a result, many INFJs learn to normalize controlling behavior and to think that it’s completely acceptable. Over time, this patterning breaks down the INFJ’s personal identity, and in severe cases, obliterates it all together. The INFJ is left feeling like they have no idea who they are and what makes them happy.
- Chronic, unhealed feelings of being let down by others will multiply in our cellular memory and make the INFJ see things through the lens of disappointment, which is a very taxing way to live. If not healed, this pain point will lead to chronic illness or severe depression.
It’s not all bad news, though! Many have overcome these pain points to live happy, authentic, and meaningful lives.
Mark, one of my INFJ clients, struggled with the scarring from his narcissistic mother. Mark was not alone with his pain points. Most narcissistic parents offer love and care to their child only to the extent that it supports their story. Mark had gotten used to being a pawn in his mother’s game, and as such, he never really developed a sense of his sovereign self. As far as he was concerned, he only existed for others, not for himself. Mark was so affected by his upbringing that he ended up having a string of manipulative girlfriends who, after the honeymoon period was over, turned into controlling and destructive forces in his life – exactly like his mother. Mark was determined to find real love. Instead of blaming the women who all exhibited the same behavior patterning, I recommended that he work on the common denominator – himself. He took my advice, did self-parenting, worked through his mothering issues, and attracted an ideal partner into his life. Together they have been able to build a healthy, happy, and interdependent relationship.
Stefanie, another one of my INFJ clients, was a hardcore perfectionist when I began working with her. She was a corporate shark with very little time for under performers in her life. Even though she was happy enough with her life, she was struggling to have a baby. Talk about a creative block! After years of IVF with no luck, she came to me for help. She had heard about me from a colleague of hers, Sandy, who had become pregnant after three months of working with me. She wanted some of the same magic for herself. By guiding her way back home to herself, she began the journey of falling in love with her inner child. After two months of serious work, she reported back to me that she was experiencing deep feelings of gratitude and completeness for the first time in years. As her body relaxed, she began to get more and more creative in her expression. She was still a serious corporate type, but at home she could relax for the first time in years. Six months into her mentoring work she called me with the news – she was ten weeks pregnant. Not only was her body relaxed enough to facilitate a baby, she had never been happier. She was feeling closer to her husband for the first time in years, and her creative side took an unexpected turn in that she began sewing baby blankets for new mothers who could not afford one. The corporate side of her is still there, but the personal shell that used to be hollow is now a cornucopia of love, tenderness, and creativity.
If you can relate to anything you have read so far, here are some action steps you can take right now to bring you the sovereignty and peer relationships you have always dreamt of:
- Take a good look at your current friendship sphere. The average of the top 5 people who influence you on a daily basis is how you treat yourself. By upgrading some of the forces and individuals in your life, you can begin to move towards the life you want. Sometimes improving the Circle of 5 can mean choosing a mentor, and listening to their audio programmes during the day. It can be as simple as that!
- Make two boxes – you can use shoe boxes for this – one with “Patterning” and one with “The Authentic Life” written on it. Observe yourself and write recurring thoughts on pieces of paper. File the pieces of paper into the appropriate boxes. Anything that doesn’t fit your authentic life or doesn’t support who you want to become goes in your “Patterning” box. Anything that you feel inspired about, that makes you happy, or gives you a sense of fulfillment goes into “The Authentic Life” box. At the end of every month review the things in the “Patterning” box, and choose to let those things go. Do the same with “The Authentic Life” box and see how far you have come. Remember, before things change in your reality they have to change in your thoughts.
- Take yourself out on a date at least every two weeks. Book time for you to do things that YOU enjoy – put it in your diary and treat it as if it is a doctor’s appointment. Do not miss it! This exercise will give you deep insight into what provides you with a sense of happiness.
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