INFP Personality Type Interview (with Dana Jacobson) | Podcast 0426

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In this episode, Joel and Antonia talk with Profiler Training alumni, Dana Jacobson about her lived experience as an INFP personality type.

 

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Click Here to Download the INFP Handy Guide

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In this podcast you’ll find:

  • Guest Host Dana Jacobson, INFP, joins.
  • Download our INFP Personality Type Handy Guide to learn about the INFP functions.
  • How did Dana discover her personality type?
  • How does Dana’s Effectiveness (Extraverted Thinking) 3 Year Old help her in her job as a home organizer?
  • What was the most impactful piece for Dana when she discovered that she was an INFP?
  • Dana explains how she uses Authenticity (Introverted Feeling) to make the best decisions for her.
  • How has Dana incorporated her Exploration (Extraverted Intuition) Copilot into her life?
  • What are some of the components that Dana finds essential for living her best life?
  • What are some of the sacrifices that Dana has made in order to create her chosen lifestyle?
  • Dana shares her life journey of how she got to where she is today.
  • How did Dana experience letting go of emotions that had become habituated in her Memory (Introverted Sensing) 10 Year Old?
  • What advice would Dana give to her younger self?

 

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Showing 16 comments
  • Margaret
    Reply

    I listen to this now and again to remind myself I am not so unique that I am no longer human, since there are others who are wired like me. I chose to follow my dream as I said but in the place I live and the time I was 15 , there weren’t many choices; so as I decided I had a gift of drawing and portraiture and followed that into art teaching college though teaching was not my main goal, (it was there but much lower down my stack). I was totally misunderstood by family etc but when I did MBTI official test 30 years ago , I discovered why. I am just now looking to focus on what I originally intended to do after being exposed to so many options over 55 years. My values were often trodden on in a very ESTJ climate, but ultimately I get profusely excited about the absolute uniqueness of every single human being ever born and love to think of snowflakes as a reference point LOL , ( though I have yet to see snow),,,,,…….

  • Justine G
    Reply

    Thanks Dana, Joel & Antonia,

    I recently decided I am more than likely INFP and not ISTJ. The final clincher was probably that I don’t think my memories tend to be detailed or vivid enough to likely be leading with Si. Because when it comes down to it, it’s about what that function actually means in this system as it has been defined here (not the original Jung as the definitions there are different – particularly introverted sensing!). The cliches or ‘probables’ around ISTJ (or INFP) are not actually the point.

    There is some trouble with saying I lead with Fi as well though, in that I am in some respects very emotionally disassociated so I don’t identify with some aspects of it. This is due to some trauma I had in childhood that has made me highly ambivalent about feelings and by extension Fi. The Fi finds a way through but probably not in terms of micro-analysis of feelings. I’m often calibrating and reflecting on identity though! I think if I was an ITJ such emotional repression would probably if anything make it easier to ‘look like’ those types!

    Some arguments for me being a thinking or sensing type:

    a) I had a very thinker-ish passion for years – software engineering, and have a masters in it. When it came to doing it for a living though – a very different ball-game. I was only really interested in the high-level logics and not the more ‘technical’ stuff.

    b) I have a hawk-eye for detecting errors and inconsistencies in documents. Others have recognised this about me. They’d probably type me as ISTJ if they knew Myers-Briggs.

    I think the causes of these ‘traits’ are multi-faceted but are also tied in with my distrust of aspects of Fi and Ne. I think ISTJ became a sort of ‘wrapper’ type for me, but saying it was imposed by society is a bit simplistic in my case – it goes deeper (and darker) than that.

    • Antonia Dodge
      Reply

      Congratulations on furthering your exploration of your best-fit type. 🙂

      It’s not uncommon for INFPs to get the message that their top two functions are ‘unacceptable’, and it’s easy to have them be bullied into hiding. This usually results in depression and dysthymia, since accessing one’s dominant function is necessary for good mental health. If your best-fit type is INFP, then giving yourself permission to be in both Introverted Feeling and Extraverted Intuition is the absolute best thing you can do. It’s not just accessing your own feelings about things, but also understanding your intentions, motivations and core values and protecting them. When Introverted Feeling users give themselves permission to this, they absolutely blossom.

      I’m going to take some exception to the statement that the way we describe Introverted Sensing is radically different than Jung’s. We do everything we can to make the cognitive functions accessible to the layman (i.e. giving them nicknames, etc.) but we do believe we keep the core understanding of the functions as Jung described, albeit with less pathologizing (which Jung had a tendency to do with all the functions, and some more than others [like Introverted Thinking]).

      Jung’s description of Introverted Sensing is more focused on the psychology of the function rather than specific traits. It can be inferred this is due to its highly malleable nature. That is, the subjective sense impressions come from a lifetime of experiences which are entirely personal and therefore difficult to pin down in terms of traits. There are some predictable traits that come from the function (in his descriptions Jung discusses the ‘sitting duck’ trait of the type if it is too one-sided), but its peculiarities will be highly subjective and individualistic.

      At the end of the day, however, for all users of Introverted Sensing (which I’ll call Si from here on) there is going to be quick access to the storehouse of sense impressions that could be called memories of one’s childhood and impressions of cultural norms. (This is why we nicknamed the function Memory – not for its ability to hold all information, but its referential nature to what it has experienced and absorbed based on its own particular interests that become a natural guide for life).

      Jung said the function “is apparently quite unpredictable and arbitrary. What will make an impression and what will not can never be seen in advance, and from outside.

      We’ve described Si many times as referential to one’s subjective experience as well as in-tuned with social expectations. It’s highly individualistic (since no two humans have exactly the same experience) and attached to “totems” of the past that help guide recall of those moments that left imprints. It it the most flexible of the functions over time, though it requires time to acclimate to new experiences, particularly if the polarity opposite (Extraverted Intuition) has yet to be integrated. (In Jung’s words, “the unconscious is distinguished chiefly by the repression of intuition, which consequently acquires an extraverted and archaic character. Whereas true extraverted intuition is possessed of a singular resourcefulness, a ‘good nose’ for objectively real possibilities, this intuition has an amazing flair for all the ambiguous, shadowy, sordid, dangerous possibilities lurking in the background.“) Novelty becomes sinister when Si is too one-sided, a quirk we’ve mentioned on the podcast many times.

      I’m always worried that making the functions accessible to people just learning will somehow disrupt the accuracy of description, and to some extent that is true. But we’ve worked really hard to ensure that the nucleus of the function is maintained regardless: in this case introverted, subjective, perceiving, past experience oriented with a capacity to pattern recognize in review but not in the moment, adherence to its sense impressions as a guide (including received information of how others do things/modeling) and quirky.

      -A-

      • Justine G
        Reply

        Thanks for your response.

        It is interesting that Jung himself appears to imply that Si-types often castastrophize. I often have done as well, but am an Enneagram sp-6. I haven’t really ruled out being Si-dominant, I just don’t think this or any trait in itself proves anything about type, otherwise you just end up with a load of theory-based rules that can easily cancel you out from being any type.

        • Justine G
          Reply

          I meant ‘catastrophize’.

        • Antonia Dodge
          Reply

          Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what is being influenced by our Myers-Briggs wiring and our Enneagram type. But when it comes to sussing out our dominant versus tertiary function, I’d say ask 1) which function brings me intrinsic satisfaction to use (since we are chemically rewarded for using our dominant function), 2) which auxiliary function helps us feel like we’re meeting our current potential (since it will be a very different function), and 3) which function is more clearly our inferior (which grip behavior do we tend to struggle with).

          -A-

          • Justine G

            I don’t have a clear inferior function. There are arguments for both Ne and Te being inferior. It is a case of a love/hate relationship with both, though I’ve got more of an idea about how to ‘do’ Te than Ne. I found the ‘grip’ descriptions in the book over-prescriptive. Everything seems to be based on everyone having one function they totally love with no ambivalence around it. I’m probably least ambivalent about Si, but at the same time don’t sense much ‘excitement’ around it. There’s more excitement around Fi but more fear and distrust as well.

  • Jen
    Reply

    Loving this series of podcasts! Listening this morning got me think about what I (INFJ) might say to my 15 year old self – and it’s so hard! I don’t know how the interviewees come up with this answer so easily because as a 15 year old I don’t think I’d have the ability to take in the advice I’d give to an INFJ, as I was so far away from being my authentic self. So I came up with one thing that I don’t think would interfere in my growth path, and that I might actually be able to absorb – read literature. At 15 I was devouring Danielle Steele novels and Catherine Cookson because that was what I had exposure to, and I was patterning human relationships so I was also interested in the core of these novels. However literature would have exposed me to a much more broad and sophisticated perspective on relationships and helped me to feed my driver in a healthier way. Thanks for all the thoughts and insights into INFPs – I have a couple in my life and this podcast really echoed a lot of what they share with me!

  • Jennifer
    Reply

    Dana! Oh my goodness, thank you so much for putting your experience out there. INFP here, same age, and I’ve never before felt that I had a long lost twin…but I think you might be her! I related to everything you said and that the three of you talked about. What landed especially hard for me was how INFPs can get pushed into their tertiary and inferior functions by family or society, and then have to find their way ‘home’ to Fi and Ne. That pretty much sums up my entire journey right there. I have a graduate degree and a good job, am pretty organized, and people generally think I have my stuff together. They have no idea how daydreamy and sensitive and distracted I am inside. It wasn’t until I had a profiling session with the wonderful Ines, who suggested INFP, that I started to consider that I wasn’t just a messed up INFJ. She helped me see things about myself I took completely for granted, or had dismissed as weaknesses — I thought my Ne was flakiness and an inability to focus, and that my Fi was emotional oversensitivity, etc. It took me awhile to process the change, because I’d always felt that I *didn’t* know who I was or what I wanted. Yes to the depression and the apathy in an unfulfilling environment. And like you, I thought I had Fe, just wasn’t much good at it lol — definitely feel the relief of “oh, that’s not in my stack, let’s go at it another way.” I also laughed out loud when you lost track of the question a couple of times because I had done the same thing… was so interested in what you were saying, who cares where it had started?! Your story really reinforces the direction I’m going in now at midlife, having made some big changes, and getting ready to make more… being able to organize my life unconventionally and with the kind of space and freedom you describe feels not only appealing but like a matter of survival at this point. Very grateful for your openness and willingness to share…thank you so so much.

    And to Andrea above, I think you and I have a lot in common as well. That grief for the lost self, the suffocated authenticity, is so wrenching. Especially when we don’t know what it is or why it’s happening. Wishing you all the best as you find your way home…

    • Elizabeth
      Reply

      Oh my gosh… I’m going to reply to this comment because this podcast hit me as strongly as it did you. I self-typed as an INTJ in my college years, moved to a wrenching realization that I was at very least an INFJ (with the same sense of “judgment that Dana mentions— “Oh no— I’m not a Feeler!”) following the female change of life in my late 50s, and now, at age 67, truly believe I’m an INFP. I thought I was an odd ball, but this podcast and the comments have been like a breath of fresh air to me. I’m still listening to it as I write this— “organizing my life for freedom” and unconventionality have been a line throughout my life too, Also forgiving myself for the self-bertrayal, and grieving what feels like “lost years,” understanding that it was the way I kept myself alive in a very unfriendly (to an INFP) environment. I’m interested in something Dana said about being a change agent (?)— I think as outliers in the current hyperactive feelings-averse societal culture, we are brave. We need to be proud of ourselves— our skills, our adaptability, and how we’re able to speak many “flavors” of human because of our INF abilities… our ability to see inside of others’ experiences. But we need to make ourselves the top priority! And that it’s NOT selfish… for myself, still working on that one. :¬) Oh.. p.s. Have loved the INFx Empowered program…. Truly empowering!

  • Margaret Newcombe
    Reply

    At age 5 I had an incident of exploration to get out from the tight controls I FELT…. they got the police to look for me thinking I was lost….. story of my life……when I was found by God He rescued me to fight this huge battle of being me.Thank you all…enough said for today.from Margaret… many triggers keep coming out there…… to expose world truth…… This is the shorter version…. it would take the book of Margaret to explain it all.( INFP describes some parts of me and helps my soul to be)……..Thank you thank you

  • Lisa Michelle
    Reply

    I am an INFP. My story is rather unconventional for INFPs. I have been a lawyer for 35 years. I have been employed by two law firms during that time, the most recent for over 25 years. I have represented one client, a water and power utility, for the majority of my 35 years of practice. I’m the oldest child in my family, and hard work and striving for excellence were heavily emphasized values growing up. I understand well the struggle that Dana shared, as a young person and into adulthood, hearing the voice in my head telling me what I should do, what was the practical or “best” thing to do, always picking the most challenging path, even if it was not the path I was most inspired by.

    I have an undergraduate degree in human development and counseling. I am a very good lawyer. I have three children. I have lived most of my adult life as a single person. As an adult, captaining my own ship and having many responsibilities, I have struggled with two competing voices in my head. One telling me what I had to do, and one trying to get my attention, telling me what I truly cared about doing. What consumed me, not with guilt because I should do it but am not crazy about doing it, but instead with joy and a oneness with the subject matter because this truly is “me”. When we do not listen to that voice that is calling out to us, it does not go away. Over the years, I found that the conventional tasks became more wearisome. I still found fulfillment in them, but it took more and more effort for me to do them. At the same time, I have used my introverted feeling skills (fueled by extroverted intuition) to help people in crucial ways. I have been a source of strength for family members and friends. My stable lifestyle has been an anchor for them. But I also have the yearning to simplify. To just be, just live in a way that makes me happy. I still have one young adult child living at home and going to school. I have lived much of my life in the “responsible” way, but in the next few years, I see a chance to make some changes. There is both joy and a little bit of fear that come with that realization. I can relate to the feelings Dana shared about her life decisions. All these years of listening to extraverted thinking and introverted sensation, pushing down as “selfish” or impractical the desires I have. But almost without me pursuing them, I can see the horizon opening up.

    Recently, I was asked to participate in a training program at my church to become a lay minister, to help others in times of deep difficulty, illness, bereavement or other crises. I began the training and was amazing at how at home I felt with the subject matter. The discussions energized me and I felt drawn to this role. As an attorney, I have always enjoyed making a difference, providing wise counsel and using my writing skills to be persuasive. But this is different. We are seeing people at their most vulnerable. There is a common human element that we all share when times are tough. I am not afraid of that. In fact, I move towards people on those difficult moments, because they are real. In doing that, I am changed and become a better person. I will keep looking outward and I believe the path forward will become brighter. I’m not sorry I have taken the path I did, because it gave me some strengths I would not have possessed. I am a very resilient person. But it is okay, and a good thing for the world, for me to do what I want to do.

    • Kathie Boyer
      Reply

      Hi Lisa,

      I really enjoyed reading your comments–I am quite similar in that I am also an older INFP (66) who, through life circumstances, has developed a successful “against type” career path as a higher-ed academic teaching business information systems. Helping students explore and develop their skills and knowledge has been a real privilege and very fulfilling, but even in academia there are mundane tasks that need to be performed, difficulties in setting boundaries with work colleagues and time management challenges. Like you, I have struggled throughout my work life with conflicting internal voices, one advocating “responsible” choices and the other arguing for projects and initiatives that reflected my need to explore new ideas and possibilities.

      For these, and other reasons, I decided to retire at the end of 2021. I believe it was the right decision for me, but I am currently feeling a bit at sea without research and student interactions during the semester to organize and provide meaning. I also feel trepidation mixed with excitement at exploring the external world in new ways that resonate with my inner perceptions and vision of future possibilities. Your story gives me courage! I am glad to hear that you have given yourself permission to be “selfish” (in the most altruistic sense of the word) and wish you many future joys–as well as opportunities to increase your strength and resiliency–in your work as a lay minister.

      Kind regards,
      Kathie

  • Ryan INFP
    Reply

    Wow! Thank you, Dana, for sharing some of your experiences as an INFP. So much of what you said resonates with me. Its as if you were verbalized my own feelings. Your advice for your 15 year old self is exactly what I needed to hear at that age as well. I was going to almost write the same thing even the WOW weird. The thing is at the start she said about standing there looking like she is doing nothing and then putting everything in to place and it looks amazing this is what i do empty fields into gardens try to make houses look better also practical all in my head no plans i have had to become my own boss as well to become an INFP school was shit.. Also yeah depression hit me hard for 3 years or so when my grandad died and he left me is business the responsibility and the lack of understanding from others was hard to take huge random heart beats anxiety they say. I dealt with it myself but my advantage was i knew why it was happening its a funny thing to feel so bad and know why and it does not change. I believe future planning sense of purpose and setting life up to how you want to live. Do all INFPs think things and it happens?

  • Andrea
    Reply

    Wow! Thank you, Dana, for sharing some of your experiences as an INFP. So much of what you said resonates with me. Its as if you were verbalized my own feelings. Your advice for your 15 year old self is exactly what I needed to hear at that age as well. I grew up in a household where doing the right thing and the socially expected thing was tantamount. I wanted to be a ballet dancer. I had the talent. But I was told that I would be wasting my intelligence and making a selfish decision because dancers don’t help people in their job and can’t support a family. Then I said I wanted to study psychology. My parents didn’t think that was acceptable either. Then I wanted to get a doctoral degree in ecological parasitology and that wasn’t allowed. So I went to medical school. When I told my parents I didn’t want to go to medical school and my reasoning was that it didn’t feel right, I was told that wasn’t a logical reason. So I stuffed my own desires down and did my duty while trying to convince myself I was doing what I liked. I suppressed my authenticity to such a degree that I was nervous when we had ice breakers in class and we had to share our favorite band or favorite color. I didn’t know the answer.
    Eventually it caught up with me. I even picked my 2nd preferred specialty because I was discouraged against choosing psychiatry because I was told I would be wasting my medical school degree. 5 years after completing residency I ended up in a psychiatry ward as a patient for severe depression and suicidality as a result of essentially mourning the loss of my own self and my own authenticity. It took months of guided self evaluation to understand what was happening.
    I can’t thank you enough for sharing your story and particularly your experience with depression as it relates to your type.

    • Margaret Newcombe
      Reply

      This is so sad Andrea. I hope you are able to get back on board with your medical career as a psychiatrist perhaps in another setting. Healed people heal people. That’s my story, as an older INFP. Its never too late to change and be who God created you to be. I had very little information in the 60’s about after- school directions. After my desire to be a doctor was shut down I chose to develop my love for portraiture by studying art teaching: this choice led me through many places of study, jobs and ultimate disillusionment in the art and the health industries. My 15 year-old self was very sure of what I wanted. At 72 I am now free to continue what has been the theme of my life, healing and artistry, creativity and authenticity and an appreciation for all and every human being and the uniqueness of the created world of humans, animals and the whole earth indeed the universe. I decided creation has mostly devolved from Edenic perfection rather than the accepted narrative of evolution towards nirvana. We must never give up the ‘seeker’ mentality ; ” seek and you shall find, knock and he door will be opened to you..’ eventually!

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