Approximately 25 percent of individuals use an intuitive function as their primary way of understanding the world. For INFJ personality types, Introverted Intuition is their dominant function. It is how they make sense of the world around them.
However, not all personality types who have a preference for intuition are the same. Some types prefer Introverted Intuition and other types prefer Extraverted Intuition. This article takes a look at both of these functions to help you determine which one fits you the best.
The Difference Between Introverted Intuition and Extraverted Intuition
Both intuitive functions prefer to focus on ideas over tangible elements of reality. For example, a type who prefers intuition may enjoy studying theology or philosophy more than interior design or photography. The former being abstract concepts and the latter being interests that take a concrete, visual form in the external world.
Before we dive into the differences between Introverted Intuition and Extraverted Intuition, it’s important to note that all people use both forms of intuition.
Having a preference for one style of intuition doesn’t mean that you never use the other. Also, types who prefer sensing also use their intuitive functions with some skill.
If you’re trying to determine what style of intuition resonates the most with you, consider which one you enjoy the most and which one comes most naturally to you.
Quiz: Do You Prefer Introverted Intuition or Extraverted Intuition?
Below is a short quiz to help you determine which intuitive function you prefer. When selecting a statement, go with the answer that feels most true for you, most of the time.
I tend to focus more on:
Coming up with ideas
My thought process is:
Linear — I think about how A will impact B
Nonlinear — I think about how A relates to Q and Z
I’m proud of my ability to:
Understand multiple perspectives on a single idea
Understand how different ideas are connected
I most enjoy:
Exploring concepts in my inner world
Exploring possibilities in the outer world
When learning a new concept:
I want to dive as deep into it as possible
I want to understand how it relates to other concepts
Friends would describe me as someone who is good at:
Predicting future outcomes
Seeing how seemingly unrelated things are connected
A learn best by:
Deeply immersing myself in a new idea
Experimenting with ideas in the outside world
To come up with solid solutions I need:
To brainstorm out loud
It often feels as if:
A great idea will come out of nowhere
I have more ideas than I know what to do with
If you answered mostly “1” you may have a preference for Introverted Intuition
Personality types who have Introverted Intuition as a dominant function (INFJs and INTJs) or auxiliary function (ENFJs and ENTJs) perceive the world primarily through their Introverted Intuition function. It’s estimated that these types make up approximately 10% of the population.
Introverted Intuition’s (also referred to as Ni) strength lies in its ability to see commonalities among singular concepts and ideas.
Unlike its Extraverted counterpart, Ni isn’t constantly bouncing from one idea to another, but diving deep into a singular idea to explore it from multiple perspectives and to gain a holistic view of the topic.
Ni tends to follow a more linear thought process as it works to connect the dots between one perspective and another, forming deep insights along the way. To the outside world, Ni users appear insightful and are appreciated for their abilities to thoughtfully approach issues from different angles.
For example, an INFJ or INTJ may see two people arguing over a single idea. Rather than focus on proving one idea over the over, Ni will attempt to find what these two perspectives have in common. This type of insight makes Ni users effective at facilitating conversations and guiding people and projects that require many ideas to be heard and implemented.
Introverted Intuition is often harder to spot in someone than Extraverted Intuition because it’s an introverted perceiving function, so the process is constantly happening inwardly.
Whereas Extraverted Intuition types make appear as “creative geniuses” by sharing their many ideas and possibilities, Ni types are more reserved, sharing flashes of insight only after careful processing.
If you answered mostly “2” you may have a preference for Extraverted Intuition
Personality types who have Extraverted Intuition as a dominant function (ENFPs and ENTPs) or auxiliary function (INFPs and INTPs) perceive the world primarily through their Extraverted Intuition function.
Extraverted Intuition’s (also referred to as Ne) strength lies in its ability to see limitless possibilities and understand patterns in the outside world.
Ne is as fascinated with concepts as it’s Introverted counterpart. However, Ne is more likely than Ni to explore many different ideas at once and think about how these ideas work together. Ne prefers to study multiple theories at once than to dive deeply into one theory for long periods of time.
Ne is the more experimental intuitive function. It’s motivated by a desire to create things that are new and see how the outside world reacts to the new ideas.
For example, a Ne user may read about a new concept and immediately think of the ways that this concept can relate to other concepts or even be reshaped into something brand new. This is one reason why many Ne dominant types are creatives and entrepreneurs.
Extraverted Intuition types gain energy by expressing their many ideas and brainstorming with other people. They tend to jump around more in conversation than Ni users do.
Still Not Sure?
Remember, all personality types use both the Introverted and Extraverted styles of Intuition to some degree. When determining which function makes the most sense for you, it comes down to what you naturally lean toward most of the time.
If neither description above seems especially true for you, that may mean you’re a type that prefers sensing over intuition.
If you still think you’re an INFJ, but aren’t sure between INFJ and another type, here are a few articles that may help clarify:
It is probably no surprise that as an INFJ personality type and introvert, I love to read. Nothing is better than spending the weekend curled up on the couch with a good book and a warm cup of tea.
I thought it would be fun to share a few of the books that have helped me in my personal development journey. Here are some of the best books for INFJs to read in 2019 and beyond.
Best Books for INFJs to Read in 2019
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence by David Keirsey
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt
The Complete Guide to Understanding the INFJ Personality Type by Megan Malone
The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships by Suzanne Stable
1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic, by the brilliant Elizabeth Gilbert, is one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read. It makes you want to let go of everything you fear and jump into whatever pond your heart is leading you into, no matter how murky the water looks.
Every page feels like getting a supportive pep talk from your best friend. In my opinion, it’s very NF-friendly in it’s idealistic and encouraging tone.
The book is written for creative types — if you’re a writer it will be right up your alley — but the message is one that everyone needs to hear, again and again.
2. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown
“Many think vulnerability is weakness, but it is not. Those who refuse to be vulnerable lose the ability to understand others who are, and their fear and discomfort quickly turn into judgment and criticism.”
— Brene Brown
You may have heard of Brene Brown. Thousands have seen her popular TED talks on shame and vulnerability. Brown, a self-described introvert, dives into what it means to be vulnerable and shares stories from her personal life as well as information she’s gathered from years of researching the topic.
Personally, I recommend the audiobook because Brown is one of those people whose words truly come alive when you listen to her speak.
Being vulnerable as an INFJ is difficult since I’ve spent years building up walls and haven’t always made it easy for others to take them down.
This book is a great starting point for anyone willing to begin the journey to greater vulnerability.
“If you do not want what I want, please try not to tell me that my want is wrong. Or if my beliefs are different from yours, at least pause before you set out to correct them. Or if my emotion seems less or more intense than yours, given the same circumstances, try not to ask me to feel other than I do. Or if I act, or fail to act, in the manner of your design for action, please let me be.
I do not, for the moment at least, ask you to understand me. That will come only when you are willing to give up trying to change me into a copy of you.”
— David Keirsey
This was the first book that I ever read about personality type. For the longest time, I jokingly referred to it as my Bible because it felt like this book held the secrets of the universe.
It was my primary resource for understanding personality type. I read it word-for-word to friends and embarrassingly enough, even quoted it on a few dates.
I’ve since read many other great books on typology (check out the INFJ resources page for more). However, many good things came into my life as a result of the insights I gained from this book.
If you have an interest in deepening your understanding of personality type and a novice understanding of typology, this is a great book to start with.
4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”
— Stephen Chbosky
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age fiction piece about a quiet high school kid dealing with friends, love, and childhood trauma.
As an introvert, it’s impossible not to relate to Charlie’s awkward experiences trying to make friends and find love during his freshman year. You will root for the endearing lead character and his eccentric band of friends until the very end.
It’s a short and easy read full of quotes that you’ll want to add to your Pinterest board. I recommend watching the film by the same name after you read the book.
“If I love myself I will express that love in my interactions with you, and then I am being impeccable with the word, because that action will produce a like reaction. If I love you, then you will love me. If I insult you, you will insult me. If I have gratitude for you, you will have gratitude for me. If I’m selfish with you, you will be selfish with me.”
— Don Miguel Ruiz
Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best.
These are The Four Agreements according to author Don Miguel Ruiz. In a world that feels as if it’s getting more and more divisive each day, these agreements remind us to prioritize our most essential values.
Ever since reading this book, I’m often reminded of the agreements during periods of stress or uncertainty. It’s a relatively short read, but one that will stick with you for years to come.
Buy it here: The Four Agreements7. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
“The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight; for others, a lamplit desk. Use your natural powers — of persistence, concentration, and insight — to do work you love and work that matters. Solve problems. make art, think deeply.”
It’s nearly impossible to write a list of the best books for INFJs without mentioning the queen of introversion, Susan Cain.
If you haven’t yet read Quiet, I recommending clicking the “Add to Cart” button on Amazon immediately. This book has transformed the lives of introverts around the world.
In it, Cain discusses the challenges and joys that introverts experience in their careers, as students, as parents and more. Backed with personal anecdotes, research, and interviews, it’s the most comprehensive book on introversion currently out there.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that my general stress levels seem to peak in the fall and winter. As an introvert and INFJ personality type, the extra social events and responsibilities that surround the holidays tend to drain me physically and mentally.
As an Extraverted Feeling type, I feel the need to make sure that everyone is happy and that things run smoothly. Through all the stress that comes with the holiday season, I typically keep my feelings to myself. I mean, everyone stresses out during that time of year, right? No one needs to add me to their list of concerns.
The lesson from the book is that the more vulnerable we are, the more power and control we have over our lives. Being vulnerable and open is hard for INFJs. However, for the INFJ, vulnerability is an absolutely crucial part of living a healthy and meaningful life.
The Power of INFJ Vulnerability
One thing that we need to recognize as we begin on the path to complete INFJ vulnerability is how we handle our emotions.
According to a podcast by Personality Hacker, there are two categories we tend to fall into when it comes to dealing with emotion: emotional stacking and emotional indulgence.
Emotional stacking means bottling your emotions to avoid conflict or confrontation. Emotional indulgence means over-sharing your feelings so that everyone else is involved in your problems.
As introverts and feelers, INFJs tend to fall into the first group. Here are four reasons INFJs bottle emotions and some tips to help you overcome the fear of INFJ vulnerability.
1. INFJs Are Introverts
Although some introverts are talkative and expressive, most of us prefer to keep the majority of our thoughts to ourselves. The conversations in my head versus conversations in real life ratio is somewhere around 1,000 to 1.
Even with those we are close to, we may only share a tenth of what is actually on our mind. In fact, there is a science behind why introverts struggle to speak that has to do with how our brain processes information. All of these things can make it difficult to open up about how we are feeling at the moment.
Tip #1: If you feel like sharing your feelings with a loved one but find it difficult to open up, first write out how you feel in a letter or email to the person. This will help you process your emotions and make it easier to bring up the conversation. If you still feel uncomfortable expressing yourself in spoken word, send the letter or email to the person.
2. INFJs Are Extraverted Feeling Types
Extraverted Feeling values peace and harmony in our surroundings. Sharing negative emotions can cause those around us to become upset, which in turn can make us even more upset.
Our natural mode of operation is to make sure that everyone else feels OK. We’re often extremely uncomfortable with conflict.
At the same time, we are often very calm and level-headed when other people open up to us about their emotions. Emotional indulgers love INFJs. This is one reason we need to be especially careful to avoid emotional vampires.
While in the short-term it’s a relief when someone starts to talk about their problems because we get to go into our counselor comfort zone, in the long-term, it’s unhealthy to keep our feelings inside and encourages one-sided relationships.
INFJs will end up bitter if we feel like we’re constantly supporting someone else, but not getting that type of support in return.
Tip #2: According to Personality Growth, INFJs can use our dominant function, Introverted Intuition, to help us sort out how we’re feeling in the moment by comparing it to similar instances in the past. Often times we just need to allow some time to process what we’re feeling and experiencing before reacting. If we find that we’re dwelling on the situation, then that’s a sign that we need to discuss the issue with someone else or find a healthy way to express our emotion.
3. We Think We’re Stronger Than We Are
The INFJ personality type is often called the Counselor personality type. We’re used to offering a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and helpful advice. This leads us to a false sense of supremacy over our own emotions. If we’re so good at helping others figure out their emotions, surely we can handle our own just fine, right?
Like any human being who feels things, we also need an outlet to express our deep and sensitive feelings.
Tip #3: One reason INFJs bottle our emotion is because we feel like no one would understand what we’re going through. I recommend seeking out other introverts and INFJs online or through common-interest groups. If you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, grief, thoughts about harming yourself or others, addiction, abuse, or anything that you feel is too serious and difficult to speak to most people about, please talk to your doctor, counselor, or find a support group near you. There are several options available, so please don’t be afraid to ask for help.
4. We Think Our Emotions Aren’t Valid
We are extremely tuned into the emotions of others. We can tell when the grocery store clerk is sad even when they’re smiling. We know when our co-worker is slightly annoyed by what our boss said during the meeting. We know that our significant other is holding something in even though they’re trying not to show it.
Since we are so wrapped up in other’s emotions, we’ve tricked our brains into thinking that this matters more than how we feel. Our emotions are secondary to what is going on the outside world.
Sometimes it takes us a while to separate how we feel about something from how other people feel about it.
Tip #4: Keep a daily feelings journal. Jot down some of the things you felt throughout the day and contemplate on why you felt that way. Recognizing the cause of our feelings is a great way to become more emotionally aware and shake some of that feeling junk out of the bottle.
Do You Struggle With INFJ Vulnerability?
Do you have any tips or resources for INFJs who struggle to be vulnerable? Are you more of an emotional stacker or emotional indulger?
The 16-personality-type theory is a horizontal model of personal development. It helps the individual understand their personality, but it doesn’t address how they grow over time. However, it can be useful as a growth tool when paired with other systems of personal growth.
The Graves Model, or “spiral dynamics,” is a vertical model of personal development. This model is built around the idea of a hierarchy of personal growth and addresses how people change as they grow throughout their lifespan. The model is broken into eight levels of development, each labeled by color.
Understanding the Levels of the Graves Model
The Graves Model can help INFJs pinpoint where they currently are in their personal development journey, understand what’s holding them back from moving forward and identify the best steps to take next.
Level 1 or Beige
This level is where all individuals start out at birth. In Level 1, people are focused on our basic needs for survival—food, water and shelter. Adults who are homeless or those with severe mental disabilities may also fall into this level.
Level 2 or Purple
This level is established at the point where most young children start to understand how they fit in with other people in the world. They begin to see themselves as part of a family unit or group. They learn to identify who they are based on where they fit within their group.
Level 3 or Red
Humans enter this level when they start to understand their personal identities separate from their family or group memberships. For many people, this is the rebellious stage they go through as children, teenagers or young adults.
Level 4 or Blue
This level is the stage in life when people find and bond with others who have similar beliefs and identities. They start to understand the value of law and order and focus on maintaining structure and meeting the needs of their group.
Many people enter this level as they begin to get involved in sport teams, church, the army or merely find a close friend group of like-minded individuals. Adults can get stuck in this level for long periods of time. There is a great deal of comfort in Level 4. Advancing past this level often takes a significant life change or an intense focus on personal development.
Level 5 or Orange
People enter Level 5 when they begin to value personal achievement. When an individual at Level 4 realizes that “something is missing,” and begins to dream of a major career change or entrepreneurial pursuit, they begin to shift into a Level 5 mindset.
Unlike the previous level, Level 5 goes back to focusing on the needs of the individual over the needs of the group. The person begins to value material objects and status, and may even come across as selfish to other people.
Level 6 or Green
Like the other even-numbered levels of the model, Level 6 goes back to a group-centric focus. People enter this level as they form relationships and groups with like-minded individuals who have met their professional goals and who are seeking a more community-focused level of fulfillment.
In Level 6, people want to share their wealth and give back to their communities. They become more tolerant and understanding of people with different beliefs and values.
Level 7 or Yellow
People enter Level 7 when they start to realize where they fall within the bigger picture of humanity. They begin to see everything in the world as an intricate system and where they land as part of that system. The focus is drawn back to the self; however, the self also respects its place in relation to everything and everyone else.
People in Level 7 make decisions based on what is best for humanity in the long run and not for immediate, personal fulfillment. Individuals at this level are often highly spiritual.
Level 8 or Turquoise
Level 8 is currently the highest level of development in the Graves Model, and few people reach this level in their lifetimes. In fact, it’s estimated that only 0.1% of the population is at Level 8.
People enter this level as they begin to see themselves beyond their physical forms and understand the universe as a holistic system. They understand how the energy of everything in the universe works together, and see the potential for this energy to unite for greater understanding and peace.
How INFJs Can Use the Graves Model for Personal Development
The Graves Model is a highly valuable tool for INFJs to determine what steps to take next on their personal growth journeys. Many INFJs may find themselves drawn to certain levels because of the values they represent. For example, an INFJ may be attracted to Level 6 because of its focus on community and harmony. However, being attracted to what a level represents is not the same as being in that stage of development.
Unlike personality type, the Graves Model requires each individual to go through each level (starting at Level 1) before they can move to the next level. So, while you may be attracted to Level 6, if you haven’t gone through 4 and 5, you cannot entirely be in the Level 6 stage of development.
It’s vital for INFJs at every level of development to surround themselves with people who are at the same level or higher levels than they are. If not, they’ll find that people will constantly trying to drag them back down to their level—whether it’s because of envy, fear or a general lack of support.
This doesn’t mean the INFJ should shut out their friends and family who are content to stay where they are in life. However, it’s important to set boundaries while increasing the amount of time spent with people who are advancing on their personal growth path.
As in every romantic relationship, a relationship between an INFJ and any personality type will come with both joys and challenges. Contrary to the opinions of Internet experts, there is no “best type” for an INFJ—just like there is no “best job”, “best place to live” or “best Harry Potter house” for an INFJ personality type.
There are however patterns found in the combination of the INFJ with different personality types. Some personality types are more similar to the INFJ personality, so they’ll be able to understand and relate to their INFJ partner more than others. However, similarities between partners in relationships can introduce as many challenges as do differences.
INFJs in Relationships with NF Personality Types
NF personality types (ENFJs, INFJs, ENFPs and INFPs) are the most idealistic of all the personality types. These types are deeply in tune with their emotions, focused on the big picture and strive to improve their lives and the lives of others.
NFs, or idealists as psychologist David Keirsey calls types of this temperament, are motivated by personal growth and understanding. They make warm and compassionate partners but can hold higher expectations for the relationship than is often realistic.
INFJs can experience beautiful and exciting relationships with NF partners. The biggest challenges tend to arise when one partner is blinded by the shared similarities and begins to expect their partner to understand and act in the same way as they would in every situation.
Since NF types feel deeply, they can experience passionate relationships fueled by emotional depth and vulnerability. However, this can also lead to drama that drains these emotionally sensitive types to the point of overwhelming exhaustion.
NF couples can also become frustrated by a lack of practicality. They may get frustrated when their partner forgets to fill the gas tank in the car…again. It’s essential that these types are open about their frustrations and realistic about their expectations in the relationship. If this is achieved, INFJ and NF relationships can flourish.
INFJs and ENFJs in Relationships
ENFJs and INFJs are future-oriented idealists who value growth and understanding. In a healthy partnership, these types will encourage and support each other on their growth journeys both inside and outside of the relationship.
INFJs admire the ENFJs charisma and ability to make others feel heard and at ease. ENFJs appreciate the INFJ’s clear vision, integrity and commitment to growing the relationship.
ENFJs can have a hard time understanding INFJs need for privacy and alone time. INFJs are extremely independent and often enjoy solitary hobbies and interests. ENFJs can feel left out and frustrated if they’re not included in an important part of their partner’s life.
INFJs and INFJs In Relationships
The joys of an INFJ and INFJ relationship include deep conversation, unwavering support and the bliss of having a partner who sees the world in a similar way.
Many INFJ and INFJ couples feel like they have a true “soulmate” bond. The couple will enjoy discussing their visions and ideas and willingly provide emotional support to one another.
However, communication issues will arise if the couple isn’t open with their feelings. Some INFJs may prefer to keep emotions inside for the sake of maintaining harmony, but their partner will easily sense that something is off. If the issue isn’t addressed quickly it can become a major source of conflict.
INFJs and ENFPs In Relationships
Both INFJs and ENFPs are warm and empathetic. INFJs are attracted to the ENFPs charisma, enthusiasm and compassion. ENFPs admire the INFJs patience, focus and deep emotional insight.
INFJs and ENFPs are often fascinated by the similar, yet different ways the other person views and interacts with the world. INFJs can help ENFPs prioritize their many projects and ideas by helping them focus on a long-term plan that’s in line with their goals.
Although they seem similar, INFJs and ENFPs perceive information and make decisions in very different ways. They may struggle to understand their partner’s feelings and behavior, which can cause frustration.
INFJs and INFPs In Relationships
INFJs and INFPs are similar on the surface, yet see the world through extremely different lens. INFPs are in tune with their desires, values and beliefs. INFJs often experience conflicting feelings and beliefs as they attempt to understand multiple perspectives.
INFJs admire the depth of emotional vulnerability INFPs access with ease and their quirky sense of humor. INFPs are drawn to the INFJs genuine warmth and compassion for humanity.
Since INFJs are more objective about emotions, they may feel like their INFP partner is over-reacting or being dramatic. Since the INFJ values harmony, they may not express this feeling which can cause resentment. INFPs may feel like their INFJ partner isn’t emotionally vulnerable enough, which they may take personally.
Want to learn more about INFJ relationships? Check out INFJs In Love, a 37-page e-book that examines the benefits and challenges of INFJs in relationships with each of the 16 personality types.
When I was in my teens and early 20s, I had several unhealthy relationships. Eventually, I taught myself that these relationships were unhealthy because the other people were “toxic.” These emotional vampires sucked my energy and left my batteries in serious need of a lengthy charge.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that the “vampires” weren’t solely responsible for draining my energy. I was making decisions to meet the needs of others and not focusing on caring for myself. By making these choices, I was just as guilty of causing my energy depletion as was anyone else who I spent time with.
Once I realized I was giving too much of myself to other people, my instinctive reaction was to withdraw — even “door slam” the people in my life who took me for granted. I felt angry and resentful. These vampires had taken all my energy. Then, they had the nerve to get upset when I had nothing left to give. While these emotions were valid to an extent, I can see clearly now that this reaction wasn’t healthy, either.
As an INFJ personality type, it’s taken me several years of working on boundaries to come to this realization. I still have a lot of work to do in this area — but hopefully by sharing some of what I’ve learned so far, it will help other INFJs who struggle with setting healthy boundaries.
Types of Unhealthy Boundaries
About a year ago I took the INFX Unveiled Course by Personality Hacker. It helped me identify and address some of my boundary issues. The course also introduced me to the four types of unhealthy boundaries that INFJ and INFP personality types often adopt.
These are the four types of unhealthy boundary setters.
Compliants: Compliant people are passive and overly agreeable. They say “yes” to everything for fear of disappointing other people. They’re extremely attentive to how they are perceived by others and attempt to control that perception.
Avoidants: Avoidant people set unhealthy boundaries by running away from any situation in which they aren’t directly needed or involved. These people detach from any responsibility or need that they don’t feel obligated to address. They leave difficult conversations and actions to people who they believe are more qualified to handle them.
Controllers: Controllers are aggressive and manipulative. They refuse to take “no” for an answer. They set boundaries by being in full control of their own lives and controlling the lives of other people as much as possible.
Non-responsives: Non-responsive individuals set boundaries by choosing to completely ignore the needs of others. They are often hypercritical and narcissistic.
The unhealthy boundaries that come most naturally to us are often a result of a) our personality type, and b) our family and environment.
As an INFJ, my instinct is to be compliant and/or avoidant. I want to please the people I care about and give them whatever they need — until this becomes too much (because I haven’t set healthy boundaries).
At this point, I become avoidant and ignore dealing with issues until I absolutely have to (in the past, I would haved considered this “self care”).
4 Steps to Setting Healthy Boundaries for INFJs
It’s difficult for INFJs to see the space that exists between pouring all of their energy into another person and completely slamming the door. However, this is the exact space that needs to be nourished for INFJs to grow and establish healthy relationships.
A healthy boundary should not look like a sword and shield protecting you from the next attack. Boundaries are rooted in compassion for the self. They look like a gate, which you can open and close at your own convenience.
If a new person moves in next door, it’s unlikely you’ll leave your door open for them to walk into your house at their discretion. But you also wouldn’t build a 10-foot wall around your house so they can never say “hello.”
You probably have healthy boundaries for your abode that tell your neighbors when it’s appropriate to strike up a conversation and when to stay out of your space. These are the types of boundaries that INFJs need to practice applying to each of their relationships.
Here are 4 steps INFJs can take to establish healthy boundaries.
Identify the issue: In what ways to do you set unhealthy boundaries? Are you a compliant, avoidant, controller or non-responsive? In what ways do these boundaries shape your relationships? Are there unhealthy patterns you’ve noticed in your relationships? How are these patterns related to your own issues with boundaries? Identifying your unhealthy boundaries is the first step to establishing healthy ones.
Assess your priorities: Once you identify the patterns that are causing issues in your relationships, ask yourself why you’re reacting with unhealthy boundaries? What is being compliant or controlling “protecting” you from? Is it the fear of judgement, emotional connection or uncertainty? Is it more important to protect these fears than to form healthy and fulfilling relationships? Figure out what you prioritize the most so you can build boundaries that meet these priorities.
Establish healthy boundary rules: After realizing your priorities, the next step is to set rules — and apply those rules to all of your relationships. For example, if you’re a compliant person who says “yes” to everything, you may be constantly drained from social obligations. Having time alone to recharge is a priority, but so is maintaining strong relationships. What rule allows you to balance these priorities? Maybe it’s as simple as “Tuesday night is for alone time.” Once you’ve decided on your rule, it is much easier to set boundaries around it. It’s important that the people in your life understand that the boundary isn’t about them — it’s about you and your needs.
Focus on self-love: We love to talk about the importance of self-care. Self-care is absolutely important, but what is even more important is self-love. Self-care can often look like a bandaid that covers deeper issues. Self-love comes from the core of our being. When we focus on self-love, we take action from a place of compassion for ourselves and others. We are less worried about protecting our energy and instead prioritize sharing our energy in manageable ways.
How Setting Healthy Boundaries Helps INFJs Grow
Setting healthy boundaries a key part of the INFJ personal growth journey. Recognizing the issues that exist within your relationships and within yourself is only one piece of the puzzle. It’s just as essential to practice establishing rules for your current and future relationships. It’s also crucial to show yourself as much love and compassion that you so instinctively give to others.
If you want to learn more about identifying unhealthy boundaries, establishing rules and growing into the best version of your INFJ personality type, I strongly recommend the INFX Unveiled Course. Click here to learn more!
You read an article about the INFJ personality type that resonates with you. Maybe you took a free online test which told you that you’re an INFJ. But you’re not entirely sure how valid the test is or if your result is completely accurate. You’re still left wondering “Am I an INFJ?”
Am I an INFJ? Here are the Best Online Personality Tests
While nothing compares to an assessment from an MBTI® Certified Practitioner or having an in-depth knowledge of the Jungian cognitive functions, there are a few online resources that are much better than the rest at helping you identify your true type. Here are the best online personality tests, based on my personal experience with each.
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Truity TypeFinder® Personality Test
If you’re looking to discover your true personality type, the Truity TypeFinder Personality Test is one of the best online assessments. While you can take a basic version of the test for free, for only $29 you can get an extremely thorough breakdown of your type result.
The TypeFinder assessment breaks down your personality into 23 measurable traits and gives you a completely personalized and easy-to-understand report. This test won’t just tell you what four letters fit you best, but will truly help you understand the ins and outs of your personality.
As far as free personality tests go, Personality Hacker’s assessment is one of the best on the internet. The team at Personality Hacker knows personality type — and they’re committed to creating and sharing helpful resources to help you grow in your personal development journey.
If you’re looking for a high-quality, free assessment this test is a great place to start.
Are you fairly confident in your personality type, but have questions about how that information translates in your career? If so, the Truity Typefinder for the Workplace test is for you.
This assessment will help you understand how your type functions at work, including your personal work style, how you fit as part of a team, your leadership style, how to optimize productivity and how to make the most of your unique strengths.
While all of the other tests on this list are great variations of the MBTI, there’s nothing like the real deal. The online MBTI assessment is a 93-question test that provides a downloadable personality summary report. Beyond the report, you also get full access to their platform full of resources for additional information about your personality type.
While it’s the most expensive test on the list ($49.95), it’s also the most reliable.
If you’ve taken these test and still unsure of your personality type, it’s advised to talk with a certified practitioner who can help guide you toward a more complete understanding of your personality. For additional clarifications about your type, check out the links below:
I used to think that the side of me that feels “too much” was a burden — or even a curse. I hate feeling helpless and detached as if the world is fine without me in it. But, as an introvert, I also thrive in the safe comfort of my mind. Sometimes I have moments when I feel so energized to create new relationships that I’m okay with leaving that quiet peace for a while.
The problem happens when the new people I meet become confused when I retreat to recharge. I wouldn’t say I put on a facade. I’m a naturally curious person, and I love getting to know people. For me, people are the most interesting puzzle — delicately and meticulously designed.
I’m interested in how a person thinks, why they feel a certain way, why they think the way that they do — just about human nature in general. I like it when I get to help someone understand their inner thoughts.
But there are times when I get tired of doing this, and that’s when I know that to prevent a breaking point, it’s necessary to recharge my spiritual, emotional and psychological state.
6 Traits of People Who Feel “Too Much”
If you think you’re someone who feels “too much” you are not alone. Here are some of the things I’ve experienced as someone who feels emotions very strongly.
1.They Put Up High Emotional Walls
It’s easy for a deep feeler to know if they will click with a person after a few conversations. Yet, they give themselves time to see if they can trust them before they finally decide to open up. They realize that not everyone they open themselves up to actually cares about their feelings.
This emotional wall creates layers of precautions. Layers that took them years to build as a medium of protection against those who tried to strike their bare soul.
Someone pointed out how this emotional wall of mine makes them pay the price because they want to know what I’m really feeling but they can’t. That’s something I didn’t notice. I guess it proves just how blinding this wall can be. You don’t let others see what’s inside, and at the same time, you can’t see how they look at you from the outside.
2.They Care So Much — “Too Much”
People who feel “too much” can’t just let go easily. It’s not like they dwell on it day and night cursing people in their heads. They just think about it a lot. They think about how and why things went wrong and what they could’ve done to fix it.
When they enter a room full of people, they can sense the mood most of the time. And depending on what they’re feeling, they easily absorb most of those emotions. By absorbing, they don’t mean feeling it just at that moment and getting rid of it upon recognition. They soak up the feelings like a sponge.
Human emotions are like a labyrinth — too complicated and rooted in something much more profound. These feelings are somewhat overwhelming, so I developed a mechanism for myself to avoid my breaking point.
When they notice that someone or something is overwhelming and draining, a deep feeler will retreat into their cave. Sometimes they’re too weak to say that they’re very drained, so they hide.
They carefully plan when and where to go beforehand just so they can avoid people. When it’s not possible to physically retreat, they will do it emotionally as well. They can become very cold and distant even though they’re just right in front of you.
Being drained is more than just lack of sleep. It is more than not having the energy to talk. Being drained is more than not having the appetite to eat. It is emptiness. Sadness. Limiting. Dreadful.
4.They “Door Slam”
“Door slamming” is another term for cutting people out of your life. It’s different from being petty and not talking to them because you want them to see your worth. Before the door slam, they’ve given the person multiple chances, explained their side, and have also given them opportunities to change their behavior.
If they don’t see this change happening, they let themselves have a proper grieving process for the lost friendship and then move on with their lives.
I’ve “door slammed” two close friends in my life, and it’s proven to be very useful for me to avoid toxic relationships. I tend to avoid confrontation because I cannot express my thoughts very well when I speak unless I’m given enough time to think first.
When there are no other ways, and a confrontation is necessary, I let it out. Letting it all out may make me look “too sensitive.” But what I’m letting out is something much more than the topic of an argument. It stems from all of the piled frustrations I’ve had that I should’ve confronted earlier.
5. They Experience Mental and Emotional Stress
When I get mentally and emotionally stressed, I neglect my physical well-being. I get sick and too frail to get out of bed. I eat fatty foods and snack on sweets in large portions.
During periods of emotional stress, I get completely out of sync with what I should be doing to take care of myself. I start making decisions irrationally with no account for future consequences. I get sick, I gain weight, and I feel more tired and frustrated. Then all of a sudden, I feel sad.
6. They Love Solitude
When deep feelers get overwhelmed, they tend to shut themselves off from the rest of the world. You might find them laying down on their bed, writing down their feelings, singing their hearts out or listening to music with all the lights off. As much as they want to rest, their minds don’t stop. They feel good when they think because they can plan the next step and break the cycle.
When I feel like hanging out with my friends, but they’re busy, I don’t mind staying in the library, taking long walks or going to cafes by myself. I take this time to appreciate my environment and explore my inner world.
Learning to See My Feelings as a Blessing
As I grow older, I’m learning so much more about myself and how to deal with my issues. I’m learning to consider my well-being in certain situations that are damaging and draining, instead of always putting others ahead of me to make sure they’re fulfilled and happy.
Communicating your feelings with friends and/or your significant other is key — but so is knowing when enough is enough. Don’t let someone make you feel guilty for taking care of yourself and for acknowledging when something isn’t working.
Feeling “too much” can be exhausting. Being drained makes me feel emotions I haven’t felt before, but it also reminds me that I will never feel complete by only relying on my own understanding. It reminds me that I am in need of guidance from Someone who is Higher than me and my emotions. I may have my own mechanism to make myself feel safe, but nothing can overpass God’s ability to calm my heart.
My intense feelings may have hurt me in the past and can still hurt me in the future, but one thing is for sure: they are blessings in disguise.
I bristled at what felt like criticism (a sensitive spot for this INFJ). I like to think of myself as self-aware. Then, I remembered something that caused me to rethink that assessment.
The Impact of an Unexpected Loss
My dad’s death on July 13, 2013, came as a shock. He mowed the lawn and joked with the neighbors that day, showing no signs of a brain aneurysm that would erupt overnight.
His death marked my first unexpected loss of a close family member or friend. I had little experience with grief. I was sad, but I functioned as well as (and in some cases better than) “normal.” It didn’t make sense.
My dad’s absence left a huge hole in my life. But instead of crying I found myself observing my thoughts at a curious distance. I was an explorer studying an unfamiliar species.
I thought: How odd that my brain thinks, “I have to remember to tell Dad that next time I see him,” before it remembers he’s gone.
It’s weird that I’m unflappable at Dad’s wake, thanking everyone who came as if hosting a high tea at Buckingham Palace. I’ve felt overwhelmed by less socializing under ordinary conditions. It’s strange that I’ve only cried once and briefly. What’s wrong with me?
I thought of Dad often during the following weeks, but always with fondness rather than sadness. That changed in a single evening.
Uncovering the Mask of Denial
A month after my dad’s funeral, I brought Puffball, a tuxedo kitten I was fostering, into my basement to tuck her in. I kept her inside one room during the night to keep her from running herself (and me) to exhaustion. She liked the routine. I was pleasantly surprised to find that once I shut the door she settled into the box of blankets and slept until morning without a peep.
I decided to spend some extra time cuddling Puffball since I’d return to teaching for the start of a new school year that morning. Though I liked my work, no job could compare to the blissful freedom of summer, so each fall struck me as a small loss of that freedom.
As Puffball climbed my body like a jungle gym and batted my hair like a boxing bag, I glanced at the clock. Suddenly, I was hit by a wave of sorrow so powerful it sucked the breath from my lungs. Just like that, Dad’s absence became real and permanent. I slid to the floor, bent at the waist, and sobbed.
I realized later that to enjoy summer, I had stashed my stressful and unpleasant feelings about the coming school year in a mental lockbox labeled: “Do not open until school starts.”
Losing Dad definitely qualified as stressful and unpleasant. So, like the clean dog leashes I pulled from the animal shelter’s dryer, my reactions to Dad’s death got tangled with worries about course enrollment, teaching observations, and stacks of essays waiting to be graded. It all ended up in the lockbox.
When the clock struck midnight on School Year Eve, the lockbox sprang open and spewed its contents.
Crying helped. I felt something that had been caught tightly around my ribs for the past month let go. I played with Puffball and let my tears dry. When it became clear both of us needed sleep, I turned off the light, closed the door, and went to bed.
Grieving and Growing in Self-Awareness
In the wake of this lesson in my capacity for denial, I’ve worked on keeping in touch with my emotions. If I find myself restless or flailing, I ask, “What is it I’m feeling?” or “What could I be trying to avoid?”
Spending time at the animal shelter, being around my two cats and riding horses helps. These things ground me in my body and get me out of my head (which has become too adept at denial). They are perpetually in the present and transparent about every feeling. The closer I come to showing them the same courtesy, the better they respond.
I hope Dad, always my opposite — an extrovert to whom no one was a stranger (who, I see with hindsight, often knew what I felt well before I did) — would be proud of my newfound journey in self-awareness.
The holidays are almost here. Are you still looking for a gift for the INFJ personality in your life? If so, don’t be alarmed. Each year, my parents ask me to send them a Christmas wish list. And each year, I struggle to figure out exactly what to put on the list.
There are usually things that I realize I need when I think really hard about it. I could probably replace that 10-year-old frying pan or maybe get a new Brita pitcher? Those are the types of practical items my family usually gifts me for the holidays. Lord knows, I won’t complain about anyone helping me be a little more practical. But what do I really want this season?
8 Holiday Gift Ideas for INFJ Personality Types
If your INFJ partner, parent, child or friend is anything like this INFJ — here are some gift ideas that are sure to make them smile this holiday season.
1. Peace and quiet
It’s the holidays and your INFJ is most likely feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated. Get them the gift they want most — some alone time. Watch the kids for a day so your INFJ can enjoy a day at home alone. Or give them a relaxing gift like a day at the spa. INFJs love the chance to recharge and rejuvenate — especially around the holidays.
2. Books, books and more books
Many INFJs love to read. Take note of your INFJs favorite types of books, Is their bookshelf full of self-help? Are they constantly reading a crime novel before bed? Bookworm INFJs love receiving books from their favorite authors and genres.
Not sure what book to get your INFJ? Here are a few ideas.
Sometimes all your INFJ wants is to hear that you care and appreciate them. Write them a handwritten note that details all the things you admire about them or record a video that explains why your INFJ is special to you. A heartfelt gift full of words of affirmation will bring a huge smile to the face of your INFJ.
4. A donation to their favorite cause
Many INFJs are passionate advocates about the causes they believe in. Show your INFJ that you support them and share their values by gifting a donation to their favorite cause or charity.
5. Journals or planners
INFJs love to write down their thoughts and ideas. They also appreciate anything that helps them structure their often disorganized mind. Journals and planners are great gifts for INFJs — especially when they’re centered around personal growth.
Best Self Co. offers many fantastic motivational journals and planners to help you get inspired and stay on track with those new year resolutions.
Many INFJs simply love spending time with the people who mean the most to them. This is why a meaningful experience often means more than any material item. Book a quiet getaway at the beach or in the mountains. It’s sure to be a gift that your INFJ will never forget.
At the end of the day, it’s the thought that counts. These gifts will show your INFJ that you’ve taken the time to truly understand them — and that means more than any present under the tree ever could.
Are these the kind of gifts you’d like to receive as an INFJ? Is anything missing from this list? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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