“I have dreamed in my life, dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they have gone through me, like wine through water, and altered the color of my mind.”
– Emily Brontë
I recently retook (two separate versions of) the Myers-Briggs personality test, which confirmed what I already knew–I’m an INFJ (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging, the rarest of the 16 personality types), through and through. As someone who believes strongly in the virtues of self-examination and reflection, delving into what exactly this means has been a treat. Some highlights from the experts about what it means to be among the elusive 1% of personality types:
INFJs are complex, deep and intensely private. Personal growth drives them and anything short of that pursuit is meaningless to them. They are passionate and devoted to the causes they believe in. INFJs live their life with a great sense of purpose.
INFJs direct their energy inward. They are energized by spending time alone and have a few close friends. They are independent and deliberate. INFJs are highly Intuitive and are deep thinkers. Their thought process is complex and abstract. They are idealistic and future-focused. INFJs are Feelers that make decisions with their heart. They are empathetic, warm and caring. INFJs are often quick at their tasks and enjoy finishing them. They seek closure. INFJs lives are scheduled and structured. They have a controlled and organized nature.
INFJs define love in terms of emotional intimacy and shared values. They have a great need for connection while at the same time they yearn for solitude. They enjoy one-on-one interaction where they can focus on the other person and really get to know them. Of all the 16 types, INFJs are the most private and the hardest to get to know. Although they enjoy being a mystery, they also long to be known and understood.
INFJs love to learn. Their whole existence is wrapped around growth. They are on a constant quest to improve and untangle more questions. They are gifted at deciphering the connections and profound meaning of things. They are interested in theoretical and abstract concepts that can be applied to people and relationships.
Characteristics of an INFJ:
– Visionary. INFJs are led by their vision and are quick to grasp underlying meanings, patterns, and implications. They can quickly see how events will play out and can be very strategic in pursuing an ideal or plan for the future.
– Empathetic. INFJs deeply care about others and are usually very attuned to how other people feel. They are often good listeners and are deeply concerned with improving the world and the lives of people outside themselves. They can be very selfless in their pursuits.
– Determined. INFJs are often driven by a singular vision of the future. They trust their visions and insights with such passion that they can be relentless in their pursuit of a goal or ideal. Once they’ve settled on a path for their life they are very difficult to dissuade.
– Insightful. INFJs are quick to pick up on hidden meanings, connections, and relationships. They can often see clues and truths that other people miss or overlook. They are always asking themselves, “What else is going on here?” and so they often see things that are mysteriously absent to others.
– Creative. INFJs are usually motivated to trailblaze new and innovative paths for the future. They are highly imaginative and complex and enjoy using their imagination to write, create art, or even pursue revolutionary business ideas. Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
– Perfectionistic. INFJs are known for their high ideals and their grand visions. They often hold themselves to unattainable standards and get very frustrated when they fail to meet those standards. They may try so hard to be “perfect” that they are chronically unhappy with what they currently have.
– Prone to Burnout and Over-Stimulation. Because INFJs have inferior Sensing, they can easily get burned out by an overload of sensory stimulation. Also, because they have such high ideals and are so private about their inner selves they may push themselves to the point of mental breakdown without support from others.
– Isolation. Because INFJs are often misunderstood in early life, many become guarded and protective of their inner selves. They feel that nobody will ever really “get” their visions or ideas and that they will always be outsiders. They can grapple with loneliness a great deal and struggle with a feeling of separateness from others.
– Sensitive to Criticism. INFJs tend to care a great deal about harmony and about other’s perceptions of them. They also focus so much on being perfect that they can take criticism very hard and be very ashamed by its. They tend to have a hard time not taking criticism personally and can try to avoid people who are in the habit of regularly giving criticism.
– Procrastination. INFJs can take a long time to settle on a goal or decision. Because they lead with a perceiving process, they can take a lot of time analyzing, asking questions, and trying to uncover hidden truths and complexities before they decide to act. This can mean that they take too long to come to a decision or waste time looking for deeper meanings where there are none.
Due in part to the unique perspective produced by this alternation between detachment and involvement in the lives of the people around them, INFJs may well have the clearest insights of all the types into the motivations of others, for good and for evil.
Because the INFJ has such strong intuitive capabilities, they trust their own instincts above all else. This may result in an INFJ stubborness and tendency to ignore other people’s opinions. They believe that they’re right. On the other hand, INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves – there’s always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and don’t often take time to revel in their accomplishments. They have strong value systems, and need to live their lives in accordance with what they feel is right. They have very high expectations of themselves, and frequently of their families. They don’t believe in compromising their ideals.
INFJs are extremely future-focused. In fact, they can get so caught up in thinking about the future that they lose sight of the present moment. They are always trying to decipher what will happen someday and how events will play out. Most of the time their predictions and epiphanies appear “out of the blue” and this can make them seem magical or mystical in some ways.
INFJs are keenly aware of the emotional “atmosphere” of a room can pick up on minor variations in mood and can sense when people feel uncomfortable, awkward, sad, or happy, even with very little data to go on. For some INFJs, this strength is extremely pronounced and they can have a difficult time differentiating other people’s emotions from their own. They might suddenly feel sad or afraid or angry only to realize that they were picking up on someone else’s mood, even complete strangers.
In the workplace, the INFJ usually shows up in areas where they can be creative and somewhat independent. They have a natural affinity for art.
INFJs know things intuitively, without being able to pinpoint why, and without detailed knowledge of the subject at hand. They are usually right, and they usually know it. Consequently, INFJs put a tremendous amount of faith into their instincts and intuitions.
INFJs take their romantic relationships very seriously for the most part. Many INFJs are actually quite happy being single and don’t feel a particular compulsion to settle down or “find” romance. They would much rather be alone than with someone who isn’t ideal, and so they don’t mind taking their time to find a partner who has depth, sincerity, and they can actually see a future with. As introverts, INFJs generally find a lot of happiness in their alone time and can actually feel overwhelmed when entering a relationship as they find themselves constantly thinking of the needs of the other person and having less of that quiet, tranquil time to themselves.
The idealism of the INFJ is both a blessing and a curse in romantic relationships. On the one hand, they are careful and cautious when entering new relationships. On the other hand, they can be overly perfectionistic and feel disappointed when their partners inevitably fail to live up to their ideals.
More than anything, INFJs want a relationship with depth. They aren’t interested in shallow flings or small talk, they want a near-spiritual connection with their partner. They want to understand them in the deepest possible way, both the good side and the dark side. The more honest and sincere their partner is with them, the happier the INFJ will be. However, if their partner keeps them at arm’s length or tries to hide things from them they will quickly pick up on it and tire of the relationship.
INFJs are “old souls.” Many grow up feeling wiser than would be predicted by their chronological age. Having discovered the value of their Introverted Intuition (Ni) quite early in life, INFJs grow to trust its judgments and insights.
One of two types with the highest college GPA.
They are the highest of all types in marital dissatisfaction.
Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills.
Unafraid to cut people who have hurt them out of their lives.
INFJs may fantasize about getting revenge on those who victimize the defenseless. The concept of ‘poetic justice’ is appealing to the INFJ.
Feel lost without a goal to work towards.
Tend to have sophisticated, refined tastes.
Accurately suspicious about others’ motives, INFJs are not easily led. Though affable and sympathetic to most, INFJs are selective about their friends.
INFJs have a knack for fluency in language and facility in communication.
The INFJ individual is gifted in ways that other types are not. Life is not necessarily easy for the INFJ, but they are capable of great depth of feeling and personal achievement.