The INFJ Mean Streak

I don’t get mean very often, but when I do it’s ugly. 

INFJs are typically very sweet and friendly people. We love to help people and to make people feel comfortable around us. We know when things are off and when someone needs a little extra support. That’s when we show up for them. That’s when we are at our best. 

But all too often we run into people who take advantage of our kindness. We want them to be happy and to like us, so we let it go. Sometimes we even blame ourselves for what they did. We rack our brains trying to come up with a reason and a solution to either fix it or not let it happen again. 

And then they take advantage of us again. And we let it go again. This pattern repeats itself many, many times until we have finally had enough. Let me be clear: it takes a lot for us to get to this point. It takes days, weeks, months, sometimes years of us putting up with being taken advantage of before it comes to a boiling point. 

But then it does. It becomes physically impossible for us to hold back anymore and it all comes out in an explosion. It explodes big! That explosion can rock our whole world. 

And all of a sudden Ms. Nasty comes out. Not only is she nasty, but she’s very smart and has been keeping a list of every sin you have ever committed since she’s known you. She’s been thinking about all of these things that she’s “let go” and has been rehearsing in her head what she’s going to say to you when she’s had enough. After all, she’s been unprepared before and she’s not going to let that happen again.  

The thing is, you thought everything in your relationship was ok. And now, she’s had enough and your head is spinning with all of the brutally honest facts that she has poured out on you. 

But her? She feels nothing but relief. Ok, she may feel a tinge of regret for not acting sooner, but mostly it’s just relief. The truth is out. There is no hiding anymore and she’s happy. There’s no more anxiety about when it will come out. There’s no more putting up with less than she deserves. She’s just relieved.

Why does it explode

It took me a while to realize that is exploding thing may be normal for us as INFJs, but it’s not normal for everyone. And it’s not healthy either. It doesn’t bother me so much when it happens with someone I don’t care that much about, but when it happens with a loved one, the fallout can be a big deal. 

Let it go

So in order to correct this problem we have to look at why it happens. Let’s go back to the beginning of the story: 

“We run into people who take advantage of our kindness… and we let it go.”

Rather than speaking up and saying something to them about what they did, we let it go. We reason this out by saying we are trying to keep them happy or trying to keep the peace, so we are doing the “right” thing by not saying anything. We just assume that they know that they have done something that we are not ok with without even telling them. But do they really know? 

Non-confrontational to the extreme

Part of why we don’t say anything is because as INFJs we can be non-confrontational to the extreme. I’ll give you a real-life example. I accidentally tripped a breaker in my apartment. I had too many things going at the same time, one of them being an electric fireplace. My landlord is one of those people that has taken advantage of me time and time again and I have just let it go. I avoid her at all costs. 

So the breaker is tripped and half of the electricity in my apartment isn’t working, including the lights and the TV. But the way that the would is set up the breaker box includes her portion of the house too and it’s not labeled correctly. So, rather than telling her about it or just resetting all of the breakers, I waited a whole 24 hours to talk to her. I seriously considered not telling her at all and just living with not having half of my power. 

Now, just to be clear, I am not saying this is a good thing. I’m saying “wow, I can’t believe that I do that.” 

Keep digging

We have to dig a bit deeper to get to the real why though. We say that we are trying to protect people and maybe that’s true to a point. But the real why is we are trying to protect ourselves. How many times have we been told to not speak up or that our opinion doesn’t matter? Some of us have endured that so many times that we start to believe it without even thinking about it. 

We say to ourselves “what’s the point? They won’t believe me anyway or listen to what I have to say, because my opinion doesn’t matter and that means that I don’t matter.” We keep the peace because we feel like we are not deserving of breaking it. 

I can’t even tell you how heartbroken I am to write that sentence. I’ve lived with this feeling for so long not even being able to identify what it was, just knowing that I didn’t feel like I could or should ask for more. Only recently did I put all of the pieces together. 

You deserve better

But the fact of the matter is I deserve better and you do too. We don’t have to earn our place in this world. We deserve to be treated well just because we exist. Just because we were born. That’s enough. That’s enough reason for us to have a place in this world and for us to feel like we deserve to be here too. We deserve as much love and respect as we give to everyone else. We deserve as much consideration as we give as well. 

Our thoughts and opinions matter. Our ideas matter. The things that bother us matter too. They matter enough to be spoken about right away before they built up to a boiling point. 

How to keep the explosions to a minimum

It’s not a simple problem to fix. I don’t have a 5 steps to freedom list for you, unfortunately. I can tell you the first step is the realization that you deserve more. You deserve to have your voice and your needs heard and taken seriously. 

The next thing is to speak up. I know that’s hard. Believe me, I know. But the assumption that people know the way that you feel is flawed. You and I both would be outraged if someone just assumed something like that about us, which they probably do all the time. 

But if we never tell people about the little things that bother us we never give them a chance to fix them. We are doing a disservice to them by not giving them this chance. 

Self-love is a journey that takes some people a lifetime. It’s a concept that I have thought was fake for a long time because I have never felt it. I was convinced that I was born without it or just didn’t need it for some reason. The last year has been one of big changes for me. My whole thought process around self-love has shifted. Maybe I finally understood what everyone else was talking about. It’s something that I am consumed with now. It’s my new obsession. 

At this point, the most that I can tell you is that even just an awareness of the why behind what you are doing changes everything. That’s all I know. But hopefully, there will be more to come soon. 

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5 thoughts

  1. This is me to a T!!! I hate confrontation and will let things that bother me slide. I convince myself that I’ve let it go, until the next thing comes up and everything else floods back and it keeps growing until it explodes. I have recently been learning to say how I feel at the time, it’s a process, it takes a lot of courage, but it’s the only way to truly let something go and it feels amazing!!

  2. I feel so identified! I love people and being friendly almost all the time, but I need space too and when I feel that someone does not treat me well, I say what I think and I have met some people who use the silence treatment. The problem is that even if it gives me freedom to say what I feel, I keep thinking about whether I was very bad with the other person by telling them directly what bothered me. I guess the fault for defending me is part of being INFJ too. Great post! Thanks!

  3. This is me too. But I decided on a 5time rule now. If I try to tell someone something and they ignore me I try a few times more and they don’t listen then I quit the friendship or the job or I move. I’m amazed how many people will get upset at me when I finally had my fill of their crap and tell them I’m done. It’s like it’s doesn’t compute to them how much I put up with. Then they get mad at me for not wanting to put up with their crap anymore.

  4. This is exactly me! That’s how I’ve ( and people on the receiving end) describe what happens when I’ve had enough. Vavoom- explosion. I think, also, I have to remember that people do not think like I do. The “I would NEVER do/say something like that to them”, never enters their mind.

    I have/had similar experience with the landlord situation. I’m speaking up, but, I still feel they have all the power. That feeling of not speaking up includes the “not having the power.” Wrong way to think of it. What’s right is right. Thank you for writing so honestly about this. I feel better.

  5. It seems from experience, that narcissists love to latch on to our personality type, the ISFJ’s and the INFJ’s.

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