I got an email a couple of weeks ago that said, “I took your personality quiz and it said that I’m an INFJ. So what now?” I had this question myself when I found out my personality type. What’s the next step?
I want to start with a question for you. When you clicked on this post what did you come here to hear? What message does your soul need to hear right now? Take a moment, quiet your mind and make space for that message.
I started diving into my personality type in 2014. I was working in what I would have told you was my dream job, but I was completely miserable. I went to see a counselor and she told me that I had major depression and an anxiety disorder, which made me feel even worse. I wanted to understand why I felt this way, but no one could really tell me.
When I found my personality type it was like a flood of understanding. All of the sudden so many things made sense. I no longer felt broken and messed up, just misunderstood by so many people. In fact, the more that I learned the more I realized that I didn’t really even understand myself.
I knew that there was a lot about my life that I didn’t like. There was a lot that made me miserable. I needed a change. I needed happiness, but that seemed like some elusive thing that was impossible to grasp, like trying to catch the wind. Impossible.
We’re all looking for happiness
That’s why you’re here. Whether you hate your job, you don’t have enough friends, you feel misunderstood and disconnected, it all boils down to happiness. There’s a change that you want to make in your life. You want to fix that thing that is keeping you from happiness. You want to fully understand this thing that’s making you unhappy so that you can figure out how to be happy, either with this thing or without it.
Where does happiness come from?
Let’s start with a basis for what makes people happy. A lot of people look for happiness in all the wrong places. We think that if we have more money, a nicer house, a fancy car and lose all the weight that we’ll finally be happy. If you’re like me, you’ve been REALLY committed to this idea for a long time, most of your life actually.
But there are people who do studies about happiness and they give people all of these things for a week. The people come back and report that they really aren’t that much happier. The next week the same people are told to go and help someone that week. When they come back, they report that they are significantly happier than the previous week. Happiness comes from helping people.
Now you might say, “I have nothing to give. There’s no way that I can help anyone right now. I need help myself!” That’s ok. I’m here to help.
Different and rare
As an INFJ you’re different from most people. We process things differently, respond differently and feel things differently. Because we’re so rare, making up less than 3% of the population, it’s common for us to be misunderstood by our parents as we were growing up. You’ve probably been told that you’re wrong a lot. Maybe you’ve been told things like:
- You need to stop being so sensitive.
- You’re too quiet. You need to speak up more.
- You should spend more time with your friends and less time with your head in a book.
- You’re too picky. You need to lower your standards.
All of these things lead us to believe that there is something inherently wrong with us. That belief becomes a constant voice in our heads that makes us question our worth, our value as human beings and our ability to function like everyone else. This forms the basis of our personality.
The habit of being you
Let’s break it down a bit more. We have a habit of being ourselves from the things we’ve learned from an early age. From the ages 0-8 our brains are like a sponge. We soak up all the information from everyone around us, most importantly from our parents, but also from our siblings, teachers and anyone close to us who influences us around this time. The basis of our personality is set at this time, meaning that the things that you tell yourself today, the stories that run through your head constantly, were formed during this point in your life.
The age of understanding is 8-10 years old, that’s when we start to be able to reason things out. That’s when we start to think about the answers that we’re given to the questions that we ask.
You learn how to behave through the direction of your parents. They tell you things like:
- Look presentable when you leave the house
- Tie your shoes
- Stand up straight
- Don’t talk in class
- Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve
- Don’t be angry
- Don’t be too honest
- Don’t get too far outside of the line
- Don’t share too much of yourself
- Don’t tell people your faults
All of these things, and many more, become habits that we rarely think about later in life. They are run on autopilot by our subconscious brain. You don’t have to think about brushing your teeth in the morning, right? You do it every day so you know how to do it. It doesn’t require you to be present. You’re probably planning your day while brushing your teeth like I do or wondering if you’re running behind or worrying about the traffic for your morning commute. Your mind is somewhere else, but your body is still able to get your teeth brushed.
I’m sure you noticed some of the things on the list aren’t basic things like brushing your teeth. Some are things like “don’t be angry.” We take these directions and internalize them. We didn’t want to make our parents mad. We wanted to be the good little girls, so we did what they said. Even if we were mad we didn’t let them know about it. Good girls don’t get mad.
I have always prided myself on not showing other people my emotions. If I was mad or irritated or upset in any way I can control my face to make it seem like I’m not bothered at all. I had no idea why I did this for most of my life, it was just a thing that I did. Then I learned about how we’re influenced in our early childhood and how the things that are said to us then affect us. Suddenly it all made perfect sense. I was supposed to be the good little girl who didn’t get mad and throw fits. It wasn’t OK for me to show my emotions then, so why would I think it was OK to show my emotions now? My brain had taken that direction “be the good little girl who didn’t get mad” and put it on autopilot.
What everyone else needs
We get so good at being what everyone else wants and needs us to be. As INFJs, we can feel other people’s emotions. We’re been doing this for longer than we knew what it was. When I was a kid my mom and dad both worked. My mom went to school and then worked at night too. So she was always busy and tired. With 4 kids in the house she never had enough time to keep everything going. I was the good little girl who was always willing to help.
When I got home from school I would do the dishes, clean the kitchen, vacuum the floors and start the laundry. When I did all of these things my mom was happy when she came home. When I didn’t do these things, she wasn’t happy at all. She would complain about how she worked so hard and no one appreciated her and no one ever pitched in to help. I knew she was upset. I could hear it, but I could also feel it. So, to make sure that I didn’t have to feel that anymore I did all of the chores every day after school. And most of the time she was happy.
Through this process, I learned that love was earned, not freely given. If you did what you were “supposed” to do then you were worthy of love. If you didn’t then you weren’t.
I know now that that’s not how love is supposed to work. You shouldn’t have to earn love, it should be freely given. It should be something that you feel whether you do the chores or not. You shouldn’t have to be responsible for taking care of everyone else all of the time.
It’s not just your parents that have an influence on who you are as a person. There is so much information available to children nowadays that it’s astonishing. When I was 8-10 years old we didn’t have social media, but we did have TV, movies and magazines. It is impossible to escape the influence of what the world tells you that you should be.
Many advertising campaigns tell us that if you’re not tall, blonde and perfectly skinny then you’re not worthy as a person. It’s getting better now, but remember these perceptions are set in our minds by the age of 8-10. So if you struggle with these things it’s because of what you learned then. It is possible to change, but it’s not easy.
Your INFJ personality
I believe that you’re born with whatever personality type you have. I also believe that learned behaviors, like the ones we just spoke about, influence the person that you become. So we end up a combination of who we are born to be and habits that we learn that make up our personality type. Oftentimes, the real and true you gets buried underneath everything that the world wants you to be and everything that your family needs you to be.
Your happiness set point
With your personality and your learned habits, you have a set point of happiness in your life. It’s the general feeling of happiness that you have most of the time. If you’re like me, that happiness set point is pretty low. You complain a lot and want everything to change. You even have a list of things you want to change. I bet you’re thinking of 2 or 3 things right now that are on that list. You feel like these things are keeping you from happiness and if you could just change them, just fix them, then you would be free to feel real happiness.
Most days you just feel blah. Every once in a while though, something happens that makes you happy. You’re having a really good day and you’re actually feeling joy, but then something happens that pulls you back to the normal feelings that you have: blah, unhappiness, fear and anxiety.
Do you want to increase that happiness set point in your life? Do you want to feel joy on a daily basis regardless of the things that you want to change? It’s possible. The thing that’s getting in the way is your ego. Your ego is afraid of change, afraid of growth. It wants to keep you in a familiar place so it keeps telling you that you have to stay the way that you’ve always been.
A circle of joy
Let me show you how easy it is to feel joy in your life right now. Close your eyes for a minute and envision a circle of joy around you. Envision a bright circle all around you that makes you feel pure joy. Think about the last time that you felt that way and really drink it in. Soak it up. Elevate that feeling. Make it 10 times more powerful than it was before.
How amazing do you feel right now?? Wouldn’t it be amazing if that was the set point of joy and happiness in your life every day? What would change in your life if that was the setpoint?
It takes practice to feel joy
Feeling joy is like a muscle. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. We are so committed to feeling bad, to complaining and worrying and choosing fear, that feeling anything else it a chore. It takes work to expand your ability to feel joy just like it takes work to gain muscles.
Those habits keep you feeling stuck
You’re here because you’re looking for a change, but you feel stuck. You want to make a change, but you don’t know how to change. You don’t feel like yourself, but you don’t know who you are supposed to be or even want to be. You don’t know what would make you feel joy or happiness consistently.
It’s time to break the habits of your learned behavior and step into who you really are.
- Stop living to please other people
- Stop giving more than you have
- Stop doing things that you hate
- Stop being someone that you’re not
- Start practicing compassion for yourself
- Start showing yourself love and understanding
- Start showing up for you
You’re made this way on purpose
We have this amazing gift as INFJs that we can see farther than a lot of people can see. We can see the possibilities of the future, we can see the hope, we can see the change. Most people don’t see it. They don’t get it because they can’t see it. But you see it. You’re here because you know that you’re made for more. There’s something special that you’re made to do.
You can’t step into that purpose without courage, without confidence, without self-love. I want to help you find these things again and bring them to the front of your conscience. If, for some reason, I’m your person, you should give me the opportunity to work with you, to help you break the habit of being you and step into your true self.
It’s time to step into who you really are. It’s time to get support from people like you who are doing the exact same thing. It’s time to be the person that you dream about every single day, the one you see in your head that’s just a dream. You can be her. You can. All it takes is a little bit of courage to say, “It’s time. I deserve this.”
I made this for you
I created the INFJ Woman Insider group for people like us, who want to learn more about our personality type and who want to step into our highest and best self. If that sounds like you, I’ll see you in the group!