INFJs are notoriously bad at identifying our own needs. We live in the world of future dreams and predictions and other people’s feelings. Tapping into what we need in the moment involves using our least developed function, which is something that we’re bad at and don’t really enjoy working on.
So many examples…
Sometimes I go days without realizing that I’m hungry. When I get focused on a project, that’s all I want to think about. That’s all I want to do. I don’t want to stop for something like water or food. Why would I?
I called the doctor to make an appointment. I’ve been having these weird migraine headaches. The receptionist asked me how long I’ve had them. “Um… about 2 or 3 months now, I guess.” Me, trying to remember where I was when they started. The receptionist was clearly puzzled that I’ve had such bad migraines and it’s taken me this long to make an appointment.
My first love
I absolutely love race cars. When I first started going to the race track with my dad I was completely engrossed. I wanted to know everything about the cars. I could sit in the grandstands for hours and watch them go around the track, with my scanner, so I could hear the driver, spotter and crew chief all talking about what the car was doing and how to make it better.
Every once in a while my dad would nudge me to say he was going to the bathroom or to get a drink. “Do you want to come?”
“No.” Me, with a puzzled look. “I don’t want to miss anything.”
He’d bring me back a sandwich and some water, because I hadn’t eaten anything or even thought about it for 12 or more hours.
This is an everyday occurrence for me. I’m so good at ignoring the pain or inconvenience that it almost doesn’t bother me at all. Something has to be REALLY BAD before I make it a priority in my life.
How to identify your needs
As INFJs, this is difficult. We are wired to identify other people’s needs first. It’s important to know that so that you’re not so confused about why you can’t talk about what you need. We’re not wired for our needs to be at the forefront of our minds. That doesn’t mean we can’t access our needs, it just takes a little bit more work.
Tap into your inferior function
Our last or inferior function is called Extraverted Sensing (Se) – looks for exciting experiences outside of themselves, things that appeal to the senses (taste, sounds, sights, experiences). Extraverted Sensing is the ability to be present, to notice the things around you and pay attention to the details.
INFJs have great difficulty being in the present. We live for our Introverted Intuition and thoroughly enjoy being in that space. At times we don’t even notice what is going on around us. We are so deep in thought and processing that sometimes it takes a while before we notice the environment around us.
It’s important for us to tap into our Extraverted Sensing function when we’re trying to identify our needs. How do you do that? Well, here’s a few ideas. Take a minute to sit still and ask yourself a few questions:
What does my body feel like?
- Are my shoulders relaxed?
- Am I hungry or thirsty?
- Am I tired?
- Am I hot or cold?
- How long has it been since I got up and walked around?
- Have I been outside today? Or this week?
- Have I connected with a friend or loved one today? This week?
What am I feeling right now?
- Am I worried about anything right now?
- Am I planning something?
- Am I avoiding anything?
Each one of these questions will help you get grounded in what’s actually going on with you in the moment.
Write a story about you
Another exercise that you can do is to write a story about a character just like you, who’s going through what you’re going through and struggling with the decisions that you’re struggling with right now.
As INFJs, we are great at solving other people’s problems, but terrible at solving our own. So if you put yourself in the position of someone else, and distance yourself from your own problems, literally act like your problems belong to the character on the page, you’ll be able to see them a lot more clearly and come up with a good solution.
Grounding exercises are things you can do to bring yourself into contact with the present moment. They are simple things you can do to connect to the present. Here are a few:
- Take 10 slow breaths while focusing on your breathing and how it feels in your lungs.
- Splash water on your face. Notice how it feels when it touches your skin and how refreshing it is, just with this one simple thing.
- Go for a walk outside, without shoes on. Feel the grass on your feet and toes.
- Stop and listen. Notice and name what sounds you can hear nearby. Start with the closest or loudest sounds. Gradually move your awareness of sounds outward, so you are focusing on what you can hear in the distance.
- Step outside, notice the temperature of the air and how it is different or similar to where you have just come from.
- Put on a piece of instrumental music. Give it all of your attention.
- Put on a piece of music, sit with a piece of paper and a pen. Start drawing a line as the music plays, representing it in the abstract on the page. Follow the music with the pen.
Another exercise that I use for when I have anxiety attacks is naming things. Like this:
- Name 5 things you can taste
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Starbucks Mocha
- Orange juice
- Vanilla ice cream
- 4 things you can smell
- Bread baking in the oven
- The smell of your boyfriend’s cologne
- Coffee when you walk into Starbucks
- The salt in the ocean air
- 3 things you can hear
- The waves crashing against the beach
- New Kids on the Block singing I’ll Be Loving You Forever
- A baby laughing
- 2 things you can touch
- Your phone in your hand
- Your sweater against your skin
- 1 thing you can see
- The blue sky above you
It can be any combination of those 5 senses. Going through this exercise will help you get out of your head and connect with the things around you. It will also remind you of your favorite things, which helps as well.