This was the 4th in a series of Facebook Lives at The INFJ Life Facebook page. Learn about the purpose your "inner critic" serves and how to respond and engage with it in a way that moves you forward.
I recently did a Facebook Live to discuss the idea of feeling "stuck" as an INFJ. Take a look at let me know what you think in the comments!
Do you want more in your life but feel stuck?
The dictionary defines stuck as: 1. Trapped and unable to move, or 2. Unable to progress.
So before we move on, I want to ask you: are you really unable to move? Unable to progress? Or, is it that you aren't yet at the place you think you should be? Is it that you see your present circumstances and think it should be different?
As an INFJ, you have an idealistic view of how the world should be. Mine has to do with people loving each other, caring for one another, and respecting each other. Is that too much to ask?!? I mean really. :)
You also have really high expectations for yourself. You want to make a difference. You want to help people. And you want to do it in BIG, impactful ways.
Your idealism is not bad.
Your high expectations are not bad.
When you combine these two things, it creates a ton of pressure and a constant feeling of never doing enough. No matter what's happening in your life in the present, you have your mind on the potential of the future.
This continuous dissatisfaction with the present leads to a feeling of being stuck. You feel stuck because you're not where you want to be—where you think you should be. You can imagine a future where things are so much more—so much better—than they are right now. As soon as you do something you know exactly what you want to improve. You don't revel in your accomplishments.
The struggle is real.
There's a real reason you struggle with the present and feeling stuck. It's because of your extraverted sensing (Se)—your least developed cognitive function. Extraverted sensing is about awareness of the present moment through your senses.
Add your inferior Se to your idealism and of course you have a constant focus on the future! Of course you have difficulty accepting where you are in the present! So instead of being unable to progress, could it be that you're unable to accept where you are?
So maybe for us INFJs, feeling stuck really means a struggle with being in the present moment.
Instead of saying, "I'm stuck," try, "I am in the present moment."
This simple change of phrase can release some of your self-judgment about where you should be. As trite as it may sound, you're actually the only place you can be. I know reading the phrase probably causes immediate internal objections and judgment-filled thoughts. There's nothing wrong with being in the present moment if that's the only place you can be. Release your judgment of where you should be. Remember, should is could with shame attached.
Nothing you've done up to this point is a waste. Every step brought you to the present.
In this Facebook Live I talk about why INFJs get stuck overthinking and what we can do about it. Good news! Your brain is beautiful just the way it is. In this video, I share three reasons WHY you overthink, including the technical reason that has to do with how your brain is wired. I also share several specific ideas of how to get yourself out of this "spin cycle." Let me know what you think in the comments below!
This is a continued discussion from my previous post. In this Facebook Live I shared three questions to ask yourself if you think you might be in the wrong career. I followed that up with three actions you can take right now, even if you can't quit your job immediately. I'd love to know what you think. Comment below if you'd like to share your thoughts on INFJs are their careers.
If you'd like more information like this on a weekly basis, you can sign up for The INFJ Life, a weekly email for INFJ women. Click the blue button below to sign up!
When I was a 7th grader, I joined the yearbook staff at my school. A big part of this job was being a photographer for the school's clubs and various groups. Since I'm of a...ahem...certain age...the camera I had available to me was a manual film camera. You know, like the kind where you load actual film into the camera, properly set the exposure, then develop the film? This is where I fell in love with photography. I began subscribing to photography magazines. I saved my babysitting money and bought a Pentax K-1000 camera through a layaway program. Ha. I then decided I must become a photographer. I was obsessed.
That's the way we INFJs tend to do things. We're either all in, or not at all. When we find something (or someone) we love, we give it 110%.
We also crave meaning in everything we do. Every INFJ I've ever met has a strong desire to make a difference. It's part of who you are. What it means to "make a difference" will vary from INFJ to INFJ, of course. It doesn't always mean ending world hunger. That's a good one, though.
It's extremely important for us INFJs to be in jobs and careers where we feel like we're making a difference in some way. It's critical to your wellbeing to do work, or at least have a side job or hobby, where you feel like you're having an impact.
Have you ever had a soul-crushing job where you felt like you weren't having an impact?
So, how do you find this illusive career? You may have already heard that INFJs are often well-suited to "helping" careers. The best job for you, though, is one that's in alignment with your values and core desired feelings. That could cover a range of careers.
How do you know if you're currently in the wrong career?
There's no checklist for this, but there are a few indications that you're in the wrong career. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- How do you feel waking up each morning?
- How interested are you in going to work on a regular basis?
- How much acknowledgment and appreciation do you receive for the work you're doing?
- How much autonomy do you have?
- How much do you agree with what the company or organization does?
I was recently interviewed for The INFJ Personality Show with Bo Miller. In the episode, I talk about my career path and how I arrived at coaching INFJ women. You can listen here. Bo has a special gift for subscribers to The INFJ Life, so take a look at the end of this email for that awesome gift!
The key to starting my own business was the desire to be in control of the impact I could have. If I work for myself, I'm the only limiting factor. It took a lot of self-love and acceptance work for me to get to a place where I even felt confident heading out on my own.
As a coach, my work centers on helping you love and understand yourself so you can live your purpose. It's the journey I've been on, and I want the same thing for you, too.
What about you? Do you struggle being happy in your career or work? Or are you completely satisfied? What questions do you have? If you'd like, comment below and let me know what you think.
If you're interested in hanging out with me on future Facebook Lives, here's what I have scheduled:
- Fri., Nov. 3, 2017, at 11 am PDT
- Wed., Nov. 8, 2017, at 10 am PST
- Fri., Nov. 10, 2017, at 11 am PST
Hope to see you there!
Take care, my friend. You are worth a whole lot!
I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by Bo Miller over at I Speak People for The INFJ Personality Show podcast. In it, I shared about my journey to self-acceptance and love and how it has impacted my life and opened me to connection with others. I also shared about my career path and how it led me to coaching INFJ women. I'm excited to share this with you in hopes that you will find inspiration to start (or continue) your own journey of self-acceptance and love. You might even find inspiration to step out on your own and start a business like I did! You can listen here »
One of the things I loved as a kid was rearranging my bedroom. I can't recall how frequently I rearranged, but every few months I'd get this sudden urge.
I loved the feeling of a fresh start with each new arrangement. As I rearranged, I would also clean and organize things as I put them in their new spot. Afterwards, I'd stand at the door of my room and gaze at my new area. I'd smile and let out a long sigh. Ahhhhh. Now I can focus. Did you ever do this?
To this day, I still get that sudden urge to straighten or organize things when my mind feels cluttered. When I'm feeling stressed, my tolerance for a messy environment decreases. Does this happen to you?
How is this related to being INFJ?
Little did I know back then, but this need to organize and straighten my outer environment is related to the J in INFJ.
The letter J or P at the end of each MBTI type describes your outward preference when it comes to planning and structure. It's what the world sees. Yes, you're an introvert. But we all extravert some behaviors. It's what happens outside of you.
The J or P is determined by what you "extravert."
If you "extraverted" when taking in information (called perceiving in MBTI), you'd be a P.
Since you extravert when you're making decisions (called judging in MBTI), you're a J.
You make decisions (judge) in the world based on extraverted feeling (Fe). This happens outside of you and is generally concerned with group harmony. In other words, you do your interacting with the world when you make decisions. You are a J. INFJ.
(Side note: You take in information—perceive—using the introverted function of introverted intuition/Ni. This happens inside you.)
On the outside, you're seen as...
- ...someone who prefers a little (or a lot, depending on who you are) more structure in your outer world.
- ...someone who likes things more decided rather than open-ended.
- ...someone who like things more organized*.
- ...someone who likes decisions to be more settled. Determined. Final.
You can change your mind and you can go with the flow. It's not comfortable and it might take awhile for you to be ok with a change in plans.
But, because you lead with a perceiving cognitive function (your introverted intuition/Ni), you might be more curious and open-ended internally than you appear on the outside. You get the J label, though, because of what you show the outer world. I don't know about you but I find this stuff so fascinating! (insert nerd glasses emoji here) To read more about the J/P label, you can read here and here.
Why is a chaos-free environment so important for you?
As an INFJ, an organized outer environment allows your internal perceiving function to work smoothly. That's your intuition! Maintaining this structure can help your mind be more peaceful and free. Your brain will be able to recognize patterns and make those intuitive connections. This "ah-ha" moment also helped me be more aware of when I'm feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Here's why:
When you feel inner turmoil, you may feel an urgent need to organize your outer environment. This is often where a sudden burst of cleaning or organizing comes from. Once you organize your environment, your mind can start to settle and feel more organized.
When I have trouble focusing, sometimes clearing my desk is all it takes to regain focus. Just for kicks, here's the current situation of my desk:
Not too bad, right? If things get a little stressful, you can bet that pile on the right side will have to go bye-bye. :)
How can you decrease chaos in your home, work, or car?
What's one thing you've learned about being an INFJ that has changed your life? How/when did you learn that?
Do you find yourself with sudden desires to organize when under stress?
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* As with everything I write about related to INFJs, if you aren't an "organized person," that doesn't mean you aren't an INFJ. We're all different and our personality traits can manifest in different ways.
Ready for some accountability on that goal you want to reach? Or maybe you're just ready for a new perspective. As a coach specifically for INFJ women like you, I can help with both of those things. Hiring a coach will help you get where you want to be faster. Together, we'll dive into what's holding you back so you can move forward.
Are you ready? If so, hit reply and we can start a conversation about how coaching can help you and if you'd like to set up a complimentary call. Or, you can go ahead and book your free call here »
When you see a close friend or loved one hurting, what's your first instinct? As an INFJ, you have a high level of empathy built in. Although that's a beautiful thing, it can also be incredibly draining. This might make you avoid situations that you know will be full of emotion and various levels of energy. This especially applies to situations with lots of people, or with people who come to you for support.
Do you ever find yourself wanting to make it all better for your loved one? You know they're hurting because you feel it, too. Do you ever find it easier to try and make it go away for them because you want to take their pain (and thus your pain) away?
I confess that I've been guilty of wanting to make it all better on more than one occasion. As I've learned more about my personality type, I realize this is a defense mechanism in some respects. It also helped me discover my discomfort with my own emotions.
It took me a really long time to begin to accept, and not judge, my emotions and feelings. I'd get sad about something and then berate myself for getting upset about something so "silly." I'd get angry or frustrated at something (usually to do with myself) and then get mad about being angry. At times I even felt embarrassed for showing a display of happiness! Sigh.
Do you ever do this? Do you find yourself apologizing to others for the slightest display of emotion? You cry while telling your friend something and then say, "I'm sorry I'm crying. I don't know why I'm so upset. I'm ok...really." Do you feel bad for feeling bad? As women, we're already conditioned to apologize for our feelings and behaviors.
So when others showed emotion that made me uncomfortable, I immediately wanted to make it go away. This was not the only reason for my instinct, but it was a pretty big part. Another reason I've done this is because I genuinely want to help others. As an INFJ, I'm guessing you feel the same way. I hate seeing others hurt. It (literally) pains me to hear of their pain. This is part of our empathetic INFJ nature.
What if you could accept that all feelings are valid? Everything. All the things. The ups, downs, highs, lows...it's all a product of how you perceive your world. Your perception is your own unique lens for viewing the world based on a gazillion factors.
If you're in the habit of judging your own emotions, I want to tell you right now that everything you feel is valid. It's ok! It's ok to feel angry, hurt, sad, frustrated, happy, and disappointed.
What if you started giving yourself space for your emotions without judgment? If you find yourself starting to apologize, recognize that and break the habit. A lot of women tend to over apologize. It's like we feel the need to apologize for our existence! Breaking myself of the habit of saying "I'm sorry" took a lot of practice...and I still slip up from time to time. But, I'm not judging it! :)
Once you're more comfortable with your own emotions and feelings, you can stop trying to fix it for others. Simply be there for them. Hear them. Care for them. Show them that they matter, and their feelings matter.
How do you respond when your loved ones are hurting? If you'd like to share, leave a comment below.
Take care, my INFJ friend.
I'm thinking about writing this post about decisiveness, but I'm not sure. I could choose that topic, but there are lots of other things I think you'd like to read, too. What if how to be more decisive is not what you really need to hear right now? Maybe I'll write about being more decisive, but also talk about how our intuition plays into this.
See what I did there?
Do you consider yourself a decisive person? Or indecisive? Or maybe you're not sure, and it really depends. ;)
There's this idea floating around that INFJs are decisive people. I would have to agree, and disagree.
Are you confused yet?
Are INFJs indecisive? Or decisive?
I believe we can be both!
Two reasons INFJs might be indecisive
1. You question your intuition.
Do you question if a thought is your intuition or something else? It's important to remember that intuitive thoughts are objective, calm, and neutral. They are not critical or judgmental. Intuition doesn't operate from a place of fear or anger. As I wrote recently, anything that starts with "I should ___" is not your intuition speaking. Your intuition doesn't encourage you to blame someone or respond in anger. Lucky for you, next week I'll give you some ideas on how to trust and develop your intuition.
2. You get stuck in the "spin cycle" of thoughts.
Your introverted processes can cause an endless loop. Let me explain how this happens.
Our preferred cognitive functions explain how we process information and how we make decisions. If you're not already familiar with this, here are the cognitive functions of INFJs listed in order of most preferred, or dominant, to least preferred:
- Introverted Intuition (Ni) - an information-processing function
- Extraverted Feeling (Fe) - a decision-making function
- Introverted Thinking (Ti) - a decision-making function
- Extraverted Sensing (Se) - an information-processing function
One of your lesser developed cognitive functions is introverted thinking (abbreviated to Ti for short in the Myers-Briggs system). It's our third, or tertiary, cognitive function. It's less natural for us, but it does develop over time. When Ti overshadows Fe (our extraverted decision-making process), it's easy to get trapped in an endless loop of thoughts.
Here's how it works. Your introverted intuition (Ni) takes in and processes information (first in line in your cognitive functions). Then, if your mind skips over your extraverted feeling (Fe), your introverted thinking (Ti) focuses on logic and facts to support your ideas. This information can cycle back to your intuition (Ni) which can create more ideas. These ideas are sent back to your introverted thinking (Ti), and on and on. It cycles back and forth until we've arrived at the worse-case scenario and find ourselves in a black hole.
I'm sure you've experienced this "spin cycle" of thoughts!
How do you get out of the INFJ spin cycle?
One way to get out of your head is to call on your extraverted feeling (Fe) by...wait for it...interacting with others!
That is talking. Out loud. To another person.
This may be the last thing you want to do at times, but it's what will help pull you out of this never-ending thought cycle. Hearing yourself talk about your ideas and theories will bring clarity. I promise. Give it a try! Your extraverted feeling (Fe) is a decision-making process after all and is more developed than your introverted thinking (Ti). It happens outside of yourself (that's where the "extraverted" part comes in) and is what will save you from this spin cycle. In other words, you have to get out of your head!
In next week's post, I'll share an idea that might help you stop this spin-cycle of thoughts...without talking to another person. I know there'll be times when you don't have anyone around to talk to at the moment, so don't miss that post.
INFP vs. INFJ indecisiveness:
Side note about indecisiveness in INFPs vs. INFJs. I want to mention this because the internet claims that many INFPs mistype themselves as INFJs. First of all, INFPs and INFJs do not share any cognitive functions. INFJs lead with introverted intuition (Ni), an introverted information-gathering process. INFPs lead with introverted feeling (Fi), an introverted decision-making process. They make decisions based on how aligned something is with their values. If an INFP is indecisive, it probably means they're taking a lot of time to decide if something is aligned with their value system.
How INFJs can be more decisive:
1. Trust your intuition.
Start paying attention to the thoughts that pop into your mind. Work on developing your introverted thinking (Ti) this week by analyzing those thoughts for any emotions attached. Look at your thoughts with a logical lens to determine your emotional attachment to the idea. Again, intuition is neutral and works by identifying and processing patterns. Just don't get stuck here! If you find your mind going back and forth, talk it out. Remember to look for next week's email for more ideas.
2. Be confident.
That's easy to say, right? I command you: be confident! Haha. The more you trust your intuition, the more confident you'll become. The more confident you become, the more decisive you'll be. Part of gaining confidence means knowing you'll be ok no matter which path, or decision, you choose. You can make the most out of any situation. I know it's really hard for us to do this since we can easily play out the worst-case scenario for each decision. Instead, try asking yourself, "What's the best thing that could happen?"
Where are you on the decisiveness/indecisiveness scale? Comment below to share your thoughts.
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Do you want to have a great day today? How about tomorrow? Yeah? Me, too. Ok, so here's how to have a great day in four steps:
1. Name something you're grateful for.
Reminding yourself what you're grateful for shifts your mindset. This reminder helps you say thank you for the things you have in your life—big or small. This one little step can help you smile.
2. Think of something that would make today a good day.
We only have control over ourselves, so be sure to pick something you have control over. It can be an attitude, an accomplishment, an activity, etc.
3. Remind yourself of something you've already accomplished or achieved.
INFJs don't bask in accomplishment for very long. Bring to mind a goal you've recently met, or a fear you overcame. What emotion does that accomplishment bring up? Sit with that emotion for a minute.
4. Think of one problem or struggle you have.
Now, before you start asking why I'm being negative here, hold on a sec. Wait for the second part. :) What would happen if you looked at that problem as an opportunity? How could that shift make you feel about the situation? We always, always, always have a choice, no matter what the situation is. What's one part of that problem or struggle that you have control over?
You're worthy of having a good day! You alone are in control of how you respond to what comes your way today. Don't let today happen TO you. YOU are going to happen to today.
If you want to learn more about your INFJ personality type, sign up to receive weekly emails with tips, action items, and stories of life as an INFJ woman. Click the button below to receive The INFJ Life, a weekly email for INFJ women.
Want to receive weekly emails with tips, action items, and stories of life as an INFJ woman? Click the button below to receive The INFJ Life, a weekly email for INFJ women.
How often do you find yourself saying you should do something?
I should clean the kitchen.
I should get out more.
I should have said that differently.
I recently heard someone say that "Should is could with shame attached." I don't know who first said this, but I believe it's true.
The word could indicates possibility. Options. Choice. It's more about your own decision and judgment, and not someone else's.
Let's take a look at how those phrases sound with could instead of should:
I could clean the kitchen, but it's not my priority today. OR...
I could clean the kitchen after I cook dinner.
I could get out more, but I like staying home. OR...
I could get out more since I'd like to meet some new people, so I'm going to make that a goal.
I could have said that differently, but I like the words I chose. OR...
I could have said that differently, so I'm going to follow up with them to clarify what I meant.
See how those are different? There's a sense of power and control with could. When you say you should do something, you attach feelings of unworthiness. Saying could in each of these cases turns it around so that it's based on your own values and choices. You get to decide.
Guilt vs. Shame
Guilt and shame are sometimes used in place of each other. You feel guilty when you don't live up to your own set of values. In a previous blog post, I challenged you to start filtering everything through your own set of values. Knowing your own values is one of the first steps to help you figure out if you're feeling guilt or shame.
Here's what Brené Brown, a shame researcher, says about the difference in shame and guilt:
I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.
I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. (Source)
Do you see the difference there? Guilt is attached to your own values, and shame is attached to unworthiness.
How is perfectionism related to shame?
You may think it's really perfectionism that you battle, and not shame. Here's Brené Brown's definition of perfectionism:
Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: “If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame. (Source)
Did you catch that? SHAME. There it is again! I wrote about what your perfectionism is really about here. Much of it is about acceptance. In other words, it's about what you should do.
Empower yourself to stop the SHOULD.
To help you break the pattern of "should", I have a challenge for you this week.
For the next five days, keep a record of every time you say or think you should do something, or should've done something. Write it down. Keep a tally. Make a voice note. Make yourself aware of how often you default to "shoulding" all over yourself. Then, when you catch yourself, think about how you can rephrase that so it's connected to YOUR values. Here are some ideas on alternate phrasing you can use:
I want to...
I don't want to...
I choose to...
Connect your new phrases to your values by considering the why behind each statement. Sometimes we can drop the idea all together when we figure out it's not attached to our values at all!
Take your power back by getting rid of should!
If you try this challenge, comment below and let me know how it goes for you. What revelations did you have? Was it difficult or easy to remove "should" from your vocabulary?
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I'm back with 8 things INFJs say. Here we go!
- If that makes any sense. - We’re aware that what we say is not always translated well by others, so we may find ourselves adding this to the end of our sentences, or asking, “Do you get what I’m saying?” Knowing that we’re frequently misunderstood, we also desperately want others to understand us.
- Nothing, at the time, but 5 minutes after the conversation on a topic stops, you have a really insightful thought to add to the conversation. You were still thinking about the conversation long after it stopped, but others will probably see your insight as out of the blue.
- I don’t know how I know, I just know. - Your intuition works without you even having to try by connecting patterns, events, and ideas in the background while you go about your day. Then an idea pops into your mind, seemingly out of nowhere. Trying to explain how you know is nearly impossible.
- This just doesn’t feel right. - This goes along with the I don’ know how I know, I just know. Your gut tells you something and it just doesn’t feel right.
- I’m sorry…repeatedly, even if it’s not our fault!
- I get what you’re saying, but… - We’re always looking at a different perspective and trying to see all sides.
- I read this article the other day… - This can also be “One time, I ___” and proceed to tell an not-too-private story about ourselves to relate to the situation. Articles we’ve read, podcasts we’ve listened to, or personal experiences are frequently shared in an effort to help the other person feel related to and comfortable.
- Is there anything I can do to help?…we’ll say this even if we don’t really mean it, but more often than not, we genuinely want to help.
And that's what INFJs say! What other things do we say? Comment below and tell me the things YOU find yourself saying frequently.
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Depending on the situation, INFJs can have a lot of contradictions as part of their personality. Here's a list of seven! Comment below and let me know which contradictions you've seen in YOUR life.
- We can simultaneously love people, but then not really be able to stand people at times, or want to be around them.
- We hate small talk but love talking in depth about topics of real substance and meaning or things we’re passionate about.
- We’re super private and don’t like answering questions about ourselves, but then we’ll offer up information about ourselves on our own initiative.
- We can be loving, open, and kind, but we can also be extremely cold and shut off.
- We can completely understand the emotions of others, but then not understand our own.
- We can know we love music or books, but then walk into a music or bookstore and suddenly not have any idea of what kind of music we like or what kind of book we want to read.
- We easily see the big picture, but we can also manage the details needed to get something done.
Ok, so there you have it—7 contradictions of our unique personality. What else would you include? Comment below! I’d love to hear your thoughts on contradictions you’ve experienced in your life.
Can I ask you a question? How overwhelmed are you feeling right now? Go ahead and give yourself a rating on a scale of 1-10 of your "overwhelmedness." On this scale:
→ 10 equals, "I'm so overwhelmed that I'm near my breaking point."
→ 1 equals, "I'm not overwhelmed at all. Everything is peaceful and under control."
What's your score?
If you're currently in the 1-5 range, that's fantastic! Way to go! (Oh, and what's your secret? Haha...just kidding!) You might want to hold on to this email if you ever find yourself pushed over the 5 mark.
If you're living in the 6-10 range, I first want you to know I've been there, on more occasions than I'd like to admit. I understand that you may be dealing with a set of absurd circumstances. Before you get too discouraged, read on, my friend, read on. Help is on the way!
Why do INFJs get overwhelmed?
1. You feel the weight of wanting to make a difference.
As an INFJ, you're driven by the desire to help others. You want to right wrongs. You're interested in figuring out why things are the way they are and then working on a solution. You'd prefer to fix the heart of the issue rather than throwing a band-aid on the issue. This can feel overwhelming and paralyzing. You also focus on what might happen, so you plan and prepare for these scenarios. This is a lot of responsibility we put on ourselves, isn't it?
2. Your have high expectations. And that's an understatement.
I've written to you before about your high expectations, but it's worth pointing out here again. It's easy to get overwhelmed by your own expectations. Add to that the overwhelm you feel when others drop the ball and don't meet your expectations. High expectations, along with perfectionism, can make you feel overwhelmed, sad, and disappointed.
3. Both of the above (and more) can cause anxiety.
Feeling like your purpose is to make a difference, and wanting to do it really well, is enough to generate anxiety in your life. That bar you're reaching for keeps moving, doesn't it? Also, anxiety makes it difficult to focus on anything...except the anxiety!
How can you kick your overwhelm to the curb?
1. Focus on what you can control.
You can't control that your mom is an alcoholic. You can't control that your dad has cancer. You can't control that your brother is a pathological liar. What can you control in these situations? You can only control your response. Can you choose to put up boundaries? Absolutely. You can also choose to take care of yourself despite your circumstances. If you don't take time to care for yourself, you won't have enough energy for anyone else. What things can you mentally let go of because they're out of your control?
2. Only do what only you can do.
You tend to work alone, don't you? Or at least, you prefer it, right? I thought so. Think about what's overwhelming you right now. Is there anything someone else can do? Think about that. I know you may be reluctant to give up some responsibility for fear that no one else will do a good job. By trying to do everything, some things are suffering, aren't they? Spend your energy on the things that only you can do.
3. Get clear about your values and start filtering everything through them.
Do you know what your top 5 values are? These are the things that are most important in your life. Start using them as a filter for everything. Run all decisions, choices, projects, and to-dos through this list. What things can you let go of right now because they don't actually fit your list of values?
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Have you ever said any of these things? Or thought them?
No one understands me.
Why doesn't anyone understand what I'm saying?
Why does everyone else seem to have friends except for me?
I'm so alone.
I know I've thought these at various times. As I'm sure you've heard, there's an oft-touted statistic that INFJs make up less than 1-2% of the population. Learning that statistic probably brought a sense of understanding about your life. You might've even felt a little smug knowing you were so...rare. A special snowflake. A unicorn. Everyone likes to feel special and unique. Unless it means you're completely alone. The reality of experiencing the world in a way that very few people understand is not all that glamorous when you're struggling, is it?
If you've ever felt so alone and like no one understood you, I don't want to downplay your reality. Today, though, I do want to challenge your beliefs for a bit. Are you ready for it? If not, feel free to get back to whatever it was you were doing before you started reading this blog post.
Still with me? Ok, great! Here we go...
I've had the opportunity to talk with other INFJs who feel very alone. While trying to encourage them, I've expressed that they aren't alone. You're probably not surprised that sometimes my words don't have the intended impact.
When you're told you're not alone, it's easy to justify exactly WHY you are, in fact, alone.
In one case, they told me I don't understand their situation or daily struggles. They said it's easy for me to say they aren't "alone." I didn't mean they're not physically alone and experiencing deep loneliness. My desire was that they knew there are others who may understand. If you consider some of the more painful experiences humans can have, I've probably been through them. I won't go into details here (maybe another time), and I don't say this to gain sympathy or pity. I express this to say that maybe, just maybe, someone can relate.
I can't fault these INFJs for their initial response. I've been there. 100%. In the past, I didn't accept the idea that someone might understand me or what I was going through. I claimed and held tight to the "less than 2%" stat as my mantra. I viewed my struggles as unique.
Of course you're unique in that no one else has had your exact combinations of experiences or daily struggles. That's part of what makes you, you! You and I share a personality type, which means we interact with the world and others in very similar ways. But of course we're not the same person. That's something to celebrate!
The problem is when we get stuck in the "I'm so unique no one could possibly get me or know what I'm going through" thought pattern. If you're struggling with this, let me ask you a question:
Are you open to the possibility that you could be understood?
Are you open to the idea that you may be lonely (even to the extreme), but that you're not actually "alone"? There are other INFJs out there who crave connection with someone who might understand them. If you can't think of anyone else...I'm here! I see you. I'd love to hear from you, especially if you're struggling with loneliness.
A reader of The INFJ Life recently commented,
And for the first time in YEARS, I find myself not feeling totally alone anymore. Strange thing is: since I embraced those peculiar parts of me, fellow INFJs and also INFPs seem to no longer be invisible to me. I attract them now, and that's huge! (Daisy De Boevere, Virtual Professional, DigiDees)
It's so true. You can attract others in ways you've never experienced before. You have to believe it's possible, and you have to believe you're worth it, peculiar parts and all.
Challenge your beliefs today, ok? What have you told yourself for so long that it's ingrained in your mind? Take some time today to challenge that belief.
Is it that you're alone?
Is it that you can't do something?
Is it that whatever your current situation is, it'll never change?
If you've recently challenged a belief and emerged successful on the other side, comment below and let me know! I want to celebrate with you.
Remember—no matter what you experience today, you're worthy of love and understanding.
I have a confession to make. Over the past 10 years, I've lived in very outdoor-activity friendly places with mountains. And yet, I'm not a hiker. Despite pretending to be one for a few years when I lived in Montana, I finally realized one day that I don't really like it all that much. I wanted to be a person who hikes. But, I'm just not. It's kind of a joke between my husband and I now. See, he LOVES to hike. It's one place he feels relaxed and happy.
At one point toward the end of what I'll refer to as my "hiking years," I noticed I ended each hike in a bad mood. Sometimes, the bad mood set in before even reaching the trailhead. I realized that didn't enjoy hiking because I like to know how far we're going to hike, how strenuous the trail will be, and how long we'll hike. Knowing these things helps me mentally prepare for what's ahead. Much of this has to do with the "J" in my INFJ. Eddie is more of a "P". He likes to walk, and walk, and walk and just SEE. Just see what's around the next corner. See what's over the next rise. See how far he can go. Much of the time, that doesn't work for my J-nature. My J-nature likes to know what's up. It doesn't love the unexpected. It wants to know the final destination. It likes to plan.
You like to plan, too, don't you? But what if you started leaving room for the uncertainty?
Embracing the Uncertainty
The unexpected will happen. My mood is always better when I leave room for the unexpected on a hike. If I can approach it with an open mindset, it might actually be enjoyable.
Can you both plan and leave space for the uncertainty? Yes! You can expect the unexpected. See? You can still plan. Prepare your mind for uncertainty by acknowledging and accepting the possibility. If you open your mind to the possibility of uncertainty, it's less likely to throw you off track.
And then, there's this bonus...
Once you gain experience with this you'll also start to gain confidence in your ability to handle the unexpected. You'll learn to trust yourself a little more each time. As unnatural as it is for you, you'll start learning how to roll with the changes just a little bit more.
HOW can I embrace uncertainty??
It's simple really: accept that unexpected things will happen, and move forward anyway. It's not your nature, so it's going to take some work.
Being uncertain makes you feel completely out of control. I get it. But here's some truth for you: like perfection, certainty is an illusion.
The best way to develop your ability to embrace uncertainty is to try something new! You can try something small at first if it's too scary. Can you try a new food? Actually talk to a stranger next to you at the coffee shop? When you're ready, try something bigger. Start learning a new language. Learn a new instrument. Travel somewhere. Anything that will take you out of your comfort zone will help you embrace uncertainty.
How are you at embracing uncertainty right now? Comment below and let me know. I'd love to hear about it!
This morning I was sitting in my usual coffee shop (drinking tea, of course) and trying to write. I usually enjoy the low murmur of activity around me while working. This morning was a different. I couldn't block out every distracting detail of my environment:
→ There was the guy two tables over who was angry typing. You know the kind. TAPTAP TAPTAPTAP TAP TAP.
→ A girl sat to my immediate left with too-loud music coming from her earbuds.
→ The tag in my shirt felt like it was rubbing my skin raw.
→ A startling noise at the other end of the coffee shop made me jump.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? If so, you might be a highly sensitive person.
What does it mean to be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?
I only learned about HSPs in the last few years. When I first saw the phrase, I thought, sensitive? Check. Highly sensitive? Hmmm...I know some would say so...but...(reading checklist)...oh yep, yep, uh-uh...ok. So, it looks like I'm highly sensitive. The term "highly sensitive person" comes from Dr. Elaine Aron who began studying high sensitivity in the 1990s. There are many indicators, but here are a few:
You hate those bright, overhead lights, especially fluorescents.
You can't stand loud noises.
You'll rip off itchy clothing faster than you can say "nuh-uh!".
Repetitive noises like feet or pen tapping make you feel like you're losing your mind.
Strong smells bother you and can lead to physical responses (headaches, sneezing, etc).
You're more sensitive to pain than the average person.
Caffeine has a stronger effect on you than most.
You get hungry and you must eat NOW. The word "hangry" is a fitting description.
You're jumpy. (Funny side note: I literally just jumped out of my chair again because an open window in my apartment caused a door to slam. Ok...heart rate returning to normal any day now)
Simply put, being an HSP means you're more sensitive to your environment than other people. Being an HSP is not a disorder, and about 20% of the population are HSPs. Scientists have also discovered that many animals can also be highly sensitive. A common misconception is that introverts are the only ones who can be highly sensitive. But according to Dr. Aron, 30% of HSPs are extroverts.
Are INFJs more likely to be highly sensitive?
Several INFJ characteristics fall in line with the characteristics of a highly sensitive person. From what I've seen, there's a larger percentage of highly sensitive INFJs and INFPs than other personality types. If you know you're an HSP, you can manage the aspects within your control. For example,
Use earbuds, noise-canceling headphones, or ear plugs when you'll be in noisy environments.
Pay attention to your caffeine intake (including dark chocolate!). Feeling jittery is only going to exacerbate the issue.
Give yourself plenty of quiet downtime to recover after experiencing highly stimulating environments. Be proactive about planning this time in your schedule. You can take a walk in a park or create an area in your home that is calm and promotes relaxation.
My solution for the coffee shop this morning? I decided to walk back home and settle in on the couch with my laptop instead. Oh, and I changed my shirt!
Are you an HSP? If so, comment below with what works for you.