Are you a catabolic or anabolic INFJ? (Part 1)

Catabolic or Anabolic INFJ

In a Facebook Live about how to manage your energy as an INFJ, I share how your cognitive functions impact your energy as well as some practical tips on managing your energy. The energy I referenced in that video is mostly emotional and physical. But there are other types of energy that impact the way you respond to things in your life.

Recognizing and understanding these other types of energy has the power to alter the direction of your life. My INFJ coaching clients have an opportunity to take an assessment that shows them how much of these other types of energy they have. It gives them a powerful new framework for analyzing their thoughts and emotions. By increasing their conscious awareness, they take control of their life and see things in a completely new way. They start doing things they never thought they'd be able to do.

Many INFJs struggle with things like confidence, fear of criticism, and feeling misunderstood. This new framework for thinking about your thoughts in terms of energy has the power to help with all of these things. It increases your self-awareness and can give you greater control of your life. I'm not being dramatic—I've personally experienced the transformation that comes with this knowledge, and I see it in my clients' lives each week.


Today I'm going to share a high-level understanding of this framework so you can start trying to identify which type of this energy is prevalent in your life. 

The two types of energy I'm talking about are anabolic and catabolic energy.

One of these is constructive and healing, and one is destructive and draining.

Where does this energy come from? Your thoughts!

Let that sink in for a second.

The thoughts you have are responsible for building you up or tearing you down. That may seem obvious on the surface. But if that's true, we must consider which kind of thought energy will get us to the place we want to be in life. The question then becomes, "How do I control my thoughts so I can have more of that constructive and healing type of energy?" 

That may seem impossible.

But there's another way to look at it. What if you could become more aware of your thoughts and the resulting energy? This would allow you to reduce the amount of time you spend in the destructive energy of your catabolic thoughts. More importantly, it would help you release the destructive thoughts. That's very possible.

Just like the metabolic process of anabolism that occurs in our bodies is a constructive process that builds up, anabolic energy is the building and healing kind of energy.

Just like the metabolic process of catabolism is destructive, catabolic energy is the draining type of energy. Anabolic energy may seem like the only kind of energy you need. However, both of these types of energy serve a purpose. 

In the biochemical process of catabolism that occurs in your body, the hormones of adrenaline and cortisol are released. These hormones are released in response to stress. In the short term, adrenaline and cortisol provide physical energy to deal with stressors. Over the long term, though, these hormones will deplete your entire system. In the same way, catabolic thoughts also serve a purpose but are also highly destructive.

Let's take a look at a few examples of catabolic thoughts:

➤ I wish I would have said that differently. (worry/fear)
➤ Ugh! Things will never change! (frustration)
➤ I'm devastated by their actions. (disappointment)
➤ I'm not good enough to do/be/have that. (low self-esteem/self-worth)
➤ It's their fault that I'm feeling this way. (resentment)
➤ No one will ever understand me. (hopelessness)
➤ This always happens to me. (victim thinking/focus on self)
➤ That's not my fault. (defensiveness)

The core thought behind many of these statements is victim-hood. Now...I know. No one wants to think of themselves as a victim. But we've all been there. These thoughts are incredibly draining and hold you back from the life you really want.

What purpose could these catabolic thoughts serve?

They might protect you from harm, help you to receive sympathy or attention, or allow you to not take responsibility for things.

A couple of these thoughts come from a core thought of conflict. The catabolic emotion behind conflict is anger. Anger has its place, too, because it can allow you to get stuff done or motivate others—at least temporarily. You know that anger is ultimately draining, though, because it can alienate others, create fear, and ultimately leave you feeling dissatisfied and unproductive. 

Ok. So we know everyone has catabolic thoughts. We know these thoughts serve a purpose. We also know that they're very destructive and deplete us of our overall energy which keeps us from what we really want in life.

So now what?

The first step is to start paying attention to your thoughts throughout the day to track which are catabolic. If you want to move toward more anabolic thoughts, awareness is the first step. You can't change what you don't know.

The second step is to ask yourself if this is the type of energy you want to have in that moment. If not, the next step is to ask yourself how you could look at the situation from an anabolic perspective. That's exactly what I'll share in the next article in this series.

Here's an assignment for you. For the next week, keep track of your catabolic thoughts in the moment or at the end of each day. You can use a physical journal or an app on your phone.

This is not about feeling guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, or disappointed in yourself.

Those are all catabolic thoughts, by the way. :) 

No, this is about awareness and knowledge. It's about building your self-awareness and increasing your consciousness. It's the first step to really take control of the direction of your life.

In the next article in this 2-part series I'll share how to increase your anabolic energy—the energy that will build you up and help you to become the best version of yourself.

Learn about the Energy Leadership Index

You can listen to the interview Cat Rose did with me for The Creative Introvert Podcast where I talk a bit about the ELI Assessment I mentioned above. If you're interested, you can listen here. We also covered the MBTI® personality system, being INFJ, and misconceptions about coaching.