This is part 4 of a 5-part series for the month of May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, on being a healthy INFJ. Start with part one.
It was 7:28. I said 7. Where was he? This is so rude. Doesn’t he care that I’ve been waiting on him, putting everything on hold until he shows up?!? I have big plans for tonight and I can’t get to that until he SHOWS UP! It’s so disrespectful. Why are people so inconsiderate? When I say I’ll be there at 7, I’m there at 7! It’s not hard. If I can’t make it until 7:30…I admit I can’t make it until then.
Does your inner dialogue ever sound like this? Do your emotions start to run high when something doesn't go as planned?
In this case, I had just responded to a post on a local social network in which a neighbor requested something I could spare. The time we set came and went, and Mr. Neighbor Man was a no show. In retrospect, it seems silly to get so irritated, so angry, about something that doesn't matter. Maybe you can relate to strong, seemingly irrational emotional responses to things (smirk). After some examination, I understood the reason for my strong response.
Say What I Mean and Mean What I Say
To seem more flexible, what I actually said was that he could show up around “7ish”. To me, that meant 7:00. Maybe 6:55. Maybe 7:05. I later realized my ambiguity was a mistake. If it was important to me that he show up as close to 7:00 as possible, I should've made that clear. My big plans that night? Get into my “comfy” clothes and relax. I know, I know...but I was really looking forward to it. However, his lateness delayed my plans. The nerve.
Self-Righteousness + Compassion
I admit self-righteousness also played a role in my response. After all, I thought I was a good neighbor for offering him something for free. His not showing up, then, seemed extra disrespectful to me. After venting to my husband for a few minutes, I forced myself to consider other reasons he might be late. This required me to view the situation (and the guy) with more compassion. Maybe he had to stay late at work and couldn’t get away. Maybe he had an emergency and was unable to let me know he couldn’t come by. Could it be that he forgot? Or, maybe he interpreted “7ish” as anytime in the 7 o’clock hour. I would never do that, but not everyone is like me (smirk). I don't want to be self-righteous in my thoughts and actions. I want to be someone who gives without expectation of a return on my investment.
I Decided to Get Real—and it Worked!
Around 7:30, I messaged the guy and asked if he was still coming. He responded with “planning on it.” No explanation. No reason. This didn’t help my irritation. I didn't know this guy, and communicating through text didn't allow me to gather the nonverbal clues I rely on. I decided to be very clear about what I was offering. My final response said I would be available for a few minutes longer if he still wanted to come that night. Otherwise, I’d be happy to reschedule on another day. He immediately wrote back that he’d be over in 10 minutes.
Expectations Strike Again
In retrospect, I don’t think this guy is rude. It was most likely a case of misunderstanding. I realized if the time mattered that much to me, I needed to be very clear about what I was offering. My expectation for a smooth interaction, to occur at exactly 7:00, was a recipe for irritation and anger. A little self-reflection helped me identify my unvocalized (and strict) expectation.
Examine Your Emotional Responses for Unmet Expectations
No one can know what you want, need, or expect unless you verbalize it. When you have an emotional response, see if you have an unmet expectation. This discovery can help you know when to let others in on what you need or want. As INFJs, we have the tendency to keep what we want to ourselves, especially in relationships. If this is your mode of operation, you're setting yourself up for an explosive response at some point.
I'd love to hear your story!
Have a story to share about your INFJ personality quirks? Maybe you're feeling good about how you handled something recently. Hit reply and let me know!
Up next week: You'll get a ton of ideas to help you get your emotional responses under control.