The INFJ struggle
A common theme among INFJ women is the desire to connect with others but to also spend time alone. This theme is not surprising because it's a direct result of the way your brain is wired as an INFJ. It's also the source of a lot of conflict for INFJs. Want to take a look?
An introvert's reality is internal.
Let's start with this desire to spend time alone. As an introvert, the reality of what's inside your head—your thoughts, dreams, ideas, and insights—are much more important than your external environment. You're energized by spending time with this reality. It's your happy place. This is where you are most comfortable. It's not selfish to spend time here, just as it's not selfish for an extravert to seek stimulation from the external environment in the form of engaging with the world and with others. The tides are starting to change, but the latter has often been considered "normal" in many cultures and the former considered "abnormal."
The only time extraversion OR introversion becomes abnormal is when the opposite attitude is ignored. By "attitude," I simply mean the way you're oriented: internally or externally. All introverts have a dominant mental function that is oriented inwardly (introverted). All extraverts have a dominant mental function that is oriented externally (extraverted). But those functions alone do not allow us to function in a healthy way. We need the balance of a function that is oriented with the opposite attitude. That's where our auxiliary, or secondary, function comes in.
The opposite attitude to the rescue!
Every introvert has an auxiliary mental function that is extraverted. Every extravert has an auxiliary function that is introverted. Both of these attitudes are necessary to create a balanced and healthy human—no matter what a person's personality type is.
As an INFJ, you have a great need for time alone to honor your introversion. This quiet, reflective time allows your dominant mental function of Introverted Intuition (Ni) to flourish. But you also have a desire to connect with others due to your auxiliary function of Extraverted Feeling (Fe). This is the conflict I mentioned at the very beginning. There's a push-pull that happens between the introverted function and the extraverted function that often creates frustration, exhaustion, and confusion within the INFJ. So what happens?
Too often the INFJ will push herself past the tipping point to serve others at the cost of her introverted needs. These needs persist in the background and tug at your shirt sleeve, begging for attention. When the INFJ continues to ignore her needs to answer the call of helping others instead, the result is like hitting a wall. Bam!
Why does an INFJ choose to do this?
There are many possible reasons, but a few that I've encountered in my work with INFJ women include:
a lack of self-worth (my needs are not as important as the needs of others)
a perception that culture places a higher value on extraverted behaviors
a strong need to please others
a feeling that taking care of myself is selfish
a feeling that your need for alone-time won't be understood by others
If you've spent the majority of your lifetime prioritizing your desire to connect and serve others at the cost of making sure you're ok, too, it may take some time to reverse this process. But I have some suggestions for a few things you can start doing now to honor your introverted needs.
Before I get to that, I want to clarify something. I'm not saying that serving and helping others is bad. No, of course not! Every role I've ever filled was focused on those things. My coaching business is focused on helping other INFJ women. To say that helping others is a huge part of my identity would be an understatement. It may be the same for you.
Yet, balancing my desire to connect with and help others with my introverted needs is critical to allowing me to have the strength to keep moving forward. This balance gives me the energy to continue helping others. As an INFJ, I know the same is true for you.
Honor your introverted self.
So, here are a few ways that you can choose to honor your introverted nature over the next few days:
1. Schedule time in the next few weeks to do nothing.
Scheduling this time seems to give many of my INFJ clients "permission" to actually do it. It doesn't even have to be an hour or a whole day (although it can be). Start small if it feels too uncomfortable or like wasting time. Then add a minute or two each time you schedule this time.
2. Invest in yourself.
Choose to do something that supports you and who you are. This might include going through an online course that will teach you something you've always wanted to learn. Sign up for music, art, or language lessons (or use a free app to start learning). Ask for help with something. Hire a coach (hey there!) to provide support, structure, and accountability to accomplish your goals. If you decide to go this route, choose someone who you resonate with and who inspires and encourages you. You're worth it!
3. List your strengths.
Take a time out to sit down and make a record of your strengths. Make sure to include several that are oriented inwardly (introverted) like your intuition! Start to observe yourself and take note of where you really shine. These are your strengths! Acknowledge and celebrate them. Keep adding to this list over time. Regularly review them, especially when you need encouragement.
How will you honor your introverted needs over the next few days? It's one thing to want to do this, but wanting doesn't produce results. Decide what you'd like to do, schedule it, and then follow-through. Let me know how it goes by commenting below.