Why INFJs crave understanding

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Have you ever wondered if you'll ever be understood completely? You may have even wondered what's wrong with you. You may feel hopeless when your close friends and family don't even understand you.

You're not alone in these thoughts, and there's nothing wrong with you. Feeling misunderstood is very common among INFJs. I believe wanting to be understood is a human trait shared by all 16 MBTI® personality types. But I also believe there are several reasons why INFJs may desire understanding more than other types. By recognizing the reasons we desire understanding, we can look at our feelings of misunderstanding from a new perspective.

Why INFJs Want to be Understood

1. We crave meaning in everything.

INFJs want to understand how things are connected. We want to know the underlying meaning behind things. We rarely accept things at the surface level. In fact, we're usually looking right past the surface to discover what's underneath. We may ask, "Why did this happen the way it did?" You may find yourself consistently interested in the motivation of other people's actions. We're always on the lookout for that deeper meaning. Words are not simply words. Conversation is not simply conversation.

We place a high value on meaning and understanding—which are two sides of the same coin. When you value something, you not only seek it out but you hope for it in return.

2. Understanding others comes naturally to us.

INFJs take in information through their intuition, which happens internally (it's called Introverted Intuition/Ni). You have intuitive insights about people which come from collection of data points that have been subconsciously recognized as a pattern. This allows you to have a deep understanding of others without much effort. You can be wrong, of course. But more often than not you have a gift of understanding others. 

Even though our understanding of others come to us through a very unique process, it happens naturally and without much effort. We may not even recognize it as a gift because it's so common to us. Here again we see the desire to receive in return what we so easily give. 

3. We may not understand ourselves.

There are several articles online about how INFJs are completely disconnected from their own feelings. While it's true that we may struggle to know how we feel about something in the moment, it's not impossible for us to know. The Introverted Feeling (Fi) function that our INFP friends lead with is not part of our stack of preferred cognitive functions. That doesn't mean we don't use it. It just means that it's harder for us to access. We can become much more self-aware as we grow and develop. You begin to understand yourself better as you spend time observing yourself and digging into why you do the things you do. This is only a hypothesis, but I believe it's possible that our desire for meaning, coupled with a lack of self-understanding, may cause us to hold out hope that someone may help fill us in on what we don't know about ourselves. This understanding from others can also reinforce the idea that we are worthy and that we have something of value to offer the world. These are things with which INFJs frequently struggle.

What can I do when I feel misunderstood?

Now that we've seen a few reasons why you might place a high value on being understood, let's see how we can use this information to look at feeling misunderstood in a new way.

As usual, I have a couple questions I'd like you to consider:

  • What does it mean (to you) to feel understood?

  • What does that look like in practical terms?

Getting clear on what being understood means to you can give you a reality check when you feel like giving up and declaring, "No one understands me!" It can also provide you with the words to use to advocate for yourself when you're feeling misunderstood.

All of the things we looked at above act as filters for the way we perceive the world. There's nothing wrong with that. Everyone has a set of filters through which they view what happens in their life. These filters create your unique prescription lenses for the way you see the world. Your unique set of filters informs the way you think about the world, the way you feel about the world, and the way you respond to the world.

Because of our intense desire to be understood, I want you to consider the idea that we may elevate our feelings of misunderstanding. That doesn't mean they aren't very real and very painful. It means that this particular filter acts as a magnifying lens as you walk through life. It means that it hurts so bad when you're misunderstood. The hurts and pains become larger because being understood matters so much to you. Another way to look at it is when you're dying of thirst, all you can think of is a drop of water. Every moment without the one thing you need to survive—water—is excruciating. 

I never want to diminish your pain or experience. This is especially true for feeling misunderstood. But as a coach to INFJ women like you, I want to help you you look at things in your life from a new perspective. With this article in mind, how can you approach the next situation that causes you to feel misunderstood? Comment below to share your thoughts.