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While We're On The Subject

I can't remember where I found this, so my apologies to whoever wrote it for not giving you the credit. This is as close to truly representing me as anything I've ever read - right down to the traveling, love of quotes and personality tests!

INFJ - Cold on The Outside, Warm and Fuzzy on The Inside
            Most INFJs are protective of their inner selves, sharing only what they choose to share when they choose to share it. They are deep, complex individuals, who are quite private and typically difficult to understand. INFJs hold back part of themselves, and can be secretive. But the INFJ is as genuinely warm as they are complex. INFJs hold a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring. INFJs are concerned for people's feelings, and try to be gentle to avoid hurting anyone. They are very sensitive to conflict, and cannot tolerate it very well. Situations which are charged with conflict may drive the normally peaceful INFJ into a state of agitation or charged anger.
            The INFJ's thinking is introverted, turned toward the subject. Perhaps it is when the INFJ's thinking function is operative that he is most aloof. A comrade might surmise that such detachment signals a disillusionment, that she has also been found lacking. Experience suggests that such distancing is merely an indication that the seer is hard at work and focusing energy into this less efficient function.

            INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type.
            Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. They have an unusually rich inner life, but they are reserved and tend not to share their reactions except with those they trust. With their loved ones, certainly, INFJ’s are not reluctant to express their feelings, their face lighting up with the positive emotions, but darkening like a thunderhead with the negative. Indeed, because of their strong ability to take into themselves the feelings of others, INFJ’s can be hurt rather easily by those around them, which, perhaps, is one reason why they tend to be private people, mutely withdrawing from human contact. At the same time, friends who have known an INFJ for years may find sides emerging which come as a surprise. Not that they are inconsistent; INFJ’s value their integrity a great deal, but they have intricately woven, mysterious personalities which sometimes puzzle even them. Rarely get into conflict, but when it erupts, can be very bitter.

-  value personal integrity and "being true to yourself"
-  are on a lifelong search for a unique identity and meaning; spirituality is important to us
-  can be hard to get to know, depending on the other person (reciprocity)
-  are sometimes seen by others as cold and hard on the outside
-  can be difficult to "peg"; sometimes INFJs may not recognize fellow members of their own type
-  may find it easier to express their deepest feelings and sentiments non-verbally or in writing
-  abhor evil or injustice, especially that directed towards the innocent or helpless
-  are sometimes looked upon by others as naive, mostly due to our idealism
-  can be quite gullible; many INFJs build up a protective armour over the years to protect against  this  and being "used" by others
- enjoy thoughtful discussion but dislike arguing for argument's sake, as this often degenerates into ugly conflict
-  are bookworms, love bookstores and libraries
-  love personality tests and other self-improvement tools
love quotes/quotations and are often "philosophers" or "theologists"  

"Mute withdrawal is a major INFJ defense."

            When the INFJ is in a stressful situation, their initial reaction is "flight".  How they do this is by distancing themselves from the situation, usually separating from the problem while buying time.  They need to step back and consider what's going on.  They tend to move away from what isn't liked, and sometimes even stay away from that.  To others, it may look as if they are detached or are fleeing from the problem.  But after they adjust to the situation, they will face the problem with a solution in hand.  When there is conflict, the emotion they tend to express is "afraid."
            It's obvious that the American dream is to be extroverted. We want our children to be "people who need people." We want them to have lots of friends, to like parties, to prefer to play outside with their buddies rather than retire with a good book, to make friends easily, to greet new experiences enthusiastically, to be good risk-takers, to be open about their feelings, to be trusting. We regard anyone who doesn’t fit this pattern with some concern. We call them "withdrawn," "aloof," "shy," "secretive," and "loners." These pejorative terms show the extent to which we misunderstand introverts.
The majority of Americans are extroverted (about 75%). Introverts are wired differently from extroverts and they have different needs. Extroverts get their energy from interaction with people and the external world. Introverts get their energy from within themselves; too much interaction drains their energy and they need to retreat from the world to recharge their batteries. Since extroversion is the dominant mode in our society, there are no "closet extroverts," but there are many "closet introverts," people who are so ashamed of their introversion that they try to be extroverts.
So what then is an introvert? The essence of an introvert is to focus on his or her internal life.
This does not mean that an introvert is self-centered or is not involved with the external world. An introvert operates predominantly internally by thinking quietly.  (In contrast, an extrovert operates predominantly externally by vocalizing while thinking.). Thus, whether the introvert is working on external or internal issues, he or she will tend to be taciturn and reticent.  (In contrast, an extrovert will tend to talk.)
However, if an introvert ever gets into a discussion about a topic that he or she has a particular interest in, then his or her internal machinations may be externalized. Such a discussion may be quite beneficial, functional, deep, involved, and/or emotional. The tendency amongst introverts is to have discussions of the most meaningful sort; otherwise, no discussion at all is preferred. From an introvert's point of view, most other discussions are simply chatter.
Needless to say, there are many problems involved with this. Most people, i.e., most non-introverts, need more communication and feedback. There is useful information and bonding that can be acquired via "chatter." These problems do not mean that introverts should convert into extroverts!  It would be a dull world if everyone thought and operated in the exact same way.
An experienced (or self-aware) INFJ makes provisory [travel] arrangements to cope with sensory overload by scheduling some "down time" if the duration of the visit permits it.  In fact, INFJs can be rather anti-social while traveling.  They may appear cordial, but they truly dread the taxi driver's, "So where are you from?" or the bellman's rote inquiry, "Are you traveling on business or is this a vacation?"  They would prefer to be ignored entirely.


  1. Me-INFP. So no invitations, please.

    Unless I've known you for a thousand years and/or you can tell I really like you.

    My favorite response to an unwanted invitation (so far) is from the 1950s and it goes like this: Thanks so much but I think I'm going to wash my hair that night.

  2. LOL Andrea. I love it. Maybe I will use that sometime.

  3. ENFJ here. But of course you probably knew that :)