Do you ever find yourself fixating on an idea, theory, problem, or thought? Do you struggle to get what you’re thinking about out of your head?
For a week or so, I’ve been getting headaches because my computer monitors are too low. My wife pointed this out and recommended that I get monitor risers for them. She made this observation last week, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head today.
“My dad could help you build some,” she suggested. While I liked that solution at first, I know it’ll probably take a few weeks to execute. I want to check this problem off of my to-do list stat. And so I keep researching and thinking about solutions. Meanwhile, I’m putting off other responsibilities.
Can you relate? This dilemma confronts me on regular basis. If it’s not a piece of tech gear, it’s a question, theory, or idea that the curious, creative side of me has to pursue.
Whether you get caught up in thinking about computer monitor risers or theories and ideas, know that you’re in good company. Most INFJs “get stuck” fixating from time to time.
So Why does this happen? And What can you do about it? I offer you the following explanation and a few practical solutions.
Why does this happen?
As super intuitives, you and I love to learn. We’re naturally curious and will spontaneously research new ideas and topics of interest at the drop of a hat.
With introverted intuition (Ni) for a dominant function, we don’t just research like most other personality types. On the contrary, we plumb the depths of a topic and spend hours on our computers and in libraries.
Then, if we’re not careful, we over-analyze our findings via our introverted thinking (Ti). We fact- and logic-check our intuition to “infinity and beyond” and get trapped in an Ni-Ti loop. This is a bad thing because we fail to take action, make up our minds, or help people.
So how can we overcome our tendency to fixate?
1. Look at the bright side.
To start, look at the bright side. When you find yourself fixating on a problem, topic, or challenge and you start to get frustrated with yourself, choose to see this tendency as a strength. You, as an INFJ, have an incredible amount of mental stamina. You can investigate a topic for 2, 3, or even 4 hours straight without taking a break. Not many other personality types can do that.
You have a “superpower” with incredible problem-solving, creative, and learning capacity. Put to good use, this strength makes you a positive force in the world. So forget not the benefits of your special ability – even when it becomes a stumbling block.
2. Dangle a carrot.
Sometimes overcoming a challenge is a matter of finding the right motivator. Picture an old-fashioned coach driver teasing a horse with a dangling carrot. Got that image in your mind? A similar strategy can do wonders for you!
To get yourself working when you’re stuck fixating, plan a reward: Arrange to work for a set amount of time or until your task is done and then engage in your research, go for a hike outdoors, or finally buy that knickknack you’ve been thinking about. It’s amazing what the right motivation can do.
3. Think positively.
While wasting time fixating on a theory, idea, or challenge can be fun, it’s seldom the best use of your time. Unfortunately, when we’re eye-to-eye with a heap of boring work, fixating is even easier than usual. If we’re not careful, we’ll blow a couple of hours and proceed to beat ourselves up for our blunder.
Resist the temptation. When you’ve wasted time and you’re regretting it, try to stay positive. Negative self-talk can lead to depression – something you and I are prone too.
Instead, focus on what you’re thankful for and give yourself the freedom to make mistakes. Get back on the horse and back to work. Doing so will prevent even more wasted time, and you may even be able to take care of all your responsibilities in spite of your spontaneous research.
4. Schedule a time to ponder what you’re fixating on.
Can you schedule your thoughts and research for later? Sometimes that simple question is all you need.
When you can’t stop thinking about or fixating on a question or interest, try putting it on your calendar or to-do list for later. It may be only an hour later after you finish your housework. Or it could be a week later when you’ve got a few hours to yourself.
Either way, try blocking out time that you can devote to research or your current interest. That tactic can quickly free up your mind.
5. Go ahead and deal with it.
Finally, sometimes the answer is to go ahead and indulge your curiosity. Find out your friend’s personality type, research that piece of must-have music gear, or peruse Amazon for your next book.
Just remember to set a timer, and try to avoid letting your research go on without a limit (unless you’ve got time for it!). If you can deal with your fixation quickly or fast enough to get your other work done on time, you may want to put it first.