Jane was overwhelmed. She was wasting hours on her computer getting sucked down YouTube rabbit trails every day after work while spending almost no time with friends and family. Deep down inside, she was entertaining dark, discouraging thoughts but let no one know about them. Jane wondered if the world really even needed her at all. Though she didn’t realize it, she was stressed out – big time.
Fellow INFJ, how can you tell when you’re stressed out and what can you do about it?
Two Levels of Stress
There are two levels of stress you need to be aware of: 1) your exaggerated state and 2) the “In the Grip” experience. Each shows up in slightly different ways.
The first state is called the exaggerated state. When you’re in it, you may have tunnel vision and use your introverted intuition (Ni) exclusively. You start to think that everything is connected, have unrealistic visions, try to make data fit the patterns you see, and shut yourself off from people. This is the first level of stress, where you lose balance and start to disconnect with extroverted feeling, introverted thinking, and extroverted sensing.
(For a background on your four INFJ mindsets – introverted intuition, extroverted feeling, introverted thinking, and extroverted sensing – click here to grab a free copy of my recent book, The INFJ Personality Guide.)
I know that I’m caught in an exaggerated state when I start shutting others out and only spending time by myself. While I enjoy and need long periods of alone time where I can research, work, and recharge, I also need time with people. So if I’m feeling discouraged and not letting anyone else into my life, that’s a sign to me that I’m under stress. Take note when you start to feel this way.
In the Grip
The second level of stress for an INFJ is being caught “In the Grip of the Inferior.” The “inferior” refers to your inferior function or fourth mindset – extroverted sensing. (You can learn more about it in the personality guide.) Now, instead of having tunnel vision, you slip into unhealthy habits and activities. You may watch excessive TV or spend too long on your computer watching videos. You might work out too much or not exercise at all. If you drink, you might get drunk, and you may also overeat – or not eat at all. Whenever you’re regularly spending excessive time indulging your pleasures, that’s a good sign that you’re “In the Grip.”
What to do about it…
When you’re under stress as an INFJ, there are ways out.
1) Recognize that you’re not yourself.
Start by recognizing that you’re not your normal self. Your mood will likely be one of discouragement and you’ll be acting in ways that aren’t in line with what’s normal for you. When
2) Talk to someone you trust. Once you realize
Once you realize you’re stressed, talk to someone you trust. As an INFJ, you need to talk to others to work through your thoughts and feelings. You pick up on the emotions of others and have trouble figuring out which emotions are yours and which ones belong to someone else. Talking to a close friend, family member, or a counselor will help you decompress and clarify your thinking.
3) Determine the cause.
Some life situations are for a season. When a loved one dies unexpectedly or you lose your job due to changes in the marketplace, the cause of your stress will eventually go away. Bad relationships and overstimulating jobs, however, need to be dealt with. Try to figure out what’s causing the stress in your life and whether or not you can do anything to cut it off at the source.
4) Be proactive.
Finally, if you know loud environments, your work, or certain relationships, for example, send you into a stressed state, plan ways to avoid them. Should you be pursuing different work? Do you need to set up boundaries with loved ones? Harness your ability to see the future and think about what you can do today that will make your life better tomorrow.
Every INFJ slips into an exaggerated state or gets caught “In the Grip” from time to time. The good news is that you don’t have to stay there and you can learn to avoid it.
How do you know when you’re stressed? How do you deal with it?