To be an INFJ is, to some extent, to feel misunderstood. At least, that’s the case when you’re first learning about yourself. Fortunately, you don’t always have to feel this way.
Your perspective on life can change so that you…
- Do an even better job leveraging your unique gifts…
- Appreciate others for what they bring to the table…
- Break free of feeling as though you need to win everyone’s approval…
But how do you change your perspective? One way is to grasp why people have a hard time understanding INFJs.
Many INFJs serve as counselor and confidant to loved ones, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and even random strangers. People sense we’re willing to listen and desire to help them change and grow, so they flock to us when in need. But fewer people desire to understand and help us grow.
This, however, isn’t a shortcoming – or even selfishness – on their part – at least not in many cases. Rather, it comes down to the fact that INFJs and other personality types are wired differently.
You and I, for instance, excel at understanding others. Thanks to introverted intuition (Ni) and extroverted feeling (Fe), our first and second cognitive functions, we’re born and motivated to put ourselves in other people’s shoes. We love to understand why they do what they do and what makes them tick.
Wherever I go, I study other people. I want to know why my wife loves working with her hands in the kitchen and in her garden, especially when I dislike it so much. I’m also curious, for example, as to why my fellow teachers crave security and disdain change. I can’t help it.
Can you relate? We INFJs naturally devote time and energy to better understanding where people are coming from. We’re intrinsically motivated to do so.
Fortunately, other people have different gifts. I say fortunately because our world needs mechanics, accountants, carpenters, cooks, police officers, and other people who do things you and I don’t want to do fulltime. Diverse and beautiful gifts make the world go round.
But you can’t be a super-relater, systems engineer, professional competitor, superb caretaker, or someone else valuable and see perspectives as we do. It’s just not how it works.
Take ISTJs for instance. They excel at practical, routine, detail-oriented work and like to follow proven processes and procedures. They’re motivated to carry on the work of the present or the past, and their brains reward them for and motivate them to do this kind of work.
But they also tend to think everyone should think like they do. We all do, no matter what our personality type is. INFJs are not exempt.
Making the Most of Reality
The fact of the matter is that all people have blind spots. While others are often blind to our way of thinking, we’re, on some level, blind to theirs. So how can we make the most of our present situation and fight through feelings of being misunderstood?
1. Appreciate your gift.
One suggestion is to start by celebrating the gifts that you’ve been given. You have tremendous abilities that the world needs. Avoid the temptation to feel sorry for yourself, as I have too often done and still sometimes do. And instead, devote yourself to using your strengths to help others.
I used to feel discouraged that I wasn’t like everyone else at my workplace. I envied their comfort and facility with routine details, gifts that were foreign to me. I’ve since begun to write, create videos, and record podcasts, so I don’t feel so sorry for myself anymore. Using my gifts has helped me understand what I bring to the table.
2. Appreciate other people’s gifts.
I’m so glad that my wife is wired to take care of the practical details in life: shopping, tracking our expenses, mending clothes, and a host of other great work. Likewise, my engineering father-in-law excels with machines. If our car is having trouble, we know who to call.
I’m thankful for people who’ll speak the truth when it needs to be stated and for others who understand philosophy better than I do so that I can grasp the why of what I do. Thinking about the good others contribute to the world has freed me to appreciate their unique gifts and abilities instead of just feeling frustrated when they don’t understand me.
3. Help others understand themselves and you.
While others may have a difficult time understanding you, you can help them see other perspectives. Free and paid personality tests are a fun way to start. Your friends, family, and coworkers will learn more about themselves (which most people are happy to do), while also discovering other valid ways of doing life.
Comparing and contrasting your personality styles is one of the most eye-opening, helpful ways for others to get you. When they hear concrete descriptions and examples describing them and you, written by people they’ve never met, they’ll perk up and pay attention. And they’ll also realize that you’re not messed up or broken – just different.
In the end, be patient and take the gradual approach. The people around will probably prefer to learn more about themselves and you over time and respond best to real-life examples and descriptions. And take heart if your friends or loved ones seem disinterested altogether or unwilling to hear other points of view. You can help them better understand you in other ways.
4. Connect with other people who do understand you.
Finally, if you want to be understood, seek out NF types: INFJs, INFPs, ENFJs, ENFPs. They see the world similarly to how you see it, and getting to know them will be a breath of fresh air.
Always remember: You’re not messed up or broken – just different.