Why do INFJs desperately need meaning in their lives?

Fellow INFJ, do you long for meaning?

I know that I did and do every day. I have a hard time just existing. I’ve got to know that I’m living my life purposefully and that I’m making a difference in the world, directly in individual people’s lives and indirectly for the betterment of the whole world.

This is one of the reasons that I struggle to do work that just pays the bills and puts food on the table. I know that covering expenses and eating are important, but I long to positively influence others, to inspire them to reach their potential, and to do it in an original, authentic way.

I don’t know if that’s your specific longing, but I bet you want the world to make sense, to understand it on a deep level, and to make a difference with your life. Most INFJs do.

But why is that? Why the intense longing for meaning?

Why do INFJs desperately need meaning in their lives? Check out this article to learn 4 things that drive them to make a difference.

1. You’re wired that way.

One big reason you may long for meaning is that you’re wired for it. Your primary mindset and the lens through which you see the world desires to go beyond the surface and probe for meaning. That mindset is called introverted intuition (Ni).

Introverted intuition goes deep and plumbs the depths for understanding. It asks “Why?”, and sets out to find an answer. Its extroverted counterpart, extroverted intuition (Ne), also seeks understanding, but it’s more broad and wide-ranging, multiplying ideas and making connections. In contrast, introverted intuition drills down on a one or a few particular subjects.

2. You care about others intensely.

Pair introverted intuition with your next strongest mindset, extroverted feeling (Fe), and you’ll get a person who’s compelled to make difference for humanity at large.

Extroverted feeling prizes group harmony. It seeks to meet the needs of other people, to help them feel welcome, and to promote relational peace. It’s what most people notice about you first when they call you “kind” and “caring” because it’s the side of you that you show the world. Compare it with your deeper, more thoughtful side that only the people you trust deeply get to see.

Your Ni-Fe combination produces a global desire for helping people, compared to ISFJs, who also employ extroverted feeling but prefer to help people in their families, neighborhoods, and local communities. Whereas intuition drives you to see the big picture, sensing drives ISFJs to focus on the folks that they can see and talk to in person.

The same desires that drive you to make a difference in the world supposedly drove Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi to lead peaceful revolutions. They felt other people’s hurt deeply (Ni-Fe), and they birthed a vision (Ni) and a solution that they knew with confidence could make the world a better place.

3. You’re an introvert, and introverts go deep.

Add to the equation the fact that you’re an introvert, and you only multiply your longing for meaning. ENFJs and INFJs share a number of personality traits, and like INFJs, ENFJs desire to make the world better for other people. What’s more, as people of action, they usually do, but they may never feel the same weight and intense longing for meaning that you do.

This is because ENFJs divide their energy among more causes than do INFJs. INFJs, by contrast, tend to focus on only a few causes. They, for example, might try to bring their extended family together and help everyone get along and understand one another. Or they may champion the cause of a nonprofit fighting for children’s rights.

A lot depends on the individual INFJ and his or her interests and experiences. One thing is for sure, though: all INFJs focus intensely on the things that matter to them.

4. You feel the weight to act on your ideas.

Finally, let’s not forget the fact that you’re a judger. Though you’re one of the most flexible judgers out of the sixteen personality types, you’re nonetheless a person who enjoys getting things done.

While I love to learn and spend a lot of time listening to books and podcasts, watching videos and courses, I also enjoy taking action. I’m happiest, in fact, when I’ve acted on an original idea or helped people understand themselves. I can’t only collect knowledge. I want to share my understanding and insights with others in a way that helps them.

The side of my personality that prefers judging and likes to get things done ends up saddling me with a weight of responsibility. I feel pressure to make a difference in and improve other people’s lives. When I resist the pressure, I get restless and feel like I’m failing to be who I was made to be.

The strength of the pressure you put on yourself and extent of your vision will differ with those of other INFJs. Just know that if you feel compelled to make a difference, you’re not alone!

Conclusion

There’s no doubt about it, your longing for meaning can be frustrating. Most people in the world care more about the here-and-now than they do the long-term and global community. But try not to let this fact frustrate you. People need you to cast the vision and to care, even when they don’t understand why.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • sierra

    Bo, I notice many INFJs have a strong Christian faith. We want to feel God, we want to understand God. We want to dive into theology but we also want those tangible experiences.
    We start wondering and seeking deeper meaning as children. My 8 year old son is likely an INFJ too and I can already see him on his quest for understanding. I have to answer a daily barrage of questions! Lol. I love it though, especially since I understand him.

    • Bo Miller

      Good point, Sierra. I’ve also met a number of INFJs who have a strong Christian faith.

      And you captured my relationship with God very well there: a balance between wanting to experience AND understand Him. I just finished reading Ken Boa’s book “Conformed to His Image.” In the appendix, Boa addresses the differences between mystical (God is beyond our understanding) and theological (God has revealed Himself in the Bible and through His Son) approaches to spirituality. INFJs are drawn to both, I think.

      That’s awesome that your son is asking the deep questions and that you’re taking pains to answer them! 🙂 You’re the right mom for him.

    • JD22

      We are “meaning seekers.”

      Some of us are captured by an existing religion, some of us find meaning in other ways, but certainly no personality type is better suited to the task of launching a new spiritual, social, or political movement than an INFJ.

      • Bo Miller

        Well said, JD22. Thanks for sharing!