Do you, fellow INFJ, long to be validated?
If you’re like most of us, your answer to that question is a resounding yes. While some disagree, arguing that INFJ logic can eliminate this need, it’s safe to say that most INFJs seek validation from others – especially those closest to them. They want the world to approve of their thoughts and feelings and appreciate them for who they are. But why is this the case? Why do INFJs long to be validated?
Before we explore what causes INFJs to seek validation, let’s discuss the logic argument a bit more.
Feeling trumps thinking.
Like all judging introverts, INFJs feeling and thinking are somewhat balanced. Consequently, INFJs are able to empathize and put themselves in others’ shoes, but they’re also able to take a step back and analyze a situation or decision impersonally. As they mature, INFJs develop the logical part of their brain, their introverted thinking, more thoroughly and, as they do, they’re able to use it with greater skill than they could earlier in life. This was certainly my experience. My second-grade teacher sent home a note expressing concern over my lack of logical problem-solving skills, but by the time I went to college, I was able to think logically enough to earn an A in philosophy. In the end, no matter how great their reasoning skills, most INFJs will feel more comfortable empathizing with and caring for others, since those are the skills they’ve spent more time developing.
We want to be accepted as we accept.
The main reason most INFJs want to be validated is that they’re primarily people persons. Their decision-making function is extroverted feeling, and extroverted feeling prizes group harmony: it wants everyone to feel accepted. As a result, INFJs are exceptional hosts and caretakers when it comes to making other people feel welcome and part of a group. When I was in high school, for example, I’d occasionally leave my friends to sit with other students who I saw sitting alone. It bothered me that they were being left out, and I felt compelled to do something.
Similarly to how we welcome and appreciate others, we INFJs want to be welcomed and appreciated. We know we’re different: Most people don’t think and talk like we do, and we almost never get a pat on the back for fitting in. And so, deep down inside, we long to hear, “Your gifts are needed!” and “There’s nothing wrong with you!” when the world seems to be screaming, “You’re broken!”
INFJs’ desire to be validated shows up in their interactions with others too. Our introverted intuition, coupled with our extroverted feeling, allows us to quickly discern other peoples’ thoughts, feelings, and moods, even without them saying a word. We use this ability to our advantage in conversation, adapting our style to accommodate the preferences of other people. We talk about real estate, for instance, in an extroverted and outgoing manner to endear ourselves to another person and leave a positive impression.
Unfortunately, this means that people often miss out on the real us. They like us for who we’re pretending to be when we’d prefer that they accept us for who we really are.
Pursue validation in healthy ways.
As an INFJ, you’ll likely always want to be validated by others. It’s a lifelong struggle. In learning to manage and temper my own desire to be accepted, I’ve found the following four principles helpful.
1. Find your ultimate approval somewhere else.
People will never satisfy your need for validation. Never. While it’s not wrong to want others to appreciate your thoughts and emotions, don’t ever make them your ultimate source of joy. You’ll only end up disappointed.
2. Don’t throw your pearls to swine.
Be careful who you share your most precious thoughts and feelings with. For a long time, I shared my hopes, dreams, and struggles too openly, and other people were more than willing to trample my “treasures”. Fortunately, my wife taught me how to be more careful when sharing personal hopes and dreams. She also helped me realize that some people won’t ever approve of my plans – or won’t get them until they’ve come to pass – and that’s okay.
3. Nurture relationships with other intuitives.
70 percent of the people in this world are sensors. They’re more in tune with the past or the here-and-now than they are the future, and, as a result, most have limited patience for theory and visions. This is frustrating, considering we INFJs are among the most theoretical types; we’re people who enjoy a deep discussion. It’s for this reason that I’d recommend developing relationships with other
It’s for this reason that I’d recommend developing relationships with other intuitives – especially other INFJs, INFPs, INTJs, and INTPs. They’ll not only understand your visions, theories, connections, and bright ideas, they’ll enjoy them!
4. Consider only helpful criticism.
Finally, when people give you criticism in lieu of validation, listen if it’s helpful. While some people are trolls who get their kicks from putting others down, others have edifying insights to share: They see things about you that you can’t see about yourself and that you need to hear in order to grow. Learn to tell the difference between these two kinds of people. Then, soak up good counsel, while ignoring the bad.