being an infj
According to the Myer-Briggs system of personalities (MBTI), there are sixteen personality categories that one could fall under. INFJ, which stand for (I)ntroversion, I(N)tuition, (F)eeling, and (J)udgment is one of the rarest types.
INFJs are estimated at:
• 1.79% of the American population (sample size 9,320; Myers & McCaulley, 1985)
• 1.7% of the UK population* (sample size 1,634; Kendall & McHenry, 1998)
• 1.27% of the Australian population (sample size 3,373; Macdaid, McCaulley, & Kainz, 1986)
We live in a world dominated by Extroverts and Sensors, as 75% of people are Es, and 75% are Ss.
Due to its rarity, INFJs are often misunderstood.
“Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.”
On the surface, INFJs are gentle, caring, sophisticated, creative and highly intuitive individuals.
They are particularly intuitive about human dynamics. INFJs have a heightened awareness of human energies that helps them pick up on the subtlest clues about what’s going on for other people. They have a unique ability to intuit others' emotions and motivations, and will often know how someone else is feeling before that person knows it themselves. Sometimes INFJs will have hunches or gut feelings they can’t explain. The INFJs’ extraordinary empathic abilities can be so strong that it brings pain in certain situations. They are able to walk in another person’s shoes truly, and many identify as being hyper-empathic, to the degree where others’ distress can profoundly affect them.
When feeling overwhelmed, they might withdraw into themselves, sometimes abruptly and desperately. They find home in solitude and need to replete their inner resources and to prevent the emotional overload.
They often wish for someone to understand them as well as they understand others.
INFJs are naturally trusting, open and curious towards others. Their genuine warmth, interest in and openness towards means they are sometimes mistaken for being extroverts.
But they are not drawn to shallow encounter or situations that take lots of small talks. In setting like a cocktail party with people they hardly know, they may find more enjoyment by retreating into their mind and their rich inner world. On the surface they cam seen mysterious, aloof and reserved. However, deep inside, INFJs are capable of deep intimacy. They do not tend to share themselves freely but appreciate closeness with a select few.
Many INFJs feel alienated during childhood and teen years. INFJs are “old souls.” Even as children and adolescents, they might be in the role of counselling and consoling people around them— friends, siblings, and sometimes even adult family members.
Regarding vocation, INFJs tend to be artistic and creative in their endeavours. They are inspired by ideas, perspectives, theories, and think in terms of images, symbols, and metaphors. In fact, INFJs are just as much "systems builders" as their ‘intellectual’ counterpart INTJs. But INFJs are more interested in building systems the concerns human psychology and humanitarian issues rather than hard science, logic, math, and technology.
Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weighty matters of life. With their “N” and “J” combination, they are capable of both vision and action and make a strong humanitarian. Famous compassionate and effective INFJ game-changers include Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa.
The INFJ individuals are often emotionally gifted. This does not always lay an easy path, but when they can harness their strengths and own their unique qualities such as great emotional depth, intellectual complexity and drive to make a difference in the world, they are capable of enormous personal, professional and spiritual achievement.
Famous INFJs include Mohandas Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Emily Bronte, Carl Jung, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Florence Nightingale, Shirley MacLaine, Jimmy Carter, and Edward Snowden.
“It is a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.”
about TYPOLOGY - a caveat
Contrary to a common misconception, typology is not about putting people in boxes.
The MBTI system finds its root in the theory of psychological types, developed by Carl Jung. However, Jung's idea has gotten diluted and often misused in our modern day psychology and the internet space.
None of us is just one thing. Jung's theory does not aim to 'pigeon-hole' people into types. Jung’s original idea place greater emphasis on the unconscious than is represented within modern psychometrics and 'commercialised' personality systems.
When utilised correctly, MBTI and other personality typology are great tools to help us integrate various parts of our psyche, heal where we have been wounded, and attain inner balance.
The MBTI system does not only helps us to know our ‘dominant function’, as well as what we have suppressed, or under-utilised. Repression of any of our psychic functions, either due to our or social conditioning, holds us back from our full potential. Awareness of the fact that we all possess certain unconscious under-developed functions is the first step towards realising that they can be developed, both for better adaptation to the outer world and for the balancing of our psyche.
The result is that we become a more integrated, fuller human.
“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
- Joseph Campbell