Introverted. Intuitive. Feeling. Judging.
If you subscribe to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator outlook on life, you’ll know that there are 16 possible personality types and that the INFJs are the most rare and sensitive of the batch. I am such a person (though I am personally against attempting to fit entirely into one man-made box, I do recognise the benefit to understanding oneself in many different ways).
Recently I was feeling very sad. I’m not a naturally cheerful or optimistic person. I’ve come to terms with that. In my high school days–dressed in all black and sporting lots of smudged black eyeliner–I was written off as an emo. Ten years later (still swathed comfortably in black, less eyeliner) I was introduced to the term INFJ and HSP (Highly Sensitive Person). I recognised myself almost immediately. Feeling everything intensely, even sometimes to the point of overwhelming logical reasoning. Judging everything, especially myself, for credibility and merit. At times feeling excluded from the rest of the world because of an inability to chatter idly or perform otherwise shallow tasks.
There are great things about INFJs, too. We are deeply loyal. If we trust you, we trust you and will do almost anything for you. In fact, just about everything we do is capital D Deep. We love deeply, we think deeply, and we care deeply. The biggest downside to this existence is that our wounds cut especially deep. Broken trust shatters. Heart break feels literal. We’re not the type to just “get over” something. What may look like an emotional paper-cut feels more like a bullet hole.
So I thought I would put together a simple three-step programme to curing your wounded INFJ (if they’re anything like me, that is):
1. Let them feel:
Sure, we said last week that we were over it. In that exact 12 seconds after saying it, it was probably true. But now we’re feeling it again and in the history of sadness has telling someone they should “just move on” ever actually worked for anyone? Oh, that helped you once…. Damn… Well we don’t process that way, okay?! It’s a cyclical thing, not quite linear, alright. We’ll be back to subjectively normal in a bit.
2. Help them rationalise without making them feel stupid:
Feelings– I’m sorry, Rationale can’t come to the phone right now. Why? Oh, because she’s dead!
We’re not crazy, we’re not stupid, we’re not overreacting (*we might be overreacting but what we’re feeling is real so shut up). What we are is feeling everything! Think of us like a computer with too many tabs open and an outdated virus scanner. We’re crashing okay? Flames will start erupting out of us soon. We might need your help to clear out the clutter a bit because we’re just having trouble handling it ourselves.
3. Encourage them to meditate:
Look, it’s 2018. We can all seek mental renewal without feeling like we’ll be judged as some hippy dippy loser, right? Remember, your INFJ is a deep thinker anyway. Once you’ve helped them rationalise a bit it should be easy to help them help themselves by suggesting meditation. We all know meditation has many forms. I personally prefer guided meditation. I recently downloaded the app Aware. This isn’t a plug, I literally recently downloaded it to my phone and have really been enjoying the simple format. I also love to draw, do breathing exercises, write, and sometimes just lying on my bed not thinking about or doing anything except allowing myself to breathe. Sometimes that’s the hardest part as an INFJ (remember that J stands for judging and a lot of times we’re judging ourselves the most). Sometimes just feeling like we’re allowed to be still and feel is the greatest gift we can be given.
Please do remember that I’m not a psychologist, I’m a writer. I wrote about this topic because I know myself enough to know what helps me. Other things that help me are cuddles, Netflix binges, apple pie, punching unsuspecting fuckboys in the face, and knitting. I chose to make my three-point list a little more practical and hopefully useful to the most amount of people. If you’re not INFJ but know one, I’d be interested to hear from you. Likewise if you are INFJ I’d love to hear from you. I was mostly talking about myself, but if you feel this works for you, too, I would genuinely love to know. It’s a weird world to live in when you’re sensitive. It’s like walking around made of bubble-wrap and everyone else is armed with scissors. But we’re strong, too, don’t underestimate us. We take everything to heart, especially life lessons.