Personal Growth for an INFP
What does Success mean to an INFP?
INFPs are creative, sensitive souls who take their lives very seriously.
They seek harmony and authenticity in their relationships with others.
They value creativity, spirituality, and honoring the individual self
above all else. They are very tuned into inequity and unfairness
against people, and get great satisfaction from conquering such injustices.
An INFP is a perfectionist who will rarely allow themselves
to feel successful, although they will be keenly aware of failures.
INFPs also get satisfaction from being in touch with their creativity.
For the INFP, personal success depends upon the condition of their
closest relationships, the development of their creative abilities, and
the continual support of humanity by serving people in need, fighting
against injustice, or in some other way working to make the world a better
place to be.
Allowing your INFP strengths to flourish
As an INFP, you have gifts that are specific to your personality type
that aren't natural strengths for other types. By recognizing your special
gifts and encouraging their growth and development, you will more readily see
your place in the world, and be more content with your role.
Nearly all INFPs will recognize the following characteristics in themselves. They should embrace and nourish these strengths:
Highly creative, artistic and spiritual, they can produce wonderful works
of art, music and literature. INFPs are natural artists. They will find
great satisfaction if they encourage and develop their artistic abilities.
That doesn't mean that an INFP has to be a famous writer or painter in order
to be content. Simply the act of "creating" will be a fulfilling source
of renewal and refreshment to the INFP.
An INFP should allow himself or herself some artistic outlet, because it
will add enrichment and positive energy to their life.
They're more spiritually aware than most people, and are more in touch
with their soul than others. Most INFPs have strong Faith. Those that don't
may feel as if they're missing something important. An INFP should nourish
INFPs are very aware of social injustice, and empathize with the underdog.
Their empathy for the underdog and hyper-awareness of social injustice
makes them extremely compassionate and nurturing towards disadvantaged members
of our society. INFPs will feel most useful and fulfilled when they are
fighting to help people who have been misfortunate in our society.
They may be teachers, ministers, writers, counsellors or psychologists, but
they will most likely all spend extra time trying to help people with special
problems. An INFP can find a tremendous amount of satisfaction by
enacting some kind of social change that will help the underdog.
They're usually good listeners who genuinely want to hear about someone's
problems, and genuinely want to help them. This makes them outstanding
counsellors, and good friends. An INFP may find great satisfaction from
volunteering as a counselor.
They accept and value people as individuals, and are strongly egalitarian.
They believe that an individual has the right to be themself, without having
their attitudes and perspectives brought under scrutiny. Accordingly, they
have a great deal of tolerance and acceptance dealing with people who might
encounter negative judgment from society in general. They can see something
positive in everyone. They believe in individuals. If they give themselves
the opportunity, an INFP can become a much-needed source of self-esteem and
confidence for people who cannot find it on their own. In this way, they
can nurture a "sick soul" back to health.
Usually deep and intelligent, they're able to grasp difficult concepts
with relative ease. They usually do quite well academically, and will find
that educating their minds nourishes their need to think deeply.
INFPs who have developed their Extraverted iNtuition to the extent that they can perceive the world about them objectively and quickly will find that they enjoy these special gifts:
They will have a great deal of insight into people's characters.
They will quickly and thoroughly understand where a person is coming from
by assessing their motives and feelings. These well-developed INFP
individuals make outstanding psychologists (such as Isabel Briggs Myers
herself) and counselors. They might also be great fiction writers, because
they're able to develop very complex, real characters.
They will quickly understand different situations, and quickly grasp
new concepts. They will find that they're able to do anything that they
put their mind to, although they may not find it personally satisfying.
Things may seem to come easily to these INFPs. Although they're able to
conquer many different kinds of tasks and situations, these INFPs will be
happiest doing something that seems truly important to them. Although they
may find that they can achieve the "mainstream" type of success with
relative ease, they are not likely to find happiness along that path,
unless they are living their lives with authenticity and depth.
The INFP who augments their strong, internal value system (Introverted
Feeling) with a well-developed intuitive way of perceiving the world
(Extraverted iNtuition) can be a powerful force for social change.
Their intense values and strong empathy for the underprivileged, combined
with a reliable and deeply insightful understanding of the world that we
live in, creates an individual with the power to make a difference.
Potential problem areas
With any gift of strength, there is an associated weakness. Without
"bad", there would be no "good". Without
"difficult", there would be no "easy". We value our
strengths, but we often curse and ignore our weaknesses. To grow as a person
and get what we want out of life, we must not only capitalize upon our
strengths, but also face our weaknesses and deal with them. That means taking a
hard look at our personality type's potential problem areas.
INFPs are rare, intelligent, creative beings with many special gifts.
I would like for the INFP to keep in mind some of the many positive things
associated with being an INFP as they read some of this more negative
material. Also remember that the weaknesses associated with being an
INFP are natural to your type. Although it may be depressing to read
about your type's weaknesses, please remember that we offer this
information to enact positive change. We want people to grow into their
own potential, and to live happy and successful lives.
Most of the weaker characteristics that are found in INFPs are due to
their dominant Feeling function overshadowing the rest of their personality.
When the dominant function of Introverted Feeling overshadows everything
else, the INFP can't use Extraverted iNtuition to take in information
in a truly objective fashion.
In such cases, an INFP may show some or all of the following weaknesses in varying degrees:
- May be extremely sensitive to any kind of criticism
- May perceive criticism where none was intended
- May have skewed or unrealistic ideas about reality
- May be unable to acknowledge or hear anything that goes against their
personal ideas and opinions
- May blame their problems on other people, seeing themselves as victims
who are treated unfairly
- May have great anger, and show this anger with rash outpourings of bad temper
- May be unaware of appropriate social behavior
- May be oblivious to their personal appearance, or to appropriate dress
- May come across as eccentric, or perhaps even generally strange to
others, without being aware of it
- May be unable to see or understand anyone else's point of view
- May value their own opinions and feelings far above others
- May be unaware of how their behavior affects others
- May be oblivious to other people's need
- May feel overwhelmed with tension and stress when someone expresses
disagreement with the INFP, or disapproval of the INFP
- May develop strong judgments that are difficult to unseed against people who they perceive have been oppressive or suppressive to them
- Under great stress, may obsess about details that are unimportant to the big picture of things
- Under stress, may obsessively brood over a problem repeatedly
- May have unreasonable expectations of others
- May have difficulty maintaining close relationships, due to unreasonable expectations
Explanation of problems
Nearly all of the problematic characteristics described above can be
attributed in various degrees to the common INFP problem of only
taking in data that justifies their personal opinions. INFPs are
usually very intense and sensitive people, and feel seriously threatened
by criticism. They are likely to treat any point of view other than their own
as criticism of their own perspective. If the INFP does not learn how to
deal with this perceived criticism, the INFP will begin to shut out the
incoming information that causes them pain. This is a natural survivalistic
technique for the INFP personality. The main driver to the INFP personality
is Introverted Feeling, whose purpose is to maintain and honor an intensely
personal system of values and morals. If an INFP's personal value system
is threatened by external influences, the INFP shuts out the threatening
data in order to preserve and honor their value system. This is totally
natural, and works well to protect the individual psyche from getting hurt.
However, the INFP who exercises this type of self-protection regularly will
become more and more unaware of other people's perspectives, and thus more
and more isolated from a real understanding of the world that they live in.
They will always find justification for their own inappropriate behaviors,
and will always find fault with the external world for problems that they have
in their lives. It will be difficult for them to maintain close personal
relationships because they will have unreasonable expectations, and will
be unable to accept blame.
Its not an uncommon tendency for the
INFP to look to the external world primarily for information that will support
their ideas and values. However, if this tendency is given free reign,
the resulting INFP personality is too self-centered to be happy or
successful. Since the INFP's dominant function to their personality is
Introverted Feeling, they must balance this with an auxiliary Extraverted
iNtuitive function. The INFP takes in information via Extraverted iNtuition.
This is also the INFP's primary way of dealing with the external world. If
the INFP uses Extraverted iNtuition only to serve the purposes of Introverted
Feeling, then the INFP is not using Extraversion effectively at all.
As a result, the INFP does not take in enough information about the external
world to have a good sense of what's going on. They see nothing but their own
perspective, and deal with the world only so far as they need to in order
to support their perspective. These individuals usually come across as
selfish and unrealistic. Depending on how serious the problem is, they
may appear to be anything from "a bit eccentric" to "way out there".
Many times other people are unable to understand or relate to these people.
To grow as an individual, the INFP needs to focus on opening their perspective
to include a more accurate picture of what is really going on in the world.
In order to be in a position in which the INFP is able to perceive and
consider data that is foreign to their internal value system, the INFP needs
to know that its value system is not threatened by the new information.
The INFP must consciously tell himself/herself that an opinion that does
not concede with their own is not an indictment of their entire character.
The INFP who is concerned with personal growth will pay close attention to
their motivation for taking in information. Do they take in information to
better understand a situation or concept? Or, do they take in information
to support a personal idea or cause? At the moment when something is
perceived, is the INFP concerned with twisting that perception to fit in
with their personal values? Or is she/he concerned with absorbing the
information objectively? To achieve a better understanding of the external
world, the INFP should try to perceive information objectively, before
fitting it into their value system. They should consciously be aware of
their tendency to discard anything that doesn't agree with their values,
and work towards lessening this tendency. They should try to see situations
from other people's perspectives, without making personal judgments
about the situations or the other people's perspectives. In general, they
should work on exercising their iNtuition in a truly Extraverted sense.
In other words, they should use iNtuition to take in information about the
world around them for the sake of understanding the world, rather than take
in information to support their own conclusions. The INFP who successfully
perceives things objectively may be quite a powerful force for positive change.
Some INFPs have difficulty fitting into our society. Their problems are
often a result of an unawareness of appropriate social behavior, an
unawareness of how they come across to others, or unrealistic expectations
of others. Any one of these three issues stem from using Extraverted
iNtuition in a diminished manner. An INFP who takes in information
for the sake of understanding the world around them, rather than one
who takes in information only to support their own ideas, will have a clearer,
more objective understanding of how society values social behaviors and
attitudes. He or she will also be more aware of how they are perceived by
others, and will have more realistic expectations for others' behavior
within a relationship. Such well-adjusted INFPs will fit happily into
Unless you really understand Psychological Type and the nuances of
the various personality functions, it's a difficult task to suddenly
start to use iNtuition in an Extraverted direction. It's difficult to
even understand what that means, much less to incorporate that directive
into your life. With that in mind, I am providing some specific suggestions
that may help you to begin exercising your Extraverted iNtuition more
- Take care to notice what people look like in different social situations.
Look at their hair, their skin, their makeup (or lack thereof), their clothes,
the condition of their clothes, their shoes, their facial expressions.
Don't compare others to your own appearance, or pass judgment on their
appearance, simply take in the information.
- Think of a situation in your life in which you weren't sure how to
behave. Now try to understand how one or two other people would see the
situation. Don't compare their behavior to your own, i.e. "she would know
better than me what to do", or "why is it so easy for her, but so hard for me".
Rather, try to understand how they would see the situation. Would it be seen
as a problem, or as an opportunity? Would it be taken seriously or lightly?
Try to determine their point of view without passing judgment or comparing
it to your own.
- When having a conversation with a friend or relative, dedicate at least
half of your time to talking about the other person. Concentrate
on really understanding where that person is coming from with their concerns.
- Think of the people who are closest to you. As you think of each person,
tell yourself "this person has their own life going
on, and they are more concerned with their own life than they are with mine."
Remember that this doesn't mean that they don't care about you. It's the
natural order of things. Try to visualize what that person is doing right
now. What things are they encountering, what thoughts are they having?
Don't pass judgment, or compare their situation to your own.
- Try to identify the personality type of everyone that you come into
contact with for any length of time.
Ten rules to live by to achieve INFP success
- Feed your strengths!
Encourage your natural artistic abilities and
creativity. Nourish your spirituality. Give yourself opportunities to help
the needy or underprivileged.
- Face your weaknesses!
Realize and accept that some traits are
strengths and some are weaknesses. Facing and dealing with your weaknesses
doesn't mean that you have to change who you are, it means that you want to
be the best You possible. By facing your weaknesses, you are honoring your
true self, rather than attacking yourself.
- Express your feelings.
Don't let unexpressed emotions build up
inside of you. If you have strong feelings, sort them out and express them,
Don't let them build up inside you to the point where they become unmanageable!
- Listen to everything.
Try not to dismiss anything immediately. Let
everything soak in for awhile, then apply judgment.
- Smile at criticism.
Remember that people will not always agree
with you or understand you, even if they value you greatly. Try to see
disagreement and criticism as an opportunity for growth. In fact, that is
exactly what it is.
- Be aware of others.
Remember that there are 15 other personality
types out there who see things differently than you see them. Try to
identify other people's types. Try to understand their perspectives.
- Be accountable for yourself.
Remember that YOU have more
control over your life than any other person.
- Be gentle in your expectations.
You will always be disappointed
with others if you expect too much of them. Being disappointed with another
person is the best way to drive them away. Treat others with the same
gentleness that you would like to be treated with.
- Assume the best.
Don't distress yourself by assuming the worst.
Remember that a positive attitude creates positive situations.
- When in doubt, ask questions!
Don't assume that the lack of feedback
is the same thing as negative feedback. If you need feedback and don't have
any, ask for it. There's no shame in asking.