INFJs + Pain . . . | INFJ Forum

INFJs + Pain . . .


Sep 5, 2009
I also think we're "late bloomers", and need a lot of painful experiences to finally come out of our shells. (Russ L.)

Someone posted this comment about INFJs on Facebook and it made me think about the INFJ's relationship to pain.

So, my questions are:

1) As an INFJ, what is your relationship to pain? How do you think about or relate to painful experiences?

2) As an INFJ, do you feel a special need to suffer through painful experiences in order to develop your personality and experience growth compared to other types?
Well, first of all I don't necessarily agree with Russ in that I don't think all INFJs have shells to start with. If one finds a degree of nurturing has been part of an INFJs life experience growing up, there need never be a shell, and one feel pretty good about who they are and how they relate to the world.

I am no fan of pain, but it is part of life it seems. For me, it has simply been a time of growth, of tearing down that eventually leads to rebuilding. I fell back on my inner resources...those things I was more sure get through the times that I didn't necessarily know where I was going. I'm not sure this is an INFJ thing exclusively, but I had LOTS of inner resources, and the practical value of these really showed themselves under stress. In a way, it refined and tempered these, and my life has been better for it. I think overall these experiences increase wisdom, patience, and makes one a bit more thoughtful about life.
I don't think Russ is necessarily wrong. Of course, pain is obviously not relegated to INFJs alone. I don't think that was the point of his post in any case. But it does bring up an interesting question about the impact of painful experiences on personal growth and development, which is what my question is really about.

For one thing, I could definitely see an NF approach to pain as different from a NT approach. NTs probably internalize their pain and try reconcile their views of the world with the way things are internally by trying to make "logical intuitive sense" of it. NFs are idealists, and so it's a reasonable assumption that some, if not much of the pain they experience is the fact that the world doesn't conform to their ideals, so the experience of disappointment from people or situations not measuring up may cause them to feel despair, or disillusionment, and even lose a sense of faith in their ability to change a situation or the world. The pain they feel may cause them to question their ability to achieve or accomplish their goals, maybe causing them to withdraw. But when they realize they are capable of accomplishing more than they anticipated and once they temper their expectations a little, they find that they do "come out of their shells" so to speak to make a significant difference in the world.
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1) As an INFJ, what is your relationship to pain? How do you think about or relate to painful experiences?
REAL pain to me is something mental/emotional. Physical pain is far more bearable and can take my mind off the internal sort. So sometimes I'll do exercise or run until I can't take the physical pain, to get my mind off the other sort.

2) As an INFJ, do you feel a special need to suffer through painful experiences in order to develop your personality and experience growth compared to other types?
I don't know if freedom from pain would impede growth for an INFJ, but it certainly helps give depth to one's character and values/judgements. Some types seem to be traumatised or scarred by painful experiences. Most INFJs seem wiser for such experiences.
The thing that concerns me more about some pain is that I have seen it almost cause the person to define themself by it, and this is unfortunate. In this case it exerts certain limits on the person and their future growth. Here I am speaking less about pain experienced at formative periods in one's life and more about adult experiences of pain. In certain situations it seems to transform self-perceptions and personal culture. I think, considering the cases I am familar with, it might be better to define one's self by more universal measures that embrace, but also transcend, painful experiences.
I used to forge myself in fire. Then fire consumed me, and I found that it made me brittle and old. Don't worship pain as if you master it, it always gets the last laugh.
I find pain frustrating. I feel I have come to a place in my life where I suppose I'm being overwhelmed by the pain, and its making me slightly bitter. I know I should be growing through this, and I know I'm strong enough to deal with it. But, I wish I didnt have to be so strong. Why me? Why more? What's the purpose of this?
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I don't think that I feel a need to suffer through pain, but I do think that I feel it more intensely than some other types. It may just be me- if I am not tuned in to the people around me it makes me feel as if a limb is missing, but it also means that negative emotions and even any intense emotion exhausts me. I internalize, so yeah mental/emotional pain is worse than physical in most cases.
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As much as I hate to admit it, I think I tend to be more avoidant than others at times. Everyone goes to certain extents to avoid pain, but I guess I'm more cautious than most.

I think that you can learn a lot from painful experiences, but it is not always for the best. I think sometimes those experiences can reinforce an already negative behavior. After you've had the experience, you're more afraid it will happen again. Or, I am, I should say. I can't speak for anyone else, and I certainly can't speak for all INFJs.
Well i'm an ENFJ, but i'll do it anyway

So, my questions are:
1) As an ENFJ, what is your relationship to pain? How do you think about or relate to painful experiences?

First of all, pain for me is emotional and mental is what counts for pain as me. Physical pain (as far as I have experienced) can be ignored and eventually forgotten (only to be brought up in traumatic memory, then I would also argue it is mental pain as well)

My relationship to pain is mainly an avoidance based one. I don't deny pain that can't be avoided or pain that has happened, but I won't intentional put myself in an emotionally painful situation.

Though I think pain that can't be avoided shouldn't be ignored, because some pain is useful, some pain shapes you.

The best way I relate to others painful experiences is try to compare it to my own and recognize how painful it is for them.

How I think about/deal about my own pain is to recede into myself. I will talk to some friends and cry on their shoulders, but I will also just ignore the outside world and think about everything that caused me the pain and start working out how fix, amend, or cope with the thing in my head. This usually takes me no more than 48 hours to get back into state where I am at ease with life again....well for the most part, like any painful experience certain thingas or just randomly memories show back up and then i'm reminded of the pain for a little while (5min), though a quick distraction can help stop that.

2) As an ENFJ, do you feel a special need to suffer through painful experiences in order to develop your personality and experience growth compared to other types?

I used to, sometimes I was almost envious of others who had problems because of how much info about life and how they turned out because of it, but as of recent I've recognized I don't need such pain to still come out a good person. I've recognized having a wonderful life without having a pain that defined me has instead defined me as a person.This lack of pain has helped me stay an optimistic person. It has also helped me help others.

Though, don't get me wrong I do feel pain shapes people and sometimes for the better,I just don't think its a necessary right of passage for a person.

tl;dr, nope I don't think pain is needed for me to grow, and am a walking example of no defining moment of pain (I have had small pin, but nothing big like coming out or parental death or abandonment).
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I will endure pain only insofar as it is a means to something I deem worthy of enduring the pain for- I do try to avoid pain and don't consider it necessary. Most of the pain I have felt, emotionally, throughout my life has been a result of other people being unnecessarily hostile toward myself and each other.

I think that these painful experiences are a result of me being who I am, and beyond that it gets very complicated.
most painful experiences i let go of but some i hold onto and look back on when i feel as though i am forgetting what i have learned from them. its not fun, but it almost works as a kind of guide, keeping me focused on the direction i want to take.

Pain affects us on many levels, mentally, emotionally, psychologically, and physically. I think it was Random who mentioned how perceptions are involved, and I agree. It does seem that misperceptions are more involved in pain, as that what we truly understand wouldn't be painful to us unless the outcome is not what we would wish it would be. Perceptions are directly related to attitude formation, and if our attitudes are based upon inadequate or incomplete information, how can we have a reasonable and accurate attitude about something?
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