Really an INFJ? (very long) | INFJ Forum

Really an INFJ? (very long)


life is good
Nov 18, 2008
I have been going back and forth between this for ages.
INFJ or INFP or ISFJ or ISTJ or INTJ or...

I grew up in an environment where on one hand, being "good, sensitive of other people, not wanting to hurt others - trying to please everyone" and not being emotionally assertive was something I picked up very much. I absorbed it into myself as a way of being without realizing it. And I became insecure/low self-esteem to boot. So being assertive and feeling sure of myself was not my reality.

On the other hand, my dad was very... invalidating of personal experience, incosiderate of others, critical, could be very hard in his disposition towards others, and aggressive in that harshness. Especially when angry, he was very cut-throat. Reminds me of an INTJ on a bad day. I absorbed that too.

So I grew up being incredibly shy and timid, quiet, insecure, passive, not assertive, with awful social skills (I was practically mute all throughout school). I could spend hours listening to someone if they needed help, always seemed eager to help, and felt like I cared about them, felt compassion towards people generally speaking. But at the same time, I could be downright cold and in as much as I seemed to care, I also felt ruthless. It was so confusing - and as much as I seemed to care about people, I never knew how to express that outwardly. I felt empathy and compassion, but I didn't know how to show that, what to say, how to respond. Which makes me wonder if I truly empathized or if I did so because I felt I should. And I seem to be good at doing or being who I felt/believe/think it is okay for me to be, who I "should" be. God knows where this comes from. It's as though I internalized the passivity and being pleasing, compromising - I internalized it deeply. But at the same time, because my personality naturally calls for some form of confidence/empowered self-expression, I sought that somewhere and the only place I found it was in the aggressive negativity my dad modeled. These days I am trying to figure out where I stand, because that seems to have been missing my entire life. I am only now realizing how deeply I seem to have absorbed my environment, or craved approval. I always thought I was beyond that - felt as though I didn't seek approval from others. Through the years, I ended up becoming emotionally numb and in the process, invalidating my own emotions, my own experiences, my own opinions - but I didn't always realize I was doing so (Probably because I didn't feel a safe outlet for them). So I lived in a state of false self-awareness, under false pretenses of who I believed I was. I did feel insecure and any confidence I felt came from a place of anger, arrogance, or fear. It wasn't at all healthy. But I think in seeking to express some sort of confidence, that's the only way I knew how. A tad messed up, I know. It's as though I never felt the confidence to assert myself as I am - always, without realizing it, being who I felt/thought/believed I "should be". So I had these dichotomies in personality that I experienced... and unfortunately one was passive and insecure, and the other was critically arrogant and cold (and emotionally invalidating).

To add to it, the few friendships I had in my life reinforced being people-oriented, feeling-oriented, pleasing, liking people, etc. which I also internalized quite a bit, without ever pausing to wonder - how do I feel about this, what do I think about this? I seemed to become like whoever I was around. And I sound like a push-over, I really wasn't... but in the absence of my own identity, I adapted myself to other people's...

Anywyas (if you have read this far, I thank and applaud you), now I am trying to figure myself out. Figure out who I actually am... and part of that is figuring out my emotions and how I apply them to life. So in thinking about the MTBI, I realize the F vs. T function are really what I am trying to figure out about myself, they're representations of what I'm sorting through. Except I hadn't really thought about it in the sense of - do I have an F or a T personality type. I was just trying to figure me out. But in figuring out my MTBI, I feel like it might bring me further clarity on figuring out the rest of me. And that's something I want and need to figure out, for the sake of my life and myself. I'm almost 25 and I've lived most of my life sheltered in that sense of "should be a certain way", and because of that, haven't ever really lived to my satisfaction. It's important that I sort this through and come to understand my identity clearly, without interruptions from who I "should be" or some sort of arrogant pride about who I think I am but really aren't (yeah... messed up I know).

I've also been reading the enneagram stuff, debating between whether I may be a 4w5 or 5w4 type.. 4s apparently can experience identity issues. So maybe one of the reasons I'm so unclear about all of this is because of the set-up of my personality. I'm not sure. But whatever the reason, realizing who I am is imperative.

Anyways... I know I have written a short novel here, I tend to do that. If you have any insights, please do feel free to share. I would really appreciate input (constructive please.. ) or thought.

And I originally intended to ask about the differences between INTJs and INFjs - not the usual typology stuff but more day-to-day differences, something more tangible, like how the two would respond to the same thing or interact, etc. If you have insight on that.. also feel free to share.

You're a hero if you've read all this. Seriously. And I'm not messed up, if I sound like it. Just a bit confused.
Ahhhh The classic nurture vs. nature! How do you define what is you and what has been pounded into your from your environment?

Truth is..No one really knows.

Self Knowledge is the best thing you can build in order to help yourself. It it odd to harbor such contradictory emotions at the same time? Of course it is. Part of you wants to help/empathize/care...while the other part distains/despises/ is selfish. But neither is right, and yet they both are.

To me it sounds as though you can't find a middle ground. Your internal pendulum swings from both extremes without any resting in the middle. It seems to me that you've never had 'middle ground' demonstrated or modeled in your formative years.

It is never easy to build something in your elder years, to decondition yourself from those early influences. But knowing yourself and acknowledging your emotions is a good place to start. Listen to your instincts, they will tell you when you can help and the degree to which you can help. They will also help you identify lost causes, losing battles and those things that will just be destructive to yourself if you try them.

Your first initial reaction to something is most indicitive of your core personality. Even if that first flash is smothered under everything you've been 'taught' is 'right'. I'm not saying your first reactions are the appropriate ones, but those are the ones you really feel. Those ones are the true you.

Emotion without rationality, common sense, morals, etc....Is the same as letting rabid dogs loose in a school yard during recess. Don't let your emotions rule you, but don't ignore them either.
Soulful, I think this must be the biggest conflict for INFJs, trying to separate their own needs from the needs of others. Because we feel so, so much we can walk into a room and see who needs a hug, who needs an ear, who needs compassion, who needs a laugh, who's looking for a fight .............. And we go ahead and do what is the right thing for the other person, forgetting about our own wants and needs.
Suddenly we have forgotten or don't know who the heck we are because we've let so many bits and pieces of other people attach to us, especially on an emotional level.
Soulful, I think this must be the biggest conflict for INFJs, trying to separate their own needs from the needs of others. Because we feel so, so much we can walk into a room and see who needs a hug, who needs an ear, who needs compassion, who needs a laugh, who's looking for a fight .............. And we go ahead and do what is the right thing for the other person, forgetting about our own wants and needs.
Suddenly we have forgotten or don't know who the heck we are because we've let so many bits and pieces of other people attach to us, especially on an emotional level.

Thanks for your reply Sumone :)

I do like the way you've phrased that - letting bits and pieces of other people attach themselves to us on an emotional level. It's true, for myself anyways.

I'm not sure if I am aware of that stuff though. I wish I was (because my lack of social skills led to some very isolated/lonely times) and because I would like to help and "be effective" in that way, but most of my life it has just been one awkward moment after another. I wonder if it was because I was so out of touch with my own emotions, that I had very little basis for anything else.

It's like I spent my entire life not responding from my core-self and also not realizing it. I always knew things were off but I didn't realize just how far off. Now that I am shedding the layers of "shoulds", I'm starting to give myself permission to be who I want to be/who I feel I am. Even now, I have to convince myself that my emotional needs are REAL. That they are important and not just fluff. That they matter and that I'm not just being... luxurious, opulent, or spoiled in allowing them to matter. Physical needs are easy to validate - sleep, food, water, bathroom time, health, shelter, basic clothing (not even style). Basically, I learned to value survival needs. And although that is really the bare minimum of human functioning, I grew up believing (deep down inside) that those were my needs, everything else was fluff or extra. Had someone asked me whether emotions and a social life were important, I would have said yes. Intellectually, I knew the answer was yes. And socially, I was aware of the social message/expectation to validate emotions/being social. But the unspoken messages I took in from growing up somehow formed my beliefs that - at least for me - needs were physical. It's so weird, because throughout all that, I still served a role (minor one - I didn't know many people and even fewer turned to me) - but I still served as a listener, comforter, etc. I was told I was nurturing by one friend. So now, I am working to convince myself that emotional needs are very real and very important, just as important as physical needs. And it is improving. And the more I do it the better I feel. But at the same time, I now have feelings of repressed anger that I have held in for years, so even now, I'm still affected by that. The way I see and feel things is sometimes filtered through that.

I didn't grow up being abused (I don't think), but at the same time, I grew up in an environment that was very disempowering, wasn't very healthy, was very negative, and certainly did not meet my needs. And rather than see through it all, I just absorbed it all along. Sometimes I'll say things to my sister, who grew up in the same family, and I'll realize something NOW about how growing up has been, what was communicated, or how it's affected me - and it is often something that she has always been aware of. Although she has her own set of issues to deal with, it's like she didn't end up finding herself having grown up with a set of blinders on like I have.

I hope that makes sense.
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