Musings of a Type 4 INFP

Today I recorded the fifth episode of The Wellbeing Blogger Podcast, which will air tomorrow morning. I talked about the INFP Personality Type and in particular what INFPs really hate. I know, hate is a very strong word, so just think about it as what INFPs don’t usually appreciate or like to deal with on a regular basis. While I was talking, it hit me that INFPs are perceived as being very quiet and even emotionally detached just because we don’t externally express what we are feeling and thinking. This is actually how I ended up perceived as the good and well-behaved student in school when in fact I was just daydreaming while peacefully staring at my teachers’ face. Nothing that had been said would stick with me, so I had to study hard at home. I had to follow the rules – pretend at least to pay attention, be respectful in class and have good grades – and yet I had my own secret escape which was my creative mind.

People tend to think there is nothing going on with INFPs, but everything is going inside the mind of an INFP. We feel all sort of emotions and we like to think them through so we can make sense and understand what we feel, especially when our intuition is not yet integrated and fully accepted by us as a reliable source of information and navigation compass. So underneath our cool and calm posture, there might be lightning and thunders every two minutes. At some point in life, INFPs might introject that it’s safer to go expressionless in order to survive in this world. This personality type is often categorised by others as “too much” and very sensitive since a very young age, so we prefer to seek refuge in our own inner world as we grow older.

I learned to feel comfortable with my personality type over the years but more recently I started to feel ashamed and insecure because it’s one thing to be an INFP on your own and an INFP in a relationship with someone else. I often don’t feel like I’m good enough because I’m either tired of processing other people’s information and I don’t feel like talking, or I just want to be quiet and do something that feels relaxing to me such as reading, writing or painting. Since I also take more time to sort out and narrow down my thoughts into something that is intelligible, I also tend to be overwhelmed by time pressure and struggle to communicate clearly in the moment. INFPs perceive reality first as a whole and only then we start discriminating its bits and pieces. We are slower in terms of information processing but we are more decisive when making decisions because we mentally went through the complex cloud of options.

Another complex aspect of INFPs is that we both hate and love people at the same time. We love one on one conversations and some of us are known as social butterflies because we like to make people feel comfortable and positive about themselves. We won’t talk much in big groups, but we do shine when there is a more private atmosphere. We love to learn about people and what drives them. We pay serious attention to people’s thoughts and feelings. We try to offer them the sacred space we would like to have for ourselves, because we do know it’s lonely to be on your own. Since we’re not extraverted, however, people tend to think we can keep ourselves on this mode on and on and we simply can’t. Because we offer our undivided attention and heart, as introverts we have a strong need to renew ourselves by taking more alone time than other personality types.

Last but not least – INFPs are usually highly intuitive and empaths by nature. It’s easier for them to pick up on other people’s emotions and thoughts. I personally live my life like if I had an antenna or some sort of satellite that captures information all the time. This is draining enough by itself and I don’t always have the resources I need to ignore the information I’m receiving. I know when people are sad, happy, hiding something or lying. I don’t always confront people with what I know, because I learned with my past mistakes, but that doesn’t mean I got the capacity to forget about it. I often receive information in the format of mental pictures or spoken words. When I was younger I used to feel very anxious about this and I would not rest or feel calmer unless I could disclose the information and share it with someone. It was quite scary in the beginning and I have to remind you that I had a scientific-based training and I did not follow the arts or literature as so many people usually assume.

While in the past I wish I could be someone else, I know more about myself now and we must accept the cards we’re dealt with. There is always room for improvement, and I certainly have so much to work on, but I can’t be someone I’m not. I was born with a creative, feeling and intuitive nature. I believe there must be a good reason for this and I can’t entertain the thought that I need to be different just to make other people happy 24 hours a day. I’m in constant change, and people don’t like that, but it’s written on my Myers Briggs profile, on my birth chart, and on my enneagram type. It’s part of who I am.

I’m all into one as in Meredith’s song and I don’t know how to only show the good people pleasing side anymore as I was conditioned to in my childhood. Some people can be Mother Teresa on a daily basis, and that’s awesome, but I can only be it half of the time because I’m more of an Alanis Morissette. I have good and bad days, sometimes I can nurture and entertain people, while other times I need my own time and space. Some days I’m over the moon, other days I poop my pants, I cry and I don’t know what to do with my life. Some days I just want to be taken care of and not be the carer, which I had to be for almost my entire life to survive as a highly sensitive.

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That I Would Be Good

that I would be good even if I did nothing
that I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
that I would be good if I got and stayed sick
that I would be good even if I gained ten pounds

that I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
that I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
that I would be great if I was no longer queen
that I would be grand if I was not all knowing

that I would be loved even when I numb myself
that I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
that I would be loved even when I was fuming
that I would be good even if I was clingy

that I would be good even if I lost sanity
that I would be good
whether with or without you

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