Hey, guys! Hope you’ve had a good week! Mine’s been a little crazy. I can’t believe it’s Friday already!
I really wanted to write this post last week. But school started for two of my kiddos, and it totally steamrolled my intentions. In typical INFJ fashion, I pushed everything down to the wire and was frantically trying to catch up at the last minute.
Luckily, our family survived. I’m still adjusting to the new schedule–juggling morning routines, taking five-minute showers in between everyone else’s, making sure I have enough biscuits to go with the gravy, lol. Overall, though, I have more free time now. And that is always a good thing.
But enough chit-chat! Let’s talk about Feelings.
The Boy Wonder
You already know, from my last post, that the INFJ’s dominant preference is Introverted Intuition (Ni). We use it to perceive the world in a very imaginative, multi-dimensional way. Think of it as a superhero…like Batman.
And where would Batman be without Robin? Stewing in his bat cave, that’s where. He needs someone to give him a nudge into reality now and then. Well, our Ni has an uber-cool sidekick, too. Meet our auxiliary function: Extraverted Feeling (Fe).
Our Fe is an awesome function that gives us the desire to connect and bond with others. It also determines how strongly we perceive emotions. Every type experiences the Feeling function, but its strength and diversity depend on where it falls in the stack and whether it’s introverted or extraverted. An INFJ’s Fe is quite powerful, partly because it’s extraverted, and partly because it operates as our “second-in-command”.
How does this apply to everyday life? Let’s simplify.
As an INFJ goes about her daily routine, she takes in everything through her Ni and processes it internally. When she’s around people, though, her Fe reaches outward. She can detect a wide range of emotions, including subtle tones and nuances that others might miss. In fact, she can pick up on them so strongly, it can be difficult for her to tell if the feelings are her own, or someone else’s. They can get a little mixed up.
The best TV example I’ve seen of this is from Firefly (one of my favorite sci-fi series). In the final episode, River is walking through the ship, and as she encounters people engaged in conversation, she can tell what they’re feeling. Not just by what they’re saying, but by what they’re experiencing inside (even if they’re not aware of it). She’s overcome by their emotions, reacting strongly to both their words and what she’s reading between the lines.
Not all INFJs are that sensitive, though. When you take a professional Meyers-Briggs test, the results tell you how strong your functions are. For example, I’m not 100% introverted, or even close. I fall a little over midway. My Fe, on the other hand, scored pretty high. And this is both a blessing and a curse.
The blessing part of Fe is that it enables the INFJ to truly empathize with another person. We cherish harmony and healing, so when we’re around someone who’s sad or lonely, our Fe picks up on that. We feel what they feel. The Fe gives our Ni a nudge, and we intuitively respond to that person in a way we believe provides encouragement. Yep, blessing (yay!).
On the other hand, being able to detect emotions also gives us the ability to experience them…in all their nuanced glory. I can remember many times, as a child, feeling other people’s emotions so strongly that I would act out in irrational behaviors. It wasn’t that I was truly irrational, I just wasn’t equipped to handle feelings I couldn’t understand. Even as an adult, I have to be careful who I spend time with. People with constant drama or chronic negativity exhaust my Fe. Yep, curse (boo!).
So as I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to give my Robin a short leash. I stay away from crowds and limit my social interaction. When I do spend time with others, I make sure they’re people with positive energy. At coffee shops and libraries, I put in earbuds and focus on my laptop. And if I find myself surrounded by an emotional crowd (say, at a wedding or funeral), I fall back on my Ni for help. I can retreat into a world no one else sees. Like the bat cave. And when Robin raps on the door, I just tell him to go away and come back later. Preferably, wearing more fashionable boots.
Have a Coke and a Smile
INFJs who decide to put their Ni/Fe superhero team to work can accomplish great things. You’ll find many of us on staff as counselors, teachers, or spiritual leaders. We loooove helping people. And, to be honest, we’re rather good at it. We’ve got tremendous focus, are able to cut through crap and get to the source of problems, and can show amazing compassion. We are, essentially, humanitarians who want to give the world a big hug and live in perfect harmony. You know, like in those old Coke commercials…
We definitely need balance, though. Because of our intense desire to please others, we often have trouble saying ‘no’, even when we need to. Without rest and alone time, we can easily get overworked, tired, and cranky. The INFJ is at her best when she has the opportunity to help…and then recharge. It’s not an easy equilibrium to maintain.
So, if you’re an INFJ, how do you deal with your Robin? Do you leash him or shut him out, like I do, or have you found other ways to deal with your Boy Wonder? Lol, let me know!
Have a great Labor Day weekend! :)