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Mar

10

2010

Five Stages of INFP

As INFPs, we live in an internal dream world of our ideals where everything exists the way we think it should be. When reality forces us to wake up, it feels a little like dying.

Elizabeth Kübler-Ross in her book On Death and Dying, wrote that people experience five stages of grief when they are confronted with significant loss like receiving news of terminal illness. As the real world begins crowding into the INFPs idealized world, INFPs realize that we have to let go of the our idealize version of the world. In doing so, we move back and forth through the stages until we wake up.

Stage 1: Denial

“If I can’t make a living doing what I love then I’d rather be dead.”

The denial stage manifests as avoidance of facts. Denial is wanting the Reward without knowing the Rules. Denial is wishful dreaming while refusing to look at how those dreams manifest.

INFPs in denial believe that writing their first book will somehow automagically translate to being able to eat and pay rent as a writer through some series of serendipity. INFPs in denial believe that if the right person was in their life then everything will work out.

INFPs in denial know their desired Reward such as “I want to write books for a living” but can’t answer questions about the Rules such as “do you know how much an average Times bestselling author makes?” They don’t want to know the answer because the answer brings them closer to waking up.

The denial stage can only exist if the INFP lives in a protected environment such as living at home or at college on their parent’s income. I don’t know any INFPs who work two jobs to pay to college part time that are still in the denial phase. INFPs start moving out of denial phase about 6 months after they started paying rent and stopped doing laundry at their parent’s house.

Stage 2: Anger

“I think the world is too materialistic.”

The anger stage manifests as placing blame. It’s the world’s ideals that are screwed up. INFPs believe that the world is too shallow, materialistic and uncaring to recognize the awesomeness of the INFP’s individuality. INFPs in the anger stage have few friends and work at jobs they feel is beneath their natural talent. Bad relationships are always about the INFP getting mistreated in some way. It’s never the INFPs fault for choosing crappy people for relationships.

The Anger stage last as until the INFP gets tired of feeling alone and disconnected. Angry people make poor friends because it’s always going to be everyone else’s fault. I find that most Angry INFPs are lonely INFPs.

The Anger stage stops when the entitlement mentality stops. Just because an INFP feels that they’re special or talented doesn’t obligate anyone else to recognize this. INFPs moving from the Anger stage realize that they’re not entitled to their Rewards and have follow the Rules for those Rewards like everyone else.

Stage 3: Bargaining

“I don’t need a fancy house or money to be happy.”

The bargaining stage manifests as settling. I don’t think any INFP would turn down the keys from someone who just drove a truckload of money to their front doorstep. INFPs are dreamers. We have an ideal of what our perfect world would be like. However, trying to achieve that ideal involves risk. Our grand plans might fail. So we settle for the safer route. Bargaining stage is about eschewing those things the INFP doesn’t need instead of fully committing to the things they really want.

Bargaining stage is about reaching contentment, not fulfillment. INFPs bargain with themselves by trying to figure out their minimum standard for happiness. Bargaining minimizes being hurt. INFPs tell themselves that even though they didn’t get what they wanted, at least they got what they needed.

Bargaining stops when they INFPs re-evaluate their life. They see not being unhappy isn’t the same as being happy.

Stage 4: Depression

“I don’t care about those things.”

The depression stage manifests as inaction. Depression occurs when a person feels that the things they value in life are beyond their control of achieving. That’s why I keep reiterating that a person’s level of happiness is directly related to the amount of control we feel we have in creating the life we want. If an INFP feels that finding the right person is luck then meaningful relationships is beyond their control. Eventually, they give up by not taking any actions to form relationships.

The INFPs in the depression stage have had repeated bad outcomes which leads to learned helplessness. Their experience has taught them that no matter what they’ve tried to achieve personal happiness, it never works out because of other people, the situation, the way the world is and other external factors beyond their control.

It should be noted that the depression stage doesn’t always manifest itself with classic symptoms of emotional depression or dysthymia (chronic low-grade depression or moodiness). INFP idealism can turn the depression stage into martyrdom. INFPs don’t see it as not taking action towards happiness. They see it as surviving despite the fact that the rules of the world are not in their favor. They are proud of the fact that they can persevere by continuing to do what they’ve always done. They’ve become very successful at not achieving their personal success.

The depression stage ends when the INFP accepts full responsibility for all the crappy people and situations in their life.

Stage 5: Acceptance

“It’s my fault.” “I’m responsible.”

The acceptance stage manifests as accepting personal responsibility. Saying “it’s all my fault” “I’m responsible” takes the control from the external and gives it back to the INFP. We accept that all outcomes come from our actions.

Acceptance is recognizing that we never fail, we get bad outcomes. We keep changing our actions until we get the outcome we want. Waking up isn’t about letting go of our dreams. It’s about wiping the sleep from our eyes and making those dreams real.

Change made on: April 29, 2010

I changed “It’s my fault” to “I’m responsible”. Something Brian Tracy, a motivational speaker said, made me want to change this. The word fault denotes blame and is always past focused. The past cannot be changed. Saying “I’m responsible” is future focused because from this point forward we accept that we are in charge of our lives.

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131 Responses to “Five Stages of INFP”

  1. jay Schryer

    Mar 10, 2010

    2:49 pm

    This is right on the money. I can look back over my life, and identify myself in each of these stages. I’ve only recently emerged from Stage 4, and am slowly moving into Stage 5. As with the grief associated with dying, the steps don’t always come along in a nice, neat, and ordered fashion. There’s lots of jumping ahead, falling back, and repeating as you move through the stages, but that’s ok. Eventually, you get there. :)

    [Reply]

    ockhamdesign Reply:

    I’ve been in the Bargaining stage for a while. It’s like I kinda get what I want. Then I want a little more of kinda happiness I already have so I work towards that. Then I’m kinda happy for a day or so and then start working for the next kinda happy goal. The really happy goals for me are daunting so I tell myself that life’s pretty good as is. I mean, I have a loving family and get to travel, but that’s only part of what I wanted.

    Luckily, I’ve always got to skip the Depression stage. I never get depressed because I’m always big on the personal responsibility. Though, I do get critical of myself because I know it’s my fault and I don’t do anything different.

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  2. Jerry

    Mar 10, 2010

    3:58 pm

    Good post. I think I experienced all 5 of the stages just now while reading it.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer M. Reply:

    Lol. I was thinking the same thing. ;P

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    Valerie Reply:

    Me too…..

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    joosh Reply:

    ya, I think my feelings are hurt (not quite sure yet…)

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  3. Johanka

    Mar 10, 2010

    4:22 pm

    Oh oh oh, wait a minute. I think you put a way huge burden of guilt on the poor INFP’s shoulders. Is it really our fault when a close person dies? When people break the promises they’ve made to us?

    We can only assume responsibility for our actions and for our emotional reactions to external stimuli. Our own. Not those of other people. Not for the external reality that triggered them. Nobody is the guilty party.

    [Reply]

    ockhamdesign Reply:

    Most external things will always be out of our control. People die. People leave. Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

    However, certain repeated patterns like multiple people in our lives breaking promises to us repeatedly has to be indicator that maybe it’s not them but it’s us. People prone to break their promises have always broken their promises. Just as you can’t get chronically late INFP to show up on time unless they really want to, you can’t make a person who’s good at keeping promises, break their promises.

    Whatever behavior someone exhibits in a relationships has always been there. So the question is, why aren’t we attracting the people who keep promises instead of the people who break promises? Who’s decision is it to let someone into our lives that let will let us down? Sometimes, finding a great relationships is just about making a better decision on who gets to be in our life in the first place.

    It’s not about guilt. It’s about personal responsibility. Guilt happens when you do something you feel you shouldn’t be doing in the first place. I think the majority of people don’t suffer guilt about making an honest or uninformed mistake unless that mistake leads to tragic consequences. Personal responsibility is saying, I made a mistake because I didn’t know better and learning what is needed to know better the next time.

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    Johanka Reply:

    I see I didn’t make quite clear that with the “breaking promises” example I wasn’t hinting at constantly choosing bad partners. :-) I really meant random people in our lives who may not even necessarily interpret the situation the same way, because they don’t share INFP’s high standards. To them nothing happened.

    My point is that you can assume responsibility in a compassionate way, without guilting yourself or anyone else. This is the best (and perhaps the only) effective way to healing pain, including the pain of having grown up as an introvert in a heavily extrovert-dominated world. :-) Assigning blame usually only triggers downward spiral of accusations going back and forth, just as in any stereotypical argument between a husband and a wife.

    I’m influenced by Havi Brooks’ (fluentself.com) yoga-based views on the issues. Her site is amazing. I cannot recommend warmly enough.

    [Reply]

    ockhamdesign Reply:

    Currently, I’m in change mode so I’m limiting the dozens of people I see weekly down to four. Last Friday afternoon, my ENFP friend and I made plans to hang out at a diner late that night. About an hour before we were to meet, she texts me and says that she was over at her neighbors drinking and she’s had too much to drink so she can’t make it.

    Am I mad at her? Not in the slightest. With my ideal of what friendship should be, I would never flake out like that. But that’s just it, those are MY ideals, not HERS. My ideals affect my behavior not someone else’s. Expecting someone else to have your ideals and behave accordingly is basically saying, I’m better than you and therefore you should be more like me.

    I don’t care for the term high standards. High is a subjective term. The response to any subjective term is “compared to what”? Whenever INFPs say they have high standards, my response is compared to whom? The Pope? To the average person? And what exactly defines average because that’s a subjective term also.

    My ENFP friend canceled. So what? I’m never disappointed in people. Not ever, not anymore. You’re only disappointed if you’re expecting something and you don’t get it. I don’t expect people to do anything that’s not in their best interest. I figured she couldn’t make it because she felt it wasn’t in her best interest to hang out with me that night. I can’t fault her for that. I can’t fault anyone for doing what’s in their best interest even though it might be contrary to what I want.

    However, having no expectations of other people’s behavior is my ideal and no one else’s.

    I never assign blame externally. What if someone is rude to me? Maybe they’re having a bad day. Maybe they’re just an ass. I don’t really care. I’m not going to assume responsibility in a compassionate way for their behavior. The why’s of someone’s behavior isn’t my problem. I just want results. I want them to stop being rude so I tell them I think they’re being rude. It’s the truth. If I tell the truth it ceases to be my problem anymore. If they can’t deal with the truth, it’s their problem.

    I am disappointed in bad results. The result I wanted wasn’t to hang out with a particular friend. I wanted to have a good conversation with a friend. Since my ENFP friend wasn’t available, I called my ENFJ friend. It was a long shot since he’s always busy and he has a line of people wanting to spend time with him. Whenever I put things out to the universe, I find I’m rarely disappointed. I wanted a good conversation and he was available. We hung out at a diner, had a good conversation and I got the result I wanted.

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    Jennifer M. Reply:

    This is a very interesting approach to life. I’m going to have to try this. I think a lot of times I subconsciously assume that other people have my same ideals about things, but really that isn’t always true. It’s my responsibility if I choose to always be around negative people. It’s their responsibility if they’re negative. I tend to forget that and try to feel responsible for their negative behavior, which in turn makes me nauseous when I can’t fix them.

    I like what you said about how really when it came down to it, it was the bad results that you were disappointed in. So you set out to create those results in a different way. That’s very healthy! I tend to get stuck on, “Well, so-and-so didn’t have time for me! Boo hoo!” Next time this happens I will try to take a step back and think, “Okay, they needed to do what they needed to do. What I needed was a conversation, so I will call someone else who can give offer that.” Because it’s true, I tend to get stuck in my head thinking everyone hates me, but when I actually do reach out, most times people are ready and willing to connect!

    Shane Reply:

    What if the people always breaking promises, after years of proving oneself with hard work, are the parents of the infp? We don’t choose our parents. And disappearing from their lives is proving difficult with the Internet.

    By the way, this blog was linked to me by my SJ mother as proof of all my infp faults. Not all infps are as lazy or lacking in responsibility as you make us out to be. We all didn’t live sheltered lives, living with a loving mommy and daddy well into our twenties – those are your lazy, idealistic infps. An infp who has been earning a living since they were 17 has every right to be angry when nepotism allows lazy morons to advance in life because they happened to be born with the right last name.

    We make our own happiness. Some INFPs get that – some of you are still searching.

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    Corin Reply:

    If you’re parents are unreliable, then you stop relying on them. They didn’t make you rely on their promises. You chose to even though they were “always breaking promises”. Taking responsibility means taking responsibility for making really crappy choices. Relying on your parents promises seems to be a really crappy choice. Make a better choice the next time they promise something.

    I never relied on my parents because I couldn’t. That was not an option. I moved out at 19 and I had only managed to save up two months rent after 4 years (busboy at age 15 and various jobs after that) and no job. I had 3 weeks to find a job or else I wouldn’t have been on the streets. Moving back home was not an option.

    My parents fled to the US when I was 5. My parents worked all the time just so we could eat. We grew up very poor. Which was why I moved out at 19 and got a job at movie theater. I didn’t have money to go to college and they didn’t have enough money for me to stay home. I’m 42 now. I’ve been married 16 years and have two wonderful kids (one INFP and one E??J – too early to tell). I’m hoping I can “retire” by 55 so I really can’t complain about how bad I had it or how bad my parents’ parenting skills were. They did the best they could with what they had to work with which wasn’t much.

    Unless your parents beat you worse than mine, I let very few people play the my-childhood-was-bad card. At some point, everyone has to stop blaming their parents for how crappy their life is at the moment in order to move ahead. My parents weren’t the best parents in the world but they are awesome grandparents and Christmas a few days ago with them and my siblings was one of the highlights of my year.

    So what if other people are lazy and got ahead the easy way. I don’t know these people. They aren’t making my life worse in any way. What does their life have anything to do with mine? How does anyone else’s “easy” success have anything to do with our own successes or lack of success? Life’s unfair. Yeah, I learned that at age 5. So what?

    Alice Reply:

    I took the MBTI test, a few times, and I got mostly got INFP or INFJ. I am not even sure which stage I am at according to those stages. I went to university and I have an Economics degree, but I work in a call centre doing surveys …

    Recently I started taking writing courses at the community college. Possibly somewhere between Stage 4 and 5 ?

    I would like to be a writer, but if I fail, Id be inconsolable.

    Both failure and success are possible outcomes, but I like what was said in stage 5 about trying until you get the outcome you want.

    I am not sure I will ever find the answer though, that I know all of us are looking for. Do we keep searching for it until it until we die , yet never find it ?

    [Reply]

    Aashir Reply:

    Hi,

    I also fall in that catagory called “trying to be a writer” and i have same INFP personality reading. Recently i wrote a novel. To my utter disgrace, it was refused by publishers to an extent that i just gave up writing. It was however a year later that i wrote a short story. After reading it thrice, i didnt get a single place to edit. It was at that moment i found the answer to your question. But alas! Story doesnt end there. Few more weeks passed and i thought of being story writer. To my horror I couldnt proceed beyond six tales and since then i have been considering every possibility of adding new story to my collection……..but failed…everytime. Sometime its just not enough to have known yourself. There are times when you feel that you are just too excellent to handle a thing and regretfully things go wrong.We definitely wont die searching for an answer but probably we may find the answer so late that our conscience wont allow us to pursue that road. After all…….so many years have passed…and death bed is waiting with numerous obligations to address!

  4. Red

    Mar 12, 2010

    4:31 am

    This why we make good empaths, I guess. I’m stuck somewhere between your Stages 4 and 5.

    This blog is interesting, and fun to read, but, I feel it just defeats the whole purpose. The more you know, the less you understand.

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  5. fadecy

    Mar 12, 2010

    7:42 pm

    I know all about stage 4. It just seems like no matter how I treat people they never want to be around me. I respect their personal space wait for them to invite me places or talk to me: never happens. I try and be forward with people, I invite them out for a drink etc they ignore me or go for a drink with me a few times then don’t speak to me for 2 months. I just don’t get what people want from me.

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  6. Tara

    Mar 15, 2010

    11:40 pm

    Well, crap. I’m on stage 1. This does not bode well for my next decade. :(

    [Reply]

    Apeetha Ravi Reply:

    Me too. The first stage. I can’t imagine going through the entire process! Stage I is hard enough as such!

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    Ben Reply:

    Me too! Dam I feel like I am so far behind.

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  7. Kat O. Martin

    Mar 17, 2010

    7:47 am

    Damn, I feel like I regularly go through the five stages :/

    [Reply]

  8. jtbeachbum

    Mar 18, 2010

    10:52 am

    Wow, just like the rest of your writings, this one is right on the money. I know the PC [Personality Cafe] folks would love this. You should post a thread on there of this material. Thanks for sharing and enlightening us with your writing.

    [Reply]

  9. MichaelINFP

    Mar 19, 2010

    10:04 pm

    Thanks for writing “Five Stages of INFP.” It’s a creative use of EKR’s model, and several points apply directly to my life. I especially liked your point on the distinction between contentment and fulfillment. I, too, am an INFP writer recently having passed 40 and having published his first book. So even your examples jumped out at me.

    Ah, the balance and tension between the ideal and the real, between poetry and prose, between vision and sight. I think one of the main themes of this piece is the importance of being dedicated to reality and its rules, as opposed to being seduced by idealistic dreams. Still, you end the entry by encouraging people to make their dreams real. Some form of synergy and balance between what is and what might be, between external rules and internal rhythms, between being realistic about the outside world and being authentic to the inside world, is probably best for most INFP’s. Too much internal focus and idealism and one’s life tends to come crashing down; too little internal focus and too little idealism and life tends to grow stale and soulless. There is, of course, no exact recipe for reaching that balance, or even one balance point for all. One of my perpetual quests is to find a good balance on such matters for my life.

    Thanks again for writing the piece. I found it insightful and relevant. And it was good to be reminded of some arguments for disciplining oneself to the strictures of the real.

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  10. Sam

    Mar 21, 2010

    10:12 pm

    This really spot on for me. Although, I sometimes get to the point of acceptance and go too far with it. Suddenly everything becomes my fault when it is totally out of my control. This almost leads me back to depression sometimes. I have an annoying ability to recognize that I am hurt but know that the person who hurt me did not do it intentionally, which leads me to blame myself for the pain I’m feeling. I should be able to understand that sometimes things really are not my fault, but I can’t and I take everything on myself.

    [Reply]

    ockhamdesign Reply:

    I changed my entry from “it’s my fault” to “I’m responsible.” I’m starting to realizing that fault is past focused while responsibility is future focused. Some things are beyond our control when they happen. However, it’s taking responsibility is about us focusing on what we can do from this moment forward.

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  11. Anna

    Mar 27, 2010

    10:56 pm

    It’s funny because reading the 5 stages is so much like me that I want to copy it and just show people what I’m about so I don’t have to try to explain what’s happening in my head!

    The funny thing is that I’m actually part of all stages but my 5th stage of working out the common denominator to my demise is myself has been horrid as I’m trying to fix EVERYTHING about myself at once. And a word of caution: don’t! I have very high standards of what I believe I should be, look, act, work as, etc. and since I’m constantly contradicting myself, I’m not achieving my goals and constantly punish myself and punish others for not noticing how much potential I have! Of course, I’ve left out the part that I’m not willing to really give ANYTHING a go because the risks outweigh the possible benefits. Meh, I’m more of an INFP than I actually thought!

    Honestly, all I want is to be a multi-millionnaire where all I have to do is just .. do nothing! Read, sleep, eat and just get massages daily and hot spas. Yep, that’s all I want :)

    [Reply]

    ockhamdesign Reply:

    I’ve been wanting to be a multi-millionaire since I was 15. Trust me. They don’t read, sleep and eat all day. If you get the chance, read Robert Kiyosaki’s Cash Flow Quadrant and T Harv Ecker’s The Millionaire Mind. Most people including me live 95% of our lives in the Employment (E) Quadrant. Truly wealth people live in the Investment (I) Quadrant. Wealthy people do one thing well which is manage their money.

    For example, if you have 800K(principal) for pure investment and knew how to make 10% a year with it, then you’d be living off of 80K(interest) per year minus capital gains. If you read the Millionaire Next Door, the stats show that most millionaires save their way to 800K, making less than 100K/year. That of course is the less risky way where people have moved their money from the Employment Quadrant over to the Investment Quadrant (IRA, investment accounts, property) over the years.

    This basically says means you need two skills. The skill to make or save 800K and the skill to make 10% yearly from the principal.

    [Reply]

    Anna Reply:

    I see.. very interesting indeed..! I may pop over to the library tomorrow and have a read. I do agree with you though (in all aspects). Sometimes I forget I have to shift my thought process and focus. Definitely food for thought… will let you know how I go!

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    Jennifer M. Reply:

    Lol. I too long to be a multi-millionaire and have nothing to do but read, sleep, and eat. ;) In my ideal world….

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    slughog Reply:

    i’ve often considered another way to achieve a lifestyle of “read, sleep, and eat” – prison! and it’s easier to get there than becoming a multi-millionaire and could possibly be fun! i’m thinking some fraud scheme to scam the credit card companies and travel the world and then chill in white-collar prison and read for years! paradise!

    [Reply]

    Niki Reply:

    Great thought,
    to be honest, I sometimes even indulged in a ‘dark’ thought like this..
    so when you’re successful at it, please let me know how :)

  12. antonius bimo

    Apr 29, 2010

    8:18 pm

    you make me smile with a unique way! :D
    thx for your enlighment..

    notes:
    1. Are there other word to describe the stages? it’s sound so honest but it is so pathetic! :) (and I myself sound so idealistic LOL)
    2. “It’s my fault” not let the other know their fault! INFP tend to bury our negative feeling about “the other’s fault” then build up our emotional bombs, huft… (McGyver.. could you please cut the wire? :)
    3. sorry for my bad english :P

    [Reply]

  13. Sylvia Foglesong

    Apr 30, 2010

    6:46 am

    I accept the responsibility of the choices I make in life. And I can choose how I will respond to a situation. I do not take responsibility for every situation that happens. Six years ago my husband and I were in an auto accident. We had our blinker on waiting to turn into where we live. A person in a convertion van dropped her cell phone and rammed 50-mph into the back end of us pushing us head-on into an oncoming truck also going about 50mph. We survived. Our car didn’t have airbags.

    My husband has TBI and is now a different person than he was. He has no affect and is kind of like a big kid that only thinks of himself. I was told he is just like this now and I have to accept this. I am learning to let go of the old him. The new him and I are friends. I have no physical attaction to him. I also suffered in the accident. I had multiple fractures in my spine and ribs and sacrum. I have cronic pain. I can no longer do hairstyling. Which at the time I had my own business. I am different too.

    One week after the accident my eldest brother committed suicide. A month after the accident, my mentally ill son ran away to florida to live on the beach. He had found out that his girlfriend was pregnant also while I was still in the hospital.

    All of this made me realize that “control” is a myth. I have no control what others are going to do. I can only control how I respond. And then I have to give myself a break because it’s ok to go through those stages you mentioned. You have to go through them.
    I actually go back and forth sometimes. I’m ready to heal, but my body is still in pain. I try to smile despite the pain. It’s a constant reminder of the accident.

    At 46 I am back in school. I want to be a social worker to help others. Have have self-douts because some days I get so tired and am in such pain that it’s difficult to do anything. Other days I feel great, and as long as I don’t over do it Im fine.
    I’m thankful I didn’t die. I now have three grandkids that came after all of this that have given me such joy.

    I have to say though that the last six years have been the biggest growth spirt for me. I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. I was very active, healthy and spiritual person when this happened. I know God is teaching me something. Many things. First of all I have to take care of me. Then I can help others.

    [Reply]

    ockhamdesign Reply:

    Mostly, I just accept my past and accept that my present becomes beyond my control the moment it becomes my past. For me, accepting responsibility is about deciding how I feel about my present and my future. History isn’t destiny.

    It’s stories like yours that let me know how resilient INFPs can be. I find that once INFPs find the reason to our lives, we have the strength of will to succeed no matter what life brings our way.

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    ruby Reply:

    this makes me cry…really…the pain that you went through is too much…i even don’t think i could handle that…but your reaction towards it is so brave…not many people can do that…to stood amidst the storms of life with positivity regardless of deep past hurts…

    [Reply]

  14. manar

    May 8, 2010

    3:55 pm

    that was really helpful , I really needed someone to wakes me up and tells me to start taking responsibility, I’ve been in the depression stage for too long . thank you so much .

    [Reply]

    ockhamdesign Reply:

    I’ve never been seriously depressed but I know a few who have so I admire anyone who’s working towards managing their depression and turn their life around. It’s a tough thing. Kudos to you.

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  15. Jennifer M.

    May 9, 2010

    8:46 pm

    This is such a fascinating topic and discussion thread. I think really I’m in all of the first stages – is that even possible? Lol. I rarely find myself in the 5th stage – usually I am too concerned with worrying about why my ideal life is not my real life or trying to make a decision about what to do next. I guess as long as we don’t get stuck and grovel in our depression isn’t not so bad to cycle through these stages. Sometimes I think life is meant to be a journey. We may not always know where we’re headed, but getting there can be pretty interesting sometimes.

    [Reply]

    Jennifer M. Reply:

    (Meant to say… all of the first four stages)

    [Reply]

  16. Nakieda Massey

    Jul 16, 2010

    7:33 pm

    Just read this and I have to say that this is right on the money. Everything you’ve written I’ve said and done. I’ve gone through all the phases but with me it doesn’t end with acceptance, the cycle just starts all over again. It’s like I’ll be on track for a while then I get a little bad news and boom, I’m right back to the beginning. It sucks and I’m trying to make the best of it…well trying to get through it, but I seem to be in a rut and not able to pull myself out. I mean I’ll pull myself out eventually but it takes a while and it seems that I’ll never accomplish anything and will just be satisfied with being an overachieving underachiever. (That’s a group my friend and I came up with she’s INTP).

    [Reply]

    Corin Reply:

    I find that personal achievement is a really bad measure of progress. You may achieve a goal but still feel like your life isn’t any different that before.

    Life is about moving from one set of problems to a better set of problems. In your 20’s, your problem might be deciding between ramen noodles vs mac and cheese for dinner. Or your problem might be trying to get your parents to let you live your life the way you want to.

    Progress can be best measured if you still have to same problems 5 or 10 years later. If you’ve moved to a better set of problems even though you haven’t really accomplished your goals, it shows that you’re moving forward.

    [Reply]

  17. Prachee

    Aug 7, 2010

    12:23 am

    I think you are right about everything.
    I was thinking about that last stage. I think it’s the most painful stage. I do think “It’s my fault” and “I’m responsible” are different. The difference is very subtle, but significant. I think the former is not complete acceptance, but an emotional realization, whereas the latter is mature acceptance, it’s learning to live with the realization.

    The problem is that I always get stuck on “It’s my fault,” which leads to self loathing and all kinds of negative emotions. How does one break that barrier and look to the future?

    [Reply]

    Corin Reply:

    For me, if I do something, if I keep busy, I stop thinking about it. I try not to dwell on my life. I rarely look at the past specifically, ie I should have done this this and this. I look at the past generally, in 5 years chunks where I remember where I was and where I went.

    I focus on doing things that I enjoy. I focus on being present and aware of myself as I’m doing it and try to stay in my body instead of just in my head. It’s always the next step and thinking what’s the one thing that I can do today that makes me better. Sometimes, that one thing is part of a long-term goal.

    Right now, I’ve been really down on myself for not failing more – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45mMioJ5szc

    When I’m not failing then I’m just coasting and playing it safe.

    [Reply]

  18. Colleen

    Aug 26, 2010

    3:30 pm

    I have lived in my INFP skin for almost 60 years and I have found it to be a blessing not a curse. I have a successful career providing the education and support necessary to help others achieve their dreams. I believe in both miracles and magic.

    Other people value my insight and point of view. They say I bring peace into the room. I have seen the world through rose colored glasses all my life even though, my life, like yours, has had challenges and pain. I have been sustained by love, hope and faith. Like the toys in the “Velvetine Rabbit”, I have been loved, worn and emerged “real” but always uniquely different.

    Celebrate all that is INFP. You may never be deeply understood by anyone but yourself but you have been given the gift of empathy. That gift will help you identify who has the capacity to understand you and allow you to forgive those who don’t so you won’t be hurt.

    Enjoy your quest to understand the secrets of the universe, listening to whispers, and seeing what is invisible to others. How cool is that!

    [Reply]

    helen Reply:

    this is very beautiful colleen! i really appreciate this.

    [Reply]

    Stephen Reply:

    Wow, Colleen, thanks for that.

    [Reply]

    aisha Reply:

    thank you

    you are giving me a hope in the future.I lived in my INFP skin 29 years and I cant say half of what you have to say about life and how u see it.

    [Reply]

    Kristina Reply:

    I want to know you. Can we be pen pals? As an infp I’ve always longed for a mentor.

    [Reply]

    Vivid Reply:

    Thank you for this. It is very encouraging! I hope that I will feel that way one day. Your analogy of the velveteen rabbit being YOU is so thought-provoking and will probably stay with me for a long time.

    [Reply]

  19. ruby

    Aug 27, 2010

    12:12 am

    Wow. Thanks for this post! I feel like I’m gearing to self-improvement with your posts. ;) I can now associate this one to the 6 needs in your other post and try to trace back on why i am shifting from stage 4 and stage 5 but mainly staying on stage 4 most of the time. Then I try to think on what need i am lacking (the probable reason on why i am depressed) and try to make up for it and do something about it. although most of my plans backfire, i will think that at least i made an effort in trying to make up for that lack of need which made me depress. but sometimes i’ve noticed it’s force of nature that fulfills that need. i dunno if its just me or does this happen to anyone as well. especially if you are like caught in a vicious cycle of monotonous events and then you’re exhausted and then suddenly something good happens. this usually happens after i pray. it’s as if my prayer has been answered. which makes me really happy.

    also, i’ve noticed when i read my past journals in high school, it was full of anger..i was like blaming everyone for the bad results happening to my life..geeh this is truer than i expected…i’ve been through stage 2 during my high school days..probably stage 1 during my elem..then in college i went through stage 4 and a little of stage 3..and then right now shifting from stage 4 and stage 5…but maybe i’m shifting through all the stages right now..i’m probably not aware of it…

    i’m thinking that stage 5 can be achieved when you have a lot of time for yourself alone which can go back to your other post about finding time for solitude…not only for authenticity but for learning acceptance…

    [Reply]

    Corin Reply:

    Thank you so much for sharing. I think INFPs sharing their experiences and struggles is much more valuable in getting people to change than my posts. I give deduction and explanation. But people commenting about going through the same thing, gives other INFPs hope.

    I think that the routine suck up you life at any stage. Deliberate change is the only way to rebel against the tyranny of the routine.

    The monotonous day-to-day takes a time to become a vicious cycle. It’s has to allowed to grow to get to that point. I’ve been starting to interrupt routines by driving different routes home. I just have to do one thing different in my routine each day in order to force a shift. It’s kind of like rocking your car back and forth when you’re stuck in snow. Sitting in a different chair at dinner or eating outside instead, each little change is me rocking the car of my life out of that snowy rut of routine.

    [Reply]

  20. Hans

    Jan 9, 2011

    1:21 am

    A very good article. Spot on, more or less. I would categorize myself as wafting between stages 4 and 5.

    I sometimes think we have to be the most functionally useless type there is.

    To go one further than the article, I wonder if, like Autism other pervasive developmental disorders, if you determine a child is INFP early enough you might correct it with therapy and behavioural conditioning. Turn them into an INTP for example.

    It seems like an INFP has to spend their whole life figuring themselves out just so that they might, if they are lucky, die having finally achieved a sense of inner peace.

    Creating a successful, productive and useful career is something that cannot be built upon foundations of introversion, intuition, feeling and perceiving, it seems.

    I dunno, I guess, at this late stage in my life, I see INFP’ism as something one should struggle to overcome, and as early in life as possible.

    [Reply]

    Corin Reply:

    I don’t believe there’s such a thing a most functionally useless type. Each type has it’s challenges.

    Also, it’s about cognitive preference (Fi and Ne) like being right handed or left handed. Yes, you can teach a lefty to use their right hand but not all the time. I won’t feel natural.

    INFP makes some skills more difficult to learn for example social skills, but that doesn’t mean we can’t master them given enough time. It’s the same with any other skills that other types seem to learn more quickly. If it’s useful to our lives, we learn them. However, INFPs seem to learn these skills to the point they can get by, but not to the point where they excel.

    [Reply]

  21. kanika

    Feb 13, 2011

    8:50 am

    I come from a dysfunctional family with the history of domestic violence. I was able to cope with these issues by concentrating my energies in creative pursuits like art and dance. Whereas my aggression got a healthy outlet as I played for my school’s basketball and swimming team. I was an ambivert at that time. Though, I had issues relating to people but I could participate in social activities.

    Losing my best/boy friend was the biggest setback in my life. That happened when I was just sixteen. I got to know about his demise after he was cremated and I did not get to say my last goodbyes to him. My mom knew we both were very attached, so she thought it would be in my best interest if I was given this news a little later as I might have gone into a shock.

    That was the time I remember turning into a complete introvert/recluse. I had been angry with my mum for not letting me see him one last time.I dont even have his photo. All I have his vague image which are fading day by day. Sometimes, I feel like sketching his face so a to remember what he looked like. I have forgiven my mom as I realize now that she did what she thought would have been best for me.

    I somehow graduated from high school and wanted to take up medical profession. I wanted everyone should get immediate help in case of emergency as my friend died on the spot in a road traffic accident. I took up physical therapy as major in college. I too face difficulties maintaining grades but managed to graduate somehow. But was totally disenchanted since the third year of my study. Meanwhile made a mistake by getting into an abusive relationship. I contracted a disease during my residency. It took me almost five years to get well.

    During my health crisis, I witnessed all these stages. (unfortunately I still go back and forth) That was the time I seriously noticed the repeatitive patterns in my life. i attracted intimidating/interrogative partners/friends/colleagues. This happened because I had intimidating dad and interrogative mother. We tend to develop certain energy dynamics in our early childhood(till the age of seven) to cope up with our immediate family. and if we dont correct them we are stuck in what James Redfield describes in his book Celestine Prophecy as ‘control dramas’.

    For couple of years I was so weak that all I could do was take bath get ready and eat then sleep. Slowly slowly I regained energy. Lying in the bed all I did was think. this is the time when I seriously questioned my choice of career.I came across a persons views on how one should live his/her life in a forum. That was the turning point. Thats when I read lots of book on self help/non-fiction/spirituality to understand the meaning of life.

    [Reply]

  22. kanika

    Feb 13, 2011

    9:14 am

    I took up things which I used to do before my friend’s death. I started painting again but it didn’t come effortlessly to me as it did in my childhood days. I took up a years course in commercial art and graphic design. After the initial enthusiasm worn off, I became restless. This was the first time I noticed I was procrastinating and working only when the deadlines approached. this was not the case during my childhood days. I used to paint and paint and hours would fly.

    Though art gives me an emotional release and I am good at it too. But still It lacks meaning.I am getting job offers in art field but I am unable to take them for one more reason and that is that these are in my hometown. and somehow lack meaning as i want to help others in any which way I can.

    So I decided to pursue Teach for India fellowship. As it will not omly provide me an opportunity to teach 2nd and 3rd grades but also move away from my folks and to learn to face realities of life on my own.

    Education helps to transcend our limiting barriers which is beautifully shown in movies like ‘The Hurricane’ and ‘The freedom writers’.in both the movies, youngsters are able to transcend their poor and violent backgrounds with the help of their mentors. By teaching young kids I will learn to undo the emotional baggage. It is through teaching them I will learn what American journalist- Ambrose Bierce said: ” Resposibiltily is the detachable burden easily shifted on the shoulders of God, fate , fortune, luck, or one’s neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star.”

    I will teach children and they will in return help me to take my destiny in my hand and steer it in a constructive direction. This is how I am trying to understand my life’s Grand-Overall-Design.

    [Reply]

  23. Nick

    Feb 23, 2011

    5:36 pm

    An interesting perspective. I’m in stage four trying to get to stage five. I have passed through all the stages. Stage 1 for me is not so much denial as frustration. Its knowing that I could do something well but you aren’t given the opportunity.When I get the opportunity I usually succeed. The second stage of anger was not so much at the outside world as a release of anger in me. I was angry with myself other people could work out what they wanted to do but I couldn’t. I also released anger at my father (ISTJ). Like many INFPs I didn’t deal with the anger growing up because I wasn’t allowed to. You can’t argue with an ISTJ as a child for two reasons they believe they are always right and two tradition dictates that a father can’t be challenged by his son. I went through hell trying to release this and as it had all been kept in so long it coes out in frightful amounts. As a kid, you are dependent on your parents so you don’t rock the boat. I started to become like an ESTJ I stopped being flexible and started to be inflexible, judgemental, and treat people like they had treated me in the past. Thats why friends avoid you. Because they expect one thing and get another. They don’t like the change. Also I think in this stage you attract all the other ‘angry’ people. I know through my stage I attracted angry ESTJs and INTJS who were going through their own challenges.
    Then I went through the bargaining stage, getting out of my life things that were past their use. I stopped drinking alcohol which alters your social life but allows you to think and be clearer.
    Now I’m in the depression stage looking for that way to get to stage five. I see light at the end of the tunnel though. I feel like I’m going back to being a INFP child again but this time without all the baggage.
    Its giving me great pleasure to read the blog plus all the related posts. Better than therapy :)

    [Reply]

  24. Frankie

    Mar 6, 2011

    6:37 am

    I went through all these stages and now I’m working on I’m responsible. At 54 with my life half done I better be responsible.

    I did spend 20 years in blame and low-grade depression. I think that was the worst.

    I am so glad to see it finally explained to me that it is all the natural nature of an INFP. How fabulouse is THAT discovery. Thanks for the article.

    [Reply]

  25. greg

    Mar 14, 2011

    11:22 pm

    Hey all!

    It seems like I am in good company. I’m currently stuck between 4 and 5 and have been there for a while. While in college I dreamt of either making movies or going into medicine. Without any money to go to NYC or USC for film I studied premed. After being told my GPA was too low for Med school I ended up doing microbiology and teaching a lab for a year. In the meantime I worked on some short films. After college I moved to Japan to teach and came back for a girl. After studying hard I opened a photography business and moved to NYC and worked with a major celebrity photographer. Unfortunately my dad passed away this year and I had to sell all my equipment and come home (well that and I was going to starve in NYC) so now I’m feeling really stuck. I’m tired of being sort poor and am ready to be responsible and start a well paying and meaningful career, but I’m still at a loss. Its up to starving filmmaker (my passion) medical sales ( no starving.. in fact it can pay very well, but it scares me to become a cog in the wheel) or try for Med school and starve until I’m almost 40 then make truckloads of cash ( and help people) I really feel that self-actualization occurs when you master what you love, but starving to pay the bills in hopes of making a ” hit” movie or book a la j k Rowling seems to be more of a fantasy at this point. Any suggestions on a path to follow?

    [Reply]

  26. Frankie

    Mar 15, 2011

    4:33 am

    You sound like a most interesting person with lots of varied interests. My thought is to do what you love. Do what comes naturally to you, because chances are what comes easily is also what you are very good at.

    Also – I follow the Bloom where you are Planted – philosophy. That has worked for me time and time again. Meditate on it too. Answers come in stillness and quiet sometimes. They have for me anyway.

    [Reply]

  27. Niki

    Mar 31, 2011

    1:47 am

    Coincidentally and funnily, this article is what I really need right now to read, with all my constant dilemmas now at 28 yrs old.
    Much thanks, Corin, and also of all the wonderful comments here.
    I feel that I’ve learned a lot.

    A big, warm regards from a PersonalityCafe (PC) fellow INFP member! :D

    [Reply]

  28. Oliver

    May 5, 2011

    10:17 am

    I love reading your articles, I think it’s bringing me closer to becoming a ‘better self’ and understanding more about myself… I just love it. :)

    [Reply]

  29. blu

    May 11, 2011

    11:35 am

    I am on Stage 4, almost to Stage 5, like many who have commented. (But I’m only 15..)
    Anyway, I just wanted to say this is very insightful and makes a lot of sense. =) Wish I’d read it earlier, so I could have understood a more about stages 1-3 while they were still happening to me- that might have avoided some trouble.

    [Reply]

  30. Alan

    Sep 4, 2011

    2:08 pm

    Yes, I could really really relate to this article. Though I’d like to share some of my opinion on the Denial part where you said:

    “I don’t know any INFPs who work two jobs to pay to college part time that are still in the denial phase. INFPs start moving out of denial phase about 6 months after they started paying rent and stopped doing laundry at their parent’s house. ”

    This totally make sense! This is what you’ve been through I see. I used to work this part time job that last for half a month. I was a promoter, and being a promoter requires me to approach and speak to the customers at times (which of course, is a daunting experience to most INFPs). It was after I graduated from high school of course, before I entered college.

    Throughout my work I’ve been feeling disconnected a few times (to make it even worse, I’ve no idea why am I feeling that way), and I don’t even know what “introversion” is at that time. As I can recall it, I’m in no sense are “inside my own body” sometimes, rather “inside my head”, which is not good when you’re working part time job, surrounded by peoples.

    Now, I’ve taken the MBTI test, scored as INFP and it goes as Fi Ne Ni Ti (Not the regular Fi Ne Si Te arrangement, and I assume different INFPs varies) and so forth, “Se” being the lowest of all. Now it’s described there the feeling of disconnectedness might be stemmed from my very poorly developed “Se”, which involves all the five senses in a concrete fashion. Otherwise, in the other article you wrote, the “Why We Feel Lonely Part 1 & Part 2″, I agree on that too, the intentional separation and all.

    Now I feel a bit skeptical, but I decided to believe that for now (The poorly developed “Se” in relation with feeling of disconnectedness). On the side note, I do feel “disconnected” even as in now with my friends/acquaintance when I hang out with them at times. But at least not as often as I was back then in high school. I’d like to believe in time it would slowly fade away if I somehow keep on coming back, keep on trying.

    The point is in other words, is it possible to say, as you free yourself from this denial state, you also indirectly developed your “Se” that is enough to “shook” you into reality? Obviously an ESTP (Ultimate Realist) would not face this kind of problem, but in case with INFP, perhaps they could cope better with the real world if they could develop more of their “Se”?

    I’m sorry if I sound like rambling. It’s just that it’s been in my head and I feel like I need to let this one out. And I’m still going back and forth between this five stages.

    But anyway I’d like to hear your opinion on this one.

    [Reply]

  31. RIch Mike

    Dec 6, 2011

    9:10 pm

    I’ve been identified as an INFP by online tests more than once. The funny thing is, I don’t identify with any of these ways of thinking. I’m incredibly ambitious, and believe in money. I feel that I do need money to be happy, not just because of the cliche, shallow reasons that you see in the movies, but also because I value the freedom and the potential influence that comes along with it. I will admit that I can be beyond intense, and am a naturally deep, analytical thinker, but I can also be charismatic, relaxed and quite adventurous. I’m not really the most gentle human being either. I think I’m really midway between and ENFP and and INFP. I don’t know what to call myself!

    [Reply]

  32. Guilherme

    Apr 30, 2012

    10:58 am

    Loved the article. I could relate to these stages. Think i’m trying to step into stage 5, but i’m still depressed. But I can accept the world as it is much more for now. I’m 25, and I think i’ve been in stage 4 for at least 4 years. It’s been really hard and i was close to suicide a lot of times.

    I think that what’s hard for me to do is accept the status seeking nature of human beings. Not that I don’t have this natural impulse to seek domination, but when i’m conscious of when i’m behaving this way, I tend to repress. I’m quite okay to accept, and also enjoy, physical pleasure. And i’m highly into intellectual pleasure. I like to think about many aspects of the world, and also love arts, especially music. But what I still can’t take joy is in vanity. I hate hierarchies. I try to keep the thought that we’re all the same, and that nobody deserves to suffer from any feeling of inferiority, nor the right to feel and act with superiority. I’m very anarchist and I still don’t respect many rules (what is bad to me). So I think I still have a path to go and get a little bit more mature and practical. We are natural hippies, aren’t we?

    [Reply]

  33. Schuyler

    May 15, 2012

    12:53 am

    good article. definitely been 4 of these stages more than once. I am 21 and occasionaly i feel them all at almost. whats funny is from 13 to 18 i wanted to be depressed and angry because it seemed…authentic. But when i actually got here, i found out i desperately wanted to go back. I think one thing that is a challenge for me is accepting age. I dont want to be any older.

    [Reply]

  34. Sachie

    Jun 22, 2012

    3:49 pm

    Definitely one of the best articles; it helped me a lot understand the stages I’m going through as an INFP…I think it’s hard for an INFP to change, even if it’s changing for the better. because we hold into our values, it’s so hard to change the tiniest part when it comes to our way of thinking. I’ve changed a lot, for the better I think, before I knew I’m an INFP. However, since the day I found out I’m an INFP, I’ve started holding into being myself and not wanting to change. like a part of me dislikes myself & the other part is completely proud. I even gave up on trying to treat depression thinking I won’t be the same as a normal person.
    Anyway, I really like this article. it’s really useful and adds a lot to what I’ve found out about myself as an INFP.
    You are right about the depression part. I suffer from dysthymia…I’m ALWAYS very unhappy. And being unhappy makes me really depressed. There are lots of reasons why I have depression, it’s almost helpless. but you are right, I need to gain control over my life. I’m sure that’ll at least make me a bit happier. it will help.

    [Reply]

  35. Stephen

    Jul 16, 2012

    9:30 pm

    I’m in stage 3. Basically it’s an attempt to cope with having screwed up some vital things in my life (finances and my love life). Depression will likely be in my future, and when it comes, I’ve got to survive it. But I also want to TRULY learn from my regrets…as in, change my behavior!

    On the plus side, my friendships are solid and I’m not compromising my morality (anymore).

    One part of this blog entry doesn’t ring true for me — the dissatisfaction with friendships part. I would believe that some INFPs have problems with friends (being dissatisfied with them, et cetera), but I cannot say that is the case for me. I’d really like to suggest that if INFPs are having friendship problems, it may be because they don’t know the right people. I’ve been blessed to have befriended extremely awesome feeling types…INFPs, a ENFP, INFJs, an ISFJ. I met a lot of them at my liberal arts school. The liberal arts school was not a very good choice, financially, but it was an excellent choice, socially. And from this I really ought to conclude that I don’t make exceptional decisions nor terrible ones. I’m really somewhere in the middle. The boring, factual, uncertain middle. ;)

    Does anyone know if there’s a way to exit the cycle? To avoid the suffering associated with being an INFP who learns things “the hard way?” Should we draw on the practices and talents associated with other types? (Like an STJ’s emphasis on facts?) And how essential is it to find our role in life?

    PS I’m a 22 year old INFP.

    [Reply]

  36. NTJ

    Jul 30, 2012

    4:15 pm

    I think ‘T’ that the INFP can be a catalist for a normal loving person to make poor decisions in a relationship – I dearly loved my INFP but when they got hurt they withdrew without ever saying a word of WHY they stepped back from the intimacy of the relationship… being so frustrated and angry for losing such a great person without knowing why can make a normal VERY nuts.

    [Reply]

  37. huh?

    Sep 2, 2012

    7:52 pm

    i have no clue if I’m an infp or not. these systems seem so limiting, but i did find some wisdom in what you say until step five. maybe I’m not there yet, but fully accepting responsibility seems to be mindless. it’s an act of denial in itself as far as i can see. we’re all partially responsible for the world, but each action and result requires many minds.

    [Reply]

  38. Julie

    Sep 22, 2012

    12:33 pm

    Well that was fucking depressing. But needed :/ I need to wake up.

    [Reply]

  39. anon

    Sep 23, 2012

    1:18 am

    repeats of stage 1 and 4 into repeats of stage 3 and 4 for as long as i have known, i feel hopeless, guilty, and very confused

    [Reply]

  40. Heather

    Oct 13, 2012

    8:36 pm

    I hate being an INFP

    [Reply]

  41. Erica

    Oct 18, 2012

    11:52 am

    I was cycling through these. Every time I got to depression, I would look up type information to make me feel better about myself, which would start the entitlement all over again. Having children seems to have made me more responsible. Here I am looking up type info again, but because of my husband having done mbti for the first time, not because I’m looking for an ego boost. This time it is so far not starting the entitlement again. I know that I cannot stay stuck at bargaining and depression is miserable for everyone close to me and myself. I hope I have finally learned acceptance. We shall see what happens when I once more attempt to fit writing into my life. That is a balancing act and what always seems to unbalance me. Anyway, Thank you for the insight. I will show this to my sister as well. She has had a harder time of it than me.

    [Reply]

  42. EricaM

    Oct 18, 2012

    11:58 am

    I was cycling through these. Every time I got to depression, I would look up type information to make me feel better about myself, which would start the entitlement all over again. Having children seems to have made me more responsible. Here I am looking up type info again, but because of my husband having done mbti for the first time, not because I’m looking for an ego boost. This time it is so far not starting the entitlement again. I know that I cannot stay stuck at bargaining and depression is miserable for everyone close to me and myself. I hope I have finally learned acceptance. We shall see what happens when I once more attempt to fit writing into my life. That is a balancing act and what always seems to unbalance me. Anyway, Thank you for the insight. I will show this to my sister as well. She has had a harder time of it than me.

    For the people who deny that they are responsible for all in their life, did you not choose to be around these people who treat you badly/disappoint you? Do you not choose to continue to tolerate the treatment? Are you not the only one in control of how you view and react to death and other terrible things? This is what responsibility means. We cannot control what happens, but we are alone responsible for what we do and feel about it. I know this is very black and white and one of those things that seems impossible to implement as a constant attitude, I’m not there myself yet, but it is a worthy goal and even trying to think in these terms helps somewhat.

    [Reply]

  43. EricaM

    Oct 18, 2012

    12:17 pm

    stephen, this may be bad news to you. I am just beginning to feel that I am beginning stage 5. I’m am starting to feel comfortable in my own skin. I am almost 32. From others I have talked to, it seems there is some sort of settling, mellowing that happens around age 30. Not sure if it is so for everyone… I also have had kids which forced me into stage 3 and made me stay there for a while, instead of heading back to stage 1 for another round.

    It may be that you will mature faster than me… or maybe not. Either way, stick with it. Things will improve eventually. If you do get to the depression stage, remember that there is one after it, one of balance and peace… and try not to lash out in frustration at your loved ones when you are so hurt and angry that you cannot at the moment follow the calling of your heart. It will seem like it is them holding you back, but it’s not. They cannot change what they are and they will not understand your NEED or your sudden anger or sadness.

    You may need to go through the cycle many times before breaking through. The most important thing, I think, is to understand that you are no more gifted than anyone else on earth, merely different. Though I paid lip service to this, I never really believed it. I couldn’t. My self esteem demanded that I be special. I think finally, truly understanding this makes the cycle of returning to entitlement stop.

    I hope this makes sense, and I hope it helps you. I do not know if it would have helped me, or if only time and experience help. If nothing else, hold on and keep the faith for better days.

    [Reply]

    Stephen Reply:

    @EricaM:

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, Erica. I read it several times, slowly and carefully.

    I needed (and need, present tense) to hear your words about not lashing out at my loved ones. I *really* needed to hear them, actually. I’m a terror around my family sometimes; I know they’ll put up with it, so I haven’t totally outgrown it. …*yikes* It’s a problem of mine that I haven’t taken seriously or deeply considered. I hope that your description of the feeling (the hurt, the anger, the need, the sadness) will help me identity that feeling when it arises in the future, so that I can get a grip on myself before I snap.

    What you say about “specialness” is deep. I have thought about it before, many times. I’m somewhere between paying lip service and accepting it, but I have definitely not fully accepted it yet. I hope that I’m on the threshold, but I’m simultaneously terrified, too. It seems like nothing short of a paradigm change!

    Maybe this acceptance (“different, but not special/more gifted/exempt”) is a sign of the maturation of our inferior function, Te? That’s how I like to frame it in my mind.

    I know what you mean when you say that you’re not sure whether your advice would have helped the former you. That’s the weird thing about personality maturation. Thanks again! I am not sure when I’ll mature to Stage 5, but the least I can do is fake it till I make it. I know intellectually what it looks like to accept personal responsibility, and that’s way better than nothing. Without MBTI and blogs such as this one, I would probably be more deeply entrenched in common INFP problems. I feel lucky.

    [Reply]

  44. Evan

    Nov 15, 2012

    2:06 pm

    This is excellent advice, but it is also extremely difficult for many INFP’s. Attempting to set goals that you are passionate about, while working a full-time job, and trying to juggle meaningful relationships is extremely difficult. Most jobs aren’t conducive to the infp temperament. Ideal jobs for infp’s are typically highly competetive (artist, writer, musician) or require years of specialized schooling while being highly competitive (professor, psychologist, minister, etc.). So many infp’s work jobs that take a lot out of them (most jobs in an office, or in the service industry are wearing for infp’s).

    Let’s look at relationships. Most infp’s aren’t social butterflies. They prefer to have deep, meaningful connections with others, are warm, caring etc. I hate to sound pessimistic (because I know it’s a sin in America to be anything but optimistic), but most people don’t actually care for this kind of interaction. Especially if you’re a male infp, many women aren’t attracted to these traits.

    Of course, one could object that the infp just needs to get out there and find people who they can connect with. And, of course, they could; but infp’s are not extroverted by nature, and this also is a great deal of strain. Also, finding other introverts is not the easiest thing in the world either. I know the cliche response is to look around bookstores, or libraries and not in bars, but cold-calling strangers at bookstores is an uphill battle.

    I’ve worked many full-time jobs, and pursued things I’m passionate about, and gotten involved with as many organizations as I could to meet people. The hard truth is: work is extremely draining, it’s very difficult to meet people and maintain relationships, the world is highly superficial and materialistic, and having a small amount of time to pursue a passion makes success even less likely.

    I think an infp who get hoist himself/herself up by the bootstraps, get a full-time job, go out and meet the right people to form meaningful relationships, and make time to pursue their passions, and be somewhat successful at all of this, sounds like some super-human bad ass version of an infp. Again, I know all of this is possible, but it seems so extremely hard that I’m not sure how practical it is to act as though overcoming these sorts of things is a matter of learning and following rules of success or taking responsibility, or shifting from a passive victim mentality to a a proactive mentality.

    I think the essay is sound advice, and the intentions are great; but the message comes across as being overly harsh when you consider how harrowing it is to actually achieve some of these things. It sounds like some sort of “if you work hard to take responsibility, you can achieve anything” kind of speech which makes people feel really terrible about themselves when they fail to achieve really unlikely goals.

    The bargaining stage sounds derisive. It makes the infp who takes this approach sound like a quitter. I would contend that this is perhaps a wiser choice for people who have to live and breathe in the real world. No, you probably won’t make enough money writing, or painting; and the odds are terrible if you want to go into academia, and yes, you’ll probably have to work 40-60 hours a week at a job you loathe. But, some peace of mind can be found nonetheless if an infp is able to let go of some of their ideals, and make some peace with reality. Maybe they should try to better themselves in very modest ways, cultivate meditative practices, practice acceptance.

    Eh, what do I know? Just food for thought. Very thoughtful, well-composed essay.

    [Reply]

    DeAnna Reply:

    Evan, I really liked what you had to say. I think your understanding of being an INFP is a deep one. Initially, I reacted pretty strongly against the implication that INFPs are a bunch of dreamy losers who can’t or won’t ‘face reality’. But who defines reality? In the end, isn’t that a personal definition? I do think that the element of personal choice is the key to INFP freedom, though. However we may rail against or withdraw from the aspects of life we most dislike, I think it is our unhappiness itself that can open the most doors for us. What is it about those things that we don’t want? Far more importantly, what is it that we truly want? What dreams do we wish would come true? With the understanding that once something is true, real, that something is, (by definition –although I suppose this point can be argued as well) no longer a dream. Our lives may never be as perfect as we can dream them to be, but they can be more fulfilling. I think taking steps to align our inner and outer worlds may be an important part of this process….

    There is something also to be said for taking time to dream, to be inactive, to just be. And to be content with just being. Not as a way or protesting or hiding necessarily, but as the simplest of all celebrations of life itself. This is something we all did pretty naturally as children. It may not be such a waste of time as we have been told….

    [Reply]

  45. Optimouse

    Nov 18, 2012

    5:09 am

    Interesting read and good move to change “it’s my fault” to “I am responsible”. I know that the first one would harm some of us while reading it, making me unable to identify with the idea it tried to convey, thus not being able to go through the last stage. In the past it would be too easy to manipulate me or better make me angry by always blame myself. I don’t want to see it as someone’s fault not even theirs, it’s everybody’s fault and nobody at the same time, I don’t like blame. “I am responsible” is better and currently I am thinking it like this: “Ok,. this is the world and those are my needs and sometimes they don’t match together so you are responsible, whether you want to adapt slightly less or slightly more or act differently. I won’t blame you either way, just make a choice and keep it firm and accept the consequences and move on.”

    I like your blog very much. While I have found myself being an INFP many times ago, only recently I got my attention back and reading some of your posts made me finally understand more how all these things are connected with my self and my past obsessions, setting big ideal goals for what I want to become and never reaching them, and it even gives me new insights on my Pure-O OCD struggle. I have been in doubt sometimes whether I did mistakes on my MBTI tests and am biased towards this, but reading your posts makes me understand I am really an INFP. The struggle of an idealistic person with his imperfect self in an imperfect world. Sometimes they call me a perfectionist but it’s not perfectionism in action, it’s perfectionism in dreams. That’s why failing to achieve most of what I dreamed of makes me feel bad.

    So much to say, I am happy to finally understand way more about myself, already thinking how can I move on so that I am content without changing much my nature. Maybe I should reflect on this and also read more to find out.

    [Reply]

  46. Tomeu

    Jan 8, 2013

    12:52 pm

    I think you forgot we do not feel accordingly to how we think, but think according to how we feel, which is determined by how we thought and what we lived, while both thinking and feeling, as well as how we lived is also conditioned by how we were born.
    By this I do not mean what you wrote is false, in fact I do agree with you, but I think you think we have actual power in our lives… I think I’ve successfully been through those stages and even nowadays I’ve some low-energy periods on which automotivation is just impossible. By this I mean that you should try not to be so harsh on those less successful than you because you might contribute to his lack of selfconfidence

    [Reply]

  47. entjseattle

    Jan 27, 2013

    5:51 pm

    I’m at ENTJ trying to deal with an INFP who seems stuck between stages 1 & 2. He’s a musician, a friend of many mutual friends, and I think basically a decent person, but he’s making me crazy. He writes long rambling emails about “vibes” that border on conspiracy theories. He constantly creates drama (that I have to clean up) between others by spreading (incorrect) narratives spun from his peculiar impressions. He complains about being excluded from the shows I help run, but he’s unreliable and doesn’t want to bother with the established process to get booked. I’ve gently explained to him that he has a unique perspective and might want to do more reality-checking, but he just blinks rapidly, looks kind of bewildered, then goes back to his story. I realize he has a homeopathic level of anger detection and I really do try to stay calm and nice… but, hey, I’m an NT rational and this guy who lives in an alternate universe and blames others because he feels victimized yet is unable/unwilling to examine any of his own stuff pushes all my buttons. Please help! I would truly welcome any advice from INFPs.

    [Reply]

  48. kate

    Feb 4, 2013

    4:56 pm

    C’mon. People are not responsible for “all” the crappy people and bad circumstances in their lives. Look at starving, abused, hurt people, people who have been attacked, maimed. It’s not helpful to realize “I’m responsible” as a replacement for “It’s my fault” when the two say the same thing and while it may be comforting to take the approach that we’re all “creating our reality” that is only partly true

    [Reply]

    Corin Reply:

    Other than family, there’s are very few people we are forced to have in our lives. No one forces us to make friends. No one forces us to make friends with crappy people.

    The usual reply is: I didn’t know they were a crappy person when I became friends with them. Somehow, it’s always the other person’s fault for being a crappy person. Maybe they’re a crappy person because they had a crappy childhood that they couldn’t overcome. They’re just being the only person they know how to be at this point in their life.

    Crappy people only effect us negatively if we choose to make them part of our lives. It’s not their fault if we choose badly.

    As far overcoming bad starting circumstances, there’s a book called Living Deeply by Schlitz, Vieten and Thurman, all PhDs, that I would recommend. It explains why some people can be deeply hurt and overcome that pain while others cannot. From a personal point of view, I have a friend who spend most of her childhood locked in a basement. She’s currently VP of a multimillion dollar financial software company and she teaches chakra readings for fun. She’s the reason why I think agree with the book and hold the attitude that we are responsible for the lives we create.

    [Reply]

    NTJ Reply:

    Google ‘Locus of Control’…. You are responsible for the choices you make and their consequences (doing nothing is a choice). Who you choose to hang with is a choice. Not sharing your feelings is a choice.
    Another person’s behavior is about them not about you. Happiness comes from inside yourself. It’s a choice.
    I used to think the INFP was the best personality but realize in ways it’s also the worst.
    Get to step 5 or you’ll find yourself at 50 years old …. mean alcoholic, possible drug abuser and wondering why the world treated you so bad.
    Also share your feelings in a loving authentic way – most of all be honest to yourself.

    [Reply]

    NTJ Reply:

    sorry should have posted to one you responsed to… your on the right track of thinking :)

    [Reply]

    Lily Reply:

    While I agree with this largely, I also think life can amd does surprise us. I was sexually abused while abroad, and I lost my mind after it for a period of time… and am still working on the fears and anxiety that get triggered by things i never thought about before.

    In the bible, the story of Job makes me feel like I shouldn’t judge other peoples plights as just their fault. Were all at different stages like you wouldn’t tell a kindergartner to go get a job. And thats okay! It’s funny, once my family changed their behavior toward my brothers long term geroin addiction and just extended love more and stopped the constant suspicion, his eight year addiction is now over a year clean.

    I’m all for reality. I’m pursuing my realistic medical career. But I really think when we love others and ourselves more and not judge them so much, we grow in maturity.

    [Reply]

  49. Suyash

    Feb 6, 2013

    10:13 am

    “When reality forces us to wake up, it feels a little like dying.”

    Spot on. I am 24 and work in an IT company for past two years. I did my Bachelor of Computer Engineering after which I got this job.

    I did well in the first year. Learnt a lot, performed well. But I was too rigid, believing in my ideals of how people should behave. Also I was extremely stressed because of this. It all came together in a massive depression attack that made me feel suicidal. I was like that for around 8 months last year. I eventually survived, somehow :)

    Oh sure, I “grew” up. But does that mean it gets any easier? At this point I am not sure. Not even sure if life wants me to remain alive.

    Sorry for the spill-out, I think you have written quite well. Cheers.

    [Reply]

  50. Alex

    Feb 7, 2013

    6:15 pm

    I’m so happy I found this page. I’ve recently been coming out of Stage 4. I was in Stage 2 at the beginning and middle of college. I felt alone, angry, and consumed by the world’s negativity, but had no desire to connect the dots between reality and my perception of it. As I enter stage 5, I’ve dropped a few relationships that we’re holding me back in Stage 4. It’s been a difficult step to accept personal responsibility in acknowledging that I was around these people out of need, and not want. I’ve even felt guilt that I had to let them go, because in reality I’m sure they offer something beautiful to the world, just not what I need at this point in my life where I’m trying to reach stability.

    I’m so happy I read this. This gave me some extra validation that I’m on the right track. I’ve always known I was unique and talented, and even admitted that it was egotistic of me to think that way, but I now understand that I have to put in a lot of hard work to be a success. To be an INFP is an interesting journey, but I’ve grown to like my perception of the world. This made me feel less alone.

    [Reply]

  51. NTJ

    Feb 18, 2013

    1:29 pm

    sorry should have posted to one you responsed to… your on the right track of thinking :)

    [Reply]

  52. Clio

    Feb 25, 2013

    8:41 pm

    Guess I’m stuck at stage 1…god why am I so naive. I guess I’m just too afraid to wake up to face the real world. :(

    [Reply]

    Rainy Reply:

    stay asleep sis… seriously… :)

    [Reply]

  53. Rainy

    Mar 11, 2013

    6:57 pm

    S!*# 85 comments…

    {I changed “It’s my fault” to “I’m responsible”} gladly, I’ve discovered I’m already in stage 5 so good news… I guess. (watched a funny Youtube film about it a few days ago).
    I have figured I can’t be blamed for everything already, and coming from social anxiety that’s a big change. but than again I’m almost 30 so it was probably a longer way than most people. but you know, INFP, we take our time… to figure things out…
    I’m definitely not depressed anymore but I still have a hard time accepting thing as they are. I forgot where I was going with this, you don’t know my history so… (yea I like the three dots I’m INFP, I think I’m letting it get to me). I know what I need to do but, it will make a lot of people close to me anxious, but F@&% it… I guess.
    oh and sorry for all the $%^&… you know…

    [Reply]

  54. Daddy Round Round

    May 9, 2013

    1:46 am

    I think each stage sort of bleeds into the next one. Through each stage I kind of experienced each “Coping method” at the beginning then sort of proved it true with examples in my own life. So, if these stages are accurate, I’ve no idea where I am. I think its probably a little more complicated than just 5 stages though. Idk.

    [Reply]

  55. nona

    May 21, 2013

    12:43 pm

    I just wanted to say thank you. This really helped.

    [Reply]

  56. Nicky

    Jun 9, 2013

    2:05 pm

    I notice in myself a fear that step 5 (and reality) create in me, that it will lead me to experience a life of monotony. Stepping out of dreams to reality limits me, gives me a sense of a loss of control. It’s hard to let go of it.

    [Reply]

  57. Brandon

    Jun 18, 2013

    2:55 pm

    Great stuff, here. I had almost forgot what it was like to relate this archetype, but I am seeing it again. Thank you for adding so much wisdom to your words, they are deeply appreciated.

    I’ve been through steps 1-4 my whole life, and it wasn’t until recently that I began realizing step 5 actually was a thing, as well as the truth in all of this.
    You’re right, it’s nobody’s fault for being who they are, and in fact I finally realized that’s the only basic need I truly have, to feel accepted. You have a rare way of conveying self responsibility, and as someone who has lived in a lot of different dreamworlds, I say that your words have weight.

    Bless all your hearts,

    [Reply]

  58. Annamari

    Jul 22, 2013

    3:10 am

    Gosh this feels like reading someone explaining how I have felt all my life. About everything. I am working a shitty job right now that I feel is beneath me, my friends aren’t giving me what I need, I feel like everything around me is about being pretty and having more money than the others, I can’t seem to get my act together to get into law school, which is my dream. And I am starting to settle for this. Maybe my life is just designed to be this bad. Low self-esteem, feeling isolated. I go through periods of understanding my own role in all this, realizing that I could potentially have the power to turn all of this around. So what is stopping me? Why can’t I seem to do it?

    [Reply]

    Corin Reply:

    There’s a quote by Paul Coelho that I love: “The reward for our work is not what we get but who we become.”

    Have you ever been disappointed because you got something too easy? That’s because the process didn’t make you better in any significant way. It’s not about having a better job. It’s about becoming the type of person who can find that great job. It’s not about having better friends. It’s about becoming the type of person that can attract good people into their life.

    So what kind of person do you want to become? Does law school get you closer to being that person? Or is law school just a way to get you external stuff, like a better job, more respect, stuff that comes from the outside?

    I tend to think the INFPs hesitate the most with goals because they’re not sure if achieving their goals will make them feel as fulfilled as they think it will. Imagine working on something for 10 years and not liking it when you get there. There’s not guarantee you’ll actually like the goal you achieve until you get there. But you day bay day, you can decide if you like the person you’re becoming as you try to achieve that goal.

    But first you have to have clarity on the type of person you want to be.

    [Reply]

  59. Erik Werner

    Aug 4, 2013

    8:26 pm

    Hey Corin! This is my first ever post on any website or forum ever! The five stages of INFP is the first entry I read from your blog and it has had the most profound impact of almost anything I’ve ever read. I like many other INFP’s have been stuck in career purgatory, constantly self internalizing, trying to figure out what I can do that bring me happiness and fulfills my 6 critical needs. Each job I’ve had I expected perfection and with such unreasonable expectations when I made the eventual mistake no matter how small, it was devastating and sent me into spiral of self doubt and feelings of unmitigated failure. I’ve learned to control that feeling somewhat but I seem to still be in search of my career path, I’ve arrived at becoming a L.C.S.W (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) or something in business particularity dealing with advertising and media since I’ve been attracted to field ever since I was young and I do have more then 10,000 hours watching TV lol. Both paths have there benefits and there faults, Social Worker would require me going back to school for my masters and then two years of supervision to become certified and the cost both financial and opportunity is pretty significant and going the advertising, media route is competitive and I’m still unsure what specific career or job title I wish to have. Thanks for the blog, it has helped me at least narrow my search to two career fields where there seemed to be infinite possibilities!

    [Reply]

  60. Esteriks

    Oct 7, 2013

    7:31 pm

    Thank you so so much for this post. I couldn’t read anything better, more expiring to..to everything!! :D
    Btw. Warm greetings from ENFP who was pretty much INFP kid and now having Ne function on the front, but still conflict like an inner disharmony, maybe until now I will go on again with Doing and enjoying it..-My actions can prove that-at least thank you for so clear descriptions but also with many many for me very correct reflections and tips. and, oh! I never wanned to associate myself with being an introvert, althought I have pretty balance between I and E *also P and J.- After long loop (while searching and found many truths and inner voice) you were the one person who gave me so strong clear dirrections to move my four letters -Acceptance and Action, finally accept my introvert side and see big positives (like deep friendship, don’t need to grab time for myself as a thief-but can be more assertive and honest with telling and express my needs, etc). But which i liked the most here( after describtions) was a last part about a dreams, my desires were becoming poor or too much-like thinking them were overcoming whole time. You showed the word “responsible” in a diffrent colour, very more friendly than it seems to be before. Greets :-)!! x

    [Reply]

  61. Esteriks

    Oct 7, 2013

    8:26 pm

    Hehe moreover I have to add that all your sentences are like a singing for my Ne. I think that you are able to somehow waking up funny silent happiness-My Intuition is telling me that:-) like becouse of get through here people can meet a Performer who can sing a sweet lullaby for their flaring-conflict existences. And you know?- it is just great becouse you are so true in what you’re writing and authentic/ open for people who may suffer a lot but nessesary. People can think more racionally and enjoy life’s lessons and mistakes more than avoid or feel guilty of them and be optymism about future and excited about the taking responsibility of their actions, decisions, choices, body and purpose. Aaaaah:D!! I’m not gonna look for anything else for now. THANK YOU

    [Reply]

  62. Karen

    Oct 20, 2013

    8:35 am

    Although I can see that this is relevant I am a little disappointed that these five stages that the writer has said we go through (INFP’s), these stages are the stages already associated with grieve in general. Nothing new here, no real insight. These five stages are correct for most personality type as these are the five stages of grieve!

    I’m not bold over by insight. I feel like the writer has cheated a little and it’s misleading implying that it’s what INFP’s go through but it’s not entirely a correct description of where these five stages fit into!

    [Reply]

  63. Karen

    Oct 20, 2013

    8:40 am

    Oh and I’m sorry for my honesty if its offended anyone especially the writer. I do understand the helpfulness intended behind these stages being written here

    [Reply]

  64. NTF

    Nov 9, 2013

    6:23 am

    @ Karen,
    My first thought is (like me) you are not an INFP.
    To wake up to ‘reality’ is a LOSS of a rich fantasy LIFE.
    But living the fantasy life will be a miserable life if they can’t find a way to accept the responsibility that they have for their own life.

    Anyways it’s a blog not science ;)

    [Reply]

  65. Jenna

    Nov 30, 2013

    2:36 am

    Well this made me feel like shit about my INFP status….I was proud to be a dreamer. This just gives us a bad name, if it weren’t for us dreamers this world would be a very boring place. We are not lazy or irresponsible, we are the creatives of the world. We come up with the ideas that non INFPs carry out. We just have our own way of expressing our depth of creativity and that way is usually not accepted or detected by non INFPs.

    [Reply]

    Carol Reply:

    Don’t feel bad, Jenna. We are the dreamers and idea seeker of this world, and thank goodness we are. I agree with you… If it weren’t for INFP, this place would be a dry, tasteless, and bland place. The reason why it’s hard for us to fit into this world is because we appear to have been born with our “lights turned on”, so to speak. To use a well known movie analogy, we took the “red pill”. Society believes that we are the ones that are delusional and living in a dream world and that to achieve happiness in this world, you must fit in and conform. Let them believe the lie! The western world runs on money/possessions and how much or how little you have is a (false) reflection of how happy and successful you are (or should be). This is a very old lie that has been spoon-fed by the “has” to the “has not” to enslave them to work like mindless drones, keep the economic wheel turning and their coffers full. Until one wakes up, one keeps believing this is “the way” and yet, never finds true happiness and always feels something is “off” or wrong. Happiness comes from accepting your values and living a life of authenticity… Even if this means you don’t quite fit in by societies standards. Know yourself, be yourself and things start falling into place.

    [Reply]

  66. DEEPENDRA

    Dec 15, 2013

    7:44 am

    Good Article.. I can co-relate with every stage written here..
    But I want to understand why I am prone to quitting jobs, ideas & even lovers though initially I find them interesting ? Is that the character of an INFP ? can somebody help me ?

    [Reply]

    Just a guess Reply:

    Perhaps you are close to ENFP – they get bored easily.

    http://www.personalitypage.com/html/INFP.html
    The INFP needs to work on balancing their high ideals with the requirements of every day living. Without resolving this conflict, they will never be happy with themselves, and they may become confused and paralyzed about what to do with their lives.

    [Reply]

  67. michelle

    Jan 9, 2014

    3:33 am

    this seems like a guilt trip for introverts. To surrender the fantasy that allows the most clinically depressed to smile at least once out of the day. To feel guilty about dreaming unrealistically and feel terrible for not attempting 24/7 to make that unrealistic dream an actual reality. I can’t be bothered with another ‘IF I CAN DO IT THEN YOU CAN TOO’, its common for someone to want the approval of others who refuse to care about the world inside of them. I don’t like those self help books that read ‘ I AM SO GLAD TO NOT BE ONE OF THE LOSERS ANYMORE’ and become condescending. infps are so easily intimidated that anyone of them can read this and automatically believe it’s true. Its just another moment that brings self doubt and an even lower self esteem when obsessively thinking about reality until they are so worn down in depression. I can’t see how one can control the reactions of a chemical imbalance, perhaps depression isn’t intense enough for people to take it seriously. why if schizophrenia was common among infps then maybe people would take it seriously. the solution isn’t to stick with something that can make you unhappy and uncomfortable as possible because you’re grown. I do believe that what you do every single hour of the day won’t guarantee happiness and meaning for the rest of your life

    [Reply]

    Corin Reply:

    It’s not about feeling ” guilty about dreaming unrealistically”. It’s about saying I fully accept the results and outcomes I get for dreaming unrealistically.

    If what you’re currently doing is giving you the life you always wanted then of course, keep doing it.

    [Reply]

    Niki Reply:

    I can actually totally understand what michelle said here. In fact, I can say that I completely relate to her (and perhaps some, or many INFPs too who are feeling similar like this)..

    I’ve finally learned that even INFPs are different from each other.

    There’s what I call the “more realistic” INFPs, like the OP Corin (and yes, perhaps in this so-called ‘reality/real-world’, they’re also viewed as the “more grown-up/mature” INFPs who can already “face the real-world/reality”.. whatever..).

    But then there’s also the still “more dreamy” type of INFPs, who are more in-touch with their own ‘inner-world/universe’ & universe of their own imaginations.. like Michelle, and me myself.

    For the latter type of INFPs, our ‘motto’ perhaps is like this: “Let’s face it, our imaginations is like a HUNDRED TIMES much more interesting than this boring, very limited Reality/real-world/real-life!”.

    So, the ‘problem’ I see then is, when the former INFPs (ie: the “more realistic” INFPs) are trying to counsel, advise the latter INFPs, it’s sometimes no wonder that they end up still disagreeing with each other. Because how can you expect us to “accept Reality & face it, suck it up!” , when we’ve heard this phrase perhaps also a hundred times constantly already, even from the other MBTI types (hint: xSTJ anyone?..), and that we’ve finally agreed that: “No, we WON’T accept reality just simply like this! We will keep finding the much DEEPER meanings in this often boring, harsh, limited reality/real-world/real-life,.. because we somehow deeply believe that there must be MORE to life than simply just “accept reality, suck it up!” and just grind our boring chores & routines & oh, ‘responsibilities’ in the so-called “adult world”..!”. Ha!

    Our dreams & imaginations & ‘inner world’ is in fact actually what DEFINES our type “INFP”! So IMHO, there’s no sense at all to deny, reject, and/or suppress it so we can simply ‘keep surviving in this reality/real-world/real-life’ , yet at the very cost of rejecting/denying OURselves..!

    [Reply]

    yup Reply:

    I totally agree….back when I as still thinking there was something ‘wrong’ with me for not being more like Corin, for not fitting my round peg self into this SJ square peg world because that is ‘responsible’…i believed everything he wrote was showing me the only way to be an INFP in this world….but its not….so glad there are others who are like…um…hey….im just fine as I am….I am NOT as pragmatic and ‘suck it up’ s Corin…but hey….my bills will get paid by me following the calling in my soul…i’ll get so good that I will be able to make it and support myself…and if not I will be happy just being alive in the meantime…..I dont like the tone of a lot of these posts…thanks for commenting….thought it was just me….

    [Reply]

  68. Kristina

    Jan 10, 2014

    12:56 am

    My thoughts…

    INFP’s who are currently working at something very specific, something they’ve always wanted to do maybe, who are reaching their goals…I think they forget what it’s like. Maybe they think they did it so therefore so can the other infps. And really they have the best intentions. They want to help their fellow man. I totally understand that and maybe there have been periods in my life when I felt confident to offer advice and like reality wasn’t killing me. But when I’m where I am now, I’m reminded that the suck it up kinda advice doesn’t work on me and it’s really the last thing an infp in a rut wants to hear. It hurts. It’s scary. Even scarier to think your own kind doesn’t understand you. As I work to find my direction right now, my path– I started thinking okay maybe I do need to face reality. And then suddenly I’m feeling like I’m not good enough. When once I loved the way I saw the world, suddenly I’m wishing why can’t I have a little more of that thing that those go getters have. Why didn’t I get any of “that thing” it’s so unfair! And then I think noooo girl no one has anything you don’t have you’re just…well you’re lazy. Ugh! And I HATE thinking of myself that way because I know in my heart that I’m not! So now here’s what I’m coming back to. I am ENOUGH. I am doing ENOUGH. I love who I am. I love this little challenge I face of existing in the real world. It forces me to think creatively and I love that. I don’t have to change. Infps, I say we do what we love and the rest will take care of itself. When we find that thing we’re passionate about, that truly calls out to our hearts, we’re gonna do whatever we got to do to be awesome at it. And the rest will come naturally because we love it. It won’t feel like we’re pulling teeth. That’s what I say anyway. And in the meantime I’m not afraid to get a job as a waitress or whatever until I figure it all out. Of all types we need encouragement. To know that we are doing the best we can and that it’s enough. I think we would achieve even more with more support. But it’s not always gonna be there from other people. And so for me, I’m realizing I have to be that to myself. We are awesome. We will succeed. Even if our idea of success doesn’t fit reality.

    [Reply]

    yup Reply:

    thank you…this makes me feel better….i was like wow from reading this blog, all the core, essential parts of who I am are bad/not pragmatic enough/not good enough/immature…..once im ‘mature’ like him I’ll have ‘dealt’ with those things like he did…..I’ll have compartmentalized like he did….. and its my fault (aka my responsibility, sameee thing) if the person I naturally am fails in many different ways in the ‘real world’. However…if I was an ESTJ….would my success be purely ‘my fault’ or would it have a lot to do with having a personality type that is highly privileged and advantaged in american society, allowing me to have a MUCH easier time?……I totally believe that if INFP’s dont let anyone’s value judgement laden advice make them think their dreams are stupid, they will put in MORE effort than the hardest working ESTJ in making it happen….’real world’ or not….it’s ‘normal’ and a sign of ‘adulthood’ and ‘maturity’ to believe that the world is an object, with clear cut rules…that we are pegs that must cut off our immature parts and fit ourselves in…however a tiny percentage of us…we have this idea that the inner creates the outer…that subjectivity is more real than objectivity…that if u feel u have a purpose, that is VALID even if it does not make u a pragmatic payer of bills….even if have to sacrifice security….some of is INFPs believe that we can create our very own place in the world…and that in doing so we create new options and expand the very definition of ‘the real world’ he writes about so much….i for one am going to follow my path and i will not be scared off by what people say… who knows what amazing, brand new things I will accomplish one day? i dont want to feel guilty for it either….

    [Reply]

  69. Kristina

    Jan 10, 2014

    1:13 am

    I just want to bump a post by Colleen. I don’t really know how to do that so I’m copying and pasting. It’s such a sweet reminder to love who we are. You can change the wording from its my fault to take responsibility but if the definition still feels the same…? I understand why some people feel guilty and I wish that we would never have to feel this way again. Stay you, stay true.

    “I have lived in my INFP skin for almost 60 years and I have found it to be a blessing not a curse. I have a successful career providing the education and support necessary to help others achieve their dreams. I believe in both miracles and magic.
    Other people value my insight and point of view. They say I bring peace into the room. I have seen the world through rose colored glasses all my life even though, my life, like yours, has had challenges and pain. I have been sustained by love, hope and faith. Like the toys in the “Velvetine Rabbit”, I have been loved, worn and emerged “real” but always uniquely different.
    Celebrate all that is INFP. You may never be deeply understood by anyone but yourself but you have been given the gift of empathy. That gift will help you identify who has the capacity to understand you and allow you to forgive those who don’t so you won’t be hurt.
    Enjoy your quest to understand the secrets of the universe, listening to whispers, and seeing what is invisible to others. How cool is that”

    [Reply]

  70. anonymous

    Jan 20, 2014

    6:16 pm

    I’ve never read something so accurate in my life…this post couldn’t be more correct about INFPs. I’m a college student close to graduation and I realized I was an INFP last year. I’m everything a typical INFP is, I love helping and figuring out people, yoga, painting, and all things beautiful. I’m also an accounting student. Last year when I started working in accounting for the first time I experienced all 5 of the above stages, and it happened over just about 3 months. I was an emotional wreck, crying my eyes out all the time, evaluating and re-evaluating myself over and over. The rest of the year I was stuck in the depression stage. I’m just now trying to figure out what’s wrong with me and how to dig myself out of the utter hopelessness I’ve been feeling for months. Working in accounting last year was the biggest reality check I’ve ever had and, let me tell you, it felt like dying. It’s comforting to know that there are other people like me who understand!! thanks for your post! =D

    [Reply]

  71. Dan

    Feb 19, 2014

    2:47 pm

    Wow
    Read just about every response here and it’s amazing to see so many similarities! I’m in between stage 4-5 now at 46 years old. Actually just started Prozac 2 weeks ago to deal with my own depression stemming from watching wife( bipolar, seizure disorder ), daughter ( profound adhd, bipolar) and son ( add, bipolar?, drug addiction) struggle with multiple suicide attempts, running away ( daughter). I took the Myers-Briggs at 17, but only recently started researching the associating of my ADD I was diagnosed with at 39 years of age. Doctor said he didn’t know how I made it this far without meds. I’ve tried a few but cant stand the side effects. I’ve owned my own business for 21 years partly because I can’t work for someone else. Thanks for putting all this out there. I’m signing off now, getting anxious standing here typing!

    [Reply]

  72. gabe

    Mar 5, 2014

    3:45 pm

    reading this was definitally harmful. i just did the myres briggs test and a colour graph test and i am INFP, my mother passed away many years ago and i blame it on my self, but now i no it wasnt my fault and my father hateing me isnt my fault, i sometimes feel like i need to run away, but dont no where. i write poetry and rap, i seem to be nervious telling people about it tho, i am an amazing poet and am not ashamed to share that, i want to take it far and i feel i can, but the thought that im white seems to hold me back, but that wont stop me from trying to become a teacher through rap

    [Reply]

  73. omar hassan

    May 8, 2014

    6:33 am

    Unfortunately , for moving from depression stage to Acceptance stage , i took cipralex 10 mg , in order to make my life moves on ..
    being infp is a hard thing coz you are ganna suffer in ambiguous way without the ability to tell the others about the reasone of your Misery ..
    thx for your blog

    all love from jordan :-)

    [Reply]

  74. Ade

    May 11, 2014

    5:45 am

    I am INFP, the first time I took the test was my final year of medical school and tested and INFJ, however since that time I have consistently tested INFP.”

    As a child, I always felt I was different I was very introverted whereas my older sister and my mom were extroverted to certain degree and they just could not understand why I didn’t feel like socializing like they did. my mom often try to force me to become more extroverted and outgoing.

    My career has been pretty typical of INFP. very very varied and ranging between a four-year enlistment in the Navy working as mechanic , a nurse, and my now current profession as a physician .
    I tried to quit several times throughout these careers however my sister always encouraged me to go on. Now I’m in my first year is as a full fledged physician and initially I thought I found my dream job but after a few months the politics and the realities of it dawned on me…. and as much as I love my patients I hate and dread the constant team interacted I am forced to do ( I am director of a clinic and staff comes to me several times during the day for different reasons )

    By the time I go home I usually am unable to tolerates one more extra social interaction, but alas I have to because I have to pick up my kids from school and sometimes have to interact with the teachers in the process of doing so.

    Seven months into my job I’m dreaming of a change again I have realized that my best chapel probably be one that I only interact with patients on a one to one and with very minimal interaction with other staff members . The sad thing is …I have a huge student loan to pay and if I drop out of medicine it is very unlikely that I will find a job where I can afford to pay this huge student loan especially since Taxes take almost literally half of my pay check, in addition on the single mom with two kids to support.
    my job usually leaves me with little or no social energy left to help these kids with their social obligations turn the week or even weekends

    I am now considering going part time and just doing to the best I can financially while still having peace of mind.

    Sorry for the long post.

    [Reply]

    Ade Reply:

    Sorry for some typos. I used Siri to dictate
    I meant:
    – job instead of “chapel”
    – Obligation DURING the week instead of “turn the week”

    [Reply]

  75. Turnip

    May 27, 2014

    3:08 pm

    None of this works in a practical sense. Don’t project your own life on to others of the type.

    1) You can simultaneously be in all five stages because you’re talking about the entire spectrum of one’s life (both interactions with the internal world and external world). It does not parallel grief as grief is a matrix of very specific emotions, wants and needs and how that plays out in real life.

    2) The Anger stage does not imply lack of self-criticism, you can take all the stuff from the “acceptance” area and place that in anger e.g. asking “I’m to blame for being so useless or redundant. If I had tried harder or been smarter I could have been much happier!” The Anger can eventually be directed at the world because the INFP cannot locate a solution in their surrounding environment (by both their own understanding and volition but also by seemingly non-existent support networks provided by other people).

    3) Feeling entitled is not necessarily a fault because it is not necessarily unjust. What if someone earns their company a lot of money via a sale or a project and receive no praise, financial reward or improved career prospects? Are they supposed to just grin and bear it?

    [Reply]

    Corin Reply:

    1. Grief vs Bereavement – “It is important to understand the differences between the terms “grief/grieving” and “bereavement”. Grief is the psychological-emotional experience following a loss of any kind (relationship, status, job, house, game, income, etc), whereas bereavement is a specific type of grief related to someone dying.”

    source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/notes-self/201210/real-stages-grief

    The 5 stages have been applied to work loss, relationship loss, etc. Loss of idealization is still loss.

    2. I haven’t found any research related to the Anger stage and self-criticism. All the articles I’ve read and the research I did don’t mention anger directed at oneself. Every article mentions anger directed at external factors.

    3. I don’t mention the word entitled anywhere in my article.

    To answer your question: What if someone earns their company a lot of money via a sale or a project and receive no praise, financial reward or improved career prospects? Are they supposed to just grin and bear it?

    You have agency, therefore you have the ability to choose a course of action in response to external stimuli and accept the consequences of those action. Grinning and bearing is an action that produces a result. Other actions will produce other results. Nowhere do I mention that external conditions are fair.

    [Reply]

    elle Reply:

    You say entitlement mentality.

    [Reply]

  76. Kireen

    Jun 16, 2014

    7:40 am

    I’m 23 and I’m in the bargaining stage. Got through first two pretty fast while still living on my parents’ money and at their house. Not the best conditions though. I still think the world is too materialistic, but I’ve accepted that and I still feel that if I reevaluated my life and finally set some goals and realized what I want to do with it, it could still probably be a good, meaningful, maybe even happy life.
    Though now when you say that reevaluation can lead to a depression-like state I think I might want to procrastinate that :P
    As far as I could relate to it (first stages) it’s a really insightful post.

    [Reply]

  77. lincolnfinch

    Jul 6, 2014

    8:32 pm

    This post takes a bad-conscience approach, it recommends the attempt to do something good out of self-blame.
    That’s just as blaming as a world-blaming, resentful approach, imo.
    A responsibility-centered approach for this post would take more than merely crossing out “It’s my fault” and replacing it with “I’m responsible.”
    My hint is to check out Sartre.
    I hope infp’s don’t take this post seriously.

    [Reply]

  78. Norton Deluxe

    Aug 12, 2014

    4:52 pm

    I see a problem in the way some posters have been writing about “deciding how to feel”. Empirical studies show that we can’t really “will” ourselves to feel something or “will” ourselves out of a certain negative feeling. In fact, forcing ourselves not to feel something negative actually makes the feeling stronger, while accepting it has the paradoxical effect of making it less intense. Acceptance is one of the most important steps to take when dealing with emotional pain. There’s a reason why emotions exist and there are a million reasons why we are currently in the emotional state we are in, and the first path to change anything is learning acceptance.

    There’s a similar problem in relation to our thoughts. The idea that we are always in full control of our thoughts doesn’t hold water. And like with emotions, accepting the thoughts we are currently having makes them easier to deal with, and also makes it easier to gradually replace them with healthier ones, using a meta-congnitive approach that sees thoughts as just thoughts, not necessarily facts.

    The way we can affect emotions is with a top-to-bottom approach. We can gradually change the way we view our emotions, and the way we think about our own thoughts we can change our actions and behaviour, and in the long-term, our emotions may change as well. But the idea that we can change our emotions directly is dangerously utopian and counterproductive. What I believe is needed is a dialectical approach of change through acceptance and acceptance through change, as envisioned by Marsha Linehan and her Dialectical Behavioural Therapy.

    [Reply]

  79. Kim

    Aug 30, 2014

    9:47 am

    This was surprisingly, and horribly, accurate. When I started reading the first part, I laughed at how I have said “If I can’t do what I love I’d rather die” a few times. Now I’m only 17 and the emotional progress is a lot for what I’ve been through. At the moment I’m still Stage 1 but only because I’ve always been told I’m “unrealistic” and that always hurt because I always misinterpreted the message. I want to be a writer, but I know it takes work so I’m focused on getting something solid first. Stage 3 sounds very much to me like the previous sentence, but I refuse to think of it as settling, because to me it is fulfillment. Even if owning a cafe isn’t as grand. Or being a psychologist. Haven’t really decided yet.
    Now the I’ve done all stages. Now I’m Stage 1 and 5 mindset. Still want writing, but know it takes work. I’ve been 4 a couple times, and honestly a few seconds ago. I just really hate looking at things logically or admitting fault. Officially over 2 because I know what I deserve and I no longer misinterpret how people put things.
    I understand the whole take responsibility thing. Not because it’s my fault for what people did, but it’s my fault for putting myself in the position to be upset. Sometimes I think as an infp I perversely enjoy being upset, or sad, because it gives me some kind of comfort. It also reinforces the being alone part.
    I’ve found that I can turn off the unhappy switch (only when the thing I’m upset about is unreasonable or small) I just choose not to, because I think if I do the person I believe is at fault wins. When, one you’re happy again, it doesn’t matter.

    [Reply]

  80. Kim

    Aug 30, 2014

    9:59 am

    But I agree with others comments about how this doesn’t necessarily go in order. Like my previous comment, I have been through the Stages randomly.
    But I do understand what you’re saying.

    [Reply]

  81. Moz

    Sep 1, 2014

    1:15 pm

    I can relate to this big time. I think I am finally waking up to the realities of life…(!). In order to avoid the world of work I did a PhD several years back. After that I drifted and travelled a bit (including nice relaxed jobs) before deciding I should use my PhD, so I managed to get a job as an assistant professor in a university in a developing country. This was a major shock; chaos in the workplace, heavy workloads at times. I managed to stick it out for a few years but I kept fantasising about having a relaxed job and a partner from the same place as me; in the end I was ill a lot and burned out. I quit with nothing lined up. I think I wanted a change but can also see that it’s a waste to leave behind all the academic stuff I’ve done… needless to say I’m in stage 4; I’m considering some anti-depressants (for first time) and a counsellor to get me through to stage 5. Also I fear my career is damaged… ouch!!

    [Reply]

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