An INFP lives in a constant state of Becoming. We exist in flux between who we are at this moment and our vision of our Ideal Self. INFPs don’t measure our lives by the static sum of present circumstances but in the possibility of what we can become. Because of this, we feel happy or unhappy to the degree which we feel we have control over becoming that Ideal Self.
We feel happiest when we feel that our actions move us towards that Ideal. We are unhappy when we feel other people or outside circumstances control our ability to become our Ideal.
An INFP is the butterfly that can’t wake up from its dream of being a caterpillar dreaming of becoming the butterfly.
We observe our progression to our Ideal Self as linear much like how we perceive time. However, our Self is non-linear where Past Self, Becoming Self and Ideal Self exist as one. Since all three exist at once, INFPs experience periodic moments where we inhabit our Ideal Self. These periods are extended moments of wholeness where we have a clarity of Self. I call it Waking State. It feels like barely waking and realizing that we’re only dreaming before we fall back asleep again.
The non-wishy-washy explanation is that INFPs experience moments where our dominant cognitive function of Introverted Feeling (Fi) decides that we’ve become aligned with our external circumstances. Introverted Feeling is the part of the INFP brain that continuously deciding “how do I feel about this?” It’s the cognitive function that tries to align our values with our actions.
For example, an INFP is walking alone through a park on a dreary day. Maybe it’s a holiday and the family is arguing and they needed to get away. Maybe the INFP likes cloudy days where it almost rains but doesn’t. That INFP sits down on a bench and decides to feed the ducks and for some reason everything just clicks.
During that moment, everything that we are inside–our values, our goals, our beliefs–is perfectly aligned with our actions which is feeding ducks. Our brain in Introverted Feeling mode decided that there isn’t anything more perfect we could be doing at that exact moment. We experience Waking State briefly and become our Ideal Selves.
Unfortunately, these moment tend to pass quickly and we find ourselves scrambling to get back to that Ideal Self.
Our values guides us towards what feels right and away from what feels wrong. Our dominant Introverted Feeling decides if something feels right or wrong. Sometimes, this means taking on activities that may not seem stereotypically INFP like overcoming shyness developed in childhood. We see our Ideal Self as manifesting and living a life consistent with our highest values. It’s this consistency that separates our Becoming Self from our Ideal Self.
What an INFP values differs from INFP to INFP. This difference in values influence which actions we take to live by those values. It’s differences in values that drive some INFPs to become writers and others to become psychologists, lawyers, photographers or teachers.
For INFPs, what we feel internally, we attempt to manifest externally. INFPs often believe that since something feels right then then it should be right universally. An INFPs subjective values often conflicts with external circumstances which leads to a me-vs-them mentality. It’s the conflict between our subjective values with our external reality that becomes the root of many of our problems.
Our Introverted Feeling also gives us a sense of our Ideal Self. Everything involving becoming that Ideal we want to be perfect because that’s how we see that Ideal. We have a vision of how things should be when it relates to our Ideal Self. This could include friends, career, activities and the day-to-day. When the reality doesn’t match our values we see ourselves as moving away from our Ideal Self instead of growing closer to it.
When the reality doesn’t turn out to be less perfect than we envision, INFPs tend to procrastinate finishing projects or end up leaving activities and picking up completely new ones. Moving from activity to activity until we hit upon something that we can do well enough to match our idealism leads us to become good at many things but masters of none.
Introvert means inwardly-focused. It doesn’t mean withdrawn from the the world. Although INFPs need time alone to recharge, INFPs need a connection with others. We like spending time with others, but how many and how often depends on how social we are.
Solitary INFPs seek the company few close friends and see them every so often. If solitary INFPs go to long without face-to-face contact with their friends than start feeling disconnected. However, solitary INFPs do keep in touch with friends via other methods (email, phone, text, snail mail) as often as they feel they need to assure their friends they haven’t disappeared. I find that solitary INFPs have two common traits. They have a strong sense of self and a good connection with their close friends. The strong sense of self lets them accept their solitary nature and the good connection with friends allows them to pick up where they left off with friends they haven’t seen in a while.
Social INFPs also have their small social circle of friends, but they also see a need to have a larger group of acquaintances in their lives. They view new people as new ideas and that newness is exciting not daunting. Although social INFPs prefer the company of a few close friends, they are just likely to enjoy the company of casual acquaintances. Social INFPs have learned the requisite social skills in order to be comfortable in meeting and conversing with new people.
Whether an INFP becomes social or solitary comes down to their view of their Ideal Self. A solitary INFP views their Ideal Self as a secret harbor that their friends come to during a sea of troubles. Solitary INFPs view their best selves as an anchor to which their friends can steady their lives. Social INFPs see their Ideal Self as part of something larger than themselves. Their goals and dreams require them to interact frequently with others. Social INFPs see their Ideal Selves as contributors, trying to make a difference beyond just their close knit circle of people.