INFP Advantages: Authenticity




Being an INFP can make life easier not harder.

No matter what MBTI type, people want to be happy and to feel fulfilled. Fulfillment comes from meeting our Six Needs. Happiness derives from feeling we have a control over the direction of our lives. INFPs have natural qualities that make both easier.

Some of those qualities are Authenticity, Adaptability, Intuition. This post focuses on authenticity.

How Authenticity Improves Our Lives

Being authentic means being genuine with yourself and with others. Authenticity requires that a person be honest about themselves and their motivations.

How many times in our lives have we gone after a goal and realized that goal wasn’t what we wanted? It was what our parents wanted or what society expected or what we thought would make us look cool. Being more honest doesn’t mean that we would change our actions, but it would make us more aware of our values.

Maybe we did go into a profession because of our parents. That only means that we valued our parent’s concern for us more than taking a risk into desired career. Maybe we take up activities to make us look better in the eyes of our peers but our heart isn’t in it. That only means we value the good opinion of our peers.

Understanding our values helps us understand which needs are most important to us. Doing as your parents wanted means that Love and Connection Needs (getting parents approval) are more important than Growth Needs (taking a risk towards non-parent approved career). If we are unhappy, perhaps those needs are in the wrong order or we need to meet our Love and Connection needs in other ways.

Clear values helps us evaluate which goals are more important than others because those are the goals that meet our most important needs. Knowing that our goals are meeting our needs gives us a sense of control in our lives and instead of feeling like we’re blindly groping forward. That sense of control in feeling that we are directing our lives makes us happier.

All of this happens if we strive to be honest is ourselves. We are more authentic, more genuine when we stop trying to fool ourselves.

Authenticity in INFPs

“To thine own self be true.” – Shakespeare

Authentic INFPs have learned to align our two worlds. Our external world is our presentation. It’s who we present to get along. Our internal world is our Identity. It’s who we are when we feel safe from judgment.

When Presentation and Identity become too disconnected, INFPs feel they’ve lost touch with themselves.

If our Presentation is employee but our Identity is artist, artistic INFPs don’t feel they’re lost if they continue practicing their art even though it’s not what they’re paid to do. It’s the artistic INFPs that put aside their art that feel hopeless and lost because they’ve put aside their Identity.

INFPs value authenticity because our auxiliary cognitive function of External Intuition is always searching for the hidden meanings and separating the true from the false. What INFPs value externally, we bring internally. INFPs want feel more authentic more genuine in how we live our lives. It’s our path to our Ideal Self.

Getting In Touch With the Authentic Us

In order to take advantage of our authenticity, we first have to find it.

1. Seek Solitude

INFPs want to be liked. That needs for Love & Connection and Critical Significance require other people’s acknowledgment. INFPs become less true to ourselves seeking that acknowledgment.

We need distance from others in order to separate our wants from what others want us to be. Solitude lets us strip off all the layers of protection built up against the real world. We can’t find our personal honesty until we remove those layers.

2. Understand our motivations

Our reasons are our why’s. Why do we do what we do? Thomas Payne said that people have two reasons to do something: a good reason and the real reason.

A good reason is what we tell others and convince ourselves is the noble cause of our actions. The real reason is what actually motivates our actions. That real reason is usually to fill an unmet need.

For example, when we get a job that we don’t feel is right, are we getting it for stability (Certainty needs), because we think people will think better of us (Critical Importance needs) or because it we think it will help us later (Growth needs)?

Once if figure out which need is being filled, it gives us the opportunity fill that need with something that does feel right. We can take different actions that align with our values.

3. Accept our flaws

Sometimes our reasons aren’t unique or enlightening or particularly noble. Sometimes our reasons don’t make us look very good. Those petty reasons for our actions make us feel flawed. INFPs want perfection especially in ourselves.

However, perfection makes everyone the same. The difference between a hand woven rug and a machine made rug is the handwoven rug will have imperfection. A human made it with the human possibility of making an error. Those imperfections make a hand woven rug unique.

It’s the same with people. It’s our flaws and the lives create despite them that gives us our individuality.

Using our Advantage

The next step to all knowledge is action. Knowledge without action is just potential. INFPs have been starving on the steady diet of our potential all our lives.

The object is to use our natural inclination to be authentic to meet needs and to regain a sense of control in our lives. Take the small step of goal setting because it will do both.

The First Small Step

1. Write down your goals.
2. For each goal, write down all the reasons you want to achieve that goal

Without step two, step one is worthless. Figuring our reasons aligns values with goals.

Being authentic means being honest. Those reasons don’t to have to be noble. Goal setting is being selfish because it’s all about what brings us happiness.

INFPs get enamored by something we think should make us happy only to find out later that it wasn’t what we really wanted. Being honest with ourselves minimizes these false starts because our goals will be meeting our real needs.

When climbing the ladder of success, make sure it’s leaning against the right wall. The right wall for an INFP is the one the takes us closer to our Ideal. The wrong wall is the one takes us closer to who we think our Ideal should be. Authenticity lets us differentiate the two.

How I Make This Work For Me

I’m in the process of goal setting this week. It’s taken about three months of almost completely eliminating my social schedule and changing my routines in order to find the distance I need.

Goal setting is time consuming. Writing the reasons takes longer than writing the goal. As I’m writing those reasons, I let the dominant INFP Intuitive Feeling kick into high gear. That cognitive function runs wild if I let it and I’m letting it determine if those reasons I write ring true or if I’m just convincing myself because I want them to be true.

My goals are all brainstormed in one sitting. I’m taking several days to figure out my reasons. Additionally, I’m writing which of the Six Needs each goal is trying to fulfill.

For example, one of my goals is to climb Kilimanjaro which fills my Growth need and my Critical Importance need. It fills my Growth need because at this time I’m nowhere where near the shape physically or financially to complete the goal. It fills my Critical Importance needs because I get to tell people I did it.

Yes, filling that Critical Importance needs seems self-indulgent. But in meeting our needs, we have to accept that we can’t be who we think other people think will like.

Our authenticity and our happiness depends on it.

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44 Responses to “INFP Advantages: Authenticity”

  1. Vexing

    May 20, 2010

    7:36 pm

    I finally found a description of authenticity that actually clarified what it meant to “be authentic.” Every time I read something about it, whether it was the INFP descriptions I saw online or Keirsey’s description of INFPs, I always found the definitions wanting.

    I kept thinking to myself, “Well, I do what I do because it’s what I’ve always done. If I tried doing something else, it wouldn’t be me. I don’t see what it means to “be authentic” because since what I’m doing defines who I am, and since I’m doing what I usually do anyway, aren’t I being authentic already?”

    Now I’m getting it, I think. It seems to be more of a “what I could be” rather than a “what I am now” sort of thing; future-oriented thinking. Is that how it is?


    Corin Reply:

    For me, Role doesn’t define Identity. I’m an employee but doing my job doesn’t define me.

    Authenticity is personal honesty and being true to yourself. Of course, we like doing things for others. I think we’re inauthentic when we fool ourselves. Maybe we got a job for security (Certainty needs) but we don’t think that seems very noble so instead we tell ourselves that it’s an opportunity to advance (Growth needs).

    The real reason we took the job was for security. Authenticity is owning up to that.

    If we realize that taking that job was for Certainty needs, it helps with future decisions. For example, a job opportunity comes along but it’s a change and we might not be good at it.

    If the real reason we took the job was for Certainty (to be free from worry), giving up that Certainty for Growth might make us very unhappy if we don’t realize we are giving up the main reason for taking the job in the first place.


    Vexing Reply:

    I see. This is going back to the roles and identity post you made earlier. Okay, I think I’m getting it.

    If I’m getting it correctly, authenticity is knowing the real reason why you’re doing something, rather than simply doing it (just because that’s what you usually do anyway).

    I may be an ISTJ, but I can use what I’m learning here to get a better understanding. I decided to start reading this blog because at first I thought I was fulfilling a need for Certainty (what am I doing wrong, what do I need to do right, etc.) It turned out what I was really reading this for was for Growth. Rather than worrying about “having” to change myself, I’m now more focused on learning for understanding and “wanting” to change.


    PSkalla Reply:

    I liked your first sentence. It’s the first time that I’d seen somebody else that has expressed the sentiment that a job was a means to an end and not meant to define the person.

    I continue to irritate my dad over not knowing what I want to be when I “grow up”. I only recently hit on the notion of the was just a means to support the habits, but I didn’t want a career to be defined by. Cool


    Christine Reply:

    I’ve actually always thought the role, or job, should align with who you are. A job is an expression of you are. I believe humans are fundamentally creative beings, that they make things for themselves or for others to enjoy. Ideally, a “job” should be an end in itself but I know this isn’t always the case so people end up taking jobs that are means to an end instead.


  2. David

    May 21, 2010

    2:20 pm

    First of all, thanks for this article. I really think it will help me, and it came at a good time.

    In response to the first comment, “what I’m doing defines who I am” is not a typical INFP mentality. As introverts, their focus is on their rich inner world, not on the external world of action. Also, as intuitives, they see a person (including self) as more of an abstract entity, not necessarily congruently linked with their physical bodies and outward actions. So it would be more like “What I’m doing may or may not come as a result of who I am. If it does, then I’m being authentic.”

    I think this is why authenticity is so difficult. It’s true, from many others’ point of view, if you are acting a certain way, how can that action not be authentic? But I agree with Corin that for the INFP it has more to do with reasons. External forces can influence your actions, which is what can make an INFP act in an inauthentic way. Authenticity comes from being natural and not trying to act a particular way at all–acting how you would act without external influences.

    For me, this is the root of the difficult challenge of enacting change in myself, because you essentially have to act in an unnatural way for a time before that way becomes natural. But I think Corin’s “reasons” explanation may help me resolve these internal incongruencies…


    Corin Reply:

    I think the hardest part for me isn’t aligning goals with values. I’m pretty honest with myself about why I want things. It’s aligning actions with goals that’s that’s hard.

    I want to be liked. I don’t mind doing things for others as long as it’s not against my values or moving me away from my goals. When the influence of others moves me away from goals and values, I feel unnatural and that I’m not being myself. I’m not being Corin who wants to be liked. I’m just being some guy who wants to be liked.


    Vexing Reply:

    I’m an ISTJ person so my sense of self is more of a concrete nature. It’s along the line of “Okay, I’m all these roles, which means that all these things are a part of me. What I do in these roles defines what sort of person I am. No single role is all of me though, just certain parts of me.” As a flawed human, sometimes failing in one role gets to me, and I feel like I’m overall a failure. We can all get that way, it seems.

    Of course, as an introvert I’m also within my own head for a good chunk of time, and when I’m doing so the concrete part of me goes “Okay, time to think of how I can manifest what I truly believe in into action.” Then I “do something.” Sometimes I may not have put as much thought into it as I believed, or I let my emotions sway me before taking action, so I’m not always right and thus, making mistakes.

    Sometimes I think one way, but then I end up doing something the other way. When that happens, I attribute it to me being me. Sure, my background and upbringing influenced me, but ultimately, I did the action taken, and I have to take responsibility for it. Hence why for me (and likely other concrete thinkers), it’s my actions that define who I am. I could think I’m super-awesome or a good man, but if I’m not doing anything that shows that, then I’m not.

    Going back to making mistakes, I don’t always attribute my mistakes as “me being me.” Sometimes it just gets to me in such a way that I end up blaming outside influences too. As of late…I’ve been doing that more often, which hasn’t been too productive other than trying to figure out how to fix the problems I’m currently going through.


    David Reply:

    How sure are you of your T preference? I’ve been into type for a long time, and particularly your saying “Sometimes … I let my emotions sway me” combined with your style of writing strikes me as F. Particularly an F that was brought up around Ts that influenced you to act more like a T. But I could be totally wrong. My dad is ISTJ and I have a close ISFJ friend. I have never witnessed my dad making any decision out of feeling or being concerned with personal growth. He is very cold and logical in all his decisions. But my ISFJ friend is another story. She is very self-controlled, but still moved by emotion, and much more interested in abstract things like personality than you’d expect from other Ss. If you’re not absolutely sure, I’d recommend comparing descriptions of ISTJ and ISFJ and deciding which one is the better fit. (I used to test as INFJ consistently, which was close, but INFP hit the nail on the head.) If you’re sure you’re T, then just forget I said anything.

    Remember, according to the MBTI ethical guidelines, you are your own best judge of which type you are. Don’t mistake the test result as your inarguably, authoritatively conclusive type. (Or let anyone, like me, tell you what you are. :P)


    Vexing Reply:

    I’m definitely a T. Every time I take an online MBTI test I get ISTJ. I also took a cognitive process test which told me that my Si, Te, and Fi were 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, just like any other ISTJ.

    When I say that “I let my emotions sway” me, and things happen wrong, I mean it. Since I don’t use them very often and tend to disregard them to the point of controlling them, the times I do use them I mess up.

    Also like the typical ISTJ, I tend to be very uptight and set in my ways, am quite uncomfortable displaying emotion, and much prefer to make decisions using an impersonal set of objective criteria rather than whether or not it feels right to me.

  3. Kim

    May 21, 2010

    2:21 pm

    “We need distance from others in order to separate our wants from what others want us to be.”

    I’m finally learning to give in to my craving for solitude. I used to think it was selfish (I’m married to an extrovert and have an extroverted daughter), but I’m realizing that it actually helps my relationships. If I spend too much time trying to fulfill someone else’s needs, I can start to resent that person.

    As my husband points out, though, the “what others want us to be” part can sometimes be complicated. Often I anticipate what would make him happy or what he might want from me, and I respond to it as if it were an actual request or expectation–which, often, it is not. This can lead to resentment which is undeserved. Of course our friends and family would like us to do things for them or behave in ways that please them, but I think often they are completely unaware that we aren’t just being ourselves in those moments (since they often haven’t asked for us to do it). I think INFPs want the ideal for others as well, and we try to create it without even being asked. Taking time for solitude can help not only in clarifying what I want/who I am, but also in clarifying how much others really expect me to give. Does anyone else relate to this?


    Corin Reply:

    I like doing things for my daughters and wife that make them happy. Often times, it’s unasked and sometimes, it’s under-appreciated and I never get a thank you. However, I do it because it makes me feel happy doing it. When I realize that I’m not happy in the actions I take or that I need a thank you and acknowledgment for my actions, I know I’ve given up personal responsibility for my own happiness and have given it to my family and made them responsible for taking actions to make me happy.

    I need the solitude to figure out my motivations in order to take back responsibility for my happiness.


  4. ije

    May 22, 2010

    3:08 am

    great post! came at a perfect time. i’ve been resisting writing for my blog and get disconnected to my reason why i wanted to start the blog in the first place. i’m actually working on a piece about how accepting our “flaws” gives us space to embrace the gifts they bring.

    so much about myself that i rejected or felt i needed to fix are about my highly sensitive, introverted characteristics. learning that i was an INFP gave me more room to accept these parts of myself and actually begin to be more authentic and comfortable in my skin.

    i love your goal exercise. i usually get in touch with the greater why but now i’m going to add the critical needs piece to it too and share that with my clients. such a great addition. thanks for sharing.


    Corin Reply:

    The six needs comes from Tony Robbins. I saw a video he did for which started me thinking about goals, actions and needs. I have his new book Inner Strength: Harnessing the Power of Your Six Primal Needs on order. It’s out December 1, 2010.

    The goal setting is the first step. I’m writing part two about adaptability and the second step of taking action. Part 3 will be about intuition and the third step of how to make changes when things aren’t working.


  5. Catherine Vibert

    May 22, 2010

    5:35 am

    Excellent post. Spot on.

    Is climbing Kilimanjaro an idea the INFPs find inside their fourth chromosome to the left? Because that’s been one of my goals at one time or another. I’d still like to do it, and I know someone who just did it and it reactivated my desire. Perhaps we should arrange an INFP adventure expedition?

    I think my son may be INFP. He tested ENFP, but watching him live, I think he’s an I. Hard to tell really, since I am so close, exactly how introverted his F function is. I think there are some people that are kind of E/I and also a little J/P He’s one of those I think. He’s at a goal setting moment in his life, I’m going to send him this post I think it will help.

    I spent the last two years in a state of mostly solitude and did a series of paintings in that time I call masks. It’s really about the many layers of personality we take on in order to fit into that outer world. Those layers do start to come off in solitude, and it’s actually quite painful as we see how inauthentic we have become in order to fit some of those needs. I call it duality. When we feel a vast separation from who we know we are and who we are presenting ourselves to be in order to please others, it is as if there are two of us.

    Also, a big cautionary tale for us as INFPs is the fantasy component. I like your system. I always tell INFPs who have matured into INFJs as it sounds like you are striving toward, that we have to develop systems and organization skills just to keep us on the ground so we aren’t in la la land forever. My problem is the forever inconsistency of following the systems I so carefully set up. I think I place a higher value on freedom of choice on a daily basis, aka butterfly syndrome. πŸ™‚

    I’ve come to recognize tho, that my butterflyness is a gift. All of our curses are also gifts. There is a balance needed for sure. I tell my friends, I’m only flaky when it doesn’t really matter. But that chasing the muse thing that I like to do has been the best thing ever for my life. Things happen, they fall into place with perfect serendipity. What I’ve learned tho, is to only chase the things I really love to do. Really love for me, as you have written above. I became trained in classical music to please my dad. And so I have taken a major break. Yet I love to sing because I love to sing, I miss singing terribly, and so I will go back to singing not to please him but because it makes me happy.

    Love thinking of your system tho, of really being honest with yourself about your motivations. That is the hardest one and takes a little maturity I think. Especially difficult if you are weaving a fantasy and getting all whooped up inside with the excitement that only an INFP can bring to the fantasy. It is hard then to really really look at your motivations and see how you are manipulating yourself and others to try to get what you want, when what you want lives on a cloud in the outer reaches of space. That’s when people look at INFPs and roll their eyes and, if they happen to be on the cloud with you way out there in your mind, you might look to them like a stalker. πŸ™‚ Been on both sides of this equation and I actually avoid other INFPs for romance because I can barely handle my own tendency toward lunacy in that department, but I can’t handle other people’s delusions at all. Too many bad stories there now that I’m almost 50

    I think perhaps I’m going off on a tangent. πŸ™‚ Sorry Corin. I just love the opportunity to talk shop with you. You rock.


    Corin Reply:

    I like pleasing people and doing things so people will like me. It’s part of my nature. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that unless I’m doing something that takes me away from my values or goals.

    Often times, I convince myself that some action I’ve taken to help someone is for personal Growth (which is my highest of the 6 needs), but in reality I’m doing it for Love & Connection needs or Critical Importance needs. There’s nothing wrong with doing helping someone meet those other needs but if I’m not honest then I feel like I’m doing the wrong thing.

    For example, let say I’m helping a friend pack and move and I tell myself I’m doing it for Growth. Doing this will make me a better person. But my real reason is for Love and Connection and I just want them to like me. So halfway through moving, I’ll be thinking to myself why don’t I feel like a better person helping my friend move. I don’t feel like I’m growing so I’m probably doing something wrong. In reality, I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m just focused on the wrong reason.

    If I was honest and realized I’m doing it for Love and Connection, then I’d be focused on making the moving a bonding experience.

    Sometimes, I think INFPs feel they’re doing something wrong and quit when in reality they’re doing the right thing. They’re just doing the right thing for the wrong reason.


  6. Jennifer M.

    May 22, 2010

    11:48 pm

    This is fascinating. I’m definitely going to have to ponder these ideas a little more.


  7. manar

    May 25, 2010

    2:23 pm

    This is a great post , you are such a great help
    perfection makes everyone the same. The difference between a hand woven rug and a machine made rug is the handwoven rug will have imperfection. A human made it with the human possibility of making an error. Those imperfections make a hand woven rug unique.

    It’s the same with people. It’s our flaws and the lives create despite them that gives us our individuality. THANK YOU


    Corin Reply:

    I think it’s a much more noble goal to strive to be better instead of perfect. Becoming better acknowledges that we have flaws and that we can become more in spite of them.


  8. Steve

    May 28, 2010

    1:30 pm

    great post! came at a perfect time. i’ve been resisting writing for my blog and get disconnected to my reason why i wanted to start the blog in the first place. i’m actually working on a piece about how accepting our “flaws” gives us space to embrace the gifts they bring.

    so much about myself that i rejected or felt i needed to fix are about my highly sensitive, introverted characteristics. learning that i was an INFP gave me more room to accept these parts of myself and actually begin to be more authentic and comfortable in my skin.

    i love your goal exercise. i usually get in touch with the greater why but now i’m going to add the critical needs piece to it too and share that with my clients. such a great addition. thanks for sharing.


    Corin Reply:

    I’ve often found that I strive for goals that fit in one or two of the needs categories. I feel successful because those goals get accomplished, but I felt like I was only living part of my life.

    It’s still hard balancing how to meet all the needs. However, when I feel restless, I know it’s one of my needs not being met.


  9. Sarah

    Jul 11, 2010

    1:51 am

    I feel like I have lost my identity, but in actuality I define myself in negative ways. I define myself by my mistakes, by my losses, my weaknesses, my voids, and how I came into this world. I am adopted, and in general the adopted have identity issues. I’m going to try writing down and re examining my goals. I don’t feel aligned at all anymore, just confused.


    Corin Reply:

    I have two adopted daughters. And yes, it’s going to be interesting helping them work through their issues as they grow up. One of my daughters is 7 and an INFP.

    I’ve always believed that identity came from the choices we make. I chose to love them. When someone chooses to love you, then it becomes a trust issue. You have to trust that they never change their mind. Choosing to love is a decision. Giving that trust is also a decision. These decisions change you for the better.

    One of these days, my daughters will have to decide whether to choose to love me back, not out of family obligation but because of a conscious decision. Hopefully, that choice will be one of the cornerstones from which that can build the identity.


  10. Phil M.

    Jul 28, 2010

    11:24 pm

    Great post!


  11. Cobalt Blue

    Aug 5, 2010

    11:57 am

    Thanks, Corin. This is really helping.
    I’ve been tired of my own tendency to be perfect, with following anxiety and fear that everyone always watches me and wait until I make some mistakes.
    It has been years.. I keep trying to figure out what’s wrong with me. Everyone always thinks that I’m ‘odd’.. When I tried to talk it out to my friends, they only told me that “it was only in your mind”.
    Yes, it’s only in my mind, but it keeps happening for years, and I’m sure it wasn’t in my mind, but in myself. If I don’t try to accept it, I’ll keep hurting myself, and even worse, maybe I’ll end up ‘kill’ myself.

    Reading about ‘being authentic’ is.. yeah. It makes me feel a little bit lighter.
    It’s what I always want to be when I avoid crowd and spend my time alone. I just want to figure out what I really want.
    So, thanks.. so much. Maybe sometimes I need to know how I see myself, not how people see myself, because INFPs are often mistaken as sad and lonely, not as an idealist loner.


    Corin Reply:

    To some of my friends, I’m the guy who has it all together. To others, I’m the flaky one and a bit too whimsical. In truth, I’m both. Which side I present depends on which is the most effective for who I’m with. That’s why I’m so tired after being with people, putting myself into one Presentation is tiring.

    So why don’t I just be all of me all of the time? Because I’m an INFP. I’m all over the place in my head constantly. All of me is kind of pain the ass. That’s not something I really want to inflict on another person.

    I think a person has different friends for different reasons. Some friends meet some of my personality needs while other friends meet other needs. Some people I have deep conversations with and some I just go dancing with. It’s too much pressure on another person to have them be everything to you.

    I feel I’m still being authentic because each part really is me because I’m not changing my personality for different sets of friends. I’m just letting different parts out.


  12. Charles Gulotta

    Aug 8, 2010

    8:19 pm

    “Accept our flaws.” That’s the one that jumped out at me. What a strange combination to be trying to balance: expecting perfection and feeling totally imperfect. Easier said than done, but I’m trying to let that expectation go.

    Thank you for a very enlightening post.


  13. sunflower

    Sep 27, 2010

    8:43 am

    I love this blog. I also really love the design of it. It is probably the easiest blog to read and navigate I’ve ever visited.

    I just want to ask you to PLEASE proofread your posts before publishing them. I can’t stand getting tripped up on sentences when I’m in my deep-thinking mode (I’m an INFP). The mistakes/missing words bring me back to the surface for a few seconds. πŸ™ It’s obvious you take a lot of time writing these posts, so why not take a few extra minutes to proofread? You’d look a whole lot more credible.


    P.S. In the comments section of this particular post, “ije” and “Steve” wrote the same exact comment yet you responded to both like they were totally different. Wtf is going on here?! πŸ™‚


    Corin Reply:

    I proofread twice, but it’s the INFP big picture outlook vs attention to detail which Js have in spades, but Ps, not so much. With really long posts averaging 1200+ words, I can re-read it a dozen times and still miss the same errors. I need another pair of eyes but I don’t have that luxury.

    As for the ije vs Steve comment, the 2nd one is probably a spammer but the time between the comments are long enough that I don’t catch that one comment is duplicate of another.

    Thanks for letting me know about this post, I’ll try get a friend to proofread this post because if I’ve missed something twice, I’ll probably miss it a third time.


    sunflower Reply:

    Ah, yes. I’m horrible with details in most aspects of my life, too–except for the aspects that I value or that really MEAN something to me, like copy-editing. I’m not a professional copy-editor, but I’ve always thought I’d be good at it because I care so much. πŸ™‚


    Dude Reply:

    I think INFPs are not good with handling criticisms and you just did that πŸ™‚

  14. Aelthwyn

    Nov 11, 2010

    2:11 am

    Thanks for this! Aligning our two worlds can sometimes be difficult, but as you’ve said it’s so important!

    I like your mention of starving on a diet of potential. I’ve felt that way a lot in my life, you’ve said it perfectly.

    Part of this feeling has been related to circumstances (particularly limitations as a child) which didn’t seem to allow opportunities to live out my inner ideals. One of the worst times for me was when I was going to a school that had uniforms, so I wasn’t able to wear the old-fashioned styles that felt like “Me”. That’s just a small way I currently live out my ideals – I learned to sew and make many of my own clothes now. I remember also feeling as a child that all the energy and time I poured into being a perfect student, could have, in the long run, been better spent developing my other skills which weren’t required subjects in school, but which I now look to to provide both my living and the persuit of my ultimate goals. I can’t help wonder how much closer I’d be to reaching them now if I’d been able to go to schools with more specialized classes, or had been homeschooled in a more rural setting where I could have been exposed to non-city life and therefore soaked up more know-how for my ideal life.

    I think this may be an issue for a lot of Idealists which can lend to depression – feeling that because of circumstances beyond their control from the time they were born they have been unable to live the kind of life they ‘idealize’. One of my ideals was to have a life-long friend best friend, but when the first friend I’d ever made who was closest to me throughout childhood moved across the country in 6th grade that ideal was lost – and there was nothing I could do about it. That was a hard thing to reconcile myself to. I did, however, realise at that time that deep long-term friendship was one of my values and I understood why her moving was so devestating even though I had other friends. I’ve used that understanding of myself to help me choose friends, and to motivate me to keep in contact with people and keep feeding friendships that could potentially die out if I didn’t take the effort to invest in them.

    Something I’ve felt happen in myself is that my action switch has gotten a little rusty. I think this can happen during childhood (or other times) when most of our decisions are made for us by someone else. When we are busy fullfilling duties to others (in my case it felt like it was always school) we quell the urges we have to do actions that are internally motivated. The way we deal with our ideas and dreams gets set on automatic ‘backburner’ mode, something for a mythical future time when we won’t have our actions regulated and our time managed by outside forces. After a while, I think that inner motivation can give up and just stop firing. And when we stop feeling or being aware of those inner urges or “Inspiration” we can feel like we’ve lost ourselves and don’t even know where to look anymore. Then, when we try to do things on our own we have trouble finding our direction and motivation. So we may just let ourselves get swallowed up by going through the motions suggested to us by others – but it’s never fullfilling.

    Stoping to take a look at what You really want to do is really important! Examining why you want something is especially important when your’e not sure of what exactly you want to do. It’s also important to remember that, in essence, the future is now – every ‘tomorrow’ will be experienced as ‘today.’ So we can’t just wait for the mythical future we idealise to suddenly come to us after letting it brew on the backburner for years. Writing down our goals, I think, can help bring that idealised future onto today’s plate for us, helping us to think about the steps in between. Unlike our thoughts which can make pretty big leaps, our outter lives still need the step by step, moment by moment process to get somewhere. Although we prize our dreams, dreaming alone can’t give us the inner-outer life congruency which we need.

    It seems to me that we have three (or even four) traits that can encourage not acting on the ideas and goals that we have.
    – Introversion -not liking the interaction necessary to make the introductions or connections we need to be able to do some of the steps toward our goals
    – Intuition -prefering to contemplate things over persuing experience & action, which makes us less likely to ‘realise’ the things in our heads, and may leave us without the physical skills we need to reach our goals (I think a lot about stuff I’d Like to learn, heh)
    – Perceiving -which keeps waiting around before making a decision and moving forward because maybe we’re missing a better option – often we wait in vain.
    And just to add in an extra boost we don’t have the strong ‘logical’ Thinker voice in our heads reminding us that the only way we’re going to get those castles in the sky is to endure some personal discomfort and do what we don’t feel like doing.
    It seems like we have a quadruple whammy when it comes to trying to get off our butts, as the saying goes. I think we are probably most likely to know ourselves well, and to be very comfortable living mostly in our minds – thus we have difficulty getting motivated enough to take the actions needed to make our outer lives live up to our visions.

    (wow I am so long-winded! sorry for that lol!) ^^;


    Andy Britnell Reply:

    You missed the F in feeling bit out which means that we make decisions based on subjective issues such as relationships. We will attempt to cover all the personal issues to accommodate others in that decision. The decision is made based on other peoples feelings rather than our own. Harmony is preferred to being correct so we can avoid conflict. As feelers we find it difficult to communicate to others that our personal needs are being neglected yet we are the first to question a decision that affects other people’s welfare.

    As you say with introversion, intuition and perceiving preferences getting in the way it is amazing that we manage to decide to get out of bed in the morning!

    Actually is that an INFP thing – sometimes I lay in bed wrapped up in the comfort of my own thoughts and the idea of getting up and having to deal with the outside world seems pointless!


    John Reply:

    My God, Aelthwyn, this comment of yours made so much sense to me! I’ve read loads about INFPs but for some reason, what you wrote just made everything so much clearer. I could really relate it to my life past and present. Even the bit about best friends moving away.
    When you went through each facet (INP) that was so illuminating. And I think you covered the (F) facet when you spoke about its opposite: Logical Thinking (T). I think i’m right about that.
    I think i get close to (J) and i can be extroverted (E) in the right situations with the right people–but for limited periods before my energy runs out–so i’ve often wondered if i really am INFP, but what you wrote seemed to nail INFP down for me.
    Thanks πŸ˜‰


  15. Andy Britnell

    Jan 23, 2011

    3:18 pm

    Hi Corin

    This is such an amazing resource you have built up for the often ignored introverts in the world. In the US I remember a study showing that 75% are extroverts. In the UK I think it is a bit more balanced (60/40 perhaps)

    This post reminds me of a metaphor I use for people who are perfectionists. The Navaho Indians always left a knot in the wonderful rugs they weaved. They did this so that the gods would not be angered and think that the weaver was trying to be a god. It is a story about what is important and what is not! Having said this the beauty in nature is often created by small imperfections rather than perfection.

    Anyway I am rambling on in my INFP way although I will say that you are not always introverted. We can still function in a world designed by and for extroverts. However introverts become very tired under the pressure to be interesting and dealing with all the ‘noise’ out there. We have to retreat into ourselves to regain energy.

    I am glad I have found your blog and that this niche subject is being taken notice of. My realisation recently is that I have a port folio life. Since leaving a big corporate 10 years ago to start my own business I decided that I didn’t want to separate work and life. I just do different things which form the whole of my life. Music, personal developent, Reiki, Ki Aikido, coaching, facilitation, mediation etc etc. Is that an INFP strategy for survival I wonder?

    I will enjoy exploring your INFP world. I wonder if it is as crazy as mine.

    Best wishes



    Corin Reply:

    Hi Andy,

    Thanks for reading my blog.

    It’s been interesting meeting INFPs over the last 20 years and seeing how they live and how different their lives are from each other. It seems we start a little lost in our late teens and early 20’s but then we come into our own as we get older and and up living happy and fulfilling lives. It just seems to take a little longer.


  16. Sean

    Apr 19, 2011

    6:07 am

    I’m in my early 20s. I was very lost, but I’m finding myself day by day as I get older. But thanks Corin for this blog.


  17. Jack

    Oct 8, 2011

    5:13 pm

    responding to kims comment, i struggle in my marriage of 4 years with a little toddler to get enough space and alone time to be able to cope and survive! Would be interested in others comments how they can carve out time for themselves. My wife is the type who while introvert leaning, she wants us to do everything together always, and always wants to ‘go out and do something fun’ instead of being lazy or wasting time around the house (her perception). I havn’t yet figured a way to justify sitting around reading or writing in a journal for a few hours each weekend, so end up totally exhausted at the end of each weekend, and slightly resentfull at times. Life only seeps in a few days later after some long public transport commutes and a luckily mostly people free IT job. Any tips much appreciated!


    Corin Reply:

    Hi Jack,

    Here’s practical advice which you may choose to ignore. Your wife wants to go out and do something fun because there’s value that she has that’s currently not being met. You don’t have enough space and alone time because there’s some value that’s not being met (which I think is Freedom).

    So here’s the steps:

    1. Have you and your wife separately write down your dream list of everything you want to have and do. (If you don’t know remember to want something passionately like I did then the problem runs a bit deeper and requires a whole post)
    2. From your dream list, extract the values. Write which values attaining that dream will meets. For example, if one of your dream list is travel to Africa, the value behind that is probably Adventure.
    3. Figure out your top 3 values. It’s usually what values show up the most often.
    4. Currently, the way you’re living probably isn’t meeting yours or your wife’s values.
    5. Next brainstorm together what it would take to meet those values in a small way right now.

    When your values are met, you’ll discover you won’t need as much alone time as you need now and your wife won’t want to spend all your time together.

    Also, you must consider this. You married a healthy capable woman. You are not responsible for her happiness. She is not responsible for yours. In the long run, you can’t make her happy and she can’t make you happy, but you can work together to figure out to meet your own needs.


    Jack Reply:

    Thanks Corin,
    Some helpful tips. Will spend some time on these!


    John Reply:

    People thought it was nuts at the time, but I used to set my alarm for 6am on any morning, especially work mornings. I’d go downstairs and make two mugs of tea, bring them back to bed and read and/or write my ‘morning pages’ until 7am, which was when I’d finally get up to go to work.

    This was my way of taking back some time for myself, especially on a work day. Even though i had to go to to my annoying job, at least i had a whole hour while the rest of the world slept, to indulge in my simple pleasures.


  18. Lex

    Dec 8, 2015

    3:57 am

    Beautiful written.

    Now I just need to figure out if my ENTPness was INFP surpressed.


    Martina Reply:

    I was, and probably am, in the same position of yours and this has been driving me crazy for a whole year now.
    Maybe our Fi is ill…


  19. lucia

    Feb 12, 2017

    7:49 pm

    Thank you. Reading your blog makes me think and analyze better. It has made me realize so many things about myself and my life that I was ignoring.


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