Time for change
I’m changing. Or at least, I’m trying.
Self-help guru Tony Robbins says that change happens in an instant. It’s not some long drawn out process. It happens the moment we decide. I choose to believe him.
People decide and then take action in that direction. Someone decides to stop drinking then they take action to go to AA. Someone decides to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck then they re-evaluate their spending habits. Change happens in an instant, but results from actions require time to come to fruition.
For INFPs, time becomes the problem. How long does it take us to decide anything?
We ask ourselves endless questions. Is whatever I want to change as bad as I think or am I just overreacting? What will this mean to me afterward? It could take years before we reach the point where enough is enough and we make a decision. It’s those years of inaction that we regret later, wondering why it took us so long.
Even after we decide and start taking action, we don’t allow enough time for results to appear. We’d like to think our life is nimble, easily picked up and moved, but lives lumber like freighter ships weighted by the regrets of our past and the relationships in our present. After we turn the wheel, it takes time for that ship to actually turn. After we take action, it takes time for our lives to change direction.
INFPs are terrible at delayed gratification. We want to enjoy things now. So when we do something and don’t see immediate results, we stop taking action.
Wherever you go, there you are
Two sayings are ever-present in my head:
- You can’t do the same things and expect a different result.
- Wherever you are in life is as far as you can go with what you currently know.
If someone wants to be more comfortable in social situations, sitting in the corner, not talking to anyone like before won’t produce a different result. If someone has had a string of bad relationships, going through the same decision process in choosing who to date is not going to fix that problem.
All the crappy things that happen in our lives are results of something we do or don’t do. I drink way too much soda. I should stop, but I don’t. That’s where the second saying comes in. Where I am is as far as I can get with what I currently know. The only fix is to know more.
All the crappy people people in our lives is because we made a bad decision. Crappy people were crappy people before we met them and allowed them into our lives. We made a decision to have a relationship (friends, acquaintances, business partners, etc.) with these people. We can’t fix crappy people. We can only make better decisions.
Nothing quite like the feel of something new
Change would be easier for INFPs without the diametrically opposed forces pulling us in opposite directions. In one direction is our need for the familiar, for the dependable like friends, sources of income or a good book. In the other direction is our dislike of the routine like repetition at a job and rehashing the same conversations with friends.
To compensate we embrace the different, but we avoid the new. If we write, we start working on a different story. We don’t decide to paint our idea. If we enjoy being with friends, we convince those same friends to try different activities. We don’t find brand new people because that would be unfamiliar.
Have you noticed that you and your friends use the same catch phrases? When we spend enough time with someone, we end up picking up the same vocabulary. We also end up picking up the same ideas. Same causes mean same results.
For me, new means brand new. New is something for which I have no reference. New means an adjustment period where I suck at whatever is new. This adjustment period forces me to grow.
I call this period molting. As INFPs, the hard armor we’ve built around ourselves with our ideals and beliefs to protect us from the world, does not fit anymore. We feel constricted. As we begin to re-evaluate those beliefs, it feels like shedding old skin. As with all molting creatures, we become short-tempered and irritable.
INFPs are extremely vulnerable during this stage. In order to become something new, we’ve had to let go of the ideas and ideals of what we once were. Everything we used to protect ourselves is now suspect and until we rebuild a new layer of protection, we become extra sensitive to the outside world.
The first thing I do is I stop everything that I do regularly if possible. It’s the same process as figuring out food allergies. If someone knows they’re not feeling 100% and suspects their diet, they go through a cleanse and then reintroduce foods one at a time. It’s the same way with my change process.
I do my cleanse by eliminating or restricting every activity and outside influence for a few weeks. For example, every week I go club dancing. I have since I was 21 because it keeps me sane. I haven’t gone in a month. I’ve also haven’t seen my friends either.
During molting, I monitor to see if symptoms subside. Phase 1 of molting, is about figuring out what I don’t want. Many things I do are external distractions, enjoyable distractions but they help me avoid things in my life that I don’t like. If I pause those distractions, the stuff I don’t like becomes more glaring so I have to pay attention.
After some time, I add one thing back. I started dancing again, but not at the clubs. I went to learn Blues Dancing instead. It’s not brand new, but different enough that I’m uncomfortable. Monday, I had a late night diner hangout with a new friend who I haven’t seen in weeks.
Everything I add back into my life can’t be too familiar or else I end up the same me as before. It’s also at this point I go through my 20/80 process to figure out what to get rid of. During Phase 1, I move away from stuff I don’t like. Phase 2 is where I set new goals and move towards something. I’ll have to cover that in a different post.
My friends ask where I’ve been and I answer with a non-committal “I’ve just been busy.” They mistake it for recharging and I let them. I’m not recharging, I’m rebuilding and some of them might end up with smaller roles in my life when I’m done.
Rainer Maria Rilke in his novel The Notebook of Malte Laurids Brigge wrote:
What’s the use of telling anyone that I am changing? If I am changing, then surely I am no longer the person I was, and if I am something else than heretofore, then it is clear that I have no acquaintances. And to strange people, to people who do not know me, I cannot possibly write.
This, of course, was before the internet so blogs don’t count.
Feb 17, 2010
Great article, and great timing for me. In a bit over a week I finish up at the job I’ve had for the last 8 years since graduating, and start in a brand new, completely different job. Other than the industry and rough role, nothing about the job is the same.
A lot of what you wrote about being pulled in 2 directions rang true, as did the part about expecting instant results. I’m not sure if/how I’d go about ‘molting’ but it’s an interesting take on how to deal with the change.
Good luck with whatever your big change is 🙂
February 17th, 2010 at 11:07 pm
For me, it’s just trying to get myself closer to my Ideal Self. The only difference between a rut and a grave is when you decide to stop digging.
I’m tired of digging.
June 7th, 2013 at 6:17 pm
Feb 17, 2010
Again, you say what I’ve never been able to explain to others. I too have come to a point in my life where I feel its time to burn down the old structures I built up, and start again. Like a phoenix I plan on rising again. Different from the old me. I’ve been holed up at home due to a bad ankle sprain. I’m doing nothing but thinking, been letting all my relationships fall into a void. While I decide my fate. It’s probably not so healthy to do it this way, but I’ve always done it this way. I’m a different person than I ever thought i’d be. I’m rambling, sorry. Excellent post sir, thank you for your musings. You’ve helped me come to terms with the fact that there are others who think like me. I’m not a total anomaly in a system not built for me. The end 🙂 I’m really not, half as sad as I sound LOL.
Feb 18, 2010
“You can’t do the same things and expect a different result.” – On a similiar note, my FB quote is “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got”. — Insanity can be described as doing the same thing, in the same way and expecting different results.
Feb 20, 2010
I can really relate to this. I think “molting” is very true to the INFP experience. I personally have been through a moulting stage a few years back. I am really starting to feel the effect of changes which might have seemed like minor course-corrections before but have resulted in a dramatic change to where I ended up now. I agree change happens in an instant, and the hardest part is fighting the initial resistance to the change and being persistent.
Good Luck with your changes and happy molting 🙂
Feb 22, 2010
I can definetly relate. It is something i have noticed only within this past year for me. You really describe it well too. I hope that the changes go well and you find the new feel appealing : )
Thanks for writing this : )
Feb 23, 2010
Like everyone else, my primary response is “yep!” Especially about the decision making difficulties and always feeling like there are diametrically opposed forces. My decision-making ability has driven my husband crazy at times. He actually stopped me right before we walked into a Wendy’s once and said, “Ok. We’re about to go in and you only ever order one of two things. Why don’t you choose between them now so that you don’t stare at the menu for half an hour?” To which I replied, “But what if there’s something new on the menu that I haven’t tried before that looks really good?” Oh, the trials for those married to an INFP! At times like this I always say to him drolly “Well, you married her.” To which he replies, “And I would again.”
I’ve only been through one major molt in my life. I should go through one now but there isn’t really a chance to retreat from everything. How often do you go through them? Maybe we should all put our INFP heads together and figure out the warning signs, patterns, timeframes, and best ways to accommodate the molt because, as most of us have already noted, this is not an easy process nor do the people around us understand it very well (which is to say – at all).
Jun 1, 2010
Thanks. I would love to read more about “molting”. This is a process I generally avoid because it is so uncomfortable and scary for me. I would love to hear more about ur ideas on this and possibly some encouraging insights on the eventual improvements it could have on my character. I appreciate ur blog tons so thAnks!
June 1st, 2010 at 11:21 am
There’s a quote that I love: You’re either making yourself better or letting yourself get worse. Basically, you have to be proactive in becoming your Ideal Self. It doesn’t happen on it’s own.
Self-confidence is like a muscle. If you don’t work out, your physical muscles atrophy. However, if you try to lift too much weight too fast then those muscles get injured. Same with self-confidence. If I have a large goal that’s way out of my comfort zone, then I chunk the goal into smaller pieces. As I complete each chunk, the large goal becomes less scary.
June 13th, 2010 at 9:57 am
That was beautifully stated. Thank you Corin.
Jul 1, 2010
Amazing. This is like reading an INFP owner’s manual. I’ve needed one for a long time. Turns out I’ve been going in reverse for a while now!
Jan 6, 2011
omg!!! It’s so wonderful to read this. I’ve been thinking maybe I need to be medicated when I’m going through molting stages. Being an INFP can be challenging and trying to explain this to friends can be even worst. Great post. Thanxxxx.
January 6th, 2011 at 10:48 am
It’s hard to explain to people who currently play major roles in our lives. The one thing I did notice that when I was unhappiest in my life, most of my time was spent with people in the same state. It’s hard enough to find happiness for ourselves without having to be responsible for the happiness of our close relationships.
Apr 24, 2012
I recently quit my job and ended my blog – I hated the first and loved the latter, and now I have been job hunting for a month, and slightly missing my blog. And it’s bad but really good. I couldn’t hope to verbally explain the exact reasons eloquently even to myself, but I know deep down that it is a necessary time. I’ve had time to read, recharge, think, get headaches and try to nut out what I want to do with the rest of my life (I’m turning 26 soon). In reading this post I think perhaps I am in the season of “molting”… what a good thing!
Jul 28, 2012
I changed myself have 1 year … Radicaly changed… That wasn’t good, because I have been doing things that aren’t applicable to my self … I hold resentment from this because I was acting like a fool , and after seen it I felt so guilty for been stupid, I left good friends( although not more hold them) , I have other friends that totally pulls me down, and later I was thinking they we’re being my friends by interest …. Well I WAS innocent …maybe I’m a little bit innocent now.But now I know how to defend my self and not take everything too personal…
Despite I have only 15 … I learn that changes always come for the well… Even if you fell hurt inside at the moment … You will understand after how this was rewarding for you…
DON’T BE AFRAID OF CHANGE ,THE ONLY CERTAINTY IS CHANGE
Thanks… And sorry if you didn’t understand things because My language Is Portuguese …I’m Brazilian 🙂