When is the last time you heard an extrovert talk about how they wished they could be more introverted? How they would like to start taking more time to think before they talk, or be able to just sit quietly at a party and enjoy watching the activity?
Probably never. You’re more likely to hear the reverse: introverts want to be more extroverted, more outgoing, more comfortable in social situations. When this happens, when introverts focus on what they don’t have they end up ignoring the qualities they do have.
We Create Our Own Experience
Introverts often equate sitting alone at a party with being unpopular, but that’s only one way of looking at it. If you slouch in a corner looking like a loser, sure, your demeanor will telegraph exactly that. Your anxious face will shout your innermost thoughts to the crowd: “I have no friends!” As a result – you guessed it – no one will want to talk to you.
Now imagine yourself at that same party, sitting in that same corner, but this time you’re calm and interested in what’s going on around you. You don’t feel like a loser because you aren’t – you have friends, they just aren’t with you at the moment. You realize that you can talk to people if you want to but you don’t have to, you know that you can leave any time you want.
Feels different, doesn’t it? Now you’re sitting by yourself because you choose to.
You Are Not a Non-Extrovert
INFJ’s can get in the trap of defining who we are by comparing ourselves to our opposites. We view our introversion as a lack of extroversion, we see our preference for dealing with our inner world as being inattentive. We can believe that our emotionality makes us seem less intelligent, and that our preference for organization is an imposition on those who are more spontaneous and fun.
We need to turn that around. We need to take the view that our quietness gives us a lovely depth of thought and creates calm in our environment. And our ability to read between the lines is a perfect complement to analytical thought. We need to value the fact that our orderly lives enable us to help our less organized family and friends.
And, the one I like best, our tender hearts are devoted to bringing peace and love into the world – what could be more important than that?
Exercise: Interview With an INFJ
INFJs, in their desire to for harmony, can ignore or not even recognize their preferences. In addition they can end up discounting their strengths and skills and focus on what others can do that they can’t. The following exercise is designed to help you explore and embrace your unique likes and dislikes and better understand your strengths.
Directions: This exercise is designed to identify your preferences and strengths, so leave negativity and self-pity (yep, I said it – self-pity!) at the door. Your answers should be positive declarations (e.g. “I love candy” as opposed to “I eat too many sweets.”)
- What is your favorite time of the day?
- What time do you like to go to bed at night and get up in the morning?
- What are your top three skills?
- What kind of humor do you like? Quirky? Slapstick? Dirty?
- What is your favorite way to relax?
- What are you smartest about?
- Who is your favorite person to go to when you need help?
- Who comes to you for help?
- What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever done? What skills did it take to do it? How did you feel afterwards?
- What kind of books do you like?
- How would you dress if you had an unlimited budget?
- What is your favorite type of movie?
- What are your favorite foods?
- What pastimes do you enjoy? (e.g. cooking, writing, dancing)
- What are the three most important things you’ve learned in the past year?
- What would your friends say that they love about you?
- What do you love about yourself?
- What are you most proud of in your life?
- When are you most yourself?
- What challenge are you facing in your life right now?
- What else? Add your ideas in the comments section!
What can you add? What have you learned about viewing yourself as whole? Are there any books or articles on the subject that you can recommend?
This is the first installment in 10 Steps to an Amazing INFJ Life.