Going to work had become torture by the time I left the corporate world. I’d get up in the morning (too early) and drag myself to work only to end up enduring endless meetings and political struggles. With the tender feelings of an INFJ I felt assaulted by the environment, I was overstimulated and underappreciated. I felt at the mercy of the corporate tempest, and my natural tendency to absorb the emotions and environment around me made it worse. I finally realized that the best way to deal with those feelings was to take control of my environment rather than letting it take control of me.
Creating a Strong and Powerful Environment
Don’t be an empty vessel – There are two ways to enter a situation. The first is to come in empty and look for what’s available to fill you up. We do this when we walk into a party and think “Who do I know here that I can talk to? Did I bring the right gift?Will I fit in?” This is an example of coming in as an empty vessel, waiting for others to give you what you need. You want to make sure you conform, that you’ll be able to align with the party.
On the other hand, if you enter the party “full,” these might be the thoughts that run through your mind as you enter, “Oh, I like that group in the corner, they’ll be fun to talk to. The food looks great, can’t wait to try that dip.” Or your thoughts might be “Wow, this is a really loud group, I’m not sure I’m going to stay very long.”
Notice how your thoughts when you enter the party “full” are about how the party measures up to your needs rather than the other way around? You’ve entered with your personality intact – you know what you like and what you don’t like and that’s how you’ll assess the party. As an empty vessel you let the party assess you.
A work example of being “full” is asking for the assignments you want rather than waiting to be selected for them, taking lunchtime as an opportunity to get away and do something you enjoy, or not participating in the office gossip mill.
Dial Up Your Personality – First of all this doesn’t mean to be loud or to impose your personality on the people around you. What I’m talking about is staying firmly connected with who you are, your preferences and beliefs, in any situation.
Some examples of what I’m talking about:
- Alerting your hostess ahead of time that you don’t eat meat
- Accepting invitations only for activities that you like rather than being so grateful to be invited that you’ll go anywhere
- Speaking up when someone tells a joke that is distasteful to you
- Choosing to leave a gathering that you’re not enjoying
- Creating an environment that nourishes you in your office or cubicle
- Wearing clothes that you’re comfortable in
What do these have in common? They are all decisions based on what you like rather than attempts to please others.
Make Every Decision That You Can – there are some decisions that are yours to make and some that aren’t. You can have a tremendous impact on your environment just by making the decisions that fall into your realm.
Rather than always deferring to others (“I don’t care where we eat, where you want to go?”) make a suggestion. If your boss asks you what projects interest you, be specific and clear. If your mother asks you for the best times to call you, tell her.
Avoid the “trying to please others by guessing what they really want” dance and take other’s answers at face value. If you feel that they’re handing over their decisions to you, send them a link to this post! Exercise: Love Your Likes Similar to the “Interview With an INFJ” exercise from week 1, this exercise it designed to help you identify and own your preferences. Find a small notebook that you can keep with you at all times, and over the next week keep an “I Like” journal by jotting down everything you encounter that you like. For example, right now my list be: I like the warm sun pouring in the window and hitting my shoulders, the comfy pajama bottoms that I’m wearing, the fact that my office is clean and neat, how quiet my house is, that I’m going to Arizona tomorrow to visit my daughter, the fact that my house is clean and will be welcoming for my house sitters, the turkey sandwich I just ate for lunch, the TV show “Chopped” that I watched while I ate. So often INFJs get the message either directly or indirectly, that what they like is trivial. All that ESTP energy, so dominant in our society, can make us feel that we are wrong for liking what we like. Your like journal is a chance to:
- Identify your preferences
- Notice and enjoy how elegant and subtle they are
- Start to own what you like so you can generate more in your life
A caution: Your “I Like” Journal is not a list of demands – it isn’t designed so that you can impose your likes on other people. Your journal contains a list of things to seek out, to treat yourself with, to make sure exist in your life. And, when appropriate, to ask for from others. This is the third installment in a series of 10 weekly articles about making the most of being an INFJ. For previous articles visit 10 Steps to an Amazing INFJ Life.