I spent some time reading an INFJ online bulletin board and was surprised and embarrassed at how many of the posts just shrieked “poor me!” It showed up over and over again – “nobody appreciates me!” “I’m so sensitive!” “he did this to me, she did that…!”
I was surprised both by the quantity of the complaints and by the fact that the people posting them seemed to feel so victimized.
However I was embarrassed because they sounded startlingly similar to the whining that often is going on in my own head.
Which made me realize that all that complaining is pretty unappealing. Even though it’s true that INFJs are sometimes overlooked and underappreciated, it doesn’t benefit us to focus on it. In order to reach our full potential in life we need to stop seeking external validation. We need to accept the fact that our power is subtle, our passion is quiet, and our strength is internal.
We need to stop relying on the approval of others to feel good about ourselves.
It’s not as hard as you might think:
Create an internal measure of validation – Identify your own values, what’s important to you, and determine the worth of your actions based on those. If you’re passionate about helping others then your work tutoring illiterate adults is priceless, no matter what anyone says or doesn’t say. And if you get some praise for it, that’s nice, but stay connected with the fact that helping someone is what’s important, getting external recognition is a perk.
Celebrate your accomplishments – Don’t wait for someone else to acknowledge your triumphs, do it yourself. Just finished the first draft of your book? Treat yourself to a day off where you can do whatever you want. Had the courage to take on a tough assignment at work? Buy yourself a new leather portfolio to help you feel a touch more professional at the meetings you’ll be attending. By acknowledging your own successes you’re not only recognizing the value of your work, you’re also reducing your reliance on others’ approval.
Understand that you can still be right even if no one else agrees with you – There are times when I just know I’m right about something and no one around me will acknowledge it. When that happens it can feel like my knowledge doesn’t mean anything because no one else sees it. I suspect that most INFJs encounter this – our insights are often so subtle that they can appear to have been pulled out of thin air to our less intuitive companions.
You’ll always be frustrated until you accept the simple fact that sometimes you’ll know more than the people around you. Again, it’s about understanding that your wisdom is solid, deep, and enough. You don’t need the recognition of others to confirm that you know what you know.
My coach once called me a “silent warrior” and that resonated with me. I think that is a great way to look at the internal power, insight and strength that INFJs carry with them.
Exercise: Identify Your Values
One of the best ways to determine the value of your actions is to make sure you have a clear understanding of your values.
- Make a list of the things that are most important in your life (aside from your basic needs such as food, clothing, etc). My list, for example, would include the following: loyal friends that I can laugh with, time with my daughter, finding the best way for me to help others people, my home, reading, doing work that matters, creating something meaningful, and learning.
- Review your list with an eye towards looking for your values – they should be easy to spot. The values that come out of my list are: friendship, laughter, family, helping others, nesting, reading & learning, creativity and contribution.
- Keep a list of your values and make it a living document – mature it by adding other areas as you notice them. Use it when making decisions and compare how you spend your time with what’s on your list.
This is the seventh 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.
7 thoughts on “10 Steps to an Amazing INFJ Life: #7 Seek Approval From Within”
One thing that I attempt in seeking approval from within is reminding myself what quality I like the most about myself, regardless of outside validation.
I’d have to say one quality I appreciate about myself now is me gaining more courage than I ever used to.
Other than that…
”Understand that you can still be right even if no one else agrees with you.. I suspect that most INFJs encounter this – our insights are often so subtle that they can appear to have been pulled out of thin air to our less intuitive companions. ”
I still struggle with it, though I’m getting way better at this. It’s just Fe sometimes makes it hard for me to escape the need for at least some external validation for my insights, but I try to balance it all out..Ni+Ti+Fe 😀
I love that you are finding your courage – from your comments on my blog I know that you have something to share with the world, and courage is necessary to make that happen!!
I have trouble with wanting external validation, too, it can be so frustrating to feel dismissed by our logical “T” brethren. It’s always a struggle to stop pushing against that lack of understanding and just let it go. But it’s worth the effort to become more self-reliant by not seeking confirmation that we are, indeed, as wise as we know we are.
Thanks for this. I’ve had a problem with wanting external validation for ideas. I’m trying to grow out of it now.
I don’t have that much confidence and don’t turst my “insights” that much, especially since I have reflected on somethings that I have shared and discovered that I was not only wrong but possibly hurtful to others. 😦
Good point about insights – to me this is a place where we get to “hold both” meaning that while we listen to our insights and value them, we also realize that we’re pretty much making up stuff when we have them. I wrote about this topic in my other blog The Easy Place in a post titled What We Make Up (http://theeasyplace.wordpress.com/2010/03/30/what-we-make-up/)
Thanks for your comments!
So interesting – your heading: you have a right to be yourself…
when I’m myself, others find me too heavy, too shy, too everything… so I’m just too tired of bending over backwards, serving and pleasing everybody else. there’s no space for me to be and to breath in this life. i only experience rejection. i’m not good enough. only a burden. it’s just hurting too much. 40 years too much…
Hey EV, hang in there! I know what it feels like to not fit in – I have many people in my life that I love dearly who don’t understand me. Part of suceeding as an INFJ is learning to appreciate who we are without worrying so much about others are thinking.
It sounds like you’re depressed and might even be thinking about hurting yourself – please don’t, you matter more than you know. Please get some professional help, someone who can work with you to figure out how to live the life you want – you don’t have to feel this way.
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