I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that my general stress levels seem to peak in the fall and winter. As an introvert and INFJ personality type, the extra social events and responsibilities that surround the holidays tend to drain me physically and mentally. As an extroverted feeler, I feel the need to make sure that everyone is happy and that things run smoothly. Through all the stress that comes with the holiday season, I typically keep my feelings to myself. I mean, everyone stresses out during that time of year, right? No one needs to add me to their list of concerns.
I guess it is no surprise that it’s also the time of year that I get sick most often and experience the most anxiety. I recently read Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown, which is about the power of vulnerability. The more we are able to express ourselves, the more power and control we have over our lives. Being vulnerable and open is hard for me. I’m sure many of you reading this can relate. However, vulnerability is an absolutely crucial part of living a healthy and meaningful life.
One thing that we need to recognize as we begin on the path to vulnerability is how we handle our emotions.
According to a podcast by Personality Hacker, there are two categories we tend to fall into when it comes to dealing with emotion: emotional stacking and emotional indulgence. Emotional stacking means bottling your emotions to avoid conflict or confrontation. Emotional indulgence means over-sharing your feelings so that everyone else is involved in your problems. As introverts and feelers, INFJs tend to fall into the first group. Here are four reasons INFJs bottle emotions and some tips to help INFJs overcome the fear of vulnerability.
Although some introverts are very talkative and expressive, most of us prefer to keep the majority of our thoughts to ourselves. The conversations in my head versus conversations in real life ratio is somewhere around 1,000 to 1.
Even with those we are close to, we may only share a tenth of what is actually on our mind. In fact, there is a science behind why introverts struggle to speak that has to do with how our brain processes information. All of these things can make it difficult to open up about how we are feeling at the moment.
Tip: If you feel like sharing your feelings with a loved one but find it difficult to open up, first write out how you feel in a letter or email to the person. This will help you process your emotions and make it easier to bring up the conversation. If you still feel uncomfortable expressing yourself in spoken word, send the letter or email to the person.
We’re Extroverted Feelers
Extroverted Feeling values peace and harmony in our surroundings. Sharing negative emotions can cause those around us to become upset, which in turn can make us even more upset. Our natural mode of operation is to make sure that everyone else feels OK. We’re often extremely uncomfortable with conflict and drama.
At the same time, we are often very calm and level-headed when other people open up to us about their emotions. Emotional indulgers love INFJs. This is one reason we need to be especially careful to avoid emotional vampires. While in the short-term it’s a relief when someone starts to talk about their problems because we get to go into our counselor comfort zone, in the long-term, it’s unhealthy to keep our feelings inside and encourages one-sided relationships. INFJs will end up bitter if we feel like we’re constantly supporting someone else, but not getting that type of support in return.
Tip: According to Personality Growth, INFJs can use our dominant function, Introverted Intuition, to help us sort out how we’re feeling in the moment by comparing it to similar instances in the past. Often times we just need to allow some time to process what we’re feeling and experiencing before reacting. If we find that we’re dwelling on the situation, then that’s a sign that we need to discuss the issue with someone else or find a healthy way to express our emotion.
We Think We’re Stronger Than We Are
The INFJ personality type is often called the Counselor personality type. We’re used to offering a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, and helpful advice. This leads us to a false sense of supremacy over our own emotions. If we’re so good at helping others figure out their emotions, surely we can handle our own just fine, right?
Like any human being who feels things, we also need an outlet to express our deep and sensitive feelings.
Tip: One reason INFJs bottle our emotion is because we feel like no one would understand what we’re going through. I recommend seeking out other introverts and INFJs online or through common-interest groups. If you’re experiencing depression, anxiety, grief, thoughts about harming yourself or others, addiction, abuse, or anything that you feel is too serious and difficult to speak to most people about, please talk to your doctor, counselor, or find a support group near you. There are several options available, so please don’t be afraid to ask for help.
We Think Our Emotions Aren’t Valid
We are extremely tuned into the emotions of others. We can tell when the grocery store clerk is sad even when they’re smiling. We know when our co-worker is slightly annoyed by what our boss said in the meeting. We know that our significant other is holding something in even though they’re trying not to show it. It is often said that INFJs can see into the souls of others, and at times it definitely feels like that is true!
Since we are so wrapped up in other’s emotions, we’ve tricked our brains into thinking that this matters more than how we feel. Our emotions are secondary to what is going on the outside world. Our Introverted Feeling function is much weaker, so sometimes it takes us awhile to separate how we feel about something from how other people feel about it.
Tip: Keep a daily feelings journal. Jot down some of the things you felt throughout the day and contemplate on why you felt that way. Recognizing the cause of our feelings is a great way to become more emotionally aware and shake some of that feeling junk out of the bottle.
Do you have any tips or resources for INFJs and introverts who have a hard time expressing emotions? Are you more of an emotional stacker or emotional indulger?