INFJs have remarkable intuitive powers. At school, we intuit exactly what a professor wants us to learn, create a holistic picture of the study material, and ace classes by linking all of the information together in context. At work, we see broken processes and ways to improve them. In our personal lives, we see how habits, social patterns, jobs, and relationships combine to make a beautiful tapestry. The only problem is that often, nobody else sees the tapestry. INFJs rely on Introverted Intuition to process information, and it’s difficult for other personality types to understand how our minds work. When we express our ideas to others, we get lukewarm or confused responses. Since INFJs value harmony and want things to proceed orderly, we struggle to take action when others don’t affirm or understand us.
Then end result? INFJs fail to take action. We become stuck in unhealthy behavioral patterns because we don’t feel affirmed or understood. And this keeps us from believing in ourselves and using our INFJ superpowers to help the world.
This article has two parts. The first will cover three limiting factors that make INFJs feel so misunderstood and prevent us from acting on our ideas. The second part is a plan I have implemented for myself. This program has taken me from being a dissatisfied software developer to being a software developer, life coach, and human rights activist who is contributing my superpowers to the world.
Limiting Factor 1: Hiding Our Accomplishments
According to 16 Personalities, INFJs want to present themselves as the “culmination of an ideal.”. We dread the thought of showing people our messy, work-in-progress selves. If I’m writing a post for my blog or working on life coaching materials, I often won’t share them with those closest to me until my ideas are published. This confuses my loved ones and saps my confidence. And it leads me to feel misunderstood and undervalued – even though I am the one choosing to withhold my accomplishments.
Limiting Factor 2: Avoiding Confrontation
INFJs avoid conversations where we know there will be conflict and that the other person isn’t going to change. As a software developer, I’ve faced situations where I knew I had a better way of programming – but because I intuited that my boss wouldn’t understand, I avoided the conversation and never brought up or acted upon my intuition – to the team’s loss.
Limiting Factor 3: Over-Explaining
Sometimes casual discussion leaves INFJs feeling misunderstood. I love to share my ideas for coding, life coaching, and social activism with others. However, the people I talk to don’t always understand how these seemingly different concepts connect. I find myself explaining again and again how the interconnectedness of personal habits and politics and science can shape the world, but with each explanation, I actually feel more frustrated and less likely to take action.
The Action Cycle
The world needs INFJs to act on our intuition instead of standing paralyzed when we feel misunderstood. One way we can do this is through a four step process I call the Action Cycle.
Step 1: Read inspirational material
The goal of this routine is to spend at least 30 minutes a day absorbing resources that inspire action. Read articles like the ones on INFJ Blog. Find a book or TED Talk that resonates with you. For me, the transformative change in my life was replacing TV and video games with these affirming resources, because it gave me the momentary inspiration to take action towards my dreams of being a life coach.
Step 2: Take action
The first step towards my goal was to create a blog where I could share my ideas. On day one, I created an account and wrote my first post. I was motivated to do this because of the inspirational material I read during my morning routine — The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown.
Step 3: Demonstrate your action to others
While creating the blog was a huge step, it wasn’t enough. I continued to take action by sharing the draft with my fiancee, and by posting the final version on social media. My article wasn’t perfect by any means. I was scared. Usually, I’d hide my ideas. But I had taken the first action step, and I was emboldened enough to put my post on Facebook. It got very positive responses!
Step 4: Develop new beliefs
It’s a myth that confidence comes before action. Only after I had taken real action by posting my first blog post was I able to truly change my belief from “no-one will ever understand me” to “Hey! People enjoyed my work, even if they didn’t completely understand it.” Once you’ve taken that first action and received a response, you’ll develop courage and slowly be able to change your limiting beliefs. You’ll have confidence even when others don’t understand you because you know you’ll deliver.
Following these steps can change your life, and your impact can change the world.
The Power of Taking Action
This action cycle has worked wonders for me. I used to wake up every morning to an office job thinking, “Why does nobody understand me? What if I’m just not right for the world?” I’d come home frustrated and stressed. Worst of all, I wasn’t taking any action to resolve it.
Then I implemented my action cycle. I still work at the same company, but my initiative on new projects rewarded me with a much more engaging role. I still get frustrated that people don’t understand my intuition in the way I do at times. But I am able to demonstrate, over and over again, how my intuition is having a positive impact on the world. That gives me confidence. And my life coaching and blogging practice are thriving – again thanks to the simple action cycle. I actually get paid to coach other people on how to do this now! It’s an incredible experience to help others with what I had to work so hard to learn myself.
If you’re out there feeling misunderstood, let this post be your motivation. I have been there. I’ve been in the depths of being misused and misunderstood, and I have emerged stronger and happier for it. But only because I found a way to get past the need to be understood first. I learned to take action first and be understood later. That ability has transformed my life, and it can transform yours too if you give my action cycle a try!
(Want more information about your personality type? Take the TypeFinder Personality Test.)