INFP Personal Growth

What does Success mean to an INFP?

INFPs are creative, sensitive souls who take their lives very seriously. They seek harmony and authenticity in their relationships with others. They value creativity, spirituality, and honoring the individual self above all else. They are very tuned into inequity and unfairness against people, and get great satisfaction from conquering such injustices. An INFP is a perfectionist who will rarely allow themselves to feel successful, although they will be keenly aware of failures. INFPs also get satisfaction from being in touch with their creativity. For the INFP, personal success depends upon the condition of their closest relationships, the development of their creative abilities, and the continual support of humanity by serving people in need, fighting against injustice, or in some other way working to make the world a better place to be.

Allowing Your INFP Strengths to Flourish

As an INFP, you have gifts that are specific to your personality type that aren't natural strengths for other types. By recognizing your special gifts and encouraging their growth and development, you will more readily see your place in the world, and how you can better use your talents to achieve your dreams.

Nearly all INFPs will recognize the following characteristics in themselves. They should embrace and nourish these strengths:
 
  • Highly creative, artistic and spiritual, they can produce wonderful works of art, music and literature. INFPs are natural artists. They will find great satisfaction if they encourage and develop their artistic abilities. That doesn't mean that an INFP has to be a famous writer or painter in order to be content. Simply the act of "creating" will be a fulfilling source of renewal and refreshment to the INFP. An INFP should allow himself or herself some artistic outlet, because it will add enrichment and positive energy to their life.
  • They're more spiritually aware than most people, and are more in touch with their soul than others. Most INFPs have strong Faith. Those that don't may feel as if they're missing something important. An INFP should nourish their faith.
  • INFPs are very aware of social injustice, and empathize with the underdog. Their empathy for the underdog and hyper-awareness of social injustice makes them extremely compassionate and nurturing towards disadvantaged members of our society. INFPs will feel most useful and fulfilled when they are fighting to help people who have been misfortunate in our society. They may be teachers, ministers, writers, counsellors or psychologists, but they will most likely all spend extra time trying to help people with special problems. An INFP can find a tremendous amount of satisfaction by enacting some kind of social change that will help the underdog.
  • They're usually good listeners who genuinely want to hear about someone's problems, and genuinely want to help them. This makes them outstanding counsellors, and good friends. An INFP may find great satisfaction from volunteering as a counselor.
  • They accept and value people as individuals, and are strongly egalitarian. They believe that an individual has the right to be themself, without having their attitudes and perspectives brought under scrutiny. Accordingly, they have a great deal of tolerance and acceptance dealing with people who might encounter negative judgment from society in general. They can see something positive in everyone. They believe in individuals. If they give themselves the opportunity, an INFP can become a much-needed source of self-esteem and confidence for people who cannot find it on their own. In this way, they can nurture a "sick soul" back to health.
  • Usually deep and intelligent, they're able to grasp difficult concepts with relative ease. They usually do quite well academically, and will find that educating their minds nourishes their need to think deeply.
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    INFPs who have developed their Extraverted iNtuition to the extent that they can perceive the world about them objectively and quickly will find that they enjoy these special gifts:
     
  • They will have a great deal of insight into people's characters. They will quickly and thoroughly understand where a person is coming from by assessing their motives and feelings. These well-developed INFP individuals make outstanding psychologists (such as Isabel Briggs Myers herself) and counselors. They might also be great fiction writers, because they're able to develop very complex, real characters.
  • They will quickly understand different situations, and quickly grasp new concepts. They will find that they're able to do anything that they put their mind to, although they may not find it personally satisfying. Things may seem to come easily to these INFPs. Although they're able to conquer many different kinds of tasks and situations, these INFPs will be happiest doing something that seems truly important to them. Although they may find that they can achieve the "mainstream" type of success with relative ease, they are not likely to find happiness along that path, unless they are living their lives with authenticity and depth.
  • The INFP who augments their strong, internal value system (Introverted Feeling) with a well-developed intuitive way of perceiving the world (Extraverted iNtuition) can be a powerful force for social change. Their intense values and strong empathy for the underprivileged, combined with a reliable and deeply insightful understanding of the world that we live in, creates an individual with the power to make a difference (such as Mother Teresa - an INFP).
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    Potential Problem Areas

    With any gift of strength, there is an associated weakness. Without "bad", there would be no "good". Without "difficult", there would be no "easy". We value our strengths, but we often curse and ignore our weaknesses. To grow as a person and get what we want out of life, we must not only capitalize upon our strengths, but also face our weaknesses and deal with them. That means taking a hard look at our personality type's potential problem areas.

    INFPs are rare, intelligent, creative beings with many special gifts. I would like for the INFP to keep in mind some of the many positive things associated with being an INFP as they read some of this more negative material. Also remember that the weaknesses associated with being an INFP are natural to your type. Although it may be depressing to read about your type's weaknesses, please remember that we offer this information to enact positive change. We want people to grow into their own potential, and to live happy and successful lives.

    Most of the weaker characteristics that are found in INFPs are due to their dominant Feeling function overshadowing the rest of their personality. When the dominant function of Introverted Feeling overshadows everything else, the INFP can't use Extraverted iNtuition to take in information in a truly objective fashion. In such cases, an INFP may show some or all of the following weaknesses in varying degrees:

  • May be extremely sensitive to any kind of criticism
  • May perceive criticism where none was intended
  • May have skewed or unrealistic ideas about reality
  • May be unable to acknowledge or hear anything that goes against their personal ideas and opinions
  • May blame their problems on other people, seeing themselves as victims who are treated unfairly
  • May have great anger, and show this anger with rash outpourings of bad temper
  • May be unaware of appropriate social behavior
  • May be oblivious to their personal appearance, or to appropriate dress
  • May come across as eccentric, or perhaps even generally strange to others, without being aware of it
  • May be unable to see or understand anyone else's point of view
  • May value their own opinions and feelings far above others
  • May be unaware of how their behavior affects others
  • May be oblivious to other people's need
  • May feel overwhelmed with tension and stress when someone expresses disagreement with the INFP, or disapproval of the INFP
  • May develop strong judgments that are difficult to unseed against people who they perceive have been oppressive or suppressive to them
  • Under great stress, may obsess about details that are unimportant to the big picture of things
  • Under stress, may obsessively brood over a problem repeatedly
  • May have unreasonable expectations of others
  • May have difficulty maintaining close relationships, due to unreasonable expectations
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    Explanation of Problems

    Nearly all of the problematic characteristics described above can be attributed in various degrees to the common INFP problem of only taking in data that justifies their personal opinions. INFPs are usually very intense and sensitive people, and feel seriously threatened by criticism. They are likely to treat any point of view other than their own as criticism of their own perspective. If the INFP does not learn how to deal with this perceived criticism, the INFP will begin to shut out the incoming information that causes them pain. This is a natural survivalistic technique for the INFP personality. The main driver to the INFP personality is Introverted Feeling, whose purpose is to maintain and honor an intensely personal system of values and morals. If an INFP's personal value system is threatened by external influences, the INFP shuts out the threatening data in order to preserve and honor their value system. This is totally natural, and works well to protect the individual psyche from getting hurt. However, the INFP who exercises this type of self-protection regularly will become more and more unaware of other people's perspectives, and thus more and more isolated from a real understanding of the world that they live in. They will always find justification for their own inappropriate behaviors, and will always find fault with the external world for problems that they have in their lives. It will be difficult for them to maintain close personal relationships because they will have unreasonable expectations, and will be unable to accept blame.

    Its not an uncommon tendency for the INFP to look to the external world primarily for information that will support their ideas and values. However, if this tendency is given free reign, the resulting INFP personality is too self-centered to be happy or successful. Since the INFP's dominant function to their personality is Introverted Feeling, they must balance this with an auxiliary Extraverted iNtuitive function. The INFP takes in information via Extraverted iNtuition. This is also the INFP's primary way of dealing with the external world. If the INFP uses Extraverted iNtuition only to serve the purposes of Introverted Feeling, then the INFP is not using Extraversion effectively at all. As a result, the INFP does not take in enough information about the external world to have a good sense of what's going on. They see nothing but their own perspective, and deal with the world only so far as they need to in order to support their perspective. These individuals usually come across as selfish and unrealistic. Depending on how serious the problem is, they may appear to be anything from "a bit eccentric" to "way out there". Many times other people are unable to understand or relate to these people.

    Solutions

    To grow as an individual, the INFP needs to focus on opening their perspective to include a more accurate picture of what is really going on in the world. In order to be in a position in which the INFP is able to perceive and consider data that is foreign to their internal value system, the INFP needs to know that its value system is not threatened by the new information. The INFP must consciously tell himself/herself that an opinion that does not concede with their own is not an indictment of their entire character.

    The INFP who is concerned with personal growth will pay close attention to their motivation for taking in information. Do they take in information to better understand a situation or concept? Or, do they take in information to support a personal idea or cause? At the moment when something is perceived, is the INFP concerned with twisting that perception to fit in with their personal values? Or is she/he concerned with absorbing the information objectively? To achieve a better understanding of the external world, the INFP should try to perceive information objectively, before fitting it into their value system. They should consciously be aware of their tendency to discard anything that doesn't agree with their values, and work towards lessening this tendency. They should try to see situations from other people's perspectives, without making personal judgments about the situations or the other people's perspectives. In general, they should work on exercising their iNtuition in a truly Extraverted sense. In other words, they should use iNtuition to take in information about the world around them for the sake of understanding the world, rather than take in information to support their own conclusions. The INFP who successfully perceives things objectively may be quite a powerful force for positive change.

    Living Happily in our World as an INFP

    Some INFPs have difficulty fitting into our society. Their problems are often a result of an unawareness of appropriate social behavior, an unawareness of how they come across to others, or unrealistic expectations of others. Any one of these three issues stem from using Extraverted iNtuition in a diminished manner. An INFP who takes in information for the sake of understanding the world around them, rather than one who takes in information only to support their own ideas, will have a clearer, more objective understanding of how society values social behaviors and attitudes. He or she will also be more aware of how they are perceived by others, and will have more realistic expectations for others' behavior within a relationship. Such well-adjusted INFPs will fit happily into our society.

    Unless you really understand Psychological Type and the nuances of the various personality functions, it's a difficult task to suddenly start to use iNtuition in an Extraverted direction. It's difficult to even understand what that means, much less to incorporate that directive into your life. With that in mind, I am providing some specific suggestions that may help you to begin exercising your Extraverted iNtuition more fully:

    Ten Rules to Live By to Achieve INFP Success

    1. Feed Your Strengths! Encourage your natural artistic abilities and creativity. Nourish your spirituality. Give yourself opportunities to help the needy or underprivileged.
    2. Face Your Weaknesses! Realize and accept that some traits are strengths and some are weaknesses. Facing and dealing with your weaknesses doesn't mean that you have to change who you are, it means that you want to be the best You possible. By facing your weaknesses, you are honoring your true self, rather than attacking yourself.
    3. Express Your Feelings. Don't let unexpressed emotions build up inside of you. If you have strong feelings, sort them out and express them, Don't let them build up inside you to the point where they become unmanageable!
    4. Listen to Everything. Try not to dismiss anything immediately. Let everything soak in for awhile, then apply judgment.
    5. Smile at Criticism. Remember that people will not always agree with you or understand you, even if they value you greatly. Try to see disagreement and criticism as an opportunity for growth. In fact, that is exactly what it is.
    6. Be Aware of Others. Remember that there are 15 other personality types out there who see things differently than you see them. Try to identify other people's types. Try to understand their perspectives.
    7. Be Accountable for Yourself. Remember that YOU have more control over your life than any other person has.
    8. Be Gentle in Your Expectations. You will always be disappointed with others if you expect too much of them. Being disappointed with another person is the best way to drive them away. Treat others with the same gentleness that you would like to be treated with.
    9. Assume the Best. Don't distress yourself by assuming the worst. Remember that a positive attitude often creates positive situations.
    10. When in Doubt, Ask Questions! Don't assume that the lack of feedback is the same thing as negative feedback. If you need feedback and don't have any, ask for it.

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