Friday, May 22, 2015

The INFJ in the "Real World"

Yes, I am a dominant intutive. I live in the world of imagination and love it there. It's a fun place where I can explore ideas. It is where I sift through all the data that my extroverted feeling and sensing functions have been sending me and make sense of it. As I ponder people and situations, I see in my mind what future consequences might be. Not only do I live in a world of imagination, but in a world of possibilities.

Many creative people (ENFJ, INFP, ENFJ) create wonderful music, art, writing, and inventions. INFJs can do these things, but our focus is generally more on improving the world, especially helping people to become better. As you can imagine, the person waving the flag and calling for everyone to come up, to change for the better, is not always appreciated in our "reality" world. Don't I know that it can't be done? Don't I know that people just are the way they are? No, I don't!

Think of these famous INFJ's : Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, and Mother Teresa. INFJ's are not just idealistic dreamers, we are people who use our thinking ability to help analize the whole picture and our judging ability to make a plan to achieve the goals we know are possible. We are the practical dreamers; the teachers, social reformers, and counselors of the world. Our drive is to heal and help. Where is my flag? I feel like waving it!

What do I do in a world that isn't too fond of idealists? I used to get so frustrated and upset that I couldn't sleep. The stress would build as I thought about "society's" unwillingness to change. I was amazed and crushed that my ideas were dismissed as "illogical" and rejected.

This is why I began to study personality type thirty years ago. It has helped me understand that Sensing Judging types (about 40% or the American population) do not like change; they want to stay with the "tried and true" patterns which have proven their value in the past. My attempts to help them be happier were viewed as an assult on their castle and met with armed defence.

At first I was stunned by their vehement responses. For instance, a group of women were complaining how they didn't have time to relax. I was just trying to be helpful when I suggested delegating some of the work to their family, or that some tasks might even be eliminated. Anathema!

Now I'm nearly 65 years old and am finally learning a few things which is cutting down my stress level considerably.

  • Women (and some men) like to vent emotions. Generally they are not asking for ideas to change, so don't offer them. (many men have learned this the hard way!)
  • SJ sensing judging people do not like to change, so ease them into it gently if it must be done. Warn them that change might be necessary. Later, warn them that change is needed, then clearly and logically, explain the reasons for the change. 
  • Ask for their ideas on solving the problem. SJ's, especially ISTJs like my husband, are terrific at pointing out all the holes in my plans. I now appreciate that ability and use his strong anylitical thinking ability to perfect my plans.
  • Do not expect enthusiasm about change from SJ's. Their first reaction as a matter of course is, "No!" My husband always answers "No" at first ( an ISTJ). I used to withdraw and sulk because he wouldn't listen to me. Now, I am emotionally prepared. I ignore his reaction, give him some time, then logically explain the need for the change, and we explore possible solutions together.
  • When I am informed that, "It can't be done!" I calmly ask, "If you would be given a million dollars to solve this problem, could you do it?"  When he replys, "Yes",  I know we will work it out. Persistance, patience, and love are essential for a world changer (INFJ) and a world preserver (ISTJ) to live together.
  • In relationships with friends and family I can eventually express my ideas. If someone doesn't think as I do, I can accept that, but I want them to understand what I am saying and consider it. I don't want to be dismissed just because I am not a sensing judging type. I no longer allow people to treat me as merely a silly child. My ideas are well thought out and founded on true principles, and I know it.
  • What about organizations? I hold firm with everything that is true and right, but try to keep my distance from things that are merely cultural traditions. For instance, I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). I know the principles are true, but I don't embrace all the culture, all the "this is how it is always done" things. 
  • Many organizations are very inflexible, so I keep me and my "helpful" ideas far away from them. I learned that though I am a good teacher with a proven track record of tutoring struggling children, I do not fit into the elementary school system. If I accepted a teaching position, I would have to do things the way the administration wanted. INFJ's have their own vision of what is right and how to do it. Instead I volunteered. I got amazing results. They wanted me to do it their way and still get the same results. Impossible!
  • The big thing I'm finally learning is to quit telling people what to do. My brother called me "bossy" when we were children. For a while I just sulked and withdrew when people didn't appreciate my wonderful ideas. Now I express my ideas in blogs, poems, and by sharing my experiences. I've learned that, "this is what I tried", is much a much better approach than, "you should do this". I just offer ideas, change what I can (mainly me), and let others choose what they want to do in their own lives. I've quit feeling responsible for everyone's happiness, and consequently experience far less stress. 
  • I've found some areas where I am free to help others in my own way. I counsel, tutor, teach, and write. I may not be changing the whole world, but I've doing well in my small part of it. Once there was a man who was throwing beached starfish back into the water. Another man questioned him asking why he would go to the effort. It just didn't matter. There were far too many for the man to rescue them all. The man replied simply as he trew a starfish back into the water, "It matters to that starfish". Perspective.

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