Friday, December 30, 2016

INFJ Under Stress

There I was, a miserable mess. I kept crying. I felt there was no purpose to my life. I didn't want to live. There was nothing for me to do. Life was just endless details. My husband was always grouchy. I felt that no one loved me. The world had rejected me and my abilities. I wanted to just cease to exist.

Yes, I had reached my low, "I'll go out and eat worms",  point in life. How did I get there? How have I gotten out? That's what I have been asking myself, because I sure don't want to go there again!

I looked at my life. My husband had just retired, so there were a lot of changes. Apparently, I was not adjusting well. What was I doing each day that depressed me so much? I was doing normal things such as dishes and laundry and dusting. I answered some emails and commented on Facebook posts. I visited with my husband, did some data gathering for him, went for a ride with him in the afternoon, and watched football or basketball with him in the evenings.

Just listing all that and I want to crawl into a hole. Everything was sensing details. I can see why I didn't want to even get up in the mornings! My husband is a very competent ISTJ (introverted sensing, thinking, judging). He happily fills his life with detail after detail, ad nauseam. Here I was the empathic, philosophical INFJ (introverted intuitive feeling judging) trying to be his shadow. I was picking up all my husband's orderly, detailed needs and desires and trying to meet them. I was trying to be an ISTJ!

If you know anything about personality, you will recognize that this is a recipe for disaster - mine. I'll show part of the problem.

INFJ                                                                      ISTJ
Ni dominate introverted intuition                         Si dominate introverted sensing
Fe supported by extroverted feeling                     Te supported by extroverted thinking
Ti 3rd function introverted thinking                     Fi  3rd function introverted feeling
Se 4th function extroverted sensing                     Ne 4th function extroverted intuition

Can you see a problem? Yes, we do use our functions in the same way. We both use our dominant function in our inner world, our supporting function with the outer world, 3rd function in the inner world, and the 4th function with the outer world, but they are the opposite functions! My dominant is intuition and his is sensing. My supporting function is feeling and his is thinking. My 3rd function is thinking and his is feeling. My 4th function is sensing and his is intuition. We are exact opposites of each other! Not only do we prefer the opposite functions, but we prefer to use them differently. All that I use in the inner world, he uses in the outer world, and vice versa. No wonder I was stressed!

Here I was dismally filling my day with detail after detail. That is enough to shrivel up a creative soul! It wasn't just the things I was doing, I can manage a little housework and computer correspondence, but it was what I wasn't doing. I wasn't using my abilities. I wasn't creating. I wasn't being me.

I was just using my extroverted functions. I was trying to deal with life by picking up others' feelings and trying to meet their needs. This sounds great, but it doesn't work for an INFJ. Instead of relying on my strength, my dominant introverted intuition (Ni) to supply me with information through impressions, to help me integrate ideas and concepts into my value framework, to solve problems, and create a vision of future possibilities, I was merely responding to others emotions. I wasn't using my introverted thinking (Ti) to analyze information and balance my desire for harmony (Fe) the desire not upset anyone) with the principles I know are right (Ti). I was mindlessly wearing myself out trying to give everyone what they wanted, instead of what they needed. No longer was I sought out as a wise sage, but because I was an easily manipulable slave. Some fun!

To make the situation even worse, not only was I not using my dominant introverted intuition (Ni) and introverted thinking (Ti), I was using my sensing function in an unbalanced way for an INFJ.
Normally, I use my extroverted sensing function (Se) to sense and enjoy the world around me. When stressed I start amassing facts, and making charts and lists. Why would that be a problem? Look at my lists. Under stress, I pull out all my files of every slight, inconsiderate action, and offense I have ever experienced. I dwell on them, becoming more and more convinced that no one loves me for who I really am. Feeling justified, I suppress my intuitive and thinking abilities and just try and please people all day, make lists, and do housework.  Of course, this leads an INFJ into a deep pit of depression where the light of inspiration (Ni), hope for the future (Ni), and logical perspective (Ti) do not exist.

How did I get out? I prayed- a lot, then took hold of my life. I roused out my introverted intuitive (Ni) and thinking abilities (Ti) and had them analyze what was happening. The conclusion - it doesn't matter if anyone understands or appreciates my creative ideas, I do. I learn and grow as I write. I am not a complete functioning adult if I do not use all aspects of my personality (Ni Fe Ti Se). That is how I function. That is the strength of my being. If I deny my true identity, I will become an extremely stressed and depressed person, and who I really am will cease to exist.

Through this ordeal, I feel like I let a 12 year old be in charge of my life. Though my sweet little feely soul tried (Fe), she was not up to all the pressures and decisions which an adult needs to make. Now "Momma" is back! My introverted intuition (Ni) aided by my introverted thinking (Ti) works with my extroverted feeling(Fe) and sensing (Se) to enable me to live a creative adult life.

So what did I actually do? It was simple. I started writing again. Now, each morning I grab my laptop and go off to a more secluded spot in my home (a lavender bedroom) where I contentedly write for a few hours. Yes, I think of details which should be done, and things I could say to my husband, but they must wait till after my writing. No longer will I allow details and the outside world to deprive me of creating in my inner world. Am I happy again? Yes! Is my husband happier? Yes! As soon as I got my life back in balance, he has been his normal easygoing self. Could it have been me?! No. It was just a shadow.

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