I am coming to understand that peace in my life is a matter of balance. One area I find challenging as an INFJ is balancing my desire to help others with my need to care for myself.
- Mentoring People: I don't easily give up on people. If one idea doesn't work, then I'll come up with another. I am an idealist and have great faith in people's potential (NF intuitive feeling). I can see many ways to help people develop their talents and rise to become the person they were meant to be, and I will invest tremendous time and energy into helping them flourish. Only when a person refuses to change; refuses to grow; refuses to learn; only when there is nothing else I can do; will I step away from a relationship. Some people are surprised when I actually walk away, but I will when I see that there is no possibility of having a positive relationship with that person. This isn't just with acquaintances, but even with close family members. I feel like I am saving myself when I see the ship going down, but I always stay close by and available if they decide to change. Since I am so empathic being around negative, critical, crude, and selfish people is like taking poison into my soul. I must get away or my sensitive spirit with wither. Yes, being so empathic and devoting so such time and energy to relationships can be quite stressful, but when I can help a person grow and be happy, it is worth it!
- Nurturing Myself: I can become so involved in other's lives that I forget to care for myself. It is like my scanners are focused outward, which they are. As an INFJ, my feeling and sensing functions are extroverted or focused on the outside world. I pick up all sorts of information from other people and my environment. I notice their verbal and non-verbal communication. I sense how they are feeling and what they need, and I have a desire to help them. I truly, and deeply, care for everyone I meet. Even strangers sense this in me and come up to me and begin sharing all their hopes and woes. This ability to empathize with others is a great gift, but if I don't step back from the world and assess what I am feeling and what I need, I will eventually collapse. I know, how can I not be aware of what I need. The same way I can so totally tune into others that I feel as they are feeling. It is like having a telescope focused on the outer world. I have to stop and turn the scope around before I see myself. I must make time to focus on my inner world. I need time alone to check into how I am feeling, to listen to what my intuition is telling me, to align with my own values, to notice my needs, and sort out my own feelings from others feelings. If I don't regularly remove myself from all the outside input and center, I will become exhausted.
Could I simply ignore all this info I receive from others? No. To me it feels like they are broadcasting their feelings and thoughts on a loud speaker. I just sort of resonate to their "vibes". I feel their spirit. It is a part of who I am and how I function as an dominant intoverted intuitive feeling person (INF). Besides, I need this input from others to help me determine how I can help them. Helping people reach their potential is how I express my idealism. It gives purpose, drive, and energy to my life. I thrive on helping other people grow. Extroverting allows me to apply my tremendous introverted intuition and feeling values in the real world. This is why I love teaching, mentoring, and writing. It is me. It is my natural way of relating with others. Some people wonder if those like me are "for real". They question how anyone could be so altruistic. If you are deeply feeling others feelings and are aware of their needs, what else could you be? Their needs are my needs.
The problem comes when I focus on other people and their needs so much that I begin to feel responsible for their lives. Not only does this stifle their growth, but it drains my physical and emotional reserves. I have the ability to take in their feelings and needs to a point where they seem to be my own. To maintain my own identity and make sure I do not over extend myself or take responsibility away from others, I must step back frequently and check in with myself. I need quiet time to look inside and see if my actions are matching my goals and values. I need to separate myself from others. I have to recenter on how I am feeling. Writing and Personality study help me do this. This is probably why many INFJ's write, and why personality study is the major research interest of almost all INFJs. Also, meditation, scripture reading, and praying enable me to remain centered. All these activities help me keep in touch with who I am. They help me keep my identity separate and not lose it as I take on others feelings and needs. If I don't frequently step away from the world and "check in" with who I am, I will soon collapse in an exhausted heap.