The Myers-Briggs personality test has been widely accepted as one of the most accurate descriptions of people based on their personalities. Drawing from the works of the eminent psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, it is one of the go to test for personality determination in the Modern World. Out of the 16 personality types classified by the Myers-Briggs classification, INFJ is associated with people who are driven, idealists and do well in fields which involve counseling others.
INFJ stands for Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judgment.
Because they rely on their intuition and are introverts, they are usually good at counseling others. They are more interested in peeling off the layers behind people, events and themselves. Hence they are said to have the wisdom and depth needed to be able to guide others. Some of the famous examples of INFJ personality types are world leaders like Mandela, Gandhi and Mother Teresa. Even though they are characteristically introverts, they are able to form deep bonds with others because they have a better understanding of human emotions and motivations. Therefore, it is common to expect an INFJ to be calm and composed in the moments of crisis, being able to take charge and help others.
However, the presumption that INFJ would always be full of compassion and love for others is a little far stretched because that is just one aspect of their personality. There are other aspects too, which are comparatively darker and when played out and emphasized has led to far more sinister individuals than what we would expect from this personality type.
Would you believe that Osama Bin Laden and Adolf Hitler too belonged to this personality type? This is because the same passion (which the INFJ are known for) when applied for a sinister cause can cause a lot of collateral damage. All the 5 names mentioned so far were highly driven and motivated individuals, who touched a lot of lives because of their determination. But the difference was the cause they chose to pursue and the beliefs they held.
The reason is that even though INFJs are considered to be masters over their emotions, they are just calm on the surface. Deep within the sways of their emotions influences them much more than you’d think. They have their own struggles with the particular characteristics of their personality type. And as mentioned above, depending on what they believe in, they can turn out to be the epitome of either good or evil.
Again, just because INFJs are good at masking their emotions from the outside world, doesn’t mean that they don’t have any. They feel too intensely and sometimes just way too much. Their feelings and emotions keep changing and sometimes it can get too much for an individual to handle alone. But being the introvert that they are, their first instinct is to be reserved because firstly, they genuinely don’t want to bother someone else with their problems. And secondly, they fear that they’d be judged by the other person. This inhibition causes them to bottle up these emotions and they keep struggling alone.
One thing that the INFJs do better than most is that they plan. One thing that they don’t do so well is adapt. Coping with changes gets a tad bit difficult for the INFJ types because they have elaborate plans which take into consideration every minor detail. But these plans are about something in the future, and we know that a lot can happen between now and then. And when something that can cause their planning to sink occurs, they find it hard to be accepting of such changes. Hence, they tend to get a bit stubborn which can lead to further problems.
Also, INFJs don’t handle stress as well as the others. Whereas there are some personality types who thrive on stress. For some people, stress can be a major driving force that not only allows them to reach their goals but to also thrive. In comparison, INFJs find themselves reeling from the stress. They get overwhelmed and try to find unhealthy outlets to this stress, such as binge eating and indulging etc. stress also makes them very short tempered and easily irritated. Worst case scenario, stress either makes them offensive towards the rest of the world, or defensive to the extent that they withdraw within themselves.
That damaged part of you that you hide from the world – it needs healing too! Learn how to heal yourself through Shadow Work. ❤
“We ALL carry demons inside. Shadow work is the attempt to uncover everything that we have disowned and rejected within our Shadow Selves. Our Shadow Self is our darker half, alter ego or “evil twin.”
All of us carry demons inside. Sometimes we catch fleeting glimpses of them, sometimes we witness them in full frontal chaos, but for the most part, we ignore and bury their existence either out of fear, guilt or pure shame. However, discovering and owning our demons is a vital part of our spiritual journey.
As authors and psychotherapist Steve Wolf noted:
Beneath the social mask we wear every day, we have a hidden shadow side: an impulsive, wounded, sad, or isolated part that we generally try to ignore. The Shadow can be a source of emotional richness and vitality and be acknowledging it can be a pathway to healing and authentic life.
In other words, the Shadow isn’t just the wounded part of us, but it is also the path towards a more authentic and fulfilling life. In order to repair, heal, and grow on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level, we need to practice Shadow Work.
Shadow Work is a practice that helps us to become whole again. It works on the premise that you must 100% OWN your Shadow, rather than avoiding or repressing it, to experience deep healing.
This daunting and often frightening task is a requirement of every person. But you don’t have to go at it alone.
In this long and detailed guide, I will offer you a helping hand. Having studied and worked with the Shadow for years, I’ll share with you some of the best tools, insights, and advice that I have gathered thus far.
Why Focusing Only on the Light is a Form of Escapism
For most of my life, I’ve grown up firmly believing that the only thing worthy of guiding me was “light” and “love.” Whether through the family environment I was raised in, or the cultural myths I was brought up clinging to, I once believed that all you really needed to do in life to be happy was to focus on everything beautiful, positive and spiritually “righteous.” I’m sure you were raised believing a similar story as well. It’s a sort of “Recipe for Well-Being.”
But a few years ago, after battling ongoing mental health issues, I realized something shocking:
I was wrong.
Not just wrong, but completely and utterly off the mark. Focusing only on “love and light” will not heal your wounds on a deep level. In fact, I’ve learned through a lot of heavy inner work, that not only is focusing solely on “holiness” in life one side of the equation, but it is actually a form of spiritually bypassing your deeper, darker problems that, let me assure you, almost definitely exist.
It is very easy and comfortable to focus only on the light side of life. So many people in today’s world follow this path. And while it might provide some temporary emotional support, it doesn’t reach to the depths of your being: it doesn’t transform you at a core level. Instead, it leaves you superficially hanging onto warm and fuzzy platitudes which sound nice, but don’t enact any real change.
What DOES touch the very depths of your being, however, is exploring your Shadow.
What is the Human Shadow?
In short, the human shadow is our dark side; our lost and forgotten disowned self. Your shadow is the place within you that contains all of your secrets, repressed feelings, primitive impulses, and parts deemed “unacceptable,” shameful, “sinful” or even “evil.” This dark place lurking within your unconscious mind also contains suppressed and rejected emotions such as rage, jealousy, hatred, greed, deceitfulness, and selfishness.
So where did the Shadow Self idea originate? The concept was originally coined and explored by Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Carl Jung. In Jung’s own words:
Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.
When the human Shadow is shunned, it tends to undermine and sabotage our lives. Addictions, low self-esteem, mental illness, chronic illnesses, and various neuroses are all attributed to the Shadow Self. When our Shadows are suppressed or repressed in the unconscious long enough, they can even overtake our entire lives and causes psychosis or extreme forms of behavior like cheating on one’s partner or physically harming others. Intoxicants such as alcohol and drugs also have a tendency to unleash the Shadow.
Thankfully, there is a way to explore the Shadow and prevent it from devouring our existence, and that is called Shadow Work.
What is Shadow Work?
Shadow work is the process of exploring your inner darkness or “Shadow Self.” As mentioned previously, your Shadow Self is part of your unconscious mind and contains everything you feel ashamed of thinking and feeling, as well as every impulse, repressed idea, desire, fear and perversion that for one reason or another, you have “locked away” consciously or unconsciously. Often this is done as a way of keeping yourself tame, likable and “civilized” in the eyes of others.
Shadow work is the attempt to uncover everything that we have hidden and every part of us that has been disowned and rejected within our Shadow Selves. Why? Because without revealing to ourselves what we have hidden, we remain burdened with problems such as anger, guilt, shame, disgust, and grief.
All throughout the history of mankind Shadow Work has played a powerful yet mysterious and occult role in helping us discover what is causing us mental illness, physical dis-ease and even insanity resulting in crimes of all kinds.
Traditionally, Shadow Work fell in the realm of the Shamans, or medicine people, as well as the priests and priestesses of the archaic periods of history. These days, Shadow Work falls more commonly in the realms of psychotherapy, with psychologists, psychiatrists, spiritual guides, and therapists.
Do We All Have a Shadow Self?
Yes, we ALL have a Shadow Self. As uncomfortable as it may sound, there is a dark side within every human being. Why is this the case? The reason why all human beings have a shadow is due to the way we were raised as human beings, often referred to as our ‘conditioning.’ (We’ll explore how the Shadow is formed next.)
“But I’m a good person! I don’t have a ‘shadow’ side,” you might be thinking. Well, the reality is that yes, you might be a good person. In fact, you might be the most generous, loving, and selfless person in the entire world. You might feed the hungry, save puppies, and donate half of your salary to the poor. But that doesn’t exclude you from having a Shadow. There are no exceptions here. The nature of being human is to possess both a light and a dark side, and we need to embrace that.
Sometimes, when people hear that they have a Shadow side (or when it is pointed out), there is a lot of denials. We have been taught to perceive ourselves in a very two-dimensional and limited way. We have been taught that only criminals, murderers, and thieves have a Shadow side. This black and white thinking is one of the major causes of our suffering.
If the thought of having a Shadow side disturbs you, take a moment to consider whether you have developed an idealized self. Signs of an idealized self-include attitude such as:
“I’m not like those people, I’m better.”
“I have never strayed.”
“God is proud of me.”
“Criminals and wrongdoers aren’t human.”
“Everyone sees how good I am (even so, I have to remind them).”
“I’m a role model.”
“I should be validated and applauded for my good deeds.”
“I don’t have bad thoughts, so why do others?”
Such perceptions about oneself are unrealistic, unhealthy, and largely delusional. The only way to find inner peace, happiness, authentic love, self-fulfillment, and Illumination is to explore our Shadows.
How is Our Shadow Side Formed?
Your Shadow side is formed in childhood and is both (a) a product of natural ego development, and (b) a product of conditioning or socialization. Socialization is the process of learning to behave in a way that is acceptable to society.
When we are born, we are are all full of potential, with the ability to survive and develop in a variety of ways. As time goes on, we learn more and more to become a certain type of person. Slowly, due to our circumstances and preferences, we begin to adopt certain character traits and reject others. For example, if we are born into a family that shows little interpersonal warmth, we will develop personality traits that make us self-sufficient and perhaps standoffish or mind-oriented. If we are born into a family that rewards compliance and shuns rebellion, we will learn that being submissive works, and thus adopt that as part of our ego structure.
Yes I am a trouble. As a person, as a companion, as a human to wake up next to.
I am a trouble because i don’t know what i will be in the next moment.
I might seem the best lover in the world, the next moment i might unleash the monsters of darkest hell on you.
And then in the next moment I might give you the truest and warmest kiss you ever had and then push you off.
If I love, I will rip your soul apart and mine too.
Love me if you want to know how does it feel to be gazed at 3 in the night.
Love me if you want to feel how it is to be kidnapped in someone’s soul forever.
Love me if you want to understand that claws don’t hurt.
Love me if you are ready to be held a little tighter than you wanted to.
Love me if you want to laugh a little harder than you ever imagined.
Love me if you are ready to cry your gut out.
Love me if you can take the grossest, creepiest, most sociopathic parts of mine.
Love me if you are ready to realize that Cupid and Satan can happily exist in one.
– Avinash Singh Tomar
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