The Elusive INFJ

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The Elusive INFJ

They’ve been called a lot of things: The Unicorn, The Special Snowflake, The Oracle, The Protector, The Physic, The Counselor. But whatever you want to call the rarest 1% of the population, it’s hard to deny that they’re the most elusive INFJ type among us.

In fact, it’s a fairly safe bet to assume that no one is actually an INFJ but in their own deluded, self-aggrandizing minds. MBTI buffs, particularly of the NF variety, love to self-efface from the vague descriptions online and wave the INFJ flag. That’s precisely why, whenever someone who is unfamiliar with the MBTI tool and cognitive functions takes the test in front of me and gets the INFJ result, I take astute interest in them.

The Elusive INFJ
Would you like a cookie?

Are you actually an INFP?

The thing I always want to know first is ‘Are you actually an INFP?’. Why? Because INFPs frequently mistakes themselves for an INFJ. First of all, INFJs and INFPs are really, really similar in appearance and by appearance, I mean they take on the same mannerisms, tend to behave the same ways, and reach the same conclusions. They’re also the two most frequently misunderstood NFs (Introverted Feelers).

The reason why is a bit complicated and has a lot to do with how cognitive functions work. Without getting into the boring details, INFPs (understandably) mistake the fact they lead with a Judging function (Fi) with being a Judging type. This isn’t the case, however, for reasons which are even more complicated and involved and I don’t care to make your eyes cross by getting into the mumbo jumbo of how functions work together. If you really want to know what the difference is between INFJ and INFP, it’s discussed in great length here. If you’re still confused, this test will give you a better clue if you’re torn between the two.

Related: 7 Struggles of an INFJ Personality Type

INFJs Are Not Who You Think They Are

It’s true. They’re social chameleons, like Mystique from X-Men, they can observe and take on the shape and form (behaviors and mannerisms) of any other type. At work, INFJs may look like INTPs (laid back geniuses) and socially, they may resemble ENFPs (charismatic idealists) or ESFJs (social organizers). Actually, they can seem like any type, depending on which side of their multi-faceted, multi-layered personality they want to show you in whichever social context you happen to be in.

You may even think an INFJ is your type, since they like to frequently use the social tool called ‘mirroring’, which is basically observing and copying your mannerisms in order to gain rapport with you. For this reason and a lot of others, elusive INFJs are notoriously difficult to type. The only sure way to know is to have someone take the test and confirm that they are an INFJ. You will be surprised to find who is actually an INFJ. I like to think that I know people pretty well and I still tend to miss identifying true INFJs.

Related: Are you an INFJ? 14 Signs Of A Genuine INFJ Personality

INFJs Can Predict The Future

Well…kind of. Actually, it’s that they lead with the most mysterious function, Ni (Introverted Intuition) which is able to instantly make connections; both past, present and use them to establish patterns, which will produce knowledge of the most likely outcomes. INTJs also have this ability but in a different context. For those of you who play video games, it’s kind of like this: two classes may have the same abilities (for example, close combat melee weapons) but one class masters dueling swords while the other uses a broadsword.

That’s kind of how cognitive functions work for types: INFJs and INTJs both use instant connections to establish patterns and determine likely outcomes..but the INFJ is an expert in determining what people will do whereas INTJs are better at determining what logical events will happen.

If you want to know, at any given point, what a person will likely do when put into X situation, ask an INFJ. They will be right about 97% of the time. That’s because INFJs understand people almost instantly and on the deepest level you can conceive. INFJs build a multi-layered, subconscious profile on everyone that comes into contact with them.

This ‘profile’ is not something consciously done or even understood by the INFJ but rather, it’s a function which operates in an automated way: kind of like your body’s circulatory, limbic, and metabolic systems. You don’t have to tell your body to breathe. It just does.

So it is with INFJs and their people-related connections. They just know people, inside and out and since events are often caused by or related to human behaviour in some way, INFJs often give the impression that they can predict events like an INTJ. Remove the human element from the equation, however, and you’ll find that INFJs are less adept at this particular brand of foreboding. Now, this isn’t a good thing or a bad thing.

Related: 9 Humbling Life Lessons I’ve Learned As An INFJ

I’ll use the analogy of a video game, specifically a Role Playing Game. If the task or duty at hand requires you to the desired knowledge or reaction out of other players or NPCs, then you would want to switch your character into the INFJ class. If the task or duty involves understanding non-human systems (engineering or IT comes to mind), then you’ll want to switch your character into the INTJ class. Both classes can do each other’s jobs with relative efficiency but if you want the extra advantage, you’ll want the class that specializes in one or the other.

The Elusive INFJ
Really, I just needed an excuse to show off my Summoner pet

INFJs are Psychic

Again…only kind of.There’s a good reason INFJs are frequently appointed in tribes throughout history and around the world as the Shaman or the Healer. In modern, western civilization, INFJs often work as counsellors, therapists, coaches, and other occupations which serve as the go-to person for a wide variety of human problems. INFJs are basically emotional sponges.What does that mean exactly?

Well, a lot of types can develop abilities which centre around reading body language and listening for inflections in tone and manners in speech. NF empaths, in particular, are sensitive to the emotions of others and have the ability to cross-reference their own to correctly identify emotions (like INFPs do). INFJs, however, are by far the most natural at this.

They are literally like a sponge. They absorb the emotions of others in their raw state in real-time. This ability is vastly different than that of the INFP, which can only make self-effaced (albeit highly accurate) guesses. INFJs literally feel what you feel and they feel it exactly at the moment that you’re feeling it and most shockingly, sometimes even before you know you’re feeling it. The reason is a unique combination of Dominant Ni and Auxillary Fe (Extraverted Feeling). It’s the perfect storm of functions which allows INFJs to ‘take the emotional temperature’ of others and use Ni pattern recognition to correctly identify their emotional state and respond accordingly.

Related: Are You Naturally An Introvert, Extrovert, Or Ambivert: QUIZ

Another reason INFJs seem to be psychic is that they are simply better listeners.

Yes, I’m generalizing here but it’s true. Elusive INFJs are the best listeners. The reason, again, is explained by having Ni as a dominant function. Ni is a perceiving function which takes in information. It’s primarily an input system rather than an output system. Because of this, INFJs often seem passive and non-reactive. They are constantly observing and listening, generally responding with open-ended questions, reflective dialogue, and only answering questions when directly asked. Any counsellor or therapist worth their salt will tell you the value of ‘reflecting’ another person’s feelings and information back to them.

Conversations with INFJs are often one-sided and peppered with frequent bits of validation like “I see how you could feel that way” or “That must have been really hard for you” or the classic “Tell me more.”

INFJs are focused on you and want to know more about you. You’ll learn a lot more about other people if you ask to listen and more importantly, to understand. Most types struggle to listen to truly understand. It’s a self-absorbed world out there; with everyone clamoring over each other to get a word in, talking over each other, or simply just waiting for their turn to speak.

With everyone focused in on themselves, it’s little wonder why INFJs have more knowledge of what’s going on than everyone else. As far as I know, that’s not a psychic phenomenon so much as just simple logic. Not to say that INFJs couldn’t be psychic, I’m sure a lot of them are…but that’s on a whole other level.

Related: A Walk In The Woods: Relational Psychological Test that Will Reveal Your Inner Self

INFJs are Nice

The Elusive INFJ
The Elusive INFJ

This leads me to the next generalization that I’m going to boldly make. INFJs are nice..generally speaking. There’s really two levels to this: individual and global idealism. On an individual level, I just explained that INFJs are basically emotional vampires who absorb the emotions of others. I can’t emphasize that enough, since it actually means that your emotions literally become their own. In other words, if an INFJ hurts you, they’re also hurting themselves…so they’re going to do everything they can to avoid hurting you.

This is how INFJs got the label ‘Protectors’ since they protect the hell out of your feelings. INFJs are also highly driven by the motive to ‘help’ others, often rescuing disenfranchised souls and homeless animals. That cliche novel or movie about a perfectly well-adjusted guy bringing home a hooker to give her a hot meal, a safe place to sleep, and attempting to help her get out of the life on the streets…that’s about an INFJ.

Perhaps even more important is the concept of global idealism, which INFJs, and NFs in general, are famous for. INFJs truly do want to make the world a better place for people (and/or other living things). This global outreach entails an inner value system with its own set of rules which are prioritized from the core (most important) and taper out to lesser values (less important).

An elusive INFJ’s inner value system is a paradox to their seemingly passive, gentle, observant nature because it is rigid, adamant, and possesses the highest standards for what an individual INFJ considers ‘moral’. INFJs, generally speaking, are primarily concerned with one thing: doing the right thing. It’s their modus operandi. It’s their prime directive, if you will (Star Trek fans, anyone?). It’s the secret ingredient of the INFJ’s personality makeup and it completely explains why they lack ego, balk at superficiality, act with caution, and getting back to the subject at hand…that’s also why they’re nice.

Related: INTJ Relationships & Conflicts: 5 Ways To Deal With An INTJ

INFJs are Assholes

The Elusive INFJ
The Elusive INFJ

This is also true. In fairness, all types are assholes and some just have a series of personal habits which create a combined sum of excessive assholerly. But allow me to clarify that I just mean that when an INFJ decides to be an asshole, this is the particular way he/she goes about it:

For the very same reason, INFJs are nice, they’re also assholes. They know everything about you (with a positive inflection) and they know everything about you (negative inflection). That can be a bad thing. Imagine if everything an INFJ has on you (which is a lot) were to be used to turn the tables on you. It can happen..and it does. INFJs are plenty assertive when they need to be. The following is a list of things sure to piss off an INFJ:

1. Bullying/being mean to someone they care about – The other reason INFJs are called “protectors”. If you’re going to be cruel, thoughtless, or unfair towards someone that an INFJ really cares about, you’re going to have a bad time.

2. Dishonesty – INFJs fucking hate liars. It’s really best to be honest with an INFJ..since they know the truth, anyway. In fact, if you do lie, they’ll let you keep speaking just to see how far you’re willing to go with it. Also, being vague and/or short with your responses or omitting pertinent information is tantamount to lying to an INFJ since the motive is deception.

An honourable mention is a superficiality, which is really more of a pet peeve or an annoyance than an actual trigger. Aside from that, violating personal boundaries or values will put you on the shit list. But since they’re too individualistic, I’m not going to try to list them here. So what happens when you make an INFJ mad? Well, of course, there’s a spectrum of reactions which are unique to the situation and I’ll attempt to categorize them according to anecdotal information I’ve acquired from several dozen INFJs:

1. The Door Close – This happens for various reasons. It could mean an offended INFJ or perhaps just an exhausted/conflicted INFJ. This is when they unceremoniously place a lot of emotional/physical/psychological distance between you and them. Also known as the ‘Door Slightly Ajar’ or the ‘Door Gently Closed’.

2. The Door Slam – The infamous INFJ door slam is when you’ve been shut out completely from existence, often without explanation.

3. The Button Pushing/Door Slam – Rarely used. When an INFJ becomes infuriated and spiteful and decides to draw upon their vast expanse of knowledge of all your deepest, darkest insecurities and use them against you with deadly precision. They use Tertiary Ti (Introverted Thinking) to locate the exact, right words to say and the exact, right things to do/not do which will hurt you the most. Usually followed by the door slam. Always highly regretted manoeuvre.

4. The Quietly Judgmental Detective – Asking open-ended questions to determine if you’re lying and if so, just how bad of a lying sack of shit you are. Usually accompanied by laser death eyes and a surly, judgmental look.

5. The Disappointed Mother/Father – Guaranteed to make you feel like shit. This is what happens when you disappoint the person you really like and admire. INFJs are really good at letting you know that they think just a little less of you..and that’s so much worse than anger.

Related: The Best Trait of Each MBTI Personality Type

INFJs Are Complicated

If you like human puzzles, elusive INFJs are right up your alley. Remember that emotional sponge thing I mentioned earlier? Imagine having that ability and not being able to turn it off. There is no on and off switch for being absorbent. This is why warm-hearted, sincerely interested INFJs suddenly withdraw from you without explanation.

For them, it can be exhausting to be around other people. The only way to truly escape inheriting the emotions of others is to get away from people entirely, which explains the beguiling push-pull behavior. INFJs are hot and cold, never seeming to approach you in the same, exact way twice. At their core, INFJs yearn to be around other people, to be understood, and appreciated.

But they also shoulder the responsibility/burden of caring about all the souls they encounter and always doing the right thing. It’s the weight of the world, resulting in a low-level baseline of stress that is omnipresent, only to be temporarily relieved by solitary processing or true understanding by another.

INFJs Are Deep and Sensitive

Probably my favourite thing about INFJs; they’re deep. There’s no discussion too deep for an INFJ and no judgment passed if you’d rather be discussing the meaning of life than the caloric content of your lunch. INFJs are all about emotional connection and the meaningful exchange of ideas. Most significantly, INFJs crave the deepest connection with someone that can possibly be attained.

INFJs learn at a young age what most people start realizing much later on, which is that it’s better to have a few quality relationships in life than a large quantity of casual acquaintances and fair-weather friends. Despite being naturally popular people, INFJs don’t crave or seek attention from the masses. Depth can only be established one on one and each relationship is seen as a large emotional investment to be taken seriously.

Related: 10 Traits Of An Intuitive That Often Gets Them Misunderstood By Others

The inner world of an elusive INFJ is sentimental, poetic, and highly idealistic, no matter how he/she appears to be from the outside.

There’s an innate sense of self-preservation and secretiveness that is associated with the type since they’re highly sensitive to mockery and rejection. INFJs don’t share unless they know for sure that you aren’t going to hurt them. Their own personal feelings, which so rarely see the light of day, are deep and intense that if they were entrusted with the wrong person, it would be devastating. I vaguely recall a quote that someone said (and I’m probably butchering this quote) “If you want to know how someone wants to be loved, observe the way they choose to love others”. I believe that to be true for INFJs as well. Somewhere, deep down inside, they wish someone would do for them the same that they constantly do for the rest of the world.


Copyright @ Rebecca’s Blog Cultural Disasters

The Elusive INFJ

30 responses to “The Elusive INFJ”

  1. Liz Avatar

    Hi I’ve done the MB test many times and always get INFJ . Thank you for this insight and understanding

  2. Davor Budimir Avatar

    What an awesome article this is. Wow. Superb piece of work. As an empath and INFJ I fully agree with this story 🙂 Keep up a great job, Rebecca!

  3. Clare Bear Avatar

    What does INFJ stand for?

  4. Blackevil Izz Avatar

    Xpe la 50/50..hehe especially masa berkerja xboleh jd INFP sgt..nt meroyan kne adopt your INJT traits..but when im alone im happiest being the INFP or INFJ..feeling the lightest ever otherwise drained..

  5. Blackevil Izz Avatar

    Adakah saya INFJ?

  6. David Yankey Avatar

    I take been taking the test since I was 15 and so so about every 5 years since personally and people change. I always come up with INFJ. Even though this test is somewhat outdated now I found it personally helped me grow as a person and has been spot on. If any fell INFJ’s out there are looking for a good resource I found this website in my 20’s and it really helps you understand the madness that goes on in your brain. I hope it helps one of you. Good luck! http://www.infj.com/INFJ_Handbook.htm

  7. Heather McDermid Avatar

    I tested on this and was very careful to answer completely honestly (honest with myself). Is this personality test truly accurate or will it become just another fad?

    1. David Yankey Avatar

      It’s been around for years. It’s outdated in psychology circles, they seem to use the Big Five Personality test now as a more accurate gage on people. But whatever is meaningful in your life is what’s important.

  8. Daniel Peacock Avatar

    I thought ISFJ was the protector?

  9. Lilly Hope Lucario Avatar

    As an INFJ, I agree with most of this, although I choose to view my intuition and capacity to read people, as that and not being psychic. I also agree – I hate bullies and I hate liars.

    1. David Yankey Avatar

      From the outside I could see how it would be perceived as psychic. Even with myself there are times when my intuition is more on point then my active conscience with a person and I’m like WTF? Those subtle clues, and leaps of logic can seem like magic at times.

  10. Odin Horus Avatar

    Just took test cuz seemed like me; came up infj… Interesting shit for sure

  11. Maggie Westmoreland Avatar

    I have taken the test about five times and it always comes out INFJ-

  12. Christie Koo Siew Fang Avatar

    I loved this article, so spot on. Thank you, it’s helped me to accept me for who I really am.

  13. Joel Guadamuz Avatar

    Melody Glass – the article about differences between INFJs and INFPs is also very interesting.

  14. Erdem Çalışkan Avatar

    Took a test years ago at mypersonality.info and found that i am one as well. Its not easy being one, you belong to a really really really few percent of people and even among those really fewer match you or truly understand you due to different life experiences or principles one follows and similarities shared. If you find your match in another INFJ, trust me you are blessed to even have come across, let alone know ‘another you’. Don’t ever let go of such special souls, don’t be selfish about it, and cherish it well, with integrity and genuine care. You won’t regret it and will know what i mean if you do. Sure you are compatible with many types of people but still, your best bet is knowing yourself the best if you want to be happy, and take courage towards many opportunities life will bring towards you. Still be careful in all you do and always remember to love and care for other people sincerely and intelligently while every now and then making sure remember you yourself have your own needs too. I’m open to hearing about the life experiences of other INFJs or connecting with them.

    1. Erdem Çalışkan Avatar

      retook the test, turned out the INFP. Sigh.

    2. David Yankey Avatar

      lol I wouldn’t stress it too much and don’t let labels define you. Reading though your post you have the heart and soul of an INFJ. 🙂

    3. Anjali Kiran Negi Avatar

      To be honest i have noticed that highly intellegent infps can be even more elusive then infjs, from all the mbti groups i have noticed that infj can connect rather well with another infjs, but in with some infp’s they don’t even relate with their own type, thats what make them think they are probably INFJ’s, because they are so unique and individualistic

    4. Anjali Kiran Negi Avatar

      @David disagree, the heart and soul of an INFJ isn’t very different from the heart and soul of an INFP, even if the functional stack is..

  15. Karim Gayraud Avatar

    Wow… except about the emotional vampirism which I believe is really not the right image. Empathy CANNOT be viewed as emotional vampirism. I do understand the thinking in the article, but I’d rather say empathy which is exactly what it is. Now you know what I am 😉

    1. David Yankey Avatar

      I dunno Karim, anything can be turned negative. Empathy can be used to manipulate people given the right situation. If you know the feeling of someone, you can easily manipulate someone from there it’s a short step to using people for your own emotional needs.

    2. Karim Gayraud Avatar

      True David, but one who feels the pain of others does not want to feel that pain and empaths do feel strongly. You have to be one to understand. Their is no point in manipulation unless for protection in case of danger. It is a whole set of values, understanding, goals, aspirations, and more that are different and though one can see through and even empathize with those that do not get it, these differences do not care about something as low as manipulation for gain.

    3. Karim Gayraud Avatar

      There are always exceptions though 😉

  16. Shivani Kashyap Avatar

    So beautiful… I love this..

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