When you think of INFJs, one of the last things that will come to mind is someone tossing over tables and screaming at other people. We’re often described as sensitive and empathetic individuals with a keen eye on future possibilities – but, like everyone, we also have a dark side. And no, we don’t always manage our anger by door-slamming – although some do.
The Kinds of Things That Make INFJs Angry:
INFJs tend to be patient. Before reacting to an offense we’re going to mull over it in our minds for a while to make sure we’re not being rash or impulsive. We’ll look for patterns, underlying meanings, and hidden agendas before we focus on our own subjective feelings regarding a situation. We’ll also analyze the logic of the situation. “Does it make sense that I’m angry?” “What are the facts?” “How do the patterns I’ve noticed fit together with what’s happening now?”
INFJs tend to get stuck in analysis-paralysis before they react to something. On the outside, they might appear unreadable or lost in thought, and when they finally have decided to express their anger, the situation might have deflated or passed them by.
Here are some of the things that make INFJs the angriest:
- Violation of one of their core values
- Bullying or name-calling
- Having their ideas and insights dismissed or ignored
- Lack of empathy
- Not seeing progress on a goal
- Not being able to envision what is likely to happen
- Over-stimulation and noise
The Mental Mechanics of INFJ Anger
Let’s take a look at the INFJ function stack and how that’s affected by anger-triggers.
Dominant Function: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
INFJs want to envision how things will unfold in the future. Their insight into future possibilities and implications can be transformative at best and uncanny at worst. Some people laugh off their premonitions, calling their insights “woo woo,” and teasing them. Unfortunately, this happens more often than not and leaves INFJs in a state of feeling that their greatest strength is nothing but a burden or a joke to most people.
When the Ni insights of the INFJ are ignored they tend to feel depressed and listless. They may feel that they can’t trust their intuition, which is a dangerous place for an INFJ to be. After all, this is the function that gets them into a state of flow and potentially can have the most power and benefit in their life.
INFJs who aren’t able to embrace and trust their intuition can become anxious, stressed, irritable, reactive, and depressed.
When INFJs become angry, their Ni will look for the pattern of their anger and the undercurrents of what led to the situation they’re facing.
Imagine that a friend betrays an INFJ’s trust by inadvertently spreading a rumor about them. The INFJ will tap into Ni to pull together any connections or patterns in the situation:
- Has the friend done this before?
- What does the friend have to gain?
- What underlying reason could the friend have to spread this rumor?
- What else is going on here that I might not be thinking of?
- What is the future implication of this rumor being spread?
- How does this matter in the grand scheme of things?
Ni is always trying to discern the big-picture, future implications, and underlying patterns. INFJs who are angered will tune into Ni to find out how the offense will play out in the long run and how it impacts the big picture of their life.
Auxiliary Function: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
INFJs back-up their Ni with Fe. Fe is what helps INFJs to be attuned to the emotional wavelengths of the atmosphere they’re in. INFJs can easily detect other people’s moods, emotions, and needs. They also have a compulsion to take care of the emotional atmosphere and take care of people in an emotional and physical sense. At times they may trigger an emotional mood to catalyze a situation and create some kind of growth or impact.
Because INFJs are so naturally aware of harmony levels and emotional needs, they are irritated by people who seem tactless, rude, mean-spirited, troll-ish, or unnecessarily disruptive. In situations where someone is corrupting the emotional atmosphere for their own selfish gains, an INFJ can become severely angered.
For example, imagine that you’re at a family gathering, and one family member is mocking the religion or political opinions of another family member, thereby creating tension and discomfort. Extraverted feeling will be absorbing all the mixed emotions, sensing everyone’s discomfort, and feeling a compulsion to “fix” this situation. They may give the offending family member a gentle kick in the leg and a stern look as a warning to tone it down. If the situation worsens, they may abruptly call out the behavior, and if one of their core values is violated they may go so far as to get into a shouting match or charged state of aggression.
Tertiary Function: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
Introverted thinking sorts out the underlying logical framework of a problem. It finds logical relationships, inconsistencies, and checks to make sure things align with one’s logical principles. INFJs enjoy analyzing, categorizing, solving problems, and expressing their ideas clearly in writing. This function is one that INFJs tend to “play” with. They enjoy analyzing a problem or situation in their mind or writing down how they see it – but it’s a very deep, internalized process. It may not be very obvious to the outside world.
Because INFJ’s value Introverted Thinking, these things can make them angry:
- Logical inconsistencies
- Faulty logical arguments
- Reactive angry or violent expressions that lack any inward analysis
When INFJs get angry, they’re likely to process their feelings through Introverted Thinking before expressing them out loud.
For example, imagine that you’re an INFJ and you’re angry because someone slacked off on a commitment and now you’re running late on a deadline for work. Using Introverted Thinking, you might:
- Assess the logical ways you could solve the problem.
- Try to create a logical, reasonable, precise argument that you can use to make the offending person aware of their mistake.
- Get stuck in analysis-paralysis, thinking of all the reasons why you might be right/wrong and he/she might be right/wrong.
Many times your cognitive functions work together. You might use intuition and thinking at the same time while expressing yourself through extraverted feeling. It can look something like this:
- Looking for patterns of poor behavior.
- Looking for the implications of this behavior.
- Logically analyzing the situation.
- Expressing yourself tactfully and trying to remain calm so as not to disrupt the emotional atmosphere.
- Trying to express reasonably why an offense is wrong, being very particular with your choice of words, and staying tuned into the emotional affect those words are having.
Inferior Function: Extraverted Sensation (Se)
Extraverted Sensation is the function that allows you to experience the world around you and act according to the immediate needs of the moment. Imagine you’re playing a game of tennis – Se is what helps you to stay zoned into the court, the ball, the racket in your hand, and respond to hit the ball at the right time and at the right angle. Se is keenly aware of details and facts and knows how to interact and engage with the environment in a resourceful way. Because this is the INFJ’s inferior function, it can be difficult for them to use well. We tend to always feel somewhat removed from our environment – lost in thoughts and insights, but somewhat blind to the fine details of what surrounds us. We might be absorbed by some meaningful, inner vision and walk into the corner of a doorframe because we’re so transfixed by what we’ve imagined and lost track of what’s outside of us. When people point out our weakness in this area it can make us feel ashamed or awkward.
Because we’re so inwardly focused and so transfixed by the intuitive, imaginative world inside, outside stimulation can feel overwhelming. We find loud noises, interruptions, and bright lights overwhelming, irritating, and distracting. We might react to such things with stress, confusion, and unexpected bouts of charged anger.
When INFJs are extremely stressed, they may “fall into the grip” of Extraverted Sensing. They become more impulsive, reactive, and obsessed with details and experiences. They might recklessly spend money, binge eat, exercise until they’re burned out, or clean every little thing in their house. Once blind to details and in tune with intuition, they now become hyper-focused on details and blind to their intuition. During these stages, they can seem brash, indulgent, and careless.
Grip stress is extremely unpleasant for INFJs. They feel like they’ve lost part of themselves – as if they’re having an out-of-body experience, or they can’t control their impulses. Because they’ve lost their vision and insight, they feel dragged around by their sensing side – distracted by all the details that never used to bother them. Little things make them angry, and they may feel themselves doing all kinds of indulgent things they know they’ll regret later (like eating an entire cake or ignoring homework to binge-watch an entire season of trashy TV).
What Do INFJs Do When They’re Angry?
A lot of things can influence how an INFJ will express their anger. Usually, they will get more withdrawn and stuck in their head when they’re angry. They might try to shut off noise, lights, or find a room they can hide away in to deal with their thoughts and charged emotions. Some INFJs shut down and stop talking and reacting, trying to sort out their thoughts inside.
Some people can think that this behavior is passive-aggressive or that INFJs are giving them the “silent treatment.” However, this quiet stage is an INFJs way of sorting out the information through intuition and thinking without getting overwhelmed by the emotions of everyone else. It’s not always meant as a passive-aggressive instinct. If they aren’t given this opportunity to sort through their thoughts they might blow up, cry, or rush through their feelings only to regret it later. They may also put on a brave face and pretend that nothing is wrong because they don’t trust their own feelings without having the time to analyze them. It can be extremely difficult for them to deal with conflict because of the charged emotions flooding the atmosphere. They can get their own emotions mixed up with the emotions of other people and lose sight of the facts.
If INFJs are in a state of grip stress they can be more harsh, reactive, blunt, and critical than usual. They might tear down relationships, plans, or even physical objects around them in a state of self-destructive fury. Normally controlled, insightful, and internalized, they suddenly stop trying to cage their feelings in and just want to act on the rage and fire they feel pent-up inside.
How to Help an INFJ Who Is Angry:
- Reduce sensory stimulation. Turn off bright lights, turn down music, shut off the television.
- Give them some time alone to think and process emotions.
- Give them a break from non-essential responsibilities.
- Let them “vent” and promise that you won’t judge them.
- Buy a journal so that they can write down their thoughts.
- Follow through on your promises and commitments.
- Let them know what to expect.
- Be patient as they express their thoughts.
- Be calm and clear.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you have any insight or experiences to share? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!
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