In my experience as an MBTI® practitioner, one of the most common struggles I hear from INFJs is the struggle of being misunderstood. INFJs feel misunderstood in their external environment and even by themselves. The world outside can feel like a harsh, judgmental place where few people take the time to truly get to know each other. All too often, people jump to conclusions about others or get distracted by their Smartphones rather than staying engaged in a conversation.
Table of contents
- Why do INFJs Feel Misunderstood?
- #1 – INFJs Are Rare
- #2 – INFJs See the World Differently Than Others
- #3 – INFJ Communication Isn’t Linear
- #4 – INFJs Are Social Chameleons
- #5 – INFJs Are Introverts who Love People
- #6 – INFJs Often Wind Up in One-Sided Relationships
- #7 – INFJs Feel Rushed in a Fast-Paced World
- #8 – INFJs Are Prone to Overstimulation and Media Burnout
- #9 – INFJs Are Often Underestimated
- #10 – INFJs Care Deeply in a World That Feels Shallow
- Help for the INFJ Who Feels Misunderstood
- Check out these articles to get help with the specific INFJ struggles we’ve explored today:
- Not sure of your personality type?
Estimated reading time: 9 minutes
Why do INFJs Feel Misunderstood?
There are many reasons this type feels isolated or devalued in today’s world. Here are just some of the reasons:
#1 – INFJs Are Rare
Various surveys have shown different numbers for the personality types. Myersbriggs.org shows INFJs as the rarest personality type, making up 1.5% of the US population. The latest official MBTI® Manual shows INFJs as the third rarest personality type, making up 2.3% of the population. Either way, INFJs are an unusual breed and can be difficult to find out in the world. For this reason, many INFJs have a difficult time finding like-minded souls to engage with. Often they feel unusual, odd, or like they’re swimming upstream in a world that is going an entirely different direction.
#2 – INFJs See the World Differently Than Others
INFJs understand the world through a complex process called Introverted Intuition, or “Ni” for short. This process focuses on the unseen, intangible things of this world. INFJs are drawn to ideas, concepts, theories, and hidden meanings. They enjoy talking about the world of meanings, predictions, visions, and inspirations. While in certain cultures these more spiritual and mystical characteristics are prized, in much of Western culture these qualities are seen as “odd” or “woo-woo.”
#3 – INFJ Communication Isn’t Linear
Sensors (the “S” types in the Myers-Briggs® system) tend to explain themselves in a sequential, linear way. Sensors, in turn, make up a bulk of the US population (roughly 73% are sensors). Types who understand the world through Introverted Intuition (INFJs, INTJs, ENFJs, and ENTJs) make up a mere 7.9% of the population. Introverted intuitive types, like INFJs, visualize ideas and meanings clearly in their mind; but when they try to explain themselves it can feel like all their carefully orchestrated thoughts come unglued and scatter in every direction. This is especially true for INFJs and INTJs. I’ve spoken with countless INJs who have told me that their ideas and insights are perfectly clear in their mind, but when they speak, everything becomes hazy. Their ideas aren’t linear, in fact, many times they think in images or symbols rather than words. Explaining metaphors, symbols, and images can be much more complicated than verbalizing a linear sequence of events.
Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that Intuitive-Judging types can’t be good communicators. They can be excellent communicators, but it usually takes a lot of practice and self-acceptance for them to become as persuasive and clear as they want to be.
“Everywhere, I see life in symbols. Symbols give me focus. Sometimes the connections and perceptions in my mind are so abstract there are no words to explain.” –Conversations with a Foreseer Developer (INFJ), The 16 Personality Types by Linda V. Berens and Dario Nardi
#4 – INFJs Are Social Chameleons
INFJs easily sense the feelings and needs of the people around them. On top of that, they pay attention to cultural expectations and social graces. This doesn’t mean that they’re stuffy and pretentious; it does mean that they are usually tactful, polite, and conscientious. They almost automatically adjust to the feelings of the people around them, and if a situation isn’t harmonious they often feel responsible to fix that. Improving morale, creating safe emotional spaces, and peacemaking are all talents that INFJs bring to the table. But while these are all good things, it can mean that INFJs struggle to totally be themselves around others. They often spend so long anticipating and meeting others’ needs that they lose themselves in the process. In the end, many INFJs wish that they could be seen and understood for who they really are. It feels impossible, though, when they are adjusting emotionally to the needs and emotional fluctuations of others so frequently.
#5 – INFJs Are Introverts who Love People
INFJs recharge through ample alone time, peace, and quiet. They need regular and frequent quiet moments where they can delve into the world of ideas, reflections, and imagination. However, they care deeply about others and enjoy emotional intimacy and meaningful connections. They often feel pushed and pulled between wanting to connect with others and wanting to charge their introverted batteries. This can cause relationship issues where people assume INFJs want to have near-constant interactions, and then when INFJs pull away they’re seen as being inconsistent, cold, or undependable. You can find out more about this in The Two Warring Sides of the INFJ Personality Type.
#6 – INFJs Often Wind Up in One-Sided Relationships
Many people see INFJs as being quiet, supportive, and empathetic. Because they tend to take on others’ emotional burdens, they are often used as a source of emotional unloading. People vent all their feelings and emotional traumas onto the INFJ because they know they will be emotionally supportive and understanding. While this can be a positive thing, it can also be emotionally draining. People can take advantage of this and indiscriminately use the INFJ for comfort and then check out when the INFJ wants the same thing in return. Countless INFJs I’ve spoken to have told me of their struggles with one-sided relationships and with realizing their “friends” ultimately weren’t there for them when they needed support.
#7 – INFJs Feel Rushed in a Fast-Paced World
Many INFJs are contemplative, visionary thinkers. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always mesh well with fast-paced world of society. They often speak slowly because they take the time to think before they respond. Because they take their decisions very seriously, they agonize over them and need time and quiet to process the best course of action. In turn, they can feel stifled and suffocated by a hectic, fast-paced environment that tells them to hurry up, speak faster, get to the point, and achieve dozens of objectives quickly. INFJs are more likely to move at a slower, more deliberate pace that doesn’t feel as rushed as society demands.
#8 – INFJs Are Prone to Overstimulation and Media Burnout
The world we live in today focuses on a lot of technological interaction. Juggling social media apps and keeping up with texts, Zoom meetings, and phone calls is a daily struggle for many people, but especially INFJs. They need lots of time to detach from the physical world and get into their heads where they can explore ideas and imagine. As intuitive dominant types, they need the world to go quiet so that they can fully process their insights and intuitions. Unfortunately, the world isn’t wired to their preferences. Friends get mad because they didn’t respond to a text fast enough, their boss wants them to attend multiple Zoom meetings where they have to see a dozen other faces staring out from the screen. INFJs often feel nostalgic for a life they’ve never had. One where they could spend an evening curled up by a candle with a good book and nothing but the sounds of the crickets chirping in the distance. A life where an intimate, one-on-one meeting with a friend was where their social needs were getting met. Focusing on one thing deeply at a time is what INFJs crave; they get overstimulated and overwhelmed by the competing demands that smartphones and technology have created.
#9 – INFJs Are Often Underestimated
INFJs are gentle, insightful people who want to make the world a better place. However, because they aren’t as outspoken and in-your-face as many other types they are often dismissed or unseen. Many INFJ women in particular are seen as “nice” or “timid” (even if they aren’t timid) and thus are overlooked because the more dominant, bold, stereotypically male way of communicating is seen as the ideal when it comes to achievement and success. INFJs are often underemployed because they get passed over for promotions in favor of their more vocal and direct counterparts. INFJ men also struggle to feel understood and valued in a world which pushes men to be more dominating, blunt, straightforward, and outspoken.
#10 – INFJs Care Deeply in a World That Feels Shallow
INFJs are big-picture visionaries who want to improve the world for its’ own sake and for the sake of the people around them. They hold themselves to high standards and feel an incessant need to fulfill their potential. Spirituality, purpose, and conviction guide them, and they wish they could find others who cared as much about their ideals as they do. However, it often feels like the world is distracted by very trivial things such as which celebrity is dating who, what’s going on in the lives of reality TV stars, beting the next level in Candy Crush, or which politician said what awful thing about their opponent. INFJs wish that there were more caring people around who truly valued making the world a better place.
Help for the INFJ Who Feels Misunderstood
I know that all these feelings of being misunderstood can be overwhelming and disillusioning. However, there are ways to find relief and refreshment. I’m going to include some links to articles that I’ve written that (I hope) will help you to navigate the world and your own personality in a gentle and understanding way that prioritizes your well-being.
Check out these articles to get help with the specific INFJ struggles we’ve explored today:
Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist, and The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
Not sure of your personality type?
I can help you! As the founder of Psychology Junkie and an MBTI® practitioner I’ve spent over seven years helping people discover their true personality type. Use the scheduler below to book a session with me!