Honoring Your Inner Child as an INFJ
Have you ever looked around at your life and wondered where all the time went? I turned 37 this year, and I’ve been a mother for 16 of those years. Finding the time to read a book, reflect on life, or just watch a beautiful sunset can seem like an impossible task.
Many of us think life will slow down and at some point and we’ll be able to accomplish enough to be able to relax. Marvel. Dream. Breathe.
But we keep imagining that moment of rest and peace and beauty being somewhere after we “accomplish our goals” or after we’ve taken care of everyone else.
For many INFJs, the world can feel like a suffocating place moving at a frenetic pace that keeps us firmly entrenched in adulthood.
And adulthood may be beautiful, but it certainly isn’t peaceful for most of us.
Table of contents
Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Why Adulthood Can Suffocate the Natural Gifts of the INFJ:
INFJs tend to be seekers, wanting something just out of our grasp, just out of reach. We want to find deeper meaning in everything around us. Finding this meaning demands time to simply reflect.
Not time to check Facebook or Instagram.
Not time to balance the budget or check in with the boss.
Not time to shuffle kids to school or even stream Netflix with a spouse.
Time to simply be.
And this time of undistracted solitude is a rare commodity in 2021. In fact, we INFJs even fall prey to feeling guilty for wanting this time. “But what about everyone else?” asks the INFJ parent. “What about my career demands?” asks the INFJ employee or entrepreneur. “What if I’m missing out on something on social media?” ask a lot of us.
The Price of Being Busy:
All this distraction and pressure and stress can lead to mental overload and irritability. Social media use leaves people feeling isolated, lonely, sleep-deprived, and anxious (See source).
Ignoring your soul’s yearning as an INFJ will suffocate your natural gifts of creativity and imagination. We as INFJs can’t afford to ignore the inner child that longs for something deeper and more meaningful than the “busyness” of adult life.
We want to experience the feeling of love, connection, and community we know exists out there somewhere. We want to delve into contemplation and rest there – not simply glance and then move on to the next task on our to-do list. We want to wonder, analyze, appreciate, and rest.
It’s Time to Recognize Your Inner Child:
Do you remember the young version of you? The little kid who couldn’t wait to shuffle through the glittering snow on a winter morning and marvel at the sparkling pink sunrise? Do you remember the kid who ravenously devoured fantasy books or swiped fingerpaints in rainbow colors across a sheet of poster board?
That child is still in there, I promise you. And they dream of deeper meaning and connection with the Earth, with creativity, and with themselves.
Sometimes we can feel like that childlike sense of wonder and imagination is “immature,” “silly,” or “useless.” Perhaps you’ve been told by others that you need to “grow up” or your intuitions and insights have been brushed off as unrealistic or confusing.
Maybe you’ve kept your head down and moved with the current in an effort to survive and make your loved ones happy.
But guess what? The people who really love you want you to live your life. They want you to be happy and succeed in the world, not only on their terms but on your own terms as well.
Things You Need to Stop Apologizing For:
- Passionately dancing by yourself (and getting caught)
- Imagining a world better than this one (and challenging the status quo)
- Experimenting with artistic endeavors as a beginner (who says a 40-year-old can’t take piano lessons for the first time?)
- Making silly or offbeat jokes
- Trusting your premonitions or insights
- Taking time for yourself
- Saying “no” when you’re tired or over-scheduled
- Playing, laughing, and being silly
- Watching the TV show YOU want to watch instead of the one your partner/child/friend wants to watch
- Daydreaming about what you want to do when you get older
- Playing in the snow
- Splashing in a pool
- Re-reading your favorite fantasy novel for the 100th time
You get the idea.
Why do we think that with adulthood we must shed all innocence and wonder?
Why do we think that with adulthood we should stop meeting our needs and only worry about everyone else’s needs?
Why do we think that sillyness, adventure, and belly laughs are meant more for children than for ourselves?
Take Some Time to Reflect:
Take a minute right now and see if this is ringing true for you: Are you ignoring your deep, heartfelt desires because of some outdated idea of what it means to be “grown-up” and “responsible”?
Are you constantly kicking your needs and desires down the road because you feel like everyone else is more important right now?
Or worse, are you allowing others to trivialize or mock your childlike gifts and thoughtful insights because these intuitive ways don’t fit their limited perspective?
How to Find Your Inner Child:
Before you can honor the childlike, natural side of who you are you need to first find that child. Dig deep and try to recall a sense of innocence, playfulness, wonder, and joy from your past.
If you can’t find these things in your past or feel too caught up in the “seriousness” of adult life right now, make some time to purposely get back in touch with this side of yourself. Here are some ideas:
- Make a list of things you enjoyed when you were young.
- Find an old journal you kept from childhood and read it.
- Find a photo of yourself as a child. Whenever you feel like being hard on yourself, look at that picture and you’ll be reminded to think or speak with more compassion.
- Take a day trip to the beach, forest, mountains, etc.
- Visit friends with young kids and babysit one night to see the world from their perspective for a change.
- Tell your inner child that s/he is safe and loved right now and can come out
- Read your favorite childhood stories
- Watch your favorite childhood movies
- Honor your need for alone time without distractions and responsibilities
How to Honor Your Inner Child:
After you’ve spent time with your inner child there are a couple of key things to keep in mind when you want to incorporate more imagination, integrity, wholeness, and adventure into your INFJ life.
Believe in Your Visions: INFJs have a strong sense that their intuitive flashes, premonitions, and hunches are valid for them. Instead of immediately brushing them off or discounting them, they need to start following them more often and see where they lead. Write them down in a journal and track them over time.
Don’t Be Afraid of Scary Things: INFJs may avoid many things because they seem “scary” or “selfish.” They need to know that the only way to live life with wonder is to take some risks. Sometimes the scary thing is speaking up for what you want even if it disappoints other people. Sometimes the scary thing is not trying to hold everyone and everything together for an afternoon so that you can rest. Or maybe you need to try out new experiences so that your imagination and insights become more sharpened and grounded.
Ditch the Shoulds (within reason): INFJs tend to feel guilty or shameful for doing what they want instead of what other people expect from them. They need to remind themselves that it is okay to care about their own needs sometimes. In fact, it sets a good example for their children or others who love them.
INFJs tend to think that they need to fit into a certain mold or be a certain way for other people to like them and accept them. Instead, they just need to listen more intently to what their conscience is telling them that s/he believes, wants, and needs.
Don’t Be Afraid to Read Fairy Tales: INFJs need to know that it is okay if their fantasies and stories might seem a little weird or “childish” to other people. INFJs should not feel guilty for having wild, vivid imaginations and following them wherever they take them.
Speak to Yourself with Compassion: INFJs tend to be hard on themselves, holding themselves to impossibly high standards. This is especially true if their gifts haven’t been accepted in the world around them. But when they honor the child inside of themselves, they suddenly hold space for vulnerability, authenticity, sensitivity, and imagination. They realize that there is no reason to punish themselves for having these traits. Then take a deep breath and speak to that inner child with compassion and love. Tell them it’s okay to speak up, dream big, be goofy, or read Harry Potter for the 15,000th time.
Go Against the Grain (When Necessary): Are you doing a job you hate because everyone said it’s the “safest” or most traditional thing to do? Are you going along with beliefs that don’t fit right with your conscience just to keep the peace? INFJs need to stop holding back and start following the paths that are true for them. They can’t afford to stay in “safe” jobs or institutions that hold back their natural gifts and authentic beliefs. With careful thought and reflection, INFJs can learn to trust themselves even when they feel alone, out of place, or weird.
Engage in Play: Who says adults can’t play and have fun? INFJs (and all personality types) tend to get bogged down in so many tasks and responsibilities that they forget how to have fun and laugh. INFJs should set aside at least one day a week to do something for themselves. They could experiment with art supplies, dance with abandon, pull out the board games and have a game marathon with a friend or spouse, or go sledding, whitewater rafting, hiking, etc,.
Have a Dialogue with Your Inner Child: Especially for people who have been through trauma, connecting with the inner child can be scary and uncomfortable. INFJs need to go slowly with this process.
If you’re an INFJ, sit in a comfortable position, and take some deep breaths. Let that younger version of yourself know that they are safe and that you see and hear them. Let them know that you want to make decisions in their best interests now and that you’re here to listen to them – even if it hurts. Journal any thoughts or insights that come up. For some INFJs, going through this process with a therapist is a safer process if they’re dealing with a lot of past trauma and pain.
Write a Letter to Your Inner Child: Most INFJs have a lot of things they wish they’d heard as a child but never did. Writing a letter allows you to say these things to yourself and affirm that long-forgotten child. They can reassure their inner child that they are still loved and worthy of love, even when they make mistakes or do something embarrassing. INFJs who had parents who didn’t encourage creativity might write a letter telling them what it was that they admired most about them, or how much they loved their talent and passion; whether it was drawing, writing stories, building things with Legos, playing the piano, or pretending to be Alice in Wonderland. They can apologize to the child for the various ways they’ve dimmed their light or ignored them, and allow them a chance to speak out about their needs now.
Just Be: INFJs are complex people who tend to feel like there’s so much they should be doing instead of just sitting and reflecting. As adults, they may put pressure on themselves to be more “productive” by always accomplishing more tasks and roles. INFJs need to learn how to allow themselves downtime – time where they can sit back and enjoy their surroundings without feeling guilty. Often, this is when their greatest insights come to light.
Get to Know Other INFJs: I have created a Facebook Group specifically for INFJs, INFPs, ENFJs, and ENFPs. You can join me there and ask questions, get to know other idealists, and talk about the things that make you you! You could also find other INFJs in other personality groups online!
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Find Out More
This article just scratches the surface of who you are. You can explore so much more about yourself in my eBook specifically for INFJs: The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic