Why INFJs and INTJs Get Overstimulated

One thing I struggle with regularly, especially as an INTJ mother, is the tendency to get overstimulated. We INFJs and INTJs live so completely in our heads that outside stimuli, if not pleasant, can be incredibly stressful. Unlike sensors, who are more focused on the world around them, INXJs are often focused internally. Their minds’ are buzzing with ideas, concepts, strategies, and symbols.

For example, while I’m in the shower I tend to think of a lot of ideas and concepts. I’ll often forget if I just shampooed my hair, conditioned it, or if I did, how many times I’ve done it. Sometimes I end up washing my hair three times because I’ve gotten so caught up in ideas that I’ve completely lost touch with what I was doing. I know this sounds flighty, especially to sensors, but it’s one of the problems with being a dominant Ni (introverted intuition) user. I’m not saying every Ni-dominant type is as much of an airhead in the shower as I am…but this type of thing tends to be a problem for a lot of us.

Find out why INFJs and INTJs are easily overstimulated. #INFJ #INTJ #MBTI

Blogger Stephanie Briggs describes this perfectly; “INFJs tend to be loosely tethered to physical reality, suffering from clumsiness (“How did I get this bruise?”), spaciness, and a distaste for practical details and tasks.”

INFJs and INTJs combine dominant introverted intuition (Ni) with inferior extraverted sensing (Se). Our Se is very underdeveloped and sensitive, meaning that we consider outside stimuli to be a major distraction from what’s really “important” (what’s going on in our heads).

Let’s put it this way, Just like ISTPs and INTPs find extreme emotions distracting and kind of disturbing, INFJs and INTJs find external stimuli distracting and disturbing. If we’re in a tranquil atmosphere, a clean house, or if there’s soft music playing, that’s fine. In fact, we really like that. Tranquil surroundings and beautiful places are really important to people with inferior Se. Our sensitivity to outside stimuli means that while we’re extremely sensitive in a negative way to unpleasant or loud outside stimuli, we are incredibly affected in a positive way by pleasant outside stimuli.

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INFJs, INTJs, and the Science of Their Minds

UCLA professor Dario Nardi conducted a study on personality type and brain activity using EEG technology. He has this to say about INTJs and INFJs:

“Ni types often show a whole-brain, zen-like pattern. This pattern occurs when all regions of the neocortex are in synch and dominated by brain waves that are medium-low frequency and very high-amplitude. This pattern is typical of someone whose mind is awake yet relaxed….What is this zen state like? When presented with a problem, the Ni types seek to harness all neocortex regions in order to “realize” an answer…This zen state works best when focusing on a single question, without distractions that might cause the various regions to fall out of synch. The person might think, “Be quiet world, I just need to stop and think!” When an answer does pop to mind, it might seem like an expert’s work with flourishes of novelty or even an unusual approach to a task.”

Nardi also says in his book The Neuroscience of Personality, that INTJs and INFJs prefer time away from external stimulation and mundane demands in order to access their rich internal processes. To find out more about the science of the Myers-Briggs types check out my article Your Myers-Briggs® Personality Type and Your Brain.

Why Parenting Can Be Especially Challenging for INFJs and INTJs

Quiet time alone. It’s what INTJs and INFJs need. I’m a mother of five kids. I completely adore them. My love for them is incredibly strong. I also homeschool them, so they’re pretty much with me all the time. With kids there will always be interruptions, especially with my toddler who is in a babbling/screaming/squealing phase. I get migraines four days out of the week. I get lost in thought and then there’s the “Mom! Mom! Mom!” chant that all mothers are familiar with. And from all my experiences as an MBTI® practitioner, I’ve realized that INFJs and INTJs struggle with this aspect of parenting a little more intensely than other types.

Why We Hate Interruptions So Much

As a dominant Ni-user, I think in puzzle pieces and clues. In my average mental state, I am connecting dots constantly. That’s just how my brain works. When interrupted, all those little puzzle pieces, all those connected dots, scatter everywhere. I’ve lost it. For non-parents, the distraction could be someone at work interrupting them with questions or the ping of a text message on your phone. I’ve found that I almost always have my phone silenced for this reason.

A lot of INFJs and INTJs are highly-sensitive people. We don’t like fluorescent lights, loud noises, bright, stimulating environments. My husband likes to laugh at me sometimes because I always want to dim the lights upon entering a room. After I do this I am visibly more relaxed and at ease. He also enjoys action movies, and I do too sometimes, but after a while, the explosions and bright saturation of colors get to be too much for me. I want to bury my head in a pillow and block it all out. I’m not prone to outbursts of anger, but if my kids are being especially loud (as kids are prone to do), I often have to go to my room and take a “time out.” I close the door, lay face-down on my bed for a few moments so that all sensory stimulation is cut off, then I get back up, take a deep breath, and try to keep going with the day. Taking these little breaks is part of what keeps me sane.

The Importance of Alone Time

Introverted intuition is such an intensive, introspective process. In order for an INFJ or an INTJ to truly be “in the zone” and able to function properly they need to be able to block out all other stimulation and get into a relaxed mental state. Then they can form connections and develop insights. It can take a while to truly get into this “zen state” as Dario Nardi describes it. Often, for me, it happens right around the time I’m trying to go to sleep. You can imagine why! Everything’s dark and quiet and I’m able to completely isolate myself with my thoughts. All a sudden my mind is bursting with insights and revelations that never occurred to me throughout the day.

If I get into that relaxed state at home during the day, and then someone turns on some loud music, a TV show, or there are random interruptions or questions, it can be extremely overstimulating. In fact, if my inferior Se is “triggered,” I can fall into the grip of Extraverted Sensing (Se), and become overly indulgent (as Se-inferior types tend to do). This means that in order to “ground” myself in reality, I sometimes will succumb to over-eating, listening to incredibly loud music, or engaging in an unhealthy way in any kind of sensory activity.

All things considered, if you have an INFJ or an INTJ in your family you can definitely try to make their life a little easier by giving them some alone time or not interrupting them when they’re deep in thought. If you are a Ni-dominant type then you can try to take little segments out of the day to shut out stimulation and think, even if it’s just for a little while. One of the ways I do this with kids is by packing up my toddler in the stroller and taking him for a walk every single morning. He gets really quiet, and it’s very peaceful, and I can just think. Everyone has different methods and different ways they can achieve this solitude and time to focus.

What are your thoughts?

What do you do to block out sensory stimulation? What kinds of ways do you get into a positive mental state? I’d love to talk to you in the comments!

Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type,  The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic,  The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer, and The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist. You can also connect with me via FacebookInstagram, or Twitter!

Other Articles You Might Enjoy:

Here’s Why INFJs and INTJs Seem “Intense”

10 Intuition Hacks for INFJs and INTJs

The Unique Intelligence of INFJs, INTJs, ENFJs, and ENTJs

INFJ Understanding the Mystic

All About INTJs


Find out why #INFJ and #INTJ #personality types get over-stimulated easily! #MBTI #Myersbriggs #personalitytype #typology

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  1. This is so true. I can’t drive and have the music on st the same time. If I am really enjoying the scenery it makes me anxious to hear background music or noise.

  2. These are always interesting (as in the article); as it shows in different parsects how different INFJ/Intuitive types respond to stimuli and how they deal with them accordingly.

    I am a high functioning INFJ, so, although my Se can get rather overenthused sometimes – I’ve noticed that I’m not as effected by cluttered spaces (we are talking about like clothing and things in my own space) as long as it’s not garbage or needless debris. Now, after a bit it needs to be set up accordingly, but I’ve read a lot about how this is mostly a big deal to have a super clean space. I guess I’m just so comfortable as I know where everything is usually (unless it falls behind something, and even then if I don’t ‘freak out’ I know it’s still in the direct vicinity) that clothes in funny piles or art supplies strewn about doesn’t trigger me.

    Now, loud noises and bright lights do bother me. Loud noises especially get a very aggressive reaction – yet when I’m at concerts I’m more disconcerted by the amount of people. I can stomach it though for a time; however I can tell as my ‘batteries’ deplete I become far more compliant to my baser ‘feeling’ of discomfort and aggression. That many people and their differect ‘sensations’ really kick up a lot of proverbial ‘dirt’ – I can say Bumbershoot was an experience from a couple weeks ago. Proved I’ve grown leaps and bounds but I’m still very susceptible to become aware of my surroundings, others infringing on my space, and since I’ve got a close connection to my ‘animal’ instincts that settle in the ley lines of my thought processing…you can imagine getting butted into, touched, or banged can cause some major reactions that takes a lot of ‘grounding’ to keep from flying off the handle.

    As a child I was not adept at this, and would either act out in aggression or terror. Thankfully, my Fe and Ti tend to pull off a lot of logical reasoning (especially the latter) as I try to process everything invading my Ni now a days that I’m able to stop it in its tracks and find a place to ‘zen out’ to pull everything together in the deeper vestibules of my mind.

    I’m not really big on a lot of the new age terms, but they tend to make more of an impact for those who follow that course. Suffice to say, I’m usually finding myself easiest to slip into the deepest parts of my Mind when I’m at work (graveyard shift with no one around), at home curled up in bed usually in the dark, and when I’m restless and driving my car listening to music with no real point of origin in mind.

    I am always thinking though, and can say I’ve done the same mentioned…questioning if I washed my hair already, etc. Usually it permeates with ‘did I lock the door…’ or ‘did I turn off -insert item here-‘.

    Let’s just say my Inner voice tends to say ‘yeah you did, trust me.’ And I’ve been trying to stick to that reasoning, since it’s pretty much on point as it’s relays parts of the memory of turning something off, etc. It’s more the conscious doubt I have as an old ghost – but my intuition has been understandably far more terrifying in my older years at being correct that doubting it can be more of a trigger then anything. Self Awareness is a thing; Inviduation process being a major precursor and all that jazz.

    Anyway, I of course enjoyed the article and probably could have gone on into a longer discourse but I feel this is prudent enough, haha.

    Have a good one.

  3. The puzzle pieces description was perfect. I always describe it to my husband as my brain “fritzing out” when there is too much stimulus (specifically auditory), but the puzzle piece description is a much better visual. It’s so helpful to understand what is happening in my brain during those moments. As someone with 3 small children (5,3,11months), it always bothers me that I can so overwhelmed and frustrated with being interrupted. Sometimes half the battle is understanding what is happening in order to overcome it.

  4. I have an INFJ friend who is overwhelmed by televisions in restaurants and waiting rooms. Even if there’s no sound, the flashing of the screens is incredibly distracting to her.

  5. This is so interesting. I didn’t realize my aversion to loud outbursts, bright screens and tv had anything to do with my personality traits.

  6. Same.. My mind can get crazy and uncomfortable in a loud/bright environment.. I wish I can live in a peaceful house/dim light etc… or in a dark place when I can alone with my mind for a moment ..

  7. Now I know why when I get up in the morning I prefer stumbling about in the dark . I cannot bear to put lights on.
    Bright light in the bathroom is another pet hate .
    TVs ( unless I’m watching) yuck ! , fluorescent lights in hospital wards ( aaargh ! I used to be a midwife and constantly went round dimming the ward lights to soothe postnatal mothers!)
    This is such interesting information and makes so much sense

  8. I’m INTJ Mom of six boys (bio and adopted) and I have my boys trained to ride quietly in a quiet car. If I’m feeling generous there might be pleasant music. I’ve been known to say, “Stop hijacking my brain! Be quiet (son).”
    “We are going to ride all the way to (an hour’s drive away) and you may think your own thoughts and look out the window.”
    It has made my life soooooo much more pleasant!

  9. This is 100% me and, although I’ve had such feelings for a long time, I could never put them into words, so thank you! Also, as someone above has said, I hadn’t ever thought about it having anything to do with my personality type

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