The fourth installment in the INFJ characteristic series. I have tried to keep to the simplified format of the series however this is the one that really and truly hits home for me so I’m going to go into some necessary detail.
I spent a large part of my life not understanding who or what I was or why I felt so out of place–often at odds with the world–yet had such a strong desire to make a difference in people’s lives, which would explain my altruistic actions in the past.
Descriptions of the INFJ always emphasise our peaceful natures but few go into depth about our dark side – and it is very dark when we are stressed in the long term or our home environments are in turmoil.
The INFJs dominant function is introverted intuition which means that the shadow function which emerges when we are under stress is extroverted sensing. This is something the INFJ has extreme difficulty managing.
Stress in the INFJ causes obsessive focus on external data which is the exact opposite of how a healthy INFJ processes information, and this in turn makes the INFJ extremely irritable and obsessive, making us seem nit-picky and irrational.
I see it in myself whenever I allow stress to get the better of me.
Stress will also cause a skewed focus on sensory pleasure, which can manifest in self-medication like excessive drinking, overeating, shopping for things we don’t need and becoming uncharacteristically self-centered.
If you speak to my ex-husband, you will see him nodding his head in agreement. This is because my home and internal lives were in a state of chaos and I had no healthy coping mechanisms, so I became the worst version of myself in that environment.
Finally, stress will create in us an adversarial or misanthropic attitude to the world around us. The INFJ is primarily characterised by a desire to better the world around us, to make a real difference in the lives of individuals, so this may seem a little extreme but when forced to exercise our sensing function, with which we do not have much understanding due to our strong intuitive leanings, we will become suspicious, intolerant and frustrated with the world around us.
The people nearest to us will then become the unwitting and incredulous recipients of “INFJ rage”.
If you are looking for an in depth analysis on this subject, Naomi L. Quenk is an excellent resource for how each type reacts when they are under pressure and I highly recommend her book, Was That Really Me?
Thank you for reading.