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JOEL MARK WITT: Hi. Welcome to Personality Hacker. I’m Joel Mark Witt.
ANTONIA DODGE: I’m Antonia Dodge. Today we’re here to talk about the INFx Unveiled program that we have added to the Personality Hackers suite of programs. This is a very different style of program that we’re use to for two primary reasons.
JOEL MARK WITT: Number one, we’re working with … It’s not Antonia and I teaching this course. We’re actually working with a colleague of ours, a friend of ours, Merja Sumiloff who has a lot of experience. She has her own personal practice around helping all types of people heal from inner wounding, work on inner child work, inner parent work, and in particular, she loves to work with INFs, INFJs and INFPs. We’re really excited to work with her. It’s a little different for what we usually do.
ANTONIA DODGE: In particular, it’s different for the second point, which is that Merja deals with the healing aspects of personal development. If you’ve heard some of our podcasts and read some of our articles, you may have heard us talk about our philosophy around personal development being under three primary categories, call this the HAT model. Hat stands for healing, achievement, and transcendence. The healing is any kind of personal development you’re doing when you’re dealing with traumas and wounds from the past that need healing work. Achievement is anytime your at a base line of healing and you want to get to the next level. Transcendence work is generally anything with a spiritual tone or self actualize tone. Our wheel house at Personality Hacker is achievement. That’s what we like to talk about, that’s what we’re good at. We end up not talking a lot about healing.
We feel like even if you are focused on an achievement time period in your life, when you put more pressure through the pipe, cracks get exposed. Even if you’re not a person who is in a really intense healing time period in your life, you might actually be in achievement but still require some healing work to deal with those cracks. Since that’s not our particular wheelhouse, we reached out to somebody who we think is brilliant at talking about inner wounding, some maybe inner child work, some parenting work, which we feel is a really powerful and necessary. We’re super excited to have Merja’s program as a part of our program suite.
JOEL MARK WITT: If you’re thinking about investing in yourself, in getting this program, this video, we’re just going to talk with Merja. By the way, welcome Merja to the program.
ANTONIA DODGE: Welcome.
MERJA: Thanks for having me.
JOEL MARK WITT: We want to just talk with you a little bit about the program specifically. We’re going to do a little short series of videos to unpack different aspects of INFx Unveiled. Today, I want to dig into the healing aspect. I want to really get around this idea of an INFJ or an INFP who feels like they have some healing work to do in their life and what does that mean, what does it look like? We’ll just have a quick conversation about that, right here, if we could. When we talk about healing, what are we talking about here? Why would somebody need healing, what kind of healing is coming up for INFJs and INFPs?
MERJA: Well, the INF types are extremely special kinds of types because they are very emotion driven, and because it’s not just their own emotions, it’s also the emotions of the environment. It’s really as intuitive feeling types as well as the ability to go into introspection. The INF types are wanting really so deeply to connect with their surroundings as well as bring their authentic self into that mix. There’s this deep yearning for IMF types to really be emotionally available and emotionally connected to their surroundings.
JOEL MARK WITT: I think there’s a particular difficulty that I’ve noticed. We’ve done this a while. When I talk to you, INFJs and INFPs, there is a protection mechanism that I usually see come up. I think you agree with this, that there’s this sense of I feel so different than most people I interact with in the world. I feel like if I open myself up to some work around maybe healing or other things, that I’m going to make myself very vulnerable. It’s a scary place I think for a lot of INFs to be. The healing work, I guess it requires that vulnerability to come out. It requires someone to be vulnerable and yet, in that vulnerability, that healing work can happen. In this program, how do you help people get to the point where they’re able to open themselves up to a place where they can even see some of the healing work that needs to be done, when maybe for a long time, they’ve really protected that part of them, because it’s so sensitive, it’s so vulnerable. It can be really scary to go there.
MERJA: Absolutely. That space that you’re talking about is a very deep understanding of emotions and of a deep ability to feel the emotions in the first place for INF types. What happens is that tenderness, that vulnerability needs to be given a bit of a platform and a bit of a space and direction. With this course, that’s what we do. We allow the space for the tenderness that is within all of us. From that space, we give it a direction in which it can then serve us all personally ourselves, as well as, all the people around us. Our personal relationships, our personal colleagues, our friends, even the relationships with our parents can heal quite dramatically.
JOEL MARK WITT: When you say holding space, you mean like a Kumbaya and like this real touchy, feely, flowy space? I mean, paint me a picture of what people can expect. It’s a recorded program. You did it live, we recorded it and we published it now. Obviously, you don’t have to interact with somebody live. They can do this on their own time. What does it actually look like? Are you challenging but yet holding space? How does that feel?
MERJA: There’s a grid that we follow and it’s not to take away from people’s individuality at all. The grid of the program is like a structure that serves the journey from the space that you’re in when you begin the course and leads you towards where you want to go. Even though the grid is there to serve you on that level of that individual’s personal level, it’s not there to restrict you in any way. It’s very much there to offer … So you can put yourself on top of that grid and then you can take it from there yourself wherever you’re going. Everybody’s journey who are on this course is completely individual and different because everybody’s desires in life and how their purpose is going to manifest and actualize is very different.
ANTONIA DODGE: What are the specific types of traumas that people can experience that need healing work?
MERJA: If you’re okay with that, I’d like to talk about the two types separately, every so slightly, even though obviously the cognitive functions are very different for these types, but how things manifest is very similar. There’s still intricacies, there’s flavors of how something looks similar but there’s flavors of how it feels internally. If you’re okay, I’d like to explore-
JOEL MARK WITT: Absolutely.
ANTONIA DODGE: The purpose of these videos is to make sure that when somebody is looking at this program and trying to determine whether or not it’s right for them. We give them enough information and make sure that they feel good about further investigation.
JOEL MARK WITT: Need to be a fit.
MERJA: Wonderful. Absolutely. It has to be a fit for the person who’s taking it because I’m a big fan of making sure that you don’t waste resources. I’m a big fan of making sure that the match is right for the person. There’s a little bit difference in flavor of the traumas that these two types can experience. As an INFJ, often times you end up feeling like your particularly isolated, like you can’t … Nobody understands you or you may feel like you’re being misinterpreted. It really doesn’t feel right. It feels like you’re in this space where it doesn’t matter how you try to express yourself, people will not understand where you’re coming from. The big issue here for the INFJs is that because our biggest challenge with our inner work is to make evolve the harmony process. We don’t often even know how to ask for what we need so we can’t or even explain who were so we can’t possibly be understood on that deep level that we want to be understood.
INFJs in particular are really good at just going with the flow and serving other people and making sure that they’re particularly available to the people around them. INFJs really feel that they are often missing direction in their lives on a level that’s personal to them.
JOEL MARK WITT: You’re talking about internal direction almost feel like they’re going through the world being responsive to everybody, reactive to everyone and where’s my personal direction? What do I actually want in life, is what they struggle with.
MERJA: That’s right. The thing with INFJs as well that because where both types, both of the INF types have a very rich inner world but what happens is that the split happens when we’re trying to be represented in the outside world and we don’t have the tools to firstly know we are, what we need, what we want and then, express that. Express those desires. We enter this split space where on the outside world, we are feeling extremely misrepresented and then, what we do is we retract into the inner world where we are fully accepted and we can be as strange and wonderful as we want to be, without it needing to be explained or that there’s no sense of possible misinterpretation.
ANTONIA DODGE: Can you give some real world examples of the types of traumas people can experience?
JOEL MARK WITT: INFJs in particular right?
ANTONIA DODGE: Yeah, let’s talk about INFJs first and then INFPs. Traumas that they can experience that would help them know if this course is a good match for them.
MERJA: INFJs in particular can feel very voiceless, without a voice, growing up especially in family dynamics where they are often the one who is facilitating others. We learn, as INFJs, we learn not to speak up about what we need. We may not even know what we need because we’re so use to facilitating other people so that we just don’t learn those skills. If you feel that deep desire to be heard and to be ackowledged as an individual and a separate person, I feel that this is a really good match for you. This is what we’ll be delving into in the course.
ANTONIA DODGE: I know that you don’t want to get too specific with the kinds of concepts that would create that feeling because we don’t want … I’m sure it can be birthed from a lot of different situations. Somebody who’s had, let’s say, overbearing characters in their lives, people who have-
JOEL MARK WITT: Pushed in other boundaries a lot.
ANTONIA DODGE: Pushed in other boundaries, maybe were in a situation where they were not given permission to create boundaries, maybe were rewarded for handing our identity over to others. Are those the kinds of situations that create these traumas?
MERJA: Absolutely. We can look at different styles of parenting and often, you can see the pattern that goes with hand-in-hand with the pattern and it’s often the overbearing parent or authority figure. It can be the sense of the surroundings, where you grow up, the country you grow up or the circumstances in which you grew up that are overbearing and require you not to speak up for yourself.
ANTONIA DODGE: That’s INFJs. What about INFPs? What are the kinds of feelings that will let them know that they’ve experienced traumas that they could really serve doing some work around?
MERJA: INFPs are a little bit different to INFJs. Even though the depth of the pain is very similar, we’re talking about an extreme feeling of woundedness in both the INF types experience. The INFP, they often feel that they’re losing their sovereignty. They feel that they’ve never been able to be fully free, that they’re bound by something that is not authentic to them, because the INFP needs to feel like they’re living an authentic life so if there’s an INFP out there who doesn’t feel like they’re living their full life authentically, in a sovereign manner, then, this is what we can help you with. It’s a question of, lets get you into that space where you can feel free and feel like you have direction.
The pain point is a little bit different. The pain point for INFPs is about freedom which to be full themselves and to be their full, awesome, deep intricate self, which I love the INFP type. They are the most fabulously multifaceted type. It’s that sense of not being able to feel freely themselves that is really holding them back from living a sovereign life.
ANTONIA DODGE: What types of experiences would they may have had? Again, we don’t want to get too specific because these can be the merger of a lot of different situations or context. What are the kinds of experiences that generally lead to that feeling of losing sovereignty for an INFP?
MERJA: There’s often this sense of inner child who is an INFP. There’s often the sense that decisions are made on your behalf and that you don’t have any power over your own decisions or your own space. I know a lot of INFPs who feel that when they were children, maybe their siblings, maybe their parents, maybe their mates at school, there was bullying going around them and people trying to hold power over one another. They knew deep within themselves that it was not right, that this is wrong. It is wrong to hold power over other people. They often have this experience where they could see, either themselves or other people being prisoners of other people’s power.
JOEL MARK WITT: Feeling prisoner of other people’s power, losing sovereignty, some of the wounding. We’re talking about feeling wounding you’ve had in your childhood, or in your past as an INF type, INFP or INFJ and losing that feeling of sovereignty, almost feeling like you have someone having power over you or I guess it could be even infrastructure or religion. Anything can feel, for the INFP, they’re beholding to something that’s not truly coming from within. It feels almost depressive, like they can’t be their sovereign self. What’s the equivalent for the INFJ again? What is the struggle they have, particularly?
MERJA: Feeling that they’re not in charge of their own life and that they’re failing because of circumstance that’s going around them. INFJs feel themselves adapting to the circumstance all of the time and trying to make sure that everything around them is in harmony so that they can show or they can share a tiny fraction of their authentic selves to the world.
ANTONIA DODGE: She mentions voicelessness too.
JOEL MARK WITT: Yeah. The reason I asked you that again is because I want to go back to this idea that … We’re both extroverts. We’ve talked to a lot of … Obviously, we do this all the time. We talk to tons and tons and tons of introvert people. It sounds like what happens from a wounding part, for someone who’s an INFP or INFJ. Like you mentioned, they see themselves as not being acceptable to the outside world in some way. They’re getting the feedback. They have a wound and they want to show up authentic but that wound tells them, “Oh wait, maybe I’m not acceptable to the outside world,” and they retreat a little differently for each of the types but they retreat and almost they don’t give themselves permission to show their best self because they’re so caught up in this human part. They’re protecting that and it feels like if the healing part could be brought up, there’s so much richness that lies just below.
You mentioned this. I’m leading you a little bit to the … I know what you’re going to say here so I’m leading you a little bit. There is some richness and some depth. I think we can unpack in another video but there’s some richness and depth under this healing part that has to happen for everybody but in particular INFs that we’re talking about right now.
MERJA: Absolutely. The depth of the INF wound is what is so difficult for people to understand people who are not this type, because it’s at the core of an INF type. If you’re an INF type, listening to this, you can probably really relate to this. You know there’s more to life than this, right here, right now. You know innately, deep inside of you that there is a purpose for you and that there is passion within you that could be expressed to that purpose, if you knew what that purpose was.
The reason why a lot of INF types don’t easily access this purpose is because it’s lying underneath those wounds. INF wounds are so deeply buried under the shades of grey of other people’s demands and power over them for so many years in their childhood that to access that purpose and that passion is just itself a lifetime worth of work. It starts with going into the wound and just being with that wound for a while and then inputting in place techniques and keys how you can really open and unlock those wounds and help them heal and transform them into what we’re really meant to be doing.
JOEL MARK WITT: If I was a … I’m putting myself in the place of an INFP or an INFJ that you’re talking to right now. It sounds exciting for you to say, look, there is a purpose to your life that … You probably have some inner wisdom that’s coming up around this. You probably know that there’s some deep inner purpose that you have some blocks around. The phrase you just mentioned, I can imagine an INFJ or an INFP listening, you have to spend some time with these wounds. I would expect, if I was an INFJ or an INFP, I’d be terrified about that idea.
I guess I want to be empathetic or sympathetic or whatever the right word is in this context for you listening, if you are INFJ or INFP, that can sound terrifying. I want to put you at ease and I believe Merja comes from a position and you can speak this, Merja, or you can speak this, Antonia. What I like about what Merja does is I think she gives a space for accessing some of that and she provides a container, but yet, she will push you. She’ll give you some encouragement to go places, some dark places, not terribly dark but some places to shine a flashlight on dark places that you’re like whoa. I like the fact that you have this great balance of holding space but yet helping people shine a light on the parts of them that they know they need to uncover already to get to what you’re talking about. That deeper, inner purpose.
I just want to put people at ease when you say, spend a lot of time with your inner wounds, that can be terrifying, I think. I don’t know if you want to say more about that but I just want to put you at ease if you’re listening, that I think that you will be surprised at how gentle and yet direct Merja can be. It’s a great balance. One of the reasons why we chose to work with her is I think she strikes that balance well. I don’t know if you want to mention anything else about that, Merja, but I just wanted to make that comment. Thinking of somebody watching or listening that’s in that place, I just don’t want them to be paniced or freaked out about. You have something to say?
ANTONIA DODGE: I did, actually. I feel like since we’re here to let anybody who’s investigating this program, and trying to determine whether or not it’s a good fit for them, I think it seems like the ideal person to go through this program is somebody who recgonizes what you just mentioned a moment ago, Merja, which is that they’re not living up to their potential. There’s more in there. There’s more that can come out. There is … They’re qualified to be a gift to the world and bring their gifts outside of themselves. They’re at that moment where they realize that there’s more that they could be showing. They could be showing up as more and there’s some stuff in the way that’s got to be attended to and they’re ready to do that.
You mentioned, you don’t want people to panic and go, “Am I going to have to deal with some really deep stuff here that I’ve been avoiding?” While it’s absolutely true that Merja goes through that with a gentle touch. I don’t want anybody to panic either. The answer is maybe. You might have to go there. You might have to go to a space that’s been pretty dark for a while and you might have been … You might be unconsciously compassent at creating strategies to avoid going to that space. You might be really [crosstalk 00:23:41] never hitting that space. The ideal person is somebody who is ready to transcend, allowing those strategies for not having to deal with that dark space, keep them playing a smaller game than they know they’re capable of.
MERJA: That’s right. I just want to say that to put everybody’s mind at ease, we are so conditioned. All of us are so conditioned to pull that handbrake of not going there. If you’re thinking that you might be asked to go to deeply into your wounds and dwell on them in a way that’s not going to work for you in a practical level, that’s not going to happen because we’re so conditioned to not go there. You won’t ever be pushed to go beyond where you’re able to go and you can always come back from it.
One of the big things for me in any healing work is that you are in charge of when you go into your wound and when you come out of it. I teach people to regulate how to be where they need to be for whatever duration of time that they need to be there. Whether it’s their healing space, staying with the wounds or whether it’s getting on with day-to-day life, attending to the kids, going to do their presentation at work, whatever that might be, it’s not going to ever be too much, too soon. You’ll be given tools in how to regulate where you are, as well.
JOEL MARK WITT: That’s great. Let’s pause here for a minute on this video. I want to actually do another video with you. I want you to practice what you’re preaching right now. I want you to, in the next video, explain your personal story, get vulnerable with us. Explain to us and folks watching, how you came to the point where you’re actually now teaching people how to heal these wounds and give us more of your personal story. I think that’d be really powerful for an INFJ or an INFP listening to hear what your experience has been and how maybe some of the scary moments you went through, some of the real growth periods but then some of the great benefits and the inner purpose that came up from that. Let’s shoot another video after this one and we’ll see everyone on the next video where we’re going to ask Merja to unpack some of her personal story. I’m Joel Mark Witt.
ANTONIA DODGE: I’m Antonia Dodge.
JOEL MARK WITT: From Personality Hacker. We’ll see you on the next video.