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INFJs are a very special breed. We can be the most giving of individuals as we serve the people we love and uphold the ideals in which we believe. But this level of contribution comes with a very specific price. When our contributions are not appreciated, our wounded-ness surfaces and we can be left feeling lonely, under-appreciated, misunderstood, and even misrepresented.

Few people understand the level of commitment INFJs offer to the world. Even as a young child, we learn that the world is a serious place. As we grow up and begin to yearn for a community, we accept that we need to carry our share of responsibilities, as well as help others carry theirs. Since we see the bigger picture, we naturally assume a lot of responsibility for ourselves and our community.

We love to help people; we love to show up and pull our own weight, but most importantly, we have an innate need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves – something that makes our hearts sing. We need a purpose, but getting there takes work. The biggest wound of an INFJ, the self-sacrificing wound, is what stops us from pursuing our dreams and becoming the fullest expression of ourselves.

Without purpose, our life feels somewhat incomplete. After all, we know in our heart of hearts that there is so much more to life than what is right now. We need a purpose so that we don’t just exist at the receiving end of the world and others’ emotions. Just being a conduit for the emotions of others is not enough for the balanced INFJ.

What stands in the way of full actualization for a balanced INFJ is the patterning of deep wounding that occurred in our childhood. This wounding exists on different levels of consciousness: the conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind. Depending on the degree of knowledge and healing we can offer the wounding, it may end up running our lives – knowingly or unknowingly.

To become aware of the presence of your wounding, ask yourself if and when you are likely to exhibit one or more of the following:

  1. You feel overly sensitive to certain things and stimuli, such as noise, distraction, visual stimulation, or “psychic junk” (others’ emotions).
  2. You regularly seek approval from others for how you are living your life only to be bypassed or belittled, or ever worse, being told that you are overreacting to and over thinking things.
  3. You consistently go above and beyond what’s required to serve people around you both at work and home, and never feel your efforts reciprocated. You feel like your everyday relationships are very one-sided, and that others don’t offer the same kind of commitment to you as you offer to them.
  4. You feel that you are addicted to helping others. Trying to fix everyone else’s problems does not help you personally – instead, it takes the “you time” away from you, and puts it towards others’ issues. As a result, you feel constantly depleted, tired, and disappointed in yourself for not having performed “better.”
  5. You search for permission to be yourself from perceived authority figures. Or you feel the need to prove your worth by outperforming everyone else so that you can feel acceptable, which is where your perfectionistic tendencies come to the surface. That inner 10 Year Old’s “Accuracy” (Introverted Thinking), which constantly leaves you feeling like you are not good enough.

These are just some of the external challenges that wounded INFJs face on a regular basis. If these patterns are not understood personalityhacker.com_INFJ_wounding_Merjaand accepted, they will unconsciously continue to run your life and leave you feeling at the mercy of others’ whims; this often results in a lack of authentic direction and purpose, and can make you feel overwhelmed and ungrounded.

All these wounding patterns develop early in childhood – usually in the imprint period – and we can trace the pain points to life events of a very specific flavor. Here are some examples of how the INFJ pain points come about:

  1. Constant feelings of being singled out or “left out”, usually by family, friends, or circumstances of perceived authority; this leaves us feeling like we are always searching for that sweet place of belonging in our lives.
  2. The regular frustration of being the only one who sees the bigger picture left you feeling unsafe, which makes us rely on our own intuitive skills rather than trusting other people. And when we don’t learn to extend trust properly, we end up with very poor judgment on who we can trust; this is why INFJs often end up in relationships and friendships with highly manipulative people such as narcissists and sociopaths.
  3. As we grow up, we soon learn to become little perfectionists. It becomes second nature for us to control our environment to feel like we are our own person. If not healed, this patterning will leave us in the perpetual cycle of anxiety and depression.
  4. Many INFJs report having at least one parent, who was physically, psychologically or emotionally controlling. As a result, many INFJs learn to normalize controlling behavior and to think that it’s completely acceptable. Over time, this patterning breaks down the INFJ’s personal identity, and in severe cases, obliterates it all together. The INFJ is left feeling like they have no idea who they are and what makes them happy.
  5. Chronic, unhealed feelings of being let down by others will multiply in our cellular memory and make the INFJ see things through the lens of disappointment, which is a very taxing way to live. If not healed, this pain point will lead to chronic illness or severe depression.

It’s not all bad news, though! Many have overcome these pain points to live happy, authentic, and meaningful lives.

Mark, one of my INFJ clients, struggled with the scarring from his narcissistic mother. Mark was not alone with his pain points. Most narcissistic parents offer love and care to their child only to the extent that it supports their story. Mark had gotten used to being a pawn in his mother’s game, and as such, he never really developed a sense of his sovereign self. As far as he was concerned, he only existed for others, not for himself. Mark was so affected by his upbringing that he ended up having a string of manipulative girlfriends who, after the honeymoon period was over, turned into controlling and destructive forces in his life – exactly like his mother. Mark was determined to find real love. Instead of blaming the women who all exhibited the same behavior patterning, I recommended that he work on the common denominator – himself. He took my advice, did self-parenting, worked through his mothering issues, and attracted an ideal partner into his life. Together they have been able to build a healthy, happy, and interdependent relationship.

Stefanie, another one of my INFJ clients, was a hardcore perfectionist when I began working with her. She was a corporate shark with very little time for under performers in her life. Even though she was happy enough with her life, she was struggling to have a baby. Talk about a creative block! After years of IVF with no luck, she came to me for help. She had heard about me from a colleague of hers, Sandy, who had become pregnant after three months of working with me. She wanted some of the same magic for herself. By guiding her way back home to herself, she began the journey of falling in love with her inner child. After two months of serious work, she reported back to me that she was experiencing deep feelings of gratitude and completeness for the first time in years. Apersonalityhacker.com_INFJ_Article_Merjas her body relaxed, she began to get more and more creative in her expression. She was still a serious corporate type, but at home she could relax for the first time in years. Six months into her mentoring work she called me with the news – she was ten weeks pregnant. Not only was her body relaxed enough to facilitate a baby, she had never been happier. She was feeling closer to her husband for the first time in years, and her creative side took an unexpected turn in that she began sewing baby blankets for new mothers who could not afford one. The corporate side of her is still there, but the personal shell that used to be hollow is now a cornucopia of love, tenderness, and creativity.

If you can relate to anything you have read so far, here are some action steps you can take right now to bring you the sovereignty and peer relationships you have always dreamt of:

  1. Take a good look at your current friendship sphere. The average of the top 5 people who influence you on a daily basis is how you treat yourself. By upgrading some of the forces and individuals in your life, you can begin to move towards the life you want. Sometimes improving the Circle of 5 can mean choosing a mentor, and listening to their audio programmes during the day. It can be as simple as that!
  2. Make two boxes – you can use shoe boxes for this – one with “Patterning” and one with “The Authentic Life” written on it. Observe yourself and write recurring thoughts on pieces of paper. File the pieces of paper into the appropriate boxes. Anything that doesn’t fit your authentic life or doesn’t support who you want to become goes in your “Patterning” box. Anything that you feel inspired about, that makes you happy, or gives you a sense of fulfillment goes into “The Authentic Life” box. At the end of every month review the things in the “Patterning” box, and choose to let those things go. Do the same with “The Authentic Life” box and see how far you have come. Remember, before things change in your reality they have to change in your thoughts.
  3. Take yourself out on a date at least every two weeks. Book time for you to do things that YOU enjoy – put it in your diary and treat it as if it is a doctor’s appointment. Do not miss it! This exercise will give you deep insight into what provides you with a sense of happiness.
  4. If you want to take a deeper dive into yourself, check out the INFx Unveiled course, which will solidify your personal development more thoroughly.

 

Want to learn more?

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Merja Sumiloff
Merja Sumiloff is an internationally celebrated high-performance mentor and relationship strategist, who has a unique capacity to see patterns within and across modalities. Her profound ability to use her painful past as a light for others, and her tender but no-nonsense approach are precisely what makes her work so leading edge, and able to transform the lives of so many. For more information on Merja’s current projects, visit Merja Sumiloff Project and INFX Project and coming soon a SUPER secret special project for introverts! She is the creator of INFx Unveiled and The Healing Power Of Inner Parenting: The Four People Within, healing programs designed to teach people how to heal themselves through inner child work and self knowledge. We are excited and honored to have her as a Personality Hacker coach.
Showing 34 comments
  • A
    Reply

    Do one for INTP please. We are extremely sensitive introverted intuitive a but even less understood than INFJ.

    • merja
      Reply

      Hi A, thank you for your request. I will see what i can do!

      • Michelle
        Reply

        INTJ here, and I second A’s request. Perhaps an INTx program? Loved the podcast as well.

        • merja
          Reply

          Thanks Michelle. I will put your vote into the request list as well. 🙂

          • Amanda

            I am INTJ as well, and would like to third this. We are much more sensitive than most people realize. Thanks!

    • Kodi
      Reply

      For the homework at the end, #3 pretty much undermined the whole article. But.. In my mind I’ll imagine it ended at point number 2! The issue is it is a tad too cliche, and completely unrelatable to the typical infj male who has aspects that may make it hard for him to be accepted on a date with others. To him a “real date” is a big deal as he is his only companion on endless array of trips to the coffee shop with his books and multimedia.
      The rest of the article is very strong in summarizing this typology’s world view.

      • Lyn
        Reply

        I had trouble w #3 too. Mainly bc I’m a homebody, and would much rather be free to be myself doing whatever I want at home, than dealing w society. I’ve taken myself to coffee, dinner and movies, it feels spectacalish and uncomfortable.?

        • Joy
          Reply

          But a “date” can be anything you enjoy, not necessarily traditional “date” ideas like movies or restaurants. Sometimes I go to the park and enjoy a long walk, or take a drive by myself out in the country and stop to take photos along the way. My ideal date with myself is somewhere quiet where I can think and meditate and enjoy beauty without any deadlines or the outside pressures of others’ expectations. INFJs just need time alone to recharge, time that’s not connected to responsibilities or “shoulds”. I think that’s what she means by the date idea.

        • Erin
          Reply

          Oops, maybe it’s just me, but the mention of a date with me had a brief naughty fling cross my mind, but my romance with myself in that area isn’t suffering for lack of attention lol so the next top activities for self-pampering replaced that in mere seconds, with retail therapy or a professional massage topping the list. 😉

    • SamSon Pruett
      Reply

      I found out about my personality type 1 year ago. It was just a year after everybody in my core group my wife my dad my uncle all died within a year and a half of each other. That was super devastating. On top of that I had the narcissistic mother too. I can remember all the way back to 18 months old when I was sick and neglected. Needless to say if it was not for my infp friend probably the only INF that I know or have known besides myself. Pretty much saved my life. She was the one person that hurt me when no one else would. Now I’m away from my family and learning all this. I will try the program. I hope I can find myself. I’ve been looking for so so long. When my wife died and dad and uncle I thought my loss of direction wad due to my loss of connection to the world. I’ve been trying to find a purpose in life, to no avail. I now know why. Hope it works.
      #INFJ_MUCH_LOVE

  • Erin
    Reply

    Hi, do you do one-on-one coaching with INFJs? Please send me an email, thanks 🙂

    • merja
      Reply

      Hi Erin, thank you for your enquiry! If you’d like to email me at [email protected] with your time zone and your top 3 challenges right now, my assistant will get back to you with some options to either talk further, or some alternative resources. Have a great day!

      Merja

  • Louise
    Reply

    Touching stuff, I’m really enjoying these articles and as an INFJ I find them immensely helpful. The work is hard and it’s hard to face painful a truths but I am enjoying the journey none the less.

    • merja
      Reply

      Thank you for your feedback, Louise. 🙂

  • Zell
    Reply

    I am half way reading the article and I was in tears. I feel the pain in my heart..

    • merja
      Reply

      Hi Zell, thank you for your message.:)

  • Emily
    Reply

    Wow, I have read so many infj articles that I have felt a conection to; but this really, hit me over the head! I was legitimately tearing up.
    Then, pretty much, mind blown, when I got to the part where you said it would affect me in that manor.
    I have been going through a deep inner unraveling, and outer rearranging over the past year. After, realizing I could not go on, with these patterns..completly exausted at 30 years old.
    I started working with a junian analyst, weekly over the past several months, and to date; have not shed-a-tear, or, have had a ‘light bulb’ moment, like I am experiencing atm.
    This was incredibly eye opening, and something I will be digesting for days to come.
    Thank you.

    • merja
      Reply

      Hi Emily, thank you so much for your raw and authentic feedback. Thank you for trusting us with your emotions. I’m so glad you have felt a connection to the material and that you feel like you belong. This belonging is the basis of all of our work. Thanks again. Merja

  • Stina
    Reply

    Another female INTJ chiming in. I find this article both interesting and insightful, and I would also be interested in something like this that touches upon my own type. Amanda is quite correct concerning our sensitivity.

    • merja
      Reply

      Hi Stina! Thank you for your message and sharing your vulnerability. I’ll see what I can do. 🙂

  • Tanya
    Reply

    Now this was the best thing I read this week, and I read a lot on the internet 🙂 Thank you so much. It was inspiring. I have trouble with borders in my life: setting borders to myself and setting borders towards others, too. I still struggle with it but I try to be conscious about it: when I do something right and when I do it wrong (again), haha.

    • Merja Sumiloff
      Reply

      Hey Tania, many thanks for your reflections and thank you for sharing your own struggles with borders and boundaries! Keep going, you’re doing a great job! 😀

  • Debbie
    Reply

    Thank you so much for this incredible article. I saw myself so clearly in many places throughout it. When I got to the list of ‘pain points’ was when the light bulb really lit up….I felt a release of “THAT’S IT!!!” feelings in me! Like Tanya, above, I read a lot on the internet as well. I followed a Pinterest pin to your article and have to say it’s the best thing I’ve read all year….the most personal, poignant, and words that really spoke to my soul about who I am and who I would prefer to be – and maybe even how to get there! Thank you again!

    • Merja Sumiloff
      Reply

      Hey Debbie, thanks so much for your appreciation! I’m glad the article is resonating with you! <3

  • Riina
    Reply

    I would like to know where you have found information about this “cellular memory” you mention here?:

    “Chronic, unhealed feelings of being let down by others will multiply in our cellular memory and make the INFJ see things through the lens of disappointment, which is a very taxing way to live. If not healed, this pain point will lead to chronic illness or severe depression.”

    This is very interesting, and I would like to research the topic more on my own. If you have any liks, I would appreciate it. Thank you for a great article 🙂

  • Skye
    Reply

    As an INFJ this post relates to me so well considering that my current job plays a part as well.

  • Ashling.Fitzgerald
    Reply

    We are not alone, although I didn’t read all the article but read a good bit.. I know what it’s saying and mostly understand it all… Amazing discovery even about myself, and it all adds up to my thinking to when I was a child even till now. It’s amazing even for me to feel especially as my life has changed emislislly in the last year… More so in the last few weeks my spirtiual meaning.. My knowledge wether the known or the unknown to be seen.. Also my memory and my thrive my ambition so much more., I know what Im capable at my best.. Possibilities and action, and to serve a purpose that I had one, one I understand and having the gift of expressing it… That’s only to began with thanks so much….

  • A. Addams
    Reply

    Great article. So many insights I’m almost drunk with them! 🙂

    The one that really nailed me was “The regular frustration of being the only one who sees the bigger picture left you feeling unsafe, which makes us rely on our own intuitive skills rather than trusting other people. ” and how this leads to “bad” relationships.

    It *never* dawned on me to actually trust other people above my own insights. The very idea of it makes me feel unsafe. Very unsafe, because generally I am right about stuff like this. But maybe I’m not right because of my insights, maybe I’m right because I’m in the middle of a self-destructive, self-perpetuating cycle of choosing less than trustworthy people to be around.

    That stings. I will have to think about it.

    • Merja
      Reply

      Wow! Such incredible insights. You go, mate! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

  • Lorraine Wilcock
    Reply

    Absolutely spot on. I felt validated and more importantly understood. I finished a relationship with a narcissist last year ..I didn’t know anything about narcissism until a few months ago the knowing helps me to understand and hopefully step away from my intense need to help people even when detrimental to my own wellbeing. I am trying to focus on me now which is alien this is imperative as I am physically very poorly off work with stress and exhaustion. Thank you for the uncanny insights I am grateful

    • Merja
      Reply

      Hey Lorraine, thank you for sharing a part of your journey with us! I feel so privileged. You keep going and keep on shining!
      Merja

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