By Tiffani Warren
INFJs at their best are nuanced and empathetic individuals who use their understanding of relationships and society to craft and realize the futures they envision. They are very perceptive of the implications of people’s words or actions, and are skilled at developing predictions and making judgments quickly based on limited information. That said, they sometimes “miss the trees for the forest” – being so wrapped up in their grand ideas that they forget to take note of what actually exists and is happening in the present. Their primary interest is in collating and refining their understanding of society and the world in order to develop complex and multilayered concepts and visions.
INFJs believe that the best way to develop these ideas and possibilities is to seek out commonalities between various viewpoints and schools of thought, particularly ones which apply to the nature of humanity, of the mind, and of right and wrong, believing that the real answer to life’s questions often lies somewhere in the middle of disparate sides to an argument. They do not trust their own limited experience or subjective feelings, but prefer instead to find out what is useful and what is right based on the experiences shared by most people. It is important, however, for INFJs to reflect on their own understanding of reason and cause and effect, as the perspectives and values of others are not sufficient to form a full understanding of the world. INFJs who allow themselves to analyze information critically and rationally without rejecting it too quickly for being unpleasant or uncomfortable to confront will discover, with pleasure, that doing so allows them to focus their energy and effort on ventures that are the most effective at improving life for themselves and others.
A young or immature INFJ will avoid scary or uncomfortable experiences, and will often feel as though they have a hard time making their ideas a reality. They prefer to sit on the sidelines and watch as others participate in life. They may feel skeptical and wary of people who find it easy to “seize the day”, or alternatively, they may envy these people and chastise themselves for not being as proactive.
However, as the INFJ grows and matures, they will begin to find a balance between imagining what could be and seeing and interacting with what is. They will become braver in actively participating in new and uncertain situations, and they will become more comfortable at making quick decisions when presented with novel stimuli. They will begin to understand that, although there are general principles that guide how events unfold, each situation is unique in its own way. They will find themselves seeking out opportunities to experience new sights and sounds, and will become more comfortable “going with the flow” and “trying anything once”. That said, INFJs will always be more pensive than most types, seeking the deeper meaning behind superficial appearances and making decisions based on their long term ideas and goals, rarely allowing their “big picture” understanding to be clouded by temporary circumstances.
Mature INFJs are very good at considering individual circumstances and evaluating the moral implications of these cases, comparing their choices or those of others to how well they reflect the INFJ’s general value judgments – whether what people are doing is ‘the right thing to do’, given their own personal understanding of morality – but they often do not find much pleasure or gratification in engaging with this ability unless it’s in service of some larger goal or in order to counsel someone on a proposed course of action. Because they are so focused on developing intricate theories and grand visions, they resist efforts to direct their attention at each novel and fleeting idea, believing that it would sidetrack them from their true purpose. However, when they are sufficiently motivated, they are very skilled at doing so, particularly from a detached, advisory mindset – for example, giving advice to a friend. Those who allow themselves to practice this skill will find it to be very useful when they are stuck in a difficult problem.
INFJs do not enjoy navigating bureaucracy or other complex impersonal systems, and will often find themselves confused or annoyed when confronted by conflicting information or unclear procedures. They may find themselves hypersensitive in this area, overreacting to criticisms about their efficiency or perceived capability. On the other hand, they may be overly dismissive and ignore such concerns. INFJs find it very difficult to recall and respond appropriately to information they’ve received through direct experience, and they pay very little attention to the details of their day-to-day lives. They may be capable, for short periods of time, of completing intricate, focused, or repetitive tasks where consistency is key, particularly when motivated to address their own perceived weaknesses. However, they will inevitably soon return to developing their larger ambitions, focusing their attention not on perfection, but rather on what will have the greatest impact as a whole.
To summarize, INFJs are visionary and diplomatic individuals who seek to synthesize their understanding of society in order to create meaningful changes in it. They do so by interpreting the implications and connections produced by various metaphorical models in their minds as well as by seeking out and absorbing the values and interpersonal connections available to them in the outside world. When they balance these skills with a critical eye for analysis as well as a willingness to push through obstacles and make their visions a reality, they can have a huge impact on the course of human history, inspiring new depths of understanding of, or important changes to, the human condition.