Welcome to the second part of the Myers-Briggs personality type blog series. If you missed the first post where I explained what the system is about, head there to catch up.
This time I introduce the first of the 16 personality profiles: INFP. The abbreviation stands for Introvert iNtuitive Feeling Perceiver.
INFPs are dreamers and artists, teachers and healers. They are interested in people and have a high sense of honor derived from internal values. They usually have a few favorite causes they care about passionately.
The energy of INFPs comes from a rich internal world, their own thoughts and peace and quiet. Contemplation and the quest for self-knowledge keeps INFPs in a constant state of flux. Ideas and new possibilities excite them, and they see alternatives and opportunities not evident to most.
Healers present a tranquil and pleasant face to the world. But underneath the reserved surface are strong emotions. Others may feel like INFPs are hard to get to know. Some may view them as shy. Those who take the time to get to know them will find them warm and gentle, with a surprising sense of humor. They care deeply for those they consider special friends. Small social circles satisfy them and they don’t actively get to know new people.
INFPs need harmony around them. Constant conflicts, arguments and grudges drain them. They are loathe to reveal negative emotions and try to control themselves.
Spontaneity and flexibility are great strenghts of INFPs but they can be on/off people. Interests come and go and many projects are never finished. Organization isn’t the strongest suit of INFPs. They might lose things or forget appointments.
They find day to day activities unfulfilling, and if the chosen job is all routine, INFPs can become quite unhappy. Variety and new things to learn is the name of the game. Leadership roles can also be challenging since they abhor conflict and don’t deal well with stress. INFP under stress can become quite critical and cynical.
Despite all their gifts, INFPs are cursed with indecision and self-doubt. They can be very self conscious and perfectionist tendencies make them too harsh on themselves. Their high standards can complicate team work. Too big work loads are common since INFPs find it difficult to say no.
Many INFPs are talented writers and prefer to express themselves through that medium.
Strenghts of INFPs
- Strong values
- Nurturing & supportive
- Good listener
- Understands different people
Lessons INFPs Might Need To Learn:
- Don’t worry so much about what other people think of you. Just be yourself and do your own thing.
- Be more active and open. Challenge yourself to occasionally get in contact with completely new people.
- Focus on the matters at hand instead of all the shiny possibilities. Yes, I know how fine they are. Sorry.
- There can be too much information. Analysis paralysis is deadly for you.
- Pay heed to schedules and deadlines. Well thought out is far from done.
- Stop procrastinating. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow doesn’t yet exist. There is only this moment.
- Sometimes things are just things. Don’t take it personally. Constructive criticism helps you to grow and learn.
- Conflict is a great opportunity. When you express your worries and needs right, the situation improves.
- Lofty principles regularly clash with the realities. Prepare for it and find a way to cope.
- You can’t save the whole world and help everyone. Learn to say no to protect yourself.
- When you start getting overwhelmed, take a time-out and ask for help. Don’t rush into lightning decisions.
- Spontaneity is great but remember to keep others on the same page or you drive them crazy.
- No new projects for you until you’ve finished the old ones.
- Routine tasks suck for you. Make them fun or delegate.
INFPs At Work
INFPs want work that they find personally meaningful, just doing their job isn’t enough. The work needs to be in balance with their values, and preferably something that helps them and others to grow and thrive.
INFPs as leaders are passionate about their ideals and motivate others through encouragement and positive vision. They are supportive and creative leaders and most effective with small, cooperative teams of people that are similarly motivated to achieve a positive mission. Because of their flexible nature and strong desire for harmony, they may avoid conflict and delay making difficult decisions.
Possible Career Paths:
- Writers, Artists & Musicians
- Graphic designers
- Counselors & Social Workers
- Professors & Teachers
- Psychologists & Psychiatrists
- Religious occupations
- Corporate Trainers
- Human Resources Recruiters
Inside the Mind of an INFP (me)
I hate conflicts. Unless I’m really passionate about the issue, I either give in or walk away from from the situation.
But one day on a bus stop, I witnessed a scene I couldn’t close my eyes of.
Four boys, maybe 13 or 14 years old, stood in a group, and one of them constantly heckled another kid with the two others just watching by. Eventually he started pushing the skinny boy around physically.
I’m ashamed to say I was too coward to do anything right then. Like everyone else, I tried to pretend nothing was happening.
Then we entered the crowded bus and the boys ended up standing where I was with my kids on a stroller. And the bullying continued.
“Soon. Soon. Soon”, the bully crooned and the smaller boy shrank with each repeat.
Adrenaline surged through me until I was shaking.
“Your dick must be really small since you need to bully others”, I said, my voice strangled with emotion.
The boy flushed red and then paled. The bullied kid bit back a smile.
For the rest of the ride, I glared the little shit and he fidgeted, even asked me to stop staring. But I didn’t. He deserved every minute of discomfort.
Then the boys got off the bus and I heard the bullied one say: “Hey, wanna go to the mall?”
I don’t know if he was really brave or stupid. Maybe both.
Afterwards I was in a turmoil. I recalled moments from my own school years when I had been too afraid to stand up for myself. And how it encouraged the bullies. They’re like sharks who smell blood.
I wish I had told the tormented boy: “Ditch those losers who enable the bullying by not saying anything. They’re not real friends. You deserve better.”
But who am I to judge when I almost ignored the situation too.
I wonder if my words helped at all. Or made things worse. I still think the kid occasionally and wish him well.
Mythical INFP: Kore/Persefone
Kore was the daughter of Demeter, the Goddess of Harvest and Plants. Hades, the ruler of the Underwold, fell in love with her and kidnapped her. Demeter grieved her loss so hard that she refused to let the plants to grow.
A compromise was reached and Kore would spend four months of the year in the Underworld and the rest of the eight with her mother on earth. During the four months she is gone, the plants die and winter reigns. Kore brings the spring with her.
Eventually Kore grew to like her role as the Queen of the Underworld, and assumed the name Persephone. She was a kind ruler who helped mortals entering Hades to fulfill their quests. She gave Psyche her beauty serum that Aphrodite, Goddess of Love had demanded. It was the condition of Aphrodite allowing Psyche to marry her son Eros.
Persephone was also moved by Orpheus, who came to seek for his dead wife Eurydice. She allowed Eurydice to follow him but required Orpheus to not look back before they were both out of the Underworld. Unfortunately he couldn’t resist the temptation.
Mythical INFPs: Asclepius and Proteus
Male counterpart for INFJ could be Asclepius, the God of Healing and Medicine. He was the son of Apollo and when he brought a dead person back life, Zeus slayed him at the demand of Hades, Lord of the Underworld. After Asclepius’ death, Zeus placed his body among the stars as the constellation Ophiuchus (the Serpent Holder). An early Christian philosopher suggested that Asclepius’ healing powers foreshadowed those of Jesus.
Another great candidate is Proteus, an ancient Sea God who has the gift of foretelling and whose shape is as mutable as the sea. From this feature of Proteus comes the adjective protean, meaning “versatile”, “mutable”, “capable of assuming many forms”.
In art Kore has been depicted as the eternal maiden, victim and martyr. But by becoming Persephone, she accepts her new reality and responsibilities. She is a woman who will always grow and develop. In literature and plays, she is the sensitive, vulnerable woman who is on a constant quest for her identity.
With a deep connection to the unconscious and her inner child, she is the archetype of the artist. Another archetype is an older woman who finally finds her real purpose in art, ideology or religion.
Like INFPs, Asclepius selflessly helped people. He is also associated with creativity through his snake-entwined staff, the symbol of medicine and pharmacy. Serpents and snakes represent fertility and creative life force. By sloughing off their skin, they symbolize rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing.
Humanists: Helen Keller, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Søren Kierkegaard, Margaret Mead & Princess Diana
Writers: J. R. R. Tolkien, Albert Camus, C.S. Lewis, Hans Christian Andersen, William Shakespeare, John Milton, William Blake, Edgar Allan Poe, Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, George Orwell, Antoine de Saint Exupery, A.A. Milne, J.D. Salinger & J.K. Rowling
Artists: John Lennon, Andy Warhol, Vincent Van Gogh, Peter Jackson, Tim Burton, David Lynch, Alanis Morissette, Lady Gaga, Johnny Depp & Julia Roberts
INFPs in Books:, Movies & TV Series
Books: Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood & Remus Lupin (Harry Potter), Anne of the Green Gables (by L. M. Montgomery), Holden Caulfield (Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger), Jane Eyre (by Charlotte Bronte), Odd Thomas (by Dean Koontz)
Movies: Frodo (Lord of the Rings), Luke Skywalker (Star Wars), Peter Parker (Spiderman as acted by Tobey Maguire), Belle (Disney’s Beauty and the Beast), Amelie (Amelie)
TV Series: Willow Rosenberg & Drusilla (Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Fox Mulder (X-Files), Deanna Troi (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Peter Petrelli (Heroes), Prince Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender), Daniel Jackson (Stargate SG1)
Motivational Posters For INFPs
Please leave a comment 🙂
Do you know an INFP? Have you ever written an INFP character? And do you have experiences about bullying? What would you have done in the situation?
Oh, and was this post too long? 😛 I could cut the mythology part off from the future posts if your eyes glazed while reading.
What makes you you? Have you ever wondered about that?
Some tendencies you have from the moment you’re born, like the innate way to percieve the world and make decisions. Many of your strenghts stem from this internal hardware.
You aren’t a prisoner of the mental system, though. Yes, the natural temperament explains how you tend to do things. But your skills, values, beliefs and principles come with life’s experiences.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one the systems to help you get how people tick.
Each of the 16 Myers-Briggs types is a unique combination of the following four traits:
Your type is marked by a four letter abbreviation, like INTJ (Introvert, iNtuitive, Thinking, Judging).
So, what does all that mean?
Fae Rowan explained the types in a superb way:
Let’s look at those first two letters E or I, which refer to how you draw your energy from the world around you. If you’re an E, you draw energy from people, things, and activities. You tend toward breadth rather than depth. You have a need for people. If you’re an I, you draw your energy from the internal world of thoughts and ideas. You prefer depth to breadth and pause to think about things. You have a need for privacy.
Now for how you take in information, your second letter: N or S
If you’re in the N crowd, you prefer to take in information through a sixth sense, a gut feeling, your iNtuition. You think about what might be. You like the big picture. You need possibilities. If you are with the S crowd, you prefer to take in information through your five Senses. You like concrete and practical ideas. You have a need for evidence.
The third letters, T or F, (no, not true or false) refer to how you make decisions.
The thinking T emphasizes logic and reason, truth and fairness in decision-making, looking for objective balance. T’s are unconsciously pre-occupied with truth. The feeling F makes decisions based on personal values and people-needs. F’s are unconsciously preoccupied with harmony with others.
The final letter J or P shows preferences for lifestyle.
J’s prefer to live in a planned, organized style. They like to come to conclusions quickly. Their bottom line is control. P’s enjoy spontaneity. They’re flexible and adapt rather than needing to control. They prefer to keep their options open.
Now you might be wondering what your type is. (Or what the type of your family, friends and characters is)
Here are a few online tests to help you figure it out:
- Human Metrics
- Jungian Type Test (Don’t get confused by the different name. Jung’s theories were the basis of the Myers-Briggs types)
- Another Jungian Type Test
Please remember that these tests aren’t 100% reliable. They give indications of your type but you can get different results every time, based on your mood and how you’ve recently responded to situations. The tests might have different emphasis too.
After taking the test, a good way to triangulate a match is to read the descriptions of the types that seem closest and see which fits you the best.
Over the next month, I highlight each type in their own post. I hope this blog series will give you some heurekas about yourself and people you know. Maybe you’ll also get new insights about the characters you write. Stay tuned for the INFP profile this Wednesday.
If you want to learn more right now, I have a few links for you:
- Good overview of the traits (Thinking/Feeling etc.)
- Short descriptions of all the types
- Type Profiles
- Portraits of the Types
- Read the rest of Fae Rowan’s post to find out how Judging and Perceiving affect our writing style
I’d love to hear from you. Please take a moment to leave a comment 🙂
What is your Myers-Briggs type? How do you feel about your type? Has it affected your personal relationships and writing life?