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Is your self-esteem low? Do you love being an INFJ?
Do you admire or envy the personality traits and talents of others?
If given a choice, do you want to be another personality type?
From time to time, I will receive self-hatred emails from INFJ readers who have low self-esteem. (usually the younger ones). They told me that they hate or don’t like to be an INFJ. They complain about how extroverts have an easier life than them:
- People are more drawn to extroverts. They don’t need much effort to make friends.
- They have more success in their careers because the society favors extroversion.
- In a relationship, they are more likely to find love because they are more proactive.
Being INFJs and different, we are often misunderstood by others. We value relationships and we want to connect with other people but yet we get easily drained by others. The way we think is insightful yet abstract and difficult to put in words.
Most of us just want to be normal and fit in with everyone else.
I understand where these readers are coming from. When I was a teen in my early 20s, I had low self-esteem and I felt the same way too. But once I have understood the MBTI and cognitive functions, and know what it is like to be an INFJ, I fully embrace my personality.
So I wanted to write this post to encourage other INFJs to accept their personality and help them recognize their INFJ talents and gifts.
INFJ Self-Esteem Issues and How to Love Yourself More
1. Do the best with what you are given.
First of all, self-acceptance is not the same as resignation. Accepting your INFJ personality doesn’t mean that you should stop improving yourself or be successful in areas of life that matters to you such as relationship and career.
Just because a person is born with an illness or is handicapped doesn’t mean that they should give up on life and can’t be happy. Let alone people like us who are physically healthy and given such unique gifts.
All 16 MBTI personalities have the same 8 cognitive functions even though they are in a different order of preferences. INFJs might have a cognitive stack that is uncommon. But it’s totally up to us what we want to do with this knowledge.
You can either resign and take a passive approach to life or you can accept your personality and make the best out of it. It’s like playing a game of cards. When you are dealt with a set of cards, do you lament that you have a bad hand and just give up on the game or do you do the best with what you are given and try to win the game?
A game is only fun when the players play their best to win.
If people aren’t attracted to you or you keep attracting people that drag you down, that’s not because you are an introvert or an INFJ. It’s because you haven’t taken the time to understand yourself fully and you are not showing up with the best version of yourself. It has nothing to do with your personality. Instead, it has everything to do with the energy you are exuding.
It’s not fun to play with people that are not interested in playing. Even if you win, so what? Watching a tennis match where the players have no desire to win is boring. It doesn’t matter what special talents or disadvantages they have because the joy of watching and playing the game is in the process. It’s the heart and soul they put in the game that makes the game worth watching and not merely the outcome of winning or losing.
If you accept and make the effort to nurture your INFJ personality traits, healthy people will be attracted to you and be willing to play with you at that level naturally.
2. But don’t be someone that you are not.
“You’d be surprised how many people violate this simple principle every day of their lives and try to fit square pegs into round holes, ignoring the clear reality that Things Are As They Are.” Benjamin Hoff.
Many INFJs grow up being envious of the extroverts. We want to be like them. We want to fit in, be more social, and have more friends. This is not that difficult for INFJs because our second cognitive function is extroverted feeling (Fe). We know what other people want, so we can easily tweak our way of interaction according to the other person.
There is nothing wrong with self-improvement and showing up more in the world. Improving our communication skills can help us express our insights better. Being more social can open us up to new friendships. Developing our extroverted functions (extroverted feeling and extroverted sensing) helps us be a healthier INFJ too.
However, there is a fine line between personal growth and being someone that we are not. Just because society values extroversion, this doesn’t mean that we have to become extroverts. As INFJs, if we were to be like an extrovert and spend too much time socializing, we will find ourselves burnout very quickly.
We have to honor our own preferences, desires, and limits.
If you want to take a break to recharge, go for it. You don’t have to justify your actions and explain to others why you are not anti-social. Please also don’t feel like you have to succumb to peer pressure or social expectation. We INFJs are very good at adhering to what other people want. But when we try to be what other people want us to be, we lose our authenticity and our sense of self.
The opposite of self-acceptance is self-rejection, it’s not self-improvement. It’s a result of low self-esteem. By being someone else, you are rejecting yourself and judging your natural preferences and desires. Remember other people are already taken. Your job is not to be like them. Your job is to be you.
3. Embrace your INFJ talents and gifts.
There are two parts to embracing your INFJ personality. First, you have to know what your talents are as an INFJ. Second, you have to be grateful and appreciative of the unique gifts that you possess.
Usually, people get stuck in the first part. They fail to recognize their own strengths and power. To some INFJs, their talent is a curse instead of a blessing.
For example, INFJs have great insights, especially when it comes to people. But we do not share our insights with others because from experience, we tend to be misunderstood by others. The rest of the population, especially the sensors, doesn’t seem to understand the complexity and depth of our insights.
We dislike being the old soul because we find it difficult to communicate and connect with our peers at a level that we desire. So we see our gifts as the cause of our frustration, loneliness, and separation.
But this is just a matter of perception.
The way you see your INFJ talent affects the way you use it.
If you see your INFJ talent as a gift, you will find ways to use it better. By sharing your insights with others and not be afraid of any criticism that you might receive, you actually gain information about what other people understand and don’t understand. You can then use their feedback to refine your insights and develop ways to express yourself with more clarity or in a way that they will understand.
But if you see your INFJ talent as a curse, not only do you waste your talent. But you also blame others for not making the effort to understand you or judge them for not taking you seriously. Then, your insights will be of little or no practical use in reality and you don’t feel good about being an INFJ. It’s a vicious cycle.
Knowing our talents requires us to first perceive our talent as an advantage, not a disadvantage. This doesn’t mean that we are better than our personality types or that our insights are always right. Every personality types have their own special, unique gifts and they are all needed in this world. The deeper you understand yourself and your gifts, the better an INFJ you become, and the better self-esteem you have.
Moreover, only INFJs and INTJs (about 3-4% of the population) use introverted intuition (Ni) as their dominant function, it’s precious and rare! If you don’t use it, who is going to use it? So cherish your gift and contribute to the world because the world needs your insights and creativity.
4. Don’t judge your INFJ weaknesses and flaws.
Self-acceptance is about accepting both the good and the bad qualities of our personality. We don’t just embrace our INFJ strengths, we also welcome our INFJ weaknesses.
First, you have to understand that all personality types including INFJs have their strengths and weaknesses. When we use a cognitive function more, we use less of another cognitive function. When we INFJs are constantly using our intuition, we have fewer opportunities to use our sensing abilities. It’s like we can’t write smoothly with both our hands at the same time.
There might be several things that you dislike about being an INFJ:
- our sensitivity to criticisms and rejections,
- our passive-aggressiveness and our conflict-avoidance tendency,
- we care too much about how other people feel and think of us,
- we think that other people should magically know how we feel without we saying anything, especially when we are angry,
- our overindulgence in sensing activities when we are stressed, and etc.
All these habits can be improved or changed.
But you have to accept where you are at now.
The more you judge yourself, the less likely you are going to change your habits. Because every time you reproach yourself for making a mistake, you will feel bad about yourself. Improving yourself is not the same as fixing yourself. We don’t need to be fixed. We want growth.
Instead of judging your flaws, accept that you have these habits and know that it’s going to take some time to change them. Be compassionate to yourself and just do the best that you can. The purpose of acknowledging our weaknesses is to let us know how we can be a better version of ourselves. It’s not for us to wallow in self-pity or beat ourselves up.
5. Measure the quality of your life by your own yardstick.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein.
One reason why some INFJs find it difficult to love and accept themselves is that they have a habit of comparing themselves with other people. I understand that it’s difficult to not notice the differences between INFJs and the other personality types. But when we constantly compare ourselves with others, we become jealous and envious of them and what they have achieved.
Other personality types have their own issues and bad habits to overcome. Not using their intuition, sensors become too rigid and keep repeating the same mistakes in life. Being too logical, the thinking types find it difficult to connect and be intimate with others. Extroverts have a difficult time being alone and are too quick to say or do things that they later regret.
Don’t even compare yourself with other INFJs because all of us have a different background, Enneagram type, interests, starting point, and etc. Even though our brains have a similar preference to process and perceive information, many aspects of our life vary. It’s also pointless to compare yourself with others because everybody wants different things in life.
One of the happiest things in my life is when I’ve stopped trying to fit in.
Before I become self-employed, I was looking for a full-time job. Once, an interviewer told me to be realistic. She told me to go back and be an accountant, and just let writing be a hobby. That really infuriated me but it also motivated me to become a full-time writer. From that day onward, I told myself that I will never want a 9-5 job ever again! So I stopped looking for a job and became a tutor instead.
There are a lot of social expectations and false beliefs that are placed upon us. People think that we need to get a University degree so that we can get a good job, earn lots of money, buy a house and a car, have a great relationship, get married, and etc. But have you ever asked yourself the following?
- What does all this even means to me?
- Is this even what I want in life?
- Will I be happy if I achieve these things?
- What do success and fulfillment look to me?
- Am I chasing someone else’s dreams or my dreams?
Perhaps the sensing types would feel fulfilled following the rules that have laid down for them. But as INFJs, I encourage you to tap into your intuition and define what you really want in life. Not what society wants, not what your parents want, not what your partner wants. But what do you want?
When you know and accept your desires, you can then have a yardstick to measure the quality of your life. For example, even though I might be earning less but I enjoy my time freedom and love what I’m doing. I prioritize freedom and passion first. So even though I don’t look successful in other people’s eyes, but from my point of view, I’m fulfilled.
If you want to find out more about how to love yourself as an INFJ, be sure to download my free eBook called Self-Acceptance for INFJs.
Featured Photo Credit: Tim Savage