INFJ and perfectionist – the terms seem to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or climate and change.
The perfectionist tendencies of the INFJ are an unfortunate byproduct of what makes us special. We love a good cause, especially one that matches our high ideals.
And don’t misinterpret the use of the word “unfortunate” here. The service INFJs provide due to our idealistic nature can be the stuff of legend. Think: Ghandi and Jesus.
But when INFJs set the bar airplane-altitude high for ourselves and others, we can easily crash.
One of our main strengths as INFJs is our insight. But again, an insight-perfectionism smoothie never tastes quite as good as an INFJ thinks it should. Here are some examples:
● You gave a great presentation, but a few people around the board table didn’t look as impressed as they should have.
● The fund-raiser made a ton of money, but last year’s group raised more.
● That shirt and tie didn’t look as good on as it did in the store.
● This hotel room is really nice, but the upgrade is better.
● Poverty is a problem, but what are you going to DO about it?
The different types of INFJ perfectionism
Any INFJ can fill in the blanks with his own special brand of perfectionism. If you can’t find yours, you might be missing the elephant in the room. Or the pile of dirty laundry, as it were.
Speaking of which, would a perfectionist accept a messy room? Yes, it’s possible. An INFJ might skip cleaning all together if it means they can earn an A+ on a job. You see, we INFJs are often big picture people.
The need for solutions
I struggle with big issues such as race relations, or haves and have-nots. Like everybody else, I want to help. However, I want a solution, and I want to implement it yesterday. Or I don’t want to think, or talk about it at all. I must either fix the problem or deny its existence. There is no middle ground.
Sensitivity to criticism
INFJs are typically sensitive to criticism. Hypersensitive. So even if the boss listed nine things that were great about the presentation, the one “needs-improvement” will eat away at us like, well, introverts on chips and dip at a party.
Procrastination is another byproduct of INFJ perfectionism. The fear of completing something that won’t enter the hall of fame is enough for the perfectionist to never start.
Or we might start it, and never finish it. Have you ever spent twenty minutes crafting a two-sentence email … inviting friends to lunch?
So those are the manifestations of INFJ perfectionism, but how about some methods for dealing with it?
7 Ways To Overcome INFJ Perfectionism
1. Recognize these reactions as thoughts, not reality.
My life changed for the better in a big way when I realized that the judging voice in my head was not the reality of the situation. It was just my inner-critic having his way. Understanding this will help INFJs feel happier.
2. Replace the critical thoughts with realistic ones.
Literally write them down on notecards or type them into your phone. Then remind yourself that “nobody’s perfect” the next time you misspeak during a meeting at work.
3. Turn your advice on yourself.
INFJs are typically much easier on others than on themselves. Pretend you are somebody else who is dealing with your situation. What advice would you give her to deal with her disappointment in herself? Then take that advice yourself.
4. See the big picture.
It’s cliche, but it’s also good advice. Does it really matter that you taught 5th period with your zipper open? As my good friend reminds me all the time, “Soon it will be November.” In other words, time will pass by and nobody will care about your mismatched socks.
5. Be imperfect on purpose.
Try out a new recipe and celebrate its delicious imperfection. Share your creative writing before it’s “ready” (it never is, by the way). Invite someone into your untidy home. You will most likely find that everything will go well. But even if it doesn’t, you’ll see that the world won’t stop spinning. Or if it does, it won’t be because you wore dark undies with a white skirt.
6. Tiptoe through procrastination.
Break big projects down into little, highly accomplishable chunks. Feel the success of finishing over and over again, and then…
7. Reward yourself.
You just finished a blog post? Don’t read it again looking for the best verb for sentence two in paragraph three. Instead, head to the local coffee shop for a pumpkin spice latte, play a video game, sprint up a hill carrying two small children, or whatever it is that makes you happy.
Hey, you’re an INFJ, a servant leader by design. You’re awesome, and getting better with each and every blemish. Take care of yourself instead of everybody else for once.
If you’re interested in connecting with other INFJs from around the world, join Introvert Spring’s private INFJ forum. We are truly a buzzing community! You’ll gain access to unique and 100% private discussions, INFJ blog posts, member events, and videos.
I’d love to know how perfectionism affects your life and, more importantly, how you deal with it. Let me know in the comment section below.
Magnificent article Michaela. It really is. Perfectionism is a big part of my life. I strive to it in whatever I do, even though I am fully aware of that “perfect” doesn’t exist. It was and still is affecting my life, but I try to narrow it down to an acceptable level. I can relate with what you wrote here 100 percent. I deal with it by trying to focus, training my brain and thought, focusing on my goals and dreams that can be achieved, writing them down and very often, I imagine myself living my dream I wrote on paper a minute ago. 🙂 This technique helps me to get a better understanding, realizing that not everything is going to be perfect, simply staying on the path I choose to live. 🙂 Besides books, irish music, traveling, things that really make me happy, I am also an passionate PC gamer, so a good PC game will always calm my mind and remind me, without feeling guilty, it’s okay to take care and enjoy myself. 🙂
This article is actually by John. Forgot to change the author!
Oh, ok. 🙂 I will repeat myself, an magnificent article John, well done! 🙂
I actually never thought of myself as a perfectionist…but, reading your article I was thinking about all the things I do that are perfectionist traits… I always correct people on pronunciation. I wear shapers because I have to have a certain shape under my clothes…heaven help me if there’s a lump or bump that’s out of place and visible!! I will type and re-type a text message 5 to 10 times before sending it, even then I will read and re-read it to make sure it perfectly conveyed what I wanted to say! Then I worry endlessly that it might offend the receiver…even when there’s nothing offensive about the text, But, you don’t get tone or inflection in a text so it Could come across as rude or harsh or insensitive…which is just to worrisome to even Think about!! But, then I just end up thinking about it endlessly, with knots in my tummy until the other person replies and they’re not telling me to never text them again! Sigh…it’s a constant battle.
Am I off topic now?? ?
Oh my! And heaven help you if you are an INFJ AND a firstborn! I’ve learned that my procrastination has its roots in frustrated perfectionism aided by first time parent expectation (sorry mom & dad). Realizing that helped me tremendously as I thought that this trait was a moral failure on my part. Now I know that my good ’nuff can be pretty good more often than not. By finally taking action, there have been enough wins under my belt to diminish the “freeze-up” that occurs when faced with something that I don’t feel like I can do justice to. Besides, the post-performance quality assurance can be so soothing…
It is such a relief to find that other people feel and act the same way I do. I always thought that if something I did or created was not perfect people would make fun of me or put me down. Living that way all these years has taken a toll on me. I’m hanging on to my 30’s tooth and nail! I am only now embracing the fact that often things do not turn out perfect and it’s ok, and that I can be ok with that.
I second that, such a relief to see others going through the same things as me. Just recently started telling myself that whatever happens was meant to happen even if it was a disappointment. 🙂
Would agree with most of this. Our ability to adjust is a big plus. Our ability to look at things from the others perspective is a big plus. It enables us to do things such as accept other peoples imperfection and let it go. Also enables us to eliminate things such as procrastination, which I tossed to the side as a child. Sensitivity to criticism is something I have never been able to shake, so I tend to do everything in such a way that I won’t get criticized. I worked a lot over the years on spontaneity and rewarding myself and enjoying the small things in life. Also worked a lot over the years on being imperfect and accepting imperfection from others. Good article.
This article has accurately pinpoint the root of my mountain-like pile of unfinished tasks and ideas that were never turned into realities. Thank you so much for writing this! It seems that this article is like myself talking to me.
Perfectionism – learning to hate that word, because it took up so much of my life. Not that I took it to an extreme, but about 26 years ago I landed in therapy. It’s hard not to do, but I’ve been better at the OCD part of my psyche, it’s mostly background noise until I get emotionally, physically and mentally drained, and I can sense the wave creeping back in. I like the ‘no one is going to care in November’ attitude. I need more of that.
Sensitivity to criticism is spot on ruminating over and over. Getting over myself is a work in progress…and there is progress. I’ve wondered if being the oldest child has something to do with those things?
I don’t believe I was a procrastinator until my late 30’s, and it seems to be getting worse and I really don’t care. It’s not the most desireable quality, but things do get done. I have a fast burn rate. Hot and heavy for a while and then projects remain unfinished….scrapbooking, knitting, housework (is at the very bottom of the list)
I have been looking everywhere to find a solution for my fear of completion. I have had it for ever… But I am improving lately. No one j know seemed to share this fear. And that’s the one fear I fear the most…hihihi…this article has helped me realise it’s origin; thanks a lot.
I am usually the first person to start a project in my class… And am usually good at it till the last quarter, But then it is as if I’m good for nothing….mostly ends up with an incomplete project or task…
Hope this explains my situation . would be great if you can suggest me something.