Are you an INFP like me? If so, you know what it’s like to embody a galaxy of confusing contradictions. INFPs feel emotions deeply, yet we may seem stoic and unemotional on the outside. We are dreamers, always seeing an endless sky of possibilities. We also have the unique ability to fill those around us with magic and wonder. But an unhealthy INFP is a different story.
The Unhealthy INFP often feels isolated, misunderstood, and lost. You may cope with these feelings in a number of ways, which we’ll talk about later in this article. First, let’s talk about the factors that lead to an unhealthy INFP.
What causes an Unhealthy INFP?
Here are some potential causes:
* Feeling unseen by a parent
* Being abandoned by a parent
* Having a narcissistic parent
* Feeling ostracized for being different and helping the underdog
* Reliance on one subset of your dominant functions: Introverted Feeling (Fi) with Extraverted Intuition (Ne), Introverted Sensing (Si) and Extraverted Thinking (Te)
When you have such an idealistic, emotional, intensely creative personality as INFPs do, it can be hard to find a healthy balance in life.
You may feel that you’re constantly teetering the fine line between being responsible, and following your heart. As you’ll see with the below examples, leaning too far toward either side can lead to problems.
8 Signs of an Unhealthy INFP
Here are 8 signs of an unhealthy INFP. Keep in mind that identifying with any or all of the below examples does not mean you’re broken. It just means that it’s time to pause and reconnect with your most authentic, highest self.
1. You’re overly focused on structure and control
The INFP personality is often depicted as the flower child of the Myers-Briggs types. We’re seen as daydreamy free spirits who see rules as suggestions. The INFP is notorious for missing important instructions, as we get lost in our fantasies. But it’s not always this way.
An INFP who feels anxious and stressed may compensate for their inner chaos by becoming overly rigid. You focus on all the things you can control in your life, like the cleanliness of your environment, the food you eat, your routines.
Staying in control becomes your number one priority. Most INFPs can benefit from a little more organization and structure, but the unhealthy INFP takes things too far. An overly rigid and unhealthy INFP will lose touch with their finest qualities: individuality, intuition, creativity.
If you are obsessed with order and control, take some time to get reacquainted with your inner child, who loves to make art, play in nature, and dream of possibilities. Make a goal to do activities just for fun, even if they have no logical purpose.
2. You suppress emotions
One of the most challenging aspects of having an INFP personality is our dominant Introverted Feeling (Fi) function. To put it simply, we feel a lot, but we tend to internalize it all. Many INFPs resort to suppressing emotions as a way to cope. We might also hide and stuff down our feelings because we believe they make us weak. This is a recipe for misery for INFPs. Allow me to explain.
It’s critical that INFPs stay well attuned to our emotions because this is how we develop our intuition and creativity. We need to be able to feel our way through life’s ups and downs.
Logic gets you lost when your navigation system is set to the stars. #INFP Tweet This
If you’ve been suppressing your emotions for so long you don’t know how you feel, try this: At the end of each day, write down three emotions you experienced throughout the day, such as happy, sad, angry, overwhelmed, embarrassed, awkward, inspired.
3. You rely on escapism
Our imagination is an INFP’s most shining quality. The problem is, when we choose to live in fantasy worlds our reality suffers. We miss opportunities for real life connection. An unhealthy INFP has elaborate fantasies of their ideal life, but never takes concrete action to make those dreams a reality.
You might also develop ‘Peter Pan syndrome’. You resist anything that interferes with your desire to feel young and free. Avoiding the dull responsibilities of adulthood is an underlying factor in all your decisions. This can lead to an exciting life of adventure. But in the case of an unhealthy INFP, the escapist mentality prevents you from reaching your full potential.
If you feel like you spend too much time escaping to fantasy worlds, try practicing mindfulness to stay grounded in the present moment.
4. You’re painfully indecisive
The problem with seeing endless possibilities is that it makes committing to a decision difficult. As an INFP, you might also be multi-passionate. You have many creative gifts that can take you in countless directions.
The unhealthy INFP remains stuck in a self-imposed purgatory, too indecisive to move forward. I used to struggle a lot with this, but then I discovered the secret to making decisions I never regret. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Always keep your values and goals close to you. Write them down weekly.
Step 2: Whenever you have an important decision to make, choose that which most closely aligns with your values and goals.
Step 3: If you see too many possibilities, set the decision aside for a little while and focus on reconnecting with your intuition. INFPs are wired to make decisions based on our feelings, and that’s a good thing! Your heart knows what your logical mind can’t fathom.
The trick is to keep your intuition razor sharp so that you know you can trust it. Spend time in nature, journal, meditate, make art, dance, and go for long walks. For more practical advice and inspiration like this join my introvert tribe and get free ebooks and confidence lessons to your inbox.
5. Your ideals lead to isolation
One of the most beautiful qualities of an INFP is our strong ideals. Like a guard dog protecting a mansion of treasures, you growl at anyone who attacks your core values and beliefs.
Your dedication to your ideals is a good thing, but an unhealthy INFP can take things too far. Your views on spirituality, diet, the environment, and politics can define who you are, but also create division. It gets lonely living behind a wall of isolating ideals.
To avoid isolation, focus on listening to other people’s perspectives. Trust that a difference in opinion is not necessarily an attack on your beliefs.
6. You take things too personally
INFPs are highly perceptive, easily reading people’s emotions and motives like a picture book. This is great if what you pick up on is positive. An unhealthy INFP will zero in on negative reactions and take things too personally.
Because INFPs are inwardly focused, you are also likely to believe a person’s behaviour is directly related to you. For example, you interpret your partner’s crankiness as a sign that you’ve done something wrong. In reality, they just had a bad day at work.
As if that weren’t enough, you also go over the interaction again and again in your head. Which brings me to my next point…
7. You dwell on the past
As an INFP, you feel most at home inside your own mind. The present moment is a great place to visit on occasion. But a lot of the time you’d rather revisit past memories.
An unhealthy INFP obsesses over the past so much that rumination and sadness creep in. You lose sight of what you have in the here and now.
Again, mindfulness practices will help with this. If I’m having a hard time letting go of someone or something from my past, I will do a ritual to let go, such as releasing a balloon or message in a bottle. You can also write a letter to the person and then burn it.
8. You take things to the extreme
Your strong ideals can lead you down a path of extremes. Since you’re already an all or nothing kind of person—driven by passion, or lazy as heck—it’s easy to take things too far.
My friend and I once joked about what our evil villain selves would look like. “You’d be a cult leader”, he said without hesitation. I laughed because it’s true. When I’m passionate about something I hurl myself full force into its blue flame.
I did it with religion, dance, travel, writing. But over the years I’ve learned to lighten up a little so that the flame of my current passion doesn’t burn and consume me.
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Over to you
Are you an INFP like me? What resonated with you in this article? Feel free to share your thoughts below. 🙂