Most INFJs have big dreams. They are the kind of people who want to make a difference in the world. This is all fine and good, except for one small and frustrating detail: sometimes the more they try, the harder they fall. You see, even the most ambitious of INFJs are not immune to feeling overwhelmed. I used to be one of those INFJs. In fact the harder I tried to get things done, the closer I got to breaking down.
Just a few short years ago, as I set off on one of my many journeys of self-discovery; I fell into the INFJ trap of ignoring my well-being for the sake of following a mission. I was convinced at the time, that to realize my vision of helping people on a grand scale I needed to push the limits of my comfort zone and individual boundaries.
I took on an extroverted persona, over-extending myself and taking up a variety of activities. I became something of a social maven. I said and did things that convinced the people around me that everything was fine, but inside I was feeling like an exhausted fake.
I was ignoring my personal needs; the only way that I was able to stop the self-destructive pattern and realize what had been missing, was to have a complete and involuntary breakdown.
I didn’t understand at first, but in the span of a couple of months, I went from cool and calm to bewildered and numb. It was as if a switch inside me had turned off. My solution, although I had no choice in the matter, was to just put on the brakes.
I put a hold on my many personal projects. I also disregarded the commitments and promises that I had made to others. I stopped calling friends, ignored phone calls and, when not obligated to attend my 9-5 job, refused to get out of bed.
As a determined and resourceful Introvert, I was no stranger to the occasional bout of the “Mean Reds.” But this was a strong feeling of pure dread. I had the best of intentions…Where had I gone wrong?!!!
INFJs, like most Introverts, are ultra-focused. Being extremely sensitive and committed
individuals, INFJs are at once passionate, intense and motivated to achieving their goals. The INFJs’ Achilles Heel is their capacity for realizing big visions, sometimes at the expense of their vitality.
In my case, my body, mind and spirit decided that they all needed a holiday without my permission. In response to not being responsible to myself for what I could and couldn’t handle, I just shut down. Unfortunately, this is how many INFJs deal with their sense of overwhelm – alone and often.
So how can you, as an INFJ, stay on course in your quest to save the world and keep sane by staying true to yourself?
Here are 5 ways that you can embrace your unique needs to follow through without falling apart:
1. Love You, Too.
It’s noble to work on making the world a better place, but it’s important to understand your limitations too. INFJs are enormously devoted and caring people – however, you can’t be of any help to others if you’re not being accountable to yourself first. Assess your needs and recharge so you can continue to wage your [fill in the blank] crusade.
2. Let The Right One In.
A key strategy in managing stress is how you engage your social network. INFJs are intensely private and tend to leave friends in the dark as to how they are truly doing.
You don’t have to give blow-by-blow exclusives of your worldly interactions with hundreds of followers on multiple media platform. Choose just a few close friends (or maybe 1 really good one) to share your updates with. Real friends don’t even care if you say anything (for you very quiet Introverts); they just care about being there for you.
3. Nothing Can Also Be Something.
In their unending search for purpose, INFJs can get swept up in big ideals, that when not realized can prove disappointing and deflating to their confidence. This can force INFJs to the point of depression. Sometimes the end result is not as important as the ride. Try to learn the importance of just being present and not getting ahead of your big notions. The slow build-ups can actually be packed with the biggest and best lessons.
4. Let It Go.
Elsa said it best…”Let it go!” INFJs, when perceiving attacks on their ego or respective values, can come crashing down like sadness avalanches. It’s important to learn that to get to the other side you need to go through a big “baddie”. This could be a person, ideology or circumstance.
If someone offers a critique, see it less as an assessment on you as a person and more as a means to getting you prepared for the next step. Accept everything as a constructive contribution and then…let it go.
5. Have a Plan B.
When INFJs feel that they can’t keep all their many balls in the air, they can grow cynical. The best way to offset isolation and irritability is to have a structured plan of attack. While it’s inspiring to be enthusiastic, it’s disempowering to be unrealistic.
Be prepared for probable ebbs and flows and life’s little unexpected surprises. Keep a planner and track all of your desired activities from the “To-Do” list. Most importantly…Be Selective! It’s easier to add the local goings-on as the date gets closer, than to risk looking like a person with no time management skills. Or worse, no integrity. This simple technique will make you feel more in control of your time and your word. You will also feel more flexible should things not work out as expected.
Even when we can’t always change stressful situations, we can change how we handle them. Understanding who you are gives you the upper hand on what can otherwise leave you feeling defenseless.
INFJs are warm, nurturing and motivated individuals. Making time to reboot and put themselves first (for once!), can help INFJs forge ahead in their mission to help others.
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.