I am my own worst critic. My inner INFJ self-criticism levels are so high that everything I do goes through a detailed analysis of “was it good enough?”. Of course, I don’t relish the prospect of having to constantly question my own actions and words. But my inner critic sometimes gets the best of me, and I believe you can relate.
Why is self-criticism the default state of an INFJ?
When you have an idealistic personality such as ours, it’s not easy to lower your expectations. INFJ inner criticism tends to make us feel that no matter how hard we try, it will never be enough. Nowhere is this more visible than in our careers.
People who are closest to me know how hard I am on myself. Only those who worked with me know that I’m extremely self-critical. The founder of Introvert Spring and my mentor, Michaela Chung is one of those rare people who knows about my inner critic.
Trust me when I say, everything I write and create has to go through an incredible ordeal in my mind before it even sees paper. I work tirelessly to silence that voice of INFJ self-criticism, which only creates more overthinking and more anxiety.
Most INFJs are perfectionists, and I am no different. As I mentioned, people with whom we work with know firsthand that every project must have perfect results. Not because that’s being asked from us, but because we want it to be so. It took me years to accept that there’s no such thing as perfection.
Is good enough a reality for an INFJ?
Absolutely. In fact, through my line of work talking with thousands of INFJs I’ve come up with these three simple, but ridiculously effective ways to silence that inner critic.
1. Using the 1/10 scale.
A while ago I saw an experiment where a person would be asked to grade their success in life with a number from 1 to 10. Most graded themselves with 3, 4, or 5 at the most. Then the examiners called their best friends to grade them. Guess what happened? They all got 10’s, even 11’s. When your INFJ self-criticism becomes unbearable, ask your best friends what they think. You’ll hear a beautiful reality that you are much more successful than you think.
2. Journal every day.
I know what you are thinking: “Ain’t nobody got time for that every day.” I’m not asking you to write hundreds of words, just five of your accomplishments from that day.
Maybe you washed the dishes, bought a book, went to the gym, or you just got out of bed after a difficult time. It doesn’t have to be a major accomplishment. The goal of this exercise is to show you that you are enough no matter what you do my dear INFJ friend. <3
3. You are not in competition with anyone.
Humans have this habit of always comparing ourselves with each other. For an INFJ who seeks perfect results, this is difficult to digest. That’s why I’m here to tell you, you are not in competition with life! You have time, there is no rush. Slow down and take a breather. INFJ inner criticism thrives on our quick, idealistic nature. Please let go of the fact that everything needs to be ideal.
Just like INFJs sometimes chase unhealthy relationships, we don’t want to be our own worst critics, yet we are from time to time.
The best thing you can do is to be gentler with yourself. Now, I want you to remember what I am about to say:
You are doing everything you can, the best you can, and that is enough!
That alone is worth recognition. If you feel that INFJ self-criticism keeps getting louder, let me silently remind you, you are worthy and you are enough. You’ve always been enough. <3
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Are you your own worst critic too? I would love to hear from you on this one, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.
First off I can TOTALLY relate to that INFJ inner critic, it’s definitely a challenge to handle at times! But I am currently studying to become a counsellor and I have been learning about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and I think it could be really valuable for INFJ’s who are struggling with their inner critic.
Essentially ACT is all about accepting ALL your thoughts and feelings, even the uncomfortable ones like anxiety due to perfectionism. You don’t have to like them or want them but its all about accepting that having these kinds of feelings is normal and a part of being human and making space for them to exist rather than fighting and struggling against them which then creates more negative emotions and thoughts. It’s like learning how to be comfortable lying on the quicksand to avoid sinking in further rather than struggling against it and making the situation worse. Often when we struggle against and emotion like anxiety we then develop more emotions such as anxiety, guilt or sadness about having the anxiety in the first place.
ACT also teaches rather than worrying over whether a thought is true or not instead deciding it doesn’t matter if it is true all that matters is whether the thought helps you move towards the future you want. For example having the thought “I am fat” that results in you crying whilst watching tv and eating a tub of ice cream isn’t helping you move towards the future you want of being healthy. So ACT focuses on addressing how thoughts that aren’t helpful affect you and rather than trying to tackle the thought and change it it focuses on strategies to change how the thought effects you or how much it effects you.
Just thought someone reading this article may find these ideas interesting or helpful. I know I have and am now trying to implement them myself.
Wonderfully insightful share Emma, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts! Glad to hear you liked the article and are implementing it’s suggestions. 🙂
Thank you Marko for writing this article and your words of encouragement! I definitely struggle too in dealing with that inner critic, and lately it seems LOUD. It goes between me not being good enough to me being too much.
You are so welcome Anne! 🙂 I fully understand you… That inner critic can be loud, but just remember that you are enough, no matter what the inner critic says. 😉
I keep questioning myself for what I did, if only… I the world I live in a supervisor who is stealing from the company should be let go, not the person who was asked to tell what they observed.
I don’t like people, before all this I always had my radar on to be careful around certain people,Now I don’t want to be around anyone or let any new people into my life. These people from my employment undermined me and really f’ed with my whole self.
I came upon your site after searching for “best jobs for an INFJ”. I’m 33, have no college experience and have always stumbled into my jobs (Pharmacy Assistant, HR Coordinator, Administrative Assistant/Receptionist). My passion is to serve others and I only feel fulfilled when I have made a positive difference in someone’s day.
My issue is that my inner critic’s voice is constant and loud, partly due to me having depression. In every career I’ve thought of pursuing, there’s that nagging voice saying, “You won’t like this part of the job” or “you won’t know how to handle that situation and will be blamed for it.” Because of this, I’m unsure what path to take to create a career for myself.
I’d love to be something like a Counselor or Social Worker, but that inner critic tells me I might slip and say the wrong thing. I already have a hard time dealing with small mistakes.
Any advice you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for sharing your gift.
Hi Jessie! First of all, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. 🙂 Let me ask you, what’s the work that can happen if you try what you really want to do? Sure, it may turn out that it’s not good for you. But believe me, asking yourself “what if…” is much worse than trying and it not working out. Go after you really want to do, give it everything you got! Life is just too short to have regrets… Instead of asking yourself what could go wrong, ask yourself this: What can I learn from this? What can go right? Hope this helps… 🙂
Hello friends! I am an INFJ too and even knowing my personality, sometimes i still get confused. I’ve been in a relationship for almost two years now and he’s been a great partner and I have nothing to complain about it. Then my self-criticism and self-sabotaging ruins it all for me. It’s unfair for him. I’ve been overthinking about it too and you know where overthinking leads. I guess I just need some advice. Thank you…
Hi Ms.P! Remind yourself of what you have and how amazing it is when these self-sabotage moments come. 🙂 Let this realization help you see that you have nothing to sabotage, and always remind yourself how far you’ve come already. You got full support here. 🙂