Let’s be honest, INFJs are complex people. With an innate ability to feel other’s emotions, INFJs are sometimes able to know the thoughts of others even when they’re not verbally expressed. This sounds like an incredible ability, and it is, but it can cause an identity crisis for INFJs who are still trying to find themselves or navigate through their own emotions.
As the INFJ actually feels what those around them feel (rather than just mirroring those emotions), it is easy for the INFJ to become a social chameleon and melt into the personalities of other people. If this web of thoughts and feelings, tangled with their ability to truly empathize is not unwound or confronted, this can cause deep pain for the INFJ, especially involving those people closest to them, resulting in the infamous INFJ Door Slam.
For many INFJs, this is root of the alone/loneliness problem. This is when the INFJ has shut out so many people that they feel completely isolated or alone in the world, despite fully understanding that they are the only ones responsible for their situation. It is a complicated place where the INFJ needs community and longs for meaningful interaction (even with one person), but also knows that deep connections mean vulnerability and this invasion of the body snatchers scenario.
For INFJs on the other side of those doors slammed shut, here are some practical ways to navigate your own thoughts and feelings, and prepare yourself for new, healthy relationships.
1. Spend time with books.
Reading books with complex characters that also have an ability to experience what others feel can help you to not be so alone, and may offer insight on how to function. Some recommendations: Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, J.D. Salinger’s Cathcer in the Rye, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.
2. Get into biographical stories.
Whether with books or documentaries, exposure to powerful, emotional stories of people not in a close proximity to you can help you practice feeling their emotions and thoughts without truly carrying them with you all the time. This can help you to listen, feel, and process, without having to give back, training yourself to know and keep your own feelings separate while experiencing others emotions.
3. Spend time with animals.
Many people recognize that animals have a strong sense of energy and emotions. Spending some time with a sweet pup or cuddly cat can offer you compatibility and understanding without being vulnerable or feeling empty afterwards. If you don’t have a pet of your own, offer to watch a friend’s for the day. Even better, volunteer at an animal shelter or rescue, allowing you to satisfy that INFJ need to contribute to the goodness in the world.
All INFJs have a deep need to be a part of world change and positivity. Volunteering at a food pantry, animal shelter (see above), recycling center, library, children’s home, or battered women’s shelter can allow you to contribute to others. This will remind you that the world is bigger than your current situation; you are bigger than your current situation.
5. Get outdoors.
Whether you’re a hiking savant or a porch sitter, spend time outside of the proverbial and physical four walls. Feeling the breeze across your face, and recognizing that the world still moves, can remind you to likewise, always move forward. The sun rises and sets and tomorrow is new and you’ll have new opportunities.
6. Talk to a therapist.
This is perhaps the most important INFJ self-care step. Talking to a therapist can help you to unload that web of emotions, navigate through the tangles, and walk away without feeling totally burned out, knowing that you don’t need to foster a relationship with this person. This can be extremely difficult for the INFJ, as they often choose to listen and offer input, rather than sharing, but it can be a vitally important exercise for a healthy, stable INFJ. This cleansing of old emotions will allow you to move forward into new, healthy relationships and to learn to cope instead of run.