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  1. #1
    Entertaining Cracker five sounds's Avatar
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    Default Getting Counselled by my INFJ Friend

    I have a friend who is an INFJ. We both struggle with mental health issues, but in different ways. I find that I sometimes want to ask her how she's doing since we've been open with each other about our situations, and I know we've both expressed that it's nice to have another woman to talk to about it. The problem is every time I ask her about herself, she very quickly switches the focus to me. I have the tendency to not pry and prefer to leave issues open for people to discuss in whatever depth they feel comfortable, so I usually just try to follow her lead. But, by doing that, I almost always end up following her lead into a line of questioning that makes me feel very uncomfortable. I feel like when I give her an honest response, she often questions it and asks questions that imply that I'm not being truthful, and that I'm in a bad place and in denial or something. She gets really specific and bold with her questions, and I almost always end up feeling hurt or violated.

    I think the most difficult thing for me is that I am a really open person. I work through problems by talking them out, and I really want to be as honest and open as I can with myself and others. It hurts me though that my honesty with myself or with her is doubted, and I usually wind up a little resentful that she 'took advantage' of me.

    I looked more into her type and realiZed that it's called The Counselor. Now I'm afraid that I'm being too sensitive or just misunderstanding her behavior.

    Any insight from the forum would be appreciated. I really like her and want to be her friend, and I struggle with feeling this way, because I don't like having these feelings about her.
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  2. #2
    Theta Male Julius_Van_Der_Beak's Avatar
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    I can't offer any advice other than the fact that it sounds like a Fi vs Fe-Ti thing.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicolita View Post
    I have a friend who is an INFJ. We both struggle with mental health issues, but in different ways. I find that I sometimes want to ask her how she's doing since we've been open with each other about our situations, and I know we've both expressed that it's nice to have another woman to talk to about it. The problem is every time I ask her about herself, she very quickly switches the focus to me. I have the tendency to not pry and prefer to leave issues open for people to discuss in whatever depth they feel comfortable, so I usually just try to follow her lead. But, by doing that, I almost always end up following her lead into a line of questioning that makes me feel very uncomfortable. I feel like when I give her an honest response, she often questions it and asks questions that imply that I'm not being truthful, and that I'm in a bad place and in denial or something. She gets really specific and bold with her questions, and I almost always end up feeling hurt or violated.

    I think the most difficult thing for me is that I am a really open person. I work through problems by talking them out, and I really want to be as honest and open as I can with myself and others. It hurts me though that my honesty with myself or with her is doubted, and I usually wind up a little resentful that she 'took advantage' of me.

    I looked more into her type and realiZed that it's called The Counselor. Now I'm afraid that I'm being too sensitive or just misunderstanding her behavior.

    Any insight from the forum would be appreciated. I really like her and want to be her friend, and I struggle with feeling this way, because I don't like having these feelings about her.
    Sounds like she's the one with the problem. She's insecure and just wants to be told she's right, so tell her she's right and move on with your life.
    "Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth." Mike Tyson
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  4. #4
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    The long version, and with a firm ‘I can only really speak for myself’ disclaimer preface: when I ask questions that might very well come off as invasive to other people, especially if it’s regarding some personal problem, there’s a good chance I’m actually asking because I’m looking to explore how it’s playing out in myself.

    I think a point of contention that comes up with NFP/NFJ is that NFPs tend to want to keep things strictly on a ‘me’ plane for each person, whereas NFJs tend to see these things as if we’re trying to explore some kind of ‘univeral human experience’ template. I can be rather resilient to having another NFJ try this ‘template’ out on me because I see it for what it is. I take what I’m hearing, I compare it to my own internal landscape and present the inconsistencies to get yet more feedback- over and over in a dialogical process- and ultimately this isn’t about attempting to dictate to people what’s going on inside themselves so much as it’s about uncovering commonalities. It feels strangely impersonal, like it’s more about figuring out “Ah, so that’s how people work” than it is about trying to tell someone what is going on inside them (though unfortunately it does come across that way).

    It seems like Fi dom/aux want to be able to take for granted that what’s being said is a ‘me’ thing, like there ‘should’ be some assumed bubble around it? I’m not really sure how to explain it. It *seems* like there’s some need to speak ‘me’ things aloud to other people to work through them….and it’s hard for me to understand because the only time I feel the need to speak of problems aloud to others is to find out if they can help me eek out something about it that I’m not seeing on my own. To expect someone to just listen without attempting to put it into their own context (and show me what it looks like in their own internal landscape) is foreign to me, I don’t understand the point.



    The short version: I’m going to guess she’s just trying to be helpful, because that’s the kind of thing she finds helpful herself. Is there something that she does do which is helpful to you? If it were me- I’d tell her specifically how she is helpful, and I’d let her know specifically what kinds of things feel invasive (and I’d probably throw in the disclaimer that I’m not saying they are invasive, simply that they feel invasive to me and that it makes me uncomfortable).
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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  5. #5
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    I'll also say that if a persondoesn't ask me follow up questions, I assume they aren't very interested and so I turn the convo back to what they want to talk about. I actually want people to ask me those questions because they help me sort out why I'm feeling the way I am-something I find difficult to do alone. My feelings are also not a part of my identity so I don't consider it invasive to be asked about it. I've realized since thar Nfps operate very differently from us and since have tried to become more sensitive to that.

  6. #6
    Entertaining Cracker five sounds's Avatar
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    Wow, super insightful. Special thanks to the two INFJs for sharing your side. That was exactly what I needed to hear. I guess it really has a lot to do with Fe and Fi. I'll try to ask her more followup questions, and not take it so personally when she asks questions that I interpret as violation or doubting of my Fi that I am so attached to.

    @fidelia what you said about your feelings not being a part of your identity really struck me. That is a really foreign concept to me since to me, my feelings and beliefs nearly are my identity. That's explains a lot about why I feel so trodden upon and why she may be less sensitive about the questions she's asking.

    This forum rules.
    You hem me in -- behind and before;
    you have laid your hand upon me.
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

  7. #7
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Yeah, I had no idea until I came here. My feelings shift around so much that I see them more like a barometer that just indicates something needs looking at. I get kind of weirded out actually when NFP folks want to know what I am feeling. It has far less significance to me than why I am feeling off or bothered by something. Once I know the reason, it mostly ceases to irritate or distress me, even if it very bad. Therefore, by asking questions that may seem intrusive to you, your INFJ friend probably believes she is doing something nice by helping you narrow down why something is bothering you, when for you, it has absolutely no significance and feels like railroading.

    The other thing that really surprised me from talking to people here was that NFPs generally respond to others distress by trying to match their feelings to the other person or by taking them through the experience together (bad explanation, but what it looks like from my perspective, sorry for the inaccuracy folks!). To me, that is the equivalent of me being in a rushing river dragged down by the current and asking for a lifeline and instead the other person jumps in so that they can understand how I can best navigate it!!!! Not helpful at all to me if they are all upset too! I just need someone that can be close enough to provide insight, but detached enough not to be as upset as I am.

    I realize now that the ways that I go about comforting NFP friends are not helpful to them either. I tend to want to take action of some sort to express my care. (By the way, when you find that intrusive, explain what would be more helpful for you rather than just rejecting their efforts or tolerating them. If you can redirect their efforts into channels that actually are more useful to you, like giving you space, they are usually pleased to accommodate. They just need direction to know.) So, that too tends to be a little intrusive. Even when I want to be complimentary, I am likely to write them something telling why I appreciate them, which only makes them feel awkward or put on the spot for a reaction. So, I think it is a process that takes some time, and until you understand that the two of you are seeing entirely different things when you look at the same landscape, it can be easy to unwittingly step on one another's toes.

    Glad to be of service, ma'am!

  8. #8
    Entertaining Cracker five sounds's Avatar
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    Well my feelings do shift around, but I like to think of them as a part of a bigger arc that is directly related to who I am. The 'why' behind them is such a complex set of behavior patterns, thought processes, etc. that I have literally been working on figuring out for my whole life. I'm talking about most feelings here. There are of course times where an isolated incident will make me feel something immediately, much like this feeling I'm having about my interactions with my friend. In these cases, I am really determined to find out the 'why' behind it so that I can resolve the issue.

    But there are some feelings that are a lot more personal. Like how I'm working through my anxiety problems. I know this is an ultra-personal example, and I have the same kind of reaction when other NFJs assume they know or try to change my feelings about less touchy, but still personal things like how I want my steak cooked, what music I like, what I think about race/class issues, whether or not I want to go do a particular thing, etc. These things aren't all necessarily core belief issues, but I can get really charged when someone wants to mess with them. I just can't understand how anyone could think they could tell me how I feel about those things when they're living their lives and them and I'm living my life as me. It's probably because NFP spend a great deal of time and effort on becoming their truest selves. I want that for everyone else too.

    That's probably why we try to jump into the water to help. I see it like everyone's journey is their own and I will never be able to help them out of their predicament until they are empowered to do so. The best thing I can see to do is dive in and hear what they have to say for them to figure out what they need. Then once they know, I am so happy to help in any way they ask me to. I might offer some reiterations or interpretations of what they said- like, 'so do you mean that every time this happens it makes you feel this', or 'do you think that this person is affecting you in a negative way then', but I try to keep it in their court and not assume too much. I think the power to change one's situation and life course is like a sacred birth right to me, and I would never try to assume that power for someone in any way.

    I don't know how to take my feelings less seriously, but I love to learn about the other ways people deal with and perceive theirs. Part of what I like about Meyers-Briggs is that I'm able to see things through different lenses, and know that for the most part, everyone is just doing their best to help or live their truth. That just looks really different for different kinds of people. And I wouldn't want everyone to do it my way. Also, the NFJs in my life are some of the realest, smartest, and easy to relate to people I know. I seem to have a trend for NFJ friendships, so this information is invaluable to me.
    You hem me in -- behind and before;
    you have laid your hand upon me.
    Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

  9. #9
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    I have a pet theory that NFPs and NFJs focus on resolving conflict in slightly different realms because of where our attention naturally goes. Where perception is introverted- there’s less feeling of urgency to smooth out internal conflict because that’s the program that’s constantly running in the background and we can take for granted that it’ll sort itself out: the priority is to contain the external conflict, to figure out ‘why’ it’s happening, so that we can return our focus to where it wants to go. And I’ve wondered if it works the other way with NFPs (specifically Ne dominant/least introverted perception).

    It’s sort of like having a special needs employee- like, it’s your cousin’s kid and you have to hire him even though you know he’s not particularly reliable. Whatever department you put him in is probably going to result in some kind of preoccupation with making sure that job is done. It’s going to get a certain kind of prioritization to compensate.

    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    The other thing that really surprised me from talking to people here was that NFPs generally respond to others distress by trying to match their feelings to the other person or by taking them through the experience together (bad explanation, but what it looks like from my perspective, sorry for the inaccuracy folks!). To me, that is the equivalent of me being in a rushing river dragged down by the current and asking for a lifeline and instead the other person jumps in so that they can understand how I can best navigate it!!!! Not helpful at all to me if they are all upset too! I just need someone that can be close enough to provide insight, but detached enough not to be as upset as I am.
    This is exactly how it feels to me, too. Immediately focusing on the internal state (on 'what' that internal state may be), for me, is distressing because I want to make sure the reasons for that internal state have been contained first.
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

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  10. #10
    girl with a pretty smile Honor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nicolita View Post
    I don't know how to take my feelings less seriously.
    Don't let anyone convince you to take your feelings less seriously. xo

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