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  1. #21
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    This is a very common problem for both INFJs and INFPs. I have had many moments of writhing with embarrassment at the very memory of a conversation I felt I mishandled or something like that which the other person wouldn't have noticed. I'm embarrassed in front of my very own self!! How crazy is that? The bright side of it is that you are very in tune with other people and what is going on under the surface. The very fact that you are worried about how other people feel makes it much less likely that you will tread on people's toes or be where you are not wanted. The problem is that it is like your internal volume is turned up too loud so it is harder to focus on what everyone else is saying and perceive it accurately. It was a big surprise to me in university to find out that many people also have that voice in their head that says, "What's the matter with you? Can't you think of anything interesting to say?" or "They're probably just inviting you along to be nice, but they don't really consider you one of them" and so on. I was shocked to discover that most people who come off as unfriendly are actually just unsure of themselves and don't hate me.

    Not only that, I also realized that what made many of the kids in my high school popular was that they had a lot of people that they weren't scared to talk to, so everyone assumed they must have it together because they themselves were not as comfortable. Most of the popular group had come from the same junior high, were on the student council, dominated the sports teams and so on. They got lots of practice talking to people and most were not Ns so were more worried about what was than what might be. I wish I had it to do over again knowing what I know now. It took me till the last year of university to finally get more comfortable and as a result, many more people talked to me. I still fight with it, especially in larger groups with types that I don't share much in common, but have watched my ESTJ (ex)boyfriend win people over just because he is not scared to go over and chat. When we were together, people would always pass on invitation through him to me because he was the talker.

    When we are not confident, we focus a lot on ourselves. I discovered that most people really don't care about me and what I look and act like as much as they care about THEMSELVES and how they look and act! I also found that the people that go out of their way to make others look stupid are just trying to draw attention away from their own perceived faults, hoping that if they attack first, no one else will focus on them. Once I realized that, it became much easier. For people like us, we for one need to practice. You wouldn't expect to be good at basketball after only a couple of tries at shooting hoops and conversation is the same way. I also found that other people love to be able to talk about themselves and feel that someone cares. They are already an expert on the subject, it is easy for you to think up questions on it and they have lots of material to discuss. One way of turning down your internal volume knob is to try to focus your attention outward on how you could make other people feel more comfortable. Everyone is insecure enough inside to appreciate someone making overstures to them and making feel welcome. Also think ahead in foreseeable situations about things that you might have in common with the people you will be talking to and what you could introduce. This cuts down on nervous chatter or awkward conversational gaps.

  2. #22
    Senior Member rainoneventide's Avatar
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    Wow, thank you fidelia, that makes so much sense! I do tend to look inward instead of outward a lot, and I especially retreat into my inner-shell when I feel unconfident (which is a lot). I'm going to take your advise and try looking outward instead of inward... I need to remind myself that I'm a person, and the people around me are people too, despite their differences.

    It's weird, because I've realized that I don't want to change my appearance or personality in order to fit in better with society. I like myself, I really do. But this need for affirmation by others makes me doubt myself, and when I doubt myself I begin doubting the entire world around me.

    Agh, it seems so simple now...
    "So I say, live and let live. Thatís my motto. Live and let live.
    Anyone who canít go along with that, take him outside and shoot the motherfucker."
    - George Carlin

  3. #23
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    I once read a book by Elisabeth Elliot (the wife of Jim Elliot who was a missionary killed by the Auca Indians in Ecuador during the 50s). She was talking about going to a boarding school in New England when she was younger. One of the people there told her that her shyness was a form of selfishness, because she was focussing on how she thought and how [I]she[I] felt. She had been surprised and a little hurt at first, but came to see how that was true and it really helped her in her life.

    I think a normal part of maturing is being able to start looking at what other people need and how we can make them feel at ease - that's essentially what being a good host, being a good employee, a good spouse or parent, friend, neighbour etc is all about. There are a whole lot of things that can help shortcut us to this point. However, getting older does not necessarily mean that we automatically mature and become comfortable with ourselves. When we get our heads around the problem and recognize what factors are holding us back from changing the situation, the sooner we can adjust our outlook and become proactive. Then we can get on with the business of living and we will find others will respond positively to us as well.

    MBTI is a great tool for helping figure out what we are naturally good at and what may be pitfalls for us. For example, it may come very naturally to be a friend who is generous and thoughtful with time and resources. However the flip side of that sensitivity to other people is sometimes wanting to please them (to a fault). That may mean we have more trouble with being honest, because it may upset someone, or we may not speak out about important things when it is appropriate for fear of how others may respond.

  4. #24
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainoneventide View Post
    This is going to sound really dumb, but I literally automatically assume people dislike me. Even when they don't act like they dislike me, I have this pervasive feeling that they're just playing along with me and in reality they can't wait to escape. I always feel like I'm talking too much, or I'm too quiet. I'm afraid that a person will think I'm mean when I'm really not mean at all, or I'm afraid they'll think I'm too excitable and annoying, or that I'm dull to be around, or I'm full of myself, etc. etc. etc.
    Something implied in what you describe here is that it is important to figure out a negative reaction from someone right away, so that you aren't taken by surprise. What would happen if you expected someone to like you and then they didn't? I've noticed that can be an issue for me. The fear of not seeing negativity coming. But when I sit back and realize that it wouldn't be so bad if that did happen. The cost to myself would not be as high as spending energy anticipating negativity that never materializes. It is not pleasant to have someone reject me, but for some reason it is especially hard if I don't see it coming. As an INF I place too much importance of being able to predict. Expecting something negative when the person is positive is also a mistake in predictions. I don't know if any of that is an issue for you, but I thought it was an angle that wasn't fully explored yet.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
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    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  5. #25
    Senior Member rainoneventide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    I once read a book by Elisabeth Elliot (the wife of Jim Elliot who was a missionary killed by the Auca Indians in Ecuador during the 50s). She was talking about going to a boarding school in New England when she was younger. One of the people there told her that her shyness was a form of selfishness, because she was focussing on how she thought and how [I]she[I] felt. She had been surprised and a little hurt at first, but came to see how that was true and it really helped her in her life.
    I was seeing a counselor at my college for a little while, and he told me something along those lines--that most people will probably perceive me as selfish and stuck-up for being so shy and insecure. It hurt for me too because I honestly never thought of that, but in the long run, knowing that has really helped. It's more incentive to break out of the mold, I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by toonia View Post
    Something implied in what you describe here is that it is important to figure out a negative reaction from someone right away, so that you aren't taken by surprise. What would happen if you expected someone to like you and then they didn't? I've noticed that can be an issue for me. The fear of not seeing negativity coming. But when I sit back and realize that it wouldn't be so bad if that did happen. The cost to myself would not be as high as spending energy anticipating negativity that never materializes. It is not pleasant to have someone reject me, but for some reason it is especially hard if I don't see it coming. As an INF I place too much importance of being able to predict. Expecting something negative when the person is positive is also a mistake in predictions. I don't know if any of that is an issue for you, but I thought it was an angle that wasn't fully explored yet.
    Oh man, that's a very big issue for me as well. I think it's the main reason why I'm so afraid to get close to people--I'm afraid that I'll say or do something that they won't like, and then they won't like me, and in my mind I'm all noooo, I'm not really a bad person, that's just me, come baaaack! So I always have my guard up, and when it happens it doesn't hurt as much. But when the guard is down... argh. It's a sucker punch right to the stomach. Even a single negative comment that I didn't expect really eats at me for a long time. It sounds really sad now that I'm typing this out... but that's the way it is.
    "So I say, live and let live. Thatís my motto. Live and let live.
    Anyone who canít go along with that, take him outside and shoot the motherfucker."
    - George Carlin

  6. #26
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    I tend to assume that most people at best aren't really interested in what I have to say. I'm not sure why.
    Act your age not your enneagram number.

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  7. #27
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    I think most people are most interested in what they have to say. But you could be a close second! Do you think that I types are more prone to feeling this way? I'm wondering if because an E thinks aloud a little more, it makes it easier for other people to interpret their participation or non-participation in a conversation. As a hypothesis, the E's I know don't seem nearly as worried about it...

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by rainoneventide View Post
    I do expect people to be as astute to others as I am, so when I try to act more confident than I feel, I'm afraid I'll look like some pathetic fraud.

    I understand this feeling. I don't want to be a fraud either and have a difficult time with people who I feel are fake. For me, I guess the "fake it" part just balances out my irrational fears and propels me into new situations. For instance, if I walk through a door looking scared and apologetic, my experience with the people in that room will be different than if I walk in with a confident smile. I wouldn't ever try to fake being "cool," because that would fail miserably.

    If I can get myself past my own fears enough that people give me any sort of positive feedback at all, I'm able to open up a little and be myself. I don't know how healthy that is, but it's what gets me through life right now.

    I like a lot of the other comments here. They're helpful to me. Thanks for bringing this topic up.
    I-71%, N-80%, F-74%, P-96%

  9. #29
    Senior Member Ruthie's Avatar
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    I used to work with a guy who had the world's biggest ego. He would flat-out state that he was good at everything. He was so over-the-top, it was funny - but the thing is, he knew how over-the-top it was. It became kind of a running joke, and the guy ended up with all the friends in the world. People teased him about his ego, but everyone liked him, myself included.

    Now, I'm more like you. I'm constantly assessing my behavior and assuming people are seeing the flaws (am I talking too much? am I boring people? was that insensitive?) I'm an introvert, and I genuinely want people to like me, but I'm never confident about how I come across to others. When I catch myself trying to modify my behavior to match what I think would please someone else, I just remember my friend from work and try to take on a fraction of that ego. I figure, if I try to adjust my behavior, everyone will see through it anyway. I'll be forgettable at best and completely unlikable at worst. If I act normally, maybe some people will think I'm (fill in the blank... obnoxious, boring, etc...). But some won't. And at least I'll have a personality.

    I know that's easier said than done, and it does require a little of that "fake confidence" that you said can make you come across as a fraud. But I've found that once you get the hang of it, your confidence level actually does increase - no need to fake it.

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