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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cordiform View Post
    [...]I want to be fearless and impulsive and outgoing and bold and assertive and proud and strong and confident. I want to experience uncontrollable rushes of emotion. I want to be angry - I want to have an explosive temper. I want my mouth to get me into trouble. I want to leap before I look. I want to stop caring about every other effing person on the planet, because I need to look after myself. I want to stop being a martyr. I want to rush headlong into life. I want to be emotionally open and stop hiding myself and the way I feel. I want to be the leader; I want to be in control; I want to be the center of attention. I want everyone to love me and I want to love myself and I want to be fantastically, explosively vivid and alive.

    But I don't know how[...]
    Looked at from a "cognitive process" viewpoint:

    Your dominant function is Fi (Introverted Feeling). It looks at everything in terms of morals and values. It causes you to live inside your head, and it turns even small decisions into big moral battles over what's right vs. wrong, what's fake vs. real, what's "you" vs. "not you," etc.

    It also tends to give off a sense of anxiety or even impending doom at times of high stress or personal (internal) conflict. NFs in general feel it for various reasons, but the INFP version can be particularly toxic. The INFP version can come on strongest precisely when you should be happiest and enjoying your successes. Here are some quotes from the experts concerning INFP anxiety:

    From "Type Talk" by Kroeger & Thuesen describing the kind of pressure INFPs might find themselves under:

    "The potential for self-doubt and self-criticism is always close to the surface. Even when told they have done a "good job," INFPs know the only true judge is themselves, and may punish themselves for work they consider less than perfect. In general, while INFPs love to learn, grow, excel, and please others, they are always their own worst critics; they often remind themselves that they could have done better. It is a lifelong struggle between self-approbation and self-depreciation. In the end, INFPs almost always tend to sell themselves short."
    From Keirsey's "Please Understand Me":

    Even at the best of times, they seem fearful of too much marital bliss, afraid that current happiness may have to be paid for with later sacrifices. The devil is sure to get his due if one experiences too freely of happiness, or, for that matter, of success, or beauty, or wealth, or knowledge. This almost preconscious conviction that pleasure must be paid for with pain can cause a sense of uneasiness in INFPs when they marry; they may feel they must be ever-vigilant against invasion, and can therefore have trouble relaxing in the happiness of mating."
    As far how to address the problem and achieve what you want: Watch people who are doing what you want to do, study them closely, and then mimic them. Basically, you want to bypass your Fi (at least for purposes of doing new things) and engage your auxiliary function of Ne (extraverted Intuition). You want to bypass the big internal debates about who you are and whether a certain role suits who you are, and instead just study how others do things and then throw yourself into the same experience.

    So sign up for things and throw yourself into new activities. You want to get outside your head and engage in activities that force you to engage your extraverted auxiliary.

    Don't hold off doing things until they "feel" right, because you'll just end up waiting forever. Instead, disregard your "feeling" Fi function and force yourself to get good at your auxiliary Ne function by throwing yourself into extraverted situations. You may not extravert brilliantly at first; you may extravert for a bit and then need to retreat back into your head to recharge. You may go through cycles of expanding out into the world and then retreating back into your head. But once you've recharged inside your head, then pick a new extraverted activity and try again. Just study others and do and say the same things that they do and say until your comfort level increases.

    And don't be afraid to fail publicly at times. Sometimes it takes a couple times to get things right. So get used to taking some public pratfalls and playing the clown for others until you get it right. That's just part of living the extraverted life.

    As for that buzz of anxiety or impending doom, just tune it out as background static. It's a false signal; it's not a sign of any real danger. Shove it into the background enough times, and eventually it will fade over time.

    You’re a 17 year old INFP. I'm a 51 year old INFP. When I was 17, I left home with $50 in my pocket and hitchhiked cross-country. I found a job in the city as a janitor at a YMCA, and soon after my 18th birthday I joined the Marines. Soon after my 19th birthday I was floating off the coast of Vietnam for the fall of Saigon.

    I've traveled around the world, went on a college exchange to Leningrad before the fall of the Soviet Union, have been trained and registered with three scuba diving organizations, have done about 40 parachute jumps, had many loves and two wives, speak a couple languages, am pretty good at ballroom and latin dancing, etc.

    You don't have to live your life in your head if you don't want. Fi is your starting base, and retreating inside your head is your comfort zone. But you can learn to venture outside your comfort zone for longer and longer periods and get good at other things too. I always just figured that if other people could do things and survive, then I should be able to do them as well. I just put aside the internal moral debates and the anxiety, watched closely how other people did the things I wanted to do, figured I was no worse than them, and went for it.

    The Roman playwright Lucretius said: "I am human; nothing human is alien to me." Basically it's just a fancy way of saying "If other people can do it, so can I."
    Last edited by RDF; 11-12-2007 at 08:33 AM.

  2. #12
    Senior Member TenebrousReflection's Avatar
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    Am I yearning for what I could never possibly be, or am I yearning for what I should be - what I would be, if I had no inner barriers? If I did not destroy myself at every turn? Or is self-hatred something that is part of me and can never be excised? Why would self-destruction be part of a person's core?? How do I get rid of it?!?

    What about you? From the descriptions I've read, it looks like my problem - dissatisfaction with myself, and subsequent attempts to change -- comes with the Idealist territory. Do you feel this pain? How do you deal with it? Other types, do you just think we're insane? :}
    I do see a lot of myself in some of your words, but nothing quite as extreme as wanting to try hang gliding or anythign like that. There are times where I feel my introversion holds me back from enjoying life and I am envious of the SPs that seem to do it so efortlessly, but I know that even when I do something resembling a thrillseeking activity, a day or so of it is enough to satisfy that urge for quite a long time after that and I don't think thats the case for SPs. The wanting to be unrestrained of emotions part does sound more like extroversion to me and I don't relate to that part (unrestrained of positive emotions maybe, but not unrestrained anger), but can understand wanting to be more courageos and stand up for your values.

    At least for myself part of the problem is that even though I think its good for me to try to be more outgoing and adventerous some of the time, its next to impossible for me to act on it when I'm with most people I know who would be shocked if I displayed such traits (even being in a good mood can get people wondering if I'm ok ). The next part of the problem is that it would be a lot easier for me to break free of my self supression if I had a trusted friend to enocourage me to do so but go back to the previous statement on that.

    I do have one friend that lives several states away that does understand me and does encourage me, and I'll give you the same advice she gave me. Do things to gradually step outside of your comfort zone, and when your comfortable with that, move on to somethign new. Yes its can be a slow process to change, but trying to make instant and drastic changes could really throw you out of balance as well. If your anythign like me, the thought of trying to find new groups of friends to do things with will be quite intimidating, but I encourage that as well, since they don't know me and have pre-conceptions of me, I feel more free to try to figure out what I'm actually comfortable with as opposed to trying to follow what I think people expect of me.

    In the case of not being sure if your being true to yourself, its also important to try to figure out what your type really is. If you just took the temperament sorters and they told you "you are an INFP" and you read the description and saw a lot of yourslef in it, it may or may not actually be your best match.

    From your post, you do seem to have very strong F (the need to stick to your values), but that could either be Fi or Fe. I would encourage you to read the descriptions of INFP, INFJ, ENFP, ENFJ, and even ISFP, ISFJ, ESFP, and ESFJ at the following sites. You seem to have strong aspirations of Se, but that can just as easily come from any shadow process (especialy if its not an always-on thing) as it can from a dominant trait, but it won't hurt to read the S descriptions and see if any of them fit.

    Edit/append:
    Please read this post about INFPs first. I think if you are an INFP, at least the first two parts on Fi and Ne should click instantly and you will be finding yourself going "ya, thats me!", and if it does not seem to fit, its not a gaurantee your not an INFP, but it would make exploring the other options more recommended.

    The Sixteen Myers-Briggs Types
    TypeLogic Home Page
    Best-Fit Type : Exploring the Multiple Models of Personality Type
    Myers Briggs Personality Types

    If you are living agaisnt your natural type, it will drain you, you won't feel fulfilled and you may not understand why. Once you understand whats truly important to you and what things will bring you a sense of fulfillment, you can begin to try to make changes in yourself to bring about a sense of healing of the inner you. Don't let "how would I react" cloud your search, ask yourself, "what would I WANT to do if I could be free to be myself", what would I really be most comfortable with doing or being. Its also helpful to ask yourself what you know you abolutly can't change, you may not always like it, it may cause you problems, but you know its so much a apart of you that you can't deny it (like your adherence to values and the inner conflict that often brings).

    There is also a thread in this form on INJ and IFP as children here that may help you determine your true self.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    You don't have to live your life in your head if you don't want. Fi is your starting base, and retreating inside your head is your comfort zone. But you can learn to venture outside your comfort zone for longer and longer periods and get good at other things too. I always just figured that if other people could do things and survive, then I should be able to do them as well. I just put aside the internal moral debates and the anxiety, watched closely how other people did the things I wanted to do, figured I was no worse than them, and went for it.
    Just a general follow-up post on two points: Histrionic INFPs, and "being true to oneself":

    The INFP personality type can show up in a number of different variations. (The same can be said of all the other types as well.) I've seen histrionic INFPs who crave novelty and sensation and dream of finding themselves at the center of the action; avoidant INFPs who find the world stressful and want to hide themselves away and at most act as a quiet, subtle influence on the immediate environment around them; sedate INFPs who seem contented and self-contained, and are not particularly avoidant but just want to be left alone so they can research debate philosophy or religion on message boards; and so on.

    They're all INFPs, but obviously some are leaning toward neighboring types in various ways. Again, I've seen the same phenomenon in other types as well. Few people perfectly match the stereotype of their personality type.

    FWIW, Cordiform sounds to me like one of the histrionic variants. The whole paragraph in the OP starting with "I want to be fearless and impulsive and outgoing and bold..." sounds typically histrionic.

    I was/am a histrionic INFP (more so in my youth than nowadays). I was actually quite introverted and usually preferred to sit on the sidelines rather than participate whenever anything was happening. But at the same time it drove me nuts to be stuck in some hick town cooling my heels and marking time while there was a huge world out there with exotic things to see and do. Luckily, I didn't know anything about MBTI and simply considered myself a bit broken or not fully formed. I figured the cure involved simply throwing myself into adventures and growing into the roles I found there, so that's what I did.

    There are some negatives to the histrionic type. For example, I always needed to be on the move to the next new experience. If I got stuck in a place or job too long, I would get antsy and irritable. Luckily I was able to travel a lot in the military and volunteer to be sent out to exotic locations. And on those occasions when I got hung up in one location, I could often find other pleasure-seeking activities: getting into relationships, joining clubs for interesting hobbies or outings, bar-hopping with friends, travel in my free time, etc.

    Eventually, of course, one needs to settle down and make some longer-term commitments. The histrionic INFP may find that difficult to do. The histrionic INFP may find that he or she is running from some inner devils and that someday those devils need to be faced and tamed somehow. But at age 17, there's no rush to work those things out. And in the meantime, the histrionic INFP can use that tremendous appetite for novelty and challenge as a goad to activity and exploration way beyond the usual INFP stereotypes. I look at my own youth from age 17 to 30 or so as a very formative period.

    IOW if an INFP really has a hunger to get out into the world and experience new things, then why not do exactly that?

    Returning to the subject of getting involved in new activities and taking on and new roles: I don't see personality type descriptions as a straightjacket. Lots of people develop themselves way past their personality type stereotypes. INFPs can choose to deliberately ignore the restrictive parts of Fi (the fears and the anxieties and the restrictive self-definitions) while still enjoying the strengths that Fi brings.

    New roles and capacities can be developed in oneself. You just watch others do it (so that you don't go into a new experience totally unprepared), and then you follow their lead and do it yourself. The main trick here is to:

    1) Get out of your head and cut to the chase--turn off all the questioning and doubts and anxiety and just resolve that if others can do it and enjoy it, you can too; and

    2) Resist the temptation to define yourself in neat, precise terms and values and then subsequently conclude that you can't play certain roles or do certain things because it would involve "being untrue to yourself." Self-definitions are largely subjective, and it's within one's powers to redefine oneself. Somerset Maugham said: "You can’t learn too soon that the most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency."

    You are not your self-definition. You picked up a lot of your Fi values as a child, and if you have been sitting on the sidelines much of your life then you probably haven't put them to the test in the real world as much as you should have. Better to cut Fi out of the loop (at least at the initial stage) and look at things a new way: You are what you do, and you can use activity and new experiences to redefine who you are. Fi values can be brought back into the loop after the fact, IOW after you've had some real-world experiences and are in a position to formulate mature values that incorporate those new experiences and real-world lessons.

    Keep your self-definition flexible enough that you can keep incorporating new roles and trying new activities. Especially those roles and activities that seem decidedly un-INFP and even seem "untrue to yourself"--those are the ones you'll benefit from most.


  4. #14
    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cordiform View Post
    Because I won't accept myself. I will never be happy as the person I am today, because there will always be that time I backed down; that time I wasted an opportunity; that time I was so lonely that I wished to die, yet was too afraid to do anything about it; that time I bit my tongue; that time I didn't "fight the cosmic forces of evil". My god, I don't want to be a dreamer - I want to be a hero.
    Look at yourself as if you were looking at someone else. What would you say to a good friend if they said the paragraph above about themselves? Write a message to them and tell them how you feel and what you think about the paragraph above that they just wrote. Make sure you include some reasons to back up your statements. When you're done, put your name at the top, addressing these comments to yourself. Look at the contrast between what you wrote and your own typical thoughts about yourself. Are these different? Is that a good, bad, or neutral thing? Why are they different?

    Do this with all of your thoughts about yourself for a day or a week. Eventually, you won't really need to do this in writing, just in your head.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by JAVO View Post
    Look at yourself as if you were looking at someone else. What would you say to a good friend if they said the paragraph above about themselves? Write a message to them and tell them how you feel and what you think about the paragraph above that they just wrote. Make sure you include some reasons to back up your statements. When you're done, put your name at the top, addressing these comments to yourself. Look at the contrast between what you wrote and your own typical thoughts about yourself. Are these different? Is that a good, bad, or neutral thing? Why are they different?

    Do this with all of your thoughts about yourself for a day or a week. Eventually, you won't really need to do this in writing, just in your head.
    But there's a difference. My friends are people who have personalities that I like. I'm not myself because I like the way I am - I just am. I'm still me, even if I don't particularly like spending time with myself. And I know I'm not a bad person. I'm just not good enough.
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  6. #16
    Senior Member Kyrielle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cordiform View Post
    I hate myself because I'm afraid; I'm afraid because I'm weak; I'm weak because I'm afraid; I'm afraid because I'm weak; I'm weak because I hate myself.
    You've identified the problem, which is a start, and now I think you might benefit from discovering the specifics about the problem. What are you afraid of?

    Also...I don't think you're weak, because a weak person would have only denied that they were afraid and would have continued lying to themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cordiform View Post
    Can I even break that chain? Or is my only recourse to accept myself and stop trying to be what I'm not?
    From the sounds of it, I don't think you know who you are (exactly) yet. So how can you accept yourself if you don't know yourself. I think, you can start figuring that out for sure, by understanding what makes you happy and actively persuing whatever that is.


    Quote Originally Posted by Cordiform View Post
    I'm so tired of being me. I feel blank and calm in a dead way most of the time - I have to be the center of attention in order to feel alive. I'm not happy unless I'm entertaining people. I like to be the leader. I'm afraid of intimacy and commitment, yet I feel hollow and ghost-like without it. But I am so afraid.
    Okay, a question. Would you be more unhappy if you tried to get close to someone and they shot you down? Which is worse? Trying and possibly gaining a little happiness for a while in addition to learning about yourself, or staying in this depressing place you're in?

    If you don't at least try, you're bound to feel isolated.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cordiform View Post
    What about you? From the descriptions I've read, it looks like my problem - dissatisfaction with myself, and subsequent attempts to change -- comes with the Idealist territory. Do you feel this pain? How do you deal with it? Other types, do you just think we're insane? :}
    I get in places like that sometimes. Usually when I have lost my purpose and meaning in life and feel like I'm drifting and wasting space. Not that I have to be doing something all the time, but I do need to feel like I'm making progress in life. What do I do? I take up a new hobby, start a project, paint, go outside. I make myself tell myself every day that I'm an okay person and I'm not wasting space, and that there is someone close to me who understands my predicament and will help push me through this (and kick my ass forward if neccessary). I also tell myself that I'm perfectly capable of kicking my own ass forward.


    I have no idea if this will help you, but I hope you feel better and solve the problem.

  7. #17
    Senior Member Sandy's Avatar
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    Default I love my INFP'ness now...

    Man, I can relate. I felt a lot of what you are feeling when I was younger. On the outside, people thought because I was always smiling, I was a happy-go-lucky person. Basically, I was, but inside, I was in the "dark" zone (thanks to whoever it was that helped me understand what this meant!) I listened endlessly to sad songs, which of course, made me cry (why did I do that to myself? I have no idea)... I have always felt like I was a glutton for punishment (my own punishment). I'd also listen to metal (when angry) or Bowie when I was anguished over something. I totally understood the lyrics to much of these different types of music, because they were speaking my language.

    Anyway, I didn't WANT to be that way, but... I was.

    Extreme responsibility (marriage and children, and then divorce and single motherhood and breadwinner), forced me to get outside of my stinking thinking... but I still wasn't truly happy with myself and my "darkness" until...

    ... my late 30s. It doesn't have to be that way for you, though! It was, unfortunately, a long process for me.

    Even though I have admired other personality types, I have learned that what I have is a gift, and I have found out (from others) that I have been an inspiration to many people, which was so helpful for me to know. I just wished I knew that earlier in my life. I have been told that I am a good listener, and I offer very good counsel.

    Thankfully, because I have learned so much about myself through MBTI, and to know that there are others out there like me (and it's okay to be "different"), I have been more adventuresome... on purpose! I enjoy hiking and traveling. I want to go skydiving (yes I do!) I want to be more outgoing, so I do more outgoing things. I want to have friends, so guess what... I have friends! Yaay! (of course, this is at my own pace... I have learned that I can handle only so much - you know, too much of a good thing...).

    Hang in there, sweetie. Actually realizing what you want is half the battle. btw, welcome!
    -Sandy
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  8. #18
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    Hmm...I can most definitely relate to your anguish (although with me it's usually anxiety, which IS anguish for me ;-) and your internal struggles/questions/demons. I can't relate to ALL of your specific desires, but I can relate to your confusion/anguish, and I can relate to the tired-of-being-me thing. I have a 'problem' too with having lots of desires...but there's often a 'BUT' attached to the desire, or a contradiction attached to the desire.

    Example - I want to be in a fulfilling relationship, and I deeply want to experience love...BUT I sometimes don't feel solid enough to be in a relationship, and be the type of partner someone really wants and needs (even though the majority of the time I DO feel solid enough -- it's just the fact that unsolid states occur that make me think I'm useless for ever being in a relationship).

    I can so relate to the Catch-22 concept --

    I'm afraid of intimacy and commitment, yet I feel hollow and ghost-like without it. But I am so afraid. Is it because I was bullied? Do I just need to raise my self-esteem? If I learned to love myself for who I am, I'd get over it, right? But I won't be able to love myself until I'm capable of making myself happy, and I can't do that until I stop stifling myself and become capable of fulfilling my needs and desires. See? ANOTHER catch 22!
    Ah, the endless catch-22 what-do-I-want-I-want-this-but-I-can't-achieve-this-because-of-how-I-am-But-who-am-I-really-I-CAN-change-if-I-want-to-but-would-that-mean-I'm-not-being-ME-anymore loop. hehe.

    Or, that's what I do.

    Ah...I get into these mindsets periodically (I'm in one now - GAR), but it isn't indefinite. I'll settle everything out eventually, and then I'll feel really good for a while.

    I agree wholeheartedly with others though that there's nothing stopping you from DOING stuff. Like, I'll go through periods where I think I don't have any, or 'enough', friends, and I can easily get down about that. But then I realize, hey, I can actually DO something tangible to try to change the situation and get it to be more in line with what I actually want. Or if you want to get out and experience things, then I'm afraid the only way to do that is to, well, do it. :-) Similar to what others have posted... I'm really into traveling, and actually doing things is what makes me happy. I also like more of your adventure stuff -- I'm really into rock climbing, and I also love nature/hiking/kayaking/stuff like that.

    Although it's really hard NOT to sit and muse and get stuck in your brain, and it's hard when you're in that place to do what seems unnatural (meaning, when I'm in that place, I feel I need to STAY in that place until I work things out), it is what seems to be the most healing, and what does tend to get you out of that place......

    Just a few thoughts. [oh, and obviously I'm not an INFP...or maybe I am...well anyway, I thought I'd add my thoughts anyway.]

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