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Thread: Common INFP Issues

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    Vaguely Precise Array Seymour's Avatar
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    Default Common INFP Issues

    As requested, a thread. We'll see if it does better than the "someone start a thread" thread.

    Some common INFP issues include:

    1. Hypersensitivity - We often interpret negative feedback as a personal attack. In fact, we sometimes project negativity onto factual, neutral statements. This problem extends to critiques of our values, since as Fi-doms we see our values as fundamental parts of ourselves. Our hypersensitivity can cause us to avoid seeking feedback or evaluation out of fear of it being negative.
    2. Tendency to procrastinate - Like other perceiving types, we have a tendency to procrastinate. In our case, an avoidance of conflict tends to be a contributing factor. Our Fi-based idealism combined with our Ne-inspired ability to see possibilities sometimes makes moving from the possible to the actual demotivating: the reality is always less than we'd like it to be. This can even extend to career paralysis, in which we fear moving forward because no option is perfectly inline with our inner selves and values. Also, attempting something Important™ and failing can trigger our hypersensitivity (see above). We can also tend to wait for internal transformation to provide motivation, even when external action is all that's needed to start the ball rolling.
    3. Social Disregard and/or Cluelessness - Our lack of Fe and reliance on Fi tends to make us seemingly unaware of societal expectations. Even when we are aware of them, we may see such expectations as an attack on our individual expression and autonomy. Our Fi focus may also cause us to appear quirky or dress inappropriately for a given situation. Also, we may experience unnecessary conflict with Fe-users because we are unaware of the message we are sending by opting out of important rituals and traditions. We tend to be bad at initiating contact with others, which may send a message that we are selfishly disinterested in other people.
    4. Idealism/Absolutism - While at its best our Fi can lead us towards having worthwhile values and not compromising them, at our worst we tend towards an intolerant, blinkered impracticality. We can tend to dismiss information that doesn't fit with our preconceived ideals and becomes angry when people point out how distorted our internal model of the world may be. This can extend to relationships, causing us to over-idealize those we love, leading to communication problems and/or disappointment.


    And, to include stringstheory's procrastination example:
    Quote Originally Posted by stringstheory View Post
    i have a big problem turning mole hills into mountains simply because I avoided situations that cause me stress. For example, I've had plenty of parking tickets that ended up becoming large amounts of money because I didn't have enough money to pay them at the time. somehow i never seem to have "enough" money to pay for things that need to be paid for ASAP so i just push them out of my mind and refuse to deal with them until I absolutely have to and then pay MORE for it. This, obviously, is not smart.
    I'm sure people have other perspectives to add.

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    Iron Maiden Array fidelia's Avatar
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    Can you comment on the tendancy to cocoon when you guys need to sort something out of think it over? What are you doing during that process (when to the outside it may look like reading, playing video games, smoking etc)? How do you go about solving the problem at hand? (I've heard some INFPs say that they have to complete tear down the existing stuff and start from scratch) Do you want people to leave you alone, or respectfully check in on you now and again?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    ...Do you want people to leave you alone, or respectfully check in on you now and again?
    Just be there. You don't have to say anything.

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    にゃん Array runvardh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    Can you comment on the tendancy to cocoon when you guys need to sort something out of think it over? What are you doing during that process (when to the outside it may look like reading, playing video games, smoking etc)? How do you go about solving the problem at hand? (I've heard some INFPs say that they have to complete tear down the existing stuff and start from scratch) Do you want people to leave you alone, or respectfully check in on you now and again?
    If I'm doing anything but wandering around blankly or curled up and blank, go ahead and check in, but don't push for info. As an SO, I'd say cuddle if you want when I'm at the stage of engaging something in physical space, but only if it doesn't mean I have to move. I myself try to take breaks once in a while if I can during which I'll more than likely be looking for some low energy contact with other people, but other INFPs may have different habits. Also, if you decide to cuddle up while I'm thinking, be prepared to have stuff bounced off of you out of no where and then the talking stop for a while as I integrate and re-integrate what was said. I could be rather frustrating if you're looking to see a quick, soon, or visible resolution - not because I mean to, but because of how differently I need to organize the information when talking as opposed to just thinking.

    Oh, furrowed brow more often means thinking rather than angry.
    Dreams are best served manifest and tangible.

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    I accept no responsibility, what so ever, for the fact that I exist; I do, however, accept full responsibility for what I do while I exist.

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    Vaguely Precise Array Seymour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    Can you comment on the tendancy to cocoon when you guys need to sort something out of think it over? What are you doing during that process (when to the outside it may look like reading, playing video games, smoking etc)? How do you go about solving the problem at hand? (I've heard some INFPs say that they have to complete tear down the existing stuff and start from scratch) Do you want people to leave you alone, or respectfully check in on you now and again?
    I'm probably not the best person to address this issue, but :

    • Fi values internal consonance and harmony. When that can't be reached, we tend to turn inwards to address the problem. Sometimes this can lead to the "Fi Si loop", where we go over the same problem repeatedly without getting any closer to a resolution. (I think this is particularly common for enneagram 4 INFPs, who tend to value the emotional intensity involved in the looping for its own sake.)
    • Fi processes things partially unconsciously (I think Jung described it as the function closest to the unconscious). I find that I do better if I let things "percolate" in the background, rather than trying to immediately attack a problem full-force consciously. Low level distraction sometimes helps the percolation process.
    • Like most introverts, we tend to withdraw when overwhelmed. When we are experiencing internal emotional conflict, there can be more going on internally than is easy to process.


    I do think, compared to INFJs, we are a bit more aware of our own emotions as they happen (though less aware of group dynamics), but that doesn't make us any better at processing those emotions with others. We, too, tend to want to retreat and process.

    I also think the Ni of INFJs makes them a bit more flexible on shifting their perspective when considering solutions. Fi + Ne tend to work with Fi "nailing down" feeling valuations, and then Ne showing farther possibilities from that stabilized platform. When one of our central values is threatened, it's not easy for us to entertain a conflicting perspective without experiencing distress.

    Note that outside of their important values, INFPs tend to be very flexible about understanding the perspective of others. It's just on things that are deemed "important" that the rigidity kicks in.

    So, I think checking in is probably about the most interaction we want in that state. Even if we are flailing around at that point, we usually are not receptive to advice (to make an understatement). Just being there and showing support can be very helpful.

    Anyway, I'm just one INFP, so hope others will chime in (even to disagree).

    [Update: What Biaxident and runvardh said about "just being there." ]

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    Paragon Gone Wrong Array OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Good stuff Seymour!

    Fidelia, the "cocooning" as you call it is pretty typical from what I see. I know that I have to withdraw to analyze how I feel. You introspect a lot as an INFP, and spend much time weighing out matters internally. The real world is just imagination fodder, and once you're saturated with ideas & info (easy to do), you have to be alone to process it all. Processing emotions takes time, and there can be a tendency to wallow, in the way you slow cook something to get more flavor out of it.

    There is also fantasy escapism as a part of this withdrawing, and in a weird, non-direct way it can help you deal with emotions, so that you become clear-headed again to deal with the real issue. This may often involve things which stir the imagination such as books, music, movies, etc. I used to take a walk at my job to clear my head when stressed or hitting a brick wall creatively. Just looking at the trees & sky and thinking about whatever would bring my internal state to a nice equilibrium. It's also a recharge from being around people.

    My internal process is to have a dialogue with myself where I ask a question and answer it in as many ways as I can think of. This "covering all ground", playing devil's advocate with yourself, and creating hypothetical situations where you play out possibilities is way of problem solving. Again, this is done rather indirectly, often in fantasy form.

    If I am in the middle of thinking, I may feel a bit annoyed to be interrupted. This is much more the case if I am also doing something creative. If I get pulled out of my "creative zone", then I don't know if/when I can crawl back in. It's also really easy to lose track of time, so checking in to remind me to eat or something is welcomed . I'm not really sure why someone would need or want to check-in otherwise. It's nice when people show concern or interest, but beyond listening to my venting, there's usually not much they can do. If I vent to you, feel privileged :P. If I ask for input, please avoid cliches & give me some thoughtful, non-obvious solutions. Often, I'm really only asking for confirmation of ideas, but tread carefully in critiquing them as they are often tied to values of some kind. Similar to an INTP, there's a theoretical model in your head of the world, but it's very idealistic, a lot of "shoulds" and "woulds" and "coulds" that are hard to define in words, as they are felt in some sort of vague atmospheric way, and yet they are very clear to yourself. Often times, making them clear to others is not easily done, and that's what can lead to defensiveness or being closed off. It can also feel like too much effort at the time to talk & think simultaneously.

    Sorry, I started rambling...I don't even know where I'm at now .
    "Charlotte sometimes dreams a wall around herself. But it's always with love - So much love it looks like everything else. Charlotte Sometimes - So far away, glass sealed and pretty." - The Cure

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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    Can you comment on the tendancy to cocoon when you guys need to sort something out of think it over? What are you doing during that process (when to the outside it may look like reading, playing video games, smoking etc)? How do you go about solving the problem at hand? (I've heard some INFPs say that they have to complete tear down the existing stuff and start from scratch) Do you want people to leave you alone, or respectfully check in on you now and again?
    I'm not sure if this is the 'INFP' perspective, but I'll give it a shot, IME:

    It's very easyfor an INFP to get lost in fantasy whether it's part of a video game, written in a book, or just plain self created, we have to think about the issue, but we have to either numb it, or live through it in our heads so we can get rid of the Fi 'emotionality' as much as we possibly can before we can come up with what we might see as a more rational decision.

    This is where some of us may appear a little INTPish if we've gone a little numb, and others might get moody and over emotional at anything...As for people being around, we probably won't thank you for it at the time, but you might find we need a very gentle push towards reality to get us on track
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    Paragon Gone Wrong Array OrangeAppled's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    [*] Fi processes things partially unconsciously (I think Jung described it as the function closest to the unconscious). I find that I do better if I let things "percolate" in the background, rather than trying to immediately attack a problem full-force consciously. Low level distraction sometimes helps the percolation process.
    I like the "percolation" metaphor. I was trying to hit on that background, indirect mindset when it comes to solving a problem by emphasizing we use fantasy a lot which seems like escapism, but is not entirely.

    So, I think checking in is probably about the most interaction we want in that state. Even if we are flailing around at that point, we usually are not receptive to advice (to make an understatement). Just being there and showing support can be very helpful.
    Yes, advice can feel patronizing, it can reinforce feelings of helplessness (ie, you can't solve your own problems), and it often just plain misses the point. If I want help, it's often to calm the emotional feeling because I know what to do after that.
    "Charlotte sometimes dreams a wall around herself. But it's always with love - So much love it looks like everything else. Charlotte Sometimes - So far away, glass sealed and pretty." - The Cure

    INFP | 4w5 sp/sx - 451| RLUEI - Primary Inquisitive

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    にゃん Array runvardh's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, it's probably a good idea to find out if we're actually thinking or just spacing. If I'm on a video game and my SO wants attention, I can put the video game away. If I'm finishing off e-mails and my SO wants attention, it's best she say so then let me finish the e-mails so that it's done and over with and not on my mind.
    Dreams are best served manifest and tangible.

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    I accept no responsibility, what so ever, for the fact that I exist; I do, however, accept full responsibility for what I do while I exist.


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    Quote Originally Posted by runvardh View Post
    Oh yeah, it's probably a good idea to find out if we're actually thinking or just spacing. If I'm on a video game and my SO wants attention, I can put the video game away. If I'm finishing off e-mails and my SO wants attention, it's best she say so then let me finish the e-mails so that it's done and over with and not on my mind.
    Seconded

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