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  1. #1
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Default The INFJ resilient/laid back/accept everything myth (?) and its effect...

    Warning: some bitterness and moaning coming up

    I sometimes feel as though showing a calm exterior, seeming competence, apparent laid-backness, etc - all of which I partly attribute to being INFJ - can have some unpleasant consequences.

    For want of a better way to put it - because I tend to come across with the above, I feel that I sometimes (often?) get taken advantage of or overlooked, or people assume I'm ok. People tend to think that I'm pretty tough, I'm happy with most situations, I can accept most of what is dished out to me, I don't care if others control the situation entirely even if it is unfair and to my disadvantage...and so on. And for a lot of things, that is probably true.

    But - I can become resentful when I see people who come across as difficult, drama-prone, high-maintenance, highly touchy, etc, get a lot more help and attention. With the exception of some discerning close friends who may notice all is not well with me, or with whom I feel comfortable talking about it, it seems as though with others I'd have to fall down on the floor bleeding and screaming before they'd be concerned or think that maybe I'm not quite as tough as I look.

    It occasionally make me want to have some sort of crisis just to see if I'd have people flocking around me. But I don't think it's in the INFJ nature - certainly not in mine - to throw a hissy fit or to generate drama to get attention...but is that what it takes?

    Incidents or comments come to mind like:

    -people assuming that "laid back" (which I genuinely am about a lot of things, and which people generally like) also means "doesn't care" or "lacking passion" (though really that would just go to show how little someone knows me);
    -my ex-boyfriend telling me when he broke up with me that he was sure we could be friends again because I was soooo special and unique and he was sure I was capable of it (so I was supposed to accommodate to what he wanted out of the situation, ie. be friends with him on his terms but not be the girlfriend any more - this after telling me repeatedly that I hadn't made him as happy as his ex had done);
    -men frequently not being interested because I look "together" (translation, I don't need them? One assumes so when they then choose partners with a great many issues)
    -"friends" assuming that they can call on me for practical favours, for free therapy, sucking me dry emotionally etc, but not being willing to put themselves out there for me, or even to include me in their social lives;

    Etc. I have also been thinking about my INFJ friend in Japan. She is Canadian but is married to a Japanese guy and has lived there for several years. THey are well away from the earthquake area but I worry about her. She certainly has friends whose friends and family are affected. She really, really takes things on board emotionally and is feeling quite exhausted, I know. She has said in the past that she gets told how "strong" she is and how "outgoing" and that this can be frustrating because the reality is somewhat different. Not that those things are totally untrue, but the interior is more sensitive, fragile, emotionally suggestible, easily hurt etc. In fact, when I visited them a few months ago I was sad and concerned to hear that the previous winter she'd obviously been suffering quite badly from depression and virtually no one knew about it, and she felt like she couldn't talk to her husband about it because he wouldn't understand.

    It just ends up feeling like, people will compliment you for being laid back, strong, resilient, adaptable, etc etc but what are the actual advantages? It just seems to be assumed that you will accept whatever is handed to you, however YOU may feel about it, and you won't get checked up on much.

    Anyone else hear me on all this? Are there solutions - to ward off these situations and perceptions, or to reduce resentment?
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  2. #2
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    I hear you on all of the things you've mentioned. I haven't found any answers to that, though. I'm working on this myself, too.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Virulence's Avatar
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    I think it feels safer to not disclose a lot of those unpleasant things people can feel. Given the choice between "Ugh this sucks but if I put on a happy mask everyone will think it's okay" and "Ugh this sucks I'm going to talk to this person about it... goddamn it they didn't get it at all and now I'm frustrated with them on top of this other stuff that I was worried about in the first place" I think most people would naturally gravitate toward the first option.

    I find that being direct and honest from the start is the best thing to do. I have to try really hard to make sure people DON'T develop unrealistic expectations of me. Much easier said than done. I try, but I struggle with this frequently.

    The worst thing for me is that... At my very best, I process what I do on an emotional, instinctive level. Everything comes naturally - it's like I'm inspired, musestruck, 'in the zone,' 'on fire'... It's really hard to describe. But, it happens in bursts, and I can never, ever stay at that level for a sustained long period of time, nor can I really force myself into it. I rise, I fall, and in periods where that mindset sticks around for days or weeks at a time, there's always a really nasty crash and burnout when it ends.

    The problem is that other people don't always see that. They see the absolute pinnacle of my performance, and they start to think that that's just how I always am, and when I'm not there's just no way for me to meet those really high standards. I can't explain that oscillation very well, if at all, to people that don't experience it themselves, and I'm not sure if there's any way for people to understand it if they don't.
    I believe in make believe.

  4. #4
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virulence View Post
    I think it feels safer to not disclose a lot of those unpleasant things people can feel. Given the choice between "Ugh this sucks but if I put on a happy mask everyone will think it's okay" and "Ugh this sucks I'm going to talk to this person about it... goddamn it they didn't get it at all and now I'm frustrated with them on top of this other stuff that I was worried about in the first place" I think most people would naturally gravitate toward the first option.

    I find that being direct and honest from the start is the best thing to do. I have to try really hard to make sure people DON'T develop unrealistic expectations of me. Much easier said than done. I try, but I struggle with this frequently.

    The worst thing for me is that... At my very best, I process what I do on an emotional, instinctive level. Everything comes naturally - it's like I'm inspired, musestruck, 'in the zone,' 'on fire'... It's really hard to describe. But, it happens in bursts, and I can never, ever stay at that level for a sustained long period of time, nor can I really force myself into it. I rise, I fall, and in periods where that mindset sticks around for days or weeks at a time, there's always a really nasty crash and burnout when it ends.

    The problem is that other people don't always see that. They see the absolute pinnacle of my performance, and they start to think that that's just how I always am, and when I'm not there's just no way for me to meet those really high standards. I can't explain that oscillation very well, if at all, to people that don't experience it themselves, and I'm not sure if there's any way for people to understand it if they don't.
    It is kind of good to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this stuff. Thanks people

    Virulence, I hear you on so much of this. I agree that it is good if from the start you can sort of warn people to not have unrealistic expectations. It is tricky though. In most cases you can't really go to people and say "I may genuinely be quite strong and competent a lot of the time, but you'd better not place too much on me, or I'm going to crash." I think as with many other INFJ issues it is partly a case of being more direct about expressing your needs, setting boundaries, saying no etc instead of trying to be gentle and smiling and accommodating all the time.

    And I COMPLETELY hear you about processing on an emotional level - and having almost a high of productivity, strength etc for some time (my last one lasted for several months) but then having a nasty crash and burnout. Exactly. The crash/burnout is often precipitated by something like an emotional shock or letdown, but even without that I think it can just be kind of cyclical, like I've been feeling too good or doing too much or trying to be too supportive to others, for too long.

    I'm not one to inflict my emotional states on others either, not usually, unless I really trust them and feel close to them, and/or think it's really necessary. I guess that's Fe, I hate to burden people, if I have a crying fit or something in front of someone - even a good friend - one of the first things I will probably say when I start to compose myself is "sorry". So most people don't see a great deal of the crash. What they will see is less of me...I will be less able to keep commitments and I will fulfill a minimum of responsibilities. I might call in sick to work more than I should, miss other things I'm normally regular at, spend a whole day or two or three at home on the weekend or having called in sick, barely able to get out of bed, wash, feed myself etc. But I probably wouldn't tell anyone, or hardly anyone that it's that bad.

    Unfortunately I do think a lot of people are quite happy to be selfish and exploit you for what you can do for them - in my case, that's particularly the case emotionally. And I resent it when I realise that someone's been sucking me dry without thinking of the effect it has on me. Or that a guy has been getting girlfriend benefits from me (emotionally!) but then goes off with someone else without realising, or else caring, that I was giving him girlfriend benefits partly because I actually liked him a lot. Etc.

    In terms of the resentment, sometimes the phrase "no good deed goes unpunished" goes through my head. I know virtue is supposed to be its own reward, etc. But you can end up resentful when you see others who are happy to generate non-stop drama, wreak havoc on others with their emotional states, and so forth, and they have people concerned about them all the time, men flocking to their sides (if they're female!), and so on. While you get burdened with more stuff which is actually just a big drain on you, because you're "strong" and "resilient" and you can "take it."
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  5. #5
    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post

    For want of a better way to put it - because I tend to come across with the above, I feel that I sometimes (often?) get taken advantage of or overlooked, or people assume I'm ok. People tend to think that I'm pretty tough, I'm happy with most situations, I can accept most of what is dished out to me, I don't care if others control the situation entirely even if it is unfair and to my disadvantage...and so on. And for a lot of things, that is probably true.

    But - I can become resentful when I see people who come across as difficult, drama-prone, high-maintenance, highly touchy, etc, get a lot more help and attention. With the exception of some discerning close friends who may notice all is not well with me, or with whom I feel comfortable talking about it, it seems as though with others I'd have to fall down on the floor bleeding and screaming before they'd be concerned or think that maybe I'm not quite as tough as I look.

    It occasionally make me want to have some sort of crisis just to see if I'd have people flocking around me. But I don't think it's in the INFJ nature - certainly not in mine - to throw a hissy fit or to generate drama to get attention...but is that what it takes?

    I'm not an NF but I'm married to one and this was an occasional complaint of his at one time. He would say he felt under appreciated, that people only wanted something from him, he felt taken advantage of. I would often point out, at the time, that he was allowing it. This happened less at work but still, there were people who would drop things in his lap. I realize that's part of his position but there were times in the past this made him into a walking zombie. The other part was family related and years of his ex-wife not giving a shit about....well anyone but herself and the needs of his kids, for whom he did the vast majority of parenting. He would also say things like you are saying - do I have to be barfing up a lung for people to see that I'm sick?

    Incidents or comments come to mind like:

    -people assuming that "laid back" (which I genuinely am about a lot of things, and which people generally like) also means "doesn't care" or "lacking passion" (though really that would just go to show how little someone knows me);
    Do these people matter in your life? So someone observed this and think you lack passion? And? Show them something you are passionate about. I know my ENFJ and would never say he lacks passion in the areas he's clearly passionate about, neither would anyone close to him.

    -my ex-boyfriend telling me when he broke up with me that he was sure we could be friends again because I was soooo special and unique and he was sure I was capable of it (so I was supposed to accommodate to what he wanted out of the situation, ie. be friends with him on his terms but not be the girlfriend any more - this after telling me repeatedly that I hadn't made him as happy as his ex had done);
    Clearly he assumed you were a doormat at some point and continued to treat you like one. What did you do to foster this idea in his head? Not saying he isn't a dick, I'm just saying there is a reason he felt he could treat you like nothing and a reason why you allowed it in the first place.

    -men frequently not being interested because I look "together" (translation, I don't need them? One assumes so when they then choose partners with a great many issues)
    They want a project person; they want to be someone's savior. That's them. Tell them that instead of being quietly offended.

    -"friends" assuming that they can call on me for practical favours, for free therapy, sucking me dry emotionally etc, but not being willing to put themselves out there for me, or even to include me in their social lives;
    Oh I loooooove this one. These are not friends. They should be told they are not friends and exactly why. And don't do practical favors, free therapy or allow emotional vampires to suck you dry. This is 100% in your control.

    It just ends up feeling like, people will compliment you for being laid back, strong, resilient, adaptable, etc etc but what are the actual advantages? It just seems to be assumed that you will accept whatever is handed to you, however YOU may feel about it, and you won't get checked up on much.
    Nope, you won't. Unless you actually put yourself first and not just in your own mind. I remember a very emotionally charged conversation with my ENFJ about this type of thing and him saying - what if I don't want to change who I am? What if I like it? I said - you like being a doormat and having shit wiped on you? Then what are you bitching about? You are getting exactly what you want. People treat you exactly the way you allow them to treat you.

    After that, he made some huge changes. Work issues that he previously had were nipped in the bud before they became problems. Ex-wife, yeah we got physical custody of the kids so she is a non-issue and has visitation with them, which is fairly minimal in the big picture and they are better for it. Kids still have needs but he has me and isn't doing 100% of the parenting anymore.

    You must be proactive with your own needs, you must express them to the people who matter. Learn to say no. Learn to be your own advocate. The people around you either get in step with that or be gone.
    I like to rock n' roll all night and *part* of every day. I usually have errands... I can only rock from like 1-3.

  6. #6
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    I have a feeling, due to our giving nature, it might probably work if we choose to be a Life Coach as a profession. People need to pay us money to allow us to help them. Just an idea.

    I have several friends who I have had distanced myself from. They're nice people, really. They're energy vampires without realising it. It feels very tough for me to handle this, currently. We have sooo many interests that I'm so used to choose them to share the activities with and it feels odd when it is no longer the option for me to be around them. I feel like I'm in some kind of limbo. It is also making it tough for me to make new friends. It'll be nice to be able to share the same interests with anyone who is open to have me sharing with them as long as they can see pass through that 'stoic' front I subconsciously do. This is something I'm going through. I feel tired...so close to exhaustion.



    I'd really love to 'cough up a lung' or 'cry like a baby' infront of everyone to tell them I'm not feeling okay but seriously....I have to be THAT dramatic?

  7. #7
    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ilovelurking View Post

    I'd really love to 'cough up a lung' or 'cry like a baby' infront of everyone to tell them I'm not feeling okay but seriously....I have to be THAT dramatic?
    No but there are people who do see the signs and do care about how you feel, mentally and physically. If I see my ENFJ rubbing the bridge of his nose or if he says - I'm going to lay down awhile - I handle the kids and everything else while he does it. But...BUT...if something is going on and he shows no outward signs of distress, he needs to take that step and say I'm worn out/stressed out/really down/etc and I need XYZ. I can't read his mind completely, as much as I'd like to. I will solve the problem but I need to know it's there too. We aren't the most perceptive of the types so, help us out.
    I like to rock n' roll all night and *part* of every day. I usually have errands... I can only rock from like 1-3.

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    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    ceecee - I really agree with you here. One of the biggest things I've learned about myself through the years is that you teach people how to treat you by the way that you value your time or by what you accept from them. I've realized that some of the natural ways I have of responding to people can either attract those who are needy or those who won't value the efforts being made for them. I've had to learn to prioritize, rather than only responding to the most demanding person in the lineup, to say no sometimes and realized that you can be quite pleasant while still defending your boundaries. That allows you to have enough resources to take care of your own needs and the needs of those in your care, and even a little bit more for those who genuinely need and will value the help you can give. I believe the NFJs generally sometimes have difficulties with drawing hard and fast lines for others (plus we always see exceptions to the rules we make for ourselves), so it is something that requires a little bit of self-scripting so that when an unreasonable request is made, we have already thought out how we can respond appropriately.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ceecee View Post
    No but there are people who do see the signs and do care about how you feel, mentally and physically. If I see my ENFJ rubbing the bridge of his nose or if he says - I'm going to lay down awhile - I handle the kids and everything else while he does it. But...BUT...if something is going on and he shows no outward signs of distress, he needs to take that step and say I'm worn out/stressed out/really down/etc and I need XYZ. I can't read his mind completely, as much as I'd like to. I will solve the problem but I need to know it's there too. We aren't the most perceptive of the types so, help us out.
    Good call.

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    Senior Member mochajava's Avatar
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    ceeceeOh I loooooove this one. These are not friends. They should be told they are not friends and exactly why. And don't do practical favors, free therapy or allow emotional vampires to suck you dry. This is 100% in your control.
    What if these people are your family? Seriously, teach me -- I am 100% willing to learn, but I don't have the skills yet to figure this one out. Most of the less-close-to-me-people like this I've asked favors from, and then they complain or fail to deliver, and then the relationship ends because it was never mutual in the first place. I'm beginning to think that if I weren't an NF, the relationship would have just naturally fizzled out on its own.

    I guess saying "no" and learning how to do so without guilt is probably the advice you'd give me... I have started just avoiding people who ask me for favors. What if the only reason I don't want to do a favor is because I know they'd never do something for me? Is the appropriate response "no, and here's why?" (I always feel like I have to explain). Or is it, "No, too busy". Or just, "I'm sorry, I cannot do that." Maybe I'll try the latter... Is that what you do ceecee?

    ceecee: The people around you either get in step with that or be gone.
    Well, I have been doing this right (and great people come to fill their space! Or interesting / less close people, and therefore less problematic). Good to hear that this is a good thing, not me suddenly growing a bitter streak. I've REALLY been cleaning my closet out lately, if you will.

    fidelia: One of the biggest things I've learned about myself through the years is that you teach people how to treat you by the way that you value your time or by what you accept from them.
    Fidelia, you've said this several times in different places on the forum, and this has really resonated with me. How do you begin? I always get stuck and end up not asserting myself because I think I'm not doing it correctly or diplomatically enough.

    It takes some seriously egregious behavior to make me stand up for myself, mostly because I think I'm overreacting. That's not a good starting place for saying no.

    To silk -- in college, I had several younger friends who came to me for reassurance, help, support, etc. When my life basically fell apart 1.5 years ago, they were nowhere to be found (we don't talk anymore since our whole relationship was based on me being giving). People call me "happy all the time" even at some of my worst points. I wonder how they can be that dense, but, apparently, that's what's normal. Seeming "together". My GOODNESS I hear that all the time - I'm kind of enjoying how there's an advantage to that now, at least professionally, but there was a time when I was like... wondering how I could hurt so much, yet be so invisible (this is after the traumatic event/life falling apart bit).

    SilkRoad: "friends" assuming that they can call on me for practical favours, for free therapy, sucking me dry emotionally etc, but not being willing to put themselves out there for me, or even to include me in their social lives;
    This happened to me a lot in my graduate program. Really painful. I don't talk to many of these people anymore. If they ask for favors, I deliver what I can without hating them (e.g., "can you look at my resume and fix it for me? yours is great." "glad you liked mine, here's a link that I think would be very helpful to you") because there is no reason in the world that I should spend 30 minutes fixing that person's resume when I could spend those 30 minutes asleep, with my husband, reading the forum, whatever -- any number of better things.

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