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  1. #11
    Happy Dancer uumlau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    Well, I think I do anyway.

    It's something I tend to do when people are venting to me and I want to try to get them to think for themselves and to figure out what they need to do to change the situation. Apparently I can sound just like a therapist when I do this...
    It's how I identify xNFJs, especially those that seem very NTJ-ish. We'll be totally in the same intellectual space, but suddenly the topic becomes about how I think and my emotional state?!

    I think that sometimes when I am really interested in someone and probing for more information I can ask difficult/blunt questions as well. I once asked a guy I'd just started dating why our mutual friend had called his ex-girlfriend a bimbo. I recently said to someone else "You seem to be a bit into self-denial...are you sure you're not atoning for something?"
    Which might be a fair question, for someone who mostly thinks like you. Consider what your reaction might be to similar questions that assume that you ought to think like an INTJ.

    People usually tell me that they only found me scary when they first met me, which was probably mostly due to the six-foot-tall serious presence. Then they find me less serious and scary when they get to know me better. But I suspect that the difficult questions can be scary.
    No more scary than a 6-foot-2 INTJ death stare.

    I don't think people are scared of difficult questions, so much as your concept of what is a "difficult question" is so far off the mark that it isn't even worth explaining how/why the question is baseless. Oh, and such denials are met with the tautological response of telling your subject that he/she is "in denial."

    I have a weird feeling this is one reason I'm not very successful on the relationship front. I don't think most people want to be in a relationship with someone who asks difficult questions or, for that matter, tries to make them think for themselves.
    In my experience, most people do think for themselves. They just think differently than me, and I don't demand that they follow my thought patterns.

    All that said, I shoudn't be hypocritical - I can feel quite pressured when I occasionally get asked similarly tough questions.

    I suppose I tend to do this because I ask myself difficult questions. I don't see why others should be spared. I suspect this is an INFJ tendency. Wanting to peel away layers, wanting to help others look into themselves and find what's best for them? That sounds a bit sanctimonious...I don't know, what do others think?
    Don't make the (young) INTJ mistake, and assume that you're leading people to "the truth" or helping them to think for themselves. Really, it's just bullying unless you do it in a very loving, caring, considerate way. You don't lead people to the truth by telling them or hinting to them about how stupid and ignorant they are. Similarly, you don't teach others to become mature by pointing out how immature they are.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saturned View Post
    Bolded part, I disagree with. I think it is extremely important for a couple to ask the tougher questions of each other. You should both be pushing each other (delicately!) to be better people, to continue to grow, to not stagnate. I don't think I could be with someone very long if they wanted to just stick their heads in the sand and ignore difficulties. (I know that I usually WANT to stick my head in the sand myself , but I don't because I know it's not healthy.)
    ^^^ The bolded. THAT is how it should work. Saturned phrases it in an Fi way, but the best xNFJs I know do it the same way: they know when to back off, and when to (delicately!) nudge.
    An argument is two people sharing their ignorance.

    A discussion is two people sharing their understanding, even when they disagree.

  2. #12
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    IN terms of the questions I mentioned as examples: the first one, that was ten years ago, and I was probably a bit more INTJ then. The second one was recent, but it was someone who seemed to appreciate bluntness.

    Uumlau...what would you call a difficult question?

    It's not that I don't think people in relationships should ask difficult questions or be prepared to look at them; I just sincerely don't think most people like to be pushed or to examine themselves. Maybe it's cynical, but I haven't seen a great deal to contradict that. And I admitted that I can find it awkward to be asked questions requiring self-examination, myself. So from that perspective I can see how they feel. I tend to prefer affirmation, and I dare say many others do as well.

    It's just that if people choose to discuss certain things with me about their feelings or their experiences, I'm probably going to ask something a bit awkward at some point. It may be because they've talked to me at length about the same things over and over again, and I am frustrated and it seems to be going nowhere. It may also simply be an attempt to understand better what their experiences have been and where they're coming from. A lot of the time it tends to be "so, you said this is how you're feeling...is it anything to do with this, or is it something else? What do you think you might be able to do about it?"

    I don't think I've ever had anyone say "that's too personal" or "that's rude" or "what's your problem" or something like that. I have probably had "that's a weird question" quite a few times. But I have probably had some people open up to me more in the wake of such questions. So, it's not exactly that I get unpleasant or uncomfortable reactions on an obvious social level. It just makes me wonder how people perceive me. I don't think it's how a lot of people operate. And in terms of relationship potential, I just wonder if it's not how people operate generally. I did have a relationship with someone who basically told me straight out that he just wanted affirmation, but then again, he also told me basically straight out that he wanted a perfect relationship, so...

    People often seem quite happy to open up to me or they even push for it. Perhaps too much, as I realise increasingly that being cast in a therapist role is not a good idea (unless it's just occasionally, which is fine in a close friendship, relationship) as a general thing in any kind of relationship.
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  3. #13
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    I ask perplexing questions sometimes. I've wondered about my leanings for I can associate on some level between the variables.

  4. #14
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skylights View Post
    tbh, i actually have trouble getting along with INFJs IRL, you guys throw me for a loop... lol... (thank goodness for this site, because i have met so many wonderful INFJs who have helped me to see that we just tend to see things in different terms!) i think maybe your questioning tendency is part of it. part of the confusion on my end is that yall tend to be formal but personal at the same time... and usually fairly quiet and serious about yourselves... that's very opposite my own normal way of functioning, plus it's hard for me to know where i stand with you and what your intentions are... whether you're challenging me in a friendly way, or making a value judgment about me and trying to get me to "see the light". and Ni-language is sometimes hard for me... i know you have a point, but i don't know what it is yet, and it feels like it's being held over my head. it's the unidirectional counseling feeling - that we are very different entities on two separate levels and i am on a lower, less-informed one...



    this sounds very right and NFy to me, but i have to admit that there seems to be a sort of superior undertone - as you yourself said, sanctimonious - to the whole thing. i know for certain that my ENFJ friend gets a lot of pleasure out of observing people, especially in seeing how they react in particularly meaningful situations, and getting to interpret that, and to be very flat-out honest i know it's not always very altruistic. she knows too, lol. i most certainly believe you do it because you tend to question all things, including yourself, like that, and because you genuinely want to help others, but do you also feel any pleasure in observing others' reactions? it was fascinating for me to learn this with my friend. i am not like this... i don't get particular joy out of watching and analysing Fe things... so, interesting to me!

    anyway, in my relationship with my NFJ friend, i really appreciate that she'll ask hard questions that essentially call me out on my bullshit. i really benefit from someone like that - but i think often it only works because we have very similar values and worldviews, and because i really trust her. but also i see that "darker" side of her pleasure in observation come out sometimes... not so much with me anymore, but she definitely likes to mess with guys and test people. she can become an outsider in her own relationships in a lot of ways...

    so i figure what i'm trying to say is props to you for being willing to ask the difficult questions and get to the bottom of what things are and should be, but at the same time, i wonder if it would lessen the impact and perhaps increase the effectiveness for others (and perhaps help your relationships?) if you're willing to be patient and ease into it with them and open yourself up at the same time as well... to be more an equal partner and less a counselor. but that does expose you much more to the potential of being hurt...
    A lot of this rang true in some way, so thanks for that. I think your comment about INFJs seeming "formal but personal" at the same time is spot on. I am sure it is confusing, though I am not sure everyone would articulate it in the same way, but I think you have it pretty accurately.

    Yeah, I do like observing reactions in a way; though I don't think it involves playing games, where I'm concerned, or trying to mess with people's heads - I don't get off on that sort of thing at all. But I tend to have split reactions with people, in a way. I feel their emotions to an extent (often I think I genuinely do, sometimes I think I deceive myself into thinking I do), I feel for them over any pain they may be undergoing, I certainly want to help, but I'm also thinking "they're not at all self-aware - this is an interesting psychological study." That sort of thing. But maybe that's pretty common, I'm not sure.

    I think another definite INFJ tendency I have is to prefer to help other people with their feelings and their problems than to open up my own feelings and problems to their gaze and their assistance or possible judgment. I have done it a fair amount but I'm probably becoming more wary and selective about how I do it and with who. I do get hurt by misunderstanding and what I may consider false judgments, and I am more reticent because of that. LIke I said, I find it not too difficult to examine myself closely and even judge myself fairly strongly and pinpoint where I need to change, but I can find it quite unpleasant when others do the same to me - even if - perhaps especially if - they're right. Mea culpa!

    Well, one thing I do quite easily is to describe my past emotions and emotional reactions in a clear, straightforward, and revealing way. I'm probably more into self-disclosure that way than a lot of people, especially if I think they will find it useful or interesting. But if it's something difficult that I am currently going through, I am becoming more careful, because I know I can get hurt if I open up to someone and they misunderstand or judge me.

    By the way, it seems that no one noticed the winky face next to "I don't see why they should be spared."
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  5. #15
    Happy Dancer uumlau's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    Uumlau...what would you call a difficult question?
    "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

    I think there is a difference between Fe/Ti difficult questions and Te/Fi difficult questions. The Fe/Ti paradigm considers feelings and motives valid topics for open analysis (Fe), but actually telling someone what to think is actively rejected by Ti. Te/Fi reverses this: the direct/blunt speech you hear from Te is about what to do, how to do it, and to a degree how to think about things so as to clearly communicate ideas, while Fi actively rejects probing of feelings/motives. These aren't psychological weaknesses, but rather are differences of approach. Ti has to take time to think about things for oneself, and Fe-style probing doesn't seem to be rejected by Ti, because it discusses feelings/motives and doesn't direct thinking. Fi has to take time to really understand feelings, thus it will tend to reject the Fe probes, but totally accept Te directives/lessons, because they don't directly contradict the Fi core.

    So Fe/Ti style "difficult questions" aimed at a Te/Fi individual would tend to be met with resistance, even as others seem to appreciate the discussion/attention.

    It's not that I don't think people in relationships should ask difficult questions or be prepared to look at them; I just sincerely don't think most people like to be pushed or to examine themselves. Maybe it's cynical, but I haven't seen a great deal to contradict that.
    Key word: "pushed." Pushing is rude, and should only be applied in the event of an emergency. You "push" an alcoholic, for example, not someone who is simply young and inexperienced and still learning.


    And I admitted that I can find it awkward to be asked questions requiring self-examination, myself. So from that perspective I can see how they feel. I tend to prefer affirmation, and I dare say many others do as well.
    I don't give a rodent's rear end about affirmation. Affirmation and a Starbuck's gift card will buy me a decent latte. My issue with most probing questions is that the questioner is using himself as a reference point, and assumes that what is probing and insightful to him even begins to be meaningful to me.


    It's just that if people choose to discuss certain things with me about their feelings or their experiences, I'm probably going to ask something a bit awkward at some point. It may be because they've talked to me at length about the same things over and over again, and I am frustrated and it seems to be going nowhere. It may also simply be an attempt to understand better what their experiences have been and where they're coming from. A lot of the time it tends to be "so, you said this is how you're feeling...is it anything to do with this, or is it something else? What do you think you might be able to do about it?"
    Check out the (many) Fe/Fi threads on this forum. This is a classic Fe irritation with Fi. Fe tries to discern some kind of purpose from expressions of Fi, but the only purpose is the sharing: no list of action items is intended.


    People often seem quite happy to open up to me or they even push for it. Perhaps too much, as I realise increasingly that being cast in a therapist role is not a good idea (unless it's just occasionally, which is fine in a close friendship, relationship) as a general thing in any kind of relationship.
    You don't want to be in a therapist role at all. It is sometimes OK to be in a mentor role, but only if you really are that much more mature (a couple extra decades of real life experience).

    It's OK if people open up to you and ask for advice. Then your comments and insight are welcome. Just realize that most people think very differently from you (INFJs, like INTJs, are very rare), so you need to REALLY understand how they think, first, before you start providing advice, or just keep the advice/questions open-ended so as to allow them to think for themselves.
    An argument is two people sharing their ignorance.

    A discussion is two people sharing their understanding, even when they disagree.

  6. #16
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    I wrote this much (below) after reading the first half of the thread (had to stop and get these thoughts down before reading further), and it kinda coincides with what Uumlau said- but I’m going to go ahead and post it anyway. My point here is that I know some points have been touched on, but I’m feeling too lazy to go in and incorporate new quotes and point out how it mirrors things already posted.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I have a weird feeling this is one reason I'm not very successful on the relationship front. I don't think most people want to be in a relationship with someone who asks difficult questions or, for that matter, tries to make them think for themselves.
    While I think people do gravitate towards healthier influences and generally feel better about themselves when they do think for themselves- I think there are different thresholds, and generally very different ideas about what sorts of ‘thinking for oneself’ is productive vs. being just gratuitously theoretical. So I get the point that skylights and EJCC were trying to make, but at the same time- when I first read the above line in the op it made me laugh because it instantly brought to mind my first longterm boyfriend (from 17 yo to 20 yo) and the fact that he ultimately broke up with me for “meta-cognating”. Seriously, he kept using that word. He said I did way too much “thinking about thinking”, that it was like I was going through my mid-life crisis at the age of 19 and that I needed to enjoy life more. Something he didn’t get is that me “thinking about thinking” IS my way of enjoying life more. So while it’s true that people feel better when they ‘think for themselves’- that means people tapping into what it is they enjoy more themselves in a self-actualizing process and the specific thing that I happen to enjoy more looks like “too much thinking about thinking” from the standpoint of where most people end up in that process. I’ve heard that I need to “lighten up” from more people than I can count, and my reaction is something like “where’s the fun in that?”

    Dissecting motives and looking for underlying causes for things IS my idea of fun, but it weighs most people down. And I’m NOT saying this in some self-congratulatory way, it’s just as possible to take this sort of leisure activity to a gratuitous extreme as any other leisure activity- and tbh, I have little doubt that I do in fact take it to that extreme at times. My only point is that it’s MY idea of ‘fun’. And it DOES have the occasional frequent affect of weighing others down (seemingly ‘making things more complicated than they need to be’), simply because they’re inclined to place their priorities elsewhere.

    To the op- I think how ‘difficult’ a question may be is a relative condition. I may ask questions that seem difficult to others because it isn’t where their attention/focus is inclined to go. The most practical questions of everyday life are the ones that are most difficult for me to answer, and those are the ones most people might consider easy; e.g. calling the vet’s office to make an appt and getting asked “We’ve got a 9 am, 10:45 am or 2:30 pm- which works best for you?”
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  7. #17
    (blankpages) Xenon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post

    It's something I tend to do when people are venting to me and I want to try to get them to think for themselves and to figure out what they need to do to change the situation. Apparently I can sound just like a therapist when I do this...

    I think that sometimes when I am really interested in someone and probing for more information I can ask difficult/blunt questions as well. I once asked a guy I'd just started dating why our mutual friend had called his ex-girlfriend a bimbo. I recently said to someone else "You seem to be a bit into self-denial...are you sure you're not atoning for something?"

    I have a weird feeling this is one reason I'm not very successful on the relationship front. I don't think most people want to be in a relationship with someone who asks difficult questions or, for that matter, tries to make them think for themselves.

    I suppose I tend to do this because I ask myself difficult questions. I don't see why others should be spared. I suspect this is an INFJ tendency. Wanting to peel away layers, wanting to help others look into themselves and find what's best for them? That sounds a bit sanctimonious...I don't know, what do others think?
    I think what you're describing is a very valuable characteristic to have, so long as (a) You realize you don't know everything and are open to the idea that you might be mistaken about a person or situation, and (b) your relationships don't become too one-sided as a result.

    I agree that people are often resistant to, or uncomfortable with, examining certain things about themselves or their lives. So, sometimes they'll respond negatively to it. That doesn't mean people shouldn't do it at all. I guess it means use discretion, pay attention to how people are responding and back off if someone really doesn't seem to be up for it. It sounds like you have had some people who would actively seek out more of what you were giving them. As skylights said, some people do want friends who will nudge them into asking difficult questions of themselves, help them grain insight, etc. Even if that means it won't always be harmonious.

    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    I think another definite INFJ tendency I have is to prefer to help other people with their feelings and their problems than to open up my own feelings and problems to their gaze and their assistance or possible judgment. I have done it a fair amount but I'm probably becoming more wary and selective about how I do it and with who. I do get hurt by misunderstanding and what I may consider false judgments, and I am more reticent because of that. LIke I said, I find it not too difficult to examine myself closely and even judge myself fairly strongly and pinpoint where I need to change, but I can find it quite unpleasant when others do the same to me - even if - perhaps especially if - they're right. Mea culpa!
    Well...that might be the main problem: you end up talking about the other person's problems all the time without opening up about your own. I recently had a sort of online friendship with a woman I believe to be an INFJ, that had some of this dynamic. She was much older than me, but she considered me smart and insightful and we were on pretty equal terms at first. She'd often direct the conversation toward me and draw me out, and it worked at first, since I find myself so very fascinating. Eventually it started to feel awkward and lopsided, because we talked about me and my problems so much more than we talked about her. And I'm really not good at drawing people out and making them feel comfortable and stuff, so I felt pretty lost. I ended up disappearing on her, which I regret, but there was a point at which I was tired of feeling self-centered and whiny and not giving anything back, and I just didn't know how to change things.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    I wrote this much (below) after reading the first half of the thread (had to stop and get these thoughts down before reading further), and it kinda coincides with what Uumlau said- but I’m going to go ahead and post it anyway. My point here is that I know some points have been touched on, but I’m feeling too lazy to go in and incorporate new quotes and point out how it mirrors things already posted.



    While I think people do gravitate towards healthier influences and generally feel better about themselves when they do think for themselves- I think there are different thresholds, and generally very different ideas about what sorts of ‘thinking for oneself’ is productive vs. being just gratuitously theoretical. So I get the point that skylights and EJCC were trying to make, but at the same time- when I first read the above line in the op it made me laugh because it instantly brought to mind my first longterm boyfriend (from 17 yo to 20 yo) and the fact that he ultimately broke up with me for “meta-cognating”. Seriously, he kept using that word. He said I did way too much “thinking about thinking”, that it was like I was going through my mid-life crisis at the age of 19 and that I needed to enjoy life more. Something he didn’t get is that me “thinking about thinking” IS my way of enjoying life more. So while it’s true that people feel better when they ‘think for themselves’- that means people tapping into what it is they enjoy more themselves in a self-actualizing process and the specific thing that I happen to enjoy more looks like “too much thinking about thinking” from the standpoint of where most people end up in that process. I’ve heard that I need to “lighten up” from more people than I can count, and my reaction is something like “where’s the fun in that?”

    Dissecting motives and looking for underlying causes for things IS my idea of fun, but it weighs most people down. And I’m NOT saying this in some self-congratulatory way, it’s just as possible to take this sort of leisure activity to a gratuitous extreme as any other leisure activity- and tbh, I have little doubt that I do in fact take it to that extreme at times. My only point is that it’s MY idea of ‘fun’. And it DOES have the occasional frequent affect of weighing others down (seemingly ‘making things more complicated than they need to be’), simply because they’re inclined to place their priorities elsewhere.

    To the op- I think how ‘difficult’ a question may be is a relative condition. I may ask questions that seem difficult to others because it isn’t where their attention/focus is inclined to go. The most practical questions of everyday life are the ones that are most difficult for me to answer, and those are the ones most people might consider easy; e.g. calling the vet’s office to make an appt and getting asked “We’ve got a 9 am, 10:45 am or 2:30 pm- which works best for you?”
    Yes, to all of this. I may ask my closest and dearest friends difficult questions but on the whole, I just want them to better understand themselves and in the process, I may learn something too. Also, I'll only ask if I feel it will help them. If I have a thought about their situation, I try to present options and always let them know that I'm not judging them in any way. Life can very confusing sometimes and there's no easy road, at least one that's not obvious or doesn't require some time to find.

  9. #19
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    I appreciate your posts Silkroad - you say what's on your mind without trying to phrase it differently than you think it. Perhaps you might feel a little exposed afterwards, doing so, but it's pretty refreshing.

    I do have a few things I would like to share with you regarding them, if that's OK. If I say anything in a forthright Te kind of way, and you find it a bit offensive, I do apologize for that. It's my own lens that is rather hard to fully dispense of in my writing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    It's something I tend to do when people are venting to me and I want to try to get them to think for themselves and to figure out what they need to do to change the situation. Apparently I can sound just like a therapist when I do this...
    Therapy seldom involves trying to get people to think for themselves ... it involves opening them to a truth they often already know, but are blind to for any number of reasons. You don't go to therapy and the therapist holds all the answers after listening to you talk for a few sessions. They're not you, and are hopefully wise enough to recognize that their answer may not be your ideal solution. Being a therapist is more like being a guide to a process, and yes, it can sometimes involve questions at the right time, but it's more about listening and guiding. Helping people see themselves clearly in the mirror rather than prying their eyes open to your own reflection.

    The quote above is a very wise way of saying this, I think.


    I think that sometimes when I am really interested in someone and probing for more information I can ask difficult/blunt questions as well. I once asked a guy I'd just started dating why our mutual friend had called his ex-girlfriend a bimbo. I recently said to someone else "You seem to be a bit into self-denial...are you sure you're not atoning for something?"
    I think your interest in others is fabulous - yet your questions would be pretty offensive to a lot of ears ... intrusive actually, and there are so many more subtle ways to get to the same truth. Your use of the questions is not necessarily wrong, in the right context, but your confidence level should already be very, very high if you are going to use that kind of tactic to verify a truth that you suspect.

    I would also suspect that people start to avoid being around you when you are this forward. More on that below ...


    People usually tell me that they only found me scary when they first met me, which was probably mostly due to the six-foot-tall serious presence. Then they find me less serious and scary when they get to know me better. But I suspect that the difficult questions can be scary.
    The difficult questions, as you call them, are actually rude questions. And sympathetically, I can be blunt at times myself, and know I am not exempt from the same protocols. If I am going to be blunt though, it's generally only after gentle probing yields nothing to reveal the obvious truth I sense AND even so, I am aware I ride the very fine line between blunt and rude in doing so. Perhaps it might be helpful considering this before you pursue your line of questioning. And, even if in the moment you don't alienate your conversation partner, you may find they drift off over time. It's a one-sided relationship and the power balance is off.


    I have a weird feeling this is one reason I'm not very successful on the relationship front. I don't think most people want to be in a relationship with someone who asks difficult questions or, for that matter, tries to make them think for themselves.
    An aside in the middle of the post: you have mentioned this phrase "think for themselves" a few times now. I am very curious as to what you mean exactly by that? Do you mean solve their own problems? Or examine their problems?


    I suppose I tend to do this because I ask myself difficult questions. I don't see why others should be spared. I suspect this is an INFJ tendency. Wanting to peel away layers, wanting to help others look into themselves and find what's best for them? That sounds a bit sanctimonious...I don't know, what do others think?
    You have hit the nail on the head yourself here - it is sanctimonious; it presumes you know what's better for them than they do for themselves. Your own lens distorts your ability to truly help them discover this. You believe you can insert yourself into their shoes, that your "read" on them is accurate and that your life experience and knowledge is sufficient to tell them how to "fix" things. It probably isn't most of the time. BUT, if you can help them find their own answers, what a wonderful gift you can impart! It involves specifically NOT telling them what you think. Even if their conclusions end up eventually similar to your own, it's the difference between telling a person how to fish vs showing them how. A person can never truly own what they did not participate in obtaining.

    And you need to avoid any ego gratification you receive in that whole process too - so what if people come to the same truth you already knew? You can be happy in your heart that you helped guide them to it and they had no clue how instrumental you were in the process. And a few wise ones, they'll know what you've done for them and will be so grateful for your gentle guidance.


    It's not that I don't think people in relationships should ask difficult questions or be prepared to look at them; I just sincerely don't think most people like to be pushed or to examine themselves. Maybe it's cynical, but I haven't seen a great deal to contradict that. And I admitted that I can find it awkward to be asked questions requiring self-examination, myself. So from that perspective I can see how they feel. I tend to prefer affirmation, and I dare say many others do as well.
    I do believe the operative word here is pushed ... am interested to know why you place yourself in that role? Why do you need to place yourself there? Your own lens, again, distorts your view. We all have a lens, of course - but the Ni lens in particular lends you this weakness in believing that you are right, your conclusions are right, and everyone else is either blind or in denial. This is naturally untrue, and I realize saying so bluntly may push on your Ti, but you have come to an erroneous conclusion here. You may find it helpful to formulate a world view, a paradigm, that has a built-in factor to accept a truth of others that you may never truly see or understand. But is no less real.


    It's just that if people choose to discuss certain things with me about their feelings or their experiences, I'm probably going to ask something a bit awkward at some point. It may be because they've talked to me at length about the same things over and over again, and I am frustrated and it seems to be going nowhere. It may also simply be an attempt to understand better what their experiences have been and where they're coming from. A lot of the time it tends to be "so, you said this is how you're feeling...is it anything to do with this, or is it something else? What do you think you might be able to do about it?"
    Many people do not use their emotions in the same way as you. uumlau has illustrated two vantage points quite well here. Personally, if I were to share how I feel with you, it would have absolutely nothing to do with a.) you helping me find an answer to how I am feeling or b.) trying to influence you in any way with my emotional state. Try to remember that when people are blabbing on about how they feel. To presume they are looking for an answer is just that, presumptuous. And if you grow weary of people bending your sympathetic ear, you need to either extricate yourself gently or guide them gently to find their truth.


    I don't think I've ever had anyone say "that's too personal" or "that's rude" or "what's your problem" or something like that. I have probably had "that's a weird question" quite a few times.
    To respond that way to any of your blunt questions would feel rude to me. I could be that forward to a telemarketer maybe. If someone says you've asked a weird question, it is probably because you have made them feel very uncomfortable or even somewhat offended, but don't want to be as equally blunt back to you.


    But I have probably had some people open up to me more in the wake of such questions. So, it's not exactly that I get unpleasant or uncomfortable reactions on an obvious social level. It just makes me wonder how people perceive me. I don't think it's how a lot of people operate. And in terms of relationship potential, I just wonder if it's not how people operate generally. I did have a relationship with someone who basically told me straight out that he just wanted affirmation, but then again, he also told me basically straight out that he wanted a perfect relationship, so...
    I personally would avoid you. No offense, but anyone who tries to get up in my grill and read me, watch me with intent on drawing conclusions about me, I just shut them out. With my mental mind ray powers.

    If someone says they want affirmation, just a listening ear, why do you feel a need to scrutinize beyond that? No one is explicitly asking you to fix their problems. And I know, Te and Fe both have a hard, hard time not believing they are right and have the "best" answers to share. And maybe you do. But unless you ask to offer advice and are welcomed in doing so, you do run the risk of alienating or offending others.

    It is just what it is.


    People often seem quite happy to open up to me or they even push for it. Perhaps too much, as I realise increasingly that being cast in a therapist role is not a good idea (unless it's just occasionally, which is fine in a close friendship, relationship) as a general thing in any kind of relationship.
    My advice, again, would be just don't go there unless invited. It can be as simple as that.


    Quote Originally Posted by SilkRoad View Post
    Yeah, I do like observing reactions in a way; though I don't think it involves playing games, where I'm concerned, or trying to mess with people's heads - I don't get off on that sort of thing at all. But I tend to have split reactions with people, in a way. I feel their emotions to an extent (often I think I genuinely do, sometimes I think I deceive myself into thinking I do), I feel for them over any pain they may be undergoing, I certainly want to help, but I'm also thinking "they're not at all self-aware - this is an interesting psychological study." That sort of thing. But maybe that's pretty common, I'm not sure.
    Well, a lot of people aren't self-aware, in the least. That is a fact. BUT, you're not elected, appointed or responsible in any way to make them so. Your judgements will be unwelcome in a wide array of venues. And I know you enjoy observing, but you can easily be "read" when you are in this state and this is exactly what I mean when I say I would block that level of presumption OUT.


    I think another definite INFJ tendency I have is to prefer to help other people with their feelings and their problems than to open up my own feelings and problems to their gaze and their assistance or possible judgment. I have done it a fair amount but I'm probably becoming more wary and selective about how I do it and with who. I do get hurt by misunderstanding and what I may consider false judgments, and I am more reticent because of that. LIke I said, I find it not too difficult to examine myself closely and even judge myself fairly strongly and pinpoint where I need to change, but I can find it quite unpleasant when others do the same to me - even if - perhaps especially if - they're right. Mea culpa!
    I call this the desire for control in a relationship and also this contains a wee bit of hypocrisy - I am sure you can see that. You want to be on a higher plane, and believe yourself to be on that plane even. It is a safer place to reside and I totally get that. And by all means, you have every right to be who you are, but in doing so, you just need to realize that to many eyes, you are being judgmental. This also ties into what I said above about the power imbalance. People feel like you want to have the power, to hold the trump card. People can sense this kind of stuff.

    Your awareness will be what makes the difference. You have a tremendous gift, and if you can avoid presumption, it can help so many people, including yourself.

    -----


    Again, if I have used any Te phrasing that grates on Ti ears, I sincerely apologize. I hope you can hear what I have said without reading in any negative intentions on my part, as there are none, and I have attached no emotions (aside from a desire to be helpful and enlightening) to what I have written.

    Sending .
    "Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one."
    Eleanor Roosevelt


    "When people see some things as beautiful,
    other things become ugly.
    When people see some things as good,
    other things become bad."
    Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  10. #20
    Lay the coin on my tongue SilkRoad's Avatar
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    ^PB - thanks for the post - I appreciate much of what you had to say.

    You asked about "think for themselves." Again, sorry if this sounds sanctimonious, but I think many people would prefer to hand that responsibility to someone else. Perhaps "think for themselves" is not what I'm getting at - more like "take responsibility." Sure, we all need to vent sometimes and just have a listening ear. But I've had people tell me all about their issues, how they feel others are mistreating them or letting them down, how their life is a big disappointment, etc etc and it seems almost as though they just want an enabler or someone who will be a dumping ground while they refresh themselves and then they go off and resume their former patterns of behaviour - and if they changed those patterns a bit, things could improve, but they don't seem to want to. (And by "change those patterns a bit", I genuinely don't mean "do everything the way I tell them to." I mean basic principles like friendship being a two-way street, and taking more of a genuine interest in others.) I don't know if this qualifies as "difficult question" but I've had people tell me all about how they don't have true friends and no one sticks by them. And I've asked (only after this kind of venting has gone on for quite a while): "do you think YOU could have done something to improve your friendships or work more at them?" And they've kind of hesitated, then said yes...

    I should probably clarify something though: in terms of people avoiding me, or similar behaviour, due to questions I've asked - that would be very unusual, and in fact, I'm not sure it's ever happened or seldom. In fact, I can think of plenty of examples where I've asked people somewhat direct, blunt, or awkward questions, and they've not only answered, but come back for more. They've often gone on to open up to me further or ask for advice. In addition, I've often been told that I'm very tactful as a rule, so I don't think that's a general problem for me. If anything I tend to get told that I'm too indirect and polite (overall) than too direct. (Of course, people do then get more shocked than they otherwise would when I go blunt on them.) Mind you, I wouldn't deny that I've been accused a few times of placing myself on a higher level or being judgmental - as you suggested. And that is something to watch for. But literally, it has only happened a few times. However, the power imbalance thing you mentioned is really interesting and I had not thought about it like that before. I want to give that some more thought as I think it's a good point.

    I think what I'm getting at more is that I wonder if people sometimes start to perceive me more as a therapist than either a) a friend or b) a potential romantic partner (if it's someone of the opposite sex and we might be interested in each other.) And I wonder if the questions I ask have something to do with that. I sometimes feel almost as though I end up helping people to work things through, but then they turn to others when they want to socialize, or when they want a relationship. For instance, that guy who I said "your friend told me your ex was a bimbo, so what's that about?". He told me all about it. In detail. And agreed with the assessment. We only went out for a couple of months and later he got back together with the "bimbo" ex. When he told me about it by email - they actually got engaged - he said "you've been such a good friend to me, I wanted you to hear about it from me first." (I didn't make any more comments, just congratulated him - despite him calling me a good friend, we really didn't know each other that well and I didn't think there was any point in saying much, although he had told me in detail how she'd screwed him over. Didn't work out either when they got back together, but that's another story.) Now, I probably wouldn't do that now - like I said, this was ten years ago and I had less social skills. But while he seemed a bit surprised, he certainly wasn't resistant to telling me. I can think of others who have seemed to want to associate with me when they need a "therapy" session but for socializing they turn to others. Fortunately, I have friends who I can discuss emotional matters (as a two-way street) with but who are also happy to do something fun with me.

    Honestly, in most cases my questions are more of the "so, you've told me about this. What are you thinking of doing about it?" variety. I think a couple of you have taken my "pushed" comment a little too literally. I could also have said "coaxed" or "nudged" or "given an indication" or something like that. Perhaps I only really "push" if the person has been going on and on to me about their problems - in some case for years - and they don't seem to want to change the situation. But it's true, I don't necessarily know what's best for people. I've also been known to say "well, you have to do what's best for you" after listening to them, and they're like "I don't know what's best for me!" Sigh. (Although I do believe in universal principles of good relationships and behaviour and that sort of thing and I suspect that's an Fe/Fi difference.) However, maybe they shouldn't place me in a situation where they act like I should know what's best for them...! I simply can't listen to people go on about a certain problem for months or years without trying to help them solve it. It's so frustrating for everyone, well, certainly for me. It just makes me feel like an enabler. And it is really exhausting emotionally for me and there have been times when I have become very resentful because I feel like people see me as endlessly emotionally resilient and they don't realise how all the negativity or dumping might be affecting me. The last time I told someone (after he'd dumped on me for years) that he had to sort his problems out without telling me about them, because it was bad for me and didn't even seem to be helping him, he basically cut me off. But at that point I think it was best for all concerned.

    My own thought, on reflection, is not so much that I need to tone it down or stop being rude. If I'd had such feedback or people avoiding me, it would be more of a problem, I believe...but that has very rarely happened. I think it may be more that I need to tell people I can't help them with certain things. Or to stop asking questions which cast me in some kind of therapist role. It also seems that some people seem to see me as someone who they can use as a sounding board ad infinitum and are then surprised/annoyed if I ask some sort of awkward question. (I think that may have to do partly with correctly realising that I like helping people with problems, if I can. However, there's a difference between liking to help people, and having people emotionally vomit over you for ages, without them considering how it might affect you.) The person who dumped on me for years, eventually I called him on it and he cut me off - he was like "why are you taking this so personally?!" when I reacted strongly to a decision he'd made that I disagreed with. And I was like "um, you've dumped on me and used me as a sounding board regarding this issue for years - why would I not feel somewhat personally involved?" The exhaustion and frustration under such situations can occasionally make me very blunt, I think.

    Effectively, my conclusion is that it's not that people find me terribly rude, or even particularly frightening. It's more that it sets up a strange dynamic.

    I still think that a lot of people don't particularly want to grow. If I sound self-righteous when I say I'd like to help people to grow - so be it. I work on myself, too, so it's not just targeting others. Believe me, there are lots of things I'm bad at, and I freely acknowledge it. Helping people to work through things seems - from all appearances and from what I've been told - to be one of the things I'm good at.

    By the way, I've realised from this thread (and a few others on different topics) that I don't really understand Fi...at all. I need to do something about that. I think I'm likely to have major conflicts out of frustration with Fi users, and I'm sure the frustration woudl run in both directions.

    I've read the book Middlemarch several times in recent years and just watched the BBC miniseries from the 90s again. If anyone is familiar with this work - Dorothea Brooke is probably the number one fictional character that I identify with. I'm pretty sure she's an INFJ. She's more driven than I am to change the world for the better, and even more idealistic than I am, but in other respects I totally understand her approach to life. She really wants to help others - badly - she is much more sensitive than she looks, and she can sometimes come across as a bit self-righteous (see how she interacts with her sister, and how her sister reacts to her - I think the sister is probably ESFP.) I also think that she makes a huge effort to approach all kinds of people as equals, but she does have a slight tendency to view herself as more perceptive, on a different plane, etc. It all seems very familiar...

    Ohhh, sorry for making that so long, but I really couldn't shorten it much. Congrats to anyone who makes it through!
    Female
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