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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2009

    Default INFJs, how did your childhood environment/s shape you?

    Being such sensitive creatures, us INFJs are indisputably affected by the environments in which we are brought up (mainly school and the home). I mean, of course everyone is a product of his or her environment [to a degree, and that's a whole other discussion!] but I think we (INFJs) are more so, because of our sensitive nature. So, question: What was the type of environment/s you were brought up in? Supportive/loving/encouraging? Cold/abusive/neglecting? [Maybe it was a mixture of both?]

    I think, as an INFJ myself, being brought up in the latter environment [neglectful parents, no love, affection, emotionally unavailable, witnessing other family members being verbally abused and bullying and social exclusion at school] I am having a considerably hard time adjusting to the demands of "real life". I have very little self-worth because I have never felt loved and my parents still continue to be unsupportive [but I do admit to being too scared to voice my needs so I canít really blame them but arenít they supposed to be asking me???] BUT I can't help all that has happened in my past and I take full responsibility for what I get out of life from here on out.

    I'm not blaming my past, I forgive my parents (they were obviously just raising me the way they had being raised or they had no mature way of coping with their hurt/anger/stress, they were perhaps ignorant to my emotional/mental needs, it's not their fault) and I forgive the bullies too.

    Have any other INFJs had a hard start in life, maybe we have them as a rule. I have no confidence to do anything right now. Iím literally doing nothing. I've done zilch since I left school at 18. Four years wasted because I was given all the wrong messages about my value. Iím 22. Advice, similar experience, comfort??? Have any of you made it out the other side successfully? Thanks.

  2. #2
    From the Undertow CuriousFeeling's Avatar
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    Dec 2009
    4w5 sp/sx


    I was picked on a lot as a kid. Mostly because I was so eager to please others, had an unusual imagination, was brainy, and was very sensitive. Boys were particularly difficult with me, I felt very isolated from others as a result of this. In high school, I had no problems with teachers, I found it easier to get along with adults that understood me more so than my peers. I felt misunderstood most of the time. High school, things changed a bit, more of my peers grew to understand me better. Family life was really good, both of my parents were very supportive and loving with me.

    I'd say the social climate in school is what influenced the way I interact with people. I tend to be much more introverted as a result. If I had been encouraged, I think I'd be more extroverted now. But I can say that my experiences helped me to hone in my Ni.

    One thing for certain, I advise you never to give up on yourself. Even if your overbearing internal critic doubts your value, go for your goals. Don't be shy to start things. If it helps, I recommend casting the negative feelings aside in art. You can make it to the other side successfully if you put your mind to it.


    ‚ÄúThoughts are the shadows of our feelings -- always darker, emptier and simpler.‚ÄĚ
    ‚Äē Friedrich Nietzsche

  3. #3


    Yeah I had a difficult childhood too. Emotional abuse and constant bullying, the usual. It certainly does mess up your sense of yourself and how you relate to others. Since graduating HS, things have gotten much better especially in terms of my interactions with other people. However, even then I still have that sense of being unwelcomed wherever I go.

    I do agree with Curious that you have to be strong and believe in yourself, and every now and then tell your internal critic to go fuck itself. I say this from personal experience, and even the past week or so he's been driving me crazy!

    So take care.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2009


    Are you talking about your biological family or
    you family of choice?

  5. #5


    I think, to an extent, I could consider my childhood idyllic when compared to the experiences of some other people. I have never experienced true hardship, I was never abused, I was provided with what I needed to stay alive, I wasn't terribly bullied in school, I've never had to fight for anything, so in that sense I've had a smooth running.

    My parents (mom - ISFJ; dad - ISTJ), although good and hardworking people, were and still are emotionally distant, uninvolved and unsupportive. So, to compensate for the lack of emotional warmth, I dove into books, movies and food from a very early age. Basically, everything I know I've learned from the books and TV, observing other people living their lives and not necessarily from my own experiences. The resultant low self-esteem, low self-confidence and occasional bouts of depression continue to haunt me to this day.

    I have better days and worse days, I haven't given up or anything and most of the time I look forward to the future and stay positive or at least neutral but occasionally it still feels like taking one step forward and two steps back.

    I agree with CuriousFeeling and Peguy, never give up on yourself. The past is the past, you own the future. Building confidence, accepting yourself and learning to overcome the fears takes time, small steps is all it takes to get things running. Believe in yourself.

  6. #6


    First post, this is probably as good a place to start as any.

    My mother is an ENFJ and she was an incredible influence in my life. I was blessed. As a child I saw the world as a constant source of wonderment. I couldn't get enough of my mother's mystical surprises. Caterpillars turning into butterflies... tadpoles turn into frogs... this is what makes the flowers grow.
    She had a game, "What am I?" She would describe something and I would have to guess the object she would describe. It was fascinating to me and I couldn't get enough of it. There were always art supplies and books. I loved to listen to stories. I spent many hours in my room sitting next to the open windows reading. She encouraged me to play with paint, with crayons, to draw, to write...

    My father was incredibly cerebral (ENTJ), but I could sense his emotions and they were always calm and still underneath. There was something in the subtly of them that was very calming to me. He was a stickler outright. You were expected to give your absolute best, but my mom would follow that up with compassion and encouragement. Even though she was a judger she was more adaptable and saw introversion as endearing. She was more insistent on looking for a balance.

    I was quiet, and while I felt quite content at home, the outside world scared me. Going to school was hard for me to adjust to, but my mother saw that I needed my time alone and she taught me to take time for myself. There was a constant push and pull between her and my dad on this. He wanted me to be more adventurous and to learn to take risks. He also didn't understand my emotions very well. I began to look at each of them for their strengths. To this day, I value thinkers quite highly because of my father and see feelers as the yin to the yang.

    Self-understanding is a moral imperative. As is compassion for one's self. Start there... Everyday envision your best self in the future. A year from now where do you want to be? Four years? Five? If everything was ideal. If everything you wanted could come to pass. Form the vision. Then follow after it. One little goal at a time.
    "We ascribe beauty to that which is simple; which has no superfluous parts; which exactly answers its end; which stands related to all things; which is the mean of many extremes." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  7. #7
    Senior Member scortia's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009


    Aside from some health problems I came out unscathed. Aside from having parents who are totally opposite personality types and that come from being misunderstood, I did alright at home. I went through most of school wearing a happy-face. And really, especially as a teen, the sorts of little things that really upset other people never bothered me. I've always felt alone in my POV and such, but that's been childhood into the present. I've been pretty fortunate. I'm pretty tough on the T end that if I had a rough childhood I probably would have just hardened myself honestly.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2009


    grew up around sensors

    felt like an alien as i grew older

    basically made me pretty damn avoidant

  9. #9
    Member Penda's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008


    I had a similar experience as some other posters in this thread. My parents were kind as long as you lived up to their high standards, but otherwise they were somewhat distant and cold. At school I suffered from bullying and was one of the least popular kids at school.

    I think the biggest problem I had as an INFJ was that who I was didn't fit the definition of what a young man should be. I was lousy at sports and didn't care for them, had no mechanical abilities, and had no interest in cars. I had considerable talent in music and writing but I ended up neglecting it in the end because I devalued it. To make matters worse, I was sensitive and emotional, whereas the ideal man is tough and rugged. So perhaps the greatest difficulty as an INFJ is gaining self-acceptance, because it seems like sometimes people get annoyed that someone like you even exists.
    There are miles to go before I sleep...

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    Warning: LONG post ahead....

    My pre-school years were spent at a pretty good school in New York City. The kids were tough but surprisingly easy to get along with as long as you treated them with respect. Eventually, my last year there, I became a leader. The kids listened to me and followed me (mainly because I was the oldest, at 5 years old). In any case, I basically fit in there for some reason. It was probably a very "NF" place looking back.

    But my parents didn't want me growing up in the NY public school system, understandably so, and I'm not sure if they wanted to/could pay for private school, so we moved to the Midwest, where my dad had gotten a job. I had a tough time growing up there. I wasn't like the other kids, the school was pretty much all-white (I was not), plus I was an INFJ male with a learning disability. To put it mildly, I didn't fit in very well at all. I was left out and even sometimes picked on; a couple kids especially, called me a monkey and tried to terrorize me every recess. I was a pretty tough kid, though, and I didn't stand for it. I fought back. In fact, that has been largely the story of my life, and why I picked my nickname. Certain types of people have tried to screw me over throughout life, and I had to fight back in some way and never let them get the best of me. They never did. While this seems like an admirable trait, it also resulted in certain issues with excessive defensiveness that I am just learning to get over.

    Being tough and fighting back eventually stopped people from trying to pick on me, but it didn't stop them from leaving me out of their activities. Eventually, no one made jokes about me, but they left me completely alone. That was better than getting picked on, but it was still a tough and very lonely time. I always managed to find a friend here and there, though.

    Middle school was for the most part, a terrible time for me. In 6th grade, I didn't understand the concept of turning in my work right away, so I failed pretty much all of my classes (except English where I got a B+ and Gym when I got an A just for showing up). I couldn't do math and science at all, so I just avoided the subjects altogether at first. I wanted to be popular and in the "in-crowd," but those kids had no interest in hanging out with me. I tried sitting with them at lunch one time and they just laughed at me. I never sat there again after that.

    I went to middle school just before the highly-publicized school shootings, so I, like most all of the boys at school, was getting in fights all of the time (that I never initiated). The teachers did almost nothing to stop the fighting, except get me in trouble after the fact. They even had this ridiculous rule of, "If someone is trying to beat you up, don't fight back and you won't get in trouble." That was some of the most insane bullsh*t I've ever heard. Let some kid beat the snot out of me just so I won't get in trouble?! So, on top of getting bad grades and being left out constantly, I was labeled as a troublemaker too.

    After my parents got me in line, I started doing a little better each quarter. Eventually, at the end of the year, I got all A's and B's for the first time in my life (and only time in middle school). It seemed like things were looking up.

    In 7th grade, everything went way downhill. I had horrible teachers that year, and I mean HORRIBLE. My grades were equally horrible. In fact, my father, who ALWAYS blamed me when I had trouble in school no matter what, went to a parent teacher conference that year and was appalled at the level of the teaching. I transferred to a different school in 8th grade and did a little better there.

    High school was when people and things just stopped making sense to me altogether. Before then, people were jerks, but they were at least honest about it. Young adult life was filled with phony and passive aggressive people. I thought some of the kids in middle school were preppy, but some of the kids in high school came from other schools were they were even preppier. I don't think I've ever felt more alienated than I did in high school. However, I succeeded academically, making the honor roll most semesters. I worked pretty hard back then. I still didn't really fit in anywhere, though. I even transferred to magnet school in 10th grade, which had a reputation for having "weirdos" and outcasts, and I didn't even fit in there! They still had created their own heirarchy of preps, "in" people, "out" people, etc!

    In college, I hit my stride in many ways, and started to become successful professionally as well. However, even in my highest levels of success, I still never really felt like I fit in socially with the people I was in school with. I couldn't relate to them much at all. Sometimes people would become good friends, but some people would ignore and snub me. In fact, to this very day, old college "friends" come to my area of town and do not call me to hang out, but call others who were not even necessarily as nice to them as I was. To make it even more unbelievable, I've become pretty successful in my field and could open doors for them, but they still ignore me. At least they weren't fairweather friends, they were "any weather non-friends."

    This kind of stuff used to frustrate me a lot, but I've learned from the few good friends I've had in life that true friends are not people you have to walk on eggshells with, or kill yourself to be their friend. You don't have to force with them. I've been very blessed to know those people in my life.

    As far as my family life, I am unbelievably lucky. I have a few issues here and there...My ENTJ father pisses me off a lot sometimes because he constantly pushes my buttons. His side of the family is extremely f***ed up and are obsessed with gossip, being overbearing and setting an unbelievably high standard for their kids. However, I have usually been smart enough to distance myself from this stuff, and my Dad has also taught me a lot about reliability, hard work and manners. He's always been there for me, plus he has helped me financially quite a bit. My mother (INFJ) is an unwavering source of light in my life. She is tremendously uplifting to be around. I can tell her pretty much any problem I'm having, and she always knows what to do. She seems to know everything sometimes. I often think about how lucky I was in the parent department. About as lucky as I could be, honestly. My parents divorced when I was 9, but it never really bothered me that much.

    One thing I've learned is that most of my personal issues have come from the outer world, and not quite so much from my family life. However, to answer the original question, yes: my environment has affected me...a lot. I've tried to find positives in most all of it, but no, you're not alone in your feelings.

    Please remember what other posters have said. Never give up just because times get rough. Believe in yourself, because if you really want something, you can get it someday! Maybe life is harder for INFJs on average than some other types, but you learn amazing things from your experiences that give you a huge advantage in the long run.
    A hero is someone who does the right thing without expectation of reward, just because it's the right thing to do.

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