INFPs Are One-of-a-Kind
If you are an INFP and you feel weird on the planet, it kind of makes sense, because statistically, you are. INFPs make up an extremely small percentage of our culture, so feeling like we are weird, and being PERCEIVED as kind of weird, is something we should get used to.
Learning that I was an INFP a long time ago was helpful. At that time, we were estimated to be 1% of the population, which felt just about right. It kind of sucked to be me. Maybe you can relate. (By the way, the most common profiles for therapists include the “NFP” configuration…THAT’s pretty interesting, right?)
So when you are an “NFP” (Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving), you have kind of a minority status, or certainly a devalued status in just about anything but the helping professions. Most of us do “nice guy” work. There are no “NFP” boxers, or cops, or Navy Seals, or US Presidents. Sorry. There just aren’t. INFPs are therapists, writers, psychologists, musicians, shamans.
So the INFP can have a bit of a hard time on the planet. We pretty much are very OK sticking to ourselves, or hanging out with one other person, even in (or maybe especially in) a huge party or get-together setting. It is not that we do not like people, it is that they wear us out. We want a little bit of people stuff, then we want a break to go process what we just experienced. A long-ish break, preferably. We can leave parties without saying goodbye to the hosts because the interpersonal bucket is empty. Faced with a choice of one of those half hour goodbye sessions (AFTER an evening of even more people stuff) or a kick in the ass, many of us would choose the boot and sneak out the side door, down the driveway, into the liberating and infinitely welcomed crowd-less night. If you have read this far, you know what I am talking about. You have done it. Busted!
We have faced the ignominy of a lifetime of our culture dismissing our key epistemology, or way of knowing, as intellectually soft, or non-scientific. Our Inner Knower (who we trust more than anybody) is considered by others the next best thing to a moron while the moron who builds a bomb, based on data and science, is revered as really smart, with his head screwed on straight. Until recently, in the field of business, Thinkers were decidedly valued much more highly than Feelers. You want a guy who doesn’t let feelings get in the way of business. Bernie Madoff was excellent in that regard, and the banking industry achieved unprecedented profits by focusing on facts and the bottom line, and not such namby-pamby stuff as the feelings of the people whose fortunes were being devastated. Hey, it’s not personal. It’s a BUSINESS, dude…
In sports, when AROD sees a Psychologist, or when LaBron does not have “the killer instinct”, they are deemed soft. Those with the hardware (championship trophies) go for the jugular. Of course AROD might be the greatest baseball player of all time, and LaBron the greatest basketball player, but until they are willing to play smash-mouth baseball and basketball, respectively, and until they cut with this “feelings” crap, they will continue to be less than real men.
And how about that “P” Function? (Perceiving) J’s (Judging Types) can get really kind of obnoxiously self-congratulatory about this one. This is not made easier if the preface to your P is an INF. We feel things. We are nice. Plus we happen to know that the J’s are misguided in their self-valuing. The American culture has a clear preference and admiration for “Decisiveness”, for strong J functioners. I get that. Some really influential people in history have been strong “J” folks. George W. Bush comes to mind, and Napoleon Bonaparte, and Josef Stalin. Those boys could make some decisions quickly, and they didn’t need no stinkin’ brainstorming. Just do it. Boom! Decision made.
P’s like to mull it over, keep the options open, sleep on it. The J’s roll their eyes, stare at their watches exaggeratedly obviously, and mutter under their breath. “I don’t know”, says the P. “I always love Thai food, but then there’s Ethiopian, too, which is always an adventure. And you can’t beat Mexican with a stick either.” The J thinks “We are going to starve to death before you make a decision. Let’s just go to Denny’s. They have all kinds of food. It’s fast. Let’s just go.”
OK, I am having some fun here.
Every style has its strengths and its shortcomings. That is one of the beauties of the Myers-Briggs. “Haste makes waste” says the P. “He who hesitates is lost” replies the J. And so on. Still, being in that really small percentage of INFPs can be a sort of lonely place, but we do not mind that. We do not experience it as particularly “lonely.” I guess what was hard for me was that until I understood more about the Myers-Briggs, I just had a vague, yet at the same time distinct sense, that I did not fit in with the world, that I was on the outside looking in at American culture with its adoration of outgoing, sharp thinking, “Facts only, ma’am” guys who made dramatic decisions like you blow your nose. And although there is a shift, I still feel that way. “Not fitting in” is just how life feels.
Maybe it’s changing. But I have found enough like-minded others with whom to share life in my preferred way. And often, for the INFP, one like minded other is enough. To find your type, click here . And if you think you might want to work with me as a Therapist or a Coach, contact me at Drjamesmichaelnolan@gmail.com. I do work by phone or Skype.
It’s hard being an INFP. But it is the best.
Please share this post if you think someone in your network of friends might find it useful…
Jim Nolan, Psychologist, Life Coach, Clinical Supervisor