Everything or Nothing: An Ode to the INFJ

On days like today, when I wake up at 3:30 am with whorly brain, running something through my mind to find all the ways I was stupid and wrong and a fool, while intellectually understanding that I’m being completely illogical and unreasonable, I can usually trace my distress to my particular brand of insanity, that of being INFJ.

For those of you who are not into personality tests or typing, INFJ is one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types (you can taken an online test here to find your type).

Now I don’t believe that Myers-Briggs gives all the answers (nor hand analysis or finding your words or any of the interesting explorations into which we can define ourselves), but whenever I am freaking out & I share it with another INFJ, unlike most people, they understand.

I’m not going to go into the full explanation of personality types, especially since I’ve known my type for 20 years and I’m still learning and don’t consider myself the expert of all things psychological.

But I’ll give you the short version of what it means to be an INFJ, at least for what I’m talking about here.

INFJ stands for Introvert (as opposed to Extrovert), Intuitive (as opposed to Sensing), Feeling (as opposed to Thinking) and Judging (as opposed to Perceiving).

INFJs are known as the Confident, the Protector, the Mystic, the Counselor.

“INFJs are gentle, caring, complex and highly intuitive individuals. Artistic and creative, they live in a world of hidden meanings and possibilities. Only one percent of the population has an INFJ Personality Type, making it the most rare of all the types.” (source: INFJ personality page)

We are regularly mistaken as extroverts.

Probably because we are so interested in people and concerned with the state of the world, we seek connection and interaction with others, unlike many other introverted types. We love learning about people, we love figuring them out.

That’s one of the reasons I became an entrepreneur, a writer, a coach. Because mathematics, chemistry, law, finance … all of those were pretty easy to get after a while. But people, their complexities are never ending. I will be able to spend my entire life trying to figure people out, and will never be done, never be board.

Another INFJ trait – we listen.

I can’t tell you how many times people I barely know have chosen to share their secrets with me. Speak truths they have never spoken. I don’t know what it is that I do, but there is something about me that invites confidences.

But regardless of how outgoing we seem, we are true introverts.

While we love people, we are sensitive.

You freak us out when we are exposed to you in mass quantities. We need alone time to find ourselves, to reenergize, to fill ourselves back up so we can give to you from our overflowing.

Yes, I hide in the bathroom at networking events. Yes, I’ve taken off early from parties without saying goodbye to anyone. Yes, I must have time alone every day. Yes, I’ve even spent entire weekends away from the company of other humans … well, except for a bit of texting and social media.

And it’s not because I don’t love you.

It’s because I can feel your energy, I can see into your souls.

It’s because I care about your problems, where you are not in resonance with your truth. It’s because I can’t fix everything and feel that I may have failed you in some way.

And while we INFJs may know lots of people, we will only share our souls with a chosen few.

The thing is, I’m everything or nothing with the people I love.

With most of you that I love, I keep you at a distance to protect myself. This may be a physical distance, where I break off most connections to keep negativity at bay. Or, we may spend time together, have fun, do projects together, go on adventures … but that’s only a part of me.

On a rare occasion, after much research and consideration and an intuitive hit that the person has integrity and caring, I decide to let someone in. To trust them with my soul. But I don’t know how to let someone in a little bit. If I let them in, it’s all the way.

So to most of you, those in my outer circle, my followers, friends, clients, readers:

Even when am hiding at the networking event, when I can’t talk to you, when I don’t reply to your email or @ reply or comment or DM, that does not mean I don’t care about you. On the contrary, I do care. Perhaps too much. But I have to protect myself, reenergize myself, keep a certain part of myself safe behind a wall, to have anything left to give to you tomorrow.

We can have fun, go on adventures, tweetup. We can have amazing conversations, debate controversial issues, gossip about the latest mistakes by the big gurus. I can help you with your business, share resources, give advice. I’ll speak my truth in videos, write my truth on my blog and twitter, tell the whole story.

But there is a certain part of me you may never get access to. You may see it, read about it, resonate with it, but there’s only so much of me that I can give.

To my inner circle, my best friends, my confidants, to anyone I trust with my soul:

You’ve got my everything, an unlimited amount of listening and insight and help, of fun and laughter and adventure, of caring and creativity and courage.

I accept and love you as you are, I support you in your insanity, I believe in your vision, I stand by you equally in your greatest triumphs and when I think you are making colossal mistakes.

And I will be brutally honest. Tell you all of my insanities. Speak the whole story, even the parts where I am embarrassed and worried about what you will think of me and scared that you may be upset or hurt by what I have to say.

I’ll call you on your bullsh*t. Hold you accountable to what you say you are going to do. Hold up a mirror so you can see who who you truly are.

I’ll protect you from the world. Create a sanctuary, a safe place for you to be 100% yourself.

All I ask is the same in return.

Which is a freaking big deal, actually. I get that.

And if it ends up that you can’t do that, then I’m pulling back.

Not because I don’t love you. Not because you did anything objectively wrong. Not because there has been some grand betrayal.

But because I can only be everything or nothing.

If I let you in, it must be all the way. And the only way I have anything to give is if I keep myself from constantly falling apart.

So let’s get back to what I was thinking about at 3:30 am.

Well, I’m not going to tell that story yet, because it has not played out. And I don’t even know what the freaking story is yet. Maybe it’s nothing. Maybe it’s everything. I’m probably being an idiot.

Either way, it will make a great paragraph or page or chapter in the yet unwritten Live Your Truth book.

I wrote this post as therapy.

To understand where I’m drawing the line and how my truth fits into the equation and what it all means.

I feel better after writing this.

But I don’t have an answer.

To those of you who are also sensitive, and/or to those of you who are also INFJs, you know exactly what I mean. I’m not sure if we are blessed, or cursed, or called to be how we are, but you understand my particular brand of insanity, and I thank the powers that be and the social media gods for bringing us together.


If you are also an INFJ and/or a sensitive person, let me know. I get you.

Next Steps:

  • Watch the free streaming video class called “How INFJs Think” where I debunked myths about Myers-Briggs and INFJs, explained why INFJs are sometimes seen as extroverts and were our blind spots are hurting us, and shared how to develop your preferences over your life, including turning blind spots into strengths –> How INFJs Think
  • Leave a comment below or contact me directly with your thoughts, feedback, or questions.

I’m so happy we are all finding each other.

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