Why It Makes No Sense To Call INFJs Empaths
The INFJ is often classified as an Empath, and ascribed the ability to read emotions better than any other personality type. Yes, INFJs are argued to have the highest emotional intelligence of all personality types. It’s said that the nature of our personality type allows us to make gifted counsellors. In this article, I’m going to show you why this is a complete misunderstanding and instead, we will talk about the true nature of the INFJ as Introverted iNtuitives.
Why It Is Wrong To Call INFJs Empaths
Introverted iNtuition is the strongest cognitive function of the INFJ personality type
Firstly, Introverted iNtuition occupies the primary position of the INFJ. Introverted iNtuition has nothing to do with empathy or emotional intelligence in and of itself. It is a detached, cerebral function that grants the ability to visualise ideas in a vivid shape and form. INFJs experience thoughts and ideas clearly in their own mind’s eye.
The natural state of the INFJ is as a realiser of ideas, someone that brings ideas out to the world. In particular, INFJs show a tremendous ability to focus and have an intense self-discipline. They can patiently work on one idea at a time, seeking to nurture and bring it up to it’s fullest potential. That means the INFJ is primarily a Creator, not an Empath.
This is the most natural trait of the INFJ and this is how the INFJ should be understood. So why is that not the case? First of all, most of this process happens inside the head of the INFJ. Friends and family members may have no idea that this process is there in the first place, as this is not always shared or expressed. Many INFJs keep their ideas to themselves. Instead, what people see is the Extroverted function of the INFJ. Extroverted Feeling.
Extroverted Feeling is only the second function of the INFJ
First of all, Extroverted Feeling is the second cognitive function of the INFJ personality type. That means this is a secondary trait, valued as a goal and as something positive, sure. However, it is also something an INFJ has to work to develop, and the INFJ Extroverted Feeling acts as a kind of parental guide figure to the INFJ. INFJs experience pressure to live in a way that is appropriate and kind, feeling it is a must and a demand put on them, a duty if you may. As an INFJ you might feel that:
- You MUST do the right thing by other people
- You have no choice but to help others
- You are forced to speak kindly or to show forgiveness
- That you need to laugh away conflicts
- That you always need to be positive or set a good mood for the tribe
This is how INFJs experience their Feeling function, as a shackle or duty. Over time, this can make the INFJ feel burdened by their relationships to other people. While the INFJ gets a strong sense of purpose and motivation from this duty, it also becomes a hard ideal to live up to. People count on you to always be weighed and measured in everything you say and do, and to always help them, because that’s the energy that you radiate to the world. But it gets exhausting to maintain this lifestyle for long. That’s why many INFJs escape to Introverted Thinking.
INFJs have strong Introverted Thinking
INFJs see Feeling as the goal of their actions, and the goal is that their ideas and natural creativity comes to be valued by the tribe and the community, and that their ideas have a lasting legacy in the world. But Thinking is the means to this end, and INFJs can show excellent thinking. In order to realise your ideas as an INFJ, you may need exceptional skill and talent. Lack of talent will mean that your ideas, no matter how much potential, cannot be expressed in their true form.
Introverted Thinking allows the INFJ to work through inconsistencies and problems with their ideas, so that their ideas can become the fullest version possible. But it should be said, using this process comes at the expense of cutting yourself off from other people. INFJs may often detach themselves from other people in order to work through flaws and issues.
Even if they don’t literally cut themselves off from other people, INFJs that use Introverted Thinking can come of as cold or detached to their friends and partners. This function makes the INFJ deeply self-critical, intense, and serious. The INFJ loses their natural sense of humor, and becomes obsessed with their work.
Who is the real Empath?
First of all, INFJs can definitely find themselves interested in psychology and understanding the human mind, but primarily in order to come up with theories and discoveries that they can use to help people better understand themselves and other people. INFJs rarely become pure counsellors, who’s goal and motivation focuses purely on the individual or person. This role is better fit by other types, such as the ISFJ or INFP personality types. ISFJs are far more nurturing and make better pure caretakers, as they are more oriented towards preservation. INFPs are naturally gifted at interpreting emotions, using their Introverted Feeling to analyse and introspect and understand the feelings of themselves and other people.
INFJs are drained by the act of caring for and supporting other people, which is why INFJs that try too hard to fit the role of caretakers, often end up being the most prone to doorslams. INFJs that overinvest themselves into supportive roles in relationships often become burdened by this over time.
The INFJ Empath is at best a myth or legend, raised from a misconception of the INFJs true nature. Perhaps friends and family members who have observed the INFJ have seen that INFJs, for short periods of time, in small doses, have shown tremendous care and been highly duty-bound healers. But our abilities in that domain are highly underestimated. Yes, I’d definitely pass over the Empath crown to ISFJs. But I’d rather call the ISFJ counsellors.
Perhaps Empaths are just people with trauma
Bear with me here. Perhaps empaths are just people who have experienced trauma. Kids raised in hostile environments with strong innate nurturing traits can become hyper-sensitive to emotions. You may find yourself reading everyone’s feelings out of fear of someone becoming angry or violent or toxic. You may feel a need to treat or help other people before the bomb goes off, and you may be constantly on edge trying to jump when someone shows the slightest sign of anger, pain or sadness.
Ask yourself the following:
- Is it easy for you to set boundaries for yourself?
- Can you distinguish between your own emotions and others feelings?
- Can you “turn off” others emotions?
- Are you fearful/avoidant of conflict?
These things can be signs of trauma or attachment issues. If you find that these issues cause problems in your life and make it hard for you to truly open up and connect with others, consider seeking therapy or counselling. It can really help. Another thing to do is open up about it to friends and family members so they can be aware of this with you and help you through these issues.
What are your experiences?
Do you consider yourself an Empath?
How do you see the INFJ?
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