INFP: Still Waters Run … 2

by Christopher Lovejoy on April 29, 2018

This world is colder, darker, and harsher than most people realize; it’s also colder, darker, and harsher than many people care to realize, if they do realize. Perhaps this is as it should be, for how could a species possibly function adequately if its attention were captured by cold, dark, harsh realities?

We live in the best of times, we live in the worst of times.

In these times, illumination and elimination go hand in hand, offering us an unusual choice of focus: should I … illuminate, … eliminate, … illuminate to eliminate, … eliminate to illuminate, … do one or more of these, … do all of these, or … not do any of these, in favor of …?

Having so many options is a true blessing for the INFP.


Because having so many options with which to involve yourself in the world is pleasurably intoxicating; of course, having this many options with which to engage yourself is also unbearably intoxicating.

Pleasurably intoxicating and unbearably intoxicating?

Only the growing and the grown INFPs will understand what I’m talking about here, as only the growing and the grown INFPs can understand and appreciate the pleasurable, unbearable intoxication of lending structure, substance, and style to an approach that would do all of these.


In these emotionally, spiritually turbulent times of elimination and illumination, this world of mirrors offers a magical ride, even for muggles: even as this cold, harsh, dark world is conspiring to bring us down, down, down, … this warm, kind, light world is also conspiring to lift us up, up, up.

I mean, what could be more stimulating? What could be more enlivening?

Yes, I understand, we could go about our own business, as if nothing were happening, although I would argue that this is becoming less and less possible to do, or … we can make it our business to engage what is happening in ways and by means that make the most sense to us.

Which ways? What means?

Your answers will largely depend on where you are in your growing and flowing; your answers will also largely depend on whether you are … flowing with the growing and … growing with the flowing.


Going and growing with the flowing is akin to producing a continuous bounty of ripe juicy fruit from the rich, fertile soils of authenticity through creative spiritual authorship, where every day is harvest day.

A student of life (eventually) finds value in going with the flowing; a teacher of life (eventually) lends value to growing with the flowing; and a master of life embodies going and growing with the flowing.

Wherever you are, be there totally.

If you find your here and now intolerable,
and it makes you unhappy, you have three options:

remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally.

If you want to take responsibility for your life,
you must choose one of those three options,
and you must choose now.

Then accept the consequences.

~ Eckhart Tolle

This sage advice offers a sound template for dealing with any difficult situation.

Note, too, that “the here and now” is any situation that involves or requires a finite number of interactions and transactions that come and go, with or without a sense of flow, the nature and meaning of which are best apprehended and comprehended with both truth and value in mind.

Interaction offers reciprocal action or influence; transaction offers an exchange.

In any given situation, two tacit questions are paramount and constant: (1) what is going on, here and now? (interaction or transaction? what truth best reflects or represents who I am in this interaction or transaction?) and (2) what value am I looking to find and give to this truth?

If the truth of a situation indicates in no uncertain terms that no value is present or forthcoming, one must then choose absolutely to bypass or withdraw from this situation to retain a sense of value, and then bypass or withdraw from it as efficiently as this is possible or necessary.

And then accept the consequences of doing so.

And so, two options remain for taking action on a situation: change it or accept it.

When a situation is accepted, it is understood (truth) and appreciated (value) that no further action is possible, desirable, or necessary. One accepts that certain interactions or transactions in a situation can or must continue to occur in the future without resistance or protest.

While also being ready and willing to accept whatever consequences might arise.

If one cannot sustain this situation, one option remains: change it. Which, truth be told, is easier said than done. Luckily, this simple directive can be resolved into one of two pathways: a practice or a pursuit, either of which imply a certain kind of relationship with truth and value.

Ultimately, it is practice and pursuit that see truth and give value to our lives; ultimately, it is our own practices and pursuits that enable us to discern truth and measure value for our selves and our lives.


A resolution to change a situation need not involve changing the situation directly, or even indirectly, although it might; perhaps the very best way to “change it” is to supplant it or replace it over time.

Note, too, that this resolution to change is a value proposition.

Not all values, however, are of the same type. Some values are intrinsic, practiced or pursued for their own sake; other values are extrinsic, practiced or pursued for the sake of adding ever more value.

Retired persons (from work or life) are typically focused on receiving value for its own sake: collecting seashells while meandering along the shore of a beach; using lawn bowling as an excuse to mingle with friends; dancing, doodling, or coloring to tap the inner child only because it feels good to do.

Ambitious persons (in work or in life), on the other hand, are more focused on pursuing value for the sake of gaining ever more and bigger value ~ more status, more money, more wealth, more fitness; a bigger house, a bigger car, a bigger cottage; more skills, more experience, and more credentials.

Even though the risk of anxiety and depression is greater for the go-getters, the promise of more and better is a lure that is exceedingly hard to resist, even for those with next to nothing to their names, but especially for those who can excel at meeting, even exceeding, this promise.

The ideal approach to this divide between the practice or pursuit of intrinsic and extrinsic value is to find your balance between the extremes of living life for the sake of purpose (fulfillment through achievement) and … living life for its own sake (contentment with purposelessness).

I now invite you run your eyes over these two scales …

Scale of Value

4     3     2     1     0     1     2     3     4
extrinsic                             intrinsic

Scale of Service

4     3     2     1     0     1     2     3     4
service to self       service to other

Along these scales, where do you see yourself at this time, where the tenor of your life is concerned, while keeping in mind that these placements can be shifted by you or by circumstance at any time.

Here are my placements: 0 for both, while oscillating between 0 and 1 on the side of intrinsic and oscillating between 0 and 1 on the side of service to other. I view “zero” as holding a space for love and light and I view “one” as keeping the pace for “slow and steady won the race.”

While I remain open to pursuing both intrinsic and extrinsic value, I am somewhat more inclined, on balance, towards seeking value intrinsically rather than extrinsically, tending to polarize the basic intention of my life slightly more, on balance, towards being of service to the other.


Value is found and sought in four domains: at home, at work, in transit, or in nature. For domains of value, think Venn diagrams: that is, these domains might be viewed by you as separate and distinct at any given time in your life or … they might also find some overlap in your life.

Where the expansive soul finds value in all four domains, the expressive spirit seeks value in all four domains, intrinsically or extrinsically, and either in service to the other or in service to the self.

Where the soul finds value, the spirit might thereby be prompted to seek value. For example, if I happen upon a flower of exquisite beauty, I would likely pause to contemplate and appreciate, but then, if the spirit moves me, I might also be tempted to pluck it or capture it on film.

Personally, I would never be tempted to pluck it, even for someone I cherished.

Furthermore, if the spirit gains value, the soul might thereby be prompted to keep this value. In capturing a photographic image or in getting a video recording of this flower, for example, I might then be inclined to store it in a digital photo album or to share it and store it online.

Two issues arise in finding and seeking value and in gaining and keeping value.

In finding and seeking value, soul and spirit are finding and seeking their authenticity and authority, respectively; in gaining and keeping value, the soul is forming and setting a boundary for this value, which the spirit may or may not be ready, willing, and able to uphold or defend.

In finding and seeking value, one is finding authenticity with soul and seeking authority with spirit.

In gaining and keeping value, the soul is setting boundaries and the spirit is upholding boundaries.

The soul of authenticity finds value in the world even as it is tempted to set a boundary to gain value and the spirit of authority seeks value in the world even as it is tempted to uphold a boundary to keep value.

Get real (be authentic) to stay real (be an author with authority)

This is easier said than done because, well, because in the past, you could be ignored or beaten, or worse, for speaking your mind. Today, you can all too easily be dismissed or fired from a job for speaking your mind, even when using affirmations of I rather than accusations of you.

For many, we are the sheeple, plain and simple.

Everyone for whom accountability can be an issue is accountable to someone; even someone “at the top” must be accountable to someone above (or below).

And then there is the terrifying, petrifying reality that accountability no longer has reliability; if by chance humanity ever goes under, this will be the reason why.

It is not an easy matter being a servant or a slave to the oppressed, intolerant, easily triggered collective will that is presently in play, and yet, miraculously, here I am, speaking my mind. The seed of my authority as a spirit has already been planted in the rich soils of my authenticity.

With soul, I find value. Indeed, I cannot help but find value in what I see and hear, think and feel, say and do. I might even decide, here and now, to renounce the right to seek more value, and instead be content in finding more value, but this would betray the authority of my spirit.

In the face of suppression and oppression, I could fall back on the heart and soul of my authenticity, finding value here and there, at least until I hear more than a peep of protest from the spirit.

Living through heart and soul, however, might nevertheless require setting at least one boundary in the presence of others, lest the heart and soul be bled dry by starving intolerance and satiating indifference.

Set your boundaries and uphold your boundaries (as needs be)

Setting a boundary is a courageous act of assertion in a world of muggles where assertions are typically reserved for those with perceived authority to direct and demand and … where said assertions are typically obeyed by those who perceive a lack of power to do otherwise.

Even so, in soul and in spirit, a whole lot of presence, promise, and power can be tapped and tuned with grace and ease ~ tapped and tuned with grace and ease, that is, without having to rest or rely on any perceived authority to speak the lost and forbidden word of … “no”.

Let us proceed to count the ways …

First, let us reveal these ways apophatically: do not throw pearls to swine; do not initiate the use of force to hurt or harm anyone; do not merge with those whose needs, values, goals, and interests are at odds with your own; do not play mind games with anyone at any time.

Do not neglect your boundaries in the face of intolerance or indifference.

Rather, and I now speak emphatically, do be discerning; do be tolerant of intolerance without mindless surrender; do be mindful of attempts at seduction and deception, manipulation and exploitation; do be present and playful with those who have earned your trust and respect.

Do set an energetic boundary in the face of intolerance or indifference.

What you put out is what you get back … sometimes. Merging with another is loving and joyous … sometimes. Sometimes, I can trust a soul enough to be open and loving (and defenseless), but sometimes, I must trust myself enough to reserve judgment and … raise the shield.

Mind your boundary and connect … with nature, with values, with people.

The more you heed and tend to boundaries, the more open you become.


Get real to stay real, set boundaries to uphold boundaries, is all well and good, but what if the world in which you live is some combination of shit hole (for heart and soul) and hell hole (for mind and spirit)?

What then?

For the growing, flowing INFP, whose leading function is Fi (introverted feeling) and whose inferior function Te (extraverted thinking) is in the process of being mindfully, skillfully, artfully, and properly integrated and assimilated into soul and spirit both, this is not an idle question.

Eventually, near the end of this roller coaster ride of integration and assimilation for those two companions known as Fi and Te, a question comes begging for a clear response: has the course of this world been rigged to conspire against the health and happiness of humanity?

All of the indications that I’ve seen point to one and only one answer: yes.

That is to say, yes, yes, yes, and … yes. And then yes again, and then one more yes for added emphasis. And while we’re at it, let us make sure no one misunderstands: yes, yes, yes, yes, and … yes.

Yes, the course of this world has been rigged for a long time to constrain and conspire against the health and happiness of humanity, but, and this is a most noteworthy “but” … not to the point where everyone has been beaten and brow-beaten into submission and compliance.

Just to be crystal clear, lest we be confused about what I am saying here: the hunger games that are presently in play on this planet can only be observed or enjoyed by those who can watch them.


The affairs on this planet could very well be too far gone for anyone to apply remedy and thereby find some modicum of success, and so I am presently in a cautionary mode where offering positivity is concerned, although my life could very well be at stake if I do not make such an offer.

Given that enough people in the Western world are ingesting and excreting psychiatric medications in such quantities as to produce traces in the water supply is one telltale sign that I should remain cautious.

Cautiously positive and optimistic, that is, because, truth be told, I really do not know the extent to which people’s minds and hearts are being scrambled by all manner of chemical agents over the long term.

For the INFP, whose internal landscape is potentially deep, true, and rich with emotion and imagination, this is a concern that cannot really be swept under the rug without at least a few minutes of attention.

The rapid surge in cases of depression worldwide did not suddenly appear because human genetics and soft gray matter changed virtually overnight, although chemical imbalance could be a factor in some cases. The social landscape has changed to the detriment of humanity.

It could very well be that pervasive dissatisfaction and disaffection, discouragement and depression, are the caged canaries in a coal mine ~ normal responses to abnormal conditions and circumstances.

In which case, caring and compassion ought to be a warm breeze.

Everyone, entitled and abandoned, would do well to take heed.


In the midst of this gray cloud that hangs over the heads of humanity, the healthy INFP is faced with something of a dilemma: when you lead with introverted feeling, you must depend on a fresh supply of positive feeling on the outside to keep you going through thick and thin.

If this positive feeling dries up, you are as good as dead.

And here, I am not talking about mediated experience creating the illusion of good times; nor am I talking about shutting yourself off from the world and creating a lovely little bubble of reality for yourself.

As tempting as this might be.

I am actually talking about connecting and conversing truly and deeply, emotionally and imaginatively, through the power of nature, with the evergreen promise of value, in the presence of real live people.

Strange but true.

A few decades ago, people in the USA reported having, on average, a few close friends. In 2004, that number dropped to zero. INFPs of the world take note: do you have it takes to make a business of being a warm, loving, close and intimate friend with someone in dire need?

I know, the very question sounds awfully opportunistic, but just remember the warm, caring lady in the business of giving cuddles with strict guidelines on what you can and cannot do with her sweet love.

In this world, at this time, confidants are obviously hard to come by, for a whole host of reasons, and so it would make sense to be your very own confidant first, before serving as a confidant for others.

All the better if you have partner with whom you can confide.

Bear in mind, too, that those who say they spend a lot of time with others doesn’t mean much; ironically, feeling lonely can be just as potent for those who spend most of their time in the company of others.

As any healthy, happy-go-lucky INFP can tell you, the antidote for loneliness writ large is stupid simple: share a value (or two) in common with some one or some group that serves to bring more than a little intrinsic value, meaning, purpose, and direction to the course of your life.

What isn’t so simple is that community involvement dropped like a rock between 1985 and 1994 by a scary 45 percent. One can only wonder how much lower it has dropped in the 24 years since then.


But … can we hear the peeps of protest? … we have Facebook. We have Twitter. We have GooTube. We have Instagram. Yes, yes we do. Excuse me a moment while I suppress my gag reflex.

Listen. You and I both know that these glorified social media offer little more than the opportunity to turn up the dial on your pursuit of extrinsic value, and in so doing, ramping up your service to self.

All over the world, the results keep coming back the same: you raise your risk of becoming anxious and depressed by neglecting the capacity for basking in your intrinsic value in favor of pursuing extrinsic value relentlessly and robotically in service to self at the expense of others.

Sure, I know, you’re not like that. You’re not glued for hours on end to your iPhone or laptop; you’re not chained to social media for any length of time in search of likes, subscribes, and shares; you’re not addicted to Crave, Netflix, Spotify, or YouTube. No, no, not you.

Here’s the thing: extrinsic satisfactions are fleeting and bring no lasting happiness.

Which is not to say that extrinsic value should be wholly eliminated from your life.


Intrinsic value is your ticket to lasting happiness by way of little satisfactions and fulfillments. We be and do, not to get and gain, but to receive; we be and do for the sake of being and doing what feels true, good, and right for us ~ advice that many INFPs can easily ingest and digest.

But also forget in the throes of chaos and confusion, underwhelm and overwhelm.

Going and growing with the flowing is an inside job, involving cherished intrinsic values that are practiced and pursued for their own sake while keeping the ravenous dogs of extrinsic value at bay with sticks and stones or with whatever tools you feel best suits the purpose at hand.

Getting back to nature, doing what feels natural, finding your flow in the movements of a quick stream or a fast river, losing yourself in the winds and wilds of timelessness, walking the shorelines of countless sunsets, strolling through the woods with the wildlife with no destination in mind.

These are the doings of someone in love with life for its own sake.


Ah, but what about the soul-sucking black hole of pervasive interpersonal disconnection?


I am so glad you asked.

First, be honest enough with yourself to put a name on this pervasive reality (name it to tame it) in a world where too many people are cut off from being and doing purely for the sake of being and doing.

Second, be humble enough to realize there is at least one other person in the world who is pondering this same question with a view towards moving and flowing with grace and ease through disconnection.

As a practice, rest your gaze ~ briefly, humbly, casually ~ on those in your vicinity to get a sense of their capacities for loving for the sake of loving, for caring for the sake of caring, for trusting for the sake of trusting, while also getting a sense of their capacity for making something happen for the sake of making something else happen. In doing so, you’ll quickly notice just how loving, caring, and trusting you are (or not). Where appropriate, aim for a genuine smile or a wink for the sake of the smile or the wink.

Preferably both in tandem, simply because you can.

Otherwise, you can always stand in the presence of presence itself and be true to your type.

This post has been filed under Application in the Ultimate Outline.

Note: my evolving outline on approaching a realization of the ultimate in personal fulfillment can be found here, accessible from the nav menu under the page “Be Here Now”.

Note: this ever growing perspective began here: Ultimate Perspective

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