INFP: Still Waters Run … 3

by Christopher Lovejoy on May 6, 2018

As someone for whom the INFP personality type resonates deep down, I feel uniquely favored with the means by which to bring harmony to any situation that comes begging for clarity.

In making this statement, I am already in trouble … (a) because order requires some measure of chaos by way of contrast; (b) because accord requires some measure of discord by way of contrast; and (c) because clarity requires some measure of confusion by way of contrast.

Such is the nature of duality in this reality and so …

I have no choice but to play with this nature.

And so let us play …


Yesterday, I came upon a list of stressors unique to the INFP ~ things that make our heads, hearts, and guts spin. Now, before I tap into its juicy goodness, let me say this: they are scarily accurate.

The upshot of this list is that, in essence, they pose challenges to individuality.

When one is compelled by nature to lead with the rational function of introverted feeling, one has no choice but to place a premium on the cultivation and celebration of individuality, even if quixotic.

The hearts and brains of happy, healthy INFPs light up like Christmas trees when they hear words like … personal sovereignty, authenticity, personal autonomy, individuality, and … “I allow myself to occupy a place in a position where I can be, do, or have whatever I will or desire.”

Before I spill the beans on this list, please understand: the items on this list, in and of themselves, are not problems for INFPs; they only seem so when INFPs lose control of them, that is to say, lose control of the ability to process their feelings about them in harmony with their values.

Here is the list:

– routine
– mundane work
– time management
– crowds
– open disrespect
– values undermined or challenged
– metrics of improvement
– chaos, conflict, confusion
– being met with criticism
– being rushed
– being shut down
– negativity from others
– unclear expectations
– decisions

Each and every one of these stressors can be viewed with beneficence, but only up to a point. That is, each one of these stressors carries catalytic potential for the INFP to learn and grow in body, mind, heart, soul, and spirit, provided they have time and space to process their feelings about them.

With presence and gratitude, the INFP can, for example, bear the realities of following a routine, doing mundane work, coordinating action with a system of time management, being a part of the crowd, tolerating open disrespect, or rising to the challenge of having a value undermined.

Presence and gratitude, however, require time and space to process feeling.

If the environments in which they find themselves do not (or can not) support this need for time and space, or if they themselves are unable or unwilling to make the most of their own time and space, treating them as the precious realities that they are, stress becomes inevitable.

To the degree that INFPs are pressed or cramped, and to the degree that they feel unable to process their feelings around being pressed or cramped, is the degree to which they will feel stressed out.

And the consequences of prolonged stress are not pretty: burnout or breakdown.


Given the gentle nature of the INFP, I suspect that INFPs are generally more prone to ending up in a psychiatric ward than in a maximum security prison, although I am willing to concede, given the intensity of their passions, that some have been confined to such a prison.

My general sense is that if INFPs ever lose the support of family and community, they are in deep trouble, at risk both for homelessness and institutionalization, and I can point to a couple reasons why this is so:

  1. INFPs are relatively rare in their representation among types (see below); and
  2. INFPs have a version of Hell on Earth that binds them in time and space

Let us now examine and explore each of these reasons in breadth and depth.


INFPs live in a world dominated by xSFJs and xSTJs, representing 464 out of one thousand people in any given population. By contrast, the INFP can count on meeting, on average, 43 other INFPs in a crowd of 1000 people. Even if INFPs know what they’re looking for, and even if INFPs know their own type well enough to know what they’re looking for, the odds are not stacked in their favor. They do, however, have two saving graces: the ENFP (their natural ally) and the ISFP (who share their proclivity to lead with the rational function of introverted feeling).

As a cohort, the INFPs, ENFPs, and ISFPs amount to 213 out of 1000, which is a fairly strong hedge against the dominating influence of the SJ type in society at large. In contrast to the INFP, the SJ is reality-oriented almost to a fault, forever seeking closure, making them susceptible to abject conformity to authority. The Hikikomori phenomenon in Japan is likely one such manifestation of the overbearing influence of the SJ.

If the INFP is vulnerable in the world of SJ to a persistent, pervasive lack of understanding and appreciation, then the xNTP, xNTJ, and xNFJ types are even more vulnerable to this lack, highlighting all the more the importance of banding together to offset the crush of SJ conformity.

Here is another consolation for the INFP:

In a village of 1000, you might find 44 people who are INFP; in a town of 10,000 people: 444 INFPs; in a small city of 100,000: 4,444 INFPs; in a large city of 1,000,000: 44,444 INFPs; in a small country of 10,000,000: 444,444 INFPs; in a country of 100,000,000: 4,444,444 INFPs.

With a global population of 7.5+ billion people, roughly 325+ million INFPs grace this planet.

The global market is huge for products and services that cater to the INFP. Also, the potential is huge that a globally united front of integrated INFPs could easily change this world for the better.

Incidentally, the source for these statistics is greatly respected and highly respectable.


Every type on the MBTI has its own version of Hell on Earth and I believe it to be highly instructive to consider each version, if only to get a better sense of what each type needs (and doesn’t need).

Let us peruse the following list according to dominance (Source):

ISFJ: Everyone you love is yelling at each other and it’s all your fault.

ESFJ: Someone you love is in dire need of practical help and you can’t give it to them. Worse yet, they think you’re refusing to help them out of pettiness and they’re mad at you.

ISTJ: You are expected to complete a highly esteemed project with absolutely no guidance as to what’s expected of you.

ISFP: You have to listen to rude people criticizing your personal choices, your appearance, and your art form all day long. Nobody cares that they’re hurting your feelings.

ESTJ: An incredibly impractical person is put in charge of all of your major life decisions. You have to do whatever they say and are powerless to argue or reason with them.

ESFP: You are stuck in a room by yourself for the rest of eternity.

ENFP: Every minute of the rest of your life has been scheduled for you ~ and it’s a long series of arbitrary, solitary tasks.

ISTP: The Zombie apocalypse happens but you’re suddenly the world’s weakest fighter and must depend solely on your loved ones to keep you alive.

INFP: Your deepest thoughts and feelings are exposed to a large audience and everyone thinks that you’re pathetic and unoriginal.

ESTP: You are completely paralyzed, lacking even the ability to speak.

INTP: You are eternally condemned to researching an extremely vapid topic using wildly inaccurate methods, mostly involving interviewing people who have no idea what they’re talking about.

ENTP: Freedom of speech is revoked from the constitution. Voicing your opinion in any way is now illegal.

ENFJ: Your loved ones are in dire need of guidance but every piece of advice you gives them inadvertently makes things worse for them.

INTJ: Every time you open your mouth to say something intelligent, something entirely idiotic comes out instead.

ENTJ: Somebody is wrong, and they’re directing a large group of people! You can’t do anything about it and will have to obey whatever inefficient policies they decide to implement.

INFJ: You are eternally damned to working for a morally corrupt company that aims to exploit the weak and generally degrade conditions for all of society

I had to chuckle at more than a few of these, as I am more than a little familiar with the preferences of more than one of these types. The fact that this list was compiled by an ENFP, a natural ally to the INFP, makes this list all the more interesting and satisfying to read with care.

As for the INFP, getting crystal clear about the distinction between “I am pathetic and unoriginal” and “My work is deemed by so many to be pathetic and unoriginal” is clearly called for, lest the INFP curl up into a withering, despairing teeny tiny ball of devastation and humiliation.


In this world, at this time, the INFP is caught between a rock and a hard place.

On the one hand, the INFP must cope with the oppressive influence of the SJ; on the other hand, in the face of this oppression, the INFP must also cope with their own worst fear of being deemed unworthy (or worse) in any attempt to strike out on their own and offer their best work.

The rock? It’s a big one to climb, admittedly, and without help, probably not possible: exercising your brilliance and being original on your own terms. The hard place? Working in a dirty facility or a noisy office where the following stressors are bound to abound (remember these?):

– routine
– mundane work
– time management
– crowds
– open disrespect
– values undermined or challenged
– metrics of improvement
– chaos, conflict, confusion
– being met with criticism
– being rushed
– being shut down
– negativity from others
– unclear expectations
– decisions

For the INFP, the hard place is oftentimes a necessary evil; the rock itself is an opportunity as much as it is a challenge, albeit an opportunity and a challenge fraught with peril and consequence in a world too much in love with its conformity for the sake of authority.

Is there a reprieve for the INFP? A salve? A respite, perhaps? Until this world wakes up to the plight of INFPs, it will continue to suffer the deprivation of going without INFP inspiration.


At this point, I think it helps to know the needs of the INFP.

I’ve seen many videos and read many articles that speak to these needs, and so, I do not for a moment think that this list is comprehensive, although I can say it resonates deeply with the heart of my soul …

– new ideas
– intimate understanding
– mutual understanding
– purpose in work
– deep inspiration
– creative realization
– ample time and space
– private time and space
– a focus on meaning
– fluidity and flexibility
– a good partner (in love or in work)
– a free spirit (having one)

Note the emphasis here on having time and space. On the rock, no one is likely to pester you. In the hard place, time and space are pretty much outside of your control, save the few moments or inches that you yourself can claim for yourself in a bid for sanity and salvation.


The first four minutes of the following video offer very powerful inspiration for the INFP (among other types) to manifest the life of your dreams, placing ample emphasis on attention, emotion, and imagination, all of which are the INFPs primary tools of whatever trade they take up.

Wasn’t that powerful? So powerful it brought tears to my eyes. Keep watching this and you’ll find yourself at risk of having all that you desire (and then some). Just be careful what you wish for.

you truly are the creator of your experience of reality;
step into your calling in life to find where it leads you

perhaps a purpose needs to manifest along the way?;
open yourself to experience to expand your horizons

keeping attending, keep emoting, and keep imagining;
sooner or later, those desired outcomes must manifest

Remember: as an INFP, your biggest hurdle is the fear that your deepest thoughts and feelings will be exposed to larger and ever larger audiences to a point in time when everyone will be given to thinking that you’re pathetic and unoriginal your best work is pathetic and unoriginal.

Just try not to make this ongoing process of manifestation so personal; if needs be, do a test run with a small project and with a small audience, and welcome the feedback, and remember this: everyone on Earth has their own version of what it means to experience hell on Earth.

The choice is clear: work in a hard place or find your way to the top of that rock.

Now go and put yourself out there, and be juicy fruitful with others of your kind.

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

Previous post:

Next post: