4 Causes of INFJ Stress (And How To Beat Them)

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on August 29, 2016

INFJs are highly perceptive of their environment and other people. As the "Counselor" archetype of Myers Briggs personality theory, they are deeply empathetic and often understand others better than they understand themselves. They work hard for the common good, commit, and follow through. And they are perhaps more likely than any other personality type to experience anxiety.

The relationship between these traits is fairly solid. One recent study published in an Israeli academic journal suggests that anxiety can be positively correlated with elevated empathy. People whose personality test results indicate that they care deeply for others tend to be much more anxious than those who are less empathetic - although the science is less clear about causality. Does empathy make people more prone to anxiety, or are anxious people better at understanding others?

An equally significant aspect of stress is that it can actually make a person less generous and caring toward others. When stress rises, empathy suffers. No matter how empathetic you are to begin with, under stress, you're more likely to interpret neutral events as hostile ones and displace frustration onto those around you. As this fascinating study shows, it also makes you less likely to feel someone else's pain.

For INFJs, these studies make interesting reading. They hint at something you may have noticed in yourself - specifically, that you experience higher stress levels compared to other personality types and that, under stress, your ability to stand in another's shoes is severely compromised. INFJs have a reputation for becoming sarcastic, narrow-minded and critical under pressure, often lashing out at others in ways you can barely comprehend.

What triggers such uncomfortable behavior? Let's take a closer look.

#1: Dealing with details

Too many details or other sensory stimuli can provoke a stress reaction in INFJs, especially when you feel uncertain about a situation. Unexpected environments, events or interruptions unsettle you greatly since you are forced to focus on immediate, sensory details rather than relying on your intuition. Examples range from filing your taxes to navigating your way through a foreign city.

As you start to lose your global perspective, you may make frustrating and stressful mistakes. For example, you may misplace or drop things. You may obsess about the minute details and become fixated on finding the "right" or "missing" piece of data that will solve your problem. Or you may attempt to control everything around you, compulsively alphabetizing your DVD collection or putting things permanently and immediately in order.

Interestingly, the focus of your obsession may have nothing to do with the situation that caused the stress reaction in the first place. And since your labor is misdirected, it is unlikely to produce any meaningful results - causing even greater stress.

How to beat it: Removing the sensory stimulation is essential if you are to restore a feeling of balance. Consider lying down for 10 minutes, in the dark, with earplugs in order to block the sensory overload, and make sure you get a good night's sleep. In the long-term, learn to recognize the signs of overstimulation and take steps to mitigate them. For example, you might switch off the relentless email, music, bright lights etc and schedule a break from some of these distractions.

#2: Too much extroverting

Crowds, noise, frequent interruptions - INFJs need their personal space and may experience great anxiety if they have too much contact with people in one day. Faced with such provocations, there's a risk that you will spread yourself so thin responding to other people's problems that you neglect your own needs.

In such situations, your stress reaction tends to go one of two ways. Either you shut down from the world, communicating very little. Or you externalize blame and become angry with the world around you; a type of anxiety that will continue to plague you until you can escape to a low-pressure, solitary environment.

How to beat it: INFJs agree that regular periods of solitude in a simple, non-threatening environment is important to help them regain their equilibrium. You need to give yourself the time to recover from social interactions so you can stop feeling the emotions of others and start reconnecting with yourself. Exercising alone is helpful, and some INFJs find great solace in nature. Other stress busters include light reading, writing in a journal or meditation.

#3: Lack of autonomy and efficiency

Controlled and structured work environments that do not provide the flexibility to think independently are extremely stressful for INFJs. You establish very high, often perfectionist, standards for yourself and need the freedom to creatively accomplish these goals. Inefficiency or teams that have no sense of direction will also string you out since they stifle your ability to produce something significant.

When overwhelmed at work, you are likely to focus on all the things that are wrong with the environment. You may start micromanaging others, feeling like you have to do all the work yourself. Or you may become picky and fault-finding toward your co-workers, trying to change their behavior "for their own good."

How to beat it: You tend to see your environment as a house of straws that could collapse on you at any time. To avoid stress, you need to constantly reinforce the structure and make sure you have enough room to maneuver.

Ideally, find a quiet space to think and work. If that's not possible, redirect the phone, shut down your email and pop on a pair of headphones. Establish rules for when and how work is delivered and how much others may interrupt you - and make sure that you are available within these slots. This is important since you tend to be hard on yourself when you cannot meet others' expectations.

#4: Distress with close relationships

INFJs are particularly vulnerable to hurt feelings when there is conflict within a close relationship. Feeling chronically misunderstood can strike at the heart of your authenticity and bring into question your value when a friend or partner seems opposed to your opinion. You also have a tendency to absorb the beliefs and feelings of others as if they were your own. When external conflict grows, so too does your sense of personal discomfort.

In a low-pressure environment, you typically will put up with many things in a relationship for the sake of keeping the peace. But there is always an invisible line that others shall not cross. When they do, your stress reactions can be cataclysmic. An angry INFJ can deliver a wrath and intensity that most people have probably never experienced before.

How to beat it: There are really only two ways to handle a stressful relationship: dissociate from the situation or call a friend and gripe. It's probably wise to do both. Spending time alone will allow you to separate your feelings from those of the other person and understand yourself without distortion. Talking to someone can help put those feelings into perspective since you tend to solve problems by articulating them.

If you feel uncomfortable blabbing about your problems (let's face it, no INFJ enjoys airing their dirty laundry in public) reconnecting with your intuition can offer the same catharsis. You have a habit of dropping all your favorite activities when stressed, but the time to relax is when the molehills are erupting into mountains. It really does help to give yourself permission to be creative, put your intuition back in charge and honor your muse.

What about you? What triggers your stress reactions? What tips have you learned to decompress? Let us know in the comments.

Molly Owens

Molly Owens is the founder and CEO of Truity. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She began working with personality assessments in 2006, and in 2012 founded Truity with the goal of making robust, scientifically validated assessments more accessible and user-friendly.

Molly is an ENTP and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she enjoys elaborate cooking projects, murder mysteries, and exploring with her husband and son.

More from this author...
About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.


INFJ1961 says...

This is a very useful and insightful bit of information, and of course, perfectly timed as I am momentarily in need of pulling myself out of this rut I've created for myself by staying away from my muse. Thanks!

Keh1016 (not verified) says...

Love concern worry excited anxious anxiety fear

This is my scale in the middle is grief and between that my mother and I both need someone to care of us. I always feel the need to do something to help and at the time it neglects my mother and mom vs my own needs. Been processing through Disney character s with similar personality types battles including upsets and autoimmune and situation and I have family but don't to see them often. I am like my mother trying to figure things out and settle on issues. I also use an animal totem because I am infj personality type but I get upset including similar experience s very much like an enfp. My mother and if have technically been caretakers for 10 yrs for a delusional salesman who is my biological father and in between like my mother have been debating about staying or leaving with my mom. We aren't left with many options but all the decisions and there is no time leftist the end of the day. What bothered me is my mother won't get help for herself so between that and the delusional idiot with his interruption s invading my privacy and space and negative exploitation with my mother including no Real men in townhouse and responsibilities that were his at home and we are both upsets neighbourhood help helped us and forgave the means to put the dinosaur in a nursing home still grieving and processing all this I get very much like Elsa including infj. It is frightening it is upsetting it is frustrating we haven't had the means to have any legal medical therapeutic advice as a family or by ourselves or take care of autoimmune. Sometimes I take things slow day by day because my autoimmune alerts me off that my family has it we all are battling babysitting in the sandwich generation with men and it neglects our needs as artists as humans as women sacramental side of famiktpy. Every once in a while as an infj Elsa doesn't want to make anyone upset or handle a situation similar to Jack frost snapback Ryan reevaluating cause and intention of situation and she is like a lot of different social roles thinking son get so emotional ok and it helped in terms of family but at the same time it makes me very upset because my mother and I have not had time to look after our emotional needs. Currently we get so wiped out between autoimmune and situation that we sleep half the weekend we bare my get to see each other and then she is at work and I am at home trying to give things out vs us trying to get the delusional idiot to do one thing but it leaves no balance time energy space not for us. I am ready to give it up with my mother and move to Hilton head but there is no resources to currently that and my mother seems to like where she works I pushed her to get a job giving her subtle advice between the medical crap her finding a job and then selling the stuff and clearing out the delusional building come to think not it we multitask and stress and he was delusional for making a mountain out of a molehill. He has made everything very difficult for us between that and him pushing with his delusional behavior and then between that he wouldn't get help bogging us with his problems have had to play marriage counselor before he got realkyvsick with his communication that made me most upset because most emotionally distressful and then had to listen to him blab about his delusions with politics more than the president and just even discriminate people based on their income and my motherland if have had tonplaybtherapist and caretaker he needs medical care about mother and I can have a break for once in our life. I have been trying to figure out how to reconstruct with my mother living in a small town in Duncan where it is manufacturing and jobs are scarce so my point is if have been battling all this imbalance of infj autoimmune and it is very difficult especially when with my mother with delusional idiot dontbget to make much time for adult conversation. Any suggestions with one both of detail or what I mentioned would be great because my mom and I have had a lot of good things but a lot of tough breaks too. Please any help or suggestions free and nothing too much of a hassle or tolerance including resolving m Elsa battles would helpful thanks.

Femmy (not verified) says...

Thank you!!!!

Excellent points and well expressed.

I have noticed recently, while stressed out, that I have trouble in all of these areas. Thank you for the validation and tips.

I appreciate it very much.

James Harman (not verified) says...

Well, yet again Truity seems to understand me better than I understand myself! Thanks again for the cutting-edge insight.

Kennith (not verified) says...

A googol is 10 to the 100th power (which is 1 googolplex followed by

100 zeros). A googol is larger than the number of particles in the world, which amount to just 10 to the 80th power.

Guest (not verified) says...

I had no idea that there are others who see things the way I do or need the same things I do! Wow! This was reading a description of me in almost all respects. Thank you! What a relief to read this. I usually feel so different from others and isolated

Guest (not verified) says...

My stress reactions are triggered when my alone time is constantly interrupted , When I dont have a set schedule but overwhelmed with tasks that must be completed, and when I have to constantly exert myself even when I dont want to. My tips to decompress is to sit in nature and observe it while listening to calming music.

Kathryn88*infj/pisces (not verified) says...

I am exactly the same way. When I start getting worked up or need to shake things off I go outside and lay in my hammock and look up at the trees and the sky.  Helps me sooooooo much.  

Matthew Krepshaw (not verified) says...

And nobody ever seems to understand why we need so much alone time! I feel like if they read this they might be able to understand at least a little bit or learn to just leave us alone.


INFJ Artist (not verified) says...

Well timed as well. Married to an END for six years, we still don't seem to understand each other. I do all of these things, and I do remember to stress out more than anyone I know. I have put myself in a leadership role in my community, for the greater good and the promotion of the arts. Dealing with the details drives me to crazy so
It is been hard to keep things into perspective.

Naki (not verified) says...

I understand this too and how unpredictable events in Arts organizing can be because artists are so impulsive! Currently planing a film festival and have a weekend full of invites figuring how I can get out of some of them, ha. Generally what works for me is nature walks and reading..which explains why I found this post. I'm comforted.

Neil H (not verified) says...

Honestly, I was looking into a mirror that showed every minor detail and flaw as I read this.

Jolene Marais (not verified) says...

Why are we so obsessed with details? :-)

Ivona (not verified) says...

Thank you for this insight, Molly.

Sharing my experience and thoughts: What triggers my stress reactions is an old-fashioned work/life imbalance. INFJs are Doers and Drivers; however, to get enough so vital me-time to recharge to keep giving is just one part of the story - to justify taking such time off might be an issue. I use a flight safety rules analogy, 'to put your oxygen mask before assisting others'. This works magic to give myself a permission to hide away with my creative muse.

To beat distress with close relationships:venting elsewhere indeed helps; it many not solve a conflict, though; and let's face it, INFJs usually do not like to bother others with their issues (being natural counselors, we listen:-)). An advice from a professional helped me: in a safe and ambient environment, sit down with your significant other/friend/family and take turns, each 5 minutes, to speak your mind. No interruptions, judgement, or questions. Give yourself time to process and next time you meet, talk again.

Guest (not verified) says...

OMG! This was soo me!!!
I have a very stressful work enviroment right know with much cooperation needed and little time to do it. I feel so overwhelmed sometimes - like I am going to burst into little pieces.
Thanks for all the advice on how to handle it!

Guest (not verified) says...

This is incredible information for me right now. I've had the most stressful summer on record and have been feeling like I'm unable to hold everything together. (And why should I feel I need too anyway, right?). Everything you listed has been affecting me. I will print this out to share with my husband (possibly ESTP) so maybe he will "get it". I feel I now have permission to go find my happy place when I feel the need. Thank you!!

ItsSarahKo (not verified) says...

Thank you SO much for this. It is so insightful, and for me, so true. Pinpointing my stressors and giving me real, viable solutions will be so beneficial, now and for the future.

Rob P (not verified) says...

This article is spot on!
I have pets that I retreat to for solace and renewal.
My 2 dogs offer unconditional love and are happy just to sit with me, no questions, no demands.
These moments help me recalculate the GPS.

Blou (not verified) says...

The universe thinks it is so funny. I know someone (not very well) who is the only one who can push my buttons. All he has to do to snap me out of my tirade is to say "remember rule #6". This is in reference to "The Art of Possibility" by Rosamund and Ben Zander. Rule #6 is do not take yourself so seriously. It usually cracks me up and I'm done with my tantrum. It's true that I am usually stressing out at the time but this practice allows me to stop taking it out on him and take care of myself.

Theo (not verified) says...

This article speaks to me in so many ways. Thank you! I'm a real beginner when it comes to managing my stress. What I have learned is that it requires great discipline and consistency. Meditating during my lunch breaks helps, but having been an intnern and entry-level employee in several companies, I find it difficult to make time for these short breaks without annoying by boss. What has probably worked best is morning exercise. With that I can effectively start the day on my own terms. Now if only I had the discipline!


Koolkat (not verified) says...

I actually have a friend who is also an INFJ, and this article was perfect for helping me understand an area where I can do better, as well as understand why he sometimes seems silent and broody for a few days. I used to feel rejected by him until I realized not only why, but also that I do it too! Any advice on how to become a more detail-oriented INFJ?

Also, I lose things so often my family teases me that "there are other objects in this world!" lol

Guest (not verified) says...

If this isn't me.. Thanks a lot for this very valuable information! :)

Guest (not verified) says...

I concur with most of what was said but with regards to losing things, well I think that's an INFJ trait in general. INFJs tend to not always be present in the sensory world and don't always pay attention to their environment, therefore it's plausible that things/items will be misplaced/lost. With regards to stress, everybody experiences it but it's particularly acute amongst INFJs. What stresses me out is: a) Lack of autonomy as I like to carve my own path, rather than have it dictated. b) laziness in the workplace as that's guaranteed to get my back up, particularly if it's left to me to carry the load. c) Wilful ignorance as some people pretend that they know less than they do, purely to advance themselves. d) Gossip within the workplace, who'd rather bitch about 'kathy in finance' than do the job they are paid to do. These people take offence if you don't join in with their little bitch fest. I go to work to work so I wish they wouldn't take it so personally. I can think of many more but I'll leave it at that.

Guest (not verified) says...

This was an incredible read.. and at such a perfect time! Thank you. I feel as if my entire world is falling apart from Top to Bottom and there is nothing that I can do to help or fix anything. My home is my safe place to retreat, find comfort, Re-Center myself and go forward. It is so hard and so overwhelming at times because I don't handle chaos well and at the moment, I am surrounded by chaos. I need structure, schedules.. it almost feels like a safe place... Thank you once again for writing such an amazing and informative piece, it is an amazing feeling, knowing that I am not alone in feeling like this.

Paulus (not verified) says...

Great article. As an INFP male, I found that a lot of this applies to me as well. Sometimes the line between P and J is pretty ambiguous. At any rate, some of the techniques that are outlined are really to deal with strong pulls in the extravert or sensory direction, which are not my preferences. The basic strategy to me seems to be getting some down time, to cool off and get my center back. This is great. The most challenging situations are when I cannot "escape" - for instance when I am at work in an adversarial situation. I try to reflect on my breath, have presence for where I am at, and have compassion and acceptance that I am feeling anxiety and that is okay. Sometimes I need to take a walk, or go into the restroom and sit in a stall until I can regain my composure. Some days are better than others, it is a process, but thank you again for these great suggestions on how to better live.


Guest (not verified) says...

Another area that has caused me stress is working for people or organisations that don't share a similar value base. I recently worked for an organisation that was more interested in profits than education. As a teacher I couldn't put up with this for long, I was pushed to pump out passes so the organisation could claim funding. Naturally I left - walked out. I think infjs need to be in workplaces that match or complement their values otherwise it can be very stressful.

Arlynx (not verified) says...

It's relieving to see that my behavioral tendencies can be attributed to INFJ traits and not solely the answers that others have imposed on me (too emotional, youngest sibling, unconfident). Moreover these solutions to stressful situations and my reactions are illuminating to managing my mental health and relationships.

Guest (not verified) says...

Loved this article. Have struggled for years with the commonalities associated with INFJ but had no clue about MBTI until recently. INFJ is me to the core and it was so cathartic to finally see my personality explained in writing and that someone out there finally "got me". Well, actually, a lot of someones. I am 33 and have been in the healthcare field since high school. I was born 3 months premature and spent a lot of time around healthcare as a child so I think it was a comfortable environment for me. I have strong relative mentors in healthcare as well who also influenced my ultimate decision to pursue my B.S.N. I always excelled in most subjects in K-12, with more effort needed in subject matters like trigonometry. I was an office manager for a healthcare practice at 19 for close to 2 years. I had my first child within that timeframe and then decided to go back to school for my nursing degree. I pushed myself and took a lot of core undergrad classes together in the sciences and did extremely well. I went into my Bachelor's RN program with close to a 4.0. I had a lot of life events at this time and balanced those with nursing school and graduated on time with a good GPA. I started my nursing career in Critical Care, where I worked for 5 years. I transitioned to a position as a nurse auditor for two years and grew to love my position. It was also during this time that I was involved in education for our departments with regard to documentation and charging practices. I found that I love to educate and use my extroverted function with material that I have thoroughly researched and have prepared. I do not do well being put on the spot; however, in this case I was able to excel because I could not only research and prepare a presentation, I could execute it well because I felt confident in the subject matter. I eventually decided to transfer to a different position, not because of a lack on enjoying my job, but due to conflicts of interest and office politics that, although indirectly involved me, put me in a position where I felt my core values and ethics were being compromised and I could not continue. I transfered to a position within our quality department as a data analyst. I enjoy the people I work with and the politics and ethical issues from the previous position are not an issue here. I have been in the position close to 6 months. I enjoy some aspects of the position; however I am finding that the work itself is frustrating me. The "greater meaning" is there for what I currently do but I am having trouble with the "analysis paralysis" issue in my work. I am a great writer and my boss likes my work; however, there have been communication issues with myself and my boss and others and my boss that we are working to improve. Coupled with the internal struggle I am having balancing the workload with my need to adjust to the newness of the position. I am the only one who has the particular tasks that I have and the person prior to me who did the job was gone 4 months prior to my arrival. I enjoy writing; however, in my position I review and write abstracts for peer review. Certain reviews come easier than others but I have struggled to find balance. I can spend so much time trying to perfect each abstract and find every little bit of pertinent information that could be meaningful that it slows me down and my productivity and efficiency suffer. I also try to put into perspective the big picture and utilize evidence-based practice via research pertinent to the cases. I get distracted easily and defiantly suffer with overstimulation and information overload. If I am looking at a general case with no defined subset of information to look for, I get overwhelmed with all the data possibilities and 1.) feel the need to shut down or 2.) try to push through but end up going down 15 different rabbit holes by the end of it with a end result of a thesis when it should have been 4-5 lines. I call this the Dory phenomenon. I wonder if other INFJs have experienced this also. It is something I struggle with in communicating to others all the time in all aspects of my life. in my close circle of friends there are always Dory jokes. I am very good at writing and love English; however, have difficulty communicating my thoughts verbally, unless previously, methodically, planned out. I hate being put on the spot, because most of the time I go from A to C and skip B just because in my head it seems implied but most people communicate in linear fashion and struggle to follow along. At that point I get frustrated because I feel misunderstood and either shut down or reduce communication. As far as my current position, we will see. I have questioned whether it is thre right fit as at the current time it, I am experiencing great anxiety related to it and am not sure how to proceed. Thanks for providing this outlet for myself and many of us struggling with the same issues.

Jolene Marais (not verified) says...

Firstly I have to say it is extremely hard being an INFJ. Having constant anylystical thoughts are not great. We can't even sit at the doctor's office without sensing emotions. Feeling numb most of the time after mingling with people because people are exhausting. Yes we like people but we prefer people we feel confortable with.People we have chosen for their sincerity and honestly.We are sensitive people therefore we prefer a soft and gentle approach.Most people do not know how to make someone confortable and they don't know how to use their words wisely.  In general I have a not too optimistic feeling about people..Most people don't know how to handle their emotions.They want to come across as friendly but they haven't mastered the art of controlling their faces. This leaves me exhausted and then I can't help to get away from people and to  find my place of solitude and while I am there I want to anylyze my thoughts and when I am emotionally ready I will be myself again. But chances are great  that I  will feel the same way very soon.We can't be fooled. Our memories are amazing we can remember things way back.How someone made us feel that emotion will be vivid for the rest of our lives.

Joanne (not verified) says...

This is so easy for me to resonate with. 

Tony Tony Tony (not verified) says...

To other INFJ's... here's a nutshell of my results....

I'm a male INFJ, in my 40's, I've had over 200 jobs in my life... riddled with anxiety and depression.. Always searched out ways to control the anxiety and still do to this day.  I was put on klonopin for 12 years :( it nearly ruined me... finally got off if it as of May 17th 2015.. it was a rough ride but I'm back...

I've been in three long-term relationships (still am) since the age of 15 (overlapping eachother usually)... Each time I find myself both insecure of leaving the relationship and yet an almost obessive desire to leave and just search out life a day at a time.. 

School was hell.. most jobs have been hell... For whatever reason I'll never understand why, I got into sales and am still doing this right now.. I hate it because I don't like trying to push people into buying overpriced crap etc.. I get very involved maybe too involved but can't change it anyway...

I was self-employed for almost 10 years but lost it during my klonopin withdrawal so now I feel stuck in this job I hate, in a 15 year relationship that has tested me beyond belief.. at most times I feel lost and alone in this relationship.. It seems that everything written about the INFJ is true.. too much haha..

I've always been magetically drawn to "worthy" causes, professions etc., but now I seem to lack the drive/confidence/direction to ever get anywhere.. I mean how can I ever accomplish anything of real tangibility if my focus and drive are constantly bouncing from one direction to another..

Another feature is I've always had no sense of physical direction.. I can never tell what direction I'm heading or driving.. I get turned around so easy so I'm very thankful for google maps :)

I know I dreamt of being a great motivator and was headed in that direction until klonopin and the resulting decay of a productive life... but I'm not dead and gone so anything is possible still yet!

I have an incredible array of food/chemical sensitivites especially to MSG.. for me it causes an almost instant overstimulation of my mind that lasts for 1-2 days and God help anyone that crosses me on those days, it's just insane how irrational and angry I get.. but I eat plain foods now so that helps at least one trigger to not be so readily available..

I am really impatient and find my days alternating between feeling love and compassion for any and all, to complete disdain and hatred of humanity.. it's nuts. Brain fog, confusion etc comes and goes so I'm guessing its a facet of this as well...

The internal drive to always be accomplishing or moving toward a goal is both a blessing and a curse...

But in all, I'm so thankful for this life and all of the experiences so far in this wild and crazy world!

Also, I've recently realized that I've often allowed what others want to nearly always interefere with what I want.. to the point that I'm just ready to be done with all relationships.. at least until I find out who I really am.. ugh, if that even makes any sense..

Hope this helps!  Feel free to email me, anyone that wants to talk on this more :)



Sierra H. (not verified) says...

Hi Tony.

I wanted to personally thank you for sharing your experience. Every bit of what you described sounds exactly like me...and I'm female, turning 30 years old in a month and a half! So these must all be INFJ traits, indefinitely! The part where you described your work and school experiences struck me the hardest. I currently just took 2 personal days off from work due to my feelings of anxiety, despression, and lack of feeling fulfillment in my current position...and I've only been there just shy of 90 days. I go through these bouts of feeling inadequate, and have this painful urge to rethink my entire direction in life, and make a drastic change in my environment...or sometimes even my appearance...only to sit down to think about it while crying, and my head is in a total fog...just mentally and emotionally drained. I want to work for myself and capitalize on my creative nature, but i have no idea what to do. I feel like such a friggen mess ALL THE TIME. 

Tony Tony Tony (not verified) says...

Hi Sierra.. thank you for your response, I'm happy that I helped somewhat.. since writing that six months ago, I've finally found a chemical basis for most everything I've been experiencing.. in short it has to do with an enzyme named CYP2D6.. you'll have to read up on that.. essentially it controls a lot of emotion based operations in the brain specifically it regulates how much serotonin and dopamine is released among other things.. for me the bulk of the anxiety and depression aside from actual event based reactions is caused from too much of both neuros being released.. long story short I've found that a quarter tablet of OTC Aleve (naproxen) stops the overproduction of both neuros and since experimenting, I've finally reached a point where i can think, live and breath without constant internal dialogs and the rest coming on board... it's not a perfect solution and oddly I've found that raising glutamate by consuming msg helps in the same way because glutamate opposes serotonin.. when glut is high, sero goes low.. so before when i had a reaction to eating msg laced foods i think it was really just anxiety because I'd read somewhere long before then that msg causes anxiety anger etc.. the mind is so powerful.. at any rate, i can eat half a bag of Doritos and be so laid back.. actually the more the better because glutamate converts to glutamine when in abundance and that in turn converts to gaba as far as I'm reading anyway.. which is crucial to feeling calm and centered.. your milage most definitely may vary but wanted to give you the jist of it so hopefully you can take it from there and find some relief because i know the hell it's caused.. good luck and i hope you get where they want and deserve to be :) Tony

Joanne (not verified) says...

I totally get you Tony.

I too struggle with staying or going in relationships. 

Too painful to stay, too painful to go. 

I am not sure if I will ever feel settled with anyone. 

If I had the courage I would have a go at being single. 


About jobs, tried sales and it was exactly as you described. 

I teach refugees now, pay is mediocre but I can honestly say,  that being at work is the only time I am not dissociating from who I am. 

It's rewarding. I feel a purpose in my life that is fulfilling.  

I hope to one day find that in a relationship. 


Thank you for sharing your experience.  It helped me. 

InFeRnOTTH14 (not verified) says...

Dude... it's so hard being like this... I hate myself for being like this. Anxiety ridiculous, I end up forgetting things and myself. No one understands... I tell people how I feel and immediately call me over dramatic 15 year old but the stress is very real. I guess I said it wrong but I feel like a weight to them and they don't realize how I feel on the daily basis. People are scary to me, constant sweat on the back of my neck. Thank you for writing this, I guess only other infjs or nfs understand. I'm dealing with sensors in my house and I am currently getting kicked out because of my sensitive a** and being accused of things and being misinterpreted. I am 20 years old, I guess I have some more growing up to do. Has any other infj feel super drained in all ways?

Naseem (not verified) says...

Yes, every time I do something, it feels like I need some rest. For example, if I eat, watch tv, read, talk to people, or any other activities... I need to rest. I wish I didn't feel this way too.

Most of the time, I don't follow the tasks that I planned for future because I know it will take me a long time to do it, so I just procrastinate. Have you ever experience something similar to this? 

KKtheINFJ (not verified) says...

This article is spot on.

Especially the part about relationship troubles. 

When people act inconsistently towards me or in our relationship, i pretty much downward spiral into non-stop overanalyzing and detective work. I fricking hate it. So. Much. 

I would say turning to spirituality has helped me some. Learning to love myself and give myself the attention and consistency that people in my life regularly fail to supply me with. Also, being present and realizing that i can't control A LOT of the stuff that happens in my life.

I am currently on a mission to learn how to release control and solve problems as they appear right infront of my face rather than anticipating them and overpreparing for scenerios that will never actually occur.

Our overactive imaginations and obsessive hoarding of information during times of stress kills our joy. We really need to get ahold of that. 

I'm here for you guys!!!

Joanne (not verified) says...

Thank you. 

It's not just me ?


My phrase that describes me in my relationship is drasticizing and catastrophizing. Always on the lookout (every sense hyper aroused) and ready to fight, freeze or take flight.

It's so draining. 

Jason Cornelius (not verified) says...

After I've read the article, I found out that all things that are mentioned DO make me irritated and annoyed. I took an MBTI personality test and got INFJ and I didn't believe it until I read this article. The most irritating thing (for me) out of all the things mentioned above are lack of autonomy and efficiency. I always think that I have to do everything myself when my group (I am at school, so groupwork is abundant) is not cooperative. Thanks for the brilliant article, Truity!

SAF says...

 I retreat often as , as the article points out, I need to re-equilibrate  after strong work interactions. I have a job that requires my ambition and drive and is full of ambitious extroverts and yet I am an INFJ. However, because i need to retreat more I always feel guilty and feel like I cannot "compete" in this environment. I see myself clearly advancing (specially if i gauge with my needs and values) but I still struggle accepting my retreat times . Any advice?

INFJ2324 (not verified) says...

I wonder that to meet another INFJ, we would feel less alone... or if the one person who understands you out there doesn’t have to be your twin?? Gosh I would LOVE to meet someone just like me, though- then I could see how I think and get perspective, huh. Or I was thinking that I should video myself for a week and then look back and review it. Anyways, great, intriguing article that helps me to understand my tendencies a little better and break through the mold of depression. Thanks a ton! I appriciate it!

INFJ2324 (not verified) says...

I would love to meet other INFJs. I myself am avidly one. I love to write when I am inspired, but when I am not, I struggle to, as with most ordinary, non-difference making things in life (true of most people I think), so I overcompensate with list making. I have made thousands of lists that only a few have been accomplished. I struggle making friends , but I excel at dramatic, romantic, adventurous scenarios. Examples include the movies “The Bourne: Legacy” (my favorite), “The Titanic” (considered the best work of film ever created by many I would expect) (it is also a hard one to swallow for me without distancing myself, though, or it’ll plunge my into sadness(:  ),and more science fictional ones like “The Hunger Games”(J Law is excellent, perhaps my favorite actress in the way she adressed pain throughout the movie) or “Divergent” (a sweet, quiet girl who’s always felt different changing a previously angry man by falling in love, and challenging herself, growing in herself, fighting like a girl: great movie by any standard I think).

  Also, I have lucid dreams every night and my favorite thing to do is fly (without wings) and also, I have such vivid dreams that I can describe them in great detail. I am usually the center of attention in them (probably because I’m human, and I like attention) and yet I’m always seem to be myself in them: just manifest in power and confidence, vice versa to the real me.

I would note, though, that I can go long periods without dreaming lucid if I am much, much more satisfied generally or not as emotional or creatively striving during however long. 

I hope this info helps as a sneak peek into one of our kind’s minds. :-) thanks!

Cheryl S. (not verified) says...

I have always been able to read people and their emotions.  It's  like I am picking up their base thoughts. I trace this  now to being INFJ. Being sensitive is sometimes helpful, but mostly I don't like it because I feel all the bad stuff too.  

For INFJ traights, I like to be alone, I enjoy my own company.  People seem to like me easily without much effort on my part. I like to help people, my job is centered around helping. My head will spin if I am wronged, and I dont act well, and can go basket case if I am not in my element.  I think you all understand. I married an extrovert, which is good for me and him..that I am grateful for. Glad to find those who share the pain and joys of being a "super" feeler.

MissSunshineCloud (not verified) says...

Thanks for this!  Excellent article!  Its a difficult one - to want to make a difference, but not to get 'boxed in' with this and also the difficulties of interpersonal relationships.  It can be a long search to find what kinds of things we can do and what suits us and stick with it.  Someone mentioned to not take ourselves so seriously at times as helpful! There is an element of truth in this.

Vincent Donkor (not verified) says...

I have never really taken time to know who I was till this past 2/3 weeks. I found out I was INFJ and though it gave me a clear insight to why I did somethings I did growing up, it has made me very stressed. I replay every conversation and analyze every single word I said and ever since someone told me I was trying to "impress", I have become very confused. Judging my actions and words and it can go on for days. I am a photographer, mostly weddings and other events, knowing who I am now has made me more quiet and scared to interact with my clients like I used to because I have thing in my mind that I might say something they will not agree with. Now I get feverish more often than most people in a day,  I don't know if it's fear or a prompt to something I did. I am all over the place at the moment.

lowella (not verified) says...

Wow, this was very helpful, thanks. I do all the things you mentioned. I just realized I do the organization thing all the time and it just drives me nuts because I can never organize it all and I get even more stressed. Now I am working back an autoimmune disease from the stress, which I guess is common with our types. Too much repression! If you're in the same boat, look up TMS (tmswiki.org), which is very helpful.

mamelia (not verified) says...

I feel misunderstood 100% of the time and it's incredibly alienating. this article brought tears to my eyes and reading all your comments help me feel better about being stuck like this. every day I feel stressed and overwhelmed with other people's problems and working for a soulless corporation.


I've been at the same job for almost 10 years, I have had 4 long term relationship, none I would say have been particularly healthy. I'm attracted to "broken" extroverts, but they always leave me drained and confused. I have a hard time giving up on people, especially if I'm in a relationship with them, often neglecting my own needs. I become indecisive and quiet and submissive but inside I'm boiling and of I happen to boil over it's no good for anyone.


lately my need an desire to be alone has been escalating. I'm 31 female and feel pressured to make a family. I'm worried the stress of children will be too much for me, but I also feel like I was born to be a mother and that I would do a really good job at raising a human. I feel so overwhelmed by this I just want to stop existing, be in a coma, fast forward through all of it.

eugenex (not verified) says...

Hi mamelia, i understand you perfectly. Am a 29 year old male living in Africa and here the pressure is far much worse, but all hope is not lost. The first step is knowing. Ever since i discovered am an INTJ i've quit trying to measure up to peers and getting too involved in other people's mess. We will eventually heal and have better persepective to life

je (not verified) says...


*My test results infj. connect with intuition helps. I feel like blind person whenever I lost intuition.

*meditation and mindfulness helps

*walk alone in nature helps

* part time work helps. I can work FT for short term but not long. keep minimalist life style I won't be slave of money. So I keep lots free time.

* have close friendship with infp/enfp helps. learn relax way of life

INFJ-T (not verified) says...

Married to an INFP for 18 years. It's a strange relationship full of love and conflict.

He is a wonderful man, selfless, always wanting to help others. As an INFJ this can lead me to burnout.

Sometime I feel unsafe with him, since many times he totally ignores what I am feeling and ovewhelms me with other people's problems. I have no social skills and I literally avoid people.

This is very distressing for me. However, when he is focused in me, it is a wonderful relationship.

I feel so confused sometimes.

Grimm (not verified) says...

Oh my goodness. I cannot articulate how understood I finally feel. So very much of this is me. I've always felt like a terrible person because of "anger issues" - but the line about, "...there is always an invisible line that others shall not cross. When they do, your stress reactions can be cataclysmic. An angry INFJ can deliver a wrath and intensity that most people have probably never experienced before" - that is sooooooo me. It's such a relief to see it framed in this context.

SafelyAnonymous (not verified) says...

I’ve known that I’m an INFJ for at least 20 years, but only in the past few years have I really come to understand the consequences of being an INFJ (and yes, I chose that word carefully). I used to be more able to see the gifts that come with being an INFJ, but now I mostly see the curses. The way I innately see the world has cost me dearly in many ways, and I hate myself for it, almost as much as I hate listening to myself complain about it. I want to “lighten up” so badly but have no idea how to do it. I’m sitting at work, at a job that rips at my soul, with tears in my eyes as I read this article and all of your lovely, broken responses. I’ve felt so misunderstood for so many years, and yet here you all are, describing your experience in the same ways as I do. It both gives me hope and makes me yearn even harder for connection. (Can one “yearn harder?” I actually had to stop writing and look it up, because…INFJ).

I’ve never met another INFJ, at least not that I know of, because of course we aren’t going to make it that easy for someone to “find out” our true nature. I’m always studying people and wondering if they might be an INFJ, as if we’ll meet eyes and suddenly feel understood. And what is our true nature, anyway? I feel like a chameleon most of the time, just to get through the days. As a result of changing my shape and color so often, I feel like I’ve completely lost myself over time. Who am I, in this moment, if I could somehow filter out all the noise? I fantasize about escaping into the mountains and separating myself from…everything. Or as mamelia wrote: “I feel so overwhelmed by this I just want to stop existing, be in a coma, fast forward through all of it.” I can so identify with that. I don’t feel suicidal, but just want everything to be over. It’s relentless. “The overstimulation of existence,” as I read somewhere, which resonated with me.

Has anyone benefitted from seeing a counselor/therapist? I’m finding that it seems to only serve as an echo chamber of what I already know intimately about myself but can’t “fix.” And I find that even though I know what helps me cope, it’s a struggle to make myself do those things. It feels selfish, even though I know it’s not – it’s actually a lifeline. But saying things vs. believing them in my gut are often different things.

And now comes the part where I read over this message and decide whether to crumple it up into digital trash like every other post I’ve never sent. Fear of judgement? If not by others then certainly by me. I’ll rehash all these words in my head for the next 3 hours and then regret allowing myself to be so vulnerable, and/or so insufferable. But you all have helped me today with your sharing, and I didn’t judge you for it, so perhaps I can try to not judge myself for it this once. And maybe there’s someone else who will feel a little less alone if I share my struggles too. Plus it’s anonymous, so I didn’t really have to be that vulnerable here, did I? If I could just turn off that pesky inner monologue for a while…

Wishing you all moments of quiet and contentment in your day today.

johnsay (not verified) says...

This is so true. I have problems of constant invasions to privacy from my mom and a lack of understanding for my way of navigating the world. What drives me out to rage is the invasion of privacy and constantly peering into my private life like peering into a crystal ball, almost like a spy agency in one woman. Most of the time, I have to shut down the door and lock it completely for her realize, or when she moves my items, claim that I haven't organized them yet in that way I organize I know exactly where they are when she does that I lose my items or have to search them for long and at the end, she rolls the blame to me, how do I deal with it ? In the most instinctual way, I get angry. The problem is that it teaches her for a short while, then she does it again that like the price I pay for living with her, I wanted comfort can't really blame her for my own fault at that but that so annoying...

infj-t (not verified) says...

It is so true and now I am facing three of them. Hope by using these tips I can recover sooner. Thanks!

Tina123 (not verified) says...

"Controlled and structured work environments that do not provide the flexibility to think independently are extremely stressful for INFJs. "


Yes, unless we understand and agree on the reasoning. And, personally, when I find myself in such a situation, I quiet like the time to process my thoughts. But not for too long because I will become distressed, depressed, annoyed, and somehow both bored and overwhelmed.

Share your thoughts


Myers-Briggs® and MBTI® are registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., which has no affiliation with this site. Truity offers a free personality test based on Myers and Briggs' types, but does not offer the official MBTI® assessment. For more information on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® assessment, please go here.

The Five Love Languages® is a registered trademark of The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, which has no affiliation with this site. You can find more information about the five love languages here.

Latest Tweets

Get Our Newsletter