4 Tips for INFPs Who Want to Build Self-Confidence

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on March 28, 2016
Category: INFP

What does it mean to be an INFP? Some might call you a starry-eyed idealist, a perfection-seeker, a wearer of rose-tinted spectacles. Others might recognize your tolerance, your adaptability, your wise counsel or your endless empathy with the underdog.

These are admirable traits, but for every gift of strength, there is an associated weakness. At times, it can seem like the INFP personality is submissive - meek, mild, and always letting others decide, even if you end up doing something you would rather not. This partly stems from your compassion, your desire to connect with others on a deeper level. But darker factors may be at play. As an INFP, you have a strong internal value system. Regardless of the context, you have a habit of judging and discrediting yourself, simply because you've done something that doesn't live up to your extremely high standards.

So how can an INFP start believing in themselves? Here are four tips to help you release the anxiety stored up inside you and start living with more self-confidence and joy.

1. Photoshop your Self-Image

Self-esteem comes from having a positive self-image. To achieve that you must see and accept yourself honestly, and to achieve that, you have to nip negative thoughts in the bud.

One trick, borrowed from the psychology of stress management, is to use the power of imagination. Picture yourself as the self-assured person you aspire to become. How do you feel when you allow your inner flame to burn so brightly? How do you look, stand, move, talk? How will it affect your work, health, relationships? See these things clearly in your mind's eye and repeat the exercise whenever you need to fold away those self-doubts and stash them in a padlocked chest.

This exercise is good for INFPs because it serves as both an affirmation and an action plan. On the one hand, visualization will help you purify your self-image and give you some additional internal resources to help you cope more effectively. On the other, it shows the gap between where you are now and where you would like to be. The photoshopped visual is the destination, and it will guide you as you take steps along your self-confidence journey.

2. Get Clarity on the Areas that Need the Most Attention

As an INFP, it's likely that you are confident in some areas (your listening skills, your creativity, your empathy) and anxious in others (expressing your feelings, bothering people, conflict). But we are all as unique as snowflakes, and you may not follow the herd.

The next step, then, is to gain clarity on the life areas that need the most work. This might be something concrete like the fear of starting an exercise regime, or something esoteric like the fear of failure, fear of criticism, or fear of getting in over your head. Figure out where you stand on each area, then focus on the ways you can take action.

Setting goals is a key part of this exercise. Goal setting is the process you use to identify the steps you need to take in order to gain confidence in your weak areas, and to measure your success. For example, if the fear of criticism is eroding your self-confidence, you might set a goal to invite criticism from a friend or colleague, to listen carefully, and to calmly ask for specific clarifications. Realizing that you faced a fear, lived to tell the tale and became better as a result is a great confidence booster.

3. Help Others Feel Good About Themselves

This one might seem corny, but bear with me. Helping somebody feel good about themselves, and being friendly, kind and generous, is a proven way to make you feel good about yourself. That's because INFPs derive their confidence from a desire to be a positive influence on the world. Knowing that you are a good person, and leading by example, can do wonders for your self-esteem.

The theory is based on the Law of Attraction, the idea that like attracts like. Some people call it living by the Golden Rule of treating yourself as you would like to be treated. Either way, doing things that help other people smile gives you the sense that you are behaving virtuously and that you are competent at what you do.

4. Sweat the Small Stuff

When it comes to building confidence, setting small goals and achieving them gets far better results than shooting for the moon. If you set your sights too high, there is a risk that you will fail and get discouraged.

Aim to change a small habit. And by small, I mean really small, like clearing your desk, getting a flattering haircut or smiling at every person you see. Do these things for a week or a month. Just ticking them off your list will give you self-confidence in your ability to get things done.

Over time, your small achievements will add up to big achievements. Learn to behave like this all the time, and you'll soon have built up enough energy and momentum to tackle any problem that might be causing you to feel bad about yourself. Good luck!

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.


Seaside Reader (not verified) says...

After 64 years of being INFP me I know that the techniques suggested in this article work. I thought I made them up to help myself over come a fear and lack of confidence that made me want to run and hide! Ironically, I retired after a very successful career in vocational education working at local, state and national levels.

What I learned from this article is that my debilitating fear and lack of self confidence instead of being a personal demon was part of the fabric of my INFP personality. I had no idea! I leveraged all those strengths and have had a very satisfying life helping people self actualize the personal and professional goals while I self actualized my own.

Frequently, I see distressing assessments of INFP capabilities that state we are too "other worldly" and do not have leadership potential or the potential to succeed in "worldly" pursuits. Don't embrace it. They are wrong. Most people do not understand us and without that understanding cannot make that judgement call. You will be true to your values and achieve your successes your way but nothing is out of your reach.

What you create will be both beautiful and enduring. With this new insight, I plan to do new work with a confidence that comes from knowing that, for one of the few times in my life, I am the same as a group of wonderful (INFP) people!

Driptaa (not verified) says...

Thank you so much! Your words helped me. I am a 16 year old INFP who's trying to get a grip on self confidence and fear of failures, etc. after struggling with severe depression and anxiety for 2-3 years .____.
I know I am meant for bigger things, but what if I fail? XD
Are we too 'soft' to be leaders? ._.

Healer (not verified) says...

I think we're too soft but we have amazing leadership if INFP is to lead they'll bloom the whole garden not just themselves as beautiful petals of a fascinating flower

But I feel like we just prefer being led by someone 


Nour Kattineh (not verified) says...


We are not! I am 17 year-old INFP and I am here to tell you that, although I struggle with self-image and am generally very self-doubting, I have the ability to set that all aside and take up major leadership roles. In fact, I often don't even like being led! Unless it gives me some kind of great value, or is a stepping stone to a leadership role, I am not really interested. INFPs can be different, but if you feel like you'd want to lead, then you can! We can do a lot of things to feel more stable, the tips in this article, for example, can really help you and me gain more confidence. 

I just realized you posted this nearly 5 years ago, I hope you are doing great in this aspect now! 

Sheila Ryan Hara (not verified) says...

Thank you for writing a piece that looks as if it were written about me. I'm trying to take the steps you outlined, especially #1 and 2.

Afrooz (not verified) says...

But 1&2 are exactly where I need more clarification! Could you please write of your experience while practicing those parts? Thank you!

Afrooz (not verified) says...

Thank you Molly for your advice! Being an INFP, I think, means suffering more in love than other personality types. Lack of self confidence to express your feeling while craving all the time for attention and affection; on the other hand, fear of being looked down on; all this makes love a complicated, often unrequited experience for my type! That gets worse when the man you love is seems to be even more introverted and less confident than you are! What is love after all? Why do we fall in love? Is it always so heartbreaking as it is for this personality type?
Dear Molly, please give us advice on this issue too!

Andelene Horsford (not verified) says...

Dear friend, I always thought it was only me who could not have a happy relationship. I've been married twice, both were very unhappy. Both times I married a man with a strong personality, and I just ended up being abused and emotionally broken down. I always thought that happened because I am not good enough. But now I understand myself much better, and I feel more positive, but I am totally done with relationships! Please take good care of yourself!

Reemo (not verified) says...

Thanks alot!  

I hope I will become more confident when I follow those tips.

Carey (not verified) says...

Wow ever since I got out of an 8 year relationship where I was questioned on my thought process and my actions I have doubted my true self. This wasn’t really his fault he just wanted to understand me but I paid a price for it.  At 42 I feel I’m living my most authentic self.  I was testing between an infp and infj but after doing a lot of research I decided I was definitely an infp.  Once I started googling what a healthy infp looks like and how to achieve it I have been more flexible and more open to new things.  I’m delving deeper into my personality with the enneagram and again I was testing very closely with a 4 type and 5 type. I’m a 4w5.  The self absorbed traits I have will always have to be kept in check or my sense of entitlement can become a nightmare.   I love this article I’m printing it out so I can see it everyday.   Thank you for all that you do.  I feel so lucky to have a girlfriend who is just as curious she test as an enfp and a 9.  So I feel very blessed to have someone I can discuss this stuff with.  She also shows me how to not be so afraid of people.  I trust her judgement on others and I know she would not expose me to people who are not healthy for me.  Boundaries are another I work on and also the desire to isolate.  I’m completely ok by myself I can live in my head and feel awesome but it is human connection that I most want and I remind myself of that daily.   

Phil the mediator (not verified) says...

I found your story heart warming Carey . After discovering I am INFP recently ( I'm 50 this year ) it's opened my eyes to my whole life so far. Why I frustatingly over think and why react so badly to criticism. I hope to use this knowledge to straiten myself out or at the very least be able to tell people " look read this because this is me". You are so lucky to have found somebody who completely understands your personality and loves you for who you are. I have spent my entire life being misunderstood bouncing between narcissists, gaslighters, and other toxic relationships never truly understanding why these people choose me. I hope some day to find the person who loves me for who I am and not for what I give to them. When we love we love deep and we love true so cherish what you have because it's something every INFP strives for.

Yasmeen (not verified) says...

Hello Phil, I don't know if you'll see this comment or not but I myself am an INFP and i have been through a lot of confusion and struggling in regards to my identity, although I am only 19 years old I have found peace in myself within religion and god, trust me we look for people to understand us and help us when we forget that who understands us the most is the one who created us and is also who helps us and guides us in life at are most difficult times, I consider being an INFP as a huge blessing because it has allowed me to find the path of God and true inner peace and happiness, remember not everyone might remember you at your time of crisis but God always will So never give up on him and he will never give up on you!

Hope this helped and i pray for you and others to have a wonderful happy and blessed life :)

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