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!