How INFJs Can Get Over Those Pesky Trust Issues

Most Introverts, and especially Intuitive Introverts, find it really hard to trust people. The main reason is that we have a finite energy for people and need those exhausting interactions to be worth it. We are looking for soulmates, not tourists in our lives. This makes us very selective when it comes to our friendships and who we let into our rich inner world.

Throw in the Feeling dimension, and you get a dichotomy: an intuitive observer of people who can spot fakery from a thousand paces, and a people-lover who is so tender-hearted they believe that another person can never betray their trust. Sadly, a lot of people are not sincere. INFJs typically have trust issues because at some point, they've placed their trust in someone and have had that trust broken. This doesn't just make them feel vulnerable. It strikes at the very heart of their value system. When an INFJ is hurt, they have a habit of beating themselves up for not predicting the poor behavior in the first place.

Unfortunately, you can't grow a network, a family or an empire by yourself. It's OK to be selective with your relationships, but it's not OK to be afraid of opening up to other people who can help you to grow and achieve your goals.

So how can INFJs get over those pesky trust issues? Here are some tips.

Define what trust means for each relationship

Remember that performance review when your boss told you the 30 things you did well and the one area for growth, and all you could think about for weeks afterwards was the one room for improvement?

That's how you tend to view the people you meet.

A common INFJ hallmark is an uncanny ability to read people. You are skilled at observing the little quirks of behavior that everyone has, and figuring out who can be trusted based on those observations. The problem is, you can fall into the trap of taking things very personally. You may obsess about the single ambiguity, the one "room for improvement" in someone's behavior and use that to imagine the worst possible outcomes if you choose to trust that person. One violation of expectations or inconsistency in behavior can destroy the relationship completely.

Trust makes a relationship click, but it isn't black and white. There are some instances where absolute trust is absolutely necessary; you may insist, for example, on having the highest level of trust with your spouse. But consider your other relationships. Does a colleague have to hold the same values, hopes, fears and ambitions as you? Or is it enough that they do their job well without playing dirty politics?

Trust is as global or as situation-specific as you need it to be. Recognizing that you don't have to elevate everyone to the highest level of trust can really put those trust issues into perspective and help you make a balanced personal judgment, one relationship at a time.

Open up

Trust is a two-way street. You need to give it to get it and vice versa. As an INFJ, it's easy to back away from trust because you recognize that building those foundations requires excruciating vulnerability. You have to be willing to let go of who you think you should be in order to be who you really are, since this will allow those genuine connections to happen.

If you are shuddering at this point, we hear you. INFJs are very protective of their identity. You are super-sensitive to others and will conceal your true nature in order to blend in or be what the other person needs you to be at any point in time.

The problem is, when you hide your true nature, you're creating the kind of censorship that makes it really hard for others to know and trust you. You become the common denominator in your trust issues because who is going to trust someone who is so walled off and distant?

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in relationships. You have to be willing to lean into the discomfort and reciprocate when people reach out to you. Open up more. Trust yourself to be a likeable person, to make the right judgment calls, and to know that if someone lets you down, you will survive that. So you missed the red flags this time. It won't devastate you.

Revealing a little vulnerability shows that you are indeed a fallible human being. And that combination of empathy, credibility and vulnerability makes you seem incredibly trustworthy - an essential platform for building a trust-based relationship.

Stay in the moment

INFJs are future-focused, big picture thinkers. You continually search for the meaning in things. Everything between and beyond the present is just as real as what currently is. And the natural consequence of this style of processing is that an endless number of "what ifs" can seep in. "What if I trust her and she hurts me again?" "What if I let my guard down and the whole relationship fails?"

These "what ifs" can have a stagnating effect on your life and relationships. You can conceptualize the future, but you can't control it. It is impossible for anyone to plan for some theoretical, imagined catastrophe. Whether you trust, embrace or forgive someone, whether you give them a first glance or a second chance - these things are present decisions that can only be based on current realities.

So whenever you find yourself thinking, "What if ..." stop! Tell yourself that you're not going to waste your energy on long shots and maybes. Instead, focus on your actions in the moment. Enjoy the process of building a trusting relationship as it comes rather than allowing yourself to be distracted by the fear of a future, hypothetical betrayal.

Jumping into these points should improve your ability to trust from the get-go. Even if you take it really slowly, they will hopefully help you to understand the meaning of trust and develop deeper and more personalized relationships with those around you. Good luck!

Jayne Thompson

Jayne is a freelance copywriter, business writing blogger and the blog editor here at Truity. One part word nerd, two parts skeptic, she helps writing-challenged clients discover the amazing power of words on a page. Jayne is an INTJ and lives in Yorkshire, UK with her ENTJ husband and two baffling children. Find Jayne at White Rose Copywriting.

Comments

Sonette Swanepoel (not verified) says...

Wow. Oh my gosh this was really helpful. Thank you so much :)

Guest (not verified) says...

Such a tricky subject Jayne! Beautifully handled - there's so much desire to trust (can be very unwise) yet total withdrawal of trust if there's any breach. It's not at all easy to find a balance in that, but your suggestions are spot on. I've found staying in the now is a key, as you say- although it does feel dangerous, risky, but mostly it isn't. Thank you for a perceptive article!

Guest (not verified) says...

Thank you for this helpful insight. I have been thinking a lot lately that as I get older it seems harder to be open and in the moment. While I value and need my time alone I do not want to become isolated and cut off from other people...

Guest (not verified) says...

Would love to read more on the specific differences between an INFP and an INFJ. Only recently have I tested as an INFJ and it seems to fit so much better than other aspects of the INFP. I understand the INF parts well but not necessarily the specifics of differences between the P and J

KateA (not verified) says...

Me too! I had had tested as an INFP a few years ago, but it never seemed quite right. Recently I took a new test (and stopped myself from editing out the slightly uncomfortable bits...maybe a trait of being a little too self aware and knowing how I "want" to behave), and got a slight preference to judging over perceiving. I found the website "introvert, dear" to be helpful in firming up my understanding. Specifically these two articles : "21 undeniable signs you're an infj personality type" and the other "infp or infj, 7 ways to tell them apart (it won't let me link them since it thinks it's spam :( )I wouldn't recommend the test that the site suggests though...it thought I was an ENFJ lolololol....that ability to mask as an extrovert :D

Guest (not verified) says...

This is great. I got married recently and I've really been getting into the 'what if' dangerous over-thinking zone. I think I might also be hiding my true self for fear of vulnerability and being disliked. It's time to focus on being in the moment and opening up! :)

Blacklight (not verified) says...

Easy Read Not Easily Done.

Zig Zigler says “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly--until you can learn to do it well.” I listed a few of my favorite takeaways.

INFJ Tension With Trust:

"an intuitive observer of people who can spot fakery from a thousand paces, and a people-lover who is so tender-hearted they believe that another person can never betray their trust. Sadly, a lot of people are not sincere"

This stood out because it was a great wording of the tension we have to manage. I am learning to practice inner healing and recovery disciplines(12-steps,INFx Unveil, Local church experiences ). My Introverted Thinking(It) -10year old and Extroverted Sensing(Se)-3 year process are the way through this mess. What makes this article a easy read is my Introverted Intuition(Ni)-Adult Pilot Extroverted Feeling(Fe)-Parent/Co-pilot grasp the advice and desires to tackle it. However, the message target audience is the Introverted Thinking (Ti)10 year old and Extroverted Sensing(Se) 3 year old - and viewing the advice from those lenses lead my Ti towards "hypothetical betrayal" and my Se - "To Fight or Flight a holding on to the leg resisting cooperation with NI in fear or fighting for comfort & control through a tantrum in rebellion with Fe-"Don't make me trust people, Open up...satay in the moment" . Trust is the life blood of real relationship "How do I entrust my Destiney by enlisting the support of a 10 year old (It) and 3 year old (Se). What is this "The Incredible"?

Defining Trust In Each Relationship

I appreciated this because I have a tendency to get the relational responsibility roles enmeshed taking responsibility for what I can't control-Others vs keeping health boundaries controlling what only I can-myself. I know I tend to do this but the why is often allusive. This mental hack "Goble vs. Situational Trust". I tend to hold everybody to the "global Trust" standard that say: "I have to know you will handing any unmet need that comes up with the skillful compass and soulful grace I show to others before I will open up to you" . I wonder what the situational trust standard say's "I need to know you can handle this 1 or 2 unmet needs, before I will expose my flaw's in this area to you". How would your inner critic define "Global vs. Situational" relational trust?

OPEN UP

"You have to be willing to lean into the discomfort and reciprocate when people reach out to you. Open up more. Trust yourself to be a likeable person, to make the right judgment calls, and to know that if someone lets you down, you will survive that. So What, you missed the red flags this time. It won't devastate you."

This is the meat and potatoes of the article. Just reading the above quote has my personality stir up like… "Yes, let's do this!" my Fe "This is going to be an exciting and fulfilling adventure" my TI "Hahahahah, Hahahahaa, HAHAHAHAHAHA- that's some funny wishful thinking!" and my Se "It want devastate me?…speak for yourself Ms. Blogger lady". But I intend to lean in to the necessary path of "Opening UP" to building trust any way to experience the inner healing I want, need and desire most in this season of transition in my life.

Stay In The Moment

"Tell yourself that you're not going to waste your energy on long shots and maybes. Instead, focus on your actions in the moment. Enjoy the process of building a trusting relationship as it comes rather than allowing yourself to be distracted by the fear of a future, hypothetical betrayal."

The ideal of putting into practice personal barriers to avoid wasting my energy on long shots and maybes is "the TRUTH", thou hard for me to swallow. "Enjoy the process," " Enjoy the Process", enjoy the process is repeated often and it's annoying because I like the serious focus underling my hunger for grow but there's a joy that coexist with my serious approach that needs to be feed to fuel the unleashing of my potential. I appreciate the bloggers insight - "Build real relational trust as it comes and avoid derailing the process with what ifs, if only , woulda, coulda, shoulda "Hypothetical Betrayals" to experiencing the joy of the process. what matters most- to me is my relationship with self (maturity/achievement), God(Spirituality/transcendence) and others(Compassion/Healing). Something tells me if you a INFJ that's true for you.

sara sami (not verified) says...

Hi
i'm actually an ENFP for sure and I have the same issue
do you know how you can help me? maybe breaking down my combiantion like NE and etc.. and how they play into the story can be helpful

I do not trust people and I start being very sensitive if i make myself in any way vulnerable to them.
if they approached me like in friendships and I start to hang out with them, and they do something to make me feel weird, I immediately shut off and can't help it,i start being so superfacial to them and they feel dead to me, Like I can't trust them anymore, its hard to put it back to the way it was and once it does, I'm still very cautious and can't trust them like before.
i'm 19 if that helps anyhow.

B. D. (not verified) says...

For me it is difficult as well. I am sixteen and often find myself in issues of mistrust. Since I have seen a consistent pattern on betrayal from friends it is hard to open us. Honestly, there are important parts of my life that no one know about. The most open I am is with my family. I can be less relaxed or worry about being weird or trying to act perfect around them. With my friends and can share my opinions and hear more open unbiased views from them than from my family. I really try to attempt to open up. It just been so long:(before middle school) that I've really showed my full emotions to anyone or expressed my anger and sadness when I'm feeling it.

Guest (not verified) says...

You said:

"Trust yourself to be a likeable person, to make the right judgment calls, and to know that if someone lets you down, you will survive that. So What, you missed the red flags this time. It won't devastate you."

INFJ who was beaten, thrown thru glass doors and ran off the road by a spouse says:

Are you so sure about that 'So what...it won't devastate you' comment?

Let me assure you my trust issues have a validator in what ELSE 'could've happened' if I hadn't finally been able to get away from this person. We see it in the news every day, people beaten & killed by spouses. I'm sure you didn't mean to be glib, but devastation? ...it can and does happen.

World, I want to trust you, but baby, it's hard.

Tenderhearted INFJ, I have the pics of me at this time that you'd swear this person is so sweet and caring and yet, someone thought it was okay to do a beat-down. Decisions have consequences, so yes, there are reasons to be cautious. I have had to balance the choice between missing opportunities or being paranoid.

Guest (not verified) says...

Oh my gosh, this is great. This article sums up my life and my struggle right now! Thanks so much for this.

Guest (not verified) says...

I'm an infj and have found getting in tune with my intuition and being aware of how my body responds in situations will tell me who to trust. I ask myself "is this person good for me?" intuitively I get an answer. If the answer is no or comes through with a feeling of fear, agitation, unease I keep the person at a distance. If the answer is yes, and the feeling comes through in a positive or neutral way I spend more time with the person. When I'm in someone's company and I feel light, in the moment, body relaxed and speaking without thinking I know I'm in company I can trust. If it's headaches, drained, having to over think, feeling a forced flow or no flow, best to reserve my efforts and keep a distance from these people. These suggestions are from Dr Judith Orloff's work on intuition.

BusyBen101 says...

I’m an ENFP.  I found this incredibly helpful.  I am getting to know a young woman(INFJ).  What is the best way to cultivate trust with her. Obviously it must happen over time but I want to know I am progressing in the right direction. I basically need a better understanding of how to navigate my own type.  As a really intense person it is common for me to overrun boundaries.  Sparking a friendship with her quickly progressed to romance but working backwards is difficult for me.  I don’t know how to encourage her to talk more.

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