How to Thrive as an INFP Enneagram 4

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on January 26, 2022

An INFP Enneagram 4 is an idealist with a purpose. They are on a mission to understand themselves, the world, and the interactive relationship between the two. They seek to deepen their knowledge base, while becoming more effective and efficient at actualizing their dreams and ambitions.

INFP Enneagram 4s are individualists in the best sense of the word. They are not self-centered and detached but instead want to see everyone (including themselves) reach their full potential as a human being. They can only find happiness and fulfillment if they’re being true to themselves, and that means finding a unique niche that satisfies their desires and allows them to contribute to the betterment of society.

So, what exactly do you as an INFP Enneagram 4 need to do to thrive? While the answer to this question is somewhat different for each individual, there are some highly productive approaches to living that can help any INFP Enneagram 4 find lasting joy and a greater sense of accomplishment.

Here are five of those approaches.

#1 Narrow your focus

An INFP Enneagram 4 will normally have big ambitions for themselves, and hold themselves to a higher standard than anyone else as they strive to achieve those lofty goals. But sometimes, that expansive vision can interfere with actual accomplishments in the real world.

By narrowing your focus, you can expand your range of possibilities. Rather than being in conflict with time (“there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I’d like to accomplish!”), you can make it your ally. Staying focused on small goals makes them achievable, and once you start getting more things done you won’t be as concerned about what you’d like to accomplish in the future. Your confidence in your abilities will grow, and that will ameliorate any anxiety you might feel about your pace of progress.

You must learn to work sequentially instead of simultaneously. In other words, line up your projects or goals one after the other, and try not to dip your toes into anything new until the last thing you were working on is finished.

At times, this might seem like a frustratingly slow approach. But stick with it for a while, and you’ll discover how well it works. When you have a chance to stop, reflect, and look back, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve come and at the modest amount of time you had to invest to get there.

#2 Use yourself as your point of comparison

Everyone is different. They have different skills and abilities, different interests, and different motivations. This is why it makes no sense to use others as a measuring stick for yourself, either to denigrate your own accomplishments or exaggerate their importance.

With Type 4 INFPs, the former of these would be the problem. Too often they will compare themselves unfavorably to others, in a way that makes them feel like their accomplishments don’t matter all that much. They focus their idealism and need for authenticity on others, which leads them to feel like they haven’t done enough to implement their visions or express themselves fully and honestly.

This is a trap you should be aware of, and avoid. It’s good to use others as an inspiration, or as a model if their achievements are in an area that appeals to you. But they should not be your point of comparison, in any circumstance. Remember, as an INFP Enneagram 4 your motivation is self-actualization, meaning you want to be the best you can be and make the biggest impact possible according to your own carefully chosen standards of excellence.

When you compare yourself unfavorably to others—or favorably to others, for that matter—you stray from your commitment to personalized excellence. Conversely, if you concentrate on improving yourself according to your own individual standards, you’ll never come out on the losing end. Each small bit of progress you make can be celebrated as an achievement, encouraging you to keep going and keep striving for something better.

With this approach you’ll learn to take great joy from all of your accomplishments, which can be your daily nourishment if you stay active and engaged and always ready to pursue your goals.

#3 Find a creative way to share your insights

The INFP Enneagram 4 doesn’t embrace learning because they like knowledge for knowledge’s sake. Their search for self-understanding is what motivates their quest, and they are convinced that once they achieve greater self-comprehension they will be better prepared to make a positive impact in the lives of others and in the world in general. They want to learn because they believe it will empower them, not just as individuals but as friends, family members, and participants in the community.

Despite their introverted nature, an INFP Enneagram 4 will not want to keep what they’ve learned to themselves. If this is your type, you’ll likely gain tremendous satisfaction from writing, painting, sculpture, music, making YouTube videos, or any other form of art or communication that lets you introduce yourself and your well-thought-out views to people who can benefit from your hard-earned wisdom.

As an INFP you probably wouldn’t enjoy public lecturing. But a more private and personal type of communicative art would be right up your alley.

#4 Stop looking back

Type 4 INFPs frequently spend a lot of time looking back at the past. They will return time and time again to their previous disappointments, or repeatedly lament the opportunities they missed. They may become nostalgic about the past as well, looking back at their past accomplishments with pride and judging their current efforts as inadequate.

This pattern is rooted in the INFP Enneagram 4’s high expectations. They don’t want to let anyone down, and they don’t want to let themselves down, either. They constantly examine their behavior to see if they could have done more, and when they decide they could have, they find themselves wishing they could return to the past so they could correct their mistakes or make different choices.

It's easy to see this as an unproductive activity. But it doesn’t actually have to be. It can be empowering instead, if you use it as a source of inspiration to motivate your actions and reactions today.

You can’t undo the past, but you can create a more dynamic present and future. Examine your past disappointments closely, figure out what went wrong, and make it your goal to act differently going forward. Your disappointments can be empowering if you reframe them as learning opportunities, which if you think about it is the only approach that really makes any sense.

Once you’ve harnessed your nostalgic instincts and redirected them to a campaign of learning and self-improvement rooted in the here and now, you’ll feel more in control of your life and your future than you ever have before.

#5 Live in the moment, and for the moment

INFP Enneagram 4s are at their best when they stop judging themselves for not being good enough.

Those who’ve adopted a non-judgmental attitude as their normal state of being aren’t obsessively worried about understanding themselves or finding out who they really are. While still searching for self-comprehension and greater insights about reality and truth, they’ve found a way to be satisfied with where they are at the moment. They accept that wisdom is cumulative and that the process of acquiring it is never-ending. This brings them comfort, knowing that they’re doing the best they can and have come as far as they’re able (for now).

Too often, INFP Enneagram 4s waste their precious mental and emotional energy worrying about what others think of them. They allow themselves to be bothered by the thought that they are misunderstood, and that people are viewing them incorrectly or somehow treating them unfairly. Thriving INFP Enneagram 4s have moved past this fixation, knowing that the opinions of others can only affect them if they permit it.

The happiest and most successful INFP Enneagram 4s are optimistic and inner-directed. They have a singular vision about how they’d like their lives to unfold, but they are willing to let their process of self-development progress at its natural pace. They’ve learned to take life one day at a time, doing their best to take advantage of each new moment without looking too far ahead into the future.  

Nathan Falde

Nathan Falde has been working as a freelance writer for the past six years. His ghostwritten work and bylined articles have appeared in numerous online outlets, and in 2014-2015 he acted as co-creator for a series of eBooks on the personality types. An INFJ and a native of Wisconsin, Nathan currently lives in Bogota, Colombia with his wife Martha and their son Nicholas.

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.


ayushi (not verified) says...

hi, it was the first time in my life that I felt people understand me and i'm not alone.

I always thought that I won't be able to achieve my dreams and be happy. but this article helped me that my way of thinking is valid and I can continue my path at my pace on my terms.


Deedii (not verified) says...

Hi ayushi 

I am in the same boat as yours. Being grown up I thought I'd figure out everything but I am still confused, exhausted but dreaming. The conflict in my mind is unfathomable.

Carp Z says...


Abby4 (not verified) says...

Thank you very much for this. I find this article very timely. 

Eben haezer (not verified) says...

I feel quite tired when I feel like I am in 2 worlds, namely the past and the future.

NickyYoureSoFine (not verified) says...

It's if I wrote this about myself in a much more professional manner. Thank you. 

Raine (not verified) says...

This is like reading a study about me =') I'd say my journey to discover everything about myself is over but I know it isn't 😂 but dang. This is all me. Every word. 

Brz says...

This article gave me hope and at 54 yrs of age that means a lot


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