The INFJ’s Guide to Forgiveness

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on June 27, 2016
Category: INFJ

Perhaps the most sensitive of all the personality types, INFJs take it hard when someone they trust lets them down. They tend to hold on to anger longer than they should and are capable of holding a grudge even when the other person has apologized, repeatedly, for their wrongdoing.

Under these conditions, forgiveness may seem impossible. Even if you want to forgive, you may go back and forth between accepting the reality of the situation and being consumed with thoughts of bitterness and revenge.

So how do you handle the soul-sucking resentment that comes from being hurt by a person you trusted? Here's an INFJ's guide to dealing with forgiveness.

1. Walk Away

If you feel yourself getting mad, walk away immediately. Your intensity is a powerful asset, but it can be very damaging to your relationships if you fall into the anger trap and start yelling at your loved ones.

When you feel yourself getting upset over what happened, do some yoga, watch a movie, go for a run - do whatever it takes to help you regain your composure. It makes sense that disagreements can only be handled effectively if you are calm, rational and objective-not when you are slamming doors or hitting back.

2. Seek First To Understand, Then to Judge

It's easy to have a knee-jerk reaction when someone you trust lets you down, especially when you instinctively believe that you are right and the other person is wrong. But you can't properly judge something you don't yet understand.

If you're like most INFJs, you have a burning desire to get your point across and to act upon your version of the truth. In doing so, you may ignore the other person completely. You'll never know why they behaved the way they did.

To understand what's really going on, you're going to have to listen to what the other person has to say without hearing just their words. Active listening, as its name suggests, means listening with your ears, eyes and heart in order to truly understand the message of the speaker. You're also going to have to consider the blame you share in the situation. Did your words or actions contribute to the problem? Has there been a monumental misunderstanding?

You might have to give your intuition time to work through the new information. But it's only when you know the other person's motivations that you can decide whether you're ready to move forward with forgiveness.

3. Write How You Feel

If you've made the decision to forgive but can't seem to get past what the other person did, harness the power of words. Specifically, write a long, brutally honest letter telling the other person how much they have hurt and angered you, and how hard it is for you to let it go. Don't hold back. Write whatever you are feeling, no matter how savage or shameful those feelings are.

Read it aloud as if the other person were right there in front of you.

Then tear it up and burn it.

As you watch the smoke rise, imagine all those negative feelings floating off into the air. You might feel a little ridiculous doing this, but it really does provide a healthy release for all those lingering feelings of resentment.

4. Be Kind, Not Right

Since INFJs tend to imagine the worst possible outcomes, you may worry that if you forgive the other person, they will do "it" again.

This may be true. The point is, it doesn't matter.

Forgiveness is not about letting the wrongdoer off the hook. It's not about denying reality or validating past wrongs. And it's not about getting the other person to change their actions. In fact, forgiveness is not about the other person at all. It's about you, and how you can let go of resentment and stop nursing old wounds.

In short, it's about being kind to yourself. Forgiveness is intended to draw a line under the hurtful situation, so you can harness all the energy you have squandered on resentment and put it to better use elsewhere. You will still remember what happened, but you will no longer be compelled to relive the experience. You'll stop being the victim of someone else's actions and take back control.

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.


Cleber (not verified) says...

Forgiveness is hard, but is also beautiful. Thanks for your advice!

ovaltine52 says...

This is good stuff. Right now what I'm dealing with is to stop trying to clean a window or fix a door God's trying to get me to jump thru/walk thru to realize all the great opportunities I now have.

I believe we definitely don't have to like what someone, or a group of people has done to us, but the challenge with me is to not to try to waste my time trying to fix something that is "done/over" & allow that to cloud all these new directions that get laid at our feet which is presently my case.

This statement of Molly's nails it, IMO:

"Forgiveness is intended to draw a line under the hurtful situation, so you can harness all the energy you have squandered on resentment and put it to better use elsewhere."

As a close friend & one of great counsel so eloquently puts it:

"KEEP GOIN', BABY!!" ;-)

Happy trails to all.

Udeshika de Silva (not verified) says...

Forgiving has been one of the hardest things. I've lost many good friends along the way because I just can't get past certain things that they would have said or done. Writing a brutally honest letter, reading it out loud and burning seems to be a good idea. I'll try that next time.
Thank you for the tips.

CathyTaylor (not verified) says...

I am having trouble with forgiveness in a betrayal situation. They say forgiving someone releases the poison in you so you can be healed and live in a healthy state. You can forgive someone to release the poison stored up in you (INFJ's), but it doesn't mean you have to like them or continue the friendship.

ovaltine52 says...

That's right, Cathy. I'm not reading anywhere once one forgives, one continues to be a doormat. :-()

HiHi123 (not verified) says...

only to see I'm not a cold hearted numb human is heartwarming :p

thank you for this helpful post. i appreciate it, more than those posts telling me how much of a unicorn i am.

i would add meditation to this list since it helped me a lot with passing through the darkness i had in my mind.

Louise A (not verified) says...

Hi Molly. Just wanted to say how thankful I am for reading your article. Your words are beautiful. I would have never guessed that forgiveness is about me all this time. I'm an INFJ so forgiveness don't come easy to me. I have a long way to go I think. It's still hard but I'll take your advice. Thank you so much.

Mani (not verified) says...

Yes I am an INFJ and very sensitive. I put my heart and soul into this relationship and even harder to forgive when the other person hasn't apologized. I was understanding for so long but no rewards/return so hence I became judgemental and villianized him. Part of the surrender process is to let go and to have faith that I don't have to worry about his conseqences (INFJ's care a lot about justice and equality). 

Jo Soffat (not verified) says...

Umm wtf is an INFJ? you don't say what it means in the article even once... so lazy

Christine AWRK (not verified) says...

Its a Myers Briggs personality type. If you google it you can find a quiz to find out yours. It can be enlightening. 

Jennifer (not verified) says...

No! Your obviously not an infj! U have to be rude n call the author lazy when u are obviously the lazy 1! Do a Google search on your own about it. I hope u have the day u deserve! I loved reading this article. Thank u Molly! And, pardon n forgive those who are trolls and imbeciles!

Samsonsadalot (not verified) says...

I struggle to get past resentment. I resent for a long time, even though I really just want to let it go and move on with my life. Thank you for the suggestions. And thank you for taking the time to write this. I'm going to try it.

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