New Series: Shadow Boxing

Shadows. Such strange, elusive things. They mimic us without permission. Startle us, creep us out, make us look taller. Possibly entertain us (if all we have is a light bulb and a wall). Funny thing is, we can't really get away from them.

Wherever we go...they go.

The INFJ has a special kind of shadow. Comprised of four functions, it can operate singularly or in pieces, and its destructive tendencies are quite scary. Some claim it's part of our dark side. But I'm not so sure about that. I've been thinking about exploring our shadow functions. You know, as a series. Could be interesting.

Q&A: Are INFJs Prone to Depression/ADD?

Your Question:

Found your blog today - and I'm doing my happy dance! In a psych class in college (back in 1988-ish), I discovered I was an INFJ, but it didn't really compute. Now, as I near 50, I STILL am an INFJ, much as I wish it were different, and it finally makes sense. One of these days I'll google it, but in your experience, how common is it for INFJ's to be diagnosed with clinical depression and/or ADD (well, technically, AD-HD inattentive subtype)? As an adult, I was diagnosed with both, and am medicated. But, I wonder, is it because I feel so different from others? I don't understand (in my heart) why people are so greedy or mean. I studied psychology and so, in my head, I get it. But I keep thinking that there must be SOMETHING I can do to make this world a better place. And yet, most of the people in my daily life seem to think that I overthink everything and that I "need to get out of my head." I just really wondered, am I really depressed and ADD? Or am I living in a world that doesn't understand me and wants me to be other than what I am??

Are INFJs Androgynous?

Hey, guys! As many of you may know, the Cafe has a corresponding Facebook page. I use it to reach people visually, through graphics and tweets, and also for posting articles. So I spend a lot of time scouring the internet for images that relate to my understanding of the INFJ condition.

A few weeks ago, I came across this one:

My first thought was...where the heck do people come up with this stuff? I mean, seriously, is there a secret organization somewhere that studies INFJs and then stashes their findings in a popular meme-generating database for personality theorists to find and distribute across the web?

And my second thought was...hmm, this is kind of interesting.

Middle Ground

Hello, friends! Hope this finds you happy and healthy. What are you up to right now? Are you wrapping up your day, slipping into snuggly PJ's, teeth brushed, ready to fall into bed? Or are you barely awake and reaching for that first cup of morning coffee?

I'm somewhere in the middle. Today's been nothing but drizzle and fog. Ugh! I made it through morning and early afternoon before the dreariness got to me. Then I threw on my coat and drove to the nearest Buffalo Wild Wings for a glass of wine. Lol, that place is the opposite of dreary. Lights, music, noise. I counted at least 35 television screens playing every sports channel imaginable. Not exactly an introvert's paradise.

But there are times when I need one extreme to fight another. It's the only way to bring me back to middle ground.

If you're an INFJ, then you're likely a person of contradiction and extremes. You're intuitive and rational. You're incredibly capable, but also kind of needy. In every situation, you know what's right and feel what's wrong...or vice-versa. When you're adept in both sides of your brain, life can get a little challenging. Decision-making, for example, isn't always easy and can be downright paralyzing for some of us.

Most people don't get this. They tilt one way or the other and can't see life from any perspective except the one they've chosen. They make their decisions from that tilt. Then they go and form social groups and organizations that bring together more of the same. It's easy to see why INFJs, especially those in their younger years, find it hard to fit in.

I once mentioned this dilemma to my ESTP friend Wendy. She has a tendency to fly far and wide at high emotional altitudes, and while I'm capable of that, my logic will inevitably catch me and tether me back to the ground. It makes me feel inconsistent, like I can't maintain one state of mind. "That's actually a good thing," she told me. "It keeps you from going off the deep end. You're creative and grounded at the same time. You can do so many things that I can't."

An interesting viewpoint, right? I really hadn't thought of it that way before. You know, as a benefit. My dual nature always felt like--for lack of a better term--a handicap. But over the years, I've seen her version at work. Wendy is tremendously creative and comes up with the most amazing ideas. She can't stand detail work, though, and reaches out to me for help with resumes, cover letters, etc. She sends me a snarl of random facts, my left brain unravels them, and my right brain weaves them into whatever format she needs.

Win-win. :)

This blend of intuition and logic has helped with my fiction writing, too. What happens is that I totally lose myself in an emotional scene. I put myself smack-dab inside the character's head and feel what they're feeling. It can be dramatic and intense...I laugh, cry, fall in love, and everything in between. Later, I go back and use my logical side to make sense of it. Just so you know, this isn't easy. My touchy-feely and logic like to fight. I've literally spent hours trying to edit one tiny paragraph, only to come up with nothing. All I can do is let it go and try again later. It's frustrating, and yet tremendously satisfying when I find that middle ground and get it right.

I think the INFJ blend of intuition and rationality is pretty cool. In fact, it qualifies as a superpower. Thinkers and feelers may congregate on opposite sides of the room, but we stand in the middle. With one foot on each side, we can come up with creative solutions neither group would have considered on their own. 

Below is a four-minute video of Scott Barry Kaufman talking about creativity and the conscious/unconscious mind. In it, he mentions a "false dichotomy" society has created between intuition and rationality. My favorite part is where he says that we need to "listen to our intuition, but not be ruled by our intuition. We need to be rational, but we need not be hyper rational. And I think that that middle way is really critical for creativity."

Yep. Totally a superpower. :)

Enjoy the video!


Image Credit: INFJ Story