A Terrible Privilege

Monday, May 07, 2012 14 Comments A+ a-



G'morning, fellow INFJ's :-)

Am sitting here with my coffee mug, catching up on the latest online news. I awoke early due to a strong thunderstorm that passed through our area, shaking the house and rattling the windows. So I'm a little groggy. In addition to that, I took my teenage son to see Avengers last night. Again. He wanted to see it a second time, and I'd already seen it twice. But he wanted "Mom" to take him, and since I have a hard time saying no to my baby boy, I caved. We hit the 7:15 show and made it home by 10:30, but the caffeine from the soda kept me awake. May need more java than usual today, if I'm going to tackle the next few paragraphs from Dr. Drenth's article with any kind of clarity and insight :-)

Okay, just refilled my mug...let's get started.

INFJs are “old souls.” They grow up feeling far wiser than would be predicted by their chronological age. Some may experience themselves as wiser than their teachers or parents. They may take on the role of counseling and advising their friends and siblings, or even their adult family members, from an extraordinarily young age.
Having discovered the benefits of their Introverted Intuition (Ni) quite early in life, INFJs grow to trust its judgments and insights. Their Ni often works through dreams or premonitions that turn out to be startlingly prescient. While others may at first be skeptical of INFJ’s powers of insight or foresight, many will come to see them as psychic or prophetic, or at least highly perceptive.
Because of their strong powers of intuition, many INFJs report feeling like aliens in the world. One INFJ described her experience as almost a constant feeling of deja vu, since her Ni is constantly foreseeing the future before it unfolds. Other INFJs report feelings of disembodiment, as though their body is independently moving through space while they watch from without. The fact is that many INFJs experience the world and their bodies in radically different ways than other types. It is therefore not uncommon for INFJs or others to question their sanity.
Hmm. Old souls, wiser than their peers and even adult family members. I don't remember feeling wise, just different. I do recall startling moments where my parents' behavior struck me as completely hypocritical, even juvenile. This happened frequently with peers and other adults as well. But I'm pretty sure I exhibited those behaviors myself. Perhaps the "wisdom" of an INFJ child comes from the fact that we prefer to think about and discuss deeper, more profound topics than those around us.

I also recall questioning everything - to the degree that my parents bought me a set of books called "Questions Children Ask" simply because they couldn't give me all the answers I wanted. I don't think I counseled or advised anyone, though. In the environment I grew up in, children weren't allowed to speak their minds freely to adults - we weren't taken seriously, and contradiction could result in swift discipline. So if I was an old soul, wise and full of counsel, I don't remember it. Then again, I've blocked out quite a bit of my childhood (a topic which would fill many, many blog posts itself). I'd have to ask someone who knew me well growing up, and I can say honestly that I avoid as many of those folks as possible!

Judgments and insights. Now this one's a doozy. I remember once going back through a diary I wrote in as a kid. It was more than a little creepy reading about the way I viewed my environment...an odd mixture of youth and maturity. How did I know certain things at such a tender age? I did trust my instincts, though they failed me at times. But I remember being acutely aware of the personal issues taking place around me. I could sense anger, resentment, pain and conflict the way a deer senses a predator. I knew instantly when someone nearby was hurt or afraid. Body language was easily interpreted, as well as sexual tension. In short, I was an inexperienced child trying to make sense of an overwhelming number of adult issues coming at me. And now looking back, I can see that I used my judgments and insights as a way of protecting myself from that. Unfortunately, I can also see where the confusion and lack of sympathy resulted in a myriad of self-destructive patterns that followed me into adulthood.  (sigh)

I've never thought of myself as psychic, and because that arena is forbidden by God, I don't delve into it. It's my understanding that psychics rely on the spirit world for information, and I don't want anything to do with evil spirits. I prefer the Holy Spirit - who, by the way, does know the future and can impart that knowledge to anyone He desires. And I do get impressions or images in my head - you know, when my Spidey senses tingle, lol! Sometimes I see them happen in reality, sometimes I don't. My son thinks it's hilarious when we watch old Family Feud reruns, and I will blurt out an answer, only to have the person on TV immediately repeat the phrase or sentence I just said, word for word, in the exact order I said it. Over and over again. "How do you do that, Mom?" I simply laugh, because I don't know. It's just something I've learned to live with.

Dreams are an intensely personal issue for me. Do all INFJs dream vividly and remember them afterward? I wish someone would look into that! I've read that people dream multiple times a night, but not everyone remembers them upon waking. I don't always recall details of the lesser vivid ones, but the 'tone' of my nightly adventures will often stay with me throughout the day. Some dreams play out like movies--complete with plot line, main characters and a climax. Others - dare I admit this? - have actually come true. A few months before my mom passed away, I dreamt of her death (woke up sobbing). I also had a dream in high school that I was kidnapped and taken to a strange house, where a man was waiting for me. I was going to be 'given' to him and was terribly afraid. Then a young man walked in, sat down next to me and put his head on my shoulder. At once I realized he was mentally disabled, and I'd been brought there to take care of him. Several years later, I gave birth to a mentally disabled child. And there have been other dreams that pointed to future events. Coincidence? Hard to say. But I don't dismiss my dreams any more.

Dr. Drenth's description of the INFJ lady experiencing constant deja vu isn't something I've ever noticed. But the disembodiment reference is...interesting. I've never felt as though I was outside of myself, but at times I will feel suddenly and strangely disconnected from the physical world. It's not something I've ever tried to describe--there really aren't words for it. It's not the same as slipping into my inner fantasy world.  It's an actual physical event. The only conclusion I've come to is that there are more dimensions out there than we realize. Albert Einstein theorized it, and quantum mechanics suggests it. So maybe INFJs, with their uncanny gift of perception, can occasionally (or constantly) feel/perceive the existence of a dimension we can't see. It's a stretch, I know. Again, I can't really explain it, because I don't have a grid for it. Do any of you ever have experiences like this? If so, does it feel natural, or does it weird you out?

The author suggests that some INFJs question their sanity. I suppose that's true, given the way we sense the world around us. I've never seriously questioned my own sanity, though I've joked about it with others. Mostly because I know there are things going on around us that can't be explained. The Bible talks about it, and I take it as truth. When odd things happen, I either dismiss them or ask the Holy Spirit to help me get a grip. Cuz I wouldn't function very well in a padded room. And I'm pretty sure they wouldn't let me blog in one (gasp!).

If you think about it, INFJs are like superheroes. We may not understand our unique talents and perceptions, but we can learn to accept them...even use them to our advantage. Having watched Avengers three times now (what was I just saying about insanity?), I've picked up on my favorite phrases from the movie. One is where Tony Stark is talking with Bruce Banner about their special abilities--Tony having an arc reactor in place of a heart, Bruce hulking out due to gamma radiation damage. He refers to their abilities as a "terrible privilege." The phrase caught me off guard a little before it stuck in my head. But now that I've written this blog, I feel like it actually embodies the INFJ experience.

No matter how uncomfortable this world might seem to us, we still have to live in it. We have the 'terrible privilege' of being different. Extraordinarily different, intuitive, mysterious and full of potential.

Think about that as you walk around today. You might not wear a cape, but you definitely have the heart of a hero.

Embrace it :-)

Image Credit: Spidey Sense




14 comments

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Anonymous
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June 17, 2012 at 4:35 PM delete

I think what they meant by disembodiment is from a group of dissociative psychological disorders called depersonalization or derealization: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depersonalization_disorder.

It's a real thing. I am an INFJ, and I have derealization.

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Meridian
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June 20, 2012 at 9:02 AM delete

Hi there! Thanks for the comment. I followed the link and read Wikipedia's information on depersonalization and derealization. I'd never heard of either before. I have to wonder if INFJs are more susceptible to them, given the makeup of our personality. My own experiences aren't out of body, just a strange sense of feeling more around me than what is really there. I never lose my sense of self.

I'd be interested in knowing more about how this impacts your life. If you're up for it, shoot me an e-mail at watcher71@ymail.com

Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

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Anonymous
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July 30, 2012 at 9:38 PM delete

hoy,

I think your blog is interesting even though I'm not a fan of blogs or even the word blog.

The main reason I wanted to comment is that I am (surprise!) also an INFJ. I wonder sometimes if I have insight into situations or not. I've joked that I'm about 85% correct. It makes you wonder if, as was a theme in Philip K Dick's books, the future has more than one outcome. The future is probably defined by all of the present factors and we might just be looking at one. We might look at a guy and say HE is going to influence this situation, but completely look over other important people.

I also do remember my dreams. I am a writer, and it makes me feel like a bad writer because I can not do my dreams any justice even though they are thorough and also have plots.

Lastly, in terms of God, I don't think having insights is un-Godly. Some ideas of psychic-ness are bothersome to me because I can't rationalize how they work (like psychic detectives), but to have an insight into a situation or WANT an insight into a situation, I don't feel that is overstepping our bounds as humans. Especially considering we are blessed with a gift.

I sometimes feel like I was blessed with every gift in the world and my "trial" is that I will never be able to do enough to be satisfied with my impact on the world. That sounds INFJ-ish.

Later.

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Meridian
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July 31, 2012 at 9:04 AM delete

Hi there - thanks for the comment. I've often wondered myself about multiple future outcomes, like Michael Dresden wrote about in 'The Bible Code' series. And the 'Fringe' series on TV made me wonder about parallel universes. So many theories, so little time :-)

Wow, you dream like I do. I've had dreams that would make great novels...plots, characters, etc. Problem is they're usually dark topics I wouldn't want to write about. Ugh!

Honestly, I don't think having insight is against God - rather, I think it's a divine gift. I read an article once that suggested Jesus was an INFJ, and I had to smile. He definitely strikes me as compassionate, intense and insightful! As far as being a psychic, though - that is strictly forbidden in Scripture (Deut 18:10-12, among many others). I know people don't like to hear it, but with God there's no middle ground. According to the Bible, there's good and there's evil. Period. Nothing benign lies between. And because I love Him, I stick to His boundaries. That's just my choice. But being sensitive to the supernatural world, in my opinion, isn't good or evil...it just IS. Which side we choose is up to us.

So you're a writer? Awesome use of your INFJ talent. Glad to hear that you feel blessed by your myriad of INFJ gifts. I recall as a child complaining to my mom that I couldn't choose one area to focus on because I was decent in just about everything I tried to do (except math...God save me from geometry). So I can relate to your 'trial' - but hey, it could be worse, right!?!?

Thanks again for stopping by. I love hearing from folks, even if our opinions on topics are different or even opposite. Makes life interesting :-)

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Joe
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August 4, 2012 at 10:41 PM delete

Interesting thoughts. I'm also an INFJ and have felt old all my life. It's refreshing to hear about temperament related ideas. So much of my time is with sensing types who only understand "thing" talk where every word is about an object.

I love your title and theme on this page. There's been so many times when I just wanted to get away from all the awareness that comes with this temperament. My wife and I moved this summer and it was exhausting. I felt myself being hungry for something that I didn't understand until today when I spent several hours in a lazy boy where I looked at a blank wall and wrote in a journal. The absence of stimuli was healing on a soul level.

In the "Avengers", it was hinted at in the end that they all needed to get away and recover in their own way before being called out again. It's easy to overlook on a personal level.

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Meridian
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August 5, 2012 at 6:16 PM delete

Glad you you stopped in, Joe :-)

It's hard to be us, isn't it? I get what you mean about sensing types. My youngest son is--I suspect--an INFJ. He's the only one in this house who naturally "gets" me. Being with him requires little effort. I just ordered an INFJ t-shirt in hopes of attracting more of our kind. It would be nice to have other people in my life with a similar temperament. Kindred spirits, you know?

So you recently moved? Wow, talk about stress. I'm glad you found relief in the blank wall and journaling process. Moving requires so much organizing and planning (in addition to the heavy lifting). Your Se was likely on overload, feeding into your Ni and driving it crazy. Writing down your thoughts is an excellent way to get the loose ends out of your head. Do you have a soothing room to escape to in your new place?

Yeah, the Avengers team needed recovery big-time. Did you catch their schawarma scene at the very end of the credits? Just 30 seconds of them sitting around the table, not saying a word. Thor was scarfing down his food while Captain America looked like he could fall asleep on his plate. All us INFJs need our schawarma down time. I hope you can carve out time for yours as you need it.

Take care - and by the way, male INFJs are pretty rare. Consider yourself special :-)

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Colin Machan
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August 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM delete

Terrific post, thanks. Incidentally I'm in the process of putting together a blog entry about intuition and have already lined up a picture of Spidey to use when I post it. Your post beat me to the punch (some three months before me!) but I guess we're both thinking on the same lines.

With love
C

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Meridian
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August 20, 2012 at 10:49 PM delete

Hello again - so you're a blogger, too? When I click on your name, all I get is a Google+ profile with very little info. Send me a link so I can check out your posts! And definitely use the Spidey pic...our Spidey senses are special and there's very little that captures that concept as well as the Webslinger :-)

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Colin Machan
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August 21, 2012 at 2:15 AM delete

Yep. There is a link to my blog on Google+ but for some reason that escapes me sometimes it doesn't show up. Must be a glitch. Try http://dwellersintimeandspace.blogspot.com/

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Katie E
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October 3, 2013 at 2:40 PM delete

As a fellow INFJ and Avengers fan, I found this post very satisfying. As a child and preteen, I often had spouts of unexplainable deja vu, and now (as a senior in high school) I find that I have more "psychic" capabilities that never fail to amaze me. As a Bible-believing Christian, I used to be very select in who I told (although the urge to share was killing me) because I was afraid I would be judged or people would assume I was indicating something unholy. I now see it as an extra special gift to use for the good of mankind --insert superhero quip here--.
The way you described dreams seems perfectly sound to me. I love my dreams, and they usually influence my mood as I dote on them throughout the day. I haven't had many dreams that I would describe as "prophetic", although I'm still young.
Everything else you said is spot on. It sounds like I was more "parenting(?)" to my parents than you were, and I was usually very in tune with my old soul.
I must say, I smiled when you mentioned Jesus might have been an INFJ!
I feel like I must end this comment with an Avengers quote (I never noticed the "terrible privilege" line, but I love it!) So...I think Loki said it best for all of us INFJs here, "I am burdened with glorious purpose."

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Anonymous
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November 17, 2013 at 9:57 PM delete

As a believing INFJ, I totally understand and relate with everything that you have written. I have never felt "old" from when I was young, though most of my childhood friends were older than me. I am a counselor to all, everyone seems to trust me with all their junk and seek my advice. I agree with the Loki quote!

As far as our frequent premonitions, I believe that we sense the Holy Spirit working inside us differently than most. I knew I was supposed to pray for an elderly friend one afternoon, I stopped everything and prayed for a little while. A few weeks later, I found out that she had broken her hip that day and could barely stay conscious. She said, "I was sustained by people praying." You mention that perhaps INFJ's can perceive more than what is visible. I would agree with that. There are many supernatural powers at work in our world. By walking with the Lord, we have a greater sense of what is of Him, and what is not. I have walked many city streets both in the US and abroad and there are times when I know I cannot walk down a certain street because there is an evil presence. It's not that I'm afraid, I just know. Spidey-senses, haha. When I was growing up, I was overwhelmed with the amount of oppression on my family. So much darkness. I would read my Bible till the wee hours of the morning in order to have peace. The awesome thing is, God is greater than anything else. His light always overtakes darkness.

As far as dreams go, most of mine are super vivid. Probably every month I wake up and am inspired to write my whole dream down because it would make the best novel ever. However, my dreams are often very dark and I don't make it to a happy ending. I got shot recently in a dream, and woke up sore on my stomach and back where the bullet went through (ever had that happen?) I also have had dreams come true, though mostly they're snippets. I have had a person tell me in a dream that God would give me 'x' amt. of money for a trip in 'x' amt. of time and it happened.

I did question my sanity for a while. In eight grade, we did a section on schizoprenia and I was super worried for a few months that I did indeed have my whole life imagined in my head and that none of my friends were real. How would I know, because of course my imaginary friends would argue and say they were not figments of my imagination! However, I thought everything through and logically concluded that I was highly unlikely to be mentally ill, my circle of acquaintances was too broad!

Anyway, I wanted you to know that another INFJ understands and relates to what you're writing.

Goodnight my fellow heroes

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Anonymous
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April 10, 2014 at 4:34 PM delete

Hi,

I'm an INFJ as well and wanted to comment on a few things in your post. I haven't remembered a dream in probably over five years. I don't know why that is and frankly, sometimes it bothers me.

On the topic of feeling disconnected from your body, the most vivid experiences with that I've had were when I was in high school. My mother used to wake me up in the morning and numerous times, I'd get incredibly sad, frustrated, and angry with her because as I came out of sleep, I took me some time to "put myself back together" and I felt what I can only describe as pain in my mind and my body when she would touch me to wake me up quickly.

I frequently know what people are going to say before they say it as well.

Thank you for the article! :)

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Rikki
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September 29, 2014 at 5:31 PM delete

I'm an INFJ. I wanted to make a comment about deja vu. I was told many years ago that it's the feeling that "you've been there before", as you charted this "event" before you came here - thus, you are on the right path when you experience deja vu often. When I get regular sleep of 5 hours or more a night, my dreams are incredibly vivid - sometimes lucid; in fact I have had two amazing lucid dreams in my life - one of which my spirit body looked down at my sleeping body, as my sleeping body looked up at the spirit body; I was "re-entering my body". I've had a lot of water dreams with whales, mermaids, dolphins, and also space dreams - things that are not perceived as "on earth", terraferma.

I used to go to psychics quite a bit. I once asked one why I looked like I fit in, but didn't feel that I fit it - etc. She said it was because I was a "Crystal Child". If you look up this category of "Crystal Children, Indigos, Cusps, Scouts and Rainbow Children", it's very interesting stuff - entertaining at the very least. I love to idealize. Funny enough, I've collected precious crystals most of my life (unicorns when I was young), placebos to promote safety (angels and pentagrams) and have always preferred organic and raw foods with superfoods. A trait of Crystal Children is to immediately sense when there is someone around you that is a negative energy or "bad entity" and ignore them - acting as though they don't exist. Parent's of Crystal Children often assume that their children have hearing problems - when they actually have "selective hearing". I find it interesting that I had an operation on my ears when I was young.

I think your astrological birth chart relates to our MB personality type. I'm a Sagittarius Rising, Aries/Taurus Cusp, Aquarius Moon, with a Venus in Pisces. My North Node is in Virgo. Virgo North Nodes care greatly about atmosphere and their environment at social gatherings and ofter prefer the one on one experience. When I walk into a room full of people, I mask how uncomfortable I often feel. I pick up on what they are feeling and read them very easy - so I pick up on everything, positive and negative. One day I read about Virgo North Nodes. Apparently they have the same experience and feel that everyone can see and feel what they are thinking and feeling - but this is not true. It is actually the fact that we see everything so transparently, that we believe we are just as transparent ourselves. To this day, I've had men on dates ask me what I'm feeling or thinking - and I always laugh in surprise - shocked that it's so obvious!

Yes, sometimes I do hold back, but when even I don't, they don't pick it up usually. I have felt more and more as I age, that at my core (the soul), there is so much energy there - it scares me, and I don't even know how to unlock/express it. I've have played with the concepts of reiki and energy healing before. I had one person that felt "healed" after being in a car accident.

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Rikki
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September 29, 2014 at 5:31 PM delete

I've done some peculiar things at a young age I don't tell many about. I remember once when my best friend was leaving after we had a "sleep over" to leave some of her energy behind - as I knew I'd miss her. When I was 12 years old I developed a phobia of dying and being buried alive. I eventually got over it, but started weighing in my mind what heaven looked like. I imagined a grassy hill with trees and these black spirals floating over the crest of a hill. At the age of 15-18 when I got into the study of the Law of Attraction... and learned to understand "vibration" (like when a ripple effect in a body of water). To this day I ponder how the Universe begin... the beginning when there was just "light and dark"... it just gets me every time! I want the answer! You can't have one without the other, and which came first?

On the subject of superheroes. I get that one too:) I always wished that I was once of the women in Sidney Sheldon's novels; books of adventure, danger and excitement with some beautiful, powerful heiress/millionairess that was always involved in some conspiracy theory or love triangle. In more recent years,my favorite movies were "Lucy" and "Limitless"... I wish I just take a pill and have superhuman powers. To this day, I fantasize about pausing time, and having the ability to do more while everyone is "sleeping" so to speak:)

Rikki

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