Wrestling with Greatness

Tuesday, May 29, 2012 10 Comments A+ a-



Hello there - I hope that all of you had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend!

Mine was fairly decent, other than taking the cover off our pool and nearly fainting at the color of the water. I spent quite a bit of time outside in the sun, and I saw the Avengers movie for the fourth time. It seems the first three times, I missed the shawarma scene at the very end of the credits. That couldn't happen! So I took my son and one of his friends to my favorite theater. It was totally packed, and the movie was still awesome. Shawarma scene was great...I loved Thor's gigantic bites and the way Captain America looked like he was about to fall asleep in his plate :-)

Now that I'm rested up (and inspired from seeing both Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans in action), it's time to get back into the swing of things. Let's check out the wisdom of Dr. Drenth!

This time, his paragraph hits a nerve with me:

Many INFJs struggle with bouts of depression, which may relate to any number of things. They may, for instance, get depressed when they feel their creative inspiration has left them. Or, because of their otherworldliness, they may struggle with feeling deeply alone and misunderstood. Depression may also stem from feeling dissatisfied in the INFJ’s careers or relationships. They may dream of having a beautiful home adorned with beautiful things, but feel stuck in a low-paying job that they are reluctant to quit because of a poor economy. 

In the reading and research I've done so far, I've found that INFJs do struggle with depression. Been there, done that. Many times. Do any of you struggle with this?

Dr. Drenth mentions lack of creative inspiration. I can identify with this, especially as it pertains to my writing. When I don't feel 'inspired' or have something wonderful to daydream about, my inner world begins to crumble. Which forces me to focus on the outer world...and that, to me, is even more depressing because there's no comparison between the two. My inner world rocks...and it's where I live most of the time, so I place a high priority on nurturing and preserving it.

So when I feel uninspired, I quickly engage myself in an activity that I believe will bring inspiration back. Reading a favorite book, seeing a good movie, going to a park, taking carrots to the horses at a local stable. Anything that moves me or touches my heart. Many times I will pray or listen to inspiring music (the Holy Spirit has the unique ability to stir my thoughts and feelings).

One thing I've noticed is that inspiration usually comes when I'm alone. That seems a little backward, since INFJs 'may struggle with feeling deeply alone and misunderstood.' But there's a difference between being alone and feeling alone. I can be surrounded by people and still feel alone and isolated. Being physically alone, however, recharges me. That's an introvert thing.

So, do I feel alone and misunderstood? Yeah, pretty much all the time. There's so much going on inside my head - so many thoughts, questions, revelations, mysteries, connections, plots - that when I do talk with another person, I sometimes don't know where to begin. Too much to download, too difficult to paraphrase. I often fear that I give the impression of being confused, unknowledeable, or just plain weird. This awkward feeling makes it hard to establish and maintain deep, lasting relationships - and those are the ones I want.

If it wasn't for my relationship with God, my lack of satisfying human relationships would send me into a fast downward spiral of depression. Again - been there, done that. Knowing Christ offers me deep spiritual intimacy from an ongoing source. When everything else fails, He is always there, loving me and listening to my weird, crazy thoughts. Nobody understands and accepts me like He does, and I think most of the time, that's what an INFJ wants. To be understood and accepted.

Being dissatisfied with INFJ careers. Hmm. Well, I don't have a choice in my career at the moment. I have to stay home with my special needs son, as his dual disability can lead to aggressiveness or distracting behavior in academic and social settings. It's not exactly my dream life. Am I dissatisfied with this? It depends on the day. Sometimes I'm okay. Other times it really, really sucks. I'm an extremely independent person, and lack of freedom can drive me out of my mind. My husband understands this and is wonderful about letting me get out of the house on a regular basis. Which is good - because if he didn't, I just might hop in my car, drive away and never look back!

In my own personal opinion, I think a major source of our INFJ depression comes from having that 'greatness within' - and being unable (or unwilling) to live it out or share it with others. We need outlets for that greatness. Writing, painting, music, praying, charitable work, serving others - something we love that can act as a conduit for all we are inside. To keep my own thoughts at a manageable level, I write and talk to God. Blogging, working on my book, and talking with someone who loves me unconditionally are all ways of "getting my insides out" before they threaten my sanity.

We have so much inside of us to share with the world. I'm betting that's why there are so few of us. Too many - and the world wouldn't be able to handle it :-)

Don't let your greatness discourage you. Wrestle with it, define it, and master it. Find your outlet, whatever it may be - and go for it!


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Jared
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October 2, 2012 at 5:07 PM delete

Hey!

You are so much like me -- it's uncanny! I struggle with depression and have ever since I was 19 (I'm 30 now). What drives me to depression I cannot know for sure, but like all forms of pain it's stemming from some need gone unmet. I'll take a stab at it.

I am a Christian who NEEDS that deep spiritual connection but down here under the sun, there seems to be little of that. The all- encompassing feelings of meaninglessness is like cold steel pressed against my chest -- it's painful and oppressive. The book of Ecclesiastes vividly explains how I feel a lot of the time(it's almost like he took the words out of my mouth). Oh Solomon, you cynical prophet you! This is a world that seems to be more tailor made for my opposite (the ESTP), but not for me. I need something strong, purposeful and meaningful to even feel stable. I long for that deep connectedness with God and people. I loved the movie Avatar for reasons like this because it really exemplified that essential connectedness in a world that didn't need a whole lot of faith to get there. I so long for that world(heaven) where I truly belong. I think the INFJ longs for heaven the most. I think all types have an element of unhappiness because we are squatting down here and are not really home(where we truly belong and where all longings are fulfilled)

Doubt is another reason I get depressed and I have loads of it. I am a doubting Thomas! I question everything and wonder if what I believe is actually true since I only know in part, and because I can't know with 100% certainty. . . I get depressed. I must understand. The answers I receive must be quality answers or they are not an answer to me at all . What depresses me is when I ask a relatively superficial world a question and all I get is something like, "I dunno, depends I guess... oh look a bird". This lends the belief that I'm just a weirdo that no one gets.

Anyway, these are just a handful of things that might be causing my cronic depression, or maybe I just simply have a chemical imbalance.

I don't think I'm expecting too much; I think I just need too much.

Take Care,

Jared

For more understanding about how we are wired, I look into the Enneagram type 4 as it's more need-based/spiritually based. http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/typefour.asp

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Meridian
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October 3, 2012 at 2:24 PM delete

We are most definitely alike, Jared - your comments completely resonate with me. Solomon's writings are amazing, and a potent reminder that investing ourselves in things down here will never completely fulfill us. I think INFJs are capable of seeing, feeling, envisioning so many great things with which the real world just can't compare...it continually falls short.

Needs gone unmet. You hit the nail on the head. I still struggle with the New Testament promise that God will meet all our needs. Seems like most of mine run low. Like Solomon, I get lured away from God trying to fill those tanks myself. Frankly, some of them are just unfillable (wait--is that a word?). Nobody seems to get this, either. The extravert world caters to their own. The "oh look a bird" comment cracked me up. You have an awesome wit, dude :-)

Doubt and the INFJ go hand-in-hand. We want to build systems, connect them in meaningful ways, and inspire truth in others. This is hard to do without the "meaningful" and "truth" parts. I deal with doubt every stinking day. The act of living in faith creates a tension that I sometimes can't stand--it stresses me out, makes me want to scream.

You're not imbalanced...you're an INFJ and an ambassador in a foreign land. It's not an easy role. Seriously, the world hasn't caught up to us yet. They revel in extravert ways and don't realize our level of understanding. It's enough to depress anyone. That's why we need to stick together and bring our collective superpowers to the table. Sharing with one another is one way to get the connections we desperately need.

Keep the comments coming, and remember how great you are :-)

M.

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Jared
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October 3, 2012 at 3:48 PM delete

Hey Meridian,

You make me feel all warm inside :D! Thank you for your kind words. I'm thrilled that I found someone who gets me and wants those rich connections as much as I do. It feels like a weight has been lifted off of me.

Okay so you said, "I get lured away from God trying to fill those tanks myself. Frankly, some of them are just unfillable (wait--is that a word?). Nobody seems to get this, either." I get you. I've done the exact same thing. It's almost like filling a bucket with water when there is a big hole at the bottom -- the frustration is epic. I am a huge fan of C.S. Lewis and his most profound argument(in my opinion) alludes to the fact that he got it. He said:

"The Christian says, 'Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, there is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or to be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same."

Pretty cool, eh?

There is a problem I have and you have and it's doubt. We are not in unbelief as that would require a lack of belief, but rather, we doubt (at times) what we already hold onto, and (for a time), our world feels as though it's collapsing (like the rug has been pulled from underneath our worldview that we've worked so hard to make perfect). When doubt rears its ugly head the preceding quote and bible verses just seem trite and meaningless. Although I don't cave into my doubts, I am faced with this tragedy fairly often. God had to make himself very real to me because my faith was/is sometimes the equivalent of an eighth of a mustard seed :S. He has made himself real to me though! I've had some groundbreaking experiences with God that have left me forever changed.

Please tell me about your experiences with doubt and what goes on in your head/heart when it gets really tough! I'm very interested!

Thanks again for being you,

Jared

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Meridian
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October 4, 2012 at 11:21 AM delete

Jared - I just wrote a post on doubt (Doubt: Be True to Yourself). Take a look, as it explains how I think doubt comes about in the INFJ and how I deal with it. See? You inspired me ;-)

Thanks for all your honesty and connection out here. Keep in touch!!!

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Anonymous
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January 21, 2013 at 6:08 AM delete

I am an INFJ but I no longer associate with Christianity. I believe in God but I also believe in the supremacy of any God concept over and beyond the narrower focus of a God within the tradition of a group. i.e. yes to God, no to religion.

But I'm not here to criticise your faith. I admire your belief and your unwavering defense of it. My religion teacher in high school (a catechist) taught us that "A man is only his convictions; a man without convictions is not a man". I still believe that statement to be a fundamental truth. (It was an all boys school. I am sure if it was a mixed school that he would have used a more inclusive word).

I am here to talk about depression, which I have known as an unwelcome guest. INFJs are programmed never to ask for help, but rather to be the people who offer help. Therefore, a depressed INFJ is a double loss, to herself and to the society that depends on her. When depression comes, INFJs usually try to fight alone. When we lose (as we inevitably do if it is a serious illness) the ways out can be toxic, all-consuming and often life-threatening.

So, long story short, if depressed, seek help. Do not go it alone.

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Anonymous
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June 27, 2013 at 9:42 AM delete

I am infj and depressed. Thank you for your article i feel a lot associated to. I feel lonely very often and think no one understands me. Life is very hard for infj.

Karen

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Anonymous
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February 20, 2014 at 1:16 AM delete

This post and comments resonate so much with me right now. I have been struggling with depression off and on, especially in the past year. I've been studying my type (INFJ) lately and trying to understand myself so that maybe I can feel better.

I can't imagine how I would make it through anything without my belief in God and Jesus. His Word is literally the only way I make it through the day sometimes. I especially love Handel's Messiah and listen to it over and over when I am down. It nourishes my soul.

I LOVED the comment that the INFJ longs for heaven the most. I have been longing for heaven for a number of years and at times am overwhelmed by feelings of incredible homesickness for heaven and longings to see God face to face. When I express this to other people, they look at me as if I am very strange.

I've heard INFJs described as "old souls" and I have felt this since I was a little child that I am always older than my peers in my thoughts and interests and therefore out of sync with them. Maybe this also refers to the longings for heaven which many people don't develop (to the extent that I have) until they are quite old and frail and life doesn't seem to hold much more for them. Life doesn't seem to hold much more for me now and I am far from old.

Thanks for helping me feel a little less alone in my thoughts and feelings! And for letting me express myself (which helps an INFJ).

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Anonymous
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June 10, 2015 at 9:03 AM delete

Thank you for posting.

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June 18, 2015 at 5:10 PM delete

Thank you for writing this post and this blog. Until a few months ago I was dealing with a lot of depression, primarily because I felt weird and misunderstood. I have a lot of very deep and intense thoughts and I needed to get them out but no one to go there with me. I started writing a blog about my thoughts and it has been very cathartic for me. I was literally feeling physical pain at not being able to release the thoughts from inside. Writing has given me that release. Then by the grace of God, I came across something, I think it was on Pinterest, describing an INFJ and I totally identified with it. So I dug out the results of the MBTI I took 2 years ago at school and lo and behold, there it was, I am a confirmed INFJ. I Googled more information about it and was pleasantly surprised to find that there are all of these online support groups, Facebook pages, and blogs for INFJs. This has been freeing for me and has allowed me to embrace who I am. I kind of see it like having a super power, lol! Anyway, since I've started embracing this identity, my mood has improved significantly. I have also become more patient with the people in my life and rather than getting overly frustrated and blaming everything on either myself or them, I just say to myself, "I am not weird, I am an INFJ, they don't understand, and that's okay."

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Anonymous
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December 24, 2015 at 11:08 AM delete

I love that statement: "I am not weird. I am an INFJ. They don't understand and that's okay." It's taken me a long time to realize that what seems so self-evident to me is really not understood by others.

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