INFJ Top Ten List: #2 - Warm-Hearted

Monday, December 10, 2012 11 Comments A+ a-


G'morning, folks (yawn, stretch). It's overcast and fairly chilly in east-central Illinois. Looks like a good day for snow. Don't know about anyone else, but I'd love a white Christmas. Lol, we used to have those when I was a kid, but I don't see very many of them now! Wonder why that is?

Had a busy, fulfilling weekend. I'm almost at the 100K word count with my book and am still uncertain where to stop. I'm relying on my intuition to help with that. Also, I received an e-mail about Amazon's Breakthrough Novel 2013 contest that begins in mid-January. I told my husband I'd like to enter, and bless his little heart, he's going to be taking time off from work to help me wrap things up. After months of dedication on this project, I think he's finally starting to take it seriously :-)

At this very moment, though, I'm relishing the peace and quiet of our house. My daughter decorated for Christmas, so it's lovely and festive around here. Rosie's snoring in her crate, Suzzie's curled up beside me, and my special needs son is sleeping in. Coffee tastes good. I have soooo much to do today, but for right now my butt is just going to stay planted in this chair!

Okay, so let's talk about item #2 on our list: being warm-hearted.


2. We are warm-hearted

INFJs can outwardly appear cold. Because we tend to be very private and enjoy only opening up to our closest companions, others can see us as cold and detached. This is the furthest from the truth. INFJs are, in fact, extremely warm-hearted and open to everyone around us, but because we are socially inept, we can struggle with making others aware of this. Our compassion knows no limits and we are mostly selfless people. We hope that everyone can open up to us and know that we are there for them, however, we will probably not open up much to them by no fault of their own.
Sound familiar? (sigh)

My last post covered our open-minded and abstract nature, and I explained how that part of us often cloaks our firm bedrock core. One of the Cafe readers, Sloan, wrote a comment about how frustrating it is not to have that deep, intimate part of us cherished or sought after by others. Well, today's post runs along the same lines.

Every bit of research I do on the INFJ brings me to an article about how warm, compassionate, and selfless we are. Our personality type has an enormous capacity for giving and helping others. We rally behind causes, counsel those in need, worry about world hunger and--in general--just wish we could give mankind a great big hug. Then food, medicine, and spiritual truth. And then another hug.

But are the people around us aware of this? Hmm.

I love chatting with my elderly gentlemen friends in our local coffee shop. Once when I happened to be talking with Roger, though, he told me that when I first began hanging out there, he considered me unapproachable. I walked in alone, sat alone with my nose buried in my laptop, and left alone. He told me he'd often wondered who I was--what my story was--and it wasn't until he reached out and said hello that our friendship began. Other friends have told me the same thing.

Cold and detached? Well, I guess maybe that's how I seem to folks. My heart may be warm, but it beats deep inside and is often hidden to the world. It drives me to do things behind the scenes, like slip a ten-dollar bill into the Salvation Army bucket, or pick trash up off the floor in a restroom and throw it away. Return a pen, wipe up a spill, smile at a little girl who twirls by. Clean out my garage and give stuff away instead of selling it for cash. Things people don't tend to notice.

I have friends who walk around exploding their warmth onto everyone they know. Like Wendy, who wears her heart on her sleeve and mothers everyone within a five-mile radius. I'm not like that, nor would I be comfortable acting that way. Even if I had millions of dollars, my compassion would keep a low profile. Remote? Detached? If I seem so, it's likely my own fault.

Isn't it ironic how some of the best parts of us are the ones hidden beneath the surface? Like an iceberg, we might seem frigid and unapproachable. Easy to pass by. But there's so much underneath that others don't readily tap into (unless, as I told Sloan, their ship runs into it and they're forced to take a deeper look). We are warm-hearted, save-the-world kinda folks. We just don't always advertise it.

What do you think, guys? Does your generous, caring heart burn behind a protective shell? Do only your closest friends and loved ones experience your tenderness? And does it bother you to be considered unapproachable by others?

Personally, I'm okay with operating in stealth mode. How about you?


11 comments

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Clint
AUTHOR
December 10, 2012 at 2:00 PM delete

Everything you said was exactly right about me! I like how you described people "exploding their warmth". Makes me uncomfortable just to witness it!

I always marvel at people who are "touchers". The idea of putting my hand on a stranger in a way that wouldn't make them uncomfortable is unimaginable, and yet when someone does it to me, it's wonderful. I was at Home Depot recently and asked an employee where the ladders were. He put his hand on top of my shoulder, squeezed slightly and turned me in the right direction, saying something like, "Oh! They're right over in that corner, young man!" I suppose there's a huge amount of information conveyed in the simple fluidity and comfort with which you initiate that sort of thing. I guess it's an extrovert thing!

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Colin Machan
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December 10, 2012 at 2:50 PM delete

I'm sitting here reading your post while the family sits and watches "Arrow" on TV. And it strikes me that there's something particularly satisfying about the idea of having a secret identity. Saving the world because you really want to make a difference. Then stepping back out of the limelight because it's really not very comfortable out there. Yes, I care. I need to help others. I don't actually what all the fame and glory that goes with it.

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Meridian
AUTHOR
December 13, 2012 at 5:40 PM delete

Lol, those folks should wear a button, right? "Danger - Beware of Exploding Warmth"

As a huge sensory person, I love being touched, too. When a stranger reaches out, I always get a warm fuzzy! But I'm like you...I don't usually touch others unless I know them really well (or get an immediate sense of connection). I feel like I give part of myself and my connective energy away when I touch someone, so I reserve it for special people. The only exception is when I'm under the influence of the ESTP shadow - my Phoenix has an powerful affinity for touching strangers (this is one reason she's kept behind bars, lol!).

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Meridian
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December 13, 2012 at 5:43 PM delete

We are on the same page here, Colin - I love my secret identity and much prefer being one of the "Men in Black" - playing an important role, but still an apparent figment of society's imagination :-)

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Clint
AUTHOR
December 14, 2012 at 8:44 AM delete

"The only exception is when I'm under the influence of the ESTP shadow - my Phoenix has an powerful affinity for touching strangers (this is one reason she's kept behind bars, lol!)."

Would you expound on that, please? I haven't read anything about the "ESTP shadow" or "phoenix" and it sounds interesting!

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Meridian
AUTHOR
December 15, 2012 at 10:35 AM delete

Sure - a "shadow" is the opposite of our personality type. It's what we tend to fall into when we're stressed out or pushed into desperate/unhappy circumstances. For the INFJ, we end up engaging in ESTP behaviors--extraverted, passionate, indulgent, spontaneous (like my friend Wendy). These behaviors aren't "bad" - but they aren't typical for us and can lead to undesirable consequences.

I call my shadow the Phoenix (see my June post labeled "Intensity"). She's sort of like the dark side of Jean Grey from X-men. Passion, rage, seduction, desire. When I look back over my life, I can see all the times she raised her head and took over. She is both risky and dangerous. I hold her responsible for most of the bad decisions I've made, lol. I keep her caged and am sensitive to her moods...but there are still times when she screams and beats at the bars. The best use for her is when I'm writing...I sort of "channel" her passionate behavior into my characters.

The funny thing is that most people would never suspect I walk around with her inside. They all think I'm quiet, reserved, levelheaded. But she's there, and she retains a certain influence over my thinking. It's one reason I feel isolated. I doubt anyone (except an INFJ) could relate :-)

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Clint
AUTHOR
December 17, 2012 at 9:53 AM delete

I literally laughed out loud when I read your Jean Grey analogy. Not only because it always pleasantly surprises me when a woman identifies with comic book characters (especially as accurately as you describe the Phoenix), but also because I have always considered my inner -- animal -- akin to Wolverine. Even as a kid, before I knew anything about myself, I admired him for being a loner, for his instinctual nature, and his utter disregard for the rules. I call it my INNER animal because as a professional adult and father, I see the necessity of having a functional outer persona. Fortunately, good literature has also provided us with the "enigmatic" Mr. Darcy which I find to be a very natural fit, and which is totally socially acceptable.

You describe several impulses that accompany your Phoenix, but I really only have one that accompanies mine -- though perhaps it's all-encompassing -- and that is a soul-deep desire to leave. I entertain fantasies of traveling the world and watching it pass around me in fast motion, while I stand in the midst of it untouched and unchanged. Even as I write it's an entirely romantic and appealing idea, but also completely ridiculous. I'm sure you can see the "Wolverine" in it: he doesn't age and change like everyone else, he loves them but is always separated by his nature. You know, typical INFJ stuff! :)

I would love to hear what other fictional characters you enjoy or identify with! I'll click back and read your June post.

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Meridian
AUTHOR
December 17, 2012 at 9:45 PM delete

Well, I'm glad I made you laugh :-) The X-men series is one of my all-time favorites. I love the idea of superpowers, so I gravitate toward those kinds of movies (Avengers, Fantastic Four, Iron Man).

It's interesting that the characteristics you admire about Wolverine are ones common to the INFJ. We tend to be loners, live by instinct and most definitely do not follow the rules (or the crowd). I don't think it's coincidence that you are drawn to him. The idea of the Wolverine is compelling for me as well. And the relationship he shares with Jean--the untouchable loner attracted to the volatile phoenix--is one that I've found to resonate strongly within my own heart. In the teen novel I'm finishing up, the two main characters (Reece and Willow) are in similar positions. Fire and ice. Oddly, I identify with both.

Once again, your description puts a distinct image in my head. Sort of a black-and-white picture of Wolverine standing alone, the world a grayish blur moving past him. "Untouched and unchanged"--a mystery, a constant. Very appealing. Your soul-deep desire to leave is intriguing. Leaving, traveling, being able to walk away from a confining circumstance and breathe. I struggle with that longing every day. And I don't find it ridiculous at all. The phoenix in me would fly away in a heartbeat if I set her free :-)

Lol, I've identified with many. Too large a number for a comment box, I'm afraid :-)

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jonathanrenck
AUTHOR
December 25, 2012 at 9:49 PM delete

Dang it Meridian, now I have that image in my head of Wolverine and I'll have to get my sketchbook out and play with the idea.
I've loved this blog since I found it on my Facebook page one happy day. I have experienced both forms of the inner turmoil/desire to escape. I'm happy I've found myself able to escape through my artwork and the bits of writing I've done.

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Meridian
AUTHOR
December 27, 2012 at 12:19 PM delete

Hey there! Glad you're enjoying the Cafe, and thanks for the support! :-)

Dude--we get each other! Rarely do I find other people who understand my intense inner workings. Most of the time I feel stifled, like a bird in a cage. I'm only content when expressing that inner intensity--whether through writing or physical movement. It's hard to walk around discontent.

Ha, if you sketch something up, I'd like to see it! Seriously!!

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Yakarin
AUTHOR
July 14, 2013 at 1:30 PM delete

Man do I enjoy to read your posts and each fellow infj's reply. Sorry for spamming your old posts, I just discovered your blog and I can't help myself to comment each time amazed to find how similar we feel and think. I am taking a big risk here, because I have hardly shared this with very few close people, that end up looking at me with a blank expression for a while or that simply "go along with the game"; but I have been quite curious for a while to see if there are more infjs that experience this, and now that you are talking about secret identities and inner animals... well, I think it's the perfect time to say. Have you heard of therianthropy? Have you ever felt like your soul sometimes feels more like a canine's soul? I've also noticed that most people think of me as unreachable, but when I've opened too much to a few ones, my emotions seem too raw and intense for them and I end up finding myself frustrated, feeling like only a dog could understand my loyalty or even the way I love others. Please tell me I am not alone on these thoughts? hehe..

Please excuse my confusing and terrible writing skills, I'm not a native English speaker.

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