Square Peg #8: Mission Impossible

Tuesday, June 30, 2015 10 Comments A+ a-


Hey, guys! Come on in and sit a spell. Please overlook all the tissue boxes...my son gave me his cold last week, and my body went into full-out rebellion. Sore throat, headache, stuffy nose, cough, the works. I did start a post, but didn't make it past the first paragraph. It's kind of hard to write when you're barely operating above zombie...

Me trying to function last week...

I'm still a little sniffly, so bear with me as I dive into the next--and last--topic in our Square Peg series: subconscious blending. Or as I sometimes call it, the chameleon condition. :)

You probably won't find a lot of "official" research on this topic, but if you search the internet for INFJ chameleon, you'll end up with quite a few links (including a couple from the Cafe). And for good reason. We have this really cool ability to blend in with other personality types.

If you're an INFJ, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's sort of a "mode" switch that happens by instinct. When you're with extraverted types, for example, you morph into extraverted behavior. Or if you're out with a quiet friend who thrives on intellectual conversation, you tap into your internal Wikipedia and offer up topics they enjoy. Someone needs you to listen, so you grow very quiet and attentive. They need you to talk...you chat away. Whatever the situation, you have the tendency to meet that person or group on their level.

Why do we do this? I believe it has a lot to do with our Extraverted Feeling (Fe) function. If you'll remember from our first topic, our Fe is superb at reaching out and reading what others are feeling. It gauges their emotions and, along with our Ni and Se, works to deliver powerful insights into what those people are experiencing:


INFJs use Extraverted Feeling (Fe) as their auxiliary function. As the most interpersonal of all the functions, Fe is attuned to surveying and improving interpersonal feelings and morale. Like other FJ types, INFJs work to cultivate “good feelings” in the interpersonal environment. In order to survey others’ feelings, Fe contributes to INFJs’ ability to read emotional expressions and body language. This, in combination with their Se and Ni, allow them to effectively read, understand, and relate to others. --A.J. Drenth, INFJ Personality Type: A Deeper Look

As INFJs, we dislike conflict and strive to maintain harmony in our surroundings. We instinctively transform into whomever we need to be so that others are comfortable and happy.


Sounds like an amazing trait, right? It most definitely is, and I consider it one of our greatest superpowers. We're like warm-and-fuzzy secret agents, infiltrating in ways many people don't recognize, working behind the scenes, bringing peace to all mankind (cue Mission: Impossible theme).

So how can all this awesome blending--which appears to help us fit in--make us feel set apart or different? Well, like all superpowers, this one can backfire if we're not careful. Misuse of this ability can lead to one or more of the following side-effects:

Ni/Fe Crash - when our Intuition and Feeling functions collide (e.g., you're trying to make someone happy by supporting an opinion/cause you intuitively disagree with, forcing you to choose between their happiness and your personal integrity)

Personality Fraud - when your cover's blown (e.g., someone sees you outside of their normal circumstances, realizes you're not who they thought you were, and decides you're a total fake)

Jack-of-All-Trades Syndrome - when you lose track of the real you (e.g., you're so busy fitting into other people's worlds that you forget which one you belong to, resulting in personality disconnect, loneliness, depression, and/or dissatisfaction with career/mate choices)

There are probably others, but the ones above can literally drive us crazy. I went to a counselor last year for this very issue...trying to be myself while also making everyone else around me happy. It helped immensely to have someone to talk to, especially someone who--after hearing some of my deepest fears and regrets and watching me break down in tears--looked me in the eye and told me that I was okay. What wasn't okay was the load of guilt crushing my spirit. :(

Five stars, guys, cuz this one hits me hard.

And I'm actually in tears now, as I close out this post. I can't believe we're at the end of the series! Moral of the story? These are real issues, people. Very intense, personal, real issues. Not things we should brush off, and certainly not things that society should force us to feel guilty about. We might represent a tiny fraction of humanity, but we're a vital, magical part of it, and we should never forget how important we are.




*sniffles, blows nose, composes self*

Okay. So next week I'll plan on a recap of our eight Square Peg issues, along with tossing around some ideas for new posts and series. Thanks to everyone for your comments and insights...I'm trying to reply to them all (when I'm not a zombie). Rest assured that I always love hearing from you. <3

Until next time.

P.S. I can't get the Mission: Impossible theme out of my head. :)

Image Credit: Coffee Zombie, Pineapple Head, INFJ Magic

10 comments

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Colin Machan
AUTHOR
July 1, 2015 at 2:23 AM delete

Brilliant series, thanks. Can identify with the feelings of disconnect, when you're trying to be all things for all men. At least I know there's others that understand. :)

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Meridian
AUTHOR
July 1, 2015 at 10:13 AM delete

Thanks, Colin. Good to hear from you and hope you're doing well. :)

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Lauren
AUTHOR
July 1, 2015 at 6:14 PM delete

Thanks for a wonderful, highly insightful post. It was a joy to read it. Yes, I also participate in being all things to all people! sometimes, I wondered why I did it. Sometimes I regretted it, but somehow I couldn't stop myself. I'd even watch TV show which I didn't really like so that I could discuss them with my colleagues at work the nest morning at coffee break!

I didn't really realize that it was pretty much all to do with INFJ personality type. Nevertheless, I recently decided to try to dial back on that as I sometimes felt (no wonder) that I was *losing me.* As you so eloquently said, that is the downside of this charming characteristic.

I will always be kind and polite to others. That's such a deep part of me that will never change it, but at the same time, I will start trying to be me, even if I don't make a "hit" with others. I have to work on this.

I hope that your cold is gone now, and that you are feeling strong and healthy again.
Best wishes,
Lauren

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Lauren
AUTHOR
July 1, 2015 at 6:16 PM delete

PS I forgot to say that I love your mini poster : INFJ @The world needs us as we are old souls with young hearts. Love this!
Best,
Lauren

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Christy Haupt
AUTHOR
July 1, 2015 at 8:27 PM delete

I'm getting that book you referenced. This insight adds a layer to what I have been unravelling for the last five years after discovering my codependent child status. The books by Melody Beattie, Language of Letting Go, have grown me in so many ways and taught me about BOUNDARIES. Had none and didn't know how a person does that. This speaks well to the INFJ characteristic of this segment also. If something is hurting you, tiring you, making you uncomfortable, set a boundary. Set limits of how much you give and when and to whom for how long. I loved the reference to our Wikipedia !!!! Laughed out loud! Yup, thats me! And in that spirit, I'd like to offer you a solution to the getting sick issue. Since my profession calls for being around sick children all the time, I was, of course, sick whenever they brought it into the classroom. I did some research on proper food combining (meat and veggies;no starch OR starch and veggies; no meat) no dairy and eat from the alkaline foods list. I made my body alkaline and viruses can't live in alkalinity. I haven't been sick yet and it's been three years.It also fixed some other issues as a surprise result.

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Carrie
AUTHOR
July 2, 2015 at 6:14 AM delete

What a helpful post, especially the part about the three side effects, which I have felt numerous times over the years. I think the counterbalance to the side effects is practicing authenticity, taking the time (even quickly, in the swirl of a moment or in the presence of someone else) to take a belly breath and ask, "Is this really who I am?" and, if it's not, to shift course, which INFJ's seem pretty good at. People don't necessarily want someone to mirror them... they want to be with someone who's authentic. It can show when we're trying to fake it a bit. Authenticity always comes across as pure and true. Anyway, thanks for the post!

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Meridian
AUTHOR
July 2, 2015 at 10:17 AM delete

I'm still working on it, too, and am really glad that I'm not the only one who struggles. Dr. Drenth encourages INFJs to trust their Ni and not always give in to the Fe. It's something I'll probably post about again, because we need to hear it.

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Meridian
AUTHOR
July 2, 2015 at 10:54 AM delete

Lol, I love my inner Wikipedia. Am constantly adding to it. It's so funny when I pull out a fact and surprise someone. One of the benefits of being a scribble in a world of straight lines. :)

You know, I've been wanting to change my diet. I've heard of food combining and alkalinity and have experimented a little. I noticed that I did feel better...it's just difficult for me to stay on it with my current lifestyle. My special-needs son is high maintenance and there are times when I have to grab whatever's in the pantry and make do. Thanks for the suggestion...once I get my son transitioned into his CILA home, I'm definitely going to start eating better.

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Meridian
AUTHOR
July 2, 2015 at 10:57 AM delete

Hi! Thanks for sharing, and you're absolutely right. Authenticity is key. There's a balance between Ni and Fe and once we find that, we're one step closer to becoming our true selves! :)

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