Dark Side: Great Expectations

Monday, December 07, 2015 8 Comments A+ a-


Hello, friends...the Cafe is shrouded in fog today. Looking out the window is a little creepy. White mist is everywhere, and I can barely see the houses across the street. I hope no one knocks today. It wouldn't surprise me at all to glance up and find a forlorn, bedraggled ghost standing at the front door.
Uh oh. Where'd I put that proton pack...?

BUT...it's the perfect atmosphere for writing more about our Dark Side. Pour yourself a cup of something hot and pull up a chair. We're about to tackle Elaine's next paragraph:

One of the most unflattering traits, typically plaguing less individuated INFJs, is their propensity to be extreme in their expectations of others and severe in their judgments of those who fall short of those expectations. From a young age, the INFJ innately senses the difference between behavior that is authentically motivated (i.e., spiritually and psychologically healthy) and behavior that is inauthentic or ego driven (i.e., spiritually and psychologically destructive). Respect out of duty isn’t freely given by INFJs who (to the chagrin of their elders) tend to see adults and children through the same lens and then judge them by this universal qualification: authenticity.
Let me stop here for a second. I've written about authenticity before. INFJs crave authenticity and seek it out in their surroundings, their relationships, and their spiritual journey. When we're young, we often don't realize we want this. We just know authenticity when we see it, and we try to hold ourselves--and others--to that level. 

Unfortunately, the people around us don't always measure up. And when they don't, we feel wronged. It doesn't matter why, only that they've disappointed us, and we can be terribly unfair in the way we judge them.
That's right. You failed to meet my expectations,
which I set unreasonably high and didn't
bother to tell you about. Now...GO.

Anyone relate? UGH. But wait, there's more...


If respect has been earned and the INFJ intuits an individual to be primarily authentic (or at least trying to live more authentically), it can be a huge letdown for INFJs when that individual shows him or herself to be a “sinner” or imperfect. Truly, the INFJ doesn’t feel she is being unreasonable, since these are the same (perhaps even less stringent) expectations she places upon herself. Often, it isn’t until the INFJ’s tertiary Ti comes into play that she begins to rationally understand typological differences and thereby exercises greater patience and grace for some types’ need to learn (what in her view amounts to) “the hard way.”

Guys, this really is an icky part of being an INFJ. I wish someone had clued me in to this aspect of my personality when I was younger, because I literally didn't realize I was doing it. I only knew that people disappointed me. Constantly. Over and over again, I'd put someone on a pedestal and then carve an invisible "notch" on the base each time they failed to meet my standards. And after so many notches, I was done. I either walked away or gave them a mental door slam and permanently dismissed them from my thoughts.

The worst part? That person usually had no clue that I was notching them. They were almost always caught off guard when I cut them out of my life.

Is this fair? Not one bit, and it caused me no end of grief until I started to mature in my thinking. Even then, I had trouble adjusting. Old habits die hard, as they say, and it has taken me many years to learn how to separate my expectations of myself from those I set on other people.




So, I have to agree with Elaine that this is an "unflattering" trait of the INFJ personality type--one that probably contributes to our reputation for being snobby and hyper-sensitive. On the up side, once we become aware of it, we can do something about it. And when we begin to study other types and how they function, we can manage our expectations in a healthier, more positive way.  :)

Are you struggling with your expectations? Or have you fought this battle and won? Please feel free to share...and stay tuned for our next (and last) Dark Side post, coming soon! 


8 comments

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Colin Machan
AUTHOR
December 8, 2015 at 7:55 AM delete

This resonated quite a bit with me. You see, there are some people around me who I can easily trust, and those who I am always slightly wary about. And, if you ask me why, I couldn't really tell you.

The authenticity of the trustworthy kinda shines through... Guess this is why.

And yet: just had a supposed friend let me down again. No possibility of comeback from this. I'm sad, but I must admit deep down I'm not terribly bothered. There was something deep down in our relationship which kept me at my guard. Which is an awful thing for someone who considers himself a carer to admit... :(

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Meridian
AUTHOR
December 8, 2015 at 9:28 AM delete

Thanks for sharing, Colin. I must admit to the same thing. Sometimes I'm wary of certain people and am not really upset (or surprised) when I have to let them go. It's certainly a paradox for us to want to care about people while also keeping them at arms' length, but our Ni is there for a reason. We have to trust that it's protecting us. Still, it's tough, isn't it?

Hugs to you, my friend.

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
December 8, 2015 at 7:04 PM delete

Oh yes... this sounds quite familiar. I agree that we INFJ's harshly judge others because we harshly judge ourselves. It's like, if I can't spare myself from criticism, why spare anyone else? And this inner critic I have, which judges me so harshly -- lately I've noticed that I project it onto others and believe that they, too, must be judging ME harshly... They may not be saying anything critical, but I assume they are thinking it. So here we are, INFJ's judging others, criticizing ourselves, and thinking others must be judging us. I find it all very tiring! In reality no one is judging us as much as we think they are, and we have no need to criticize ourselves as much as we do, and we have to let other people simply be themselves and not make so many judgments about them. It all starts with awareness.

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Wawoo
AUTHOR
December 9, 2015 at 1:06 AM delete

Ugh and Ugh! I live this struggle. My insistence on authenticity (and judgment of its lacking) likely killed my marriage and ends close friendships. I have patience enough for the masses, but little for those I let in to my inner sanctum.

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Dawn
AUTHOR
December 9, 2015 at 2:04 PM delete

This is something I've been struggling with for a good portion of my adult life. I've worked really hard on being easier and kind to myself, and I find the better I get at that, the better I am at cutting others slack. It's a process, but I've come to believe the key is changing that inner voice that constantly criticizes and holds you (and everyone else) to impossible standards.

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Anonymous
AUTHOR
December 14, 2015 at 8:17 AM delete

I hear you, "Anonymous," with projecting judging. I really see this shadow haunting me in respect to friendships and my vacillating with who I'm okay inviting into my life and to what extent given my high standards. But professionally, too, I grapple with high standards, feeling sometimes agast and even affronted--even though I KNOW it's not about me--regarding the lower quality work it seems my first year college students sometimes submit yet wanting ideally to respect whatever level at which they chose to work and compensate accordingly... without shaming them. I have to remember that even though I would've been horrified by receiving a "C," some may find this grade a coup: hah! I'm finding some some progress here, but up hill!

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