Monday, October 15, 2012 3 Comments A+ a-

Another brisk Monday morning has found me sipping coffee and enjoying the beauty of fall foliage just outside my living room window. I love the gold-and-crimson hues of autumn. They soothe me and make my heart smile.

The weekend was busy, but productive. We had a couple of good storms here, complete with pulses of lightning and roaring thunder. Storms provide great ambience for writing. I think my creativity goes up when the weather is wild ;-)

Been thinking about an e-mail I recently received from a reader, regarding balance. The INFJ has so many gifts, many of them counter-intuitive to one another. How do we attempt to find balance and reconciliation among the myriad of talents we possess?

I've been turning this over in my brain for days (yeah, shocking, right?). Just recently I posted about how difficult it is to deal with the inner conflict of the multifaceted INFJ. We are like a hundred people rolled into one. It reminds me of Noah's ark, set afloat for 40 days with 8 people and hundreds of animal pairs on board. Can you imagine the chaos inside? That's how I sometimes feel as an INFJ.

Most people I know are good at a few things, typically rooted in the dominant side of their brain. My husband is left-brained, good at analyzing and math. My friend Wendy is right-brained and flies high on creative impulses necessary for her career and home. Conversely, my husband couldn't decorate a room to save his life, and a budget statement makes Wendy want to run away screaming. They know their talents and work within them.

But INFJs are adept in both sides of our brain. Can I manage numbers and spreadsheets? Yep. Can I put together colors and fabrics to give a room a certain feel? Sure. Just give me a little training in either, and I'll go to work. Even if something doesn't come naturally to me, I can usually pick it up with little effort. My brain is completely cooperative in this way.

I recall a time when my respite worker (Johnny) brought over his Xbox Kinect dance game to play with my kids. I sat and watched them follow instructions on the game, taking in the rhythms and different moves required by each player. No one could beat Johnny, however, as he'd been playing for months and was really good. Finally they asked me to give it a whirl. After one round, I left Johnny in the dust. Not that I'm a great dancer--I just sat back, quietly observed, picked up patterns, and let my intuition do the rest. Left-brain logistics, right-brain creativity...this can be a formula for success.

Some of you may recall one of the paragraphs I copied from Dr. A.J. Drenth's insightful article about the INFJ:

It is difficult to broadly classify INFJs as either right-brained or left-brained since they utilize both sides of the brain with equal adeptness. INFJs are both creative and responsible, artistic and logical, spiritual and scientific, intuitive and analytic.

In a way, I really like this about us. In other ways, however, I struggle. Take spiritual and scientific. I believe in God. I also really enjoy science. Sometimes I feel guilty enjoying science, though, because it's so often used to try and disprove the theory of an intelligent Creator. I love the analogy and romance of the Bible--all the best stories find their roots in Scripture--but my scientific tendencies tell me there's no way it could be true. And when I "know" something, is it from the Holy Spirit, my intuition, or just an overactive Se?

Here's another one. I'm a very logical person. Otherwise I couldn't have been a programmer/analyst. But I looooooove art. Remember the piece I posted by Ebe Kastein? Fantastic! And yet some of her work is R-rated, which contradicts the spiritual side of me. How can I enjoy Ebe's work when it's not all pure and holy? Shouldn't I be one way or the other?

Thus the frustrations of the INFJ.

My father used to tell me, "You have to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything." I believe he was right. But the INFJ can stand for more than one thing. We have many gifts and unparalleled potential. How do we achieve balance within, when there are so many talents fighting for first place?


I completely empathize with the reader who e-mailed me. She is crying out to be herself, as we all are, and to be accepted as herself, by herself. This is so hard for an INFJ. We tend to have a strong value system, and yet pieces of us rise up to contradict that system. We are conflicted by the opposing forces within.

For me, being myself changes day to day. Sometimes I'm highly intuitive, walking around in a state of hypersensitivity to the people around me. Sometimes I'm all about the facts. Some days I dance around the house to pop music (with non-edifying lyrics) and others I like to listen to songs about Christ. Some days my unfulfilled needs rise to the surface and drive me toward certain behaviors, and sometimes I just relax, basking in contentment. Is it any wonder people think they know us and then realize--with a jolt--that we are waaaaaaay more complicated than they ever imagined?

See this picture? My spiritual side groans, but my
artistic side says "Loooove it!"

Balance. How we find and maintain it?

I'm not sure I truly know. As I get older, though, I'm trying not to be so critical of my multifaceted approach. And I've quit dumping my gifts and talents into boxes strictly labeled good or bad. I'm attempting to come to terms with my dualistic nature. Time and difficult circumstances have shaped and pruned me--it has been painful, but it's also drawn firm lines around what I love and hate about myself, who I am inside, and what my dreams are. I'm learning to push away the guilt and accept myself for who I am. And I'm also learning which of my gifts seem to make me a better who loves and serves and walks around with a brimming heart...those are the gifts I pursue with all my might. The way I figure it, why not leave the world a better place than where we found it?

So, how about you? Are you longing for balance? Have you achieved it? Will you share your point of view?

I feel like this article is all over the place, lol! Let me know what y'all think :-)



Write comments
October 28, 2012 at 4:05 PM delete

I agree. I never knew this was an infj trait so it's relieving to know that it's not only me. It's like being stuck in a stage of identity confusion because I can't decide who I want to be. Do I pursue this career or that? Do I buy that pretty object or stand by my anti-materialism values? Do I continue to help people or shut my sensitive heart from the problems of others?
That's interesting what you wrote about using both the left and right side of the brain as I do that a lot. It's useful but it can result in a spiritual dilemma like you said.

October 29, 2012 at 4:36 PM delete

I hear you loud and clear, Ani - and I love how you stated it: stuck in a stage of identity confusion. It's like we're those deep undercover agents who go in with a mission...and then lose their goal because they're so good at adapting to their pretend personas.

In my opinion, we need to make life choices that allow for quite a bit of flexibility. You know, so we can give ourselves some wiggle room. This is why I'm so often "in my head" instead of reality...there's more freedom in my imagination :-)

June 6, 2015 at 8:41 AM delete

Beautifully all over the place! I say that about my rambling all the time, so reading this article, with it's many tangents, makes me feel right at home. I love your writing style, so warm and welcoming. :-) Glad to know I'm not the only one today doing the balancing act.