Q&A: Help!?! My INFJ Daughter Baffles Me!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 1 Comments A+ a-

Your Question:

(Note: For privacy reasons, I've edited some of this text.)

I found your blogspot while trying to understand my daughter. We both love the Lord deeply, but she baffles me in many ways. She is definitely an INFJ, and I am primarily an ENFP. I have read much on the Internet about INFJs, but I see major contradictions in her, so I'm happy to have found you -- someone to ask who also puts faith in God.

My daughter is in her 20s. She definitely has the extreme sensitivity to the supernatural. I understand that she is a rescuer type. She does it all the time. But in the boyfriends she chooses, she seems to choose people who need rescuing or "improving", rather than choosing a person who comes up to her intellectual level. And based on a previous relationship, she is quite capable of lying to herself about who that person really is. I'm really concerned. I pray for wisdom and discernment all the time, but as you can imagine, she sees herself as way ahead of me on all that. I trust God with her, absolutely. But I am also looking for guidance from you as an INFJ and as a mom, since trying to talk to her about this has proven unfruitful (I read yesterday that INFJs typically don't put faith in words but in experiencing the imparted wisdom for themselves.)

It seems like a lot to ask you for this favor, but I'm not sure most counselors could track with her personality. Also, just to add a little more background, she doesn't seem to fit the peace-loving description that much of the Internet tacks onto INFJs. She can be quite selfish and self-absorbed and easily angered. I don't know.

Any insights you can offer would be most appreciated.

My Answer:

Thanks so much for reaching out! As a mom, I understand the deep desire to see your daughter live a happy and fulfilling live, and I truly relate to your concerns.

The description of your daughter’s behavior is almost identical to mine at that age. I was a rescuer who took needy or less fortunate people under my wing. My parents warned me often about being taken advantage of, and though I respected their opinions, I went with my own intuition and did as I pleased. INFJs are stubborn that way. And while we are definitely peace-loving individuals, we’re also incredibly intense. This intensity is hard to deal with at a tender age. When we’re young and inexperienced, we find ourselves responding to other people’s feelings more often than our own. Championing those people helps ease that intensity. So does withdrawing emotionally, daydreaming, keeping to ourselves, and focusing tightly on projects of interest (all of which could be labeled as selfishness or self-absorption by others). I remember how I was, and I can see how your daughter is behaving in a similar fashion. The contradictory nature you’re observing is actually normal for us.

It’s hard to explain why we act this way, and we often don’t understand it ourselves until much later in life. Looking back, I can see that people on my intellectual level didn’t accept or approve of my emotional intensity, so I gravitated to people who needed me. They weren’t always good matches. But there was no middle ground, and I found great value in being needed. Unfortunately, I had to endure some painful hardships before learning how to develop healthy boundaries. No one could tell me how to do it…I had to experience it for myself (one of the quirks of being an INFJ is that we value experience over advice). I’m watching my own INFJ son go through this, and it is tough.

I wish there was a tried-and-true method for teaching young INFJs how to deal with their uniqueness. My mother prayed for me constantly, and I know God was watching out for me, shaping me through every experience. That’s one reason I blog about it…to help others on their journey. Life is challenging for those of us whose internal value/moral systems keep us from fitting into society’s stereotypes. One thing that’s personally helped me is talking with counselors. We INFJs have some wild stuff going on in our heads, and having someone listen to them without judgment is very therapeutic. Counselors are also ideal for helping us establish relationship boundaries.

Your daughter sounds like a fairly typical INFJ…strong willed, compassionate, introverted, spiritually aware, intuitive, and a walking contradiction, lol. She’s very fortunate to have you in her life, loving her and praying for her, wanting the very best for her. There is so much strength in an ENFP/INFJ bond. If I could give you any advice, it would be to simply be there for her. Always listening, always loving, always encouraging. My mom did that for me. She was my best friend and biggest cheerleader. She helped me through a mountain of personal growth, all without complaining, and was the wind beneath my wings. I miss her dearly. And I wouldn't be the INFJ that I am today without her.

I don’t know if any of this helps, so please feel free to e-mail back if you have any questions or want to keep the conversation going.

Your Follow-up Question:

(Note: For privacy reasons, I've edited some of this text.)

I am so, so grateful for you taking the time to respond. Thank you, thank you. I feel like I'm swirling around in some kind of Sci-fi world that I don't understand and can't address. Your insights are hugely helpful.

One practical question: do you counsel INFJs? I understand that INFJs choose experience over advice, but I think if my daughter could hear how well you "get" her, she might be willing to have a sounding board.

As a young INFJ, did you reject notions that you were blinding yourself to things? Is there any "cure" for this? Was being easily angered part of your M.O.? And for her in particular, she hears from the Lord on a regular basis, but I wonder too if the evil one usurps this conversation to hurt her, without her awareness.

My Follow-up Answer:

You’re very welcome. Understanding the INFJ personality type can be a challenge, for sure.

To answer your questions: yes, I did reject notions when I was younger. I still do. It’s not so much that I’m blinded; I just make decisions from my internal core value system. That system is incredibly personal—driven by intuition, beliefs, and experience—and when I decide on something, that’s it. I rarely budge. This is a very common trait for INFJs. I’m guessing your daughter’s core system is strong and built on spiritual values, which would be difficult for an evil entity to sway. It’s more likely that she’s just coming from a unique, personal system that she keeps private. Over time, her core will evolve. INFJs are constantly improving themselves and don’t usually stay the same for long.

Easily angered? When I was younger, yes. People said I was “touchy” and they were right. INFJs have a tendency to be emotionally sensitive; some even end up as HSP (highly sensitive people) and experience a lot of anxiety because of it. We have a lot going on under the surface that others aren’t aware of. We feel things on an intense level. Imagine your skin being ultra-sensitive to touch, causing pain and discomfort that normal-skinned folks don’t experience. They end up inadvertently touching you in ways that hurt badly; worse, they don't understand why you react so strongly when they do. Then, they belittle or punish you for it. That hurts, too. So over time, you build up a layer of calloused skin to keep the touching from being so intense. Mine’s pretty thick now, lol. Your daughter is probably still building hers.

Since I’m not a licensed therapist, I don’t offer counseling. I’m definitely open to e-mail conversations, though. If your daughter wants to reach out, I’m more than willing to help. Keep in mind that my goal is always to listen, encourage, and validate. I sometimes share my experiences and opinions, but I don’t try to sway anyone to make a particular choice. Above all else, INFJs want to be understood and accepted for who they are, and that’s what I try to do. 😊

Take care!

Image Credit: CanStockPhoto


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March 1, 2017 at 1:37 PM delete

I would also suggest for the INFJ daughter to read about the INFJ type. A pivotal point for me was learning that I am very much INFJ and how my brain works. Once it all clicked, I understand the why and how I operate. And while I can't explain it to anyone else, I am at peace with the unicorn :)