Why do other people look at INFPs so negatively?
Today's question is from Colleen, thank you for your amazing question. When you asked this question I felt privileged because this is a question that has caused a lot of INFPs frustration and pain in their lives.
So, your question is:
“Why do other people look at INFPs so negatively?”
As I mentioned, I’ve worked with thousands of INFPs. My partner is an INFP, some of my best friends are INFPs, I love INFPs! I hope that is clear to you, especially if you’ve been a part of our community here for a while! Many times INFPs ask this question out of pain and frustration of being misunderstood or misrepresented, or both.So, if this is you, the first thing I want to say is I see you and I hear you. What you’re going through right now with this frustration is completely valid.
The short answer to your question is: Others look at INFPs so negatively because they are projecting onto the INFP their own value systems as well as their own cognitive functionalities. Basically what that means is that the INFP special value systems that you guys have, and your cognitive wiring, functionalities and capabilities, are developed beyond most others' capacity to even access them. So, others think that there is something wrong with the INFPs because those others can’t access the depth of the value system and the cognitive functionality of how you are wired.
Ignorant people often think they know more than they do. It is the people who know a lot who realise how very little they know, and how much more there is to know! It’s like the specialists in any area of life are aware of how much more there is to learn and know, and how little they know in comparison.
Most make the mistake of thinking that because they understand the basics, they are now specialists in the intricate details. You see this a lot with MBTI hobbyists who have learned bits and pieces, and who now think they know everything. Much like 10 year old children, with their very black and white thinking, who have just enough life experience to think that they know how everything works and think that their life experience to date is the ultimate truth of everything. Many who get into MBTI as a hobby believe that MBTI types are the same thing as MBTI stereotypes. And of course, that is not at all the case.
Many times INFPs are claimed to be passive-aggressive space cadets who constantly procrastinate, seek validation, and blame themselves or others when things go wrong. Basically, most people stereotype INFPs as emotionally self-indulgent drama-queens.
Well, I have a couple of things to say about that. When I hear these kinds of generalisations, my initial gut reaction is to say: “just because you are unable to stay with your emotions and think through complex psycho-social issues does not mean that your opinion about someone else's process should be said out loud. If anything, these generalisations make you look like you are not only ignorant, but also an arrogant prig.” That’s what I feel like saying to those people. Am I actually going to say that? Probably not, because all that will do is get their back up and stop them from listening to what I have to say.
What I’ll actually end up saying is something along the lines of “you know how you’re really good at observing facts and setting rigid schedules and then following those schedules? Well, something that INFPs in general are really good at is seeing what’s not being disclosed in a situation, and they can come up with extraordinary, never before thought of solutions that may save a lot of time and energy in this project. So, not only are their skills and talents useful, if you were to utilise them, they can really plug the holes of your blind spots.”
That response lets me give that person a frame of reference for how they’re seeing the world, and also gives them a completely different perspective on the INFPs, and it challenges them to actually respect and cherish the INFP that’s in the situation with them.
So, basically much of this negativity toward INFPs is simply ignorance.
Could you as an INFP become better at asking for your needs to be met directly and without passive-aggression. Sure, why not? Getting to know your 4 People Within, and what your Inner Family needs are and learning how to speak on behalf of those needs will absolutely help you with that! Of course you could do that.
Could you as an INFP be more grounded and emotionally productive? Of course you can. There’s no reason why you can’t get to know your hidden facet pairs, and making the most of them will help you with that.
But let me be really clear. Just because you are an INFP, doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you! Being an INFP does not automatically make you broken, no matter what anyone else says! Who you are is perfect for who you are. And it’s perfect for those people who are willing to cherish you and see you as who you are. Who you are should be celebrated and supported.
So that’s where I stand on this question. As you can see I feel strongly about it! And I feel as strongly about this as I feel about any other type being misrepresented. Well, maybe I feel a little more strongly about this because I love my INFP people. As an INFJ I've had the privilege to be friends with many and to partner up with many. Has it always been perfect? Of course not! Real life is not perfect. The perfection of imperfection is what brings flavour to life and I savour that.
Now, if you’re an INFP , and you feel like you need support around this there are a couple of things you can do right now. One of them is email us, either at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com and one of our client care advocates will jump on a call with you to make sure that we understand where you are coming from, what your current challenges are, how you might be able to move beyond those challenges. They’re going to give you some options to work with; perhaps direct you to other articles we have written, other videos that we’ve created, maybe there’s a course they think you would benefit from that you could consider, or working on a 1-2-1 basis with a mentor. These are not sales calls. We are here to create change! The whole point of us doing this work is that we can support you to do your work. If we’re not a match that’s no problem. All good!
Thank you for this amazing question, Colleen. I think your question has given a lot of INFPs the feeling of belonging, of validation and being seen, and that’s what I wish for all of us. I wish for us to feel that we belong so we can fulfil our role in the world.
I would love to hear your main take-aways from this Q&A. If you feel like you discovered something new, or a perspective you hadn’t considered before, please share that because I would love to hear about it. If you're an INFP feeling validated by this, maybe this topic has been a hurt point for a long time, I want to hear that. If you think I’m completely wrong and you feel like you know better I want to hear about that too! I would also like to encourage you to share your own experiences about this topic on our forums.
Thank you for sharing this space with me today. Thanks to those of you who joined me live, and thank you for being a part of our vision of creating more compassionate and effective individuals and leaders all around the world.
I wish for you a day full of wonder!
I’m Merja Sumiloff. I’m the Personality Decoder and I show my clients and people who come to me how to heal and grow your relationships without massive disruption to your day-to-day life.