5 INFP Traits Many People Don’t Understand
Being an INFP means it’s quite rare to feel understood. Actually, I think the first time I really ever felt understood was when I took the Myers Briggs test for the first time and read my results.
Suddenly I got an outside perspective on my personality and found the words to describe why I often felt so out of place. Which, paradoxically, made me feel a lot less out of place.
When I was younger I would often try to adapt to the extrovert norm and would often feel like there was something wrong with me. This was before books like Quite by Susan Cain, and the general awareness level of introversion vs. extraversion was not what it is today.
In my teens, I often struggled to fit in. Perhaps nobody noticed, but I never really felt that I belonged.
When I read about the INFP personality, I felt a weird sense of relief. There were more people like me. I’m not a weirdo. On the contrary, INFPs display some of quite lovely personality traits, if I may say so myself.
A Mediator (INFP) is someone who possesses the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Prospecting personality traits. These rare personality types tend to be quiet, open-minded, and imaginative, and they apply a caring and creative approach to everything they do. 16personlities.com
Today, I embrace who I am and how I function, and I try to live my life accordingly. Still, there are some of my personality traits that I find other people struggle to wrap their heads around.
Now, of course I understand that all INFP people are not the same. In fact, we’re probably less alike than many other Myer Briggs personalities, considering our strong individualism.
Nevertheless, based on reading the accounts of others, I will go out on a limp and assume that many INFPSs share these traits with me. And those who do, have probably come across the same puzzled and surprised looks in other people’s faces when trying to explain them.
1. I have an extreme need for silence and solitude
It’s not that I like to be alone now and then. I need to be alone, a lot. To the extent that if I’m not able to retreat into solitude, I will instead retreat into my own “bubble” after too much social exposure.
I need space to be alone with my thoughts, or I lose track of them, and I start feeling out of touch with myself.
If I go for too long without that, I will feel completely depleted, exhausted, and depressed. Sometimes five minutes will do, which is why at social gatherings, you will often find INFPs retreating to the bathroom to get a few minutes of alone time.
Most INFPs, and introverts in general, can probably relate to this one, and also to the guilt that often comes with it.
Because it doesn’t matter how much we love the people around us, it may still very well be that we prefer to spend the Sunday on our own. Which, naturally, can hurt the emotions of people close to us.
I still struggle with maintaining this balance and often feel a pang of guilt when I indulge “too much” in time on my own.
2. I live in the potentiality rather than the reality
I’ve noticed this one is super weird and difficult for many personality types to understand. It’s a trait that even I wasn’t able to put my finger on until I read about it in my Myer Briggs results, but it’s spot on.
So what does it mean? It basically means I don’t see things the way they are. I see them the way they could be, and may become.
Like that time I rented a worn-down cabin in the woods forfor my kids and me to be able to spend weekends in nature. They were disgusted by the spider webs, the mice who pooped everywhere, and the ever-present lingering smell of damp wallpapers.
I, on the other hand, hardly even noticed those details. I saw the wind blowing in imaginary lace curtains. Books being written late at night to the sound of the cracking fire. Morning swims in the nearby lake. Perhaps needless to say, we didn’t keep the cabin very long. Much to my childrens’ relief.
3. I’m more likely to be lonely in a crowd than alone
If I were to tell people that I spent a weekend entirely on my own, many would get a troubled look on their faces and feel really bad for me. They would assume that I’m a lonely person, as many equals being alone with being lonely.
But the truth is that I never feel less lonely than when I’m alone.
For me, being alone is incredibly soothing, and I can honsetsly say that I have never, ever, been bored on my own. Whereas in the company of others… Well, you get the picture.
On the contrary, I never feel more lonely than after a full day of social interactions on a superficial, small-talkey kind of level. That leaves me feeling utterly miserable, feeling not only lonely but like an awkward and misunderstood alien.
And you know those conference trips with work when you attend workshops and shake hands with new people all day long, and then people are stoked to go out partying afterwards? Well, let’s just say I don’t go out partying afterwards. I lock the door to my hotel room and turn off my phone.
4. When people talk too much it drains me
Given the fact that time alone and silence are where I get my strength and energy, it’s perhaps no mystery that very talkative people can have the opposite effect on me.
Not always, it definitely depends on both the topic of the conversation, and the person I’m having it with.
But when I talk to people who tend to hold long monologues and rarely pause and create time for reflection, I can get an almost sinking feeling. I lose my ability to think when there is no pauses for reflection, and so I just gow increasingly quite and distant. If your INFP friend stops talking and just starts humming instead of answering; chances are you are simply talking too much.
5. My internal world is like an actual place to me
While I sometimes struggle to keep my real-world physical spaces neat and tidy, my mind is a wonderland of possibilities. To me, it’s an actual place where I can wander off for hours, and that is one of my favourite things to do.
To an observer, it may look like I’m not doing anything. Like I’m just staring at the ceiling.
I’ve been told to “get out there” and start “experiencing life”. And it’s not that I don’t want to do that, too.
But what many people don’t understand is that laying on my bed and listening to the rain against the roof or looking out my kitchen window at the pigeons in the cherry blossom tree, those are some of the moments when I feel the most present and alive.
All alone, nothing isinterrupting my thought experiments and my inner dialogue. There’s just me, and a vast, exquisite silence as a backdrop for my mental adventures.
To me, silence literally feels like something I drink; it feels physically replenishing.
These are just some of the typical INFP traits that I probably share with many of the other introverted personality types. If you are an INFP yourself, perhaps reading about them gives you come comfort in knowing that your not the only one who functions like this. And if you have an INFP among your near and dear ones, hopefully reading this helps you understand their behavoour a little better.
We’re all different flowers in the same boquet. And the more we understand eachother and the kinder we are to each other, the easier it is for all of us to blossom. ❤