I have yet to do a good piece on INFPs. Mostly, I’ve just mocked them in some kind of Freudian display of self-loathing (in my ‘Types of INFPs’ article). In all seriousness, INFPs are great and get a pretty bad rap for various reasons, notwithstanding, the general perception that INFPs are tender, ineffectual crybabies who have little grasp on reality. This isn’t necessarily true, though and I’ll get into why it isn’t true later. First, let’s talk about how INFPs function. I want to do this in a unique way which draws attention to the unexpected features of one of MBTI’s most mysterious types. The truth may surprise you.
INFPs are the true ‘Judging’ Types
More so than any other type, INFPs know how they feel, what they value, and what they find useful, absurd, joyful, joyless, moral, evil, destructive, constructive, beautiful, ugly, you name the adjective. INFPs are opinionated, especially initially, about virtually everything under the sun (like the religious fervor of the most famous INFP, Joan of Arc). The opinionated nature of the INFP is sufficient to give any INTJ a run for their money, though INFPs are opinionated for entirely different reasons than INTJs are.
Introverted Feeling (Fi) is the Dominant mainstay of the INFP psyche. It is never confused about how it feels. In fact, Fi, despite how strongly opinionated it is, gets taken for granted by the INFP who genuinely doesn’t know that there are other ways to be. INFPs immediately come to a Feeling based judgment or a conclusion about the value of something (or lack thereof) as naturally as breathing. You name it, INFPs have some kind of strong feeling about it. INFPs appear laid back, soft, insecure, confused, and passive on the outside but don’t let that fool you. There is ALWAYS an opinion there; he/she is just not expressing it to you.
In fact, INFPs are the true Judging type in their thinking process, which makes things very confusing when trying to type one. Fi in actuality, is a JUDGING function and since INFPs lead with a judging function, that makes the proverbial “children of the MBTI world”, in reality, some of the most decisive people and dedicated martyrs on the planet. While INFJs get credit for being Judging types, its really only because they’re likely to follow through on a plan while deciding how they feel is, in actuality, very open. INFPs, on the other hand, know immediately how they feel and only struggle to know what to do about it, resulting in being officially categorized by Isabella Meyer as a Perceiving type. Confused yet? I know I was.
Paradoxically, INFPs don’t believe in Judging
Talk about Co-Pilot functions being a contradictory bitch, nothing takes the cake quite like a Fi/Ne (Extroverted Intuition) mix. While Fi infuses an INFP’s soul with immediate decision about how one feels, Ne demands that one must be open to multiple possibilities. After all, despite all the opining courtesy of Fi, INFPs are also paradoxically the second most self-conscious and insecure type, next to ISFPs.
Why? Because as a general rule, INFPs are fucking smart. They’re so smart, that they can easily go through an entire list of possibilities, both realistic and fantastical, in just a moment of rumination. Thanks to the magical power of Intuition, INFPs get to live through the incessant torture of being intuitively right..but always doubting and second guessing themselves. That alone makes the true Judging type a rather indecisive type who is not willing to express judgment, confront, lead, or make decisions. INFPs are the very epitome of having a razor sharp intuition, but rarely listening to it. After all, how can you when all the voices in your head are equally loud and saying different, often contradictory things? INFPs frequently struggle with the idiosyncrasies of both having a strong value system..and wanting to be understanding and respectful of the individual choices of others. After all, if an INFP thinks about it, almost anything is understandable on a personal experience level.
INFPs are virtually incorruptible
You’d be hard pressed to find an INFP whose values you can buy off with material goods, money, fame, glory, or even the most seductive of all, power. INFPs simply aren’t motivated by any of these things, making them the most virtuous type, even if by accident, and even if in a misguided way. Even INFJs, who have the highest moral standards in the land, cannot compare to the monk-like nature of an INFP, who quite naturally doesn’t need earthly ‘things’. INFPs are genuinely unimpressed and unsatisfied with the temptations of mere mortals. In fact, giving INFPs money, power, status, etc has quite the opposite effect that you would think it would have, making the INFP feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. I’ve heard the notion that famous INFPs are “embarrassed by success” and will often seek the comfort of solitude and modest living. This is perhaps the biggest reason why you can’t buy an INFP using standard means of bribery, extortion, quid pro quos, or promises of power. The second biggest reason being that every INFP seems to instinctively understand from birth that none of these things equals true happiness.
Humility also plays a big factor into why you can’t corrupt an INFP. For reasons not quite known (at least not by me), INFPs have an internal ego-checker, which serves to cap the ego-meter at a low maximum level, preventing the INFP from ever getting too confident or too big for her britches. That’s not to say that INFPs don’t ever get cocky..but it is rare and when it does happen, the INFP, horrified with him/herself, will find him/herself backpedaling, self depreciating, apologizing awkwardly, and reminding him/herself to be more humble in the future. INFPs don’t want to be caught dead claiming to be something they are not or seeming too egotistical/full of oneself. All of this culminates into what I consider the INFP’s greatest superpower, which is a natural impervious defense against corruption.
INFPs aren’t just the best writers, they’re also natural risk takers
Unlike the careful deliberation of INFJs, INFPs tend to live (like ENFPs) quite by accident. In their younger years, this can be a really bad thing, leading the INFP into bad decisions and consequently to the dark precipices of depression and anxiety. Later on in life, if accepted and channeled in a healthy way, INFPs are much healthier leading a life of relative risk and adventure as opposed to stability and predictability. INFPs more or less insist on living on the edge. Whether that means traveling the globe without a plan for months or years on end, delving into a competitive ‘starving artist’ type of career, fighting to get published, running a business, dedicating oneself to overseas humanitarian works, is really dependent on the INFP but all of these pursuits are multiple sides of the same…hexagonal coin.
I had a conversation while shopping with a visiting INFJ friend and we were talking about different forms of birth control. She uses an IUD, which is an interesting choice. I said “but that means an accident will never happen” and she said “exactly” which perplexed me, considering my friend is married and stable there’s no immediately recognizable need to prevent babies from happening. Personally, I never chose the IUD or really any form of birth control for that matter because family planning for me meant no planning at all..a hallmark move for the risk taking nature of the INFP. I didn’t want to think about it because thinking about it would only muddle the issue and force me into a decision. Better to risk it. Better to run a business rather than have a ‘stable’ job. Better to not know precisely what’s going to happen in the future. The INFP’s cross to bear is that he/she will never know what the right choice to make is before he/she has made it. Indecision can paralyze an INFP and a paralyzed INFP is a depressed INFP. This is why it paramount for INFPs to take a leap of faith into their heart’s desires. It is the only way for the Authenticator to truly be authentic to oneself. 🙂