Have you ever met an INFJ at their worst? Or do you cringe at the thought, knowing you’ve been that INFJ. And it wasn’t fun. Not at all.
You’re familiar with INFJ bad traits, though you hesitate to call them “bad.”
After all, someone you care about has taken this Myers-Briggs type to an unhealthy extreme.
Or you’ve started wondering if maybe you are.
To answer that question, first you need to recognize the tell-tale signs of an unhealthy INFJ.
Welcome to the ultimate guide.
- How Does An Unhealthy INFJ Behave?
- 15 Signs of an Unhealthy INFJ
- 1. Unhealthy INFJs cannot cope with conflict.
- 2. Unhealthy INFJs close their minds to other perspectives.
- 3. Unhealthy INFJs have a hard time not taking things personally.
- 4. Unhealthy INFJs can be paranoid about what others think of them.
- 5. Unhealthy INFJs take perfectionism to a whole new level.
- 6. Unhealthy INFJs are reclusive and resistant to forming attachments.
- 7. Unhealthy INFJs don’t see their emotions (or other people’s) as valid data.
- 8. Unhealthy INFJs feel responsible for other people’s feelings.
- 9. Unhealthy INFJs constantly put others’ needs ahead of their own.
- 10. Unhealthy INFJs make excuses for others’ toxic behavior.
- 11. Unhealthy INFJs come to resent those they’ve tried so hard to please.
- 12. Unhealthy INFJs are too easily affected by others’ problems and emotions.
- 13. Unhealthy INFJs struggle with compulsive behavior.
- 14. Unhealthy INFJs tend to see themselves as more enlightened than others.
- 15. Unhealthy INFJs cut people out of their lives too easily and hold grudges.
- How to Become a Healthy INFJ
How Does An Unhealthy INFJ Behave?
What happens when an INFJ gets mad? If you’re reading this as an INFJ, you know it depends on whether you’ve learned healthy or unhealthy coping mechanisms. An unhealthy INFJ is likely to respond in one or more of the following ways:
- Bring up every hurtful thing the other person has said or done
- Block the other person’s attempts at explaining
- Remind the offender of all they’ve done for them.
- Misinterpret the other’s words as criticism or justification
- Fly into a rage and then bolt
It can take quite a bit to make an INFJ furious. But once they get there, their anger can be explosive — but rarely violent. If you’re an INFJ, look through the signs described below to identify areas you might still struggle with.
15 Signs of an Unhealthy INFJ
If by now you’re wondering, “Am I an unhealthy INFJ?” the following 15 signs should help you answer the question. Keep track of the ones that sound familiar.
1. Unhealthy INFJs cannot cope with conflict.
You’re not ashamed to admit you vastly prefer harmony in their relationships. Who wouldn’t? You do your best to resolve conflicts as quickly and painlessly as possible.
But when your aversion to conflict becomes unhealthy, you’re more likely to shut down or leave the scene if you can’t “fix” a conflict and restore harmony within a short span of time. Conflict to you feels deeply unsettling and disorienting.
You don’t want to argue or to engage in the conflict; you just want to get away from it.
2. Unhealthy INFJs close their minds to other perspectives.
This is related to your extreme aversion to conflict. The healthy INFJ loves to hear new perspectives, but as an unhealthy INFJ, you feel threatened by them.
Your mindset makes you more likely to feel personally called out when someone voices an opinion or belief that runs counter to your own. You instinctively protect yourself from what causes you pain by closing yourself off.
Rather than be curious about the thought process behind it, you’re more likely to react with something like, “That’s crazy! How can you think/believe that?”
3. Unhealthy INFJs have a hard time not taking things personally.
When someone disagrees with you, it feels like a personal attack. Every disagreement or correction, however diplomatic or loving, is enough to throw you off balance and make you feel like a cornered wolf.
And you respond accordingly. This resistance makes it difficult, if not impossible, for others to help you correct the thinking behind your reaction.
You have to learn to reframe the comments, advice, and actions of others in a way that doesn’t make you the target. In other words, you need to keep telling yourself, “It’s not about you,” whenever someone does or says something that, at first, feels personal.
4. Unhealthy INFJs can be paranoid about what others think of them.
You often misinterpret harmless comments or body language as signs someone hates you or is subtly disparaging you, even if you’ve done nothing to deserve that. Jerk!
With your current frame of mind, you’re more likely to see strong, hidden emotion where there is none. Or you’ll notice the abrupt cessation of a conversation when you walk into a room and suspect the conversation was at your expense.
Expecting the worst — to be seen as an outcast or a freak — has become such a strong element in your thinking, every new piece of information passes through that filter.
5. Unhealthy INFJs take perfectionism to a whole new level.
Your self-esteem is tied to the quality of your performance or results. If you do everything perfectly, no one will have any reason to criticize you.
If you can’t do something perfectly, you likely won’t do it at all. And if there’s a chance someone will criticize your views or challenge your thinking, you’d rather not put it into words.
When you do receive criticism (negative comments or book reviews, for example), you’re more likely to think, “Well that was a mistake” and downsize your comfort zone.
6. Unhealthy INFJs are reclusive and resistant to forming attachments.
You don’t want anyone poking around your psyche and identifying your weaknesses. You don’t like feeling exposed, and relationships — especially intimate ones — increase the likelihood that someone will see things in you they don’t like.
You don’t want to take the risk that someone you open up to will see your flaws and decide, after all, to reject or abandon you, looking for someone less messy on the inside.
Your expectations may be based, at least partly, on experience. And you might try to convince yourself you’re better off alone.
7. Unhealthy INFJs don’t see their emotions (or other people’s) as valid data.
You might lean into your introverted thinking and suppress your own emotions, especially if you’ve been trained to see emotion as something that invalidates your argument.
On the other hand, if you fear abandonment, you might use guilt (without even realizing it) to keep people around. Other times, your uncanny INFJ manipulation may be about helping someone you care about or steering them in a better direction.
You’re not always aware you’re being manipulative, even when your sensitivity and intuition makes you particularly good at it.
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8. Unhealthy INFJs feel responsible for other people’s feelings.
If a friend or partner is feeling down, you can’t help feeling it’s your responsibility to cheer them up.
Unfortunately, you can become a martyr to the feelings of people you care about. You’ll do everything you can to make things better. And you’ll feel despondent when you can’t.
It takes an effort to remind yourself you can’t make anyone feel happy or sad. Each person is responsible for how they feel. You’re too ready to take on responsibility for another's pain, partly because you empathize so readily and want the pain to stop.
9. Unhealthy INFJs constantly put others’ needs ahead of their own.
Everyone needs boundaries, and healthy INFJs know that. You, on the other hand, have gotten used to letting other people take advantage of your need to please. Your boundaries are either weak or nonexistent.
You have a hard time saying no or standing up for yourself, because you frequently put the needs of others ahead of your own. Eventually, this leads to burnout and resentment, but it’s not easy for you to let go of your role as “lifesaver” or “saint.”
You’re always ready to “take one for the team,” but you’re much slower to ask for help (or a break) when you need it.
10. Unhealthy INFJs make excuses for others’ toxic behavior.
You often attract abusive or emotionally needy people whom you feel a strong desire to “save.” To explain bad behavior, you point to a traumatic childhood or the lack of a good role model, as if that excuses the physical or emotional abuse.
When others point out that it doesn’t, you’re likely to argue that, “Well, if they lost me, they’d have no one,” as if you and only you can make the abuser a better person.
You need to be needed, even if the one who “needs” you keeps hurting you.
11. Unhealthy INFJs come to resent those they’ve tried so hard to please.
As an INFJ, you like to make people happy, but taking that to an extreme is a recipe for trouble. When your efforts exhaust you and yield unsatisfactory results, you’re likely to resent the person you tried so hard to please.
Then, you might confront that person. Or you might hide from your feelings until you can’t ignore them any longer and you explode — or disappear. At that point, the one you’ve “failed” to please is likely to experience the INFJ door slam.
Meanwhile, you keep torturing yourself with unrealistic expectations and an overwhelming need to be indispensable.
12. Unhealthy INFJs are too easily affected by others’ problems and emotions.
As an INFJ, you’re often hyper-aware of the feelings of those around you. If you know someone is frustrated, angry, or sad, you feel the same.
Unfortunately, with this degree of empathy, you have a hard time separating your own feelings from those of the people around you.
If someone in the room is frustrated, you feel frustrated, too. If someone in the room is angry or sad, you can’t tune it out, try as you might. And chances are, you won’t allow yourself to let it go.
13. Unhealthy INFJs struggle with compulsive behavior.
If this sounds familiar, you’re likely to respond to stress by over-eating, over-exercising, binge-watching, or other types of compulsive behavior. For one thing, it distracts you from the pain of being so aware of others’ emotions (especially the difficult ones).
It gives you something to do — something else to focus on. And it offers momentary comfort. Eating and exercising both light up the reward centers in the brain. And binge-watching a favorite show can do the same, especially if it makes you laugh.
In a way, it’s self-medicating. And unhealthy INFJs are particularly susceptible to addictions that make them feel better or that calm down their nervous systems.
14. Unhealthy INFJs tend to see themselves as more enlightened than others.
You feel so different from other people, you might see yourself as a “misunderstood misfit” whose insights others disregard. When you’re arguing a point based on what you’ve learned, you often feel that you’re “talking to a wall.”
Because of your differences and your inherently thoughtful and intuitive approach to the world, you might see yourself as wiser or more enlightened than others.
The fact that your Myers-Briggs personality type is considered the “rarest” seems to confirm your suspicion that you have a deeper understanding than most.
15. Unhealthy INFJs cut people out of their lives too easily and hold grudges.
Remember the INFJ door slam? It’s not as literal (or as painful) as it sounds. As an INFJ, you’re more likely to quietly disappear from someone’s life, calmly cutting off all lines of communication.
You’re also likely to hold grudges against those who’ve hurt you.
Sometimes you’re only dimly aware of the grudges you hold. You might simply refuse to have anything to do with the person, especially if they haven’t tried to make amends.
How to Become a Healthy INFJ
The best way to become a healthy INFJ is to address the thinking behind the signs described above and to challenge yourself to embrace the following:
- Radical acceptance (facing your flaws without judgment)
- Gratitude for your gifts and for what you’ve learned
- Willingness to challenge your thinking
- Continued learning and growth through challenges and risks
- Daily, mindful self-care (honoring your own needs)
- Willingness to ask for and receive help from others
Add to that daily reflection on your own personal vision and the readiness to take action to execute that vision.
As an INFJ, you need to be involved in something bigger than yourself. You need to see your place in the bigger picture. And you can’t do that if you’re wrapped up in other people’s emotions. The only feelings you’re responsible for are your own.
Do you recognize any of these signs of an unhealthy INFJ?
Now that you’ve read the most revealing signs of an unhealthy INFJ, which do you see most often in yourself or in the INFJs you know? Which are the most frustrating?
Think about what you can do today and this week to make the most of your unique personality:
- Start a journal with a daily (minimalist) planning page.
- Give yourself some much-needed, mindful self-care.
- Find a good therapist to help you cultivate healthy INFJ skills
Everyone needs help becoming the person they want to be. May your actions this week get you closer and give you more reasons to smile.