INFJ Overthinking -­ When Our Beautiful Mind Turns Against Us

This is a guest post by John Lindholm, a writer for the Introvert Spring INFJ forum.

INFJs like to look in. Sometimes this habit works against us. Our mind is a busy freeway of thoughts that steer our car off the happy highway. Certain circumstances are particularly disorienting. Our mind twists, turns, and reverses these situations so much that they no longer match up to reality. Here are a few you might recognize:

Small Talk, Big Mistake

It is no secret that introverts would rather eat a brick sideways than engage in small talk. But I’ve only been offered that choice twice in my life, so the chit chat is unavoidable even to the ghosty­ist INFJ.

It’s even worse when we think our conversation partner is more successful, better looking, or more interesting than we are. When this happens, the chatter milk can sour in an instant.

It starts with rotten self-­talk like, “why am I such a loser compared to him?” Or, “why can’t I just relax and talk like she can?” Or even, “why do I suck at life?” Then the pulverized mind of the INFJ has to throw a few words together to continue the conversation. Not good.

One time, I ran into somebody I hadn’t seen for well over a year. He started with, “I haven’t seen you for a while, so I just wanted to say hi.”

I volleyed, “Yeah, so how have you been?” Not a bad start, but the meter on my coherence tank plummeted as the palaver continued.

When he tried to end things with, “Ok so, I just wanted to say hi,” I again replied, “Yeah, so how have you been?”

Realizing I had repeated myself, I answered my own question. “Good, good, yes right?” It was ridiculous, so I excused myself and retreated to the restroom.

It Will Be All Better When…

For the INFJ, successes that should be celebrated and lead to happiness and further growth can actually lead to frustration, sadness, and even depression. This has a lot to do with “I’ll start my diet on Monday” self­-promising. We tell ourselves,

“Once I get through this social-­event­-stuffed weekend, everything will be perfect.”

“As soon as school ends, I’ll get back to writing my book.”

“I’ll be so happy after I lose these ten pounds.”

This kind of thinking ensures that we’re never where we are. We’re not here, we’re in our head. We’re so busy thinking about what would make us happy that we miss out on the present moment. Since no amount of achievement will evict us from our brain, we’re better off focusing on how to make our head a happier place.

There’s Only One Side: Mine

We INFJs will brood, contemplate, deliberate and ruminate the DNA right out of an idea. Other folks might have an opinion, a passing notion, or even a half­-baked solution. But if they don’t agree with us, they’re wrong.

Or so we think.

We’re awesome at dissecting an issue, but have a hard time accepting opposing points of view. It’s hard for us to trust that others have as much going on between the ears as we do (they probably don’t, but that’s beside the point).

And heaven forbid that people want to speak about a problem without also brainstorming for a solution. I mean, what’s the point in highlighting a fault if we don’t want to fix it, right?

Your Turn…

I’d like to hear from the rest of you INFJs, and from those who love them. What other ways do INFJs overthink or misunderstand social situations? Please share below.

Author Bio: John Lindholm is a middle school math teacher and a writer for the Introvert Spring INFJ Forum (which you are welcome to join). He enjoys writing fiction as well as articles and other pieces about introversion. Check him out at InwardFacingWriters.com.

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20 thoughts on “INFJ Overthinking -­ When Our Beautiful Mind Turns Against Us

  1. I’m constantly doubting if people care about my opinion at all, let alone being as capable a speaker as them. Which can be really tough for me as an INFJ since I take a strongly genuine interest in their views even when it means I may not completely agree. The small-talk I tend to tolerate if it means I can actually get a deep conversation from people, although it doesn’t lead to the thoughtful topics that help me come out of my shell.

    The constant worrying can be a huge crutch when in actual fact, when I’m not panicking over whether or not I’m handling social situations well, I’m actually not that bad at being in them, even though they’re not my forte, or always enjoyable for me.

    I know that I definitely over-think things, and it can really hurt me since it makes my depression much more aggressive at times than it necessarily has to be. But I also enjoy talking it out like this since it helps to bring my thoughts out of my head and not just floating or dashing around inside where it wants to break out and be free.

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    • I understand exactly what you mean. It’s such a struggle to share an opinion, not knowing if people will care (or even listen, sometimes).

      I keep telling myself I shouldn’t be bad at social situations — our Fe means INFJs are sometimes mistaken for extroverts (or so I’ve heard) — but I still get nervous and constantly second-guess myself. I’m glad you found my blog a good place to “talk it out” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Really enjoyed this post – all of the above hit home. Especially trying to maintain or focus on the moment rather than the future or sidetracked thinking.

    I’ve found that small talk with certain people flows effortlessly, but with others, it turns sour as described. This must be what is going on depending on the person – perhaps my brain starts with the comparisons, and thus bogs the flow of thought down. Very interesting.

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  3. I too find making small talk pretty dreadful in most cases. Unless it is with one of the very rare folks with whom I truly resonate, I must constantly fight the urge to simply “tune out” (whilst they chatter on about whatever inane subject I give not one crap about ) .
    The flip side is that when there is no graceful way to exit the situation, I will often catch myself “babbling” ( perhaps over-compensating ?) simply to cover the awkwardness of not being any good at small talk .

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  4. My aversion to small talk makes me do small talk even more……i am always the first to break the silence with small talk nd i hate it afterwards nd it realy drains me but i just cant stop

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  5. I constantly overthink situations and conversations. It can be terribly exhausting sometimes for myself and those closest to me. However, as a plus, I have figured out that I also use this in my choreographic work to great effect.

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  6. Today I am having an issue over a difference in opinion. As and infj i can see the point of the person my friend is talking about and understand why they would do something a certain way or be a certain way and my friend can’t seem to move past her own hurt feelings(and shes entj).

    i often don’t understand my friend the entj’s pov because her view is very narrow. it doesnt take into account everyone elses pov just her own. someday ill talk to her about it, but for now ill just stew in my own meddled thoughts.

    I battle between always being right or not valuing my opinion enough. theres hardly an in between.

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  7. Ha. I’m just commenting to talk about the amount of time I’ve spent in bathrooms at “networking” events in order to avoid the misery of some poor quality small talk. Sometimes, I do perfectly fine, but at other times I just don’t even see the point of trying lol.

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  8. When I am overwhelmed and too many things going on at once I often think if I could just quiet everything so I can go in my head and think I could prioritize what needs completed and I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen so I just shut down.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have started scheduling time to schedule my time. I find that otherwise I just get swept up in the energy of whatever I’m doing and the next thing I know I’ve barely slept for three days working on an assignment, and I’m laid out for as many days as it took to do the work. Lol.

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  9. I find that I’m both constantly sizing myself up against other people and against myself on my “best day.” If there was even one week in college when I was super on and on top of everything going to party after party, schmoozing and being the life of the party, everything that I do now is measured against that.

    On the other hand I spend a lot of time feeling like a fraud or failure because of what I perceive as reasons why other people are better than me. Maybe we both went to the same school but she was raised with more money and got braces and worked for Obama. Or maybe we had the same GPA, but he excelled at Spanish and became a world traveling interpreter.

    The struggle to accept myself for who I am endures daily. I reach a bar of some sort, reach it and raise it. Then when I meet new people all I can think about is whether they are noticing that I’m not as good as them or my clothes are designer or I can’t speak off the top of my head about certain complicated judicial opinions. It’s frustrated, exhausting and sometimes demoralizing.

    Sometimes, we just need to give ourselves a break, accept ourselves for who we are and realize how silly it is to assume our version of the measure isn’t objective and doesn’t detract from the good we have within us or the good we actually do.

    As with all things, easier said than done.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. For me, me Fe is very developed, as is my Ni. I have found my best conversations to be with others that are NF’S, regardless of their E/I, or their P/J. S’s are the worst, as are T’s for me with communication. There is a superficiality and a selfishness to them in my minds eye, that I can never move past.

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    • I love talking with other NF types! There’s an instant connection and understanding there that’s priceless. Connecting with S or T types can be more difficult, but I’ve found the more I learn about personality types the easier it is to appreciate their perspectives (I think it helps me that one of my best friends is an ESFJ).

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