INFJ personality types often live with ridiculous amounts of guilt. We feel guilty about things we did and didn’t say or do. We feel guilty about how the people around us feel and how they react to us, about our own short comings, and even about our successes.
Everyone experiences a certain amount of guilt. But it does seem like one of the more common struggles for INFJs. Most people attribute this propensity for guilt to INFJ perfectionism, saying that if we fail to make something “perfect” we’ll feel guilty about it. But it’s a bit more complex than that (a fact which, I’m sure, will surprise no one familiar with INFJs).
Why do INFJs feel guilty?
The INFJ mind is very good at coming up with reasons we should feel guilty. Our Introverted Intuition seeks out patterns in our own behavior. Our Extroverted Feeling picks up on how we make others feel and evaluates our actions in light of how people “should” be. Our Introverted Thinking is quite happy to analyze our faults to death. And that pesky Extroverted Sensing adds even more guilt by whispering that all this shouldn’t matter and we could just go have fun.
All these mental processes come together to help make INFJs prone to guilty feelings. INFJs tend to believe that if something in their lives or with the people around them doesn’t feel right, then it’s the INFJ’s fault. I know that seems pretty vague, but it’s intended to. INFJ guilt covers a lot of territory. For example:
- I didn’t complete this project as quickly or as thoroughly as I wanted, therefore it’s a failure.
- I was having a good time at the party but as soon as I left I realized I’d been acting like someone other than myself. Now I feel dirty and inauthentic
- I could forgive someone else for doing this, but I expected more of myself
- My strengths make me stand-out from other people, so I have to hide them
- I stayed silent when I wanted to disagree with someone, therefore I’m a coward
- I couldn’t possibly make both people happy so I had to pick just one (or neither). I should have been more flexible or inventive
- Someone around me did something that’s wrong and I feel guilty for them
- That awkward conversation from 5, 10, 15 years ago still haunts me and now it’s too late to fix things
- I did something I feel is wrong and need to confess, even if it didn’t hurt anyone and they don’t care
- My words hurt someone else, therefore I’ve failed as a friend
In a typical, healthy INFJ a few thoughts like these might show up occasionally or they’ll be in the background of our minds. But when we’re stressed, depressed, scared, tired, or for some other reason thrown into a guilty spiral, these kind of thoughts just loop in circles. Continue reading