The Importance of Living Authentically As An INFJ

As an INFJ, you’re good at picking up on other people’s emotions. And when you pick up on what other people feel you also start to get a good feel for their expectations. For some of us, that seems like a good thing. We know what’s expected of us in different social settings and from different friend groups. We understand who we need to be so we can fit in.

But is that really a good thing for us? Does being able to fit in help an INFJ?

We call it the chameleon effect when an INFJ leverages their unique combination of mental processes to blend in with different groups of people. Chameleon INFJs might even appear as if they’re a different personality type in different situations because they’re automatically shifting toward being extroverted around the extroverts, logical around the thinkers, and interested in the real world around the sensors.

Blending in feels like an advantage at times. That’s why we do it. Fitting in feels safe. It seems like a way to protect ourselves from negative attention. But in reality, using our gifts in this way doesn’t just protect us from bad things. It also blocks us from really being seen and appreciated as ourselves.

The Challenge Of Being Real

Living authentically as an INFJ (or any other type for that matter) means having the courage to be yourself instead of trying to figure out who you “should” be in each situation. But it’s hard for INFJs to move past the pressure of becoming what others expect from them. As FJ types, our decision-making process is focused on maintaining Harmony in all our personal relationships. Any hint of confrontation and we’re worried the relationship is going to crash in around us.

We also worry what might happen if we take off our masks and the person we are underneath is different than what the people we value expect. What if the real “me” scares away the people I care about? What if they want me to go back to wearing my mask?

If that were to happen we know it would hurt. A lot. And we’ve been rejected far too many times not to know that it’s a very real possibility. So we settle for being what’s expected of us because the dull ache of not being seen and understood seems less dangerous than the vicious hurt of being rejected for who we truly are inside. Continue reading

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Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains

If you were reading this blog two years ago, you know Kylo Ren is the new Star Wars character I found most intriguing. While most other fans were debating who Rey’s parent’s could be and what we might learn about Snoke’s origins, I was in the smaller group analyzing Kylo’s character arc and reading every in-canon novel looking for glimpses of his backstory.

Honestly, the thing I was most excited for going into The Last Jedi was seeing whether or not I’d still type him as an ENFJ after learning more about his character. My siblings seemed to think that was weird, but what can I say — I love a good Idealist-type villain and writing/thinking about personality types is what I do. Can you blame me?

And so this is my second post about Kylo Ren on this blog. If you haven’t seen The Last Jedi yet now’s the time to stop reading because

SPOILER WARNING

Seriously, if you don’t want to learn about major plot points and character arcs in The Last Jedi then get yourself to a theater before you read this blog post.

Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains | marissabaker.wordpress.com

 

Where Are The Knights of Ren?

This might be my biggest question coming out of the film. We caught a brief glimpse of the Knights of Ren in The Force Awakens and learned that Kylo is “master of the knights of Ren,” but that’s about it. People weren’t even sure whether the Knights of Ren were an order Kylo joined or one that he founded (I was on the “founded” side of the argument, suggesting “Knights of Ren” should be taken as “Knights who follow/belong to Ren”).

In The Last Jedi, Luke reveals that he was training 12 students when Kylo destroyed his new Jedi academy. A “handful” of the students joined Kylo and he slaughtered the others. It’s not too much of a leap to say that those students became the Knights of Ren, which would support my favorite theory for their origin, but where are they now? They’re not mentioned by name in this new film and it seems that if Kylo had a half-dozen force wielders sworn to follow him he should have been using them to hunt down the last of the resistance as well as Rey and Luke.Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains | marissabaker.wordpress.com

ReyLo Drama

I really can’t talk about Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi without talking about what happened between him and Rey. When they started communicating across the galaxy with each other I was really expecting a sibling reveal. It just so neatly parallels Luke and Leah’s Force-assisted communication. But then we find out Snoke was behind the connection and Rey’s parents are “nobodies.” I’m a little disappointed that there isn’t more of a reason for her connection with Anakin’s/Luke’s lightsaber, but I’m okay with this direction for her character’s story. She doesn’t have to be a Skywalker to be strong in the Force — the thousands of Jedi who existed prior to there even being a Force-sensitive Skywalker proves that.

Anyway, back to Rey and Kylo. It really wasn’t clear there for most of the film whether he would turn to the Light or she would turn to the Dark. I loved that edge-of-your-seat emotional drama. The moment where they touched hands (you know that one I’m talking about) gave me all the feels and watching them fight Snoke’s guard together might have jumped into my top-3 favorite lightsaber battles (I’ll have to watch it again, probably very soon, to be sure).

Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains | marissabaker.wordpress.com

I Still Think He’s An ENFJ

I’m beyond happy that my post from two years ago speculating about Kylo’s origins and personality type is still relevant after what we learn in The Last Jedi. I don’t think they contradicted any of my guesses, and when we learn that Kylo destroyed Luke’s academy after waking to see his mentor holding a lightsaber over him … well, that just supports my theory that Kylo was desperate for a mentor figure who would actually be there for the “real” him instead of one that was so terrified of his potential to be like Vader that he thought about killing him.

Also, I still think Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is an ENFJ personality type, albeit a very unhealthy version. He’s still showing a strongly idealist (NF) streak and his pitch to Rey when asking her to join him is right out of the NFJ villain textbook. It’s the same kind of argument you see in INFJ Ra’s Al Ghul use: the world is broken, so we need to wipe it clean and rebuild something that actually works.

I had a few people argue on my last post that Kylo is an introvert, but I’m still going to go with Extrovert. I feel like he’s leading with his Extroverted Feeling rather than Introverted Intuition, and when we see him go into “stress mode” it looks more like the ENFJ’s inferior Thinking than the INFJ’s inferior Sensing. I’m sure General Hux would say Kylo is excessively critical, displays convoluted logic, and has obsessive behaviors when in the “the grip” of his 3-year-old mental process. In contrast, a stressed INFJ is usually characterized by obsessive focus on external data (Kylo ignores such data), overindulgence in sensory pleasure (not something we see from Kylo), and adversarial attitude to the outer world (his rage is more focused on specific people than the idea that the world is out to get him).Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains | marissabaker.wordpress.com

An Emotion-Driven Villain

I love that as a villain, Kylo’s driving motivation is far more about connection (or lack thereof) than power (which is another reason to type him as a Feeling-dominant ENFJ). His major choices in this film all have to do with who he is and isn’t connecting with. We learn that in the past he lashed-out at Luke and all his students when he believes his mentor was about to kill him, and we see a similar thing happen when he kills his current mentor Snoke. Snoke has been telling Ren the whole movie that he’s pathetic and easily controlled, so when Snoke demands Kylo kill the one person he’s formed a new bond with (Rey), Kylo kills Snoke instead.

It’s a very Sith-like move to kill your mentor and take an apprentice, but that’s not exactly what Ren is trying to do. He’s been building an emotional connection with Rey and his pitch to her is less rule-the-galaxy-and-bring-order (like ENTJ Vader) than it is bury-what-hurt-us-and-build-something-new. And that’s on top of his assurance that she means something to him personally after they learn that she comes from nowhere and is a “nobody” (Update: director Rian Johnson has confirmed that Kylo, at least, believes he’s telling the truth). Even if the rest of the universe doesn’t care about them they could share a connection that would reshape the entire galaxy. It’s about relationship, not just power. And when Rey leaves him too, Kylo lashes out with such violence that even Hux thinks it’s excessive. When the red-headed Nazi thinks you’ve gone too far it might be time to reign yourself in.

It’s going to be really interesting to see where this goes next. At this point, I’m not expecting a redemption arc for Kylo. It’s more a toss-up whether Rey or Hux manage to kill him first (maybe Rey will best him in a duel, then Hux will shoot him as she’s struggling to decide whether or not to spare Kylo).

Another Post About Kylo Ren: My Thoughts on The Last Jedi and Emotionally Driven Villains | marissabaker.wordpress.com

 

How Full Is Your Marble Jar?

I have issues with trust. I knew this to a certain extent, but being in a relationship has brought it to the forefront of my attention. My boyfriend wants to build the kind of trust that I’ve always wanted in a relationship, which is fantastic. But it’s harder to get there than I was expecting and that’s frustrating for both of us. I probably feel safer with him than anyone else who I haven’t known a minimum of 10 years and yet I still feel nervous opening up to him and being “me” around him.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I love Brené Brown’s TED talks. Since writing that post, I’ve read her book The Gifts of Imperfection and I’m halfway through Daring Greatly. Since I’ve been confronting some deep-seated fear issues as well as this trust thing, they’ve been really good books for me. They’re tough, though. For example, she has a list of 10 things that “Wholehearted” people who believe in their worthiness do. I’ve only got one down pretty good and maybe half of two others. And that’s even though all 10 points on the list are things that, in theory, I agree are good and which I’ve considered worth pursuing for quite some time.

The Anatomy Of Trust

Earlier this year, Brené Brown gave a talk called “The Anatomy of Trust.” In this talk, she tells a story that she also relates in Daring Greatly about her daughter experiencing a betrayal of trust at school. You can click here to read the full story (or just watch the video below), but in short summary the situation got so bad that the teacher took marbles out of the Marble Jar (marbles go in when the kids are making good choices and come out if they’re breaking rules, acting out, etc.).

Brené then used the analogy of the marble jar to teach her daughter about trust. When we’re in a relationship with someone and they do things that build trust, we put marbles into the jar. When they do things that destroy trust, we take marbles out. Only the friends with full marble jars have earned a close enough connection to be trusted with things like your biggest secrets, your strongest fears, and your deepest hurts.

Braving Greatly

Trust is something we talk about quite a bit without always having a clear definition. The one Brené uses in this video goes like this, “Trust is choosing to make something important to you vulnerable to the actions of someone else.” She expands on the sort of people we can have this sort of trust with using the acronym BRAVING:

  • Boundaries – we trust people who are clear about their boundaries and respect our boundaries
  • Reliability – we trust people who consistently do what they say they’ll do
  • Accountability – we trust people who own their mistakes, apologize, and make amends and who let us do the same
  • Vault – we trust people when we know they hold things shared with them in confidence
  • Integrity – we trust people who choose “courage over comfort … what’s right over what’s fun, fast, or easy” and practice their values
  • Non-Judgemental – we trust people if we can fall apart with them and ask for help without being judged, and who we can do that for in return
  • Generosity – we trust people who make generous assumptions about what we do and say, then check-in with us to clarify what’s going on from our perspective

She says this acronym also works with self-trust, which is an essential part of trusting others. In her words, “If your own marble jar is not full, if you can’t count on yourself, you can’t ask other people to give you what you don’t have … We can’t ask people to give to us what we do not believe we’re worthy of receiving.” It’s closely connected with the idea that we can’t really love others if we don’t know how to love ourselves.

Looking At Your Marble Jar

Here’s where it gets hard. Because if there’s a lack of trust in a relationship and you go through the BRAVING list and can’t pin-point where the two of you have an issue, that means the next option is you don’t trust yourself enough to really trust the other person. Which puts the burden for fixing trust firmly on your shoulders.

One of the biggest things that sticks out in my mind from Brené Brown’s research is what she learned about the difference between people who feel they belong and are loved and the people who don’t. The only difference is the people who have a sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging. That’s it. How you view your worthiness determines whether or not you get a feeling of love and belonging from the people around you.

For some of us, that’s a drastic shift in how we think. Since I blog so much about personality types I’ll use this example. INFJ types look for relationships with people who will see past our masks and understand and accept the “real me.” But we’ve built up so many years of expecting people not to accept us that when someone does, it’s often hard to let them be the person we’ve been looking for for so long. We don’t trust that they really do see us and like us the way we truly are. And there’s a good chance that’s becasue we haven’t really worked through our feeling that we aren’t actually worthy of the belonging and love we crave.

The thing is, I am worthy of love and belonging. And so are you. We deserve to have relationships built on trust. Which means we owe it to ourselves to do the hard work of getting to the point where we really believe in our worthiness and trustworthiness. Reading Brené Brown books is a great place to start. And then possibly re-reading them (which is what I intend to do) and taking action on it, like working through The Gifts of Imperfection and focusing on one of the 10 Wholehearted traits each week.

Is trust and/or believing you’re worthy of love and belonging something you’ve struggled with? And do you have any strategies to share for getting to the point where you really trust and value yourself?

Living With INFJ Guilt And Overcoming Cycles of Shame

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).

Living With INFJ Guilt And Overcoming Cycles of Shame | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Photo credit: “Incognito” by nasrul ekram, CC BY via Flickr

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

Fictional MBTI — Thor (ESTP)

With Thor: Ragnarok now out, it seemed like a good time for another Fictional MBTI post. Especially since Ragnarok is so good. Who would have thought a film about the destruction of Asgard and fall of the gods (that’s not a spoiler — it’s Norse mythology) could be so light-hearted and fun?

I’ve been typing Thor as an ESTP since the first film came out, which I think is pretty much the standard typing for him (please note: I’m only typing the MCU version of Thor, not his character in the comics). But that’s no reason not to give him his own blog post. I usually use David Kiersey’s nicknames for the personality types, but for Thor the ESTP nickname “Adventurer” seems more appropriate than “Promoter.”Fictional MBTI - Thor (ESTP) | marissabaker.wordpress.com

A Man of Action

Fictional MBTI - Thor (ESTP) | marissabaker.wordpress.comESTP types lead with a mental process called Extroverted Sensing (Se). Fittingly, this is the most visible aspect of Thor’s character in the films. SP types are doers. They thrive on taking action in the real world and they’re good at it. Really good. In fact, I’d venture a guess that most action heroes in fiction are SP types, especially STP types. It’s not that they can’t pause for reflection or plan ahead. It’s that they don’t really see the need since things usually work out so well for them.

ESTPs have a reputation for being thrill-seekers, and it’s not hard to see why. Their dominant Se seeks variety and physical stimulation. They like to take risks, yet they are so aware of their physical surroundings and their limits that they are probably the smartest physical risk-takers around. They have a natural awareness for what their body can or can’t do, paired with quick reflexes, and an ability to keep their wits in a crisis.” — Susan Storm, Understanding ESTP Sensing

This side of Thor’s character is at the forefront in the new film as well as his past appearances. In Ragnarok’s opening scene, he even comments that fighting against overwhelming odds without a real plan seems to always work out for him. And not only does it work out, he’s clearly enjoying himself. He thrives on challenge and risk-taking. Continue reading

Your Not-At-All-Confusing Guide To Finding Out If An INFJ Agrees With You

Think INFJs are hard to figure out? Have you found yourself puzzled by an INFJ’s contradictory words and behavior? Well there’s no need to worry any more. I’ve got your quick, easy, and not-at-all-confusing guide to finding out if an INFJ agrees with you. No more will those mysterious unicorns of the personality type world confuse you in conversation. No longer will their confrontation-avoidance leave you wondering whether an INFJ actually agrees with what you’re saying or is simply making you think they do so you won’t get upset with them.

Head Nodding

Nodding mostly means we’re listening to you, so this could really go either way. Cross-check with other signs.

Eye Contact

Making eye contact typically means the INFJ agrees with you. Not making eye contact could mean one of three things: they disagree with you, they don’t care, or they agree with you but don’t want to admit it.

Non-Committal Sounds

An INFJ who’s making sounds like “um-hum” while glancing away looking for an escape doesn’t agree with you. But if they’re making the same sound with eye-contact while leaning toward you and smiling, then you’re good. Probably. Continue reading