How To Be A Happier INFP
 
So, first of all, it should go without saying that not all of this is going to be applicable to every INFP's situation, right? So, if a few aren't relevant, it doesn't discount your whole life or mean anything about your identity. These suggestions are based on a pretty broad swath of INFPs I have known, both personally and professionally, and the struggles that seem to be most common. 

1) Stop being so hard on yourself, INFP! You are never going to be perfect. Perfection isn't even a thing. You're going to make mistakes (plenty of them) and accidentally hurt people's feelings and do the wrong thing and generally make a mess sometimes, and it's okay. You don't need to hide in the corner and self-flagellate when you do. You don't need to spiral into a pit of despair. It is entirely possible - and much healthier - to address whatever happened, apologize or clean it up, and move on. You're never going to be perfect, but you're good enough. I promise. 

2) Repeating: who you are is completely, totally okay. You may feel like you have no defenses in this cruel, cold world, but don't hide who you are. You may feel almost like there's something fundamentally wrong with you; you're so sensitive and have so many feelings. It can be overwhelming and you may want to hide it, but I would argue that we really need people like you, so let us see you. The world needs people who are soft and tender-hearted and gentle and who accept others in all their quirky ways. Hold that kind of space for people; that's your gift. I know you aren't going to be able to let everyone in indiscriminately, but trust that there is value in exposing your truest self to the ones who matter. 

3) Practice using words when you need to withdraw. Tell the people around you "I'm feeling overwhelmed and I'm going to need some time to myself" rather than just disappear on them and cause worry. Use words to say "I feel depressed" or "I am sad" or "This hurts me" instead of pretending like you're fine but suffering on the inside or worse, shutting down and being unreachable. When you do it this way, the people who love you worry about you. They worry they did something wrong, or that you don't love them, or that there is something terrible ailing you. But sometimes it's nothing, right? You just need to be alone for a while. Say that. Let people know you. Teach people how to treat you, and what you need, and how you are. 

4) Work on not taking everything so personally. Sometimes criticism, while hard to hear, is helpful; it's how we grow. It rarely means anything about who you are as a person. It is rarely an indictment of your character. When you feel criticized or hurt, think through what the person meant by it, what their intentions were, whether it's something to be upset about. Think about whether they might actually have a point, and then use the feedback to make some changes. But skip the part where you absorb the criticism and feel unnecessarily bad about yourself for having stuff you need to work on. We all do.  

5) On the other hand, related to the previous suggestion, you can also practice using words to say when something feels bad to you instead of pulling inward to lick your wounds. Just say "That hurt my feelings". This one is particularly hard for male INFPs, because of course we socialize men to be tough and whatnot. INFP dudes, here's the thing: you ain't that tough, and that's perfect. That is exactly right. You don't have to be tough in the traditional hyper-masculine ways the world expects. You march to the beat of your own drum anyway, so you can be revolutionary when you set an example for other men in your life that it is safe to be emotional, to be sensitive, to say "that hurt my feelings" instead of resorting to the anger or stonewalling we have come to expect from men. 

6) You are very slow to make decisions, presumably because you want to make sure you have all the information you need, but the byproduct of this is that you almost always wait too long to do something you know needs done. You are likely to languish in bad relationships far longer than you should or stay at that job you hate because you are afraid to do the wrong thing, or of being hurtful, or you aren't positive you did every single possible thing that you could to make the situation work. I get it. The problem is though that you sometimes drag your feet even when you really do know what to do. It doesn't serve you. It just wastes your time, and other people's time. 

7) Sometimes you take too long with decision-making because of fear of failure. To this I say: fuck it. You're going to fail sometimes. That's fine. You can handle whatever comes next. See #1. 

8) Most of you have had your heart broken at least once, and while that's true of most people, it can be particularly hard on an INFP. A broken heart at any point in life can make you quite reticent to open back up to anyone (ever again). But remember that you love connecting. You love being in love. You love seeing and being seen in a meaningful way. You love deep conversation and intimacy. You love shedding your protective layers and just being yourself in all your tender glory. It just scares the living shit out of you because it requires you to open up more than you feel safe opening up. It involves the little emotional turtle inside of you sticking its head out of the shell and staying out despite the very real fear, the very real risk in doing so. Vulnerability is absolutely required. Sorry, boo. I know you don't want to hear it, but you are going to have to take risks. Every.single.time. Love is always a risk. It's worth it. 

9) Stop feeling so guilty all the time. You know, I've said many times that guilt is the least useful emotional response. It's like, "I'm going to be sorry over and over and over and over and over and over" even well past the time when being sorry even makes sense anymore. Knock it off, INFP. This guilt and shame stuff is for the birds. If you feel bad about something, address it, fix what you can, ask for forgiveness, and then offer that forgiveness to yourself...and move on. There seems to be some macabre fascination for INFP in wallowing and rolling around in the muck, often in piles of things that aren't even yours to own, much less to take responsibility for. INFP has a reflexive guilt/shame response that is super damaging. When you find yourself feeling guilty or ashamed, drag that feeling out into the light and examine it. Is it legit? Is it reasonable? Do you deserve it? If you asked someone else about it, would they look at you like you were crazy for even thinking about this? 

10) Line up a team of trusted advisors to check you on your shit. I know you don't usually need that many friends (side note: most INFPs only keep 1-3 truly close friends at a time, and many describe themselves as a "lone wolf", although I suspect that is partly resignation vs. preferred way of being) but you definitely need a system of checks & balances, or else you run the risk of descending into one of those negative cycles at any time for no good reason. You need people around you to bounce ideas off of and get feedback on. (Or a therapist can work for this too). You need someone to remind you that you're being too hard on yourself. INFP is an internal processor, so you may not think you need this, but you do. Talk your stuff out, out loud. It's the only way to keep your tendency to be way too hard on yourself in check. 

11) Ask people questions. You tend to be a passive communicator, but I know you're genuinely curious about people. I know that anything anybody ever wanted to tell you would be received happily. I know you love being a trusted confidant. I know you want people to feel safe with you. But my tip is this: don't just wait for them to offer information for fear of being "intrusive" or "nosy". The truth is most people love to talk about themselves, and would love to have you probe into their innermost selves in that lovely way you do (when you do). But you have to ask the right questions. You have to actively pull people out in order to show them you're curious about them. 

12) It's important for several reasons, but one reason this is important to do is because you are incredibly imaginative. Which is a good thing, except when it's not. Sometimes you have a tendency to make stories up in your head, so sometimes you maybe don't ask questions because you've already filled in the gaps and written your own version of what the person is telling you. The problem is, you made that up. It's not actually true. You have to ask what is true. You can't just go working off your invention of the person/story/whatever. Especially if you're trying to connect with a person who needs you to ask questions to draw him/her out. In order to really get close to someone, you need to stop making up stories about them and actually ask/listen instead. 

13) Another thing about that imagination of yours: you tend to be a bit anxious, and as such you'll work through all the worst case scenarios in your head and sometimes get yourself quite worked up when in fact everything is okay. You may react to something as though the worst case has already happened, because the world in your head is so real. But...it's not. Don't let yourself go off the rails of the crazy train without consulting someone on your advisory board. 

14) Be you. INFP, you are amazing. You are kind and loving and gentle and sensitive and all of those sweet things. You are only like 4% of the population, but I wish there were so many more of you. You hold space for the rest of us to be as fucked up as we are, and you love us anyway. I just wish you would learn to love and accept yourself the way you love and accept us. 

xo

INFP functional stack: Fi Ne Si Te

Here is a post you can share with your partner to help him or her  understand you better: 

http://millercounseling.blogspot.com/2015/02/care-feeding-of-infp.html

If you want to talk more about this: www.millercounseling.org