I wonder if other INFJS can relate, but people often find it hard to believe that I am a “feeler”. Although it makes sense since our feeling function is secondary and extraverted, the 4 letters seem almost misleading as to our true nature, as I may seem like an extravert when I’m socializing, or that I’m a thinker based on my reactions.
I feel like my feelings are buried under multiple layers of cognitive functions, making it very hard to access in the moment. When I’m in a situation, my empathetic tendencies take over and cause me to examine the atmospheric ambience first, empathizing through the other person’s perspective rather than just being in the present with my feelings. There’s a constant inner struggle sorting out what actually belongs to me, it gets tiring sometimes. It’s hard being a counselor to friends/family, because I am constantly putting on someone else’s lens, often a prescription mismatched to my own. Sometimes I pay a high price, even distorting my own reality especially when it involves me personally. For example, when a friend says something that hurts me, I try to understand what they mean and why they said that, and it helps suppress any real-time emotional reaction since “it makes sense why they did what they did”. The danger lies in being overly sympathetic and assimilating others’ thoughts and feelings, and neglecting my own. It’s often not until much later do I realize how hurt I was by what they said and wish I spoke up. With no appropriate outlet, I often carry this hurt longer than I should.
To an outsider, I appear as a rational being. Sometimes it almost seems as if I am apathetic even when a situation deeply concerns me. I’m good at rationalizing my feelings away, which makes me appear to be less of a feeler than I should. But our tender hearts are full of rich deep feelings, as exposed through our writing or art. When I finally have access to my feelings, it’s usually when I’m alone and I tunnel the energy into artwork.
Processing through my feelings is like going through a complicated filter system. After filtering out all environmental and outside factors, I am finally left with my raw feelings with no justification, thoughts or reasoning attached. Maybe that’s why INFJs are not suitable for short-term flings. We may attempt to fool ourselves that we are capable of it, because of our love of novelty and passion, but in the long run we simply end up with tons of micro scars that we may not realize until much later. The wear and tear on our tender hearts is not worth it. It is only in a committed long-term relationship can an INFJ really shine and be themselves. It takes time to get to know us, and a lot of trust for all the layers to unveil. For those who prematurely think they understand us, they have only encounter our extraverted feeling mask and a limited / controlled exposure to the internal word. There’s still a lot of subconscious testing and guarded vulnerability inside, which is where our heart truly lies.
No matter how we look on the surface, we do have feelings, and our tender hearts full of love to give. It may not be easy to access, but it’s also a depth unseen to the eye. Although we may be repeatedly dismissed by many looking for instant reaction and social stimulation, somewhere someone is looking for the refined elixir of insight and depth we offer. Someone who can fully capture our essence and every layer, even the hidden ones. Those are the moments I live for.