Hi, I’m Jason. I’m an INFJ on the Myers Briggs personality survey. I’m also a Type 5 on the Enneagram. That makes me complicated, I think! I encourage you to research personalities if you aren’t sure what yours is. INFJs are a fraction of the population. That makes us hard to understand. We circle the room, attempting to find the people we really want to interact with. We find it hard to open up afraid that we’ll be overwhelmed or worse – hurt by you. Type 5 on the Enneagram means that I’m observant. If I’m healthy and paying attention I can see things, sense things, sense people. I can read their behavior and emotions. I can morph myself to be what the people need me to be so that I can get them to get along or do things.
My special strength is that I can emotionally detach from people and situations. It’s instinctual. And, it’s not because I don’t care. No, in fact, it’s because deep down inside I care so much that I fear I may be overwhelmed with my own feelings. Feelings are uncontrollable, and I won’t know what to do with them. Where will they take me? Will I be able to make sense of them? That can be scary for my thinking brain.
You may think that emotionally detaching isn’t a strength. But, you don’t know how powerful that is. I can separate out the emotion from the facts. I can see through the cloudiness. I can make connections when others are confused. I can diffuse. Instead of reflecting emotions, causing them to be amplified in a space between people, I can muffle them. They can end when they hit me.
Much as any strength gone awry, it can also be a curse. I can detach emotionally when I should be attached. I can detach from myself and my own feelings. I can want to change your emotions so that I don’t have to take them. If I’m not careful, I will take them and feel them! It’s not easy for me to understand my feelings and it’s even harder to open up and explain them to you. What will you think of me? Will you think I’m capable if I’m also fearful?
Because I can emotionally detach, sometimes I can appear cold and distant. For those who need emotional attachment, they can feel that I’m disinterested. If I close my office door I’ll simultaneously feel that I need to explain why I’m not being closed off but just need my space to think, while feeling a bit guilty that I’m not as open to everyone in that moment as they may need. And, I can be prone to ruminating on those things – trying to get the perfect balance for everyone.
I can also tend to put my needs at the bottom of the pile. I can carry the weight. Not only can I do it mentally, but I can also do it protectively. I won’t need to feel the weight because I can detach, and if that means someone else doesn’t need to feel it either, that must be positive! I can disappear into thoughts and live there for hours, days, weeks, even months, thinking through possibilities, exploring options, creating pathways.
I’m a puzzle master. I’m moves ahead down multiple paths – in moments!
Paradoxically, I can also be IN the moment. I can let my hair down (not anymore – I don’t have much), be playful, ignore all the things outside the moment. In fact, sometimes that’s my safe place. Ignore. That protects me from being overwhelmed.
I’m an optimist. I can be prone to believing all hills are climbable, everything can be done, and all people and circumstances must have a bright side.
Couple all that with a good deal of experience, and I can be a force in many situations.
I can also be a mental and emotional mess, I’ve found. And, I can experience anxiety in the back of my mind rather frequently.
But, I’ve found ways of opening up, ways of being vulnerable. I’ve discovered ways of owning both success and failure, fear and faith, being both capable and admitting I’m anxious. More nimble and I’ve learned to really respect, understand, and love some of my emotions and those of others.
I’m not writing this so that you’ll get to know me so much as I’m encouraging you to know yourself. What I’ve discovered most of all is that by me understanding so much about myself, I have been able to be a better help for others. I have conversations with people, my children and family, those I care about, that I would not have been able to have had before. And, it’s been a journey. An amazing journey of discovery. Peaks and valleys.
Maybe it’s been a journey for you, too. I encourage you to continue walking your journey. Apart from the things we label ourselves with – our titles, positions, resumés, we are all people, connected in remarkable ways, sharing both strengths and struggles. And, without some understanding of the richness of each of our personalities, we forfeit a collective, holistic understanding of our situations and our realities.
Don’t waste the moment! I encourage you to pause and consider why you feel the things you feel (or don’t, if you’re like me!), and what unique role you are designed to play. Without that understanding, you may find yourself chasing things, jobs, people, feelings instead of settling in by making sense of circumstances based on who you are. Maybe you’ll feel you don’t belong.
Clearly, no one can be defined simply through personality surveys. But, they, in combination with our own reflection and the insights of trusted advisors around us, can help us make sense of ourselves and be of more value to others. Check out the Enneagram and the Myers Briggs.
If you want to chat about being an INFJ or a Type 5, want to explore the meaning of life, or take over the world in some other fantastic way, reach out to me!
Learn more about me at https://linkedin.com/in/jasonatodd