If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my self-discovery as an INFP, it is that my mind is one giant paradox. Full of contradictions, confusions and a longing for a sense of balance and equilibrium. This is largely due to the INFP’s cognitive functions, which often oppose one another. Fi seeks harmony with our internal, subjective values and ideals, whereas Te seeks objectivity. Ne wants to explore new ideas, whereas Si demands consistency and stability. It is now wonder INFPs often feel a sense of cognitive dissonance! Without further ado, here are 10 paradoxes of the INFP personality (and a bonus poem reflecting on my personal paradoxical mind).
10 Paradoxes of the INFP
1. Avoiding drawing attention to yourself, yet desperately wanting to be seen and heard
I’ve always struggled with hating being the centre of attention, but desperately wanting to express myself and he heard. I hate promoting myself, or feeling like I have to sell myself, in order to get my message across. I’ve learnt the importance of self-compassion and valuing your voice. There are people out there that do want to listen, and hear the ideas and wisdom that you’ve locked away in your mind.
2. Being the first to see the good in others, but the first to see the worst in yourself
INFPs are often known for seeing the good in others, even the people that society labels as evil or outsiders. However, we don’t usually extend the same leniency to ourselves. Personally, I am extremely self critical and hard on myself. While this is not necessarily a bad thing – it can be a useful tool for self awareness and growth – it is important to be kind and patient with yourself, too.
3. Feeling both optimistic and pessimistic, at the same time
INFPs have an acute awareness of the rich variety of emotions they experience, many of which occur all at the same time. Therefore, we may often feel optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, or sway between these two extremes.
4. Having a strong desire for intimate human connection, yet actively resisting it
I have a deep craving for intimate human connection, but at the same time I fear the vulnerability that is necessary to cultivate it. At the same time, I want to keep my distance to maintain my own autonomy.
5. Longing for the freedom to explore new possibilities, yet craving security and stability
The INFP’s Ne wants to explore new ideas and abstract concepts, whereas Si wants to maintain consistency and tradition. I love to explore new things (both in my mind and the real world), but I also look forward to coming home, to what is familiar and timeless.
6. Feeling intensely passionate about one thing, but indifferent about the next
INFPs often have an ‘all or nothing’ approach, where we are either fiercely passionate or obsessive about something, or we don’t care at all.
7. Being quiet and reserved around most people, whilst having a crazy, highly expressive side that only a few people see
When INFPs are comfortable around someone, they can appear like a completely different person. Our ‘crazy side’ is another dimension of our personality, where we may become highly expressive and even comical. It is very different to the quiet, calm face we present to the world the rest of the time.
8. Having an internal sense of assurance, yet doubting yourself at the same time
I know I definitely sway from being highly confident and sure of myself, to experiencing extreme self doubt. While this probably evens out over time, this is another paradox that may be an common mental battle for many INFPs.
9. Being half child, half ancient
Many INFPs will relate to the Björk quote “I am half child, half ancient”. This is because INFPs have the childlike qualities of curiosity and wonder, whilst also feeling like an old soul.
10. Being easy-going and relaxed, yet stubborn
INFPs are often quite happy to go with the flow, and can be quite carefree and easygoing. However, when it comes to our values and opinions, we can be relentlessly stubborn and uncompromising.
“The Paradox” – a poem
The following piece is a free verse poem I wrote a month ago, to explore the idea of my mental paradox:
I felt the urge to write
The pressure, the pain
Of words unheard
Of words unsaid
All of the things
Circulating in my head
That will never come to surface
Never reach the light
Someday, I wish
Well, I don’t know what I would wish
My mind goes blank
I stop, I think
I just want to be free
Said a silent scream
I locked my own chains
But now I want to be free
To wander, to dance
To get lost in the trance
Like a child in a field
With nowhere to go
Lost in expression
My mind wanders away
How far today?
Will today be the day?
That I find my way
Out of this maze that I feel
Is tugging me here, leading me there
Will I ever find my way, to escape?
To a place where I feel
Myself again, no fear, my dear
I crave stability, yet desire adventure
A balance, I need, indeed
The paradox within my mind
Haunts me day and night
These constant contradictions
I need relief
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