According to the Myers-Briggs personality model, the INFJ is thought to be the rarest of personality types. INFJs read people very well and they can easily see ‘behind the mask’ that some people unconsciously wear. They are people with many layers, they can be mystical and very private and, above all else, they are rare. Sound familiar?
Firstly, let’s look at what I mean by the Myers-Briggs personality model. During the early part of the 20th century, Carl Gustav Jung, an early psychologist, came up with a theory that each one of us falls into the category of ‘introverts’ or ‘extroverts’. Introverts tend to focus on their internal world while extroverts prefer to focus externally.
In the 1920s, Jung’s theory was further worked on by Katherine Cook Briggs. She was a teacher and had a fascination with personality types. Together with her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, they developed a 16-personality model, now known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (trade marked in the US).
The Myers-Briggs model is based on the idea that we have basic preferences, and these can be categorised into four main areas. These are:
Do we prefer to focus on the outer world or do we prefer to focus on our own inner world: Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I)?
Do we prefer to focus on basic information we take in or do we prefer to interpret and add meaning to the information we get: Sensing (S) or Intuitive (I)?
When making decisions, do we prefer to look for the logical or do we prefer to consider the people element: Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)?
And finally, do we prefer decisiveness or do we prefer to remain open and procrastinate for a while: Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)?
Now then, if we put all of the above together, we get 16 variations. For example, an ISTJ person is someone who is systematic, factual, organised and pragmatic, while an ESFP is a person who craves excitement, is energetic and sociable.
Back to the rare people
You might think that, because there are 16 personality types or combinations, there would be an equal amount of each in the population. However, this is not the case. The most common personality type is the ISFJ, with just over 13% in the population. The least common, with only 1.5%, is the INFJ.
INFJs are gentle and caring but intensely complex individuals. They look for hidden meanings in things and they rarely take situations at face value. One of their greatest strengths is their ability to ‘feel’ things and to intuitively understand other people. INFJs have been known to experience psychic intuition. Their sixth sense can often be difficult for them to explain, so they give up trying, which can leave them feeling isolated and misunderstood.
It is not unusual for INFJs to absorb other people’s emotions. They don’t just sense the emotions of others, they can actually feel them in their own bodies. No other personality type does this quite like an INFJ. They truly have superpowers!
Shallow and one-sided relationships don’t usually work for INFJs. As introverts, they have limited social energy therefore finding their true soulmate can be difficult. When they do find that person, they will feel like a miracle has happened.
A word of caution
As a professional psychologist and counsellor, I sometimes use Myers-Briggs as a starting point at my consultations. I know from doing the tests myself that the results can be consistent, so I am a great fan of the theory. However, I must stress that there is an awful lot of misrepresentation online about personality traits. I have come across websites that claim to predict how unstable each personality type can be and how some are more susceptible to mental health problems than others. Let me assure you, there is no conclusive research so far that shows specific traits are more or less likely to suffer from mental illness.
Having said the above, discovering your personality trait can be good fun. There is a great free test at http://www.16personalities.com.
Let me know if there any other INFJs out there!