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Friday, January 6, 2012

How I was “trained” to be an INFJ

Written by Catherine Rains

I love to talk about my dear INFJ father who unconsciously taught me to be just like him, which wasn’t hard to do since he was my hero. Growing up, I was encouraged to really think things out before blurting out an answer or showing my naturally “loud” enthusiasm for most things that showed up in my life. My dad lived by the adage “think before you speak”. So I did as I was taught. My dad also lived a very organized, structured life. Our vacations were planned out with an hour by hour itinerary and goodness forbid if you wanted to swerve off the plan to follow a road sign to see the world’s largest ball of yarn! I was expected to keep my room incredibly neat, carry a Day-Timer starting at age 10, have 5, 10 and 20 year goals, and choose a major long before I got to college. Consequently, when I first took the MBTI® tool as a young professional, I came out as an INFJ – what a surprise! It took until I was 33 to peel off the Judging layers to discover my true preference for Perceiving and until my mid-40’s to realize I really had a preference for Extraversion. Even though I am now very clear of my preferences for ENFP, I am VERY grateful that my dad taught me to thrive with Introverted and Judging behaviors, which have served me in countless ways over the years.

Can you think of how your family and/or culture influenced the expression of your type as a child? Please feel free to share your story here for the benefit of us all!


  1. My father is an ISTJ, so as an INFP, I was seen as an anomaly. He didn't appreciate my need to spend a lot of time alone, reading, or imagining, especially since I think he had children more as an investment in free labor (he owned a motel - I've cleaned more toilets than a 90 year old). I was beaten regularly for my "laziness", which you'd think would prompt me to develop more ISTJ characteristcs, but it didn't.

    On the other hand, my daughter, now 26, tests as an INFP, like me. She is SO much like me that I have to wonder if I sort of formed her into a mini-me, or if she really IS an INFP. Maybe someday she'll come to the same realization as the person who wrote this article. But I sort of doubt it. :)

  2. My mother was an INFJ. She was stifling, controlling, isolating, and she made every effort to suppress my efforts at expanding my social sphere. She succeeded until I was 16...then I rebelled. Somehow I shifted radically and began behaving as the ESTP that I truly was. I still resent her for it, but I no longer seek her approval of bent of my personality. Life has been loads of fun in the 28 years since escaping her grasp.

  3. It's important to remember that anyone can engage in dysfunctional/abusive/unhealthy behaviors. It is not type specific. No type is bad. They're all perfect and wonderful, just DIFFERENT. So for the above 2 posters, their issues were primarily with the abuse experienced by their parents. Granted, misunderstandings and conflicts can frequently arise between opposite types, such as: NF - SJ.