Once upon a time, I was less than understanding and happy about being an INFP because this is largely an extravert’s world.
I had always known I was a “dreamer.” Unable to focus very well in school, and preoccupied with understanding the ultimate meanings of things, I would spend hours adrift in the world of ideas, contemplating the many possibilities, and coming up with novel notions. Can anyone out there relate? I felt quite different from others who seemed to live mainly outside of their head and who seemed to thrive on engaging with one another in various activities. I didn’t know it then, but I was in Introvert in a largely Extravert’s world.
Just before I began my formal psychology studies, I learned what it means to be an INFP personality type. For those who might not be familiar with this label, I should explain that these letters represent four key dimensions of personality as outlined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This personality typing system is based largely on the work of Carl Jung and his formulations on various aspects of mental functions and personality. The key dimensions include:
- introversion vs. extraversion (whether one’s basic energies are generally centered on the internal world of ideas and concepts or external interactions with people, places, and things),
- intuitive vs. sensing (whether one tends to rely automatically on imagination and instinct or tends to focus on gathering facts and information),
- feeling vs. thinking (whether one is instinctively sensitive to interpersonal needs as opposed to logical and factual analysis), and
- perceiving vs. judging (instinctively comfortable with freedom, flexibility, and flying by the seat of one’s pants as opposed to desiring structure, planning, and organization)
INFPs often tend to be creative individuals who engage in such pursuits as music, writing (Go, figure!), art, and yes, even psychology (Duh…). They also tend to be notoriously “scattered” and somewhat disorganized. That’s my real downfall. In my inner world, there is literally an idea forming every minute. And my outer world certainly reflects that, being an almost constant mess! INFPs are the dreamers who live in the world of values and concepts and are forever trying to find the bigger meanings of things in life. They are value-driven individuals who can get really riled when someone accidentally violates one of their primary values.
Some of my biggest dreams have been with me my whole life. I dream of a world without so much conflict. I dream of more equity and justice in life. I dream of greater understanding and acceptance between people. And I dream of an honest debate about the most essential values we must all seek to honor and preserve.
Yep, no doubt about it, I’m solidly and hopelessly a dreamer. Once I was less than understanding and happy about it because, as I mentioned before, this is largely an extravert’s world. But I’ve come to see how dreamers have a role to play and a gift to give. One day, maybe one of the inventions I started working on will actually get finished!
Are you a dreamer? Does any of this sound familiar to you? Do you have a plethora of unfinished “projects” scattered all around? Have you felt different because of these things? Well, perhaps you can take some comfort in knowing that you have company.
Some noteworthy purported INFPs: John F. Kennedy, William Shakespeare, Fred Rogers, Laura Ingalls Wilder, James Taylor, Albert Schweitzer, Princess Diana, George Orwell.
All clinical material on this site is peer reviewed by one or more clinical psychologists or other qualified mental health professionals. This specific article was originally published by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor on .on and was last reviewed or updated by