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« 22. How INFJs can manage change »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute and MBTI coach with over 25 years MBTI experience, and author of the new book: "INFJ: What's it like to be one."

INFJs and emotional reactions to change

I run workshops and give speeches for people on coping with change and I am an INFJ, so I would like to combine my experiences to help other INFJs cope with change. There are a lot of emotional intelligence skills involved but I will try not to overwhelm, because as an INFJ I know we like the concepts more than the details!

The fundamental aspect of change that an INFJ needs to pay attention to is the emotional reaction to the change. Why? Because emotions drive our behaviour. For example:

  • One person may get a new piece of technology and be excited about it, he/she is keen to work out how to use it, he/she feels thrilled to show it to his/her friends and the person lets the world know, and within a short period of time has adapted to using it and become an expert in it.
  • Another person may be given the exact same new piece of technology and feel intimidated by it. He/she is embarrassed because of not knowing how to use it and doesn't like to admit to it. There is a strong feeling of discomfort in using it and overtime she/he hides it in the sock drawer and never uses it again. She/he may then express hatred for it and rubbish it to others.

It is not the technology that is the issue, it is the emotions that are attached to the technology that influence how well people, including INFJs, adapt to the change.

I met a man last week, in 2018, who was arguing that everyone should still have fax machines because he had one and he didn’t want to use a computer. He felt overwhelmed by having to use a computer so he was trying to hang on to the past.

I haven’t had a fax machine for years. They belong on the Ark as far as I am concerned! While this man feels daunted by computers, I am excited by the possibilities they bring - including connecting with people around the world on social media. No fax machine lets me do that.

So, coping with change means being able to cope with the emotions that are associated with it.

Want to understand yourself as an INFJ and to be understood? Click here to get your copy of "INFJ: What it's like to be one". It explains INFJs in depth, it's written by INFJs and it is for INFJs.

INFJs and coping with change

The difficulty for many INFJs is that they may be better at managing the emotions of others than managing their own because of their cognitive functions. Each type has four cognitive functions and two of these are the main drivers of our behaviour: the Dominant and Auxiliary.

As INFJs our Auxiliary is extraverted Feeling (Fe), and introverted Feeling (Fi) is not in our function stack. What this means is that as INFJs we may be better at recognising and responding to the emotions of others than we are to our own.

Consequently, we may need to make more deliberate attempts to:

  • Tune into how we feel.
  • Make ourselves stop and question why we are behaving in a particular way, and
  • Invest time learning many of the techniques available for developing our emotional self-management skills. For example, under times of significant change I do journal writing, SET tapping, meditation and exercise to help me manage my INFJ emotions.

It is also helpful for an INFJ to understand the normal emotions that may arise, so they don’t freak out around them. We may feel anger, guilt, anxiety, panic, resentment, depression … they are all normal reactions to change.

What matters is that we understand why we are in those emotions and we do not get stuck in them.

We must move through unhelpful emotions.

As an INFJ do you ever feel misunderstood or like an alien? Wonder what is wrong with you? Get accused of being too sensitive? Long for deeper conversations? Walk into things? Want to understand yourself as an INFJ and to be understood? Click here to get your copy of "INFJ: What it's like to be one"

Finally, INFJs need to work on their change agility. Research shows that those who are agile around change will be more likely to thrive.

Here is a simple yet profound tip. When we are stuck in the past, refusing to change, or feeling overwhelmed by needing to learn yet more skills, instead of digging our heels in we can learn to say "Yet".

For example, if I say, "I can’t do this" versus "I can’t do this yet", one is a fixed state and implies "I will never be able to do this", the other leaves the option open in the future for improvement and change.

"Yet" is such an important word and as an INFJ I practise using it often. I haven’t mastered it yet!

If you would like to develop even greater emotional intelligence skills as an INFJ and to understand yourself even more and how you can be a happy, healthy, INFJ please read this book: "INFJ: What it's like to be one". It explains INFJs in depth, it's written by INFJs and it is for INFJs. Not read it yet? Now is the time!