To be an INFP is to be a walking paradox. We are authentic, deeply feeling creatures, which makes us the comfortable people to be around. We give acceptance and understand others’ emotions without judging. We love deeply. But feeling too much is also our burden, and hence the paradox. Our biggest weaknesses are the same as our biggest strengths. What makes us understanding and empathetic, makes us also extremely vulnerable to all negativity. Which traits make an INFP depression-prone then?
The answer is:
Nope, it’s not a weapon of mass destruction. This terrible German word stands for “world-weariness”, but Wikipedia explains it way better:
Weltschmerz denotes the kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind.
INFP & Depression… Why Me?
Depression isn’t unavoidable for the INPFs. There are many different causes of depression, and personality is just one of them. However, the way we think, perceive and interpret the world may be one of the risk factors that makes us prone to falling victims of depression and anxiety.
What are the INFP traits that make us susceptible to depression?
- I’m a hopeless idealist who holds extremely high standards and expectations never to be fulfilled. Especially when it comes to love, relationships, and morality. When I love someone, nothing else matters. That’s why losing one of those who loved me unconditionally was by far the most traumatic experience I’ve ever had, which triggered a whole lot of other problems.
- My naivety makes me an easy target for narcissists and other toxic individuals. I automatically assume everyone’s intentions are as pure as mine are, even when their actions show quite the opposite. I can’t imagine that someone can hurt me intentionally. For most of my life, I believed that “honesty is the best policy”, even though I suffered often as a result. Only recently, my Mom has told me: “You know, Marta, it’s important to be honest, but sometimes it’s better to sweep certain things under the carpet and not to tell the whole truth, especially to your superiors”. Mom, why didn’t you tell me earlier?! It hurts to discover in your adult life that not everyone has good intentions.
- The empathy that makes me a good listener, also makes me extremely susceptible to other’s moods, and I truly hate that. I get easily upset with problems that aren’t mine or get “infected” with other’s bad mood and unnecessary tension. I can burst into tears watching any movie and I find it hard to say “no”, so people often take advantage of me.
- My communications skills are another strength that often turns into a weakness. From a simple conversation, I receive tons of input: the pitch of your voice, your facial expression, your intonation, your enthusiasm or lack of it, your choice of words… that’s a lot of data to deal with and everything matters.
- Closed in my internal world, I think a lot. I overthink everything that happens to me. I ask myself lots of why questions to understand better, but I often don’t come up with satisfying answers. I started writing this blog to get those thoughts out of my head.
- I’m a born artist, but as a perfectionist, I never find my “artwork” satisfying and I often get discouraged by the lack of progress.
- I’m a perfectionist on one hand, but also quite messy and chaotic on another. Administrative tasks are just too boring to keep me engaged. I do as I feel, and thus, I often start new projects and suddenly abandon them. As a result, I often get stuck in my dreams and artistic visions… There are so many exciting things to do and so little time, that I’d rather spend it on something else than paperwork, or learning the basics.
- Being sensitive, I get stressed easily. It’s hard not to get stressed when you feel intensely, truly care and aim for perfection. And in stressful situations, I tend to avoid solving the problem until it is too big to manage. Obviously, procrastination adds to my stress making my life and self-esteem miserable.
- Overwhelmed by the injustice and cruelty of this world, I switch to my hermit mode. Terrorism, wars, abuse of the weak and the poor, destroying the Earth for profit… I want to make a change, teach love, end suffering, but no matter how much time and effort I dedicate, it will never be enough. When I think about all the evil, I seriously consider withdrawing to a wooden hut in the middle of nowhere, out of network coverage, where I can only hear the birds singing and no bad people can reach me. But I know I would feel lonely too.
- I have a tendency to be a people pleaser and a praise junkie, which makes me extremely susceptible to criticism. If I put my whole heart in something, it’s unavoidable to take it personally. Even a complete lack of feedback is interpreted as “not good enough”.
- Being independent, creative, idealistic and cause-oriented, we generally make poor employees. Especially in businesses that are all about the money, such as insurance and finance, for instance (hell, yeah). We can’t bear when our work doesn’t stand in line with our values. But bills don’t pay themselves, so it’s normal for an INPF to be lost in terms of a career. Jobs that demand helping people are difficult too, since witnessing others suffer is too painful and may lead to burnout.
- No wonder that INPF is the personality type that statistically makes less money than any other. That’s not very comforting. Here is an infographic that illustrates it.
Does all the above mean that the INPFs are bound to get depressed and fail in life? Is it even possible to thrive and find happiness when you’re an INFP?
Living A Happy Life As An INFP
It took me some years to find my way. Now, I believe that depression was a necessary stage of my development. I’m only 27, I believe to be very lucky to have this level of self-awareness. If I wasn’t an INFP, life would have been much easier, but I’m proud of being one.
After many hours of self-reflections and having read countless books on mental health, emotions, and self-growth, I’ve come to some conclusion.
Acknowledge your mistakes, forgive yourself and don’t look back. Remember that you are doing the best you can in every moment. If you were aware of the pain you would cause, would you have done it again? And even if you knew, you had no idea how much you would regret. Now, learn the lesson and let go of the past. Even if you did something bad, it doesn’t make you automatically a bad person.
#2. Practice mindfulness.
Perfectionism is usually correlated with high anxiety, and mindfulness is the remedy. Whatever you do, be fully present. Focus on your body and your surrounding, and breathe. If you find your mind wandering, gently bring your attention back to the present moment. It’s okay – that’s what minds do. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy proved to be not only a very effective depression treatment but also a preventive measure.
#3. Dare to be imperfect.
Believe me, done is better than perfect. I know how much it costs you to lower your standards, but perfection is an abstract concept, and therefore unachievable. Practice being imperfect. I do it through blogging. Over time, hitting the “publish” button gets much easier. A minor flaw doesn’t make you a failure, so don’t be hard on yourself. And don’t forget to enjoy the process – it’s not only the final result that counts. The Gifts Of Imperfection: Let Go Of Who You Think You’re Supposed To Be And Embrace Who You Are is a very inspiring and entertaining book on perfectionism that I highly recommend you to read.
#4. Redefine failure.
Success is built upon failures – they’re an inherent part of our learning process. With every attempt, you get better and more experienced. Learn your lesson and move on. You can learn more about redefining success and failure in this post.
#5. Stop watching the news.
What you see on the TV isn’t an objective image of the world we live in. There are plenty of good, compassionate people, but good news just don’t sell. Instead, notice things and stories that inspire you.
#6. Spend time in nature and with animals.
Animals are much easier to be with than humans. They don’t pretend, judge, or hold grudges. And nature doesn’t only make us happier and healthier – research shows it makes us also kinder.
#7. Go to therapy.
Even if you’re not suffering from clinical depression, therapy is a good investment. An insight of a third person not involved in your problems such a good therapist will help you to see yourself in a new light. Thanks to therapy, I discovered how unfairly I was treating myself and learned self-compassion.
#8. Find an outlet for your creativity
Doesn’t matter if it’s handicraft, painting, writing, coloring, or photography. Or even blogging. Find something that you love and do it just for the sake of pleasure.
#9. Find your mission.
You don’t have to be an executive of a big company and make tons of money to call yourself successful. I believe that finding a job or a business that is in line with your internal values and gives meaning to your life is the only way to succeed in business and be happy as an INFP. Don’t be afraid to try different things, it takes time to discover your true vocation. Whatever it is, dedicate yourself to it and become a badass. Money will find its way to your pocket.
I strongly believe INFP depression can be avoided if you live and act in line with your values and follow your heart. What is your mission in life? Do you feel successful as an INFP? Share your thoughts below.
PS. Other posts you may find interesting:
PS2. INFPs are generally good writers (I’m not speaking about myself because this isn’t my native language). If you’re interested in how you can make a living with a blog, read this post.