What’s something you believe without a doubt?
I’m not talking about believing in ghosts or Santa Claus. And I don’t mean tell me about something you kind of remember from a podcast you used to listen to that you thought was pretty clever.
I’m talking about something you’d have tattooed to your forehead if it came down to it. Something you’d have carved into your gravestone. Something you’d even – gasp – mention in your Twitter bio.
Why do I ask?
Because INFJs are cowardly about beliefs. It’s rare that we adopt strong beliefs, and it’s even rarer that we defend those beliefs. We tend to see all perspectives, and we tend to latch onto the beliefs of whomever we’re speaking to.
If you understand INFJ cognitive functions, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. INFJs are critical with their introverted feeling (Fi), which is the cognitive function responsible for an individual’s feelings and beliefs. Since we are critical of our beliefs, we find it easier to hold them loosely. For this reason, many INFJs can feel like they lack an identity (what’s an identify, after all, if not a collection of self-feelings and beliefs?!).
It’s important, then, for an INFJ to develop introverted feeling so that he can comfortably develop a mature identity with which to face the world. He can do this by coming to understand what he stands for: Developing his beliefs!
I’m no exception. For a long time, I had no idea what I stood for. It bothered me that I had never really taken the time to crystallize my beliefs. So, yesterday I took a 10 mile hike deep into the Colorado wilderness and – in order to take my mind off of aching calves and looming bear – I thought long and hard about the question: What do I stand for? What do I know for certain that I will defend to my grave?
Now, some people may not agree with what I’ve come up with, and some personality types may find them downright controversial, but this list feels true to me. Further, I believe that the beliefs below will resonate with most INFJs. Let’s jump in. I have three, so far.
(1) Everyone is suffering; they should be understood and treated as such.
The Buddha said something similar, with greater eloquence, in the first of his Four Noble Truths: “Life is Suffering.” While I won’t deny the words of the G.O.A.T., I’ll admit that it’s not my present experience. I won’t go so far as to say Life is all suffering, because I see and experience a lot of joy around me. But I do understand that everyone is suffering some – and perhaps a lot – of the time.
More importantly, everyone is acting to avoid suffering and move toward happiness. This has been a liberating truth in my life. Through this lens, I see everyone as the vulnerable beings they are – akin to confused children (myself included) who don’t really know what they’re doing or what they want. They just know they want to be happy.
Bullies, jerks, criminals, extremists, and conquerors are all just looking for happiness the best way they know how. Now, I’m not giving them a pass. These vile types should be corrected and guided to better action. But I do think that understanding their suffering is a good initial stance to take, so that they can be dealt with in a more civilized and productive way. Also, through this lens, they’re not able get under my skin as they once were, because there’s less self-righteous judgement and more empathy within me when I encounter them.
(2) The purpose of my life is to appreciate it.
At present, I don’t believe in a higher power, so I can’t look to religion to provide meaning. I don’t believe that life is meant to be “lived to the fullest,” as this seems to be used, primarily, as an excuse by weekend warriors to suck down a dozen margaritas before a wild one-night-stand. And I don’t (err, no longer) believe that the purpose of life is meant to find my “one thing,” since my varied interests, passions, and skillsets have provided with many different callings that change based on where I’m at in life.
What I’ve come to believe that cannot be shaken from my core, is that life is meant to be appreciated. In my mind, being thankful for this one go-around is the best way I know to access spirituality, joy, and purpose. Being thankful for my life means thanking something bigger than myself. Appreciating the events of daily life means not taking moments for granted and thereby living them more fully. And being grateful for my abilities means not wasting opportunities to use them to help others – providing me with purpose. Though I may add to my meaning of life over time, I cannot ever see relinquishing the thought that life should be appreciated.
It’s easy enough to put into practice as well: Practice saying thank you, as much as possible. Observing a nice sunset? Say Thank You. Get through a tough meeting? Thanks! My prayer before bed? Nothing more than “Thank you.” Try it. It works.
(3) If you’re not growing, you’re dying.
In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne implores Red to push on, so that he might see life outside of the prison walls someday. He says,
“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”
Yes! This may as well be our INFJ slogan. Though from an INFJ perspective, I understand this quote in terms of growth. Not only because INFJs are hellbent on self-improvement, but also because self-growth = life. Here’s why:
Your life comes down to the moments you consciously experience. And self-growth demands consciousness! Growth happens when you catch yourself acting or thinking adversely and you decide – in the moment – to change your tired, well-worn pattern into something healthier and more useful. Of course, you need to catch yourself hundreds or thousands of times before you’re able to change your hardwired response, but if you don’t change it you’re a lifeless zombie living out the ramifications of your past conditioning.
So, the way I look at it, growth happens one conscious moment at a time, just like life happens one conscious moment at a time. Growth, therefore, is life.
I’ll continue to list my “staunch” beliefs as I have time to consider them and flesh them out. It’s important to me to stand for something, as it should be every INFJ. We are great, intuitive thinkers, and we should all become more comfortable sharing and defending our thoughts and beliefs.
So, INFJ, I’m interested: What do you believe in? What hills are you willing to die on? Let me know in the comments!