11 Ways the INFP Mind Works — The World Through the Lenses of an INFP

One sign you’re an INFP — you’re reading this.

One sign you’re an INFP –you’re reading this.

Obviously, I was guessing. But since you’re here, it’s imaginable that you’re either an INFP or someone closely related. How can I say that?

INFP means Introverted-iNtuitive-Feeling-Prospecting. It’s one of the rarest personality types according to Myers-Briggs. People with this personality type are seekers (and are drawn to these kinds of posts). They are always curious about people, emotions, and themselves.

I, myself, is an INFP. We are existentially conscious of how our personality associates with relationships, careers, and our everyday lives. However, these curiosities often lead to frustrations.

INFP is a misunderstood bunch. While most personalities express emotions outward, INFPs contemplate emotions inward.

Our minds run through hundreds of idealistic thoughts which make us spontaneous and unpredictable.

What’s in the mind of an INFP?

INFP is such an interesting personality. I believe INFPs are one of the smartest personality types along with INFJs and INTPs. One can only guess what’s in our idealistic minds.

I’d like to share with you 11 ways an INFP mind works that make us relatively different from others. It’s hard boiling it down to 11 when I initially listed 62. Ugh. Maybe, I’ll include the others in a different post.

So what’s inside an INFP’s mind? Here we go.

1. INFPs dislike small talks.

Small talks are part of human interaction. It’s unavoidable. But, when someone tries to overly engage INFPs with small talk — what you ate, gossips, and championship games we know nothing about — it slowly gets infuriating.

The hardest part is when we try to be intentionally unresponsive, but the person just won’t stop talking.

Instead of actively engaging in a conversation, our mind focuses on finding an escape.

However, provided with an interesting topic — spirituality, fantasies, and controversies — INFPs would probably converse with you endlessly.

2. INFPs are emotion readers.

I have a habit of assessing people’s emotions through their speech and body language. I’m sure all INFPs do it, too. Admit it. We’re masters of that field.

INFPs are subconsciously trying to make out patterns from a person. We’re sensitive about people’s actions. Oftentimes, we contemplate why they act in such a way.

We see people’s emotions and think like

“He’s trying hard to be funny. Is he lonely?”

“She’s trying to compete with me, but aren’t we friends?”

I’m writing this, but I hope people won’t know this side of us. It’s scary to know someone’s low-key judging you.

3. INFPs are overthinkers.

Did you ever catch an INFP while monologuing? My sister caught me plenty of times. It’s both funny and embarrassing.

These monologues are fruits of INFP’s overthinking and imagination. We talk to ourselves with ideas that seem substantial but sometimes are not.

We overthink while washing the dishes, before sleeping, and while walking. We tend to re-read paragraphs multiple times because we keep on spacing out. That’s how often spontaneous ideas intrude an INFP’s mind.

INFPs are also extremely sensitive to offending others. We even regret being rude to someone we hate. We overthink the extent of our discourtesy. Our conscience makes us realize to be kinder next time.

With all the ideas circling around, I think INFPs mostly overthink about the future.

“Do I really like this career?”

“Should I take master’s or start building my own business?”

One problem with INFPs is that we are too idealistic. We think of great ideas. We want it actualized. We crave perfection.

But the moment we need to take action, the fear of failure overtakes us. Those fears make us stagnant and unable to reach the goal.

4. INFPs are master empaths.

Even with the little circle we have, we might find people running to us for comfort and advice. When they share their lives with us, they feel that there’s no judgment — but honestly, it’s the opposite.

Nevertheless, we truly understand how they feel and we are willing to give comfort and compassion.

INFPs are great empaths that it’s scary to weave lies on them. Never lie to an INFP. When you tell a story, we tend to create concrete visual images in our minds. Any inconsistency could repel us.

INFPs may avoid confrontations, but we highly value trust and honesty. Lie to us and you’re scrapped from the friends’ list faster than you would notice.

5. INFPs are initially mistaken as dumb.

It happens to most INFPs. Nobody realizes we’re smart until we outrank them in test scores and other performances. I only met a few INFPs in my life and they far excel in their field. They are often critical of their way of thinking.

I don’t believe in bragging rights. But I’d like to defend INFPs here.

When I was in college, I ranked highest in most of my academic subjects — regardless of which class I’m in.

I was granted a scholastic award, championed a skills competition, awarded as an outstanding student in a technical course, recognized as best in our major, so on and so forth. Are INFPs dumb? Not at all.

I think no one suspects our high intellect at first because we lack a strong, appealing personality. While others are confidently uttering nonsense, we tend to keep substantial ideas to ourselves.

Nevertheless, INFPs are dreamers and mediators. Others might comprehend it as a negative trait. But, I’m quite conclusive that INFPs’ way of thinking allows us to delve into concepts –emotions, a bigger picture, and opportunities — that only a few can get into.

6. INFPs are good writers and authors.

Daydreaming, monologuing, and overthinking — that’s an INFP’s personal checklist.

We fantasize about flame-breathing dragons, a hidden fairy world, and time travels. We have endless ideas and I honestly don’t know how it pops up every time. But, I love it.

Being both imaginative and linguistic, INFPs make good fiction authors and reflective/inspirational writers. Also, writing is an outlet for INFPs since it’s hard for us to express thoughts in real-time.

A question for my fellow INFPs, did you ever list down the dreams you had? Because I did, for potential story plots. How about you?

7. INFPs both desire and despise attention.

Isn’t it odd? INFPs desire attention, then hate it. I, myself, love recognition when I deserve it.

On the other hand, most INFPs don’t appreciate recognition if they feel they didn’t work hard for it. It’s probably integrity, but are we being too hard on ourselves? INFPs, come on.

Appreciation makes us feel warm and confident. However, there’s a limit to the praises. When things get repetitive, like when someone congratulates you here and there, and months later, they still bring it back. It gets annoying.

I get uncomfortable when I’m excessively being praised or when my friends boast about my achievements. How contradicting. Maybe, it’s because our humility ranks higher than pride.

8. INFPs can look engaged in a conversation but are mentally disconnected.

I have a friend who always visits me. Catching up and all. Never asked her, but I think she’s an ISFP.

We’re good friends, but I can’t understand where she gets the energy to converse relentlessly. It’s challenging when she starts telling me stories –romantic movies specifically.

She’s keen on details to the point that I won’t need to watch the movie itself. We’re good. However, these long talks are quite draining for an INFP.

When INFPs are uninterested, we tend to switch to auto-pilot. We could laugh at something we didn’t hear clearly. We hate small talks, but we could sit with you for long hours to not offend you.

So if you’re a non-INFP reading this, I beg you. Please save us time.

9. INFPs want freedom in relationships.

Most INFPs are low maintenance partners. I mean, you don’t need to always give us gifts.

We tend to overlook the material gifts and focus more on efforts, love, and time. Gifts are okay, but the efforts you took are much more precious. We seek meaning rather than the gift itself.

Also, INFPs love their alone time. When you have a relationship with an INFP, understand that he/she needs space to breathe. You should allow your partner to do his/her passion.

Anyway, INFPs are dreamers and dislike being bound by rules. They like to live free in the bounds of their ideals.

If you want a long-lasting relationship with an INFP, be ready to somehow supply their imaginative minds and give them their free time.

10. INFPs are not gossipers.

Anything you do, it’s none of our business. But don’t get mad when we try to make patterns from your actions. It’s an INFP thing. We find joy in reading other people.

Don’t worry. INFPs are not the kind to spread rumors. If we’re not close enough to talk, we might share these insights with a close friend.

But, we provide a basis for our statements. We value honesty, so we take accountability for what we say.

The last thing we would want is to offend anyone. We would not be out there spreading lies. We dislike confrontations, so we’d act with precautions.

11. INFPs are jacks-of-all-trades.

INFPs hate routine work. When we get tired of repetitive work, we tend to search for a stimulating activity that piques our interest.

Jumping from one skill to another gives birth to INFP’s jack-of-all-trades trait.

We end up doing anything that seems interesting like writing a novel, learning Rubik’s cube, learning portrait drawing, playing instruments, etc.

However, since we get easily tired of routine work and hate being stuck, we tend to leave the skills hanging.

We could reach an average to above-average level, but we often don’t reach mastery of a skill. INFPs are great project starters but are not finishers.

I somehow tried to overcome this negative aspect by not suppressing it. If I want to write, I’d write. If I want to draw, I’d draw.

I embraced the INFP that I am. I know that what interests me now would still be interesting in another week. I am just acknowledging a downtime. (And hope it doesn’t take long.)

My message to INFPs

INFPs are misunderstood people. Even some of our friends get confused with us. But, what makes us precious is that our hearts are always for kindness, authenticity, and passion.

To my dear INFPs, we might struggle while in pursuit of our purpose and ideals in a world where the majority of people are the exact opposite of us. Remember, you are loved and valued.

We are puzzle pieces –important to complete the big picture. Embracing and understanding our INFP personality brings relief. It’s okay to be ourselves. We are unique creations of the Most High and no one can invalidate that.

Let’s keep on pursuing our ideals. Stay true to ourselves.

Margarette Mathias works as a college instructor in the technical field. She's also a content writer who focuses on self-improvement and lifestyle topics.

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