The Emotional Life of the INFP – Anxiety

In a previous post, I discussed several emotions of the INFP and how, what, and why the INFP feels. As most of it was a brief overview of how the INFP feels and what triggers emotion, I decided to go more in depth and discuss a few specific emotions of the INFP. We INFPs feel things more deeply than most personality types, and it definitely reaffirms my personality and comforts me to know that other people feel the same way I do, so I hope this post is helpful.

Anxiety/Worry

INFPs are very prone to feelings of stress, anxiety, and worry. I find myself facing feelings of stress very often in a single day.

INFPs easily feel emotions via Introverted Sensing and Introverted Feeling. While they don’t purely live on the “inside” and could care less about the external world or reality, INFPs are always picking up on their inner selves whether it be biological (pain), mental (memories, ideas), or emotional. INFPs are hypersensitive to emotion, so any emotions we have matter a lot to us in comparison to other types.

We also possess Extraverted Intuition. Because of this, we have wild imaginations and often find ourselves either daydreaming often or suddenly thinking of a number of possible situations that could spawn from a single moment we’re currently in.

Due to all of this, INFPs often find themselves stressed out about future events, due to conscious or subconscious perceptions of what could happen. If anything stressful or harmful could happen, whether or not the INFP imagines it, the INFP picks up on it and begins to get anxious and worry.

I’m often stressed out about a lot of things in a given day, and while I try to find every means of releasing stress (fidgeting, eating comfort food, being in familiar places or around friends), I’m often always anxious.

It isn’t until after or during the event that I’m no longer stressed, but if this event is frequent, like getting stressed out because I’m about to work a long shift, I’m still anxious and never learn that the event itself isn’t as “harmful” as I worry it will be.

I can’t help it. I get worried that impossible things will take place. I often wish I could just sit in the back of class and be an extra in the play of life, just someone who manages not to affect the atmosphere of anything going on. Having to give a speech, work a shift, or read aloud in class stresses me out, and while I’ve done them all countless times and find myself enjoying a few of them, I’m always anxious.

The feelings are often overwhelming. Some days the worry is just a sickness in my stomach. I know everything will be okay, but my gut tells me otherwise. Other days the worry is a quiet mantra voiced over and over in my head. It’s annoying.

It relieves me a little to hear that other INFPs struggle with insecurities, worry, anxiety, etc. While I myself don’t suffer from panic attacks, I’m not surprised to hear that some INFPs struggle from them.

Feeling so deeply is both a blessing and curse.

In Developmental Psychology class, we learned about how adolescents possess a rather egocentric frame of mind. Most infants and toddlers are already egocentric, believing that everyone else sees the world the same way they do. For instance, in one study, if shown a box of crayons that actually has candles inside of it (called the Deceptive Container), the toddler will believe that a bystander who never saw the contents of the box also thinks that there’s obviously candles in a box for crayons.

Adolescents also have a form of egocentrism, called an Invisible Audience. They believe that everyone will judge them based on their looks or how they act. They become so socially aware that they think that one wrong thing about them will cause other people to dislike them.

While still as adults we do superficially judge people on looks and behavior whether or not we want to or think we do, the world isn’t that harsh, and if it is, who wants to be around people that superficial?

I believe that most adults have realized this and then they have let go of their egocentrism. Sure, maybe their hair is crazy today, but no one really cares honestly.

However, unfortunately, I feel that I still possess this Invisible Audience state of mind. I worry a lot. My imagination runs wild. Any minor detail that I deem unattractive or might cause people to dislike me like “Oh he wore those pants yesterday” causes me to think everyone is looking and judging me. I try to convince myself that no one really cares or even notices but I can’t get it out of my head.

I just want to be liked. I worry that I won’t be. If a friend fails to respond to a text after 24 hours, I get worried that I’ve said something wrong and they’ve banished me from their lives or that something terrible has happened to them.

I’m most comfortable in familiarity. With friends, family, or being in comfortable places, I can rest and be at ease. No worries. No anxiety. Perhaps this is where “Si” comes in. I’m in the most predictable place around people I love and care about who care about me.

I read somewhere (from Personality Junkie I believe), that Perceivers or NPs hate not being in control. They wish they could control the circumstance in the external world and not being able to often causes them a lot of stress. Often, because of this, they retreat and seek to control what they can, their inner selves, their memories, their “Fi”.

I overthink things too often. I worry that I said something stupid that threw off a friend, and they won’t want my company anymore. I worry that something terrible might happen today only because the thought of something terrible possibly happening popped into my head. I worry that I forgot something even though I checked my backpack a dozen times. I worry that I’ll be late. I worry that I look like a monster or abnormal human being. I worry a lot. New social events and meeting new people, especially as an introvert, stress me out. Having to make a phone call or having to physically walk or drive to an obscure event stress me out as well.

Oh well. If there are other INFPs out there who struggle with stress and anxiety as deeply or as often as I do, I wish I could tell you there’s ways to combat the stress, or I wish that others could tell me likewise.

As a Psych major, it’s easy to quickly get into a habit of thinking and worry (ironic), “Oh I’m often always anxious, I must have some Anxiety Disorder” and then search WebMD and become convinced that I have it.

Of course, while that is all together possible, especially for other INFPs, such emotional stress doesn’t affect my life to the point of it being hindering. I can live with the stress. It’s just there. People with Anxiety Disorder who experience panic attacks often and live under constant stress do struggle with anxiety, but on a much bigger scale than I do.

It isn’t a hindering stress that gives me panic attacks. I’ve never had a panic attack and greatly respect and empathize with people who have. The stress is just there, existing, for me.

I don’t think there’s a possible “happy ending” to this post, besides that, hey, if you struggle with anxiety, well I do to. There’s some comfort in that.

I wish I was more relaxed, but this is the way I am. I don’t know if I’ll be this way the rest of my life, and maybe other personality types deal with this same level of stress. It’s easy to think I’m the only one or the only personality type who has to deal with this level of stress, but I doubt that’s true.

Anyways, I hope this helps. Do comment if you struggle with the same level of stress and if you’ve found ways to relieve it a little.

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6 Comments Add yours

  1. xarolehta says:

    sorry if this sounds lame to you, you don’t have to approve my comment if you don’t want to, but tbh if i didn’t have my faith i’d be 90% more stressed out, fearful, anxious, critical & full of angst. i know the difference is that stark cause i tried doing life without it & absolutely lost every ounce of chill i thought i had. one INFP to another, swearing on everything i will ever love, Jesus completely ruins your life in the best way possible, all the crap you feel melts away, you have no idea

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This definitely helps, hearing from another INFP of faith . Lately (as I’m still growing in the faith), I’ve been able to trust Jesus more and more everyday which does lend to less anxiety in life. I definitely agree that without Jesus and without my faith in Him I would be way more stressed out, having no sense of direction in life. Everyday I’m still struggling to cast my worries to Him, and while that’s easier said than done, especially emotionally, I know that in the past I’ve tried to live somewhat without Him and that doesn’t work at all. Thank you for this, I think this helps me definitely realize yet again that often in situations like this worldly or Earthly help isn’t out there but looking for help from the best possible being to get help out there, Jesus. It’s good to hear that you’ve been able to lose a massive amount of that anxiety because of Him, and that shows I can too if I strive to trust in Him more everyday.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I needed this article. This week has been horrendous. I didn’t even know you were a believer! Everything said is so true. Using God’s strength instead of trying to use our own weak strength is always the better option. I know for sure that my life would have no purpose without Him.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. MBTI MANIA says:

    Yes! This is all so true. I’ve seen his help so many times in my life! Praying really helps.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Spice says:

      Same here! Another INFP of faith. In fact, I’m an INFP-T.
      I’m honestly not sure if I actually have anxiety disorder or if it’s the natural INFPness in combination with the Turbulent part. In any case, I’m on no medication for anxiety (nor my ADHD or Tourette’s). I walk by faith and faith alone. I always thought it was ironic that the Bible says “be anxious for nothing” because that’s exactly what happens haha Being an INFP (and especially having AD) is just a long series of being anxious for nothing, and you know it’s nothing, but you can’t stop it. Prayer is really the only thing that helps me. Prayer and the Word of course.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The anxiety/worry thing is so true.It eats me up 😥

    Like

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