If there’s one thing I like doing more than any other as an INFP it’s accumulating wisdom to learn, grow and help others on my journey. As intuitive feelers we have a deeply ingrained need to learn about and process the world on our our own terms, to use our discernment for the benefit of mankind. This need stems from the fact we hold a very unique point of view, intelligence combined with deep feeling and sensitivity. We are the moral conscience of society, the peacekeepers and healers, bringing a sense of unity to the whole. Sensitivity, however, should not be confused with sentimentality, an over exaggerated emotional vulnerability. Sentamentality only occurs when we take things personally, mistakenly believing that what someone says or does is a reflection of our own self-worth.
When this occurs we become overly emotional, irrational and often confrontational. These signals are a sure sign that we are out of alignment, that something has provoked us. At our best we are level headed, retaining our clarity of thought, while at the same time being extraordinarily sensitive to cruelty and injustice, as well as the magnificent beauty the world has to offer.
- 1. Sensitivity is not sentimentality. Sensitivity is heightened awareness focused outwardly toward others and the state of the world. Sentimentality is the result of ego and is self focused. While a sentimental person may be cruel, a sensitive person is always kind.
If you are willing to look at another person’s behaviour toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all. – Yogi Bhajan
Once you realise sensitivity has nothing to do with taking things personally it can be a liberating feeling. To know that sensitivity has a purpose other than making your life miserable. However, life being a paradox, sensitivity also comes with more than its fair share of pain. In fact, to be sensitive implies that we have an increased ability to feel both pleasure and pain, it is two sides of the same coin, we cannot have one without the other. This increased ability to feel pain makes us more aware of what we don’t want and leads to a tendency to become more self-aware and aware of the world around us. However on the flipside it can also lead to addictions with pleasure, when we run away from the pain, instead of allowing ourselves to feel it.
- 2. The increased ability to feel pain leads to self-awareness and awareness of the world around us, causing us to become more aware of our own values, wants and needs. Embrace the pain.
The world will remain as brutal as our desensitisation to its brutality – Teal Swan
Pain is the greatest teacher, it teaches us what we don’t want. While it may not seem like it, sensitivity has one distinct advantage – it causes us to suffer early in our lives, often in our childhood, college and university years. Instead of being blindsided later in life, we learn to understand and overcome our problems at a much younger age simply because we are aware of them. We begin to form a coherent map of the difficulties of life which allows us to empathise with others. This increased empathy is of great benefit, not only to us, but to the whole of humanity.
- 3. The understanding of our pain and consequently others pain leads to greater wisdom, empathy and connection with others. Use your pain to connect with others more deeply.
One must really have suffered oneself to heal others – Mother Theresa
It is not evil, but ignorance which is the root cause of suffering and unhappiness in the world. This ignorance is a direct result of insensitivity to others. No amount of knowledge will solve the problems of our times, because these problems arise due to a lack of love and wisdom, not a lack access to information. Being INFP our primary goal in life, I believe, is to heal ourselves and others, through wisdom, compassion and creativity. This is why we are known as the “wounded healers”. As is often said “You must know the path through hell to lead someone out of it”. Much like only a recovering alcoholic can truly understand the suffering of another alcoholic, we have the unique ability to understand others suffering. It is this compassion and understanding that makes alcoholics anonymous one of the most successful recovery programs in the world to this day.
- 4. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is insight gained through direct perception and understanding. Knowledge is mere intellectual acquisition. It is wise to know the difference.
It us our understanding of suffering, our wisdom, not our knowledge that is most useful to us as INFPs. No matter how much knowledge we acquire, it is the flowering of our compassion that allows us to make the greatest difference in the world. It’s not that knowledge isn’t useful, but it can’t comprehend the depth of pain felt by the human heart and ultimately, as human beings, it is hope that is the most healing thing in the world. To know we are not alone. Only then is there light at the end of the tunnel.
- 5. To see a recovered citizen in an addict, a saint in a sinner, is the hallmark of a healer. To give hope to another, is to see their potential when they cannot. It is to overlook the darkness in favour of the light.
In order to have the capability to heal anyone, we must have the conviction they are capable of being healed. This requires seeing in them the possibility that they cannot. If you can’t see the good in someone, you can’t help them see it. This is the creative principle of the universe in action, you must be able to visualise something for it to come into existence. By focusing only on the good in someone else, we raise a persons energy and help them to become aware of their inherent goodness. We are a mirror so to speak, showing someone their true reflection.
“Highly sensitive beings suffer more, but they also love harder, dream wider, and experience deeper horizons and bliss. When you’re sensitive, you’re alive in every sense of the word in this wildly beautiful world. Sensitivity is your strength. Keep soaking in the light, and spreading it to others. – Victoria Erikson