Catalysts, INFJs prize relationships. They're the most vital things in
the world to us!
ironically, this is where we often sell ourselves down the river. We may
give our souls over to "time and task" rather than allow ourselves
simply to "be" in relationship with people who are important to
us. We sell out our needs for relationship in favor of "getting
something done." Without realizing it, our directing communication
style may turn people off and cause them to reject us. We are more
invested in doing rather than being. (As in, can you take a day off and just
"be" for a time without feeling anxious?)
not doing those relationship-cancelling behaviors, we're evaluating our
relationships on the basis of how much we feel "needed" (sometimes a
euphemism for "codependent"), and if we feel we aren't
"necessary" or "contributing" significantly to a
relationship, we'll issue marching orders for ourselves. Sometimes we need
to feel pretty enmeshed before we think we're fully invested in a relationship.
paraphrase Kermit the Frog, "it ain't easy bein' INFJ."
I woke up
one day to the realization that, for all the times I had sought out a
relationship to "take care of me," once I got into a relationship, all
my effort went into "taking care of" my partners -- to the extreme of
supporting some of them as we teetered on the brink of poverty! This was a
cruel hoax I repeatedly played on myself.
As you may
have discerned from reading other pages on this site, I recently became a
CPCC -- a certified professional co-active coach. Let me share a little
about that journey.
with the idea of coaching. I assumed I could coach people -- after all,
I've been "coaching" people my entire life. (Now there's a
euphemism!) For example, I remember vividly
when my college boyfriend wanted to become a novelist and write a book and then
that would be optioned and turned into a screenplay and then -- only then -- a
movie would be produced and he would follow in his father's footsteps.
didn't make sense to me. I remember looking him in the eye and asking,
"Why are you taking the long way around? Why doncha just become a
screenwriter?" It seemed like such a "duh!"
And so it
was. He became a screenwriter (or rather, WE became screenwriters), and
around 10 screenplays were born, and approximately 7 films/videos -- all a
product of our collaboration. I think it's safe to say this boyfriend
benefited from some darn good "coaching"!
subsequent relationship featured a boyfriend who was unhappy with his figure. So
I "coached" him to fitness by concocting a game plan to get him in
shape. As soon as I bullied him into following my game plan, we were on
the road to success. Last I heard, that game plan has persisted for over a
decade, despite our romance ending and a myriad of other life changes.
Pretty good, hunh?
So hey, I
figured I could coach. I could come up with a game plan, pronounce what
clients should do, and voila! I would be coaching. I *love* giving
people advice, and I give super GOOD advice!
came when my coach training program didn't allow for that approach. Not at
all. See, they had this philosophy they called
"co-active." That meant you didn't dish out advice. You
didn't get to IMPOSE. You had
to assume your client wasn't "broken," and you had to design a game
THAT HARD! I never knew something could be so hard! How could I get
by without my usual resort to codependence and/or unilateral control tactics?!
of my being resisted this "co-active" thing -- and YET I realized it was the
absolute very best approach. I even had first-hand experience
of how the other approach to coaching wasn't effective. See, one time I had a coach
who tried to come up with a "vision" for me, and even hinted that she would
impose that vision once she figured it out. And you know what? I ran
like hell the other direction. I found it REALLLLYYYY offensive that
someone would even consider imposing their vision on me. It provoked an
immediate allergic reaction. (The recognition of knowing this coach likely
had INFJ preferences was painful. On some level I became uncomfortably aware that I was looking in a mirror.)
this experience, I got it firsthand in a big way that I didn't like having
something imposed on me. I realized how I much preferred to be on the
RECEIVING END of *co-active* instead. (I feel pretty compelled to have some say
in my own destiny!) So the logic for me was Golden Rule-ish -- if I wanted
to be treated co-actively then I'd best learn to treat others co-actively
co-active thing -- I worked at it and worked at it and worked at it. Guess
what? I'm STILL working at it! (I don't think I'll ever STOP working
at it, and I fail at it frequently.) I remember telling MY coach one time how I thought perhaps the
INFJ code was synonymous with "attachment" because I get REAL attached
to my intuitions and hate to let them go. (Can you say
"resistance" to the very idea??)
week I got an email from an INFJ telling me he was "emotionally
intelligent" and he just "knew" things about his
girlfriend. And my hackles went up. WHOA! Danger!
Danger! And it burbled up for me that he was on the most dangerous turf
that any INFJ can be on. Have you done this one?? He was a
"know-it-all." UH-OH! NOT THE DREADED KNOW-IT-ALL!
isn't that the curse of INFJ? Being the dreaded know-it-all?
that we set out to be a know-it-all, but it's how we sometimes impact other
people. After all, with our DomNi, we just "know" things, and
we're very attached to our knowing -- naturally. So how do we lighten up
on being a "know-it-all"? How do we avoid the stigma?
something I suspect NO INFJ ever really gets over. We can't help it.
We are know-it-alls. And that's the ongoing struggle I face in being a
coach! I don't WANNA be a know-it-all coach, despite my tendency to be a
know-it-all person. How do I overcome that little achilles heel?
weekend I attended an advanced coaching retreat, and I was describing where I
hoped to achieve mastery as a coach. I enumerated a few goals for myself
with my team. And an ENFP looked at me and asked, "What about the
tell ya, my jaw dropped. The reaction all over me was like, "What
'shared experience?' What is that? Why do I care?" (Later,
when I re-told the story to myself, it became, "What 'shared
experience?' INFJs don't DO 'shared experience!'")
when I got it. I got it! This was a big "aha" for
me. I realized how an antidote to being a
know-it-all is by creating shared experience -- the last thing I'm normally
inclined to do! And yet, that dynamic lies at the very heart of
does that look like?
what that looks like is staying in the realm of perceiving while it's still raw
data, and steering clear of
judging. It's about releasing attachment to my perceptions and not pushing
them on somebody. Sometimes it just looks like "hanging in
there" instead of giving up or writing someone off.
client, that may look like my saying, "You sound hurt. Did this
situation affect you in a meaningful way?" RATHER THAN SAYING, "It
sounds like you need to dump that jerk out of your life." Can you see
how many miles could be traveled between those two positions? The former
remark leaves room for the client to say, "It wasn't that meaningful; it was more
about reminding me of an old pattern"; OR the client could say, "You know,
I hadn't thought about it before now, but I really AM feeling hurt. I
think it affected me more than I realized."
latter, we are now dancing together, creating "shared experience" as
we debrief the painful experience. It's about taking baby steps together,
rather than me LEAPING to conclusions and pronouncing judgment, which the former
remark set in motion.
come naturally? NO WAY JOSE! It does NOT. It is NOT
easy! And yet, once you
have the courage to step into this space and try it out, you begin to notice the
benefits that accrue from being in this energy. You release judging
people, and people release judging YOU in return! It's amazing. No
more yucky "know-it-all!" Best of all, I don't have to make
anybody "wrong" when I'm in this space.
the "knowing" that's the problem -- it's the "having to be
right" that's the problem. (That's where the "know-it-all"
label comes from.) And it's the judging that makes us want to be
"right." We don't like to share our perceptions until we think
they're "right" -- and that's where we get in trouble.
required to do it is to get transparent with intuition -- become comfortable
verbalizing aloud some of the things we're thinking. Sometimes it means
naming something before it's fully crystallized, such as saying, "I get a
vibe about...." or "It seems to me...." or (better still!)
"Could it be that.....?" In this way, I get to use my own best
process to great advantage, and the client benefits as well -- BUT they retain veto
power. (And yes it's hard for any INFJ to grant someone else veto
power. That's something you eventually get over.)
upshot of this (breaking my own rule now!) is to advise other INFJs to step away
from from advice-giving, step away from being "right," being a
know-it-all -- and try out the
related notions of "co-active" and "shared
experiences." More than anything, I suggest this approach will
effectively preserve that all-important framework called "relationship," without
anyone feeling pressured to become something they're not (on BOTH sides of the
Let me know
how this lands for you.
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