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Self-Esteem
and
INFJs

"No one can see how and where he loses his way." 
                                        ľNietzsche

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This is going to read like a shameless plug for my services.  And you're welcome to view it that way if you like.  I feel like one of those late-night infomercials where the guy says he was so impressed by the product, he bought the company!

See, I thought it was just me.  My self-esteem has been in the toilet for a large part of my life.  I didn't know I was eligible for Mensa until I was in my forties (even though I'd been eligible since my high school freshman years according to my transcript) -- but even when I found out, it didn't banish the niggling fear that I was stupid, nor reverse the damage done by decades of suffering with low esteem.  Really!

While I could walk onstage and look confident in a role, or in class I might sound confident to others, that didn't translate into real life where I often felt miserable and clueless.  My insides didn't match my outsides at all.

I was in a relationship for many years with someone who had amazingly high self-esteem.  We joked about starting a production company and naming it after him:  Megalomania Productions.

God, I can't even imagine being a megalomaniac.

No doubt you've guessed the punchline:  coaching turned it around for me.  While I'm still not egomaniacal, five months of coaching confronted many of my demons, irrational fears, and the persistent belief that everybody else on the planet was more important than me.  

It didn't actually take all that much to nurture my spirit back to life.  INFJs are hardy folks who respond well to a little focused attention.

Therapy didn't do it for me.  I'd been to several therapists in my time and got nowhere.  Therapy left me feeling broken, desperate, helpless -- my service providers failed to throw me a lifeline.

Mind you, my coach didn't throw me any lifelines either.  But she asked me powerful questions that renewed my spirit, connected me to my own power, and validated my progress.  How something so simple could make such a huge difference I'll never know.

And... just like the infomercial guy, I "bought" the company.  Well not exactly.  What happened is I became a coach.  And now I give back by helping others like my coach helped me.

The funny thing is, it's hard to sell INFJs on coaching.  Yup, they resist it.  Why?  Several reasons:  sometimes they think they can't afford it or don't deserve it.  Other times they believe they have to "go it alone" and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.  (Who knew INFJs could be such independent loners?)  Sometimes they embody low self-esteem patterns by displaying the nigh-irrational belief that they should be able to figure this stuff out on their own, despite all evidence to the contrary.  Crazy!

No, really.  I do mean crazy.  Because here's the thing:  after hanging around the type world for the past decade, I learned that INFJs typically suffer from low self-esteem.  Here I thought it was just me, but no.  Apparently it's a universal INFJ problem.  INFJs are renowned for doing a number on themselves and convincing themselves they don't measure up, can't deliver the goods, don't deserve happiness, lack the looks/talent/skills that others have, and must generally settle for a second-class lifestyle.  Type descriptions make them sound like paragons, but it doesn't appear to play out that way.

Whassup with that?

I don't know.  Perhaps it's because introverted Feeling (our sense of identity) is in the domain of the Witch/Senex, or because introverted Sensing (recalling) is our demonic -- so we torture ourselves with memories of failure, or because our Thinking is goofy in both the introverted and extraverted forms... or because we have an extraverted Sensing inferiority complex that holds us back.  We want to look good so much we end up looking bad.  Or maybe it's because with extraverted iNtuiting opposing us, we limit ourselves from considering other possibilities.  So many choices!  So many excuses.

The point is, it seems to be inherent in our pattern.

Apparently INFJs are destined to battle this challenge every day in every way.  And look "together" while doing it!

Trust me, I was as surprised as anybody to learn it's chronic.  And that's why I'm writing this now.

Compare this picture with the ENTJ medical doctor I know, who served on a White House Committee for alternative medicine and was in charge of the UCLA Pain Unit.  He has a standing appointment with a therapist every week that he faithfully keeps.  Even when he doesn't have something to talk about, even when the therapist suggests taking a hiatus, this ENTJ says, "No!  This is my time to talk about what's going on with me, and I will not forfeit that time.  It's important for me to know I have an outlet, even if I have nothing to talk about."

Some INFJs don't like the idea of coaching because of the accountability aspect.  I understand that -- the idea of somebody nagging me to do something I don't want to do doesn't appeal to me either.  However, as far as I'm concerned, the accountability occurs in the coaching itself.  Simply by virtue of accounting for *yourself* and what's going on with you by talking to somebody about it qualifies as accountability.  It's not like you have to suddenly catch up on all your filing like you keep threatening to do.  

From my perspective, it's almost hilarious how fast INFJs solve their own problems just by hearing themselves talk out loud to a coach about them -- it's the "talking out loud to a coach" part that makes all the difference.  Amazing.

If this challenge resonates for you, please get help.  Talk to somebody.  You can talk to me.  If you're suffering in any way, recognize it as a signal that change is needed.  Reach out and let somebody support you -- and I don't mean somebody who's going to make you wrong, prescribe you pills, or treat you like you're broken.  In my book, it means get yourself a coach of some kind.

Or, find some other way of redressing this INFJ self-esteem problem for yourself.

You need somebody to confide in who believes in you.

Don't try to go it alone.  You've done that far too long already.

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