I’m an INFJ. I’ve been through periods of isolation as well as the so-called hermit mode.
And although the reasons for that go beyond my “psychological type”, there is no doubt my personality played a role.
Not only that, it turns out most INFJs — those who are predominantly introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging — are actually prone to isolation.
This may be obvious for INFJs themselves, but not so obvious for those around them, even if they’re close friends or partners.
After all, the intuitive introvert can sometimes “become a complete enigma even to his immediate environment” (Jung).
In this brief post I’ll share my thoughts about the INFJ type as well as why we may have a tendency to isolate from time to time.
As always, feel free to share your thoughts/experience as well at the end whether you’re an INFJ or not. Comments are always welcome.
Let’s dive in…
The INFJ personality type
INFJs are often misunderstood; their thoughts and behavior often seem strange or “odd” to others.
Driven by their strong intuition (N), and a tendency to prioritize emotions (F) over logic, INFJs see meaning in everything. They are dreamers, and they are intense.
For those who don’t know, here’s what the acronym stands for, and a brief explanation of each term:
- Introverted. Those who are predominantly introverted tend to focus their psychic energy on the subject and the inner world (rather than on objects and the external world).
- Intuitive. Whereas sensing types prefer to gather information through their five senses and objective data, intuitive types see the bigger picture; they are interested in what’s possible rather than what’s objective.
- Feeling. When making decisions and interacting with others, the feeling function prioritizes emotions and empathy. The opposite would be the thinking function, which is a more rational, colder way to look at things.
- Judging. Judging types value order and are very organized. They like to plan things, and take deadlines very seriously. Perceiving types, by contrast, would be those who just “go with the flow”.
Though these are simply guidelines (there is no “either or” when it comes to personality), they give us an idea of how the INFJ functions.
Healthy vs unhealthy INFJ and isolation
It’s important to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy forms of isolation.
Isolation per se isn’t necessarily a bad thing — and even the so-called “hermit mode” does have benefits.
The issue arises when isolation happens as a result of, for example…
- An inability to deal with people, to communicate with them, to acknowledge or accept their flaws
- The tendency to run away from problems that will inevitably resurface until they are actually dealt with
- Low self-esteem or a poor self-image in general that makes others’ opinions of us way too important
- Mild to severe forms of depression or any other mental health issue that prevents us from living life to the fullest
Naturally, it is the unhealthy INFJ that leans toward extreme isolation.
Anything that’s extreme in general usually stems from unhealthy thoughts or emotions.
For example, we may see manipulative or even aggressive behavior in the unhealthy ESTP, cynicism or controlling behavior in the unhealthy ISTJ, etc.
Different “types” react differently to mental health issues, high-pressure environments, unexpected negative life events, and so on.
It just happens that because of their nature, INFJs are particularly prone to withdrawing from the world during tough times.
However, as mentioned, the INFJ could choose to detach from others in ways that are actually healthy and positive.
As a general rule, when we look at a certain behavior that may be healthy or unhealthy, and we’re not sure, we ask a very simple question…
- Is this behavior caused by negative thoughts/emotions e.g. fear, anger, anxiety, limiting beliefs, cognitive distortions, mental health issues in general…
- Or does it come from positive thoughts/emotions e.g. love, enthusiasm, inner peace, confidence in one’s abilities, a healthy self-image, etc?
Isolation is no exception. So whether the INFJ who tends to isolate is you, or a friend you’re trying to understand, I encourage you to ask this simple question.
INFJs and isolation: why
These are my thoughts, based on my own experience as well as other INFJs I’ve known personally.
I have found that the INFJ type has a tendency to isolate from time to time because of these seven potential reasons…
1. Perfectionism, rigidity (unhealthy INFJ)
Because of their tendency to feel (F) as well as judge (J), INFJs are usually very clear on what’s right or wrong, ethical or unethical, considerate or inconsiderate.
This is overall a positive trait, but what happens if the “judging” becomes so inflexible and unrealistic that everyone else turns into some sort of inferior, evil being (I’m exaggerating on purpose)?
Exactly — the INFJ may choose to isolate. Note that if this does happen, it is usually the result of pain, the pain of expecting people to think/behave a certain way and seeing the opposite.
2. Depression, anxiety (unhealthy INFJ)
Actual mental health conditions don’t necessarily imply, but can easily lead to, all kinds of unhealthy coping mechanisms — from drug using to aggressive behavior.
The second reason we see isolation quite frequently in the INFJ type is that, compared to other types, they are more likely to isolate as a reaction to depression, anxiety, guilt, etc.
This is true for virtually all introverted types, though highly sensitive introverts with a tendency to feel (F) seem to be particularly prone to this.
3. Being misunderstood (healthy or unhealthy)
Introversion, intuition… the tendency to feel, rather than think, and at the same time judge — it really is difficult to understand how most INFJs function.
Whether others label INFJs as “geniuses” or “weirdos”, or simply ignore them with a giant question mark above their head, INFJs may find it frustrating.
This may also lead to isolation, usually in a negative way — there really is no need to turn into a recluse just because you feel misunderstood — but it could also be a sign that the INFJ is being selective in terms of social connections.
4. Ghosting (healthy or unhealthy)
This is another scenario where it’s tricky to tell whether the INFJ’s behavior arises from positivity or negativity — in other words, whether it’s a good or a bad thing.
Suppose the INFJ ghosts (suddenly ends all contact with someone) as a way to protect their energy as there really is no hope to change the other person’s toxic or manipulative behavior; it’s probably a good thing.
On the flip side, what if it comes from inflexibility, selfishness, or even just laziness — that is, refusing to communicate when communication would actually change everything?
5. Hermit mode (healthy INFJ)
I’ve written an entire post on this so feel free to check it out here, but in a nutshell, a brief period of isolation can skyrocket your health, mental health, and anything that has to do with personal growth.
The simple but profound act of taking a break doesn’t just increase your energy and time — it makes you see things from a different perspective, and essentially “force” you to grow.
6. A fresh start (healthy INFJ)
You only live twice. That is, if you are willing to leave everything behind and start a brand new life. That’s not easy, and it’s definitely not for everyone.
Can you take a break from social media, embrace the unknown, take the leap, and pretend your past doesn’t exist (or simply not allow it to steal your enthusiasm)? If so, you’ll have a new life.
And it turns out, it’s easier for the average INFJ to do this because of their strong intuitive abilities, specifically the ability to go beyond their immediate environment… and dream, and hopefully live the dream.
7. Recharging (healthy INFJ)
Lastly, let me share a very common, perhaps obvious reason INFJs or even introverts in general can temporarily turn into hermits… and that is, to recharge their batteries.
We need energy — physical, mental, and “spiritual” energy — to do anything, to function. Rest is vital, and absolutely vital during or after situations/events that may drain us.
Because introverts are usually more sensitive to stimuli as well as social interactions, they can take recharging seriously; and isolate, turn off their phone, remove any distraction, etc.
INFJs and isolation: what do you think?
I’d like to hear your thoughts — if you feel comfortable sharing your experience (as an intuitive introvert, or in general), please leave a reply below! 👇
Thanks for reading and have an amazing day!