This Is What Science Says About People Who Like Being Alone

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Woman Sitting on Floor at Home
THE GOOD BRIGADE/GETTY IMAGES

If you’re more of the lone wolf type we have some good news for you: You may be a genius.

According to a 2016 study by researchers at Singapore Management University and the London School of Economics, those who exhibit high IQ scores experience lower life satisfaction when they socialize more often. And that means those smarty pants types likely choose to spend more time alone.

To come to this conclusion, the team analyzed survey responses that were part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. That survey, Inverseexplained, measured life satisfaction, intelligence, and health.

In total, the team looked at the responses of 15,197 individuals between the ages of 18 and 28. The data showed that while spending time in dense crowds (for example, at a party) leads to unhappiness. However, socialization with close friends typically leads to happiness. Unless, of course, the person exhibits high intelligence.

These contradicting feelings may all be thanks to our hunter and gatherer ancestors. The authors, Inverse reported, explained the findings with the “savanna theory of happiness.”

WATCH: Research Says: Your Mother Influenced Your Intelligence

Research Says: Your Mother Influenced Your Intelligence
Were you the kind of kid who always aced math tests, could memorize historical facts with ease, and recite Shakespeare back to your English teacher like it was a piece of cake? Well then, it’s time to thank your mother.

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“The savanna theory of happiness is the idea that life satisfaction is not only determined by what’s happening in the present but also influenced by the ways our ancestors may have reacted to the event,” reporter Sarah Slot wrote. She added, “evolutionary psychology argues that, just like any other organ, the human brain has been designed for and adapted to the conditions of an ancestral environment. Therefore, the researchers argue, our brains may have trouble comprehending and dealing with situations that are unique to the present.”

In plain speech, this means that while our ancestors got to spend more time with close friends and family in less densely populated areas, we modern humans are stuck being surrounded by strangers all the time thanks to the population boom over the last several thousand years.

“In general, more intelligent individuals are more likely to have ‘unnatural’ preferences and values that our ancestors did not have,” researcher Satoshi Kanazawa told Inverse. “It is extremely natural for species like humans to seek and desire friendships and, as a result, more intelligent individuals are likely to seek them less.”

Beyond an intelligent person’s preferences to be alone, the team also found that smarter people were less likely to feel that they benefited from friendships. Again, this may be because our ancestors tended to benefit from group thinking, while our more intelligent ancestors were able to solve problems alone.

So, next time you feel like bailing on plans with your friends to stay in and watch a movie alone go ahead and do it. It’s the smartest decision you’ll ever make.

When A Sociopath Meets An INFJ

 

an INFJ personality and a sociopath embrace
Sociopathy is otherwise known as antisocial personality disorder. Codependency is also called relationship addiction. An INFJ is one of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. So what do these three things have in common?

A person with an INFJ personality is first and foremost an introvert. This means he or she often prefers staying in to going out, and solitude to socializing. This can make things difficult when the INFJ wants to meet someone new. The thought of making small talk with a group of unfamiliar people can be enough to make an introvert scrap the idea of forming a romantic relationship altogether.

Enter the sociopath. The term conjures images of people like John Gacy, Ted Bundy, or Jeffrey Dahmer. But not every sociopath is a serial killer. Sociopaths share common traits like failing to conform to the rules of society and deceitfulness, but they are also intelligent, charismatic, and charming. Their intelligence allows them to engage in deep conversations about abstract concepts, something INFJs crave with their whole being. The sociopath is a master at manipulation and will attempt to play on the INFJ’s emotions until he successfully charms her into a relationship that he can exploit to his full advantage.

(Please note: I’m using the pronouns “he” and “she” only as an example. Both sociopaths and INFJs can be any gender. And, although this article explores the relationship between the INFJ and the sociopath, INFJs are not the only Myers-Briggs personality type who may become entangled with sociopaths.)

Let’s take a look at how a relationship between an INFJ and a sociopath might unfold, plus why INFJs may keep trying to save the relationship long after others would call it quits.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality assessment.)

The INFJ and the Sociopath in a Relationship

The INFJ is caring and empathetic. Her life’s mission is to help other people solve problems, so when the sociopath tells her that his landlord unfairly evicted him from his apartment, the INFJ is quick to offer him a place to stay. The sociopath may spin an elaborate tale that plays on the INFJ’s sympathies. The more solutions that the INFJ offers, the wilder the sociopath’s story becomes until it seems that there is no other solution than to have the sociopath move in permanently.

When the sociopath says that moving has put a strain on him financially, the INFJ’s selfless nature may move her to reach into her wallet to lend him money. Then the sociopath gets into a car accident. It seems that the insurance company has raised his rates, so the master manipulator once again spins the situation to his advantage. He tells the INFJ that if she covers him under her insurance, not only will it be cheaper for him, but she will also get a multi-car discount. The INFJ has high levels of empathy, so she is once again eager to help. She may not see that the sociopath is creating a situation that takes responsibilities away from him, and puts them on her.

By the time the sociopath has failed to kick in his share of the car insurance payment, the INFJ has also seen other irresponsible and deceitful behaviors. Kind and caring, the INFJ may not give the sociopath an ultimatum. Instead, she seeks to find the reason for the sociopath’s irresponsibility. She believes that if she can make a connection between the cause of the sociopath’s behavior, and a solution to his problem, she can come up with a plan to fix the situation.

Sociopaths engage in risky behaviors with no concern for the consequences they bring. So it’s not surprising that many sociopaths have problems with drugs and alcohol. The INFJ may liken his substance abuse to an illness, because this reasoning aligns with her empathetic nature. The INFJ’s passion and devotion to causes may lead her to put all her energy into finding a cure for the sociopath’s illness.

Supportive Caretaker vs. Codependent Enabler

This is where the actions of the well-intentioned INFJ begin to walk the fine line between supportive caretaker and codependent enabler. Codependency is a term for a dysfunctional relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, immaturity, or irresponsibility. The codependent person typically sacrifices his or her needs to take care of the person who is “sick.”

And this comes at a huge cost. When codependents place other people’s health, welfare, and safety before their own, they can lose contact with their own needs, desires, and sense of self. The Extroverted Feeling function (Fe) of the INFJ allows her to tune her behavior to the needs of the sociopath, so the more changes the INFJ implements in an effort to help the sociopath, the more codependent the relationship becomes.

The INFJ enjoys seeing a project to completion. Unfortunately for the INFJ, her efforts to cure the sociopath’s addiction will never be complete. Addiction is a symptom of antisocial personality disorder, and there is no cure for the disorder itself. As with any form of substance abuse, the addict has to want to change, and since a sociopath has no regard for the risks associated with drug abuse, it is unlikely that finding a solution to the problem is something that he will actively seek.

The harder the INFJ pushes for sobriety, the more hostile, irritable, agitated, and aggressive the sociopath will become. When the INFJ asks him where he’s been, he may criticize her for being paranoid. When she denies him access to her money, he may chastise her for being too controlling. When she refuses to cover for his indiscretions, he may complain that she’s not being supportive. For the INFJ who seeks to please others, the constant conflict can become almost unbearable, and she may do just about anything to keep the peace.

The INFJ’s Breaking Point

Fortunately for the INFJ, she also has a breaking point. When her need for personal growth, emotional intimacy, and shared values have been met with deception, betrayal, and hurt, she will react with an explosion of negative emotions. Her natural problem-solving abilities will eventually turn to solving a new issue; how to escape from the codependent relationship with the sociopath.

The INFJ will realize that putting out a hundred sparks will not stop her house from burning unless she does something about the giant bonfire in the middle of the living room. She may react by lashing out at the sociopath, or cutting him out of her life completely — what’s referred to as “the INFJ door slam.

Often the catalyst for this change comes from realizing that the codependent relationship is having an adverse affect on others in the INFJ’s life. Being a devoted and caring parent, the INFJ will be quick to stop any action that threatens the safety of her children even if it means upsetting the sociopath that has taken so much of her time and energy.


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When the INFJ has had enough, her otherwise warm and caring nature can turn cold and distant. Her interactions with the sociopath may become blunt and judgmental. This dark side of the INFJ personalitysurfaces when she can no longer tolerate the emotional pain of the toxic relationship.

To the sociopath, it may seem like this behavior has come out of nowhere, but for the INFJ, it comes after intense contemplation of the many wrongs that have exhausted her patience. Though leaving a toxic and abusive relationship comes with its own challenges, the dark side of the INFJ is stubborn and intense. She will turn her attention towards a future where the sociopath no longer controls her emotions. Drawing on her Introverted Intuition, she will process what she has learned from this relationship and will finally have the closure that she seeks.

Are You in a Relationship with a Sociopath?

Antisocial personality disorder can only be diagnosed by a licensed mental health professional, but as with any condition, there are signs and symptoms to watch for, such as:

  • Sociopaths are fast talkers. They will switch back and forth between charm and threats to get what they want from you.
  • They do not take responsibility for their actions. They will place blame on everyone but themselves.
  • They will play the part of the victim and try to exploit your sympathy.

While these are some common signs, the easiest way to tell if you are dealing with a sociopath is to focus on their behavior rather than their words. The sociopath may tell you that they care about you, but if they were unable to speak, would their actions let you know? If the answer is no, you might be in a relationship with a sociopath. So what do you do about it?

  • End the relationship. Antisocial personality disorder is one of the most difficult disorders to treat because the sociopath has to want to change. The disorder itself makes them unable to see that they are the problem. Trust me on this; as much as you’d like to, you can’t fix them!
  • Leave. If you share a residence, it’s better to get out now and cut your losses. Stay with a friend or relative until you can secure a permanent place without the sociopath’s name on the lease. If the sociopath lives in your home, be prepared to have a law enforcement officer escort them off the premises, and file a restraining order if needed.
  • If you are in a situation that requires you to still associate with the sociopath, such as when children are involved, try to keep communication to only what is necessary. Use text messaging instead of phone calls whenever possible.
  • If you must communicate with the sociopath, do so calmly and without passion. The sociopath will most likely try to provoke you into an argument or debate that will toy with your emotions. Do not engage! The best way to discourage them is to not play their game.
  • Seek help. When you are ready to leave, the sociopath will play the victim. They will try to convince others that you have treated them unfairly. The more people who know your side of the story, the more difficult it will be for them to drag your name through the mud. Seek support from friends, family, law enforcement, and legal help when necessary. Find a support group for survivors of sociopaths and narcissists or speak to a mental health counselor about your feelings.

If you think you may be dealing with codependency, or need help escaping an abusive relationship, call 1-800-799-SAFE.

9 Signs You Might Be An Ambivert

Author Article

I’m sure you’ve been asked many times whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. For some people, it’s an easy choice, but for most of us, it’s difficult to choose one way or the other.It’s hard to choose because the introvert/extrovert dichotomy reflects a tired and outdated view of personality. Personality traits exist along a continuum, and the vast majority of us aren’t introverts or extroverts — we fall somewhere in the middle.


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Personality consists of a stable set of preferences and tendencies through which we approach the world. Personality traits form at an early age and are fixed by early adulthood. Many important things about you change over the course of your lifetime, but your personality isn’t one of them.

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.” – Bruce Lee

The continuum between introversion and extroversion captures one of the most important personality traits. It’s troubling that we’re encouraged to categorize ourselves one way or the other because there are critical strengths and weaknesses commonly associated with each type.

Adam Grant at Wharton set out to study this phenomenon, and his findings are fascinating. First, he found that two-thirds of people don’t strongly identify as introverts or extroverts. These people (aka, the vast majority of us) are called ambiverts, who have both introverted and extroverted tendencies. The direction ambiverts lean toward varies greatly, depending on the situation.

Think of introversion and extroversion as a spectrum, with ambiversion lying somewhere in the middle:

Ambiverts have a distinct advantage over true introverts and extroverts. Because their personality doesn’t lean too heavily in either direction, they have a much easier time adjusting their approach to people based on the situation. This enables them to connect more easily, and more deeply, with a wider variety of people.

Grant’s research also disproved the powerful and widely held notion that the best-performing salespeople are extroverts. He found that ambiverts’ greater social flexibility enabled them to outsell all other groups, moving 51 percent more product per hour than the average salesperson. Notice how sales increased as extroversion increased, peaking with those who were just moderately extroverted.

Grant explained the finding this way:

“Because they naturally engage in a flexible pattern of talking and listening, ambiverts are likely to express sufficient assertiveness and enthusiasm to persuade and close a sale, but are more inclined to listen to customers’ interests and less vulnerable to appearing too excited or overconfident.”

How Ambiversion Works in the Brain

How social you are is largely driven by dopamine, the brain’s feel-good hormone. We all have different levels of dopamine-fueled stimulation in the neocortex (the area of the brain that is responsible for higher mental functions such as language and conscious thought). Those who naturally have high levels of stimulation tend to be introverts — they try and avoid any extra social stimulation that might make them feel anxious or overwhelmed. Those with low levels of stimulation tend to be extroverts. Under-stimulation leaves extroverts feeling bored, so they seek social stimulation to feel good.

Most people’s levels of natural stimulation don’t reach great extremes, though it does fluctuate. Sometimes you may feel the need to seek out stimulation, while other times, you may avoid it.

Finding Out Whether You’re An Ambivert

It’s important to pin down where you fall in the introversion/extroversion scale. By increasing your awareness of your type, you can develop a better sense of your tendencies and play to your strengths.

If you think that you might be an ambivert, but aren’t certain, see how many of the following statements apply to you. If most of them apply, you’re most likely an ambivert.

    1. I can perform tasks alone or in a group. I don’t have much preference either way.
    2. Social settings don’t make me uncomfortable, but I tire of being around people too much.
    3. Being the center of attention is fun for me, but I don’t like it to last.
    4. Some people think I’m quiet, while others think I’m highly social.
    5. I don’t always need to be moving, but too much down time leaves me feeling bored.
    6. I can get lost in my own thoughts just as easily as I can lose myself in a conversation.
    7. Small talk doesn’t make me uncomfortable, but it does get boring.
    8. When it comes to trusting other people, sometimes I’m skeptical, and other times, I dive right in.
    9. If I spend too much time alone, I get bored, yet too much time around other people leaves me feeling drained.
    10. The trick to being an ambivert is knowing when to force yourself to lean toward one side of the spectrum when it isn’t happening naturally. Ambiverts with low self-awareness struggle with this. For example, at a networking event, a self-aware ambivert will lean toward the extroverted side of the scale, even when it has been a long day and he or she has had enough of people. Mismatching your approach to the situation can be frustrating, ineffective, and demoralizing for ambiverts.

Bringing It All Together

TalentSmart has conducted research with over a million people and found that those in the upper echelon of performance at work also tend to be highly self-aware (90 percent of them, in fact). By gaining a better sense of where you fall on the introversion/extroversion scale, you can build insight into your tendencies and preferences, which increases your self-awareness and emotional intelligence. This will help you improve your performance.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

11 Great Jobs for Introverts

Author Article

Myths about introverts abound. For example, not all introverts are quiet, avoid social interaction, or would classify themselves as “shy.”

In fact, many introverts are quite sociable and have excellent people skills. However, after an experience of socializing, an introvert will often need alone time to recharge. While an extrovert might feel energized by heading up a meeting or working in a group, an introvert might thrive in the moment, but need a lot more time alone to regenerate.

Professionally speaking, while introverts are equally as capable as extroverts of doing the same tasks (running meetings, giving presentations, etc.), they may be more fulfilled and feel much more at ease in a career that matches their strengths.

The best jobs for introverts will:

  • Involve more one-on-one interaction rather than with large groups
  • Offer quiet workspaces rather than large, open spaces with a lot of noise and energy
  • Involve independent work, rather than large collaboration sessions with a lot of people

Here are 11 jobs that are good fits for introverts:

1. Accountant

A lot of accounting is done solo, and involves creating financial reports, analyzing data, and developing quality policies policies. As an accountant moves into a managerial role, they can also start to oversee the work of junior accounts, which can provide more connection at work, but still in a one-on-one way.

2. Landscape Designer

A creative career, landscape designers create a horticultural plan for a particular space, then execute on the vision they agree upon with their client. They can incorporate things like ponds, bridges, walkways, and solar lighting to create a magical outdoor space. It involves a lot of time alone, but can also involve interacting with contractors to execute on a large scale.

3. Behavioral Therapist

This career involves supporting people through mental illnesses and disorders like depression, anxiety, ADHD, and addiction. Behavioral therapists do a lot of active listening, interacting with people one-on-one to help. It can be a very rewarding career, and a good fit for many introverts.

4. Editor

Both writing and editing can be great professions for introverts–especially those with a strong attention to detail. In addition to combing through copy for grammar and spelling errors, editors may also need to fact-check, a satisfying and often intellectually engaging task. Bonus: depending on the position, you can often do the bulk of your work from home (in your PJs if you want).

5. Graphic Designer

Quality graphic designers become highly skilled at software like Photoshop to create beautiful, custom visuals that really say something. It is a highly creative profession that takes advantage of an introvert’s skills without being overwhelmingly full of large-group meetings, etc. (Can also be done in PJs.)

6. Commercial pilot

Pilots spend plenty of time alone or in one-on-one situations. An important job that helps keep people safe, being a pilot also (obviously) comes with excellent travel perks. After completing your flight instructor certificate, you need 1500 hours to work for an airline in the U.S. If you’re diligent, you can get that done in a year, making your total time from zero to commercial pilot three years.

7. IT Manager

IT managers handle operation and security of an organization’s information systems. This often involves managing the technical budget; taking care of both software and hardware upgrades; and (depending on the size of the organization) directing junior members of the IT team. It can be both a challenging and rewarding profession.

8. Research Scientist

A research scientist may work for a for-profit company (like a pharmaceutical company), or the government; educational institution; or even an environmental organization. Researchers design and perform laboratory experiments and tests, gather and analyze data, and determine outcomes. It often involves a lot of strictly solo work, or in small teams.

9. Social Media Manager

While it may seem counterintuitive (a “social” position for an introvert), managing an organization’s social media accounts involves a lot of time alone. Outstanding social media managers are both creative and perceptive, with excellent writing skills and a sense of how to curate content to match the audience and brand.

10. HVAC mechanic

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, and HVAC mechanics that know what they’re doing are always in demand. Given how ubiquitous HVAC systems are and how devastating it can be if they go down, HVAC mechanics have a lot of job security. They spend a lot of time solo fixing systems, for which clients are very grateful.

11. Software Engineer

While advancements like artificial intelligence will make huge changes in many industries including software engineering, currently software engineers are still very much in demand. They use computer programming languages like Java, Python, and Ruby to build networks, operating systems, databases, and/or mobile apps.

How to Be Better at Small Talk

Author Article

Photo: Lan Pham

I’m trying to stop saying “I know.” I say it too much to my friends or my wife when they’re just trying to be helpful. But unless someone’s actually being a dick or assuming I’m an idiot, I don’t need to protect my ego that hard. I win more points if I say “Thanks!” or “That’s true!” and keep the conversation going. Artist Austin Kleon lists a few more conversational shortcuts that you might want to use instead of your current defaults.

For example, Kleon says, if you have trouble taking a compliment, try using “Thank you for saying that.” If someone criticizes you and you wish you could tell them to fuck off, use “You may be right.”

Kleon also cites a famous trick from writer Paul Ford: Say you’ve just met someone, and you’ve asked what they do for a living, and you have no followup. Try saying, “That sounds hard.” The other person will probably open up and express some emotion, and boom, you’re past bland small talk.

Lifehacker writer Alicia Adamczyk follows up “What do you do?” with “Do you like it?” It disarms people, she says. I like to ask “How do you do that?” It’s a less emotional version of the same question.

Another small-talk trick I’ve learned the hard way: when someone tells you their area of expertise, ask them about it, don’t tell them about it. If you meet a geneticist, don’t tell them about an article on CRISPR that you read. Ask them their opinion on it, or to correct your impression of something. Do it in an open-ended, casual way—some people don’t like to be called on to judge everything. (And don’t ask people to speak on behalf of a gender, ethnicity, or other identity.) But pay attention to what they’re interested in explaining, and dig into that. Keep asking “How does that work?” and “How do you get good at that?”—questions that assume the other person is smart.

Another conversational trap I’ve fallen into is “What have we all watched?” That’s when everyone in the conversation keeps naming shows or movies until there’s one that you’ve all seen. Then everyone freezes up, because you don’t have much to say about it. Get out of that trap by finding a similar show or film (or book or musical artist) to recommend, say why you recommend it, and then ask the others for their recommendations in turn.

And when someone asks you what you do, and you don’t want to talk about it, get ready to segue. Pivot to your hobby, or a job you had that you liked, or a thing that makes your job worth it. Remember, you’re not filling out a form, you’re making conversation.

Here’s How Birth Order Shapes The INFJ Personality

Author Article

an INFJ personality with her siblings in birth order
Firstborns are commanding, middles are mediators, and last-borns are the life of the party. We all have our stereotypes when it comes to birth order. But are those stereotypes true?To find out, we surveyed 5,747 people who took our personality assessment, the TypeFinder, to find out where they sat in their family tree. We analyzed their responses, along with their personality test results, to see how birth order might impact personality type.

Our number-crunching revealed that there is a connection between birth order and personality type — in some cases, a big one. Some types are much more likely to be only children, or eldests, or middles. Other types are rarely found in a particular branch of the family tree. And oddly enough, INFJs showed some of the most interesting results.

If you’re curious how your birth order may have shaped you as an INFJ, read on to discover how your own experience might fit with our findings. And if you’d like to learn more about how birth order affects all types, you can read the full analysis here.

Middle Children Are More Likely to Be Feelers

Our analysis showed that middle children are much more likely to be Feelers (+6.93%) and much less likely to be Thinkers (-7.23%) than if personality had no relationship with birth order. What’s more, INFJs were markedly overrepresented among middle kids (+8%). These findings support the stereotype of middles as compassionate, friendship-oriented, and people-pleasing — traits which are associated with a Feeling preference, according to Isabel Briggs Myers’ personality theory.

Is there something about growing up as middle kids that forces people to become more sympathetic and conciliatory than they might otherwise be? Our INFJ readers had some theories. “I am the peacemaker in my family and the person everyone confides in,” said one 41-year-old middle child, “and I believe this shaped me into an INFJ.”

A 54-year-old INFJ agrees. “I think when you have other siblings, and you’re taught you be conscientious, caring of others, that becomes part of your personality,” she said. “You care deeply for others.”

Firstborns Are More Likely to Be Introverts

Firstborns are more likely to be introverts (+2.37%) according to our data, and the effect is especially pronounced when combined with Thinking (+3.04%) and Judging (+4.41%) traits. INFJs are 4% more likely to be eldest children than we would expect to see if personality and birth order occurred entirely by chance.

At the opposite end of the scale, ESTPs and ESFPs are much less likely to have grown up as the oldest child. It’s not easy being a free-wheeling Extraverted Perceiver when your parents are watching your every move!

As to why firstborns may develop the specific trait of introversion, some respondents felt their duty to take care of younger siblings played a part. “I learnt to sit back and observe, listen more and be supportive of others because of my birth order,” said one 52-year-old female. “I would have developed into a more outgoing personality if I hadn’t had siblings.”

This 31-year-old eldest child felt she had to be “reserved” as the oldest and an “advocate” for her younger siblings. “I feel introversion is higher for elder children because they tend to have their shine dulled a bit caring for younger siblings,” she said.

INFJs Are More Likely to Have Siblings

According to our research, onlies are much more likely to be Thinkers (+8.23%) rather than Feelers (-7.8%), and much more likely to be Perceivers (+6.91%) rather than Judgers (-8.3%). INTPs were 32% more likely to be only children than if personality had no connection with birth order. INFJs, by contrast, were 34 percent less likely to have grown up as only children than we would expect to see by chance — one of the most striking data points we found in the entire study.

So what’s going on here? Could having siblings push someone in the INFJ direction?

Our respondents seemed to think so. Overwhelmingly, they reported that having siblings was pivotal in developing the conscientious (Judging) and nurturing (Feeling) aspects of their personalities. In the words of one 20-year-old respondent: “INFJs, despite being introverts, love people and human interaction and highly value it … Growing up with siblings is the perfect fostering ground for an INFJ.”

This 41-year-old echoes the sentiment: “INFJs are very people focused…particularly when it comes to the emotions. I believe that an only child would not be exposed enough to others’ emotions and perhaps this would shape them into another personality type.”

Growing up with siblings is unlikely to change your personality drastically. However, our research indicates that having to get along with brothers and sisters throughout childhood could provide an extra “nudge” towards an empathetic, agreeable style of relating to others.

The Rare INFJ Only Child

INFJs are less likely to be only children — but that doesn’t mean INFJ only children don’t exist! Some of our respondents were shocked to learn just how rare INFJ onlies are. Many were passionate about INFJ being the archetype of the only-child personality. Here’s what this 49-year-old male only child had to say:

“I believe that growing up as an only child allowed me to cultivate a strong relationship with my own inner world. I had the time and freedom, and the need, to develop my imagination and process my experiences in my own way. People I know who have siblings seem to be far more inclined to be extroverted and to have a greater need to conform to what others expect rather than being inwardly motivated.”

This 47-year-old female only agrees, “As the only child of two academics, I spent a lot of time either alone or with adults, listening to their conversation and ideas, and reading. This seemed to foster my introspective, old soul nature early on, and for as long as I can remember, I felt very at home being alone….Perhaps because I had no siblings, I longed [for] meaningful relationships all the more. …I always surmised that my INFJ status was strongly correlated with being an only child, for [these] reasons.”

Did Your Birth Order Make You an INFJ?

If you believe that parents, siblings, and family dynamics can shape personality, then it’s difficult to ignore birth-order theory. It can lend some fascinating insights into why you are different than your siblings, despite having the same parents, similar genetics, and the same family environment.


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Of course, this research does not take into account other factors that are known to influence personality: genetics, health, education, socio-economic status, and gender have all been demonstrated by extensive research to influence personality development, and many of these factors almost certainly have a much greater impact than birth order.

Ultimately, your personality developed from a complex mix of nature and nurture — of which birth order may be a small but significant part. Understanding the impact of birth order may shine a light on why we are the way we are — but it’s just one small part of a much bigger puzzle

5 Reasons Why An INFJ Personality Might Feel Depressed

Author Article

INFJ personality depression
I’m an INFJ, and I’m clinically depressed. I’ve recently dropped 10 kg without trying, and lately my nights have been plagued by insomnia. I think I’m having a mid-life crisis in my early 20s because I can’t find meaning or purpose in my current situation.Of course, not all INFJs are depressed, and INFJs are certainly not the only Myers-Briggs personality types to struggle with depression. However, due to our sensitive nature, as well as our unique way of seeing the world, it’s not uncommon for us INFJs to deal with depression at some point in our lives.

(What’s your personality type? Take a free personality assessment.)

Based on my own experiences, here are five reasons why this rare personality type might feel depressed.

Why an INFJ Personality Might Be Depressed

1. We’re emotionally exhausted from taking on other people’s feelings.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve soaked up other people’s feelings without realizing it. Sometimes I feel like I’m swimming or floating or drowningin a maelstrom of emotions that don’t even belong to me.

As a result, I’m emotionally exhausted all the time. I quickly burn out in social situations and highly stimulating environments.

Whenever I’ve tried to explain this feeling to others, I often get the response: “Don’t worry about what others think.” The truth is, I’m not worried about what others think. I feel what others feel. When I walk into a room, I absorb people’s vibes — as though their energy is a tangible thing that has lured me away from my own self.

Being able to let go of the emotions of others and compartmentalize is extremely difficult for me, and it often makes me emotionally exhausted to the point of finding it difficult to function.

One of my managers picked up on this recently and said to me, “It’s like you’re a bank — most people are withdrawing and withdrawing without depositing anything back.”

Sadly, INFJs are known for this. We often take on careers in psychology and counselling, and even if we don’t, we unconsciously deal with the deep psychological issues of others without realizing it. Although empathy is our greatest strength, empathy burnout can take a toll.

2. We have very high standards for ourselves.

I’ve struggled with perfectionism a lot throughout my life. Sometimes, it’s advantageous. For example, when I’m working on an academic paper or finalizing a project, my meticulous eye can turn small successes into even greater triumphs.

Although perfectionism has been my unsung hero, it has also been my inner villain. I’ve always had high standards for myself and am disappointed if I don’t meet those standards. In my late teens and early twenties, I studied full-time, worked full-time across three jobs, and attempted to maintain a social life. I tried to make all the facets of my life “perfect — until I burned myself out.

I’ve recently come to realize that I’m awfully hard on myself. I’m disappointed when I cannot express myself to others in ways I’d hoped. If I have to do a presentation at work, I’ll idealize the perfect outcome, then beat myself up when I don’t perform exactly how I’d imagined. The same goes for my creative work — I often imagine something far greater than what is actually produced, and as a result, I’m often disappointed and disheartened.

As INFJs, our Introverted Intuition coupled with our judging nature makes us prone to having high expectations for ourselves, which means we often feel like we’re failing. When this happens, our introverted and emotional nature intensifies these feelings inward, making it difficult to cope, often leading to anxiety or depression.

3. Conflict really stresses us out.

INFJs tirelessly work towards harmony, often to the point of exhaustion. Although this may appear like an act of selflessness, their efforts are partially selfish, as INFJs need their external environment to be at peace before they can be at peace internally.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always avoided conflict. Conflict is my Achilles’s heel. When there is conflict in one of my close relationships, it consumes me and leaves me feeling hopeless and vulnerable. I can hardly relax, rest, or take care of myself if I feel any sort of negativity in my environment. In fact, there have been many times when conflict has made me feel physically sick.

4. We crave meaning and purpose.

As an idealistic INFJ, I’m driven by meaning and purpose. I struggle when my work does not match my values and my desire to make a difference.

INFJs are notorious for championing a cause or advocating for others. When we’re unsure of our causes or cannot find meaning in our work, we float around rather lost, unsure of our purpose in life. This leaves us feeling pretty down in the dumps.

5. We overthink and overthink and overthink.

As an INFJ, overthinking is one of my biggest problems. In fact, if overthinking were an Olympic sport, I think INFJs would get the gold medals. We have a tendency to ruminate and reflect, and not always in the best ways.

Although most INFJs are proud of their ability to reflect — as well as their near-psychic intuition to pinpoint when there’s something wrong or forecast how things will unfold — overthinking can be detrimental to our mental health. Overthinking is when the little voice in our head gets out of control and we aren’t able to shut it down. It’s the kind of voice that is nasty and obsessive, and leads us nowhere.

For example, let’s just say someone asks me a question and I don’t give a good answer in the moment. For days to come, I might keep thinking about the question and answering it in my head over and over again as if I could somehow change my response. I overanalyze and overthink so much that it makes my brain hurt and leaves me exhausted.

If you’re an INFJ who is struggling with depression, know that you’re not alone. Remember to take care of yourself, just like you take such good care of others. And know that depression doesn’t have to last forever; you can learn to manage your emotions and feel better. See the resources below to help you get started.

Introverts Don’t Hate People, They Hate Shallow Socializing

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two introverts socializing
I like to make jokes about how much I hate people. As an introvert, it’s easy to do. The stereotype of the misanthropic introvert is backed by countless Facebook memes and pop culture references. Think of the animated character Daria with her oversized glasses and a book in her hand, or that catchy quote from Charles Bukowski, “I don’t hate people, I just feel better when they aren’t around.”These memes and quotes exist for a reason. They’re funny and relatable, and I’ve enjoyed sharing them just as much as anyone else. But there’s a darker side to them. They can also serve as a coping mechanism for those who need an excuse to hide behind. Let me explain.It’s the whole “I’m too school for cool” persona. It’s easy for me to say I spent the majority of the party playing with the host’s cat because the people there weren’t half as interesting as the books I have at home. It’s harder for me to admit that getting past the barrier of small talk ranges from somewhat daunting to downright terrifying. So I oversimplify and say I don’t like people, when what I actually dislike are the surface-level interactions of most social gatherings.We’ve all been to those parties where the sole purpose of the event is for everyone to break into small groups where they talk about sports, the weather, or where the host’s second cousin got her hair done. It’s moments like these where it suddenly becomes very important to find out if there’s a pet you can play with, or when all else fails, perhaps a large potted plant to hide behind. If there’s a drink to be fetched or a bowl of chips to be refilled, this task will instantly become the sole purpose of my existence, because literally anything is better than small talk.

However, despite appearances, I don’t hate people. I just hate shallow socializing.

And therein lies the problem that has kept thousands of introverts awake until all hours of the night. Because being an introvert doesn’t mean you want to be alone all the time. But unfortunately, in order to meet people to share your inner world with, it’s necessary to go out and socialize. In order to get to those coveted discussions about life goals, creative passions, and the existence of the universe, you sometimes have to start with some small talk — no matter how painful it might be.

Sometimes You Have to Go Out to Appreciate Staying In

As an introvert, I view socializing much like I view other aspects of my life that I know are good for me in the long run, but really aren’t very enjoyable in the moment. Do I really want to go to the gym when I could just go home and watch Netflix? No. Do I really want a salad for lunch when I could have a hamburger? No. Do I really want to go to a partywhen I could curl up in bed with a book and a cup of tea? It’s a no-brainer.

However, to reap the rewards, you have to put in the work.

It’s all about balance. Just like I might treat myself to a piece of chocolate cake as a reward for all those days at the gym last week, I’ll spend a quiet Saturday night at home because I know I already put in a night of socializing and interacting with people outside of my comfort zone on Friday.

The reward of staying in is so much sweeter when it’s saved as its own unique event to look forward to — whereas staying home with a book feels a whole lot less special when you’re doing it for the tenth night in a row. Sometimes you have to go out to fully appreciate staying in, and vice versa.

I never would’ve met some of my closest friends if I chose to stay home and read all the time. Those relationships I have now were worth the anxiety and apprehension I felt upon venturing out of my comfort zone to establish them.

Unfortunately, finding those kinds of relationships is rare, because socializing doesn’t always have tangible rewards. Sometimes I leave an event feeling drained and wishing I’d never left the house. Other times, I might feel that it went okay, but I know the surface-level conversations I held all evening probably won’t lead to any life-altering friendships. But that’s okay, because not every conversation or evening out has to be life-altering.

For the Introvert, Socializing Isn’t Just a Way to Pass the Time

As an introvert, it’s my natural tendency to always want every interaction to be about establishing a life-long deep connection, but I’ve learned that can put too much pressure on the average casual conversation. Sometimes it’s just about staying in practice with my (albeit limited) people skills until the day when someone suddenly wants to talk about their dreams and goals and all the things that makes them tick. It’s impossible to know where a conversation will lead unless you try.

I’m aware of just how ridiculous my socializing philosophy will sound to extroverts. To them, socializing itself is the end goal. My extroverted friends are always looking for something to do on the weekend, during the holidays, and even on work nights. They pursue socializing for the in-the-moment excitement that it brings. For me, attempting to socialize is a long-term goal, one that I carefully craft and balance so I don’t get mentally or emotionally overwhelmed.

“Going out” is rarely exciting for me in the moment. But I always have hope when attending a party or trying a new networking event that I’ll make a friend who is also dying for a quiet cup of coffee while chatting about life, or who wants to take a trip to the beach just so we can lay side by side and read in complete silence.


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When I socialize, I’m not looking for a way just to pass the time. I already have a full list of hobbies and interests and not enough hours in the day to enjoy them all. But I’m always looking for a new person with whom I can share my passions and my world. Sometimes meeting that one new person can be worth the agony of socializing. I like to think I’m the kind of person worth socializing for, and I know I’m not the only one of my kind.

So, my fellow introverts, please occasionally put down your books, go out, and search for the people who make socializing worth it — because I’m out there looking for you.

Do Grammar Mistakes Annoy You? You Might Be an Introvert

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Call me picky, but typos and grammar mistakes bother me. I might judge you — just a little bit — if there are a lot of them in your email or online dating profile.

Turns out, I’m not alone in this. And according to a recent study, being a grammar stickler may have something to do with my introversion.

The study, conducted by linguists at the University of Michigan, found that introverts were more likely to be annoyed by typos and grammatical mistakes than extroverts. And, interestingly, we don’t want to live with the people who commit these errors, either. (More about that later.)

First, let’s take a closer look at the study, then we’ll explore why introverts might be the ultimate grammar sticklers.

The Grammar/Typo Study

Linguists Julie Boland and Robin Queen showed people some emails. These emails were supposed to be responses to an advertisement looking for a roommate. Some of the emails were perfectly well written while others had some typos and grammos. A “grammo” is a mistake involving knowledge of the rules of language, like substituting “their” for “there.” A typo is a little more innocent — it’s hitting the wrong key on the keyboard, and, for instance, producing “teh” instead of “the.”

The participants were then asked whether they agreed with statements like “the writer seems considerate,” “the writer seems trustworthy,” and “the writer seems friendly.” Their ratings were combined to create an overall “good housemate” score.

The participants, all 80 of them, were Americans who came from a range of backgrounds and were of various ages.

The researchers also had participants fill out questionnaires about their own personalities, based on the Big Five traits — openness, conscientiousnessextroversionagreeableness, and neuroticism.

The results? Introverts were more likely than extroverts to rate people as poor roommates if their grammar or spelling was bad — and therefore didn’t want to live with them.

Some Other Findings

There were a few other findings, but for the most part, it’s what you’d expect: Agreeable people didn’t mind grammos. Conscientious people saw typos as a real problem. Oddly, levels of neuroticism didn’t predict any kind of bias toward proper grammar.

The study also found that the second group of people — those who scored lower in agreeableness — were bothered by mistakes as well. People who are agreeable are generally kind, sympathetic, cooperative, and considerate. People who score low in agreeableness are the opposite; they lack empathy and put their own interests above those of others.

So it makes sense that people who are disagreeable — whether they’re introverted or extroverted — would judge others for their mistakes.

Why Do Mistakes Bother Introverts?

But introverts aren’t necessarily disagreeable. So why do grammar mistakes and typos bother them?

The finding about introversion surprised the researchers. Robin Queen told the Guardian, “We hadn’t quite anticipated that introversion would have the effect it did.”

Queen is a linguist, not a personality expert, so she’s not certain why introverts are more bothered by mistakes. But she hypothesizes that it has to do with introverts being more sensitive to variability. Variations from the norm — like spelling and grammar mistakes — require extra processing, which increases arousal.

Introverts are already walking around in a hyper-aroused state. They’re prone to overstimulation and overwhelm, as well as social burnout, a.k.a. the introvert hangover. So processing a mistake can heighten their arousal just a little and put introverts in an uncomfortable place.

“Maybe there’s something about extroverts that makes them less bothered by it,” Queen explained. “Extroverts enjoy variability and engaging with people. They find that energizing. This could be an indirect manifestation of that.”

Do Introverts Agree?

The results of the study made sense to me, but I was curious if it would resonate with other introverts. So I asked Introvert, Dear’s Facebook groupof over 80,000 introverts if typos and grammar mistakes bothered them. Yes, many of them resoundingly answered.

“Are you kidding?” one member, Margaret, wrote. “I’m the original ‘grammar nazi.'”

Adam wrote, “I can spot a typo/grammo/spello (yeah, I just made up a word, what of it?) from a thousand yards. It drives most people nuts, but I apologize for nothing.”

Finally, Mark wrote, “I find that when I read something with bad punctuation or the wrong form of a word, it totally disrupts my reading and it feels like I just tripped over a crack in the sidewalk.”

But the final proof came when one dissenting voice said she “could care less.” Another group member quickly corrected her grammar to “couldn’t care less” and added, “Sorry, I just had to!”

Are introverts picky about grammar? Apparently so.

This post originally appeared on my blog, Introvert, Dear.

An Introvert’s Road Map To Mindfully Controlling Stress And Anxiety

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an introvert controls stress and anxiety
Life is full and it moves fast. Sometimes that fast-paced fullness can feel exhilarating — even fun! — but on a consistent basis, it feels more like stress. And that stress can cause some pretty intense and challenging emotions like anger, anxiety, fear, and loneliness, just to name a few.And for introverts and highly sensitive people (HSPs), who process and feel things deeply, those negative emotions can quickly become completely overwhelming.

But there’s good news: You can naturally stop anxiety. The key to transcending these overwhelming emotions is the key to most of life’s problems: mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness enables you to calm stress and soothe yourself.

In a state of mindfulness, you make space to step back, reflect, and thoughtfully respond — rather than spontaneously react — to the varying ups and downs of life. For many introverts and HSPs, mindfulness comes naturally, but it’s about learning to intentionally step into it.

Blending the science of psychology and the magic of spirituality, I’ve developed six steps to help introverts and HSPs acknowledge, understand, and transform worrisome emotions in a mindful way.

6 Ideas to Stop Stress and Anxiety Mindfully

1. Accept your emotions

Emotions demand to be felt.

So many introverts try to avoid negative or intense emotions by ignoring them — or bottling them up — but the only way they’ll go away is by acknowledging and accepting that they’re there in the first place. Ignoring what wants to be seen will only cause it to bubble up and explode later, creating more intense emotions or even causing a complete emotional shutdown.

Extend yourself the same kindness you would to an overwhelmed friend, and sit with and accept your emotions. Here’s how you can do that:

  • To become more fully aware of the emotion you’re feeling, notice where it lives in your physical body. You might feel it as a stomach ache, shortness of breath, or muscle tension in your shoulders or back. (Highly sensitive people especially tend to feel emotions as physical sensations.)
  • Just be with the emotion: Don’t ignore it and don’t push it away. According to a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist, emotions like anger often pass within 90 seconds.
  • Remember that your difficult emotions are a signal; a teacher with an important message. They are trying to help you wake up to what’s going on inside (and perhaps, outside) of you before a major crisis occurs.

This mindful acceptance will allow you to be with yourself and your emotions with greater self-understanding and compassion.

2. Name your emotions

After my son was born, I felt a deep and chronic sense of anxiety, overwhelm, and some resentment that my life was no longer my own. Eventually I had to acknowledge and label my emotions so that my life wouldn’t be run by them. So I allowed myself to get into the habit of asking, for example: Am I feeling sad, ashamed, angry, resentful?

What’s important to remember is that although you are pinpointing your emotion…

…YOU are not that emotion.

It’s the difference between — I am angry and I am FEELING angry. One version is tied to your identity and the other is simply a passing feeling.

So I would go within, name my emotion and then say: “I am feeling anxious and overwhelmed right now, and that’s okay. I am going to allow myself to just be with it.”

Of course, all of my bad feelings didn’t just go away — and on some occasions, they were still quite painful and disruptive — but pinpointing and labeling my feelings allowed me to take some of the fear out of what I was experiencing.

3. Recognize the impermanence of your emotions

When you’re in the middle of a tough season, it can be hard to remember that seasons come and go. And so too do difficult emotions.

When you can remember and recognize the impermanence of your emotions — that you won’t always feel this way forever — you will begin to experience them in a more fleeting manner, like clouds that pass by in the sky. They are here for a little while and then they disappear.

Maintain that observer perspective and encourage the processing of those emotions with acts of loving-kindness toward yourself.

Ask yourself:

  • “What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?”
  • “How can I nurture myself?”
  • “What do I need right now?”

Answering these questions (and following through on the insight) fosters deep connection with and compassion for yourself.

4. Investigate the origin

Looking at and investigating the root of your negative emotions will help you gain critical insight into what you are experiencing. Take a moment to reflect and explore what happened to cause this negative emotion in the first place. Maybe you are feeling angry or unappreciated or disconnected from a co-worker, a friend, or a romantic partner. Dig deep and get to the root cause (something that comes naturally to many introverts and HSPs).

Ask yourself:

“What is causing me to feel this way? Was it something I or someone else said, did, or didn’t do?”

Refuse to just “push through” and slog it out. Instead, take time to explore your emotions and create space for authentic answers.

5. Let go of control

Another important key to mindfully dealing with your difficult emotions is to let go of your need to over-control or immediately “fix” them.

“But I’ll feel sooo much better if they go away,” you might say. “Why NOT get rid of them immediately?!”

Here’s the thing: You don’t need to expedite your way through negative emotions to also trust that you’re going to be OKAY.

Sure, it can be extremely uncomfortable to tolerate the anxiety of unresolved emotions, but moving through (rather than avoiding) tough stuff also cultivates personal depth. As therapist and author Katherine Woodward Thomas once said: “Living with questions requires us to sit with the messiness of what it is to be human without the ability to tidy everything up immediately. Sometimes this is what it is like when one is seeking wisdom.”

When we try to micromanage our inner lives, we mess up the order of life. Nature has an innate intelligence, so allow the wisdom of the Universe to do what it does best.

Do your best to be patient with your “messy” emotions. Open up to believing that all of life is supporting your ever-constant transformation — and try to believe that maybe, just maybe, sitting with your pain will guide you toward priceless insight and greater happiness.

6. Meditate with a mantra

Meditating with a mantra is an immediate, effective, and easy way to relieve stress, control anxiety, and release pressure — providing long-lasting calming effects that you can take with you into your day. It has been clinically proven to boost your health (see here and here), your happiness (here and here), and your productivity (see here).

Even a small practice of three minutes a day will create greater peace and satisfaction with your relationships, creativity, and career! Here’s a simple but impactful guided meditation to help you.

Try This Guided Meditation for Anxiety

Primary Effect: Lessen feelings of anxiety or pain and improve feelings of calm, centeredness, satisfaction, and harmony

Posture: Sit cross-legged with a straight spine

Mudra (Hand Position): Place the tip of the index finger against the tip of the thumb; keep the rest of the fingers straight

Movement: None

Time: 3 minutes

Instructions: Set an alarm on your phone for three minutes, and repeat this mantra:

“Breathe in peace, love, forgiveness. Breathe out anything that no longer serves me.”

End with three extended inhales and exhales:

Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Stretch arms upward for 10 seconds lengthening the spine, and exhale.

Remember that being mindful about your emotions — becoming aware of them, acknowledging them, and meditating through them — is the only way to truly let go of them for good. 

I can help you create the harmonious, successful life you’ve always desired. Learn more about my coaching programs for women here.