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to choose one way or the other.It’s hard to choose because the introvert/extrovert dichotomy reflects a tired and outdated view of personality.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.

The Perfectionist’s Guide To Accepting Criticism

Ladders Article

ILLUSTRATION: ASHLEY SIEBELS

Criticism is hard. People naturally lean towards wanting to be right all the time. Who wants to be told you are wrong, or that you need to fix X, Y, Z? Very few. However, there is great growth and development that can occur when we open ourselves to constructive criticism. What do you need to do to get better at accepting “no” or “do better”? Follow these five steps.

1. Accept that perfection is fiction.

Did you know that you are not right 100 percent of the time? Even if you feel that you are, you are not. You will never know everything, nor will you always know what to do. Constructive criticism offers you the advice and insight that you need to improve in your career and in your life. It might not always be easy to hear, but it is needed to progress and develop as a person. Once you accept this fact, it makes receiving constructive criticism that much easier.

2. Classify the source of the criticism.

When criticized, you should always consider the source. Is the person criticizing you coming from a place of positivity, or are they trying to hurt or discourage you?  If you determine that the source is not malevolent, then you can give weight to what is being said to you.

3. Try to live past your feelings.

Joyce Meyer teaches that people need to live past their feelings. Our feelings can betray us more often than we like to admit. Sometimes you might feel hurt or offended not because of what is being said to you,  but because you didn’t feel like you should have been criticized or scrutinized. You must separate yourself from your feelings and address the objective facts of what is taking place. You can ask yourself:

Is this constructive criticism?
Was it said with the intention of hurting me?
Was it shared in an offensive manner?
Was there a purpose for sharing constructive criticism?

4. Take the time to appreciate the lesson learned.

I believe there is glory and growth that takes place in the uncomfortable experiences we have. Receiving constructive criticism can feel quite uncomfortable and revealing; yet, it is so needed. How do we become better speakers, writers, doctors, teachers, politicians, scientists, or salesmen without receiving constructive criticism? We do not. Appreciate the people in your life who are providing the wisdom and insight you need to improve yourself. As long as the criticism isn’t provided in a harmful way, then you should appreciate every lesson you learn from the experience.

5. Implement the improvements right away.

One of the best ways to deal with constructive criticism is to begin implementing the improvement it brings to your life. My life motto is to learn something new and meet someone new every day. When it comes to constructive criticism, I try to implement the needed change immediately, so I develop a new habit from the improvement to better myself. What is the point of learning something and doing nothing with it? Learn, accept, and implement. Don’t you agree?

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.

How CBD Can Positively Impact Borderline Personality Disorder

Author Article

Photo by Laryssa Suaid via Pexels

Approximately 1.6% of adults in the U.S. suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), a condition characterized by difficulty regulating emotions, impulsivity, low self-image, and problems creating and maintaining personal relationships. BPD is notoriously difficult to treat. Medications don’t often provide relief from symptoms, only intense and specifically-designed psychotherapy has proven any help.

Cannabidiol (CBD), however, shows promise as a possible treatment option for those who struggle with BPD.

Borderline Personality Disorder Symptoms

People with BPD exhibit most or all of the following symptoms:

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment by friends or family
  • Unstable personal relationships that alternate between extreme idealization and devaluation
  • Distorted and unstable self-image
  • Impulsive, dangerous behavior (e.g., overspending, substance abuse, unsafe sex, etc.)
  • Self-harming behavior including suicidal threats and attempts
  • Periods of intense depression, irritability, or anxiety, which can last for just a few hours to a several days
  • Chronic feelings of boredom and/or emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense, and uncontrollable anger, which is often followed by equally intense shame or guilt
  • Dissociation and/or stress-related paranoia

Because BPD is a personality disorder, treatment options are limited. Behavioral therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) are the most effective treatment options for BPD. There are no medications designed specifically for BPD, but antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and antipsychotic medications are often prescribed to Borderline patients to address certain symptoms like depression, anxiety, dissociation, paranoia, and intense anger. The benefit of these medications for people with BPD, however, remain unclear, and talk-therapy is often the first line of treatment for BPD.

How CBD Can Help

This is where CBD comes into the picture. When you ingest CBD, you ingest certain plant-derived cannabinoids, which act like the endocannabinoids your body produces naturally. The Endocannabinoid System (ECS) produces endocannabinoids to regulate the body’s internal functions and control how we think, feel, and react to things happening in the world around us.

Endocannabinoids do not follow what is considered the typical path of a chemical synaptic signaling, which is for a neurotransmitter to flow from a presynaptic neuron to a postsynaptic neuron and bind to a specific receptor. Instead, endocannabinoids flow backward from postsynaptic neurons to presynaptic neurons in a process called retrograde inhibition.

Endocannabinoids are sent throughout the body by the ECS to achieve and maintain the body’s internal homeostasis, or balance, among all of is working parts. In many psychiatric disorders, symptomatic or episodic behaviors can be traced back to overactive neurons, which send too many neurotransmitters from presynapse to postsynapse and overload receptors.

RELATED: Is CBD A Rising Star Or Just Popular Fad?

Since endocannabinoids follow the inverse of this process, they actually block and mediate the transfer of neurotransmitters to ensure the appropriate amount of neurotransmitters are being sent and binding to receptors. And, since the plant-derived cannabinoids that enter your body when you use CBD act like the endocannabinoids your body produces, they also work to mitigate the transfer of neurotransmitters and to combat overactive neural transfer associated with many of the BPD symptoms like anxiety, anger, impulsivity, and even paranoia.

One of the endocannabinoid receptors that CBD activates are 5-HT1A serotonin receptorsSerotonin, informally known as the “happy chemical,” is a chemical the body produces that’s important for mood regulation. People suffering from depression and anxiety, for instance, seem to exhibit lower levels of serotonin that do people who are not. People with BPD exhibit the same lowered serotonin levels. When CBD activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors, they bind to 5-HT serotonin neurotransmitters and increase serotonin production, which in turn combats the negative effects of depression and anxiety that come along with BPD.

Products To Use

CBD products made from or with hemp oil can also be beneficial to people struggling with BPD. Hemp oil is high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which could have an anti-inflammatory effect on the brain and help cognitive function. And many psychiatric disorders, including BPD, correlate with a deficiency in Omega-3 Fatty Acids in the body. Research on Omega-3 Fatty Acid supplementation found it to be an effective treatment method for both children and adults with BPD.

RELATED: Pete Davidson Discusses Marijuana And Borderline Personality Disorder

There is no single, miracle fix for BPD. Managing BPD is incredibly difficult and requires hours of therapy and hard work. With the right treatment combination, though, people with BPD can still lead wonderful and fulfilling lives. This article is not to suggest that CBD can replace existing BPD treatment, or to guarantee that CBD will even work for everyone with BPD who tries it.

Everybody’s different, and so the way BPD manifests in different people and the way CBD affects different people is entirely relative to the individual. But CBD looks promising for BPD patients as a possible treatment option to supplement talk therapy and to target specific BPD symptoms that get in the way of everyday life.

Studies Say Birth Order Doesn’t Affect Your Personality, But As The Eldest I Say These Are Lies

Author Article

I usually love science. It has provided me with a legitimate excuse to buy more workout clothes and it has made me feel better about the fact that I’m currently single. But today is the day that science has gone too far, suggesting that birth order has virtually no impact on your adult personality. Have the memes been lying to me this whole time? I’m being dramatic, of course (typical eldest child), but according to The Washington Post, several studies suggest that birth order personalities aren’t a thing. This is both a topic I care passionately about and one that I have not spent more than five minutes thinking about before today.

I called my mother to set the record straight. Have I just been imagining that my siblings and I fit neatly into the stereotypical categorization of birth order personalities? “I always have said I have three only children,” she said. “You were each five years apart so I had time alone with each of you during your formative younger years.” (I think that was her diplomatic way of telling me that we were all spoiled; further, she failed to confirm my long-standing belief that I am her favorite child.)

My mother agrees that my siblings and I fit into our respective stereotypes: I, the eldest, am neurotic and a rule-follower; my sister, the middle child, wants attention; my brother, the youngest, exhibits more characteristics of an elder child but is most certainly the baby of the family—my parents are so lenient with him I simply cannot. (Yes, distain for my younger brother’s ability to get away with almost anything is stereotypical behavior as the eldest child, and that’s the point.)

Now, let’s take a look at the science. The most recent study, published last week, looked at whether birth order might have an effect on risk-taking behaviors. Stereotypically, younger siblings are prone to risky behavior because, and I’m paraphrasing here, they want so much attention. Researchers reviewed the birth order of explorers and revolutionaries. They surveyed 11,000 German households and assessed the findings of the Basel-Berlin Risk Study, for which 1,500 people spent a day undergoing 40 psychological tests on the likelihood of engaging in risky behavior. Birth order, researchers concluded, was not a good indicator of whether or not one might engage in risky behavior.

Fine, science, you’ve got me there. I’d say this tracks, given my very limited and anecdotal experience. My sister is a risk-taker, and she’s the middle child. But my brother, the youngest, is even less of a risk-taker than I am—and I’m the kind of person who refuses to cross the street if the signal doesn’t tell me it’s okay, so that’s really saying something.

A study conducted in 2015 found that birth order did not influence any of the five major personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism), known as the Big Five. Another study from 2015, analyzing 370,000 high school students, reached the same conclusion. There is no correlation between birth order and personality traits. You know what these studies did find, though? That the eldest children tend to have IQs one or two points higher than their younger siblings.

In the spirit of journalistic integrity and impartiality, it’s my duty to share with you this follow-up passage from the Washington Post article: “[B]efore all you firstborns lord your enhanced brains over your siblings, beware: The typical intelligence bonus from birth order is so small that ‘at an individual level it’ll never make a difference in your life.’”

Okay, first of all, calm down. Second of all, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

You know you’re curious—here’s how to find out where you rank on each of the Big Five personality traits (plus what that means for you). And here’s how to pick the best plant for your personality.

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.


Want more INFJ articles? Subscribe to our INFJ-only newsletter here.


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.

The Personality Type That Struggles With Finding Healthy Relationships (And What To Do About It)

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Image by ZOA / Stocksy

When Alicia first met her now-husband of 13 years, she was not into him at all. They worked together at a restaurant after high school, and she decided quickly that he was a jerk because he wouldn’t look at her during their shift.

Maria hates looking at online profiles and finds herself swiping left more than right. There will be one picture in the series that will make her decide that guy is not for her.

Brenda keeps finding herself in a series of three-month relationships. Even though she really likes them in the beginning, there is always something that she discovers that doesn’t end up working for her.

Can you guess what these three women have in common that are making unconscious choices in their love story?

All these women have a “J” in their personality type.

Why J personalities struggle with relationships.

If you’re not familiar, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a popular personality test that categorizes people into one of 16 different personality types, designated with a four-letter code that describes where they fall on four different psychological spectra: extroversion vs. introversion, sensing vs. intuition, thinking vs. feeling, and judging vs. perceiving.

A person’s position on that fourth dichotomy—judging (J) vs. perceiving (P)—can have a significant impact on a person’s love life in particular. A person with a judging personality (which isn’t to be confused with being judgmental) is someone who likes a structured and predictable life, whereas someone with a perceiving personality is more adaptable and finds themselves choosing a life that is more flexible.

People with a J in their personality usually go for:

  • Things that are decided
  • Lists and tasks
  • Order, structure, and systems
  • Things that are straightforward, black-and-white, clear

Meanwhile, P personality types:

  • Prefer things that are open-ended
  • Are able to adapt to what comes at them
  • Go on their gut
  • Like things in the gray area

“This preference may also be thought of as your orientation to the outer world,” the Myers & Briggs Foundation website explains. “Some people interact with the outside world when they are taking in information. … Other people do their interacting when they are making decisions.” They go on: “When it comes to dealing with the outer world, people who tend to focus on making decisions have a preference for Judging because they tend to like things decided. People who tend to focus on taking in information prefer Perceiving because they stay open to a final decision in order to get more information.”

If you’re a J having trouble finding a relationship that sticks, you need to consider how this structured side of you is creating limitations and not a lot of choices. J personality types find themselves making yes and no decisions in dating very quickly. On dating apps, that can look like finding a picture of the guy in bad jeans in the fourth photo and swiping left because “he is not your type.”

J types may also find themselves making it to the date, and after less than 10 minutes deciding there is no attraction and completely turning off their vibe and charm. Or this pattern of fast decisions can go the opposite way, where J types are 100 percent convinced they found The One, only to be ghosted a few weeks later or, worse, spend months with a guy that isn’t really a good fit.

How to overcome your J.

If you’re someone who identifies with the more judging personality type described above and you’re struggling to find a significant other despite wanting one, here are two solutions for you based on your natural tendency to prefer certainty that will help you have more choices, more fun, and more connection with your future partner.

Try saying “maybe.”

Js naturally tend to make yes or no decisions very quickly, but the good news is that they can learn from the Ps and resist the need to make a quick decision all the time, at least when it comes to getting to know a potential mate. For example, my friend Alicia mentioned above later realized she was wrong to make the assumption that her now-husband was a jerk. He’s actually the nicest guy in the world; he was just shy, and her snap decision could have been the end of a great love story.

Make a quick decision on your coffee order instead, and be more curious about the person in front of you. Humans are complex and layered, and you certainly can’t be seeing the whole of a person in photos nor on a first date. Take a teaspoon of keeping things open-ended and learn to let yourself be surprised.

Be direct with your potential partners.

As a dating and relationship coach, the No. 1 complaint I get from my clients is that they are tired of being the only one planning. This issue causes couples to break up and also potential relationships to not even get off the dating app. When I find out they’re a J personality type, it totally makes sense because Js like to have things decided and hate leaving things open. The Js are tired and become resentful being the one who always reaches out first, makes plans, and organizes the whole date night.

The reality is J personality types are usually attracted unconsciously to P personality types because nature is always seeking balance. When you find yourself in this position, you have a choice. Choice one is to make sure you are picking another J to be in a relationship with. You can ask them directly if they are the kind of person that likes to make plans or wing it (Js usually appreciate and love the question!). Choice two is to understand in advance that Ps do not like decisions, lists, and structured plans like you do. If you choose to enter a relationship with a P personality type, it will be in your best interest to address this potential issue with clear and direct communication between the two of you before it starts to chip away at the good parts that you have together.

A Counselor Explains How Introverts Can Banish Social Anxiety

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A young introvert suffers from social anxiety.
I’m a counselor, and many of the introverts I see come to me because of anxiety. Some of the clients I see have diagnosable anxiety disorders, but those who don’t aren’t suffering any less. When I say anxiety, I mean “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure,” according to the American Psychological Association.Anxiety can come in many forms and have many different causes, but in this article, I’d like to focus on social anxiety. Let’s take a look at the major signs of social anxiety, plus how you can free yourself from it by fixing “thinking errors.”

Signs of Social Anxiety Disorder

According to the American Psychiatric Association, you might have social anxiety if you experience the following:

  1. Feeling anxious or afraid in social settings. You might feel extremely self-conscious, like others are judging or scrutinizing your every move. For an adult, this might happen on a first date or a job interview, or when meeting someone for the first time, delivering an oral presentation, or speaking in a class or meeting. In children, these behaviors must occur in settings with peers — rather than adult interactions — and will be expressed in terms of age appropriate distress, such as cringing, crying, or just generally displaying obvious fear or discomfort.
  2. Worrying quite a bit that you’ll reveal your anxiety and be rejected by others
  3. Consistently feeling distressed during social interactions
  4. Painfully or reluctantly enduring social interaction — or avoiding it altogether
  5. Experiencing fear or anxiety that’s disproportionate to the actual situation
  6. Having fear, anxiety, or other distress around social situations that persist for six months or longer
  7. Finding that your personal life, relationships, or career are negatively affected. In other words, your anxiety makes it quite difficult for you to function in day-to-day life.

For a diagnosis of Social Anxiety Disorder, these symptoms must be present for six months or longer and not be better explained by another mental health or medical diagnosis.

Why Is Social Anxiety Common in Introverts?

If you’re an introvert who experiences social anxiety, you’re not alone. The research shows that introverts are far more likely to suffer from it than extroverts. A small study done in 2011 found that “social phobia patients” were significantly more often introverts (93.7 percent) than not (46.2 percent). Although not all introverts suffer from social anxiety, this study suggests that us “quiet ones,” by nature, may be prone to it in one form or another.

Social anxiety can be excruciating. Introverts, in my practice, struggle with it because they tend to overthink and overanalyze situations. They may find themselves caught in a cycle of planning out a conversation only to have it go differently than their script. This puts them on the spot — an introvert’s nightmare — and creates a high level of anxiety.

They then may fall into the trap of mind-reading. Mind-reading is what some therapies, like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, call “thinking errors.” These patterns of thinking can be helpful in some situations, but when overused, can actually be quite harmful.

Many introverts (especially highly sensitive introverts) are particularly vulnerable to the “error” of mind-reading because they’re so good at attuning to others’ body language, emotions, and energy that it feels like they always know what someone else is thinking — even though they don’t actually possess telepathy.

When a conversation goes off-script and anxiety is heightened, introverts may assume others are thinking critically of them and take this assumption as fact. The thoughts of “now he thinks I’m an idiot” — though most likely false — create even more anxiety. It’s a vicious and debilitating cycle.

But you can banish social anxiety. Let’s take a look at the power of identifying and correcting thinking errors.

The Power of Fixing Thinking Errors

Let’s take an example from my practice. One young woman who came to me had a hard time making new friends. This girl was more mature than her cohort and seemed to be having trouble initiating conversation. As we talked, it came to light that her introverted trait of thinking before speaking had spiraled out of control. She’d rehearse for hours what she was going to say to a certain person, then be caught off guard when the conversation didn’t go as scripted. She then feared that people thought she was stupid or awkward (she was mind-reading) and became highly anxious.

After a conversation like this, she’d ruminate over what she should have said for days or weeks. Obviously, this left her too anxious to start any new conversations with anyone, which lead to a cycle of reinforcing her anxiety about social situations and her avoidance of them.

What did we do about it? The first step was education; we discussed both overthinking and mind-reading and how they relate to her introverted nature. She discovered that her tendency to overthink was very helpful in situations where she needed to analyze information and come to a conclusion, like schoolwork, but that with friends and family, it was creating a barrier to close relationships.

She was also able to see that while she is very attuned to others’ emotional states, she isn’t telepathic and can’t actually read others’ minds.

This education into the thought patterns that were feeding her anxiety gave her some valuable insights. For instance, she realized that the thoughts of “stupid” weren’t what she feared others would think of her, but what she thought of herself. Once we hit on this critical insight, she began to understand that her overthinking and mind-reading were actually ways to distract her from the mean things she was saying to herself.

It took quite a few sessions to help this girl become more self-compassionate and to lessen her overthinking. However, by the end of the school year, she was able to not only talk to new people, but to tackle intense, conflict-laden conversations she’d always avoided before.

Anxiety Doesn’t Have to Rule Your Life

This example gives us some valuable insight into how the introvert’s natural penchant for deep thinking and attunement to others can sometimes lead to harmful inner states. It also gives us a road map to moving forward and feeling better.

If you’re an introvert who suffers from social anxiety, the first step is to do what you do best: look inside and bring awareness to the thought patterns that are no longer helping you. Some of the best ways to do this are mindfulness, yoga, and journaling. Mindfulness trains the mind to be non-judging and discerning of thoughts and feelings; yoga helps relieve stress and is a moving meditation; and journaling brings up the unconscious thoughts, feelings, and beliefs we aren’t aware of in daily life that may be holding us back.

Ask yourself if there are thinking errors that are contributing to your anxiety. Are you like the girl I described above? The next time you notice yourself committing a thinking error, don’t judge or beat yourself up for it. Instead, simply notice it — there’s power in this alone! You might go a step further and intentionally replace your thinking error with a positive thought (even if you aren’t totally feeling it yourself at the moment). Try something like, “even though I’m scared, it’s going to be okay” or “I’m a likable person, and people enjoy being around me.”

Here are some more tips to help you mindfully control anxiety, and here’s a great explanation of mindfulness for introverts.

Your social anxiety won’t disappear overnight. But by stepping into mindfulness and identifying/correcting thinking errors, you can stop it from ruling your life.

Do Anxious Owners Make For Anxious Dogs?

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We’re often amused when dogs and their owners seem to look alike—both have lanky limbs or shaggy locks, say. A recent study has found that dogs resemble their owners in an entirely different way: their personalities actually tend to be similar.

William J. Chopik, a social psychologist at Michigan State University and the study’s lead author, studies how human relationships change over time. Intrigued by the bond that people share with their pet dogs, he set out to examine those relationships and the dynamics within.

His study had the owners of 1,681 dogs evaluate their own personalities, and their dogs’ personalities, on standardized questionnaires. He found that dogs and their owners share personality traits. A highly agreeable person is twice as likely to have a dog who is highly active and excitable—and less aggressive—than someone who is less agreeable. The study also found that conscientious owners rated their dogs as more responsive to training and neurotic owners rated their dogs as more fearful. By contrast, “if someone is chill, their dog is chill,” says Chopik.

Chopik points out the obvious challenge in doing this study: you can ask people questions about themselves, but with a dog, you can only rely on owners’ observations of their pets’ behavior. But owner biases—the idea that owners may project their own personalities onto their dogs—don’t seem to come into play. Similar studies have found that acquaintances (strangers, friends, dog walkers) tend to rate a dog’s personality in the same way as its owner. (Does your dog prefer you over anyone else? It’s complicated.)

Why do these similarities exist? The study doesn’t address causes, but Chopik has a hypothesis. “Part of it is the dog you pick, and part of it is the dog it ultimately becomes because of you,” he says.

Chopik says that when adopting a dog, people tend to gravitate towards one that will naturally fit into their daily rhythms. “Do you want a rambunctious dog that needs a lot of interaction, or one that’s more chill for a more sedentary lifestyle?” he says. “We tend to choose dogs that match us.”

Then, whether through conscious training or just day-to day interactions, we shape their behavior—and they change as we change. “Our lifestyle changes trickle down,” he says.

Behaviorist Zazie Todd, author of the website Companion Animal Psychology, says it’s important to note that the five main traits widely used for evaluating people’s personalities (extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, negative emotionality, and open-mindedness) are not the same as the five personality factors used for dogs (fearfulness, aggression toward people, aggression toward animals, activity/excitability, and responsiveness to training). “But there are some really interesting links” between human and dog traits, she says, and qualities tend to match up.

“Even though you measure things in different ways, you find correlations,” Chopik says. “That makes similarities harder to detect, but we found them anyway.”

For example, while “extraversion” isn’t a trait that maps cleanly onto an animal’s personality, extraverted people are typically more outgoing and energetic, so a dog being highly active and excitable is a close parallel.

Future research could potentially tease apart the two possible causes for the personality links. In other words, that chicken-and-egg factor. For example, are friendly, outgoing owners more likely to choose a less fearful-seeming dog? Or is their outgoing lifestyle more likely to rub off on a dog over time? “People who are more agreeable may take their dogs out and about more so that the dog is better socialized and more used to different things,” Todd says. “It could be that people are shaping their dog’s personalities, and this is the most interesting possibility for me.”

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