As an INFJ, how many times throughout your life do you think that you have put off a confrontation or avoided it at all costs? Probably far too many times to remember! It becomes a part of who we are. We tend to describe ourselves as peace-loving, diplomatic and non-confrontational. But as ‘non-confrontational’ as our nature appears to be, there is every chance that fear is what drives this type of nature. The fear of upsetting someone. The fear of someone disliking us because we spoke our truth. The fear of feeling threatened by another. The fear that of the anxiety that we may experience post-confrontation (that fear is usually the one I experience the most). This fear then drives the avoidance and we may tell ourselves little lies to circumvent our cowardice, such as ‘I’m not afraid of confronting them, I just don’t want to disturb my own peace.’ Perhaps we’re not as ‘non-confrontational’ as we tell ourselves we are.
I am sure we’ve all heard the saying ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’ I think INFJs in particular should always keep that phrase in mind. For it’s facing our fears that leads us to growth, experience and self-development. Living within the comfort zone in the confines of fear will help no one and will teach you nothing except to hide away when you feel afraid. Fear of conflict can be a touchy subject for some and that is usually due to denial of fearing conflict and confrontations. The first step to getting over it is admitting that to yourself. It doesn’t make you weak or a push-over. Your brain just interprets conflict as a threat with presumable escalation to danger, likely due to a huge amalgamation of psychosocial factors, up-bringing, past experiences and genetics. It is important to recognise the threat and fear behind your seemingly non-confrontational nature in order to be aware of it and to enable you to change how you react to it in future.
In terms of my own experience, I have shied away from confrontations many times. Maybe someone did something or said something that I inherently disagreed with or found blatantly offensive, or perhaps it violated some internal boundary I hold dear. But I bit my tongue and kept quiet, so as to not ‘rock the boat’ or ‘disturb the peace.’ The problem with that is, I violated my own boundaries by not speaking up. I disrespected my feelings for the sake of protecting the feelings of the other person who didn’t care about making me feel uncomfortable in the first place. Time and time again, I said nothing and internalised it all. Or I showed passive-aggression as a way of making myself feel that I was defending myself. This caused lots of other issues with the self, such as feeling angry at myself or like I was betraying myself. In the end, keeping quiet when you know you should speak up is only ever going to hurt you and show the other person that they can treat you as they please, because they know you’re unlikely to do a thing about it.
Though INFJs are not non-confrontational with all of the people in their lives. I personally can be confrontational with close friends and family members and I’m presuming that there are many INFJs out there that are exactly the same. If we don’t feel close to someone, it’s difficult to show them our true feelings. My reasoning for this is that we need to have a safe space to let our confrontational side show through. And it’s a good way of practicing confrontation so that we are better equipped to handle arguments and disagreements outside of our closest sphere. INFJs have a hidden inner-wolf. We can tear people down with our words, and we know this too well. We choose not to a lot of the time, which could be due to a mix of fear and empathy. Do not let fear tame your inner wolf to point of silence and passivity in the face of perceived disrespect.
Channel your inner wolf starting with the little things. Perhaps you were not satisfied with something you ordered online – don’t just ignore the fact – address it and let them know why you weren’t satisfied. Or maybe your friend is forcing a belief on you that you absolutely refute. Tell them! Let them know that you are able to stand true to your own values while still respecting that they believe different. These are just small examples of how you can begin standing up for yourself and facing the confrontation fears in a place of safety. Soon enough you will be able to reply ‘I don’t appreciate being spoken to like that and I won’t stand for your tone and attitude towards me’ to a work colleague that always takes pleasure in belittling you. Of course, don’t engage in every argument that comes your way – pick your battles. Small steps create the big changes. It won’t be easy and the fear won’t subside, but you will feel your way through it. Know that even when out in the big, bad world with all the dominating personalities of others, your voice matters. Your courage and integrity trump your fears and avoidance. Step into your authenticity and speak your truth, especially when it feels uncomfortable to do so. Do not feed your fears, face them and rise through them. You will gain immeasurable amounts of self-respect and courage by standing your ground and allowing your inner wolf to be revealed to those who benefit from your passivity.