INFPs? Surely, they’re empathetic, gentle, and creative people. They are the personality who uphold authenticity and takes idealism to great heights, leading others to a passionate pursuit of personal growth.
However, although these gentle souls carry great potential, not to mention they’re jacks of all trades, many still struggle with inner conflicts.
One obstacle they usually stumble on is their unflagging fear of failure. Heavy overthinkers? Yes, they are.
So, INFP’s fear of failure… I’m one example who lived it for almost my whole life.
It even scaled up as I entered adulthood. It was a horrifying phase of my existence to think I’m valuable, but at the same time feel useless and stuck with tens to hundreds of failed plans.
If you want to dig deeper into how INFPs view their failures and what can be done to overcome them, keep reading below.
Are you ready? Here we go!
What Failure Looks Like To INFPs
Failure looks different from one personality to another. ISTJs may feel like a failure when they lose control over something they have long protected. INFJs’ failure may be the relentless guilt of losing a relationship they’ve always cherished.
While failures can look similar and familiar to every person, I believe every personality has their own way of dealing with it and how it goes around in their minds.
So, how do INFPs see failure? Here are three scenarios that drove me into a corner as an INFP.
⚫ Lack of movement in an INFP’s life make them feel unimportant and a failure.
To be honest, many INFPs procrastinate. I do, and you probably do, too. But you know, this trait is not the worst thing among INFPs.
Do you know what’s more menacing? It’s that INFPs know they’re procrastinating and actively desire to get out of it, but for some reason, they can’t.
Seriously, it gets to a point where you question your whole existence.
With all their heart, they try to change, but sadly, still fall into the same, old routine — leaving their long-sought dreams in the shadows.
You see, INFPs are idealists — optimistic and amazing visionaries. They got these impressive plots and dispositions and a strong aspiration to better their lives and those around them.
I even had this hopeful dream that after getting promoted to a corporate job, I’d always go around the city to feed the poor.
Well, I did that once after I got my first paycheck as an entry-level employee. But reality check: I didn’t last a year in that career. In short, that’s one dream down the drain during that time.
Or maybe you’re optimistic in pursuing a skill. You spent a few months. Unfortunately, you remained as novice as ever, making you feel left behind and stupid.
Truly, when reality falls short of INFP’s expectations, it’s harrowing and leads to our own self-doubt.
The lack of movement and productivity, and unfulfilled dreams breed INFPs to even more stagnation and even depression. They’d feel useless for not living to their own potential.
They would brood over how they’re throwing away opportunities and hate how stuck they are, leading to much regret. They spiral down into the abyss.
⚫ INFPs’ worst disappointment — when people are aware of their failure.
Life happens, you see. And often, these Dreamers easily accept the rollercoaster ride of life. Failure is okay.
But… that is as long as no one gets to see their defeats.
An INFP may not say the exact words, but during their failed plans, they subconsciously think:
“Ooh, the product I long planned didn’t take off. Oh well.” And they slowly dissolve in the shadows like nothing happened because no one knew their goals.
No one saw the Facebook page that didn’t take off, the novels they began and were left unaccomplished, and the small business they blasted their minds out of last December, but now abandoned.
It’s such a safe space to work in our own comfort zone, without other people’s prying eyes, isn’t it?
But on the other hand, if anyone knows of our walkabouts and is watching our ups and downs closely, you bet we would live in anxiety as we try to hide our flaws and vulnerabilities.
In short, for INFPs, it’s okay to fail. But NOT in front of others! They’d rather run away from their plans than have people criticize them.
⚫ Being a Quitter
Although the easiest escape is to quit, I’m pretty much certain that quitting is one of the most painful memories in an INFP’s life.
There was a time I sat on the floor beside my bed, miserable.
My toxic workplace crushed my spirit as frequently as every day, and I was on the verge of filing my resignation. But the frustration amplified because everyone around me said, “Don’t.” They said, “Jobs are really like that.” “You’ll get used to it.”
With all the emotional chaos, I wrote in my journal, “If I always quit, would I ever succeed in life?”
This was supposed to be an encouragement, but at the same time denigrating and bitterly calling out the quitter in me. I was such a failure to not be mentally strong, unlike my family and colleagues.
Truth be told, when an INFP is stuck in such a loop, they often feel useless and purposeless — exhausted of dreaming and flopping again. They would fear moving forward because what’s even the point? They’ll fail again, over and over.
I know these are difficult memories and experiences. But if you struggle with the same fears of failure, I’d like to tell you there are ways to overcome them.
Not instantly, but through a slow mindset shift.
Here are three ways my view of failure changed over the years. I hope it can help you too.
3 Ways INFP Can Overcome Fears of Failure
1. Recognize that failure is your biggest learning curve. Treasure it.
I didn’t realize it before, but you know what? Failure isn’t exactly failure as long as you keep trying. It gives us TREMENDOUS value than just winning.
Yes, it’s agonizing, especially when we’re raised not to encourage failing.
In psychology, we have a method called positive reinforcement where we reward people, especially children, for their good behavior, and give punishments to discourage the bad attitude.
Thus, success is rewarded, and failure is obviously punished by schools, workplaces, and even your family.
Do this for 20 years, and your character is molded around such an idea that you think your value depends only on the wins, finding no worth in your failures.
But if you’re reading this right now, I want to say that adulthood no longer works that way, especially when you’re an INFP. Life is no longer a graded, short-term academic year for you. But years of discovering, failing, winning, failing, failing some more, and winning again.
There’s not one road to success. But there are multiple roads to becoming better.
I know it can be hard to live by this, especially when we’re surrounded by people – like NJs or SJs – who push us to follow a certain path and win. Not knowing that relentlessly trying and figuring life out is success itself.
As long as we do our best in every course we take, pick up the lessons, and build from that, it no longer matters how others perceive our direction. We’re here for the long haul anyway.
The more you fail, the more compelling your testimony and wisdom become.
Of course, failure can strike an INFP so hard considering how much emotions it draws out from us. But as an INFP, we win at contemplating these factors, at a level most people can’t easily comprehend.
Wisdom inevitably follows us as we accept these mishaps as lessons. I must say being called the wise “old souls” of MBTI is simply spot on.
Wise — this is especially true for the more mature INFPs who have won over their failures and have connected the dots.
To trudge in the world with wisdom is INFP’s greatest asset.
2. Be humble enough to accept your flaws, and don’t put your wins on a pedestal.
Keeping a perfect image is HARD. Obviously, no one’s faultless, so I believe it’d be wiser to humble ourselves.
You might say, “But I’m humble!” Well, as an INFP, I once believed that, too.
And you bet the people around me agree that I exude such gentleness and “humility” too. Or so we thought.
In our recent class reunion, we played a card game where the drawn card’s instruction said, “Give a drink to the kindest person in the room.”
At first, they pointed at my ENFJ best friend, who laughed to her heart’s content. But one disagreed and pointed at me instead. When they realized I was there, they said, “YEAHHHH, IT’S MAJ!” and all voted for me. Lol.
See, INFPs are kind, and people see that, no doubt about that.
But deep down, is kindness really the face of humility?
Thankfully, in the previous years, I’ve come to accept that it’s not the case. I’m not as humble as people perceive, and I believe many INFPs can relate to this, too.
Although gentle and reserved, the truth is that many INFPs are self-conscious individuals.
Because of our Te inferior, our insecurity of being seen as stupid overpowers our pursuit of learning. We tend to shut down and hide away.
INFPs carry a sense of perfectionism and dislike being embarrassed to the point where they’d quit anything rather than let others perceive them as weak and foolish.
This is the very reason why I dropped out of Architecture in college. I was a student who wasn’t really artistic and was obviously at the lower ranks in terms of skill. Instead of being humble and spending time learning to make up for what I lacked, I hid away and dropped out.
How ironic, right? The incompetent runs, so she won’t be perceived as mediocre.
Like a pencil proud to look sharp, yet it never did the hard job of dabbing its lead on paper.
But when I look at my ENFJ friends, honestly, it’s both a wonder and delight how they can laugh at their mistakes, brush off criticisms, and jump into the scene to try again.
As for me, I was… intense.
But once I understood true humility, it was a game-changer.
True humility is when you no longer desire to take note of your wins as if it’s making you more valuable than the others. You also don’t keep a record of your wrongs in the past so nothing would haunt you today.
With this, I felt free.
One example of my change is asking a person how to do a task, rather than pretending that I know it. I no longer have issues admitting that “I don’t know.” But before? I’d die of embarrassment.
Nowadays, people celebrate my wins, and I’m not aware it’s that great. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for the free food I receive! Lol.
I tell you, life becomes easier with humility. It gives a boost of confidence because whether you win or fail, you just know there’s no shame in it.
3. You think you’re failing? Then get up, and work, work, work.
INFPs tend to overthink their failures and get mentally and emotionally stuck. But do you know how to get out of it?
Whether it’s exercising, talking to people, reading a book, researching for a solution, or carrying out a plan, movement is key to freeing ourselves from stagnation. Just move.
So whenever I catch myself overthinking, I do three things:
- Read articles
- Take action
What are my options? What can I do today?
I believe those who seek eventually find. And those who do something about what they found can change the course of their life.
Now the what-if question is, what if you tried numerous solutions but still didn’t work out? How do we face the pain of failing?
Here’s what I do now:
More than brooding over our failures, I would choose to rejoice, for although my attempts to reach goals and solve my problems failed, at least I have tried everything in my power.
“One step closer to figuring it out,” I thought.
I believe that as long as we work, we’ll reach a solution.
Maybe not today, not tomorrow, not this month. But I truly believe we’ll find it as long as we actively seek it.
Now, what if all the solutions don’t work, what do I do?
I let God.
After all the years of overthinking and suffering in my own mind, I’ve now learned to only fight for things that are within my power. I can endure relentless trials and errors, failures and successes, because it’s within my control.
But if all fails and I’m left with nothing but agony, I would know I’ve reached my limit.
So in times of my failures and uncertainty, I just move. If I’m out of options, I let God.
If you don’t agree with it, it’s fine. A very dear loved one currently don’t agree with me on this one. She believes people don’t get results if they don’t do anything.
Of course, I believe that, too. But not until life showed me how cruel it can be at times, despite my passionate efforts. Sometimes, life can bring us to the edge. Put us on the verge of giving up.
I just know that when these happens, those towering problems are no longer ours. So I’d stay still, let a bigger power take over, and watch how it unfolds.
When I get a go signal to work again, I go.
I had enough years trying to solve all my problems on my own. Now, I’d entrust them to someone wiser than me.
Truly, the peace despite being in the storm hits so different.
Failure can feel overwhelming, especially for INFPs who often experience emotions deeply. But remember, setbacks don’t define us, so why not be more self-compassionate during these times?
Be more kind to yourself, just as you are kind to your friends who experience the same struggles.
Keep in mind that failure isn’t a verdict but rather a stepping stone toward gradual success.
Each stumble holds invaluable lessons. And even those stumbles carry a sense of success sooner or later as it develops you.
Despite the fear, keep your head held high.
As Dory said in the Finding Nemo movie: “Just keep swimming!” and you might just encounter the vast ocean, just like she and Marlin did. 🙂
That’s it. I hope this gave you insights on how to overcome INFP fear of failure. Thanks for reading.
Dealing with severe procrastination? Check out my e-book, Not Lazy, Just INFP. 🙂