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INFJs are emotional, intuitive, empathetic, observant…. and rare. So many things can bring us pure joy, but so many things can cause emotional stress and burnout. INFJ burn out is a real thing. I hope I can make a little more sense of it to anyone experiencing it… or anyone who thinks their INFJ friend is close to burn out.

What is INFJ Burn Out?

For anyone who hasn’t experienced a burn out before, I’m gonna try to explain it to you in a way that might be relatable, because I think we’ve all done this.

It’s crazy hot outside and you come in to drink some water. You drink until you feel like you’re floating. You can feel it slosh in your stomach and you’re thinking ‘Why did I do that?” Physically, you feel like garbage. You don’t want another sip and even the word ‘water’ turns your stomach.

That’s what burnout feels like. It’s basically too much of anything… enough that you have to physically and mentally ‘get over’ it.

But burn out for an INFJ usually isn’t just letting the water settle and going back for another cup later.

INFJ burn out can lead to physical and mental exhaustion, a feeling of emptiness, depression and anxiety.

INFJ burn out is something that all INFJs need to be aware of and all of their close friends and family also need to be able to understand.

Career Burn Out

This is something I’ve experienced many times in my life, but never knew it was a ‘thing’.

I even burned out at my very first job!

Because I was ‘old for my age’, I was entrusted with lots of extra tasks and duties. Of course, I never said ‘NO’…. so they just piled them on. I eventually had almost as many responsibilities as a manager….. at SIXTEEN!

I eventually wore myself out trying to make everyone at work happy…. so I began dreading work. Once I got there, I wasn’t the same outgoing, happy employee that I was when I was hired.

I was overwhelmed, tired, frustrated, stressed and sad.

But…. because I’m an INFJ, I’d never speak up that I was miserable… I quietly looked for another job and quit.

I think this has happened with basically every job I’ve ever had, but my last 2 jobs were burnout to the extreme!

I am a perfectionist and passion runs through my veins like blood. So, if I find a job I love, I turn into a highly motivated, very opinionated boss-babe with zero boundaries.

I was working 70+ hour weeks. I dug in. I wrote BOOKS of policies and plans… I literally lived for my job. If the phone rang at 3 am, I would be there immediately. I cared about my job as much as anyone possibly could.

But, once I felt like my efforts weren’t appreciated or I felt like things were going the wrong way, my focus began to drop. My passion began to subside. My energy to push forward eventually changed to finding a way out.

I can’t say I have any answers about how an INFJ can avoid work burn out because I have yet to find a career that hasn’t burnt me out.

While I have no answers for this one, I can just say “you aren’t alone”.

Empathy Burn Out

I used to see my empathy as a weakness. Now I know that it’s only a weakness if someone tries to exploit it or if I’m not careful.

Empathy is a beautiful thing and it’s one of my favorite traits I have.

Not everyone has the ability to be empathetic and put themselves in someone else’s shoes, so it’s something I do wear with pride.

However, my empathy tends to overwhelm my inner dialogue…. like a lot.

As an example, say 2 of my friends get into a fight. One is clearly in the wrong…. but maybe the other person is being a big dramatic. I can see literally everyone’s point of view.

So of course, they ask me to take sides or join in on gossip. ::sigh::

This is when I do one of two things: retreat and wait for the dust to settle….or become the counselor (this usually entails me tell them my opinion, sticking my foot in my mouth, saying too much, speaking too much truth and having one *or both* of them end up mad at me.)

Before I know it, this little stupid squabble (that didn’t even originally include me) is a freaking disaster that is taking up 99% of my mental space. I’m worrying constantly about what they think and I’m having a slew of hypothetical conversations in my head… while all the real stuff going on in my life is being ignored.

I also experience empathy burn out when I overextending myself as a ‘shoulder to cry on’. It’s in my nature to want to help people. But an INFJ can begin to carry a lot of painful baggage just by hearing about someone’s bad day, unfortunate circumstances and pain.

As an INFJ, I feel for them, their situation and I invest my entire heart in it. So obviously, if their experience is painful or heartbreaking, I will feel that pain as well.

As with all types of burnout, feeling someone else’s pain and sadness will eventually just be too much.

I think empathy burn out has a pretty high chance of leading to depression if it isn’t noticed and addressed early on. (Speaking from my own personal experience.)

Make sure you’re checking in with yourself occasionally to see how much pain you’re feeling is your own pain and how much pain you’re carrying is actually other peoples’ pain.

Forced Tragedy Burn Out

The other side of empathy burn out is witnessing tragedy.

This is why I honestly believe that 911 dispatching is a nightmare job for any INFJ.

It is day-in, day-out tragedy and upset. Death, injury, broken families, violence, pettiness, liars…..

Yes, my empathy and compassion made me a pretty good person to be on the other end of the phone line. But, it comes at a steep price.

Not to mention most 911 centers are understaffed so I never really get a true break or time away from the tragedy. Even on my days off, I used to worry about getting called in. Extreme mental drain with no chance of a reset is a remedy for disaster in my opinion.

INFJs just have to be conscious about how much tragedy they are ‘forcing’ themselves to witness that isn’t necessary.

One of my INFJ friends dug in deep to volunteer with the SPCA. Absolutely beautiful intentions. So much passion, care, love… just astounding how selfless she is.

She was rescuing animals from horrendous conditions. She was having to handle dead pets. Pets that were abused or neglected. Some of the stuff she told me gave me nightmares.

But, she quickly had to remove herself from it because it was just too much.

While she wanted to help, she realized that her empathetic soul was becoming heavy and wounded.

So continues to help support them financially and attends their events, but she decided that she is too sensitive to be ‘on the battlefield’.

And that’s okay!

INFJs need to to be in-tune with what they can and cannot handle.

I would love to be an animal advocate, rescue them from hoarding situations and find them homes. My heart bleeds for animals. But after my 5 years working at a vet, I realized that my soul cannot handle witnessing an animal suffer. Even if I know in my soul that I’m helping them… the pain just eats away at me.

So, my advice is just to touch base with your heart. When you realize something is painful or damaging to you, you can take a step back. Even if it has 100% of your soul, passion and heart.

Just make sure you’re protecting yourself. You can’t help others if you, yourself, are broken.

Perfectionist Burn Out

I am a perfectionists about everything. My job, my house, my relationships, my pets, my planner, my eyebrows…

I have learned that this is a big thing with INFJs that I’ve met.

I am a perfectionist with a procrastinator complex. So, if I can’t do something perfectly, I just won’t do it at all.

“I really need to clean house, but all I have time to do is vacuum…. and I really need to dust before I vacuum…. so I just won’t clean today.”

I try to fight it because I know that’s a dumb way to operate… but it’s just how I am!

I have a pile of DIY projects just waiting for the day I can devote all my time and energy to doing them to absolute perfection. Until then, they sit in my office collecting dust.

It’s not like I’m lazy or uninspired… or even that I just don’t feel like doing it.

It’s that I want it to be exactly how I picture it to be in my head. So I need the time, materials and patience to make it perfect.

Also, because I’m a perfectionist and I second guess myself about everything, I find it really hard to actually lay pen to paper. Or paintbrush to wood… or whatever. I’m so afraid to goof up that I usually procrastinate until I finally tell myself “it’s a $3 piece of wood. JUST PAINT!”

On a side note, I finally convinced myself to just try painting freehand. Something I’ve always wanted to do, but saw it too daunting thing to learn.

My cow selfie.

Definitely not a pro, but I am so happy that I finally took the leap and gave myself a chance to do something that I knew would be less than perfect. Painting is my new decompressing tool. I am so glad I found something to soothe my soul.

So, if there’s something that the perfectionist in you said “don’t do it! It won’t be perfect!“…. tell that voice to shut up and give it a try! You might amaze yourself!

Work/Perfection Burn Out

I feel like my perfectionist brain hampered me career-wise before I was able to manage it more mindfully.

I was a perfectionist at the vet and I burned myself out trying to be perfect, so I left. I was a perfectionist in dispatch and I burned myself out trying to be perfect, so I left. I was a perfectionist with my handmade gift business and I burned myself out trying to be perfect, so I stopped making.

Praying that ya’ll will just accept me while I fight my perfectionist side when it comes to my blog. I don’t want to ever stop writing because I get caught up worrying about being perfect.

Social Burn Out

An INFJ’s social ‘tolerance’ is commonly referred to as a battery.

Socializing drains my battery…. and alone time recharges me.

The better the friend, the more quality conversations… the less they drain my battery.

I could literally hang with my bestie for like 2 weeks and not feel drained. She’s close enough to being my mental twin that time with her is as recharging as alone time.

Same thing with Hunter. We are comfortable with our time together so I don’t feel like I need him to give me space.

I pray that every INFJ finds a partner that fits them like Hunter fits me and my ways. They end up being your ‘portable charger’. We can be out somewhere and he can realize I’m draining… and he gives me a bit of a boost.

My family is like the 1/2 way point for socializing. I can be 100% burnt TF out with my friends, but still want to be around family. But, sometimes my family is too much for me to handle. It really just depends.

When I’m around a large group of people, people I have a very shallow/surface friendship with or someone who looooooooves small talk, I can hear my internal battery start to beep. It will eventually start to shout “Find the nearest door now!”.

I really do enjoy being with people and I wholeheartedly know that being social is a requirement for a healthy brain. However, I have to be picky about who I choose to have in my life for many reasons.

All I can say is: find people who want to understand you and your weird INFJ ways. Don’t surround yourself with people who constantly want you to be different.

Small Talk

So, I mentioned the person who loves small talk. ::ugh:: Small talk kills me.

Someone: “Did ya’ll see the high is going to be 95º tomorrow?

INFJ: “Oh really? That’s hot!” ::screaming inside their head::

There’s not enough actual ‘meat’ to that conversation to keep my attention.

So I’ll eventually completely detach from the actual conversation I’m having with the small talker and begin another conversation in my own mind.

While I’m nodding to you as you explain in-depth how you got a 20 pack of toilet paper for $2….. I’m contemplating the effects of coupons and ‘deals’ on the human psyche.

I’m not saying that you’re stupid and I’m smart. I’m just saying I need depth to engage in a conversation.

Talk about the solar system, your philosophy about human existence, spirituality.

We’re always told to avoid talking to friends about religion or politics. This is absolute BS to an INFJ. We crave that type of conversation because it truly matters. Everyone has become so afraid of discussing real topics that we spend all of our time talking about things that really don’t matter.

Whatever, I’ll get off my soapbox.

But to my INFJ friends, I have ZERO solutions or suggestions for handling small talk. Just grit your teeth and get through it. And find you a friend who likes to talk about higher concepts. It’s refreshing.

Advice Burn Out

It doesn’t matter the type of social situation, ‘that person’ always finds me.

The person who needs to spill their soul, tell their life story and expose their current reality to someone.

It doesn’t matter if I’m at a noisy bar, house party, progressive dinner… that person always finds me and we lock in to a very deep, very personal conversation.

Not only do people seek me out to confide in…. they usually want my advice as well.

I try to not give unsolicited advice. I try to wait until the other person asks me for advice. I am a highly sensitive person and I don’t want to openly offer advice that could possibly offend someone or ‘overstep my boundaries’. I believe the term is ‘stay in your lane’….? (Not hip enough to keep up with the lingo nowadays).

But once you ask for advice, it’s game on!

You can trust that my advice won’t be self-serving. I am highly emotional we I am also insanely logical and rational when giving advice.

Because I put so much thought and heart into the advice I give, it really rubs me the wrong way when someone asks for advice and then does the total opposite.

Then, they come back upset that the situation ended up worse than before.

I had a friend call me super upset after she found out that her husband had been transferring money out of their joint account.

I told her to contact the bank and do some research. Ask if they could give her any more info on the transfer, lay out everything plain and simple and then ask him what was going on. I told her that she needed to handle it calmly and to take her time to work through the situation.

Yeah. She went the other way…

She had it worked up in her head that he was cheating, he found out he had a kid with someone else, he had a gambling problem…. she let her brain go doomsday rather than looking at the facts and talking to him like he was her partner.

She called his friends to see what was going on. She called his mom. She even followed him to work to asked to talk to his boss and coworkers….

He eventually caught wind and called her to figure out what was going on and she let him have it. Hyped up on her own rage, she ripped him a new one.

Well, he wasn’t cheating or doing anything sketchy. He was setting money aside to take her on a honeymoon because they couldn’t afford one right when they got married.

Instead of just maybe ruining a really good surprise, she hurt their relationship really bad. Possibly beyond repair. I’m not sure how they’re doing after this. She had me so burnt out with advice that I disconnected.

If you continually ask for my advice and don’t take it, you’re gonna burn me out. Most of the time, that means I’ll just stop giving you advice…. but sometimes it can end in a door slam.

I call this type of person an ‘ask-hole’. INFJ friends, just know it’s okay to close the door on an ask-hole. You tried… don’t dwell or let it hurt your feelings too bad.

Intuition Burn Out

At a very young age, my intuition for people was strong. I would warn my mom about friends, family members and customers we’ve worked with.

“Hey mom, don’t get too close to her too fast. Something isn’t right with her”

Damn sure enough, every time…. that person ended up being two-faced, snakey, dramatic…. and my mom always looked at me like ‘but how did you know?

My face every time

I even warned my dad to not do business with this one guy because I got bad ‘vibes’ from him. We spent 11 years in court with him and almost had to get a restraining order because he started to stalk us.

Luckily, I’m 30 years old, so my parents and close friends have come to learn that my intuition is normally spot on.

However, being an INFJ, I still always want to give someone the benefit of doubt. Maybe they are a good person and I’m just being too judgmental.

It’s a real struggle trying to balance intuition and fairness. Especially if someone keeps ‘testing’ you. Like, they act like a good friend for a few weeks then go right back to being shady.

I also get burnt out when others use me as a ‘people detector’. My old boss used to put me in the room with potential new hires and have me ‘feel them out’. It’s exhausting being 100% judgmental and still trying to remain kind, passionate and forgiving.

Unless you really have a tug in your gut to give someone a bunch of chances, trust your intuition. Follow your gut.

‘Taker’ Burnout

By ‘Taker’, I mean that person in your life that takes, takes, takes, takes…. and never bats an eye when asking or expecting things from you.

Some people are just like this by nature…. maybe it’s how their personality types are… I’m not sure why a ‘Taker’ is a ‘Taker’.

The ‘Taker’ really takes (HA) a toll on me and my brain.

Now, I’m not talking about casual friend needs. “Do you have a cup of sugar?” or “I forgot my wallet at home, can you cover me?”

I’m talking about repetitive big stuff. “Can I borrow your car to drive to Florida?” …. “Will you help me move my aunt’s cousin’s brother?”…

Why Takers burn me out:

1.) I am not that way.

So, I can’t even begin to comprehend being that way. I literally hate asking anyone for anything. Ever. If I absolutely have to ask for help, I will…. but it truly wrenches my soul and I feel indebted to someone for forever even for small tasks.

So, when someone asks me to do something insane that they could easily do themselves, I just sorta mentally ask myself ‘but why…..?’.

I’ve had a ‘friend’ ask me to drive 45 minutes to bring her a phone charger because she left hers in the neighbors car….. next door….

That’s just taking to take. Selfishness, laziness…..whatever.

2.) 50/50. Give & take. Tit for tat.

Call it what you will…. no friendship or relationship has any chance of working if it’s 100/0.

NONE.

It’s literally impossible to maintain a friendship like that. Not even my DOGS treat me like that. They may take financial support, care, and love…. but they give back even more.

Once I realize someone is a habitual taker, it’s a thin line between just being burn out and being a total door slam.

Most of the time, I can take a lengthy break from contact with a ‘Taker’ and I can basically ‘get over’ it.

However, if they still continue to ask and take while I removed myself from the situation, it’ll usually end up in a pretty hard door slam.

My advice to INFJs when you’re handling a Taker…. distance yourself when you begin to notice that they’re a Taker. We suck at saying ‘NO’…. so don’t let yourself get used.

Observation Burn Out

Whether it’s ‘people watching’ or noticing odd patterns in traffic in our area…. if my eyes are open, I am observing everything.

So, even a trip to the mall can be exhausting.

I can’t just mindlessly walk into the store, try on clothes, pay and leave.

I am looking at all of the cars and people around me in the parking lot (but of course forgetting to look for a landmark so I can find the car….). I’m listening to and watching the people walking in front of us. I am absorbing the environment in the store, the other shoppers, the employees…

It’s a lot for my brain to analyze.

Here’s observation example that’s also 50% empathy:

I was at my favorite store, grabbing some glue for a project. I take my time, wander around. Soul-search to see if I’m ready for another DIY project.

When I get to the counter, I notice the cashier had a very tired and hurt smile, but her eyes were so kind. She was very quiet and meek. She asked if I found everything. I answered “everything and more” with a giggle.

She giggled back and asked what I was making. I told her that I was making something for a friend’s baby shower.

I saw her face absolutely drop and all of her happiness seemed to drain from her body. She responded with a very soft “how nice”. She averted her eyes and it looked like she was trying to keep from crying.

I thought about this poor cashier for days. Why did she have so much pain in her eyes? Why did she wilt when I mentioned a baby shower? Had she lost a child? Found out she couldn’t have kids? Why was her soul so hurt?

As an INFJ, I pick up on things most other people would never notice…. then I empathize and carry it with us like it’s our own burden.

My observant behavior has broken my heart, gotten me into trouble, made me mad, made me sad…. hell, when I’m truly honest about it, it makes me lose faith in humanity.

I think my observational burn out is what usually tends to ramp up my anxiety… and eventually turns me into a shut-in.

“Why didn’t so-and-so wave?”… “What did so-and-so mean by that text?” … “So-and-so acted really odd when I asked her how she was doing. Wonder if she’s mad at me?” … “So-and-so’s car hasn’t been in their driveway for 3 days, I wonder if they’re okay.”

Sorta sounds like paranoia… sorta is. Sorta sounds like worrying… sorta is.

If your observational brain starts to bog you down, take a day to detox. Turn your phone off, watch some Disney movies and recover. Don’t let yourself spiral.

Sensory Burn Out

I’ll be honest, I get sensory burn out super easily. Seems like the older I get, the less I can handle.

Lights, sounds, movement….

I may only be speaking for myself, when I say this, but a music festival is basically my worst nightmare.

Before I understood my social anxiety or knew anything about being an INFJ, I noticed that big events were just a lot on all of my senses.

I passed out at Warped Tour and Music Midtown as a teen. Had no clue why it kept happening. I know it’s a rather extreme response to people, but I wasn’t listening to my body’s warning signs.

I5 different bands and what seems like billions of people. Food trucks, vendors. Walking over dirt then sand then grass then concrete. The smells of perfume, popcorn, beer…. people. Light shows. People pushing and acting up….

Sounds like a fun time for an extrovert… but it is absolutely overwhelming to me and most INFJs.

I personally just don’t go places that are likely to be a sensory overload. If I do, I just make sure to find a quiet(ish) place and take a few mental breaks throughout the event. Sometimes even go sit in the car with the A/C on for a second.

Social Media Sensory Overload

I even experience sensory overload with smaller, less intrusive things like social media.

While it’s something I can control, it is still over-stimulation.

It’s all so fast-paced, quickly changing and highly impersonal.

Like, comment, follow, unfollow, post, share, re-Tweet….

It’s a barrage of information that’s in your face to consume, digest and analyze.

Also, I think social media is very fake and ‘small talk-ish’. Most people don’t provide context to their posts… or sometimes what they post is a lie about their life.

I wrote about why social media & INFJs aren’t a good pair. I highly suggest you go read it if you have time. I dig in a little bit more about why INFJs can be burnt out by social media.

Also, my friend, Gina at Limit Breaker wrote an amazing blog post about why she removed social media from her cell phone.

All INFJs need to create restrictions for their social media intake. Set a time limit or schedule and stick to it. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole and let it suck your energy.

Moral Burn Out

As an INFJ, I hold morals, values, and principles near to my heart. So close that it might actually be what keeps my heart pumping.

Literally, the fastest way to get door slammed by an INFJ is to continually violate our morals or show that you have none.

This is probably one of the main reasons INFJs feel alone. Society seems to void of morals lately. It can be hard for an INFJ find a person who respects morals and values as much as they do.

To sum up my experience in life: I am basically searching the world over for someone who walks the walk and talks the talk. They practice what they preach. I am looking for people who are just good. They don’t act good, they are good.

Being too close to an immoral situation quickly wears me down.

I’ve had bosses lie to the ‘big boss’ to make it seem like they were a better employee than they really were, I’ve seen domestic violence in close friendships and wasn’t allowed to say anything, I’ve had people confide in me that they were cheating or stealing with their significant other….

Knowing these wrongs and not being able to right them made me feel uncomfortable, sad and tarnished.

Being a forgiving soul, I usually give someone plenty of chances to redeem themselves from mistakes and bad decisions. I know that no one is perfect.

However, if someone makes it very apparent that they have zero intention of changing: door slam.

Only advice I can give to an INFJ facing this type of burn out: if someone is willing to show you their true colors, believe them.

Learning Burn Out

Some people call it school burnout or university burn out.

I hate looking back on the past, but this explains why I couldn’t finish college… I wish I knew about this back then.

Learning is just one constant cycle of cramming your head full of information, testing it, getting a grade, purging that info, learning the next load of information….so on and so on…

I can typically tolerate this cycle if I’m learning about topics that I’m somewhat passionate about, but usually tank when it’s a subject that I have zero interest learning.

I literally cried when my counselor told me that to get my freaking journalism degree, I have to take a ton of Algebra, Science and film classes….

I don’t care about any of those subjects and they have nothing to do with my major, so I immediately knew that I was going to struggle to just even pass those classes.

In reality, I should have known that a ‘traditional’ college just wasn’t for me. I needed a trade school or maybe even an apprenticeship.

But we’ve all been told that to get anywhere in life, you have to do 4 years of traditional college.

Learning burnout is when your brain ‘just can’t even’ anymore. It’s not laziness or ‘failure to apply yourself’.

I want to learn. I want to excel. I want success.

…. and I am fully capable of learning and being successful, but I couldn’t do things the ‘traditional’ way. I had to get real life experience and figure it out on my own.

I have 2 tips for INFJs when it comes to learning burn out:

1.) If it’s not your thing, that’s okay.

If traditional college doesn’t work for you, don’t try to shape yourself to fit the ‘college experience’.

You can still find a way to do what you want even if it’s just a little harder.

2.) Take a year off.

Give your brain a break between high school and college. Detox from the toxic cliques and drama. College is really people-y. I promise that you’ll thank yourself for taking a break before you surround yourself with thousands of new people. Busy hallways, massive classes, bustling dorms….

You’ve been shoving unwanted info in your brain for 12 years. Go do something to enhance your life experience like wait tables or try your hand at sales.

Do some real soul searching. Figure out what you want to dedicate your brain space to and what is your real true passion. I know that’s hard at a young age because you have peers, parents and counselors hounding you. But there’s no point going to college if you’re going to leave like I did.

Burn Out vs System Failure

Like I mentioned before, as an INFJ, I am extremely prone to emotional damage.

So, maybe I just get hurt feelings more easily…. but I also might spiral into full blown depression or anxiety.

Until recently, I was very out of tune with my burn out limits… so my burn out went unnoticed and subsequently turned into complete exhaustion. It’s what I call ‘system failure’.

I was burnt out from everything I listed above and more. I let people treat me like trash for so long that it had become the new norm. I let them stomp me down, make me feel small. Then my own brain stepped in and continued to make me feel small.

I wasn’t aware that my ‘check engine light’ was on and I was still driving 80 mph down the freeway.

I was in this nasty downward spiral and I wasn’t even paying attention to look for a way to stop it. I was too distracted by drama and my own brain telling me that I’m not good enough.

It got so bad that I gained a ton of weight. My doctor told me that my heart was in poor health. I suffered months of crippling panic attacks and depression. I spent days in bed. I’d go days without seeing anyone but Hunter and my parents.

System failure sounds like a funny little concept that’s comparing my body to a car…. but it’s the biggest wake-up call I’ve ever experienced.

Don’t let yourself get to this point.

Learn your brain and your body. Stop and re-evaluate your life if either of them are giving you red lights. If you’re feeling physically worn down, continually sad or if the negative self talk becomes more constant. Stop the burn out before you get to system failure.

It’s easier to replace a burnt out light bulb than replace the entire car. (I know… I said it’s not just a funny concept, but I thought this was a good point to make.)

My Advice

All of the other blog posts about INFJ burn out tell you ways to detect, protect and repair from burn out. They usually talk about self-care and taking time to yourself…..

Um…. have you actually met an INFJ?

We come in dead last in our brains.

So, while it’s easy to throw out a list of soothing techniques and self care ideas, we all know that as an INFJs, we suck at that!

The real key isn’t meditation or alone time… it’s not bubble baths or spa days.

It’s being in-tune with yourself.

The real self care is knowing “I am susceptible to burn out. I need to learn my body and brain so I can learn the warning signs. Self preserve before I burn out.

No amount of meditation or pedicures can fix the way your brain operates and how you respond to external stimuli.

I have learned that my warning signs start out small and quickly escalate if I don’t address the issue.

Constant nausea. Worrying about small things like the doors being locked or if I left the garage open. Tightness in my neck and shoulders. Jaw pain from grinding my teeth all night.

Then comes the negative self-talk…. and it’s all downhill from there.

Now that I have come to learn my limits a little better, I can recognize my body and brain’s response and try to evaluate what situation in my life is making me feel this way.

Touch Base With Yourself

A journal is very helpful for this step. Sometimes you need to see things written on paper and read it back to yourself to really make sure it’s coherent.

INFJs are better at written word than the spoken word, so writing is very therapeutic.

Find The Trouble Areas

Grade all areas of your life from A+ to F-.

  • How do you see/feel about yourself?
  • Love life
  • Family life
  • Friendships
  • Faith & spirituality
  • Financial situation
  • Housing situation
  • Health
  • Future

Then start with your lowest grade and go from there.

Friendships on the rocks due to some drama? Decide if it’s worth repairing. Reach out or let it fade away. Don’t continue to carry shreds around anymore. Either sew it back up or let go of it. A lot of INFJs carry remnants of old friendships and relationships. Free yourself from those.

Not happy with your job? Decide on 1 new healthy work habit to start every Monday for the next 4 weeks. Remind yourself that you’re a badass and you will meet your goals.

Analyze Your Day

Step back and evaluate your daily routine.

Are you overloaded? Are you trying to do too much? If you’re an INFJ, I’m gonna guess “YES!”

What are you willing to let fall to the wayside? What can go on the back burner until you’re able to pick it back up and give it the attention it deserves?

I know it’s insanely hard to let yourself ‘drop the ball’, but you’re better off letting one pin drop rather than drop everything you’re juggling.

So, don’t look at it like defeat or surrender. It’s self-preservation.

What Matters Most

Make a list of the top 5 things in your life. The real priorities. What you can’t live without.

If you’re feeling burnt out about something that has nothing to do with those top 5 things, drop it like a hot potato.

If you’re feeling empathy burn out from a coworker who continually dumps their problems on your plate, find a way to avoid them or change the conversation. It’s not like your job depends on your willingness to be their therapist.

If your current ‘stressor’ isn’t directly affecting your top 5 things, find a resolve.

We unnecessarily carry weight from the world that’s not ours to carry.

Evaluate the baggage you’re carrying and let go of it if it doesn’t have your name on it.

My Final Words About INFJ Burn Out

All I can say is: stop, breathe.

Allow yourself to think consciously rather than a continual flow of automatic thoughts.

Get control of your mind. Dig around for the problem spot that you need to address. Come up with a game plan and execute it.

INFJ burn out can be prevented if you make sure to keep a journal about how you feel and what your brain is struggling to cope with.

As an INFJ, you can conquer anything you put your mind to. Just put your mind to it and handle it.

Also, have a little empathy for yourself. Give yourself a break for once. You’re doing all you can do. You deserve some credit for having carried all of this baggage even if you have to set some down.

Anyways, I hope this helped someone to regain control over their INFJ-isms and pour some water on their burn out.

Don’t forget to comment below with your opinions and experiences.

Also, I am thinking about creating a self-awareness workbook for INFJs. Would ya’ll be interested in that?

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I'm an INFJ- so I'm a walking contradiction with ADD and a heart the size of Texas. I live my life by the Law of Attraction and I love helping other people find inner peace.

27 Comments

  • Gina Lucia

    This was amazing. I agreed with every single thing you said and I laughed out loud at the ‘ask-hole’ reference. I’m definitely using that in the future.

    You’re absolutely right though, when it happened to me I didn’t see it coming but my husband did (who is also a mini battery for me too), I brushed it off though when he warned me. Of course I thought I knew myself better.

    Sometimes I think it has to happen to you for you to fully understand your limits. That way you can hopefully make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    Also, music festivals are my worst nightmare too. No thank you. I will sit at home and enjoy them on my TV 😆

    • BarbedWireandLace

      I am so glad your hubby is intune with you enough to notice it. Hunter has really started to learn the warning signs and he always redirects my energy.

      I 100% agree that burnout and system failure is both sorta necessary. It teaches you how incredibly important it is to listen to your brain and body. We as INFJs are so preoccupied with the external world that sometimes we forget to analyze our own feelings.

      Haha EXACTLY! That way I can pause it to go get snacks and I don’t have to wait in line 😂

    • Shannon

      So. much. truth. here. I don’t have anyone in my life that even remotely understands my reactions to things, except for one of my daughters who is also an INFJ. It’s hard to interact daily with a world that just slaps a label of “too emotional” on you. And really hard when no one in your life seems to be willing to acknowledge that with all those times that your instinct tells you something that does end up to be true, it might mean that they should be willing to listen to you next time….

      • BarbedWireandLace

        Shannon, I am so glad that you enjoyed my post and I am SO glad that you have your INFJ daughter to relate to. My best friend is an INFJ so she is like my soul sister. I’ll text her like ‘it’s a very INFJ-y day today…’ haha

        I read a post a bit ago about how people need to stop using the word ‘sensitive’ or ’emotional’. I half agree, half disagree. I can honestly say that I HATE being called either of those words… but I don’t know why… because I AM sensitive and emotional.

        While these are things that I THINK anyone should wear with a badge of honor, society has taught us that those are bad, negative things to be. They’re associated with weakness and fragility. Which, I think that in the case of an INFJ, it’s the TOTAL opposite. Our sensitive, emotional souls don’t make us weak or easily breakable. It makes us stronger, more capable of being a good friend or spouse. It means we can contribute more to the events and situations that REALLY matter. Like world peace!!!! (Only half kidding there, I have a legit plan for world peace….)

        The intuition is SO frustrating. Because you can’t explain to someone WHY you have a gut feeling… because I dunno about you, but mine is a legit GUT feeling. If someone is icky and giving off bad vibes, I will get a stomach ache like you wouldn’t believe. If I meet someone who is good and nurturing to my soul, I will seriously get butterflies like I’m excited.

        That’s not something you can explain. “I got butterflies when I met her. You should hire her’….. sorta just sounds like a girl crush rather than intuition. So… sometimes I just keep to myself and let them figure out why. It takes everything in me to not say ‘I told ya so’. hahaha

  • Steph Social

    You sound so much like myself Morgan!!! I just can’t understand how empathy is your fave trait though I mean I guess I kinda see but it is by far thee most draining quality 🙁 I can’t watch serial killer documentaries anymore becuZe I literally get so upset about it for weeks after ugh I put myself in their shoes and feel their emotions like it’s my own 🙁 most people don’t get it, but I do girl!! And socializing, don’t even get me started on how draining that is! I’ve pretty much isolated myself lately to write and it’s hard to say if it’s working for me or against me cuz I may never go to another party or function again unless I’m literally forced… meh!

    • BarbedWireandLace

      I like my empathy because I feel like it allows me to see deeper into a person than just the surface issue. It sorta puts me in their shoes and lets me see WHY they did something, not just that they did something, ya know? haha That is sort of a weird thing to like though now that I think about it…

      I’m that way about disaster and historical documentaries. Like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. I will feel sick for weeks after watching it. Just feeling so heavy for everyone whose life was changed.

      I hate it cause I feel like I’m missing out on a bunch of important historical info because my heart just can’t carry the tragedy of it all. I watched a video about the Native Americans and their relationship with the land. Cried for hours!

      Same way about socializing, girl. I have become sort of a shut-in. I keep my social battery charged just enough to go to the store and come home. But I don’t have much more in me than that. I feel like the world is so loud and dramatic. Not comfortable for introverts or highly sensitive people.

      Thanks for reading, love! Glad you liked it! <3

  • Shellie Bolyard

    Thank you for sharing your experience and advice. I struggle with sensory overload, especially noises. I can’t stand it when 2 people talk to me at the same time. I have 3 kids, so that is pretty much ALL THE TIME. I lose my mind when I’m driving and my 12-year-old son turns on his rap music and blasts it. I feel like my other senses take a hit when I’m bombarded with noise. Lucky me, I live in a VERY noisy house 🤦‍♀️

    • BarbedWireandLace

      Oh, the noise overload is a serious one for me. If 2 people are trying to talk to me, I sorta just freeze. Like, I don’t listen to either of them cause I’m telling myself ‘don’t scream, don’t scream’ haha I also have very sensitive ears, so blasting any kind of music is a ‘no’ from me nowadays. haha bless your heart! Invest in some good earplugs!

  • Leslie Scarpa

    This is great Morgan! Although technically I am not an INFJ, I do have strong empathy and compassion. Because of this, and my passion for working with at-risk youth, I have to be careful and set boundaries for myself or I’d have a houseful of kids!
    Keep working through to find your balance. Be a perfectionist in balance. 🙂 Hugs to you! 💞

    • BarbedWireandLace

      Leslie, I could see you with a house FULL of kids and kittens if you weren’t careful and mindful. You’re an incredibly empathetic person and I have always loved your bleeding heart! Hugs right back! Thanks for reading!

  • Sharon Hoffer

    OMG what a fantastic article! It’s like a checklist of all my INFJ traits. And put into words so well. I’m 54 now, and only found out I’m an INFJ about 5 years ago, so you can imagine my suffering through life! I’ve burnt out at so many jobs, especially because I was also a single mum, so had that added pressure. I was always trying to fit in with the extroverted types all my life too, from school, to work, and never felt comfortable, and constantly had burnout from all that noise. Small talk gets me so anxious I end up sometimes just going blank, I have no idea what to say. Yet start talking to me about those bigger subjects and you can’t shut me up. I’ve also just ended an 18 year relationship with a guy who turned out to be a narcissist, and he was an extreme taker, so I’m currently hiding out from society totally, while I re-boot my head! I am struggling with depression, but the thought of making new friends, or having to socialise, freaks me out! I love gardening, a passion I’ve found in the last five years also, so I’m completely changing careers from legal secretary to nursery worker. I just hope the four month study course doesn’t break me completely LOL 😆Thank you again for putting so beautifully in words, how I feel inside, and how I’m not ‘too sensitive’, ‘weird’ or ‘quiet’, just special, just an INFJ.

    • Aldona

      Wow. I couldn’t agree more. I had never read article so thorough and to the point about INFJ’s feelings. Had to leave comment just for appreciation. Thank you. It comes with such a great timing. I’m already so tired of everyone problems. I’m pushing my own important metters away just for others conveniences. For family, friends, my ex (that was draining me for 6 long years) etc. Done it for so long that everyone thinks it’s my obligation now, noone even seems to be thankfull. It’s even more hurtfull since they are my close one. I sacrificed so much for them that I feel I have nothing left, no future plans and no career because all this years I was living to their expectations doing things that they wanted me to do, or even taking task by myself, as I know they have only me. And after all this time they happen to think all this work was only their contribution and I’m a failure since my own wold is a mess. Just worked for their success leaving myself at the deadend and noone to support me. Shithappens i guess. I have a lot going through my mind, suffocating inside since I hate to transfer my drama and problems to others. I feel like this article is such a blessing to me. Gave me so much energy, and so much understanding. Luckily I also found my “battery” not long ago, so maybe I will be able to manage my system breakout with yours and his support! Thank you!
      Ps. Yes, people with problems to share always finds me :), yes I’m perfectionist, and also too much data gets me a real headache and takes my lifemotive away ^^ but if it’s about festivals and such I kind of learned how to enjoy it (at least those in openspace). I always look for a decent and peaceful spot, for eg. A hill nearby and enjoy it from the distance. Nature realy works soothing for me 🙂

      • BarbedWireandLace

        Thank you SO much for taking the time to read this and comment. It means more than you could ever know (actually, as an INFJ, you probably know how much appreciation makes your heart swell haha)

        I think INFJs really have a tendency to get hurt, used and abused more than other types because we are what my mom calls ‘bleeding hearts’. We want everyone to have a billion chances to do good, be good. We root for the underdog. We stand still so others can stand on our backs for a boost up.

        But… while we’re busy doing all of that, we forget that WE need a little care too. We need someone to be compassionate for us. We need someone to pull us up from the floor, dust us off and say ‘go recharge’…. and even if we can’t find someone to do that for us, it’s INCREDIBLY important that we learn to find our threshold and stop it before we are past the point of repair. Because, like you said, you end up letting yourself fail just because you want everyone else to succeed.

        I am the same way with the stuff in my head. I feel like my brain runs at a speed that other people just can’t comprehend. Hell, half the time, I can’t comprehend it myself because it’s going so fast that there’s ZERO time to analyze it. Then, by the time I get to where I NEED to vent…. my words come out like a hot freaking mess. What I so eloquently practiced in the shower comes out like ‘I’m just stressed and worried’…..

        I taught Hunter and my mom about my brain one day and it really made them realize why I am the way I am. For 3 minutes, I spoke every thought that came into my head that I could vocalize.

        “I really hope it doesn’t rain, the neighbor left their dog in the back yard and I’d hate for them to sit through a storm. I need to remember to pay the water bill. When was the last time that I changed my contacts? I really hope Kristen isn’t mad at me. I texted her 2 hours ago and I know she has her phone… maybe she was upset I didn’t wave at the grocery? I should text her and tell her I didn’t wave cause I didn’t have my glasses on and I didn’t know it was her until it was awkwardly too late.”

        They both looked at me in shock. Like, how do you LIVE like this? I just said ‘I don’t know. But it’s how I’ve been my entire life. Nothing quiets it, nothing soothes it… it just IS.’

        Anyways, thank you so much for reading. I am glad that you could relate to it. Maybe spend a little time journaling like I do. Write what you’re feeling and what is hurting your soul. We’re all much better with written words than speaking out loud.

        Also, thanks for the festival tip! I’ll have to try it if I ever get up the guts to go to another one! haha

    • Rena Rose

      I can not tell you how amazing it was for me to read this. You were able to describe things I experience almost daily and struggles I have that no one ever really seems to understand (even though they try). I am so with you on the juxtaposed perfectionist and procrastinator tendencies. I have also learned how to embrace my empathy and I feel like that has helped me a lot in my own mental health and in how I deal with others. For me the hardest thing is finding someone who you can have real in-depth conversations with because most people do not seem to approach the world the way I do. I wonder about everything (love Googling things) and I am constantly focused on self improvement and introspection. I immensely enjoyed reading your blog and want to thank you for so eloquently putting into words what is often so difficult!

      • BarbedWireandLace

        Rena, I am so glad you found it and it was able to resonate with you and your soul.

        It’s really funny how our brains just CRAVE knowledge. Like, I want to know everything I possibly can. I want to know every thing about every religion. I want to know all there is about space. I too spend a LOT of time on Google just trying to find out WHY….HOW…. it all just fascinates me. I think learning helps to silence the annoying part of my brain that it chatty and worries about stuff that doesn’t matter.

        Like, if I focus on learning about my purpose on Earth, my brain won’t chatter with little things like ‘Oh, I need to start the dishwasher’ haha

        Keep learning, keep reaching out for more… you’ll start to find that the right people will start to appear in your life. They’ll be drawn to you and your vibes. It just means you’re gonna meet a lot of jackasses along the way! haha

    • BarbedWireandLace

      I can 100% relate. I always felt pressure from the extroverts like ‘cmon, let’s just go out! You’ll have so much fun!’…. then I go to appease them and I hate it. I’m miserable and feel all alone in a crowded room. I always thought I was just weird or that I was like some sort or social hermit. I even had friends try to convince me that my introversion was just a symptom of depression. Then, I REALLY freak out thinking ‘oh my GOD! Have I been depressed for 30 years?” hahaha

      I am so glad to hear that you escaped from the narcissist. I’ve had many come in and out of my life. I always want to give them the benefit of doubt, but it always ends up biting me in the ass in the end. Trust your gut and recharge knowing that you ARE in charge and you DO make the right decisions even if others make you feel otherwise.

      Thanks for reading. I am so glad that you enjoyed it because I loved writing it. Basically I got to write about how I’m a weirdo and I love that I am. Just hoping to connect with other weirdos cause we’re some pretty special people (even if we don’t think so ourselves haha)

  • Claudia Lamy

    I related and enjoyed your flow of reflection. It sort of gave me a break from having to express it and just hear it back to me.

    I have been indulging in self care and creating my lifestyle that meets my mental wealth vision, while following my passionate heart.

    What you wrote and how you wrote it was exactly what I needed. Which really related to me how I need to do what I do as I do!
    Imperfect perfect for someone.

    As a energy facilitator I help people manage their resources but providing a space to explore time for reflection at one micro shift that can help align them towards their intentions. This is about process, compassion and long term self care for a lifestyle change.

    I give this service because it’s the service I have been giving myself. Cutting people out of my life and investing attention and shared time with only a select few.
    Matching my intentions, words and actions and internal gages for optimum mental wealth and health.

    Along with working on my larger visions that will bring cultural change.

    There is a big gap between my now and visions but I know all the self care and shift of mind and change is the change that the world seeks for harmony.

    Along with people like yourself sharing their stories, release my own inhibitors.

    Thank you!

    • BarbedWireandLace

      Claudia, I am so glad you found this and enjoyed reading it.

      I love what you are doing with your life mission. Truly inspiring and what a beautiful goal. I’ve been on a spiritual path/energy awakening myself lately and it has been a true struggle working through all of my INFJ-isms while I try to bring myself to be on the next level.

      Like you said, I think that all we are seeking in our lives is harmony. Harmony within ourselves, with the world, with our friends and family, with the Earth.

      Keep releasing those inhibitions. You’re doing great! <3

  • Silure

    This is so good and so timely. I’ve only recently learnt about the whole empath thing and it explains soooo much about me and my life. I wish I’d known this stuff earlier so that I could have been a little kinder to myself and understood what the heck was going on, but I’ve found it now (and I’m heading for retirement so I guess it’s never too late.)
    Just one thought, something that I read just this week, “emotion is data”, for us sensitive souls this is a great thing to know, as soon as you’re feeling ‘wrong’ in some way- time to analyse the data!
    Thanks for your, wonderful, honest story!

    • BarbedWireandLace

      Silure, I really think that we should take classes about personality and behavior in elementary school. I think it would cut down on so much of the bullying and just crap that kids have to deal with in school…. because we would all better understand each other.

      I didn’t know ANYTHING about being an empath, INFJ, highly sensitive person etc until recently. I just thought I was a flat out weirdo… I had no clue that there were other people like me who experienced life similarly and felt just as alone as I did!

      I agree with you that we all need to be a little kinder to ourselves. I always forget to cut myself a bit of slack because I’m always so concerned with everyone else… and lets be honest, we’re just notorious for being harsh on ourselves.

      I LOVE the concept ’emotion is data’.. this is such a beautiful way to put it! Because I think society has almost trained us to ignore emotion. Look only at facts, statistics, data…. but…. our emotions ARE a form of data. Emotions are our feedback mechanism that allows us to understand our thoughts.

      It’s like with meeting a new person. You don’t exactly have a ton of information to go on while you’re trying to figure out who they are…. but you have emotions about your experience with them. I think that’s why we are so in-tune with our ability to ‘pick the bad apple’… because we feel soooooo deeply.

      Thank you for that! It really made my day! Thanks for reading!

  • Shannon

    So. much. truth. here. I don’t have anyone in my life that even remotely understands my reactions to things, except for one of my daughters who is also an INFJ. It’s hard to interact daily with a world that just slaps a label of “too emotional” on you. And really hard when no one in your life seems to be willing to acknowledge that with all those times that your instinct tells you something that does end up to be true, it might mean that they should be willing to listen to you next time….

  • Gayle

    Wow. That was a comprehensive post. I was “misdiagnosed” as an INFP in 2002. After reading some INFJ info on Pinterest, I realized INFJ made much more sense. It explained why I simultaneously wanted 2 different contradictory things. I am currently on a weeklong retreat trying to get back to feeling normal, more or less. I am a Catholic Sister and I live with almost 20 other Sisters, most of whom are elderly. They often ask for help, but there’s so many of them and only one me. Add in a job and a recently widowed mother who recently had a health crisis and I felt like I was in constant PMS. Not fun. As you mentioned, I need to know myself and what I need and not feel guilty about it. Otherwise, I am not fit to be around other people. Thanks for sharing your experience. It helps to know it’s not just me.

    • BarbedWireandLace

      That sounds like you’re carrying a TON of weight on your shoulders. And it all seems like very important situations that you feel like you need to devote your heart to 100%….. My heart hurts for you and all of your struggles. Just remember that you come FIRST. I know that’s hard being an INFJ because it’s just NOT our nature to take time for ourselves, but they WILL understand. It gives you a chance to bring a better, more helpful person to the table when you are able to help!

  • KJ

    This article has been really insightful for me. I don’t know if I’m an INFJ but I can relate to almost everything. I am an enneagram type 9 though.

    I do have a question; can some INFJ’s struggle with a lot of selfishness and an inability to be spontaneous when it comes to helping others including their closest of friends? I’m friends with someone I think is an INFJ and we have the greatest and deepest of conversations, we seem to get each other, but this person doesn’t seem to go the extra mile at all in the friendship. It almost seems like I have a text buddy who reaches out only when circumstances are perfect for this text buddy and then we have the most amazing conversations. Could this be some sort of fear? It doesn’t seem intentional but it’s taking a toll on me because there doesn’t seem to be much sacrifice on this person’s end; almost as if sacrifice terrifies them to the point of sleepless nights and I’m beginning to feel more like a tranquilizer for this person rather than a friend.

    • BarbedWireandLace

      You should take the assessment! It doesn’t take long!

      INFJs are the best, most odd friends you’ll ever find.

      My best friend/soul twin is also an INFJ, but she is an INFJ-A (assertive) and I am an INFJ-T(turbulent). So, I tend to be a bit more shy and a lot less inflexible than she is. I am 100% the person you mentioned. I hardly ever initiate conversations, I am horrible at following through with actual meet-ups and hang outs. She always has to drag me out if she wants to see me. Which I hate, but it’s just the way I work for some reason.

      I have gathered that it’s a fear of bothering someone. I hate to text or call first. Even if it’s Hunter. I usually wait for him to call or text rather than be bother him or interrupt something more important because usually, I can wait.

      If they’re similar to me, it is definitely not intentional, but it’s also something they probably don’t realize they do unless you ask them about it. Just kindly say ‘Hey, you know you can reach out to me whenever’. It may be something that they know deep down in their heart that they’re not bothering you… but our thinking/feeling brains are like ‘don’t text… they could be doing something really important’…. while you’re on the other end of the phone doing nothing and hoping to hear from them.

      Just how our silly little brains work.

      I wouldn’t say its a sacrifice thing because INFJs would do ANYTHING for their friends if they knew it was important to them. It’s just that we usually have a little internal struggle that we can’t seem to win.

      We appreciate honesty, so try talking to them. Just be mindful of how you bring it up because I can guarantee that they will feel downright horrible for having done that and not realized they behave that way.

      Let me know how it goes!

  • KJ

    Thanks so much for your response! I did speak to this person and they didn’t seem to understand how their actions are coming across even though I was very clear so things are still the same. After a gradual burn out, I’m coming to accept the way things are. I’ll check out the test though :).

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