A Great Contribution
What would this world do without mentors? Selfless fountains of knowledge and wisdom. If pop culture and business speak is any indication, we are desperate to find people who will care for us and teach us their ways. The whole idea of a mind-reading sage who selflessly gives out advice to all in need may appear too fantastical at first glance. Who in their right mind would intentionally take on such a role?
“Me!” INFJs shout across the world.
What might appear as a burden no one would choose, comes naturally for the INFJ. These little-introverted feelers are often labeled in vocabulary that describes their mentoring personality. The Counselor, the Advocate, the Prophet, it only takes a quick search to find out how often these intuitive creatures give out advice and find themselves recruiting loyal mentees, initiating them into their path of life wisdom. Yet, many INFJs feel abandoned, alone, as if they have been forgotten when the ratio of Mentors: Mentees was decided.
“Where is MY mentor?” Cries the INFJ. “Who will take care of me?”
It´s a peculiar problem that INFJs come up against. As people who are naturals at mentoring others, they often find themselves without someone to do it for them. They get to see their advice solve someone´s life in seconds. They are approached time and time again, the mentee confident in the INFJ´s willingness to help.
“You´re like my personal psychologist.”
“You´re the only one who listens.”
“I feel like I can really open up to you.”
These are just some of the phrases INFJs hear all the time. For them, it´s amazing to know they can add value to others, to feel as if their existence has contributed in a meaningful way. Simultaneously, they can feel the tug of their heart, eager to find someone who can do the same for them.
Wired to Understand
Your standard issue INFJ comes with unique stats. Their brain is wired in such a way that allows them to deeply understand the emotions and circumstances others are going through. Their dominant function Introverted Intuition (Ni), works mostly unconsciously to feed them insights based on what their senses pick up. Their auxiliary Extroverted Feeling (Fe) makes it so that they are always aware of the emotional states that surround them. This means that they are designed to constantly generate insights into people, a trait that all great mentors are characterized by. This is a wonderful strength but can easily turn the tables on the INFJ when it comes to finding a mentor.
Imagine for a moment you are an INFJ. You have spent your whole life trying to understand what others are feeling. This has built in you a special skill and a heart for empathy. You have held yourself up to a high standard when taking care of others because you know what it feels like. Now, what happens when you take those expectations and you turn them towards finding a mentor? What if they don´t meet that high standard constantly? What if they don´t pick up on your subtle body language the way you have done your whole life for others? What if they didn´t acknowledge your growing concerns? Would you feel safe around them?
Here lies the problem in looking for a mentor for an INFJ. They have worked their whole existence to be mentors and when someone doesn´t exhibit the same skills they are used to experiencing, they feel misunderstood, threatened even. It feels as if they won´t be taken care of. They close their interaction with them or at least file that person under “don’t ask them for advice”. Slowly, this category begins to fill up and soon the INFJ has placed most of the world there, leaving no one to mentor and take care of them.
Working Through Expectations
INFJs often receive feedback from other personalities about how amazing they are at taking care of them. This is true. Problem is, they start to think that is the way every mentor should always feel like. They stop looking for good mentors and start holding out for extraordinary mentors, the ones that only show up in wizard robes.
In contrast to high fantasy, though, the most rewarding mentorships can be the ones that challenge the mentee to be vulnerable.
Are you an INFJ looking for a mentor in your life? You can definitely find them.
You are good at picking up on the strengths inside people. What if you didn´t use it as a way of mentoring others but to find how others can mentor you?
Some of the best experiences an INFJ can have is being mentored by other personalities. Sure, they might not feel as if they are able to read your mind and lead you down a trail of deep reflection but they bring someone amazing to the table that the INFJ can´t. ENFPs bring an unbridled sense of excitement that exists in the far corners of the INFJ´s inner world. ESFJs bring a sense of camaraderie the INFJ can only dream of having. ISTPs are able to anchor the INFJ to the present and away from anxiety attacks regarding future possibilities. INTPs can be amazing theorizing buddies that rival the INFJ´s capacity to overthink.
Each of the other 15 personalities can give the INFJ something amazing if they are willing to receive it. Mentoring others might be such a natural posture for them that it takes some vulnerability to approach someone and ask to be mentored. Still, that is the path to finding your next Obi-Wan Kenobi.
So, dear INFJ, next time you´re thinking about how you always mentor others but never find someone who can do the same to you, it might be time for you to take a step and ask to be mentored. Maybe it´s time to check those expectations and try to spot someone who might be up for the job. Most importantly, when you do decide to approach them and doubt begins to creep, saying:
“Who in their right mind would intentionally take on such a role?”
Take a deep breath, take a step, remember that you have done it for others and trust they will do it for you.