like I used to before
Nearly three-and-a-half years ago, I wrote a piece on Medium called Turning 27: Lessons so far.
It's interesting to read things I have written previously, because it's an opportunity not only to see what was going on for me at the time but also the sorts of things I was holding into back then.
Through my twenties, I binged on self-help and psychology books. I loved the stuff. I came to rely on it, big-time. From the conversations I've had, this doesn't seem like an uncommon thing for INFPs and INFJs to do. Perhaps because we love to learn, we are fascinated by people, and we really want to understand ourselves. For me, it felt like a combination of all three; I'd go further and say that I was trying to diagnose what was going on for me.
But, here’s the thing:
What I have realised, is that the more I seek answers and try to pursue answers” through wisdom and knowledge and otherwise engaging my intellectual mind... the more overwhelmed, frustrated, confused and unhappy I become.
So I fill my brain with more science and more information and more stories, in the hope that somehow I'll magically figure things out.
The shift I've made feels significant.
Rather than seek answers through books and science and information online, what I now do instead, which feels much better when it comes to feeling happier, is... to connect with myself.
It sounds simple, but it really makes a profound, felt difference.
Knowledge and understanding help us feel safe. It still does make me feel this way.
But, the more I have sought out explanations and answers and a "life formula" (like it felt like I was trying to do in aforementioned ‘Turning 27’ piece), the more overwhelmed and exasperated (aka: unhappy) I gave gotten.
It's like I keep pulling and straining and struggling to make sense of things, but it's like my wheels just keep spinning faster and faster in the mud I'm in and I burn myself out.
Connecting inside, however, has truly helped me move forwards - healing, growing, and feel happier. It turns out that letting go and surrendering, whilst this is not easy and something I am still working on, feels much more like ‘the answer’.
So, if not through ‘research’, what have I been doing instead?
Well, there are a few ways in which I have been ‘going inwards’, ‘connecting inside’ and otherwise ‘letting go’:
This is probably the first thing I did, after years of blindly going through life, whilst I was still working in the City. I started listening to mindfulness on my commute into work.
In the last couple of years, I have started doing yoga and - last week - I did 3 stretch/yoga classes. I see this as a more active, body-involved form of meditation; rather than just sit still, you are breathing and moving with the body. With both yoga and meditation, there is a focus on stillness. Not only do I find myself feeling calmer and more grounded for the rest of the day, but also I feel much more able to make sense of my thoughts and feelings - and to make decisions that are heart-based/intuition-led, rather than rationally-based.
Writing really helps me to process my thoughts and my feelings. It is cathartic and feels almost meditative; pen on paper, completely in the moment. It's why I continue to write most days. I journal in the morning and, where I feel I need to, I scribble down thoughts and feelings in the morning or at night if my mind is feeling particularly busy or I otherwise feel I am 'working through something'.
Of course, aside from writing, other forms of art and self-expression are just as powerful. It may be a case of exploring to find out which 'type' you most connect with.
I was born into a Sikh family, and have also experienced Christian teachings through school and more recently as an adult. I have also believed in God and, recently, I have started to lean more into God and religion and further explore this relationship. Again, it helps me feel more grounded and more centred in a really profound way. I feel I am very early in developing this relationship, despite this long-standing belief in God being there for a long time, and I am excited to see where this goes.
Okay, confession-time: I still do read books and blogs and listen to podcasts, but rather those which help me to engage my creative/intuitive/emotional side, rather than that rational and intellectual side. For example, I am currently reading The Way of the Human Being (thanks for the recommendation, Lauren!), with my 'to-read' list consisting of intuition-leaning books by the likes of Marie Forleo (thanks Carol and Christian) and Brenda Ueland.
(PS. My friends Lauren, Carol and Christian all happen to be INFJs & INFPs).
These are the sorts of books that have replaced those ‘rational’ scientific and psychology books I gorged on in years gone by.
By turning into my heart and 'felt' self (intuition/emotions/subconscious) rather than my 'rational' self/brain, I feel like I am understanding myself - my true self - much better, and am more effectively healing and growing, and taking action, changing habits and making decisions from a deeper place.
I would really, really recommend leaning into some of the above things.
Science and knowledge do have their place but, as far as I'm concerned, my journey of healing, growth and fulfilment are much more closely aligned with connecting with myself inside, rather than seeking answers on the outside.
Some other stuff
🤕 Social hangovers
I could really relate to this piece written by INFJ Rebekah on her blog. I find evenings of socialising exhausting enough; evenings of alcohol + socialising + little sleep? … not good. Read Rebekah’s hilariously-titled piece over here -> INFJ presents workshop and doesn’t die. You can find also Rebekah on Twitter @RebekahMallory3.
⚖️ Work/life balance
I loved this tweet about work/life balance being flexibility, rather than separation.
🥁 And finally…
Speaking of Twitter, someone private-messaged me on Twitter to share this lovely note about INF club. It made me smile because one of the big reasons I started this blog was to help other INFPs and INFJs not feel so weird and alone and different. So, thank you, Aisha :)
subscribe to INF club
a free bi-monthly(ish) newsletter, with articles + stories + tidbits to help you grow