Why Do INFJs Hold Grudges? (5 Potential Explanations)
Aug 30, 2021
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The INFJ is one in 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, making up roughly 1-2 percent of the population.
“INFJ” is an acronym which stands for Introversion (I), Intuition (N), Feeling (F) and Judging (J).
These four core characteristics describe the cognitive functions INFJs use the most to navigate through life.
Even-though INFJs many times come across as warm, positive and self-less from the outside. Is that also the case when we look on the inside?
Speaking as a highly sensitive INFJ male, I know for certain that hasn’t been the case plenty of times!
Everyone has needs and appearing as someone without needs might set you up for developing a grudge, because you’ll never get what you want.
Let’s look at 5 potential explanations of why INFJs are susceptible to developing a grudge.
Why Do INFJs Hold Grudges? (5 Potential Explanations)
1. INFJs might hold a grudge, because they expect perfection
It is a known fact that the average INFJ holds a high standard for itself. Whether it’s the way they want to treat other people, or the way they have organized their study (room).
INFJs strive for perfection as much as possible.
Perhaps, it has to do with their love for beauty, to which perfection and efficiency are closely related to.
However, INFJs risk expecting that same perfection from others.
Consciously or unconsciously they might get irritated by other people who display very nonchalant, chaotic and sloppy behavior.
For example, the roommate that continuously leaves their dirty dishes in the kitchen, despite the request to clean them immediately.
Or acquaintances/co-workers who aren’t necessarily bad mannered, but have an obnoxious way of communicating that the INFJ would never display towards others.
If these things continue, over time the INFJ can develop a grudge towards those people.
To be fair these examples of behaviors can be irritating to a lot of people, but wouldn’t necessarily result in a grudge.
However, for the INFJ little things like these can easily lead to developing a grudge, because their need for perfection leaves little room for error.
They might be aware that they keep holding others to these unrealistic standards for perfection.
Chances are that they even beat themselves up for doing this, because they might also recognize how unrealistic or harsh it is to expect these things from others.
Yet, there remains to be a fine line between what INFJs expect from themselves and from the outside world.
2. INFJs might hold a grudge, because they are sensitive
It was mentioned before that the INFJ can easily get irritated by the “little things” that seem to be off in their environment, because of their perfectionism.
What strongly ties into that is their sensitivity.
Often regarded as highly sensitive, the INFJ’s threshold for annoyance can be much lower on average due to their sensitivity.
When you are sensitive to many subtle stimuli, like scents, lighting, temperature, emotions/energies around you, it is more likely to pick up on things that affect you negatively.
As such there is an excess amount of things that can potentially disturb you.
Furthermore, a heightened sensitivity will get you to your outer limits for stimulation a lot sooner as well.
This might make INFJs more susceptible to developing grudges towards people, because INFJs might unwillingly be more aware of the things that affect them negatively because of their heightened sensitivity.
In many cases they might be able to change the situation that is bothering them, by mentioning it to the other, or by changing their surroundings.
But in some cases they can’t because the subtle things that annoy them are aspects of a person or situation that are integral.
For instance, a friend who always leaves the stove dirty, because he or she just doesn’t register the grease stains on the stove due to diagnosed attention deficit disorder (ADD).
This can leave an INFJ torn between empathizing with the friend while at the same time being negatively impacted by the mess he or she leaves behind.
Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels
3. INFJs might hold a grudge, because they avoid conflict
While there might be cases in which the INFJ might not be able to change much, because the cause for their irritation is an integral part of someone’s behavior (as mentioned in the example of the friend with ADD).
At the same time there are a lot of situations in which the INFJ actually can do something about what’s bothering them.
Sadly, many times they won’t, because of their notorious fear of conflict. INFJs are known for avoiding conflict as a default way of handling difficult situations.
As sensitive, soft-spoken and people-oriented individuals they strive for harmony in every social encounter they have.
Potentially upsetting others by getting angry, sad or just simply asking for what they want is a huge challenge for them.
As (highly) sensitive people INFJs feel any disruption in the flow of positive emotions from others deeply.
Negative emotions can be particularly strong and can easily cause overwhelm in the INFJ.
Overwhelm is very stressful, so the INFJ tries to avoid this by preventing any negative emotions in others, but also their own negative emotions by suppressing them.
Problems don’t solve themselves
Short term this might help them a bit against overwhelm, but as anyone who has lived a little knows, problems usually don’t go away by themselves.
In many cases conflict is needed to solve issues around unmet needs, and to protect oneself and loved ones from harm.
However, when problems arise around unmet needs in relationships or people misbehaving, the INFJ assumes/hopes these people realize how their behavior is affecting the INFJ, and change their ways automatically.
Basically, the INFJ hopes the problems will go away by themselves, because then they won’t have to face their fear of conflict.
Obviously, this never happens and the problems worsen.
Now the INFJ is stuck in this problematic situation and can easily start to develop a grudge towards the wrongdoers.
Yet, if only the INFJ would face conflict head on, no matter how painful it might be, he or she can spare themselves from a lot of inner turmoil like resentment, bottled up anger and stress that holding a grudge brings.
4. INFJs might hold a grudge, because they struggle with setting boundaries
Closely related to avoiding conflict is poor boundary setting (read more about poor boundaries in my INFJ Male Bio Series).
Something INFJs struggle with many times. Like mentioned before, INFJs don’t like conflict and overwhelm and tend to avoid it.
Even when they do decide to engage in conflict, their inexperience with proper boundary setting and perhaps their wish to get out of the heated moment of conflict as quickly as possible might make that their boundary setting isn’t sufficient enough
For example, during an argument they might throw in the towel early if the other person is especially tenacious in fighting for their righteous position even though they are actually wrong.
This can lead to the other person not taking the INFJ seriously enough, which might result in a continuation of the misbehavior or unwanted events.
It might exacerbate boundary setting for the INFJ.
The next time they need to set extra clear boundaries, because the other person now knows that the INFJ can’t endure conflict for long.
With that knowledge they might even challenge the boundary setting of the INFJ for longer periods of time and with more intensity.
If that person is particularly disagreeable or manipulative, they might even resort to all sorts of stress arousing tactics to intimidate and overwhelm the INFJ.
A vicious cycle develops.
Sadly, in many cases the INFJ gives up such fights and can easily develop a grudge towards that person, because the INFJ now feels helpless.
Especially when it is someone they can’t easily escape, like a co-worker or family member.
Photo by Liza Summer on Pexels
5. No grudge, but the INFJ Door Slam instead
If you made it this far into the article, you might think that INFJs are helpless all the time. I can assure you that is definitely not the case.
There’s a powerful conflict preventative tool INFJs use: the infamous INFJ Door Slam.
Their sensitivity has a lot of downsides, when it’s not harnessed properly.
When it is harnessed properly, it can be a powerful gift in preventing conflict
The INFJs sensitivity allows for understanding someone’s core.
When a mature INFJ encounters new people, they try to decide whether they are a good person for them.
They are good at recognizing subtle patterns in someone’s behavior, emotional states, their energy, morals, values and if it’s authentic or not.
The INFJ’s mind picks up on many of these aspects over time and gathers all the information for its data analysis that leads to an answer to the question: Is this a good person for me?
When there are hints of that person possibly being untrustworthy, creating unnecessary drama or conflict in the future, the INFJ already filters them out.
However, they can make an error in judgement, so some unhealthy people might still slip through from time to time.
When there are repeated issues with a person and the INFJ recognizes that these will continue due to a toxic/unhealthy aspect of that person’s personality, they’ll cut that person forever out of their lives overnight.
So the INFJ Door Slam is used as a last resort to eject oneself out of a toxic situation and prevent more from happening.
In this article we’ve discussed how INFJs might develop grudges towards others.
After reading all that, you might think that INFJ’s lot in life is to be helpless in the face of conflict and live with grudges for the rest of their lives.
This is absolutely not the case. They are very much capable of learning to stand up for themselves and face conflict head on.
It does take, however, a lot of work for the INFJ to do that since their default state is striving for harmony.
What do you think is needed for INFJs to be less susceptible to developing grudges?
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