Have you ever wondered if what frightens you is unusual or weird? Do you feel alone in your fears or worries? Many of us do, including me. I’ve wondered for a long time if personality type has anything to do with the kinds of fears we face as humans. Do different personality types fear different things? Are there any considerable differences or similarities? I decided to find out.
I scoured numerous online forums and Facebook groups, and asked everyone I could about their fears. I wanted to make sure I had at least 300 responses before I wrote any blog posts on the subject. The first group of personalities to get to 300 responses were the INFJs. I’m thankful to each INFJ who contributed to this by talking to me about some of their most personal fears.
What I Found Out
Each personality type had a unique set of fears, and there were definitely patterns and unique worries that were particular to type. While some fears were shared between types, there were definitely big differences in what people feared most. For example, NT types greatly feared mediocrity, while SJ types greatly feared uncertainty. And within those temperaments there were even more variations. This is just part one of a series on what truly frightens each of the 16 personality types. I found talking to all of the types extremely enlightening, and I hope these posts will help you to better understand your own fears and the fears of others.
DISCLAIMER: Just because you’re an INFJ doesn’t mean you will automatically have these same fears. Your fears may be different, or you may have confronted a lot of your fears and be free of them by now. Don’t take offense if you don’t share these fears. This is just part one of a study on the 16 types and what the majority of them mentioned as their biggest fear.
It was plain to see that certain fears were universal to all types; for example, spiders, bugs, and heights came up in every group regardless of type. So I’m not going to include those fears in these lists.
The Top 10 Things That Terrify INFJs
Out of all the personality types I’ve talked to so far, INFJs had the highest number of votes for being afraid of darkness. This may have to do with the incredibly strong imagination of the INFJ. Because of the INFJs Introverted Intuition (Ni), they have a tendency to look for meaning in places that other people ignore. For example, they notice what you don’t say when you’re speaking and can easily fill in the blanks. They look more at what’s hidden than what is obvious. This could possibly explain why INFJs find the dark to be such a terrifying thing. It may be that they fill in the darkness with the worst terrors of their imagination.
“I’m terrified of the dark, even as an adult. My imagination plays tricks on me and I worry about ghosts and people lurking in corners. I think the darkness heightens my Ni to the point where I am certain there are evil things hiding where I can’t see them.”
– Carmen, an INFJ
Death or Loss of Children
While nearly every type mentioned loss of loved ones to some degree, INFJs were unique in that they specifically mentioned the loss of their children. While other groups mentioned “Losing someone in my family”, or “the loss of someone I love”, or “losing my spouse”, INFJs were the only ones who, by a majority, specifically mentioned the loss of children, and not a general loss of loved ones. INFJs are known for having very strong emotional bonds with their children, and for being very protective parents, so this may have something to do with the nature of their responses.
- Phone Calls
“Making phone calls scares me to no end. I have to make scripts of what I will say, and I feel jittery and nervous the entire time. I hate it when there’s no way around making a phone call.”
– Sarah, an INFJ
More than 1/3 of the INFJs I spoke with mentioned phone calls as a serious cause of anxiety and worry. Whether it was making a phone call or receiving an unexpected phone call, they much preferred written correspondence to the phone; unless they were talking to a very close friend or family member.
INFJs easily become overstimulated in large crowds of people. They tend to absorb the emotions of the people around them, and they also have inferior Extraverted Sensing (Se) which makes a lot of commotion especially difficult and strenuous for them. While this may be more of a stress-related fear than a cause of real terror, it certainly was mentioned a lot.
While a few INFJs specifically mentioned not believing in ghosts, and others believed but weren’t afraid of them, there were still a considerable number that feared their existence quite strongly and even shared their experiences with me. Some INFJs believed that their strong Intuition and the ability to pick up on moods and emotions outside themselves made it possible for them to sense spiritual presences.
Insanity came up as a fear far more frequently among IN personality types (INFJs, INTJs, INFPs, INTPs). IN types have such strong imaginations and look so deeply into hidden meanings and connections that, for some, they feel that their faith in “reality”, may be a little more skeptical than what most people believe. It also could be that because IN types are so heavily immersed in their own thoughts and mental functions, they fear the loss of that far more than most people would consider. None of the other types I’ve spoken with have mentioned insanity as a fear at all. This doesn’t mean they aren’t afraid of it, but it wasn’t on the forefront of their minds when they were speaking of their fears.
INFJs are notorious for having a difficult time trusting others. They read between the lines so fluently and look for hidden meanings so frequently that they take everything with a grain of salt, almost without realizing it. Because they are the smallest minority, making up only 1% of the population, they also tend to feel a little alienated throughout much of their lives. These factors can cause them to have difficulty trusting people, difficulty accepting love without restraint or apprehension, and difficulty feeling like they can be 100% themselves. Many INFJs, when speaking of their fears, cited fear of abandonment alongside a fear of opening up to others and allowing themselves to be loved unreservedly.
- The Supernatural
Out of the ten types I’ve surveyed so far, INFJs mentioned fear of the supernatural far more than other types. INFJs are known for being very spiritual in nature, whether that spirituality is religious or personal. This may cause them to have a much stronger belief in the supernatural world. While INFJs tend to avoid a lot of superstitions, they have a great respect for the unknown and what “could be”. Many said that they strive to be rational about everything, but that there is only so much that science can truly explain. Of course, there were several INFJs who piped up and said they weren’t afraid of, or didn’t believe, in the supernatural at all. So these fears will vary from person to person depending on their beliefs and background.
- Their Own Imagination
INFJs have extremely rich and vivid imaginations. They spend a lot of time “in their heads” and a lot of time analyzing and predicting. However, sometimes their imaginations can get the best of them. Because INFJs have such strong Introverted Intuition (Ni), they form insights and future-oriented visions quite frequently. They put a lot of faith in these beliefs, ideas or “gut feelings”; almost more so than the faith they put into the sensory world. This can cause them, especially in childhood, to form very strong fears that have been formed by their imagination and their intuition that may not be particularly accurate. Even as adults, many INFJs struggle with taming their overactive imaginations.
- Humanity’s Potential for Evil
INFJs are true idealists and want very much to believe that every human being has the potential to make the world a better place. They are often troubled by the evils of the world, and by mankind’s capacity to be corrupt and corrupt others. INFJs believe so strongly that the world should be a place of kindness, compassion, and honesty, that when they see corruption, murder, abuses of power, and evil they are more traumatized than most. While other types may over time become used to news of corruption, the INFJ feels the pain freshly with each occurrence. They have to realize painfully, again and again, that their idealistic views may be far from the natural state of the world.
What Do You Think?
Do you share these fears? Like I said in the disclaimer, these fears are going to vary from person to person, but I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments!