Most INFJs are all about people, so it’s no surprise that I’ve struggled with setting boundaries with certain people in my life. Unfortunately, this can breed resentment and even avoidance, in some cases, so it’s better to deal with it rather than internalizing it, as many INFJ personality types often do.
I want you to consider the people in your life that you struggle to be around. The ones who are repeatedly hurtful or harmful, whether it is intentional or not.
You may already feel trepidatious around these people, and that is a clue that you need to set boundaries to protect yourself and the relationship from further damage.
I acknowledge that everyone is inherently different from me, and can accept most people at face value. However, it is ultimately my life, and I want to be surrounded by people I feel good being around.
If I find that being with someone is continuously hurtful, draining, or is some way an assault to my very nature, then I may need to limit interaction with that person, or set some boundaries.
“You get what you tolerate.” – Henry Cloud
Like other INFJs, setting boundaries is not my strong suit. I find it to be a daunting task for several reasons, but mostly because I will have to directly request the boundary, and explain why I feel the need to set one, without hurting anyone’s feelings. Setting boundaries will not come naturally for the INFJ, for three reasons.
- We avoid confrontation in lieu of keeping things as harmonious as possible.
- We don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or burden them with our own problems.
- We tend to be very accommodating, so struggle with asking someone else to accommodate us.
Own Your Flaws
The thought of confrontation is both scary and exhausting for me. I don’t want to say anything I will regret or hurt anyone’s feelings, which might be why I tend to turn to the silent treatment. By doing this, I am able to calm down, decipher my feelings, and give myself time to figure out how best to approach the situation. I do realize, however, that when things build up, confrontation is sometimes necessary for everyone to get their feelings out in the open to be dealt with.
I also struggle hard with the idea that I’m essentially asking someone to accommodate me and my needs. As an INFJ, this is difficult because I don’t want to burden anyone or make them feel bad. It feels so selfish to even consider asking someone to change their behavior to suit me. From a more rational position, though, don’t we all deserve to be treated the way we want?
Being honest with myself is the best way to pinpoint my own faults in this area, so I can focus on how best to overcome them to create a better life for myself. Setting these boundaries successfully will not only make me more comfortable, but will help my currently “teetering” relationships to progress in a more open and positive direction. It’s really a win-win for everyone.
Recognizing the Signs
I have just recently realized that I need to start setting some emotional (and even some physical) boundaries. I am starting to recognize signs in the way I feel around certain people, how I become passive aggressive when I feel like someone is stepping on my toes, or anxiety unexpectedly kicks in. These signs are important because they identify my limits – where my boundaries should be.
Here are some of the signs I notice when I feel like my boundaries are being crossed, or grossly violated, in some cases.
- I find myself going against the morals and values I hold dear.
- I feel overwhelmed, uncomfortable, or anxious when one-on-one.
- I find that my time is being consumed by things I never wanted to do in the first place.
- I begin to feel down, like I’m in a state of chronic fatigue from emotional drainage.
- When I actually consider “door slamming” someone (sign of resentment and/or toxicity).
How to Set a Boundary
When creating any type of boundary, it’s important to look at it in a clear and simple way.
Understand that emotional boundaries can only be set for ourselves. I cannot control what another person says to me, but I can control how I allow people to treat me. I choose whether I engage in a screaming match. I decide whether to walk away, say no, or argue.
Melinda, at the INFJ Coach blog, suggests creating a short list to help you organize what you’re ok with and what you’re not, when it comes to setting boundaries. You may have to create more than one boundary list, depending on who the boundaries are meant for (family, friends, acquaintances, etc).
I will show a basic example of how I might go about setting boundaries with my own family. This is probably the most important and most difficult list to start with because the lines can blur very easily between family members.
|I'm okay with:||I'm NOT okay with:|
|Saying no.||Saying "yes" when I want to say "no".|
|Accepting we're all different.||Saying what they want to hear.|
|Participating in family celebrations.||Feeling guilty for saying "no".|
|Being direct, but kind.||Making snap judgments.|
|Responding to phone calls.||Giving unsolicited advice.|
|Being respectful of their boundaries.||Engaging in disrespectful discussions.|
When setting boundaries with someone, there are two main things that should be clearly communicated to that person:
- You need to set a boundary with them.
- You’d like them to respect the boundary.
When you ask this of someone, it’s important to be kind and help them understand how important it is for your relationship. They probably didn’t know they were hurting you or crossing a boundary. INFJs are naturally empathetic, so that same sense of empathy should be used with a friend or loved one when you explain why you need to set the boundary without making them feel like they’re under attack.
“If being nice tells people what they WANT to hear, being kind tells people what they NEED to hear wrapped in love and good intent.” – Personality Hacker
If someone were to cross a personal space boundary with me by standing too close or getting too close to my face, I would ask them politely to step back. Then, I would explain that it makes me uncomfortable when someone enters my personal space, and I would appreciate it if they don’t do that again.
Be assertive. You are setting this boundary for a reason, and that is to protect yourself against any emotional harm. Don’t doubt yourself or over-explain, as it may lead to an exhaustive confrontation, and that’s not something any INFJ wants to get in to.
Keep it simple, kind, and direct and everything will be ok. Better than ok.
Have you had any experience setting boundaries with loved ones? Did it help?
My mother in law is one of those pushy, egotistical people. Completely different from myself. Today, during a conversation about a problem my husband and I were having over something a builder did wrong in our oroperty, and which she wanted to solve in he own overbearing way – for us – I told her she is confrontational and pushy. Of course she got mad, hung up on me, and went crying to my husband AND her other son. Usual childish manipulation…. I had a great relationship with my husband before 1. Her husband died, and 2. My husband and I got married. Now it’s a struggle to set boundaries with her. I’m so tired. I have the same pet peeves you listed and she violates all of it. I want her to respect my boundaries but I just get drama. I have to get some peace!!!
Hi Rhinda. I’m sorry your relationship with your mother-in-law is strained. Setting boundaries with family members is probably the most difficult. Instead of using the words pushy or confrontational, try telling her that although you appreciate that she wants to help (point out a positive), you would feel more comfortable handling your own problems from now on (or whatever your personal reason is). Try to be kind and gentle with your words to avoid more conflict. Keep in mind that she may not immediately understand or respect the boundary, and you may have to repeat yourself (likely more than once), but in time, she will hear you. I know patience is difficult in these situations, but I think it will be worth it in the end since this is also straining your relationship with your husband.
Hi!.. I wish i had read this before, i really wanted to door slam a toxic person so I said “i don’t like you anymore, get away from me”!!! 😆😥. It worked, but it was a wrong way to set a boundary. No regrets though.
I know it’s wrong, but I giggled a little bit when I saw your comment because it’s probably what most INFJs want to say, but don’t. If you have no regrets, then I can’t really argue with your method. And, I’m glad you freed yourself from such toxicity. In the future, boundaries can be a really useful tool for getting the space you need without having to resort to the door slam. Thank you so much for sharing, April.