how to overcome the wound of not feeling seen for INFJs
Updated: May 9
Not feeling seen is a wound that is hard to describe. It can feel like you're searching for something that is finally going to notice you. It can also feel like you're standing in a corner without anyone detecting your presence.
The dynamic of what is going on can be described with the Four People Within Model. With that framework, they are not seeing their three-year-old inner-child (if you're unsure of who the three-year-old inner-chid is, check out my blog upgrade your life by understanding the four people within you). When you are not noticing your three-year-old inner-child, that part of you needs to get attention from somewhere, so they will attempt to get it from somewhere else. For INFJs, the part which doesn't feel seen is their sensory part. It's often left behind by the other three parts of their personality (intuition, feeling, and thinking). Because of that, they can be very serious, as the sensory part is light-hearted, likes to play, and enjoys being silly. So it makes sense that INFJs are somber people without their three-year-old inner-child feeling seen.
When the INFJ doesn't feel seen, they are likely trying to get it from others around them. They are using things outside of themselves to give them something rather than looking for it within. This creates problems as they can't control what is outside of themselves. The source they are filling this need is unpredictable. For example, you don't know how long someone will be in your life, even a partner. Life can happen and things can go wrong. When you put people as the source, you are putting the pressure of filling your needs onto those around you. When that happens, you normally can't really relax around them, because these sources are not reliable. You don't know if these people are going to keep showing up, and if not what are you going to do? This can create a lot of anxiety.
INFJs may try to get those who they see as important to notice them. It may look like really enjoying a yoga teacher's class and trying to be her best friend after that. You may hang around, hoping they will invite you into their world. You possibly feel threatened when they acknowledge others' help or willingness to be in the class. All the while, the inner child is looking for someone who they feel is important to finally acknowledge their presence.
Another aspect of this wound is that probably you'll attract people who won't see you as long as this wound is open. Feeling seen is something your 3-year-old inner-child doesn't recognize, so they reject those who give them that feeling. A perfect example of where this can happen is in romantic relationships. You may attract people who are emotionally absent to try to get your needs met. Examples of emotionally absent people are those who are too busy for you, who are in another city, who can't commit because they're trying to find a job, etc. There is always another excuse. And your inner child might be attracted to that excuse because deep down they hope they will abandon that reason for them. However, this likely doesn't happen as your three-year-old inner child is trying to fill a wound from the outside world. When this happens, unhealthy behavior naturally follows.
So how do you get your three-year-old inner child to feel seen? The first step is to recognize that laughter and play make that side of you feel seen. A play space is a way to get that inner child to feel seen. When you give those sensory activities to your inner child it's like you are feeding them. They don't need much, but they need a regular dosage to feel full. Without that, their belly will be empty and they will be forced to look for it from other supplies because you are not giving them what they need. So go to a comedy show. Watch funny videos on Youtube. Play outside in the rain. Do something silly with a friend.
One reason which holds some INFJs back from doing this is they feel they might be ridiculed for their light-hearted behavior. They might see it as childish and resent doing it. It's important to recognize that feeling nervous is part of the process. If you hear a critical inner voice that is likely your 10-year-old inner-child. That 10-year-old is normally the judgemental part of you. You can tell that inner child to sit down if they start berating you during this exercise. It's important to play and embrace the lighter side of you.
Engaging in sensory activities might make you uncomfortable. Once again, do not give in to that critical 10-year-old inner-child. If you choose that fear over giving your 3-year-old inner-child what they need, they will probably feel even more unseen and like you don't care about them. So although you may feel dumb doing this, do it anyway. Many INFJs have done this before and come out the other side completely safe. If someone makes fun of you, then it's that person needs to be critical. Find a tribe that will make you feel safe as you let your guard down. You can do this. Just take it slow, and hold the hand of that inner child as you do so.
Feeling seen is tough to do on your own. I know because I've struggled with this for years by myself. What I've learned is that you don't have to keep this pain in your life as I no longer am frustrated by it. If you want to dive a little deeper into overcoming this, I've created a workbook on what I've learned to get you feeling seen. It costs $14 USD. It covers necessary topics like understanding what is going on within you, how to advocate for yourself, and how to feel more appreciated overall. That workbook can be purchased here.
For more of my free content, check out my YouTube channel here.
Photo Credit: Robert Collins on Unsplash