Are you an INFJ who has been traumatized by a narcissist and you don’t know how to recover from the abuse? INFJs are highly intuitive and empathetic creatures which makes them prime targets for narcissistic abuse. INFJs have a tendency to ignore their own feelings as well as put other people’s needs above their own. We live in a world that praises selflessness and can make you feel bad if you place your needs first, and INFJs are especially sensitive to this.
What is an INFJ Personality?
The INFJ personality is known to be a compassionate, intuitive leader and is considered one of the rarest Myers-Briggs personality types. But when this highly sensitive and creative personality becomes a victim of narcissistic abuse, the devastation can be enormous.
According to 16Personalities.com, “An Advocate (INFJ) is someone with the Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging personality traits. They tend to approach life with deep thoughtfulness and imagination. Their inner vision, personal values, and a quiet, principled version of humanism guide them in all things.”
Quick Facts on the INFJ Personality
They are genuinely good-hearted people who connect quickly with others.
They often find interest and support in helping other people more than themselves.
They want to help and make a difference, which makes them an ideal target for manipulation.
INFJs value deep, heartfelt relationships.
They focus on a few special people in their lives and are intensely loyal and protective of them.
INFJs great strength lies in the intensity of their feelings, which they use intuitively to understand other people.
Their unique combination of traits makes INFJs natural advisors or counselors.
People value their insight and willingness to listen to others.
Why are INFJs the majority of narcissistic abuse survivors?
While every single personality type is susceptible to being a victim of narcissistic abuse, the most common profile of narcissistic abuse victims is INFJ. But why? For one, INFJs are givers by their very nature, and when they fall in love with someone (or are infatuated), their first instinct is to give everything they have to make that person happy.
They will bend over backward to ensure the emotional safety of anyone they love. This makes them prime targets for narcissistic abusers, who are known to lack empathy and only concern themselves with their own emotions and needs. Plus, many INFJs may have develoed this particular personality type due to their own childhood trauma.
INFJs are sensitive and intuitive.
INFJs are highly intuitive, which is an asset in many situations. It’s often the quality that leads them to choose counseling as a career. But it’s also the quality that’s most likely to lead them into abusive relationships. INFJs are so attuned to other people’s feelings that they’re often taken advantage of by narcissists and sociopaths.
They can be easy targets for emotional predators because INFJs tend to trust people too easily and believe that everyone has good intentions. This tendency toward being trusting and giving isn’t a character flaw — it’s just part of being an INFJ personality type. And it can be a trap if you don’t learn how to navigate relationships more effectively.
INFJs struggle with seeing their own value.
INFJs are not always good at taking care of themselves. They can be overwhelmed by their own pain and are so used to putting other people first that they have a hard time letting themselves take a front seat in their own lives. So when an INFJ endures narcissistic abuse, it can really knock them down hard. The self esteem of an INFJ can take a real hit after being treated so poorly.
Many INFJs describe narcissistic abuse as having the rug pulled out from under them in some way. The dream they had for their life is shattered and they find themselves lost and confused with no idea where to turn next. Even if you’re familiar with personality disorders, the effects of narcissistic abuse on an INFJ can still be devastating because it attacks their very core being – everything that makes them who they are as a person. It’s like a parasite that burrows into your brain and takes over your mind, convincing you that you will never, ever be enough.
As outlined in my DUO Method, the first step in treatment is to recognize that there is a problem. There may be some denial involved because the INFJ has been subjected to constant criticism and manipulation by this person. When the INFJ realizees that they are being abused and that the abuser has no regard for their feelings or their needs, they’ve already taken the first step toward narcissistic abuse recovery.
The next step involves learning how the abuser thinks and operates so that they can spot the red flags before they get into another toxic relationship, as well as learning how you got into the relationship in the first place and what you can do in the future to protect yourself from similar situations.
It is important for INFJs to develop a strong support system during this time and seek out other people who understand what they are going through. Therapy and narcissistic abuse recovery coaching can also be helpful in teaching them how to set boundaries without feeling guilty or ashamed of themselves.
Recovery from narcissistic abuse really sort of begins when you stop blaming yourself for what happened. You may feel that the narcissist was right about you all along, but when you’ve finished the second phase in recovery, you’ll understand the psychlogy of what happened and you’ll see the patterns around them.
Finally, the INFJ will overcome narcissistic abuse by ending or minimizing the relationship in their lives before evolving into the best possible version of themselves.
INFJs: Questions to Ask Yourself After Narcissistic Abuse
What are your personality strengths and how do they relate to narcissism?
When you were being abused by a narcissist did you get caught up in the narcissist’s web of lies and manipulation? If so, what did it feel like?
How did you deal with the narcissist’s flow of constant criticism during the relationship and now that it is over?
How do you handle working through your feelings of self-blame, guilt, shame, and not feeling good enough?
Can an INFJ be a narcissist?
Can an INFJ be a narcissist? It’s possible, though unlikely, that an INFJ personality type can be a narcissist. First, we have to consider this: Since Narcissists really haven’t manifested any original, true identity (and since they tend to lie to even themselves), any Myers-Briggs Personality Test result would (or at the very least) could be false. Narcissists won’t or can’t see any true insight into their false selves.
The truth is that their actual identity is comprised of “borrowed” personality traits, hobbies, choices, and frustrations from other people in their lives. There’s not a lot of substance. Narcissists usually aren’t capable of self-reflection – and don’t forget: they lie – to themselves and everyone else. With all of that being said, here is what you’d see if narcissism manifested in each of the 16 personality types – watch this video.
Communication Struggles for INFJs After Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
Many INFJs find themselves struggling with communication folloing narcissistic abuse. Part of this is because they might be (or have become) more introverted due to their abuse. Some of the issues that introverts have when communicating with others are due to the very definition of being an introvert.
INFJs are silent perfectionists.
Due to perfectionistic tendencies, introverts frequently don’t speak up, even when they have something to say because they fear it won’t be insightful enough or it will come out all wrong.
INFJs might neglect phone calls.
You much prefer to text or email because you can skip the small talk and it’s socially acceptable with those forms of communication. But phone calls… shudder! You find yourself procrastinating making important phone calls or returning calls, even to those you love. You have to feel energized enough to be an enthusiastic participant in the conversation, which can cause you to put off making calls, even if they are vital.
INFJs prefer to fly solo.
Because you need to think before you speak and because you need to have silence while you ponder, you find it challenging to participate in the conversation when there are comments and ideas flying everywhere. You may feel like you can’t gather your thoughts well enough to contribute to the conversation.
INFJs are overwhelmed and exhausted by large groups.
When you have to be around a lot of people, especially if you don’t know them, you feel exhausted fast. One reason for this is because it involves a lot of small-talk, which doesn’t come naturally to introverts. Putting out that much effort wears you out.
In fact, working in groups can be even worse for an introvert than small-talk. When you must rely on others to communicate in ways that aren’t comfortable or understandable to you, it’s a real challenge to complete the project. There’s also the issue of your perfectionism too. Because of your practice of thinking through every possible issue and solution, you are committed to only turning out perfection… but others in the group don’t often care as much about this as completion, or they have a very different perception of what “perfection” is.
INFJs can feel lonely in a crowded room.
Introverts often feel left out of a rapid conversation, whether it’s at a party or a work conference. This often occurs because, by the time you determine what you want to say and the best way to say it, the group has moved onto a new topic. You can easily feel left out and lonely during these discussions – more so than if you were actually alone.
INFJs CAN Recover From Narcissistic Abuse
Many INFJs are able to rebound from abuse and go on to have happy and fulfilling lives; however, there is no “road map” for recovery. Abuse is difficult for everyone, and for INFJs it can be especially hard because of their tendency to overlook their personal needs in favor of being selfless and accommodating.
The key to understanding the process for INFJs is realizing that we are dealing with an abuse of power. It is because of immature, unfulfilled expectations of what romantic relationships should be that the narcissist tries to take control. Whether it’s because they were not treated with the love they expected when they were younger, or whether they are simply incapable of truly loving anyone else, the narcissist is only capable of meeting their own needs.
Get help with narcissistic abuse recovery right now.
The QueenBeeing SPANily, Official – We consider this the best narcissistic abuse recovery support group on the web. It offers several subgroups and features a vigilant, compassionate admin team full of trained coaches and survivors, supporting more than 12k members. SPAN is an acronym created by Angie Atkinson that stands for Support for People Affected by Narcissistic abuse in toxic relationships.
Other Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups– We also have separate groups for each stage in your narcissistic abuse recovery and some for those who have moved past recovery and are evolving into the next stage of their own life. Survivors have unique and individual needs, even when they’ve moved on – so we’re still here for you.
One-on-One Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Coaching – If you prefer to get more personalized support in your recovery, you might like to schedule a session with one of our coaches to plan and execute your own narcissistic abuse recovery plan.
I’ve got two questions for you. Are all empaths codependent? Are all codependents empaths? I think it’s time we clear up some confusion for our community. You often hear people in the narcissistic abuse community talking about empaths and codependents as though the terms were interchangeable. The thing is, they aren’t. What I mean is that while some codependents are empaths, not all empaths are codependents. In other words, they are two separate concepts that some people have mistaken for synonyms. Let me explain.
There are three types of empathy – cognitive, emotional, and compassionate. Emotional and compassionate empathy seems to be intrinsic for most people, and cognitive empathy can be learned. So, an adult empath would be able to logically understand what a person would feel, be emotionally affected by what they feel, and also be moved to take action to help them deal with what they feel. For example, an empath might, at the age of 3, notice when someone is hurting and try to comfort them, even if that person doesn’t say anything about it or indicate directly that something is wrong. The child might not understand logically or have the vocabulary to describe what they do understand, but when they instinctively comfort someone, there’s no question that they understand. At the same time, an adult narcissist, who would not be considered an empath, would be able to logically understand what you feel, but they wouldn’t be emotionally affected by it for the most part, at least not in a normal way, and they would not be moved to help you deal with it unless it benefited them to do so in some way.
What is Codependency?
Codependency is when you are dependent on another person in unhealthy ways. It seems to be, in most cases, affected by some form of trauma that often occurred in childhood. It is also considered a behavioral condition as it inhibits your ability to have a healthy and mutually satisfying relationship. A good synonym for codependency might be “relationship addiction” because codependents tend to be perpetually involved in relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive, and/or abusive.
The Differences Between Codependents and Empaths
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s discuss empaths and codependents. We understand that empathy and codependency are different. So, why do people in the narcissistic abuse recovery community so often confuse the term “empath” with the term “codependent,” if they’re two distinct terms that aren’t synonymous? The answer is as simple as it is complicated. It’s because there are many codependents who do happen to be empaths. But then, there are many who are not.
And, of course, just consider the definition of codependency. As it turns out, toxic narcissists can also be considered codependents, given their excessive need for attention, adoration, and narcissistic supply. They clearly need to be dependent on others for their emotional validation and all of that tasty, tasty supply. But even though they require so much of your emotional energy, they do not have emotional or compassionate energy, so they do often emotionally neglect and abuse their so-called loved ones. Therefore, by definition, they are codependent, but they can’t be considered empaths.
What is an empath?
If you are an empath, you’re highly sensitive to the emotions and energy of the people around you. Empaths tend to be very intuitive and may also be spiritually inclined. In other words, if you’re an empath, you’re someone who naturally “feels” the emotions of other people and acts in accordance. Empaths, however, seem to have a more natural inclination toward naturally understanding the psychology of both humans and animals.
Are Empaths Rare?
Most humans above the age of two or three have some ability to show empathy, which is, on its most basic level just the ability to perceive what other people feel on some level. And many animals seem to have some level of empathy, even for humans, as evidenced by pets who appear to show concern when their owners are feeling blue. But there are different levels of sensitivity when it comes to empathy, and those who are at the highest end of that spectrum might be rare. Still, even the most basic understanding of and concern for others’ feelings makes life easier for everyone.
Are Empaths Real?
Some people seem to think that empathy is a supernatural ability. But while on some level, there are things we don’t understand about empathy, there is a lot of scientific research that explains how it works. In fact, a study focused on a specific type of empathy called mirror-touch synaesthesia offers some very interesting insight that supports the idea that empaths exist. Mirror-touch synaesthesia is the ability to feel a sensation of touch when you see someone else being touched. Study authors Dr. Michael Banissy at the Goldsmiths University of London, along with researcher Dr. Natalie Bowling, the research found that up to 2 percent of the population could be considered empaths.
Why Do Some People Have More Empathy Than Others?
Clearly, there are some people who seem to be more personally affected by empathy than others. For example, someone who might be considered a natural empath would have a clearer and more comprehensive intrinsic understanding of how people feel. Using this natural ability, empaths can quickly interpret a person’s thoughts and feelings.
“The scientific studies that are often used to demonstrate that empaths exist, however, provide indirect evidence,” said Kristen Milstead in a 2018 PsychCentral article.”This includes research showing the existence of mirror neurons in the brain, which are said to enable us to read and understand each other’s emotions by filtering them through our own. Other studies used to explain empaths include the concept of emotional contagion, which is the idea that when people synchronize their attitudes, behaviors, and speech, they also synchronize their emotions both consciously and unconsciously.”
Milstead noted that while the studies explained the existence of empathy as a concept, they didn’t make it clear why some people seem to have a higher sensitivity to it than others. So for now, the idea that there is a supernatural element to being an empath isn’t completely disproven, but that doesn’t mean that scientists won’t decode it in the future. After all, there were once people who worshipped the Sun. Science has a way of explaining things we don’t understand.
Signs of Being Codependent
If you really want to understand the differences between codependents and empaths, it can help to see the signs of each. While you may be both, you may also just be one or the other. People who are codependent typically have the following behaviors.
Codependents struggle to make decisions alone, especially where their decisions would affect their partner in any way.
Codependents may find themselves having a hard time identifying their own feelings.
Codependents might have a hard time communicating in their relationships – even if they’re really good at communicating in other ways and with other people.
Codependents are more concerned with getting the approval of people outside of themselves.
Codependents have low self-esteem.
Codependents may not trust their own instincts and intuition.
Codependents may have an unhealthy level of fear of abandonment.
Codependents may need approval to the point that they’ll even go against their own ethics in order to get it.
Codependents might feel overly responsible for the actions and behaviors of other people.
Codependents are inevitably miserable if they’re not in a relationship, and they’ll stay in a relationship that is harmful to them because they might feel as if it’s better than being alone.
Any of that sound familiar to you? Now, let’s talk about the signs you’re an empath.
Signs You’re an Empath
How do you know if you are an empath? While there are no easily available scientific tests that would prove your empath abilities, there are empath self-assessments, such as the one here, that will help you to recognize yourself as someone who might be an empath. There are, of course, both positive and negative sides of being an empath – and some of them overlap.
1. Empaths Can Be Targeted by Toxic People
Empaths often deal with overwhelming feelings as it is, so when a relationship is toxic, they will feel like they are in agony. They often end up going numb because they feel like they might not survive otherwise. Narcissists and other toxic people seem to be drawn to empaths. Most likely, that’s because empaths are generally moved into action by the emotions of other people. So, when the empath knows you are sad or upset, they do what they can to comfort you. When someone screams and yells at an empath, they will do whatever they can to resolve whatever the person is screaming about.
It doesn’t occur to an empath to feel angry at someone who is so clearly distressed. THAT is what attracts toxic people – the fact that the empath is so focused on making sure they are comfortable and happy in any given moment. It makes for an ideal source of narcissistic supply. And, since an empath is completely focused on them, they won’t have to do much to keep them happy.
See, if an empath is feeling needy and reaches out for validation, they will quickly forget their feelings if the other person expresses strong feelings of their own in the moment. This nature leads empaths who aren’t aware of these types of manipulations to miss the fact that they’re actually not being nourished in the relationship.
They end up starving for validation – giving and giving until they sort of burn out (literally in some cases through adrenal fatigue associated with C-PTSD). The empath ends up drained of their so-called light: they have little energy – they literally are almost “not even there” in some ways. They have grown so emotionally broken that they have literally stopped experiencing these emotions.
2. Empaths Find Large Crowds Are Draining
You will not find a happy empath at a Black Friday sale. In general, empaths can only take crowds in small doses, if at all. That’s why a lot of them don’t like large parties or concerts. And when an empath does spend too much time in crowds, most of them really need to take some time alone before and afterward in order to recharge. If they don’t, they will feel exhausted and tired for days or weeks afterward. In some cases, they may even physical effects, which brings me to my next point.
3. Empaths Need Plenty Of Time Alone
Most empaths require time alone to recharge, especially when they’ve dealt with emotionally difficult situations such as crowds, but also through various interpersonal interactions with people in their lives. An empath who is also an introvert may prefer to be alone more often than not. But even empaths who appear to be more outgoing will still need that alone time – or become unbalanced without it. However, an introvert that is not an empath would need, in general, less alone time for winding down. And in the case of codependents, whether they’re empaths or not, they may feel that they don’t want time alone at all, for any reason. This is one way that an empath can manifest emotional and/or psychological damage caused by their toxic relationships.
4. Empaths Feel Their Way Around New Places
Empaths seem to feel the energy of any location in which they happen to be. In a calm, clean, and organized place that is lit with candles and has soft colors, for example, an empath might feel calm. They might sense relaxing and positive energy. On the flip side, if an empath walked into a room where a crime was committed (sometimes even if they were unaware that a crime was committed there), or if they walked into a room directly after a confrontation as small as a marital spat – they would FEEL the energy buzzing without question, They’d even ask something like, “you guys okay? or “should I come back later?” They might feel uncomfortable or be physically affected, but not be able to put their finger on WHY they know something is wrong. They just know. Ya know?
If you’re like most survivors of narcissistic abuse, you might still be struggling to feel good about yourself. You might also not be very self-accepting, and most of us don’t end up actually feeling like we have any self-love to speak of – not to mention self-confidence. For that reason, I wrote this self-acceptance and self-love inducing guided meditation for you.
I worked with a professional voice artist to create a simple, relaxing, and motivational meditation for self-acceptance that leads to unconditional self-love. You can listen in the morning to get you going or play it while you go to sleep at night. I suggest you use it for at least 30 days for maximum effect.
Coaching with Lise Colucci, certified life coach and certified narcissistic abuse recovery coach
Begins November 13 ( 5 weeks of weekly coaching)
Tuesdays at 9am, 11 am or 6 pm Pacific for one hour weekly video coaching meetings
Additionally there is a messenger chat which begins as soon as you sign up and offers both peer support as well as daily check-in from Lise to offer continued coaching support.
Printable journal and additional support
cosy is 75.00 (non-refundable) for all 5 weeks plus the messenger chat and the journal.
This group has been part of a foundation of healing for many people so far. This group might help you gain new focus in your life by helping you to create a positive outlook towards your future and a much calmer present moment. I will share a few quotes from other survivors who have used this coaching group to help them heal.
I’m in more than one group because talking amongst like minded people keeps me sane during the hard times. We’ve laughed and cried. We gotten angry and we’ve made breakthroughs together. This is one of the hardest lessons I have ever had to learn. The most important thing I’ve learned through all groups is self-care. I honestly wouldn’t know what to do if I hadn’t found Lise and these groups. I’ve made some solid connections and feel completely safe with my feelings here. Thank you and looking towards many more groups! -Nicole
Joining the Self-Care Group Coaching seemed a logical next step in the healing journey. Had no idea how much it would impact my life in such a brief time. It’s more than a simple how-to and list of what to do. Lise Colucci is a beautiful soul who teaches and guides you to your path of self-care. She’s right there to encourage and gently nudge you as you move forward and face even difficult issues. The group is also filled with incredible souls, and it’s an honor to share this part of the journey with them. My loved ones have already noticed a difference and commented on the changes. If you have been dealing with your trauma bonds and are ready to move into the next step of healing, self-care coaching is an amazing resource to help you move forward! -Tam
Lise’s Self Care class has been an eye opener for me. She has a natural way of guiding her clients towards self discovery; allowing them to analyze their own personal situations and then create a path towards self healing that is individualized just for them. Lise is always available to respond to comments and questions from the group; even outside of “business hours” and often posts very thought provoking conversation starters. Her approach is non-judgmental and her candor is personable resulting in a forum where one feels “safe” to discuss their very personal feelings and experiences. Overtime it’s no longer a “class” but rather a loving, supportive extended family. I would recommend to anyone looking to move forward in their healing that they sign up for her classes. I look forward to the next course. -Diane
Do you struggle with setting boundaries or even not know what your boundaries are? Maybe you feel guilty if you say no or like someone may not like you if you place a boundary. Has a narcissist altered the way you feel about boundaries or made it so you now feel like you are somehow wrong for having them? If so, you are like so many survivors of narcissistic abuse who struggle to find ways to place boundaries in their lives but also know they might need to learn to do so in order to heal and thrive. This group coaching series is to help you create and live in your own Personal Power and we begin the series with BOUNDARIES. Having the support of a group as you work with setting and maintaining boundaries in your life can help to make this topic go from feeling impossible to totally within reach. As you listen to others and get the coaching help to go along with the growth you are trying to achieve, the feeling of personal power may increase as well as feeling validated and supported.
One hour weekly video meetings on Monday or Friday 6pm Pacific
Sessions begin October 22 or 26
Cost: $60 (non refundable at this reduced group rate) for all 4 weeks
This also includes a private messenger chat group to help keep connection and continuity through the week as well as get daily coaching check-ins from Lise.
You will be contacted by Lise once you sign-up about the time you choose to meet as well as to be added to the messenger chat.
For information about Lise or to sign up for personal one on one coaching you can follow the link here.