Open work spaces, chaotic city streets, and networking with super energetic strangers.
If you feel like shrinking into yourself at the thought of these environments, you're not alone! I used to be immersed in these environments on a daily basis, and it used to tire me out so much that I'd either end up with a fierce headache at the end of the day or doze off while sitting in traffic on the way home.
INFJs--and folks who are otherwise drawn towards work that requires an immense amount of empathy--often find themselves in environments that don't suit their sensitive natures.
We're drawn to problems, precisely because we seek to expose the light that we KNOW is underneath. These are Big Problems. Problems that affect entire communities. So chances are, we'll suck it up and endure the not-so-ideal work environment because the pay-off of contributing to the cause will hopefully be worth the temporary discomfort.
Please know that you're not a weirdo for being so much more drained at the end of the day than your colleagues. It doesn't mean you're somehow "less than" or "not enough". It's just the way your nervous system works. Just like how some people find the intensity of city life energizing, other people feel most like themselves next to the rhythmic push-and-pull of the ocean.
But not all of us can escape to the ocean whenever we want, can we? Nope. The good news is that INFJs don't need to travel very far to find environments where we can restore and recharge.
The ones I list here are my personal favorites.
When I'm in these spaces, I don't need to expend any extra energy whatsoever to protect myself from overstimulation or unnecessary interaction. I can function at my creative and compassionate best!
My social scientist and occupational therapist mind could NOT resist analyzing these energizing places for patterns. What are the common threads that weave through them?? Here's what I noticed:
Environments are energizing (and not draining) to me when they have at least one of 3 elements.
INFJ-friendly places are uber-conducive to daydreaming or appreciating beauty... like when I'm browsing World Market or a local bookstore. So many colorful trinkets and mind-bending stories to admire upon those shelves!
Introverts thrive off of deep, meaningful interaction--whether with another person, or not. Get a glass of wine with a close friend or commune with yourself and whatever spiritual being you believe in as you make your way through the local redwood forest.
It's true that introverts or sensitive people in general are more affected by stimuli than our more extroverted friends. The best part about places like coffee shops, the movies, and yoga studios is that I can tap into my creative side and be surrounded by like-minded people, but can still elect to keep my own company. (Any other INFJ ladies out there who are totally okay with taking themselves out on a solo dinner-and-a-movie night?!)
Most of my favorite INFJ-friendly places satisfy at least 2 of these 3 factors, which I think is pretty darn good. Like, listening to a podcast by a woman I can relate to, while driving around a scenic locale by myself? That's my ideal commute, right there.
I go to these places when I need to get important work done, or in between intense or interaction-heavy obligations.
These places keep me grounded and grinding, so I can deal with the temporary discomfort of those stimulating and extrovert-oriented environments without sacrificing too much of my energy.
What about you? Where do you go to restore and recharge so you can function at your creative and compassionate best?