INFJ and Negative Motivation [discussion thread]


Hi, all. :slight_smile: I’m going to talk about myself now in hopes that anyone can relate at least in part. Hey! I think I’m growing. I finally read an (this) INFJ article from Blake and I felt agreement, no self-pity, and no desire to eliminate the INFJ-ness in me, BUT ONLY an immediate curiosity into how to make this negative motivation thing “work” for me.

In the context of the present situation of my life, it would work in two ways:

  1. Getting out of the excessive debt I got myself into by way of lack of discipline, boredom with life / changing jobs a lot, enjoying experiences, needing instant gratification

  2. Finally achieving my career dream of becoming a working for myself by being a life / personal coach / consultant.

I can’t seem to even make a dip into these two goals because they seem to demand some deep level of positive thinking … particularly #2. I mean part of being in the personal development industry is positive affirmations and meditations and shit. My brain is flooded with negative stuff though. I feel like I’ve tried “it all” for the past decade. Life coaching programs, books, so much. Okay no, I haven’t written 3 months of morning pages. My longest streak has been 40 days.

Also, though my brain is negatively motivated in regards to myself, I’m actually a really positive person when it comes to other people and their lives.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how to reach goals via negative motivation? I don’t actually like sacrificing or suffering in the name of goal-focusing. I’m a life path 5, if anyone is into numerology.

Okay bye!


For me it’s having to deal with all of the excessive bullshit that comes along with a standard 9-5 day job and the dysfunctional hierarchy that comes with it. It pushes me to accomplish financial independence through my own dreams or passions.


Anxiety, cynicism, and perfectionism is some potent fuel for getting things done. Don’t tell me I’m terrific and I’m doing great, blech, boring, now I don’t even want to try anymore.

re. debt- I ran up some debt my last year of college. I had a job lined up and thought I’d have plenty of money shortly, but soon realized it would not be that easy. So I castigated myself for being careless and becoming a thrall to corrupt financial institutions through not planning better, and then I led an ascetic lifestyle and got a second job till I paid it off. I hate debt; money is a type of freedom and I’m now at point of financial independence that allows some bypassing of bullshit and dysfunctional hierarchies as @SoundDesiign mentioned.


Oh! Hmm. Fuck. Yeah, that’s negative motivation right there. I wonder what my issue is then. At this point I’ve had 15-20 different jobs in 14 years of working and it’s basically been the same story. Maybe I’m just too lazy to get out of the cycle of getting a new job and then almost having a meltdown 1-3 months in because I already hate the people I’m working with. I’ve certainly hired different coaches and tried different programs to find alternative incomes and have never truly made the jump to self-employed work. I truly do not know.


Is this another example of negative motivation, kinda beating yourself up to feel bad and get things done that way? This doesn’t work for me. I was in the fitness world for a bit and I never related to the “make the bar your bitch” yell-in-my-face sort of personal trainers. Then again, I never developed trust for the “you can do it” motivators either. It too makes me feel like not doing anything, maybe too simplified or too fake or something. I guess I’m sort of in-between the positive and the negative, as INFJ as I still know myself to be…hm. Not a nihilist or cynic, not an optimist? What’s between that…I digress…


This resonates huge. Growing up, there would be times where my mom would be talking about my musical accomplishments with guests and other family members in front of me and I would get PISSED. Don’t know if it’s because I’m an only child and didn’t want the attention, but I think it was in part because I simply wasn’t at the level that I wanted to be at, which is absurd to think about now.

I guess in a way this falls under the negative motivation category. I’ve been actively trying this year to accept compliments.

The plot twist is…

We will never be able to get away from them! They are everywhere! It’s just finding the least shitty one in order to adapt the best.

I do this like it’s a reflex. Picking apart people to the individual atom is completely unfair though.

What have these coaches suggested? Asking for a friend.

I’m the exact same way. My past ESTJ boss literally was nothing but critical and honestly made me just shut down, but the “YOU CAN DO IT” folk just make me slack and get lazy. I think it’s that we need them to just quit the posturing. Give me the genuine (with a little bit of positivity) and I’ll hear them.

I think it might be a fellow INFJ F. Scott Fitzgerald who coined the term “cynical idealist”.

I subscribe 1,000%.


What are your dreams and passions, @SoundDesiign? What do you do for work? Describe what financial independence means to you. Curious about you.

[quote=“SoundDesiign, post:6, topic:718”]
Picking apart people to the individual atom is completely unfair though.

I agree.

Okay, a good amount of the suggestions / frameworks aren’t even relevant anymore, honestly. A lot I don’t remember. But my current most-trusted interest is via Sean at It’s a basic “learn the skills, do the work” freelance community. I’d check out the main page here: A lot of success stories, no frills. My newest interest with him is his concept of Hobby Hacking. Turning your hobby into a side gig / side income.

I also recommend Ramit Sethi - his free newsletter is hilarious, hella-realist/almost grumpy, and brilliant. He also has a freelancer course called Earn1k that’s gotten a lot of feedback and that is really useful, I just wasn’t committed to put it to work and I’m so self-critical I couldn’t pick an idea to actually start working on and selling … hope this helps?

Yes, this is me too.

Oh. YES! Yes. Energetically, the phrase lands. I do admit I still have a desire to something that’s less a hybrid and more just a description of the genuine in-between. I have nothing better though. Is a cynical idealist merely a realist? Are INFJs just realists at their most healthy? :slight_smile:


I had an Okinawan martial arts teacher who did seminars every few months. He told me it was a good couple years after he started teaching in the US until he realized Americans need some praise to keep coming to class. He still didn’t quite get it, he’d say, “ok, great job!”- and then launch into a detailed critique of everything that was wrong. I found him quite motivating though; I knew I was at least on the right track if the list of things I was crappy at changed by the next time.

Yelling and emotional expression with criticism really put me off. I think my ideal life coach would be someone with a serious vibe to give me things to work on and tell me why then not meet again until I’d had time to think about it and work on it on my own (because too much repetition is annoying once I get the idea that a change should be made).


What do you enjoy doing in general? Not just work related stuff.

What kinds of jobs have you had?

What makes you sure that you’re INFJ? And what has learning about your type done for you?


I do not think that is the right question to ask for INFJs. I know, I know, we all want to reach our goals. We all want to be competent. But this whole negative motivation really works when we seek to apply it through Fe auxiliary. By accepting negative emotions and experiences, INFJs are capable of producing very affecting and beautiful art. Or become excellent psychologists or any sort of scholar regarding the study of people. The poison makes INFJs wise, tragic, and beautiful.

The problem is when INFJs use that inner poison, that inner cauldron boiling with shame, anger, fear, and guilt, to try to achieve something, to become “competent” in the eyes of the world. That would incur all the functions that will bring the INFJs down. Especially Ti tertiary, and nonproductive use of that, specifically. That shame is going to make INFJs constrict their open, contextual thinking filled with subtleties and colours into this dry, constricted, and monochromatic thinking. Because INFJs will begin to worry. Oh this needs to be correct. Oh no, this is wrong. This is bad. I need to fix it. I hate this. I shouldn’t bullshit. I shouldn’t dare to say something without knowing anything about it. (And so on and so forth) BORING! And that’s exactly what will bring INFJs down.

An INFJ has high awareness of what is good, what is substantive, how to get ahead in this world, and what one should achieve to be recognized in this world. They hate what is shallow, dumb, and poor in quality. So it is natural that an INFJ would feel high temptation to do exactly what they should do to be great in the eyes of this world, Te, Se, Si, and Ti. Stop complaining and do what you need to get what you want instead of whining

Yeah, that adage definitely has some truth in this day and age, but an INFJ fuelled by negative motivation to then achieve exactly what they want is going to burn themselves out by striving for maximum perfection in every sense. An INFJ will try to utilize Te but will have nowhere to go because they have no sense of their physical limitations and no sense of time or boundaries. And at some point, the INFJ will want to hate what they do because of all the moral shaming they inflict on themselves. They burn themselves from all their intensity. The same thing goes for INFJ relationships. They love with all hellish intensity and at some point it gets too much for them so they just ditch.


So I’m not saying that an INFJ should ignore reality. We need money. We need food. We need to toil hard if we want to accomplish great things. Shallowness sucks. Laziness sucks. Complacence sucks. But if INFJs try to delve into the Fi id, especially in the context of Te/Se matters, good luck. It’s not going to work. Instead, an INFJ should accept that they are negatively motivated and let that run in the background. Because it always will.

So if an INFJ wants to “get ahead” in this world in that very worldly sense, here’s what I think. INFJs should enjoy doing something. INFJs should do things that they like. Especially when it comes to careers. At least I think so. And in any case, “getting ahead” in the world requires one to be somewhat positive. A person down in the dumps would never be able to perform as well as those who learn how to control their emotions and see the positive side in things (unless you’re talking about art and psychology). So keeping Fi id in check, in my opinion, is crucial for worldly success. Practice your Te minimums. Be aware of that crippling sense of shame about yourself and that soul-clutching fear of how the world will judge you, but don’t let it overtake you. Find cathartic outlets. Some sort of artistic activity, religion, or something. Look forward to what you’re doing because you want to do it (that’s very important for the INFJ) and you’re eager to learn. Childlike curiosity. That spirit of play is important to INFJs. It’ll charge up the INFJs with tons of energy and awaken their gifts. Free up their imagination, make 'em creative and ingenious.

The last thing an INFJ should resort to is buckle up and do the heavy stuff, especially when it comes to the realm of the world.

Oh yes, and try not to be resentful of others, because no matter how shitty they are, that kind of attitude is not conducive to real-world success stuff. Try to understand where they’re coming from. Try to work with them even if you don’t like them. If you try to like them, they will feel it and goodness will return back to you. (Or is this incredibly, naive? Whatever.) Doesn’t mean licking their asses - agh, you know what I mean.


I do know what you mean @schlopadoo and can identify with everything you’ve said here.

The last few weeks at my work have been some of the worst, most toxic and humiliating of my entire career. I’m not at liberty to share the details, but all that really matters is the appalling treatment of the more sensitive personality types (including INFJs) by the “tough guy” TJ management types, who still make up the vast majority of managers in all levels at the organisation I work for.

I’ve been mentoring and training a younger INFJ scientist for the last couple of years. By younger I mean early 30s, not inexperienced or naive, as she completed a PhD in chemistry and worked for another laboratory in a managerial role for several years before joining my company.

Forensics is her dream job, so she took a substantial pay cut and a less senior technician role when a vacancy arose in my team. We share an office so I have seen first hand just how capable, dedicated, hard working and intuitive a scientist she is.

But it’s been like looking back through time and reliving all my own struggles as an INFJ scientist, as she keeps hitting the same brick walls and invisible barriers that I am sadly all too familiar with.

Here’s some examples to help explain the condescending, patronising, aggressive, contradictory and intensely frustrating “advice” typically bestowed by the Powers-That-Be for non-traditional types, such as INFJs, whose calling is for science or similar technical professions:

You need to speak up more and assert yourself!
You need to listen to others opinions before speaking up.
You must be more confident!
You need more experience.
With all your experience, we expected a lot more than you are delivering.
Don’t take this personally…
Why are you upset??
You must be more considerate of your colleagues!
We want you to share your ideas.
You must demonstrate your management skills if you want to be promoted.
We see a future for you with this company.
Sorry we couldn’t promote you, but this will be a good test of your resilience!
You should be able to manage all your duties in the core hours.
You won’t get on if you aren’t willing to put in the extra time and effort!
You must look after your health by taking breaks and leaving on time.
Oh, you wouldn’t be able to stay and finish this task for me as I have to leave early today?
We’ll consider promoting you once you demonstrate that you’re already carrying out all the duties of the next level for an extended period (but have no intention of keeping our promise, because why should we pay more when you’re already doing the work of the next grade?)

And so it goes…


It is what it is (a saying I’ve been using a lot recently :face_with_raised_eyebrow:), and I’ve finally had to concede to both myself and my colleague that there’s no point trying to sugarcoat a steaming pile of horseshit.

Acknowledging and processing the negative emotions created by such an unfair system is important for INFJs, for both psychological health and motivational reasons. But not, perhaps, as a long-term or sole source of INFJ motivation.

One of the benefits of age, I’ve found, is that I no longer fear or try to suppress powerful negative emotions such as disappointment, anger, shame or despair when they are a genuine and appropriate response to a shitty situation. Instead I simply take myself someplace quiet and then open up my Feeling functions and allow them time to process the pain, grief or sadness etc without trying to direct them or modify the feelings in any way. I guess you could call it “non-judgmental Feeling” if you like.

What usually happens when I tap into Feeling on its own terms like this, is a profoundly different experience from trying to maintain a positive facade, by stuffing the inconvenient feelings into a box and shutting tight the lid. The wave of emotions rises up like an incoming wave on the beach, and when it reaches its peak, the heart opens up and absorbs the full force of the inrushing tide. From this place of love it can safely fill my whole body with an intense rush of emotion and then disperse as rapidly as it arose.

The afterglow from this healthier and honest expression of pure feeling is extraordinarily profound and healing. The strength of the feelings alone is a validation of just how upset I truly was, and by acknowledging and releasing my emotions I gain a sense of closure and can finally move on from whatever I had been struggling to manage or cope with using my will or logic alone.

The experience itself stays with me, not in a negative sense, but as a positive reminder of the importance of negative emotions and feeling-states.


What do you do when you’re not motivated to do much of anything? I neither want nor need most things people push themselves toward anymore. I’m financially secure and do my job on autopilot with no desire for the crap that goes along with advancing further on the corporate ladder. I’m content in my relationships and not a very social person to want to network. I always have projects I want to do and things to learn, but I don’t want the crap that goes along with trying to win any accolades or attention for any of that either. I don’t sludge about in depression and am probably still more productive than most people, but I sort of miss the rush that goes along with a goal with a sense of urgency. Maybe I should be careful what I wish for.


I find that a handful of INTJs are like this or become like this at some point. Especially when they find a loved one and a family or etc that they find far more valuable than receiving tons of accolades.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. It’s wise and sensible.




Take a deep sigh of relief, pour myself a large gin and tonic, and collapse in an exhausted heap for the next 72 hours, Which is what I’m about to do right now after the worst week in recent memory…




Oh my, hope you get some rest and next week is better. Well, my ENTP friend dragged me out to a herbal syrups class and I have been experimenting with making both alcoholic and non-alcoholic old lady drinks, the lavender and lemon verbena syrups are especially tasty.


Negative motivation or wishful thinking?

Edit: I’m pretty sure I just want Kanye to be INFJ :man_shrugging: