Criticism (& INFPs)

Today’s post is a little depressing for my tastes, but ah well, that sort of stuff happens now and again. I promise a more cheerful post soon. 🙂

I will admit something- I don’t mind people disagreeing with me, and I don’t (too much) mind people who insult my beliefs or doubt the very things I hold true (this is easily resolved by not mentioning my important beliefs or principles. Which probably doesn’t sound healthy, but it work for me, though I wouldn’t exactly advise you to try it).

But what I DO mind, sometimes far too much, is criticism.

This is a stereotype I have found on the internet, (which is mostly correct I suppose, even though I hate that it is), one that many TJs and even a few TPs…. mostly just Ts in general, acknowledge often. “INFPs are too sensitive. I can’t say anything around them or they get all offended and crap.”

Well, I’m not claiming that this is the reason all INFPs feel offended by criticism, I’m just saying this is why I am.

When someone criticizes something in general, yes, I get this barley-there sinking feeling in my stomach, but I shrug it off a few seconds later, acknowledge the problem, fix it, and move on. By general criticism, I mean like when I post a chapter on FanFiction.net and get a critical review. I often acknowledge they were right and change it, or change it because I’m the only one who disagrees with them, but at the end of the day, I’m usually not sitting there hurt about it. I’m not thrilled either, but…. it’s okay. If I did something stupid or you found a typo or I have a character acting out-of-character, I would rather you risk offending me and let me know so that doesn’t happen in the future.

It’s when things are directly related to me (or I, perhaps wrongly, perceive them as so) that things get touchy.

See, I’ve seen a lot of non-INFPs theorizing that we are idealists and we see ourselves as better than we really are, so when someone criticizes us the walls of the dream come crashing down and we are crushed by reality, thus lashing out at the one who introduced us to it.

I don’t know about my fellow INFPs. Maybe some of us are like that. But I’m not, and I’d wager most mature INFPs aren’t either.

It’s more like this: I am flawed to high heaven. I know I am. I’m just silly me; I’m far from perfect, I have a lot of faults. It takes a lot of work for me to come to terms with them, to realize many of them are just me and no matter how much I hate them they aren’t going anywhere; there are many I haven’t accepted at all. I’ve just acknowledged their existence and carefully avoided thinking too much about them.

But when someone brings it up- “You’re not outgoing enough, you’re too wishy-washy, you’re selfish, you let people walk on you, you’re not good with social situations, you’re sort of ugly, you’re too different from everyone else….”

Then I experience something I like to call a double-negative.

Because, see. I already knew I was too wishy-washy. I already knew I wasn’t much to look at. I already knew I wasn’t outgoing enough. Lord, do I ever. And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this stuff, beating myself up over it in my head, hating it, trying so hard to make it go away forever. But it didn’t. It stayed, because that’s just how it is. And I knew there wasn’t any sense dwelling on things that can’t be changed, like my looks or the fact that I test 100% Introverted.

So I finally accepted it- tentatively, somewhat fearfully, afraid that I couldn’t tell the difference between the bad parts of me and the parts that I just got annoyed with, worried I was accepting something I should have been fixing- but I did. I accepted it. And I felt so much better, even though at night, when the lights are off, and the only sound is the cars on the road outside my window, I wonder if I made the right decision.

But everyone has faults, right? And no one is really paying that much attention to me and mine. It’s alright.

And then you tell me about it. Just when I thought maybe I wasn’t a freak and maybe I had some place in society and maybe I wasn’t a waste of oxygen in the long run, you brought it up again. You point it out as criticism. Then it’s like insult to injury for me, it’s like hey, I have beat myself up over that for you don’t know how long and you just… you just said it like it’s a simple thing I can change tomorrow, like it’s a deal breaker between me being a worthy human being or not.

Most people say it’s to better yourself- I’m telling you about this problem so you can fix it. That’s all well and good but… I tried that, or I accepted that it was okay if I wasn’t perfect. Now you’re telling me that this is a big problem. This is something we can’t allow to continue, this is serious business. This is a flaw you need to change, or else I’m afraid I will view you badly.

And I just don’t know how to respond to that. It causes this well of feelings to bubble up, it causes me to hate my flaws all over again, it causes me to feel like the biggest failure ever. It causes me to doubt my own judgment, because I evaluated the situation and decided that flaw was insignificant in the grand scheme of things, and you’re telling me it really is.

But the biggest problem of all is that it doesn’t take very much to convince me I’m the problem. If you tell me I’m not pretty enough, I’ll probably believe you. If you tell me I’m too nice to people, I’ll probably believe you. I’m not one to stand up for myself, mostly because I can’t find the happy medium between letting people walk all over me, and being that girl who thinks she’s perfect and can’t accept anyone who says otherwise. I don’t want to disagree with your assessment of me if you’re right, but I’m not sure how to tell if you are because my viewpoint is obviously biased. Therefore, I just accept virtually everything you say about me.

So.

Everyone out there with an INFP in their life: Maybe this helped you, maybe not. Either way, this is my problem with criticism.

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