INFJs often struggle with certain aspects of life without ever fully understanding why. Many times they know they are more sensitive than others (I would be shocked to find an INFJ who has not been told to “stop being so sensitive” on more than one occasion), but they may not understand why. This can lead them to look at this sensitivity as a flaw or a piece of them to be fixed.
The reality is that INFJs do tend to be more sensitive than the majority of the population. This sensitivity shows in many facets of their life, varying in intensity from person to person. Many report not being able to watch horror films or news programs because they struggle with handling the negative emotions. Others seem to have many physical ailments, frequenting doctors to figure out exactly what is wrong, only to begin to believe they are hypochondriacs.
These people can go through life constantly wondering what is wrong with them and how they can fix it, without ever fully understanding what is occurring.
They are empaths.
An empath is a person who feels exactly what others feel. This is not to be mistaken with sympathy, which is trying to understand what someone is going through, or even the very similar word empathy, which is actually just being familiar with what someone else is experiencing. An empath literally feels exactly what someone else feels, even if they have never experienced, nor can they relate in any way to what the other person is going through.
These feelings are not only emotional, but can come about physically as well, taking on ailments, discomforts or pains someone else is feeling. An empath can be physically fit and healthy and suddenly feel shooting pains in their arm as they witness a sports injury. Or they can develop throbbing headaches if they know someone with frequent migraines. Sometimes the empath is not even aware of what is happening. They may have to lay down from excessive back pain when they are all alone in their living room only to discover a loved one miles away fell off a ladder.
What sounds like a sixth sense or some unknown clairvoyance is actually just basic science. Once someone discovers that they are, in fact, an empath, learning about the science of what is happening makes coping with this seemingly awful trait much easier, often times turning it into a well-loved gift.
Everything in life is energy and thus exudes energy in waves. Most go through life completely oblivious to these energies, or only feeling them at smaller frequencies due to lessened sensitivity. INFJs, however, tend to be extremely sensitive, heightening their response to these energies even if they are not aware of it.
When someone near you experiences an emotion, that emotion is emitted from them as an invisible energy wave. The level of the emotion can affect how strong the wave is. The average person would not be drastically affected by this wave unless it was at a very high level, whereas an INFJ or empath, would have a very strong reaction and often will absorb this energy as their own.
The closer one is relationally, the more heightened the sensitivity to their energy waves. If someone in the grocery store down the street stubbed their toe, an empath may be none the wiser. Whereas if their child did the same thing in the same location, the empath would be so finely tuned (even unknowingly) to their child’s energy waves that they could feel a minor pain in the same toe.
There was a study conducted by Rupert Sheldrake which showed a dog’s awareness of its owner’s intentions to come home despite the large distance between them. Dogs, known to be much more sensitive and hyperaware than humans, can pick up on the energy waves sent by their owners from a great distance, affecting their behavior and giving them insight about the owner’s actions at the precise time the owner makes a decision.
The same is true for some humans. While not all INFJs have the same level of heightened sensitivity, and they are certainly not the only type capable of being an empath, they are the most likely type to exhibit empathic abilities because of how sensitive they are to those around them.
I strongly recommend any INFJ who has discovered their personality type to look into empathic abilities further as it may offer many answers to the difficulties life poses. Once you discover your ability and understand exactly what is occurring physically through energy waves, your gift becomes much easier to cope with and even possible to control.