self worth (INFP, society and money)

January 19, 2009 at 12:42 pm (INFP) (, , , , , , )

Back in school, before going to college, I was among the brightest ones. I never really had to study hard but had great marks. I studied in one of the best classes in the best high-school in town and was in the top 3 in my class. My town has 150k population, so it’s not so small.

I dare to say that in mathematics and software programming I was among the best 5 or 10 students (of the same age as me) in my town.

To top that, I was in my high-school’s soccer team.

As I was not very interested in girls back then, that was it for me: I was smart, had great marks, and was great at football. You can imagine: my feelings of self-worth were fantastic.

Fast forward to 8 years later – nowadays. I went to college to become an engineer, but after 3 years I quit and started studying psychology. Now I have a degree in psychology. I also know now that my profile is INFP.

I’m still smart, I have a great personality (I believe this because I get along with most people and in my good days I am really fun), I still play soccer and am good at it, and to top it off (compared to my high-school days): my skills with women have much improved and my family is now doing great financially.

But, and here comes the problem, my feelings of self-worth have much diminished. Why? Because I have this believe that the amount of money that one makes is a measure of how ‘useful’ he is to society – and after high-school this is the real measure of a man’s worth. How good I am at football doesn’t matter, how big my IQ is doesn’t matter, what I read, what I watch on TV, how kind I am to others – these all feel secondary to me.

I don’t consider that one is worth as much as his bank account, but rather that one is worth as much as he makes from his job. (So if I could own a restaurant for example I would still not feel great as it would be the restaurant that is producing the money and not me.)

And I make (almost) no money :(. Really, the jobs that I feel in my heart that I want to have pay almost no money or are impossible to have in my town.

At a first glance my situation is not bad: my family has enough money to support me in whatever job I might choose and I have studied what I intended to study (psychology). But still I have this frustrating problem with my self-worth. Maybe it would not seem so big of a problem, have I not been so “great” in high-school.

I feel frustrated.

I wonder if all other people, or all other types of people have this need to “feel grater than others”, because this is what I feel that is my need.

And it feels like a Catch 22, because on the other side I hate most jobs that pay well. (To tell you the truth, in my moments of frustration, I would even accept a job that pays well even if I would hate it.)

I’ll let you know if I manage to find a job that pays well and suits and INFP well too.



  1. yeshim said,

    Hi infpidealist,

    I wonder if there is a job like that really.Pays us well, let us be and live happily within our values.I think you are lucky that you had at least graduated from psychology.I graduated from business administration.Can you imagine ? An INFP in a business world.Ho ho ! I thought of being an HR manager, requiter or sth but it doesn’t give me any satisfaction.Now I’m stuck in the middle.I wish I had my own living.What if we are dependent personalities rather than being INFPs?

  2. infpidealist said,

    Hi yeshim,

    What do you mean by “dependent personalities”? I don’t know the term.
    I’m sorry about your situation. As I see it, the only chance an INFP has in the business world is with a small company that has a purpose related to our values, but only if we become great friends with the other people in the company. I guess such a company is almost impossible to find.

  3. yeshim said,

    Hi infpidealist,

    The dependent personality is a personality disorder.Let me give you the link:

    Yeap I know that I am really in a bad situtation.I have to find my way.
    Anyway, I think it will be useful for you to have a look at the avoidant personality disoerder too

    I think INFPs are at high risk of having these kind of disorders.

  4. yeshim said,

    Hi infpidealist,

    The dependent personality is a personality disorder.Let me give you the link:

    Yeap I know that I am really in a bad situtation.I have to find my way.
    Anyway, I think it will be useful for you to have a look at the avoidant personality disoerder too

    I think INFPs are at high risk of having these kind of disorders.

  5. infpidealist said,

    Thank you yeshim.

    I have to agree: I, too, believe we are at high risk of having these disorders.

    Two days ago I have started a work practice in a psychiatry hospital. It’s the first time that I actually study very close the mental disorders and how they appear in people – until now I have been mostly interested in ‘understanding normal, healthy people’ and how people can become happier.

    I will probably write a post about my experiences and what I am learning there about life. What I can tell you is that our psychological ‘crisis’ can have a devastating effect. And by a crisis I mean the moments when one feels unadapted to this world, feels unsafe in the world, has an ‘impossible’ relationship with him/herself or the world.

    I have not found any connection between MBTI and mental disorders but I will be looking into the subject.

    However, I must agree that INFPs actually are one of the least adapted types to the world – if not the least adapted one. But still I believe we can learn how to fight life and leave a normally happy life as perfectly mentally healthy people :). We have to learn how :).

  6. yeshim said,

    Yeah sure πŸ™‚

  7. Roz said,

    Hi there
    I came across this thread by mistake. I was curious and wanted to ask you a couple of questions –
    1. how different would your experience of life be if you did not label yourselves as INFP types? How is this label helping you? How is it not helping you?
    2. Can you think of 3 more helpful phrases to describe your psychological “crisis” when you feel unadapted?
    3. Have you ever tried challenging your belief that your value is based on your capacity to earn. Is it true that a person’s worth is related to their earnings? What evidence do you have that that is true? Is there another more useful belief that you could have about people’s worth? What would you have to give up to be paid well?

  8. Shameka said,

    Hello there…
    From one INFP to another let me just say. I feel your pain! Any job that I’ve had that was emotionally/spiritually satisfying didn’t pay worth showing up. Good luck with your search! πŸ™‚

  9. la Fleur said,

    My sympathy to yeshim – I have an ECONOMICS degree and work in government policy! yerk. I think I chose to study economics because at the time (I was 19 or so) it seemed so certain – I thought if only I understood THIS everything else in the kooky world would make sense. It made even less sense for me afterwards – I found the assumption that people would behave “rationally” mind boggling!

  10. yeshim said,

    Hi there,

    Yeap la Fleur sometimes i give relief to myself that i have some background of the material world at least πŸ™‚ It works from time to time, it’s up to my mood ( you know) πŸ™‚ Anyway i have found a useful website about the enneagram personality types.I think as we are INFP we are suited to type Four ‘ The Romantic’ I did the test, and i scored type 6 and type 4 very close.It is because my mother is type 6 I suppose πŸ™‚ I’m giving you the link:

    There are various views of different authors about type 4.Like description, relationship, work, family and personal growth.I find the personal growth parts really good for us. Infpidealist i think you apply what is written over those pages since you are away for some days πŸ™‚

  11. yeshim said,

    Hi Roz,
    I think your post was for me please let me know if it was not …

    For the first question i think that if i didn’t know that i was an INFP, i would go on thinking that i have got real problems. πŸ™‚
    Second question- when i feel unadapted i feel like i’m not on the right way.I feel like missing something that i really like and which is useful for myself .I start to think i haven’t reached my actual identity and that’s why i cannot be successful, focused, and detached.
    Third one- You are right a person’s worth shouldn’t be measured by dollars however, if you cannot stand alone in this material world, you won’t be able to look after yourself and your loved ones.Also my parents challenged for me with that material world until my graduation.And i don’t want to be a person who doesn’t care all, and let it be …I want to have my economic independency i’m not talking about being a millionaire that’s it…This is how the world works we have to earn to survive, to buy what our little children want , to pay the bills, to maybe save for a house…You know what i mean, i just want what i should do as an adult and unfortunately i want to do it by pleasure not that i just have to…i want to do it by doing the most satisfying job for me…I think everybody does…

  12. infpidealist said,

    Hi everyone,

    Thank you for the comments.
    I was busy for a few days and did not manage to check up on the blog.

    Before answering Roz questions, there are a few interesting things that I want to say. (I will probably expend this into a post quite soon). These are only interesting ideas, I don’t have any point, maybe you can come with some conclusions or explanations.

    1. I have read somewhere that in our world it is not the most inteligent people that achieve the best results. The explanation is as follows: the very very smart ones see what is wrong with the system and this gives them a problem compared to those who are only smart enough to adapt to the system, but are not intelligent enough to see a better system. In a way, we could say that people can be too smart.

    2. Quite similar, I have read some other place – written by a college professor -, that the INFP type is quite common among highly gifted people. I find this very interesting, but I have no explantion for it. Except maybe for the fact that INFPs need a lot of attention and appreciation.

    3. When I am confident and not depressed I seem more E, more S, more J and even more T. I do not become ESTJ, but I tend to be much more balanced. You have probably read cybette’s blog: INFP = ADD = Depresion.

    4. One article states that Isolation may be our worst enemy.


    1. Knowing about INFP has been really helpfull for me. In fact all MBTI is great, because now I can understand much better my relatives :).

    2. I feel that no-one in the whole world cares about what is really important – harmony, beaing easygoing, living an easy life with less competition.
    I feel that I am so different from other people, that all I can do if I speak up is to mess the world – a world that seems to be doing well as it is. Put it other way, I feel that I am useless here and my demands could only create problems for other people.

    3. Yes, Roz, I have treid. I am still trying. In fact I manage to forget all about money when I FEEL LOVED for who I am by a woman that I love. I am not saying that I believe that one’s value is not based on how much one makes. What I am saying is that when I feel loved I do not care about this problem at all.
    I don’t know about other INFPs, but in my case, I have to admit that my ego is quite strong. I like to be the best from whatever point of view. So I do not like knowing that most people make more money than I do.

    I hope I answered your questions.

  13. yeshim said,

    Hi infpidealist,

    It is nice to see you here.Recently i have been involved in Enneagram.I thought that i’m really close to type 4, but as long as I observed myself in terms of likes and dislikes, attitudes, moods etc, i have thinking over the idea that i might be type 9.Have you ever looked through those types, and which of them do you think you re ?

  14. infpidealist said,


    I had the same dilemma: I could be a 4 or a 9. I also feel that I could be a bit of a disguised 6 because their vice is fear.

  15. yeshim said,

    Hi infpidealist,

    You know, recently i’ve been about to go mad with this enneagram thing πŸ™‚ As far as I suppose I’m type 9.The reason is that i have been so selfless for all my life that I don’t have a clear idea even now about what I want to do with my career, life style, my own wills, my own identity.I always did what my friends, family wanted…Now I stopped to do everything, as a stubborn attiude you might say…I’m dependent, I’m so easygoing that I cannot express my anger, I overeat, I overexercise when I’m depressed.I try to avoid sadness.And here comes the big dillema here:According to enneagram type 9, when you match it with 16 types, it is ISFP or INFP.I’m sure that I’m type 9 because my psychologist also gave me exercises in order to increase my self awareness, to recognize my anger and my dependency, about two years ago.And the reason we feel like type 6 is when we are under pressure we turn out to behave like 6.Also if we are healthy 9s we behave like the type 3 ‘Achiever’. Here is the link i find very very useful about all enneagram types but especially type 9 :

  16. me said,

    hi infpidealist,
    i found your blog almost by accident..
    was very surprised.. we have the same theme, same style of writing, and even my blog is about INFP’s (like me) :).. pleasant surprise to find company..
    i only started blogging recently, and im like 6-7 years younger than you..
    am doing my masters in physics with engg. in comp. science.
    will be following up your blog and reading the rest of it.. keep posting πŸ™‚
    my blog is at…

    i wanted to do psychology too.. but the place where i live, its not really an option, especially because just like you i happen to be good at studies… was in the top 2-3 of my class..

    i wonder if i will regret not making my own choices down the line.. hoping for the best.. πŸ™‚

    will comment more later.. just wanted to say hi for now..
    have a good day πŸ™‚

  17. ellzrae said,

    a job that pays well and suits the INFP personality? I would like to know if such a job exists too..

    I’m an infp myself.

    “I don’t consider that one is worth as much as his bank account, but rather that one is worth as much as he makes from his job.”

    This sounds like a kind of negative mental script, perhaps you might like to examine if this statement has any logic and also where they came from. Sometimes stuff like this floats in from the people around and is taken for internal belief. I can see you have an achiever personality, and you enjoy challenges and the rewards.

    I once read somewhere that said at school your successes are based on how much you are able to learn, but in real life your successes are based on how much you do. Money is a representation of the efforts in your working life, but it doesn’t always have a direct relationship with our effort or passion for the job. If it was this case, nurses, childhood educators and artists should be the highest paid.

    If material success is your internal measure of success, by all means go for a job that makes money and do psychology as a sideline. Nobody says you have to throw it all away… But if its only because you feel pressured by your family or alumni to succeed materially… you might have to think whether this is really what you like.

    anyway, good luck! hope you will be able to find a way out.

  18. nikiwonoto said,

    I’ve just found out this blog by accident,
    and I am an INFP too (from Indonesia) πŸ™‚

    I really totally relate and understand everything you said here,
    especially this line: “Because I have this believe that the amount of MONEY that one makes is a measure of how β€˜useful’ he is to society”.

    This is perhaps why I’ve found that being a “grown-up adult in real-world” to be incredibly hard and even frustrating and limiting, for INFPs. because it seems to completely goes against all kind of achievements you have back in school and uni days.

    And maybe this is why most INFPs, once they grown up into “working adult”, find this so-called Real-world to be very depressing, limiting, and as a result they often ‘escape’ into their own fantasy/imaginary/dream world.
    I know because this is what I’ve been doing lately, and I know it’s not a good thing and I need to change.

    I also like ellzrae’s comment above, in that again, perhaps it’s time for us INFPs to STOP letting society’s measure of success (ie: money, fame, etc) to dictate us.
    But instead, to just find your deepest PURPOSE in life, and just to keep being faithful in doing and sharing it!
    I think that would truly be an INFP way of success, where we will feel most happiest, regardless of whether we’ve taken the road less traveled by society’s common standards.

    I am leaving you with Steve Job’s sayings that I often find it very inspiring and uplifting whenever I felt like confused and a ‘no-good-nothing’ person by society’s standard, so here it goes:
    “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs

    Keep on striving and sharing your lights, INFP.
    the world needs people like us to ‘balance’ things out and to make people see ‘other’ perspective from ours!

  19. Kazza said,

    Nice post Nikiwonoto!!

    In response to the very first post – As an INFP with a very solid self esteem, I can offer this advice – trace back in your thinking to the point where you came to believe that earning money is where your value lies – there will be an obviously wrong assumption in there somewhere! This is a lie. Was it something your Dad said? Mum? Why do you accept this as true? Until you sort this out, you’ll feel unhappy.

    Next – imagine you were born into culture where there was no money. What would your value be then? You see, nothing external in any given culture gives you value. It’s all passing. What gives you value is who you are, not anything you do. Learn to be, not do.

  20. dreamerrambling said,

    I know exactly how you feel! It was one of the reasons I started my blog, to express my frustrations as an INFP. Just. Gah. Why must the lives of idealists be so hard?

  21. darkshadowrule said,

    This is so true! I’m an INFP in high school and the main problem I have is that all the careers that look interesting just don’t pay enough. Of course I have the pressure of my parents always expecting for me to lead a better life than them, but it just doesn’t feel right. My families always had enough money for what we want, so I just get scared that if I don’t make enough money then I won’t be happy in life. If only you could have a different job every day πŸ™‚ But good luck with following your dreams.

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