Advocate (INFJ) personalities aren’t usually content to accept the world as it is. They like to explore the deeper aspects of existence – partly because gaining understanding is satisfying in itself but also because they often have a heartfelt desire to change things for the better.
It’s common to direct that desire outward, yet one of the most accessible avenues of change is from within. And no personality type is without aspects that they can improve – if we can spot those opportunities.
Self-examination can be challenging enough, but internal appraisals can seem downright threatening. It’s all too easy to fall into shame or denial when shining a light on aspects of our personalities that we’re not sure we’re comfortable with. But don’t worry – this is 16Personalities, and our goal is to help people understand themselves, not judge who they are. We just hand you a flashlight and suggest places to look. *wink*
What does your true self look like? Our Personal Authenticity Test might surprise you.
A desire to grow doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with being faulty. Examining how well your attitudes and habits work for you is a positive thing. It’s okay to visualize a happier, more secure you and then practice growing into that person. So let’s look at some statistical truths that Advocates have told us about themselves, and you can decide how they reflect on you – or how you reflect them.
1. All the Regrets
About three in four Advocates say they often dwell on their regrets – among the highest ratios of any personality type. Life is full of missed opportunities, facepalm choices, and plain old misfortune. For Advocates, those moments and the feelings associated with them can live on for a long time. That’s partly because their Intuitive personality trait makes it more likely that their minds wander to distant places, their imaginations transporting them into past memories as easily as future possibilities.
Regret is also more likely for Introverted, Feeling personality types who tend to internalize their thoughts and keep their feelings closer to the surface. It can be easier to get lost in a sea of unhappy emotions when your imagination and memory steer you into those darker waters.
The Distraction of Regret
One reason that dwelling on regrets is a critical opportunity for growth is because it consumes significant amounts of time and energy without yielding anything useful or enjoyable as a result. But it’s not just the pain and waste that can make this behavior so destructive – it’s also the fact that it can give rise to a pessimistic mindset that decreases your motivation and inhibits you from engaging in life’s rewarding activities. Every moment spent dwelling on regrettable past events is a moment not spent creating bright future ones.
Growing From Regret
Practicing acceptance can let you glean useful knowledge from the past while reducing its negative influence on your emotions. Regrets can serve as valuable lessons, but they don’t necessarily need to control or limit you.
Sometimes the lesson is that you’re not perfect, and as someone who’s constantly growing, it’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes. Learning to accept your occasional fallibility can free up a lot of energy that you can use to do great things. Another lesson is that even when you do everything right, life may still deal you a losing hand now and then. Learning to process and navigate misfortune in healthy ways can help you recover faster and stay on track.
There’s a difference between awareness of your regrets and dwelling on them. Take some time to consider what can be learned from those things that you regret, but then try to refocus your attention on the present moment and your positive plans for the future. Your past shapes who you are, but it’s behind you for a reason.
2. Where Am I Going?
Almost nine in 10 Advocates say they spend a lot of time wondering where their life is going (and it’s pretty common for other personalities too). The flip side of dwelling on the past is dwelling on the future, but that can be a whole different kind of chaos, because the future’s not nearly as clear. Yet it’s compelling to try to fill in the blanks anyway, writing mental stories about what will happen – a specialty of Advocates.
These personalities crave definition, preferring to know the shape of things as best they can, even when they haven’t happened yet. That’s partly because they like to plan their own actions rather than be forced to react in the moment, which can make them feel uneasy, to say the least. So they’d rather not leave things to chance, giving them an internal motivation to try to see into the future.
Wandering or Wondering?
One of the biggest risks in spending a lot of time wondering about the future is that it takes you away from your life as it’s happening around you. That can be a surprisingly big loss at times. Ironically, trying to see the future so that you can deal with it wisely can be risky if it blinds you to present priorities. You may be so focused on future planning that you make hasty or unwise decisions in the moment.
Visualizing Future Growth
Dreaming of your future can be extremely productive when your perspective is balanced. One potential problem is getting lost in contingency planning, because you’re capable of imagining endless possibilities. But there’s a limit to the usefulness of such intense forward-looking. You can plan for a thousand possibilities, but you’ll end up facing only a few of them, making much of that energy and time spent essentially a stressful waste.
But pouring your energy into creative thought that shapes your future can be a powerful way to enhance your life. Personal growth in this area usually means consciously acting on positive ideas in the present moment. You can consider how various possibilities may play out in the future without focusing solely on that. There’s nothing wrong with wondering where your life is going, but it’s best when that’s just the first step to creating the future that you want to live.
3. Will They Like Me?
More than eight in 10 Advocates say they’re often afraid of being rejected by other people. (They’re one of the personalities most likely to say so.) Fear of rejection is a common underlying human issue, but it’s often much more conscious for Feeling, Introverted personality types like Advocates. Social relationships don’t always come easily to them, often creating a kind of “make-or-break” tension around social connections.
Some of this stress can be self-created, as many Advocates don’t see themselves as being very charismatic. They may equate being accepted with being the center of attention but have a hard time replicating the energetic social interaction style shown by more outgoing personality types.
Advocates tend to be both idealists and perfectionists. Applying external standards to your own social life can make it tough to feel fulfilled – especially if those standards are based on popular examples that are, in a word, fake. Social media can be a terrible reference for what a healthy social life looks like. If your own high-minded hopes get mixed up with false cultural expectations, you may end up chasing the impossible.
Growing Your Authenticity
One of the roots of wanting to be liked is yearning to feel accepted for who you really are. For Advocates, the most satisfying social connections are built on deep, mutual, honest exchanges of thought and feeling. It’s rewarding to be generally liked and admired, but one-sided acclaim can feel a little hollow, especially if it’s achieved by being anything other than your authentic self. Relationships where you can drop pretenses, relax, and share joyful moments with someone free of judgment don’t really come from crowd worship or followers.
So while there may be good reasons to work to be broadly likable, it might be wise to ultimately measure your social success by the close relationships that you have. The people who truly know you are an excellent source of validation, because their views carry the weight of knowledge behind them. Those people like the real you. If someone you barely know seems to reject you, it may be because they barely know you, and that doesn’t compare to being valued by those whom you value.
Conclusion: Personal Growth Equals Personal Benefit
Advocate personalities often find themselves chasing high-minded ideals in life – both their own and advice like the kind that we offer. But growth isn’t supposed to be about hitting some esoteric target or living up to a certain set of prescribed values. It doesn’t need an end goal like that, and it doesn’t even need to be about principles. It can just be trying to find methods of living life that bring you happiness, security, and success.
Chances are you feel a lot of pressure to do the right thing and to be your best self. That can be a useful internal drive to create positive change in your life, but there may not be a magic moment where you cross the finish line. Personal growth may feel more like gentle relief as practicing new behaviors and attitudes reshapes your life slowly and surely. When it comes to personal growth, success may be a feeling – less stress, more joy. It’s important to allow this to be an ongoing journey, rather than a finite destination.