When INFJs are continually hurt or hurt bad enough, they slam the door on that toxic relationship. The well-known INFJ door slam isn’t about punishing the other person. It’s about protecting ourselves from more hurt.
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Even though many INFJs can seem to have a cold exterior, our hearts are soft. There’s only so much pain we can take, and when that happens, we may cut toxic people out of our lives — and it’s usually for the better.
However, sometimes no matter how hard you try to slam that door on a relationship, their foot is pushed in the gap, leaving you trapped in toxicity. I like to call it being haunted. The door is cracked just enough for their presence to get in and cause emotional aggravation. I’m usually successful when I slam an emotional door. However, I’ve been “haunted” by a former friend for a year now, and it has caused me to reflect.
Maybe you’re in a similar situation. If so, then you know how a still-open door that desperately needs to be closed can plague your mind and negatively affect your daily life. What I’ve come to realize this year is that there’s always a reason for it. The trick is to pinpoint the cause so you can resolve it one way or another.
Here are four reasons INFJs may be haunted by toxic people.
1. Unfinished Business
The situation with the former friend who haunts me falls into this category. When you see someone’s true colors and they treat you badly, the unfinished business can be that you didn’t tell them how you feel. I didn’t get to tell her how I view her as a person and as a boss. I didn’t get to tell her that I knew I couldn’t trust her, but I went against my better judgement and had to pay the consequences. I didn’t get to tell her that just because some other people don’t see who she really is and what she’s willing to do to get ahead doesn’t mean they won’t.
But the truth is I could’ve emailed her or texted her or sent her a letter and told her all of these things. However, I’m an INFJ, and that means that even when we’ve been completely crushed and betrayed, we still don’t want to hurt feelings or cause more contention. Instead, we let it swirl around inside our minds and bodies until it feels like it’s eating us alive.
That’s when the haunting starts. That’s when you know you didn’t slam that door hard enough.
So how do you fix it?
You have a few options. The first is to confront the person and get if off your chest. If it’s someone you see regularly, like a family member, this might be a good way to decide if you do want to slam that door or if you’re ready to start fresh.
If you can’t confront the person, write a letter of your raw, real feelings, but don’t send it. Sometimes the act of writing it out and giving it the space it needs is enough to free you so you can move on.
2. Necessary Interaction
Often it’s not possible or practical to cut off all contact with someone. With my former friend, there were many times I wanted to slam the door – and that I should’ve slammed the door — but I couldn’t because we worked together. Forced interaction can prolong the hurt, so for many INFJs, it’s impossible to slam that door, lock it, and throw away the key.
If you find yourself in this situation, there are some things you can do to protect yourself from further hurt:
- Minimize contact. Avoid sitting or working near them. Don’t go out to lunch with them or strike up conversations if it’s possible. You can even ask your boss to reassign you to a different project so you don’t have to work together.
- Manage how you react. Say no — without justifying yourself — to demands that feel unreasonable. By definition, a toxic person is someone who refuses to hear your perspective. Try “I’m sorry, but I can’t do that right now,” or “I’m busy then.” No explanation needed.
- Strengthen ties with others. Seek out other coworkers who you trust, and who energize you, not drain you. Strengthening your relationships with uplifting people can actually help heal some of your hurt. It can also remind you that you’re not alone.
Most importantly, remember that this situation is only temporary. One day one of you will move on to something else, and then you’ll be free to recover, heal, and live your happiest life.
3. Constant Reminders
It can be near-impossible to emotionally slam the door on a relationship when you’re surrounded by constant reminders. For example, my former friend and I have many mutual friends on social media. Even though I’m no longer connected with her, her face often shows up in my newsfeed in the photos of my friends. As much as I hate being reminded of her and the pain she caused me, I know that my friends have every right to remain her friend, hang out with her, and love her.
Yes, it hurts. But I have to remember that it’s my own pain and not the pain of my friends.
Perhaps the reminders come in the form of seeing this person around the office, school, or even at family events. Sometimes you just can’t shake someone, no matter how hard you try.
Fixing this is a little harder because you don’t have control over what others post or who you’re required to see or interact with in daily life. For social media, you might have to hide your mutual friends from your feed. This will allow you to emotionally prepare yourself before venturing into their photos and updates.
As for having real-life reminders, there’s nothing to do but to ignore them or shut them out emotionally while remaining cordial and professional.
4. You’re Not Ready
You probably don’t want to hear this, but sometimes the door isn’t shut completely because you’re not ready for that relationship to be over. This can sometimes go along with the unfinished business listed above. Perhaps you have been friends with this person for many years and it hurts to throw it away, no matter how much pain they’ve caused you.
INFJs are idealistic, and we know deep down that people can be better humans if they choose to be. It’s hard to give up hope that one day they’ll want to be better.
If you’re not ready to shut the door yet, that’s okay. Listen to your gut and remember that sometimes INFJs protect themselves so much from potential pain that we eliminate the possibility of developing deeper relationships. Sometimes setting better boundaries and talking through the issue with the offending person is enough to release your pain — then there’s no need for a door slam.
Also remember that reopening that door doesn’t mean you’re weak, and the same goes for deciding to keep the door shut. That’s strength. You’ll soon see that you need strength to understand and accept yourself and your needs while coexisting with those who have hurt you the most.