Are you happy with your appearance? Do you ever obsess over things like your weight or your looks? Do you gaze at yourself in the mirror for long periods or wish you could have a cosmetic procedure done to change something that you find unattractive about yourself?
INTJ Low Self-Esteem
We live in a beauty-obsessed culture. Beauty vlogs are some of the most popular channels on YouTube. People are spending more money on plastic surgery and beauty products than ever before. Famous country singer Dolly Parton has had plastic surgery, she once said, “If I see something saggin’, baggin’, or draggin’, I’m going to get it nipped, tucked, or sucked.”
People often think that INTJs are super-confident people with no emotions, but INTJs and INFJs can struggle with low self-esteem, body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia, and other body image problems, as can any other MBTI type. In fact, INTJs and INFJs may struggle with this more than other types.
I found an excerpt from a thesis dissertation written by Sarah A. Williams and published by D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY. This thesis reported data from personality assessments given to 55 patients in hospitals and eating disorder clinics in New York. The point was to see if there was a correlation between eating disorders and personality type. The study found that “INFJ (18.5%), INTJ (10.63%), and ENFJ (6.59%) were predominant in the study population.”
When I published my video on the INTJ Dark Side, many INTJs confirmed that they had struggled with low self-esteem issues, anorexia or eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, and more. We can become self-conscious over any perceived flaw such as a big nose, weak chin, acne, etc. Furthermore, men and women tend to worry about different things:
- Women worry about having the right hairstyle; men worry about losing their hair.
- Women worry about being too tall; men worry about being too short.
- Women worry about being too fat; men worry about not being muscular enough.
- And on and on it goes…
Here’s a quote from a famous person who many people believe to be an INTJ:
“When I look in the mirror, I throw up. I never saw perfection.”
Want to take a guess at who said that statement? It was Arnold Schwarzenegger, the world-famous bodybuilder and actor whose body is often cited as the best physique in bodybuilding history. The quote above appeared in an interesting article from The Daily Mail, in which Arnold discloses his lifelong struggle with low self-confidence.
It’s ironic that bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts worldwide have posters of Arnold hanging up, aspiring to build a body just like his, yet Arnold himself was never satisfied with his physique.
That’s why it never pays to envy someone. Women will sometimes envy some female model in a magazine. Friend, she might be vomiting up her food every night and torturing herself mentally, wishing that she looked more like another model who might also be doing the same. You should never envy another person.
Reasons INTJs or INFJs might struggle a little more with appearance issues:
Here are a few reasons why INTJs and INFJs might struggle a little more with low self-esteem or body image issues:
- We’re dominant perceivers and introverts who are introspective and spend a lot of time in solitude. We reflect a lot on what people say about us, how we perceive ourselves, our goals, the future, etc.
- Our Introverted Intuition (Ni) can look at things from multiple perspectives and project an idealized version of self. We can say to ourselves, “If I could change this and this, I’d be exactly how I want to be.” Most INFJs and INTJs are concerned with self-improvement. Our inferior Extroverted Sensing (Se) wants to see that idealized version of self in the mirror. Many people say that Se enjoys looking at beautiful things. Even though it’s our inferior function, we’re intrigued by beauty. Therefore, there’s a war that rages between the idealized version of self that is projected by our Ni and the actual self as perceived by our Se.
- Isolating yourself too much can skew your perception of self, lead you to more self-focus, and you can forget that all people have “flaws.”
- We’re perfectionists at heart. Failure or rejection can cause us to over-analyze our weak areas, which can lead to low self-esteem in our appearance, careers, etc.
I’ve Struggled with Low Self-Esteem as an INTJ
I began focusing on my appearance and analyzing my looks during my high school years. I became extremely self-conscious about my big ears. I still have big ears as an adult, but ears reach the adult size by age 4-5. Therefore, they were out of proportion with my head for many years.
Every once in a while, someone would make a comment or point out that I had big ears. I’d brush it off, but secretly I’d feel so embarrassed. I would examine my appearance in pictures or compare myself to others.
When I’d look in the mirror, I’d push my ears closer to my head with my fingers and think to myself, “Why can’t my ears be smaller and closer to my head? I’d look so much better! Why have I been cursed with these things?”
I had zero self-esteem concerning my physical appearance and felt unattractive. I thought that I’d never find a girl who would like me. Rejection or criticism of any kind would cause me to over-analyze my appearance, and I’d assume that my physical appearance was the cause of the rejection.
The funny thing about struggling with a body image problem is that people can find you attractive or tell you that you look fine, but you’ll still insist that you’re unattractive. I’d have girls who wanted to date me, and I even had a girl stalk me once. It didn’t matter. I rejected my looks. I was unhappy.
I do recall three people who were so cruel to me while I was in high school. They’d tell me that I had big ears, that I’d never find a girl who would be attracted to me, that I was ugly, etc. You want to know who those three people were? They were me, myself, and I.
I was always my own harshest critic and biggest bully.
Tips to Overcome Low Self-Esteem and Body Image Problems
1. Control Your Thought Life.
When you have a virus on your computer, it can wreak havoc on your hard drive. A healthy computer equipped with antivirus software will recognize malicious code and delete it fast. However, an unhealthy computer with no antivirus software will allow the virus to destroy files and corrupt the entire system.
The same holds true for your mind (hard drive) when it comes to negative thoughts (virus). You have to train your mind to identify those negative thought patterns, delete them, and replace them with healthy thoughts.
For example, here’s a negative thought: “I have acne. No one will ever find me attractive.” That is false! Replace that junk thought with one like this: “I have something to offer this world. I have value as a person. There are people out there who will love me and accept me. I have nice eyes (or whatever).”
Name a trait that you like, and focus on that positive trait, not the negative trait.
2. Accept the “flaws” you can’t change.
It can be hard to accept your so-called flaws, but you must do it if you want to have a positive self-image. I remember hearing a story about the actor Patrick Stewart. He’s the bald actor who played Professor Xavier in the X-Men movies (and Captain Picard in Star Trek).
Patrick began losing his hair around age 18-19. It all happened very quickly within the course of a few months, and he was extremely self-conscious about his hair loss. He was sporting a comb over in an attempt to mask it.
A friend had apparently noticed this, and he invited Patrick to his house for dinner. After eating, the friend grabbed Patrick from behind and held him down, while his girlfriend cut off the comb over. His friend then got in front of him and said, “Now you be yourself; no more hiding.”
It was hard for Patrick to accept his baldness, but he finally did. Now, he’s an accomplished actor with no shortage of women who think that he’s a very sexy man.
We can have the tendency to create that idealized version of self. We can sometimes reject ourselves until we meet the impossible standard we hold in our minds, and we naturally assume that others will reject us, too. You can’t live like that, friend. You must embrace the so-called flaws that you can’t reasonably change.
I’m not saying that it’s wrong to want to make the best of what you have or improve certain aspects of your appearance. However, it’s irrational to obsess over things you can’t reasonably change. Accept it, and do the best with what you have. Extrovert your good traits, and let people see all that you have to offer.
3. Stop focusing on self.
Carl Jung presented the cognitive functions as a dichotomy: When you’re sensing, you’re not intuiting. When you’re thinking, you’re not feeling. The same is true when it comes to your focus: When you’re focusing on self, you’re not focusing on others. When you’re focusing on others, you’re not focusing on self.
You have to put down the mirror (or pictures), and stop analyzing yourself so harshly. Even the tiniest microbe looks huge when you put it under a microscope. If you put yourself under the microscope of perfection and focus on your flaws, they will begin to magnify in your mind until they reach gigantic proportions.
Instead, try to balance things out by serving others, by praying, or by putting that focus into a hobby that requires sensing activities (putting together a puzzle, sewing, gaming, reading, organizing your computer desktop, etc.).
Stop focusing on self and start focusing on other people or things in your life. Self is a horrible god to worship.
4. Look at yourself logically (T) and objectively, not subjectively or emotionally (F).
Women who struggle with eating disorders often start at a healthy weight, but they look in the mirror and subjectively feel like they are fat. Therefore, they start restricting their diet, fasting, or going to extremes to lose weight. They soon become underweight and risk serious health problems, or they get into a dangerous cycle of self-loathing.
Instead of looking at your body subjectively, try looking at it objectively. Lookup your healthy weight range, and make the decision that no matter how “fat” you think you look, you’re going to rely on the objective numbers rather than your subjective perception. If your healthy weight range is 120-150, and you’re 140, accept it logically and objectively that you’re healthy and beautiful, even if your mind says otherwise.
Even if you’re objectively (based on numbers) overweight or obese, that’s okay. We all gain weight. Some men love curvy women and prefer that to a thinner look. If you desire to lose some weight, you can begin to make small changes in your diet and lifestyle. However, don’t beat yourself up over small failures or resort to extreme diets or fasts. Measure results in terms of months, not days or weeks. If you do lose weight, make a commitment to stay above your minimum weight range.
In addition, work to reduce stress in your life that could lead you to reckless binge eating, a potential risk for INFJs and INTJs who get “in the grip” of their inferior function (Se). Binge eating can cause a dangerous cycle of self-loathing, vomiting up food, and other dangerous practices.
5. Avoid shows, magazines, and people who are obsessed with superficial beauty.
Shows like “Keeping with the Kardashians” make me want to vomit, because it’s nothing more than a bunch of superficial people competing to see who can worship themselves best. They are great at worshiping the god of self.
These shows are training young women to become self-absorbed and obsessed with superficial things that don’t matter. The people in these shows will talk about their latest cosmetic procedure, such as getting their lips “done.” Then girls all across the world begin thinking, “Maybe I should get mine done, too.” They get trapped into a vicious cycle of obsessing about their appearance, constantly wondering if they should have certain procedures done and stressing about self.
That’s also why I hate beauty magazines that are full of underweight women who are photoshopped into oblivion. It’s all fake and manipulated digitally, and “normal” looking women feel inferior because they can never look like these fake models on the magazines. Guys feel the same way sometimes when they look at some steroid abusing muscle man.
Don’t allow yourself to get swept up in the “self-worship” movement. Avoid people or things that get you thinking too much about your appearance.
6. Don’t let negative criticism or rejection affect you.
If someone criticizes your appearance, it can be devastating, especially if the criticism is something you’ve already worried about. However, you have to understand that some people are just making an observation, and they aren’t necessarily rejecting you or calling you ugly.
Even if they don’t find you attractive, who cares? You can’t please everyone, and you’re not supposed to please everyone. If you’re a guy who is 5 feet tall, and some girl tells you that you’re too short for her, forget about it! Some women don’t want to date a shorter guy, but other girls don’t mind at all. Also, there are plenty of women shorter than 5 feet.
The world is full of people who have different definitions of beauty and different desires when it comes to a relationship. Some people are sapiosexuals, meaning that they are attracted to intelligence more than anything else. Some people are attracted more to looks. Some people are attracted to power or success or charisma. Different cultures even define beauty differently. People are different, so don’t let a rejection or criticism keep you down.
Hold your head high, and know that you have something inside of you that someone out there wants. There might be 100 million men who would not like a particular girl, but there might be 100 million who would be very attracted to her. If someone rejects you, keep in mind that there are others who would accept you, find you attractive, and whatever.
I like to watch a guy on YouTube named Nick Vujicic. This guy was born without arms or legs. Despite his obstacles, he has written a number of books, launched a public speaking career, started a Christian ministry, obtained a college degree, and more.
Nick was bullied in school and struggled with low self-esteem. He even wanted to commit suicide.
He used to think to himself, “I’ll never have a girl. I’ll never succeed in life. How will I even work?” However, Nick has done more in 10 years than most people do in a lifetime. He’s happily married to a lovely woman, and he has two children. You can subscribe to his YouTube channel here.
Nick learned to accept his “flaws,” and doing so allowed his true self to shine. That’s what attracts people who are interested in what it is you have to offer the world: It’s your inner beauty, love, and abilities.
You have to shake off negative criticism or thoughts. Don’t make the mistake of latching on to some insult or criticism and assume that you’re somehow inferior or doomed. You’re not inferior. You matter. Your life has meaning. There are people who will find you attractive and love you and accept you!
7. Seek the support of loves ones you can trust.
If you’re secretly struggling with a body image problem, you might find it helpful to confide in a friend or close relative that you can trust. They may be able to offer you an external perspective that can correct those skewed thoughts that you have of yourself.
If that doesn’t help, please seek out counseling from a pastor or professional. Don’t go on punishing yourself or agonizing over perceived flaws. Get help so that you can have a health self-image.
Message to INTJ Females:
I know that INTJ females might struggle with this even more than the guys, because you already struggle to fit in. Many of you feel very different from the girls around you, and there is an unattainable standard of beauty that is constantly being thrust in your face (with the beauty magazines and so forth).
Just keep this in mind: You matter. You have value. You have something special to offer the world. You have things that are beautiful about you. Don’t ever overestimate your flaws and underestimate your worth and beauty.
-Williams, Sarah A. The association between Myers-Briggs personality type and eating disorders. D’Youville College. Buffalo, NY, 2010. Web. 8 Jan. 2017.