To be very honest, I can see how, upon reading all the explanations about the INFP personality type, this question may arise in the minds of a lot of people. But the truth is, INFPs are not particularly bad at math. I mean, they can be. If they don’t try hard enough to learn it.
Math isn’t like being gifted with magic. Some have it, while others are simply muggles who have to live ordinary lives without it. Being good at math is a skill. Skills can be developed. What do they need in order to be developed? Hard work. It’s really that simple. I’m going to list a few things that are true about INFPs, and hopefully this will help you determine if INFPs are bad at math or not.
INFPs are curious beings.
These people are curious about everything. From learning how a toilet works, to learning about black holes, INFPs are curious to know everything. They like being able to learn how things work. So, younger INFPs, just as most kids in school, may not like math because it’s too detached from the human experience. But as they grow older and become wiser, they begin to understand just how important mathematical concepts are to understanding the many mysteries of life and the universe, they may become inclined towards it.
Plus, the curiosity in them rarely lets INFPs to remain in the dark about something as popular as math.
They like to challenge themselves.
It is true that most INFPs may hate math growing up. But as they become more insightful and in control of their emotions, they may begin to see their lack of mathematical skills as a sign of weakness. An INFP can live with not being the best at everything, they’re not particularly competitive people, but it becomes a matter of pride for an INFP if there’s something out there that they have not mastered. INFPs absolutely love to challenge themselves, and this trait comes in handle when it comes to a lot of concepts that they may not naturally be inclined towards.
They like to live up to their potential.
INFPs try to become the best versions of themselves every single day. They like to better themselves in things that may begin to manifest themselves as a hole in their knowledge, and cause them to feel like they’re not doing enough to become good at things. These people believe in living their lives with a particular purpose in mind. Once a purpose is fulfilled, they find themselves a new one to devote all their energies to. That is how the mind of an INFP works.
They are excessively self-critical.
These introverts tend to feel highly critical of themselves. They are often riddled with self-doubt and that impacts both their self-esteem and confidence. So, if they find themselves lacking the skills to do mathematical equations, they may feel like they’re a fraud and are good for nothing. INFPs often allow one small failure to cast a shadow of negativity and criticism over all of their achievements. But the good thing about them is that they don’t let these feelings keep them down for long. Once they allow themselves to process their emotions, INFPs rise up and conquer their failures so they can be at peace.
They need as escape from their over-flowing thoughts.
Because they have the function of introverted feelings (Fi), INFPs tend to feel their emotions inwardly. They have an entire world inside their heads, and do, at times, become overwhelmed by the excess of thoughts and emotions that they feel constantly. These individuals often look for ways to unwind with activities they traditionally don’t always go for. From working out to solving logical reasoning questioning to developing mathematical skills, these activities can really help an INFP get out of their heads and relax.
I know! An INFP relaxing with math sounds ridiculous, but if you’re an INFP and you’ve never even thought about doing that, you may want to try. Especially when things are excessively emotional and difficult. While you’re at it, repetitive chores like cleaning and doing the dishes can also be therapeutic when the mind is a mess.
See, the thing is, INFPs definitely can be numerically and logically inclined, but they get their motivation from focusing their energies on philosophical, big picture questions, and they seek deeper meaning in life, trying to figure out the many mysteries that surround them. But if I’m being honest, mathematical skills help answer a lot of those questions, and once an INFP realizes that, they definitely become interested in math and its many concepts.
Another misconception that a lot of people have is that getting categorized as a certain type means you’re stuck in one box and cannot leave, ever. However, what a type indicates is over time, what a person prefers to do, how they prefer to see the world or deals with their problems more often than not. The MBTI results show percentages at the end, revealing how introverted an individual can be, for instance. But if they are 57% introverted, that still leaves room for 43% extraversion.
At the same time, the individual is labelled as an introvert because they are introverted more often than not, not because they cannot be extraverted. This also means that just because someone is labelled as a feeler, doesn’t automatically mean they cannot be a thinker. Being a thinker or feeler is not at all an indicator of academic or mathematical intelligence. So, having “F” in their abbreviation does not make INFPs stupid when it comes to logic or numbers. They can definitely be as skilled at such things as their equivalents INTPs or INTJs.
And if there’s one thing we all know about INFPs, it’s that they despise being caged in, or trapped inside a box with limited or no access to the rest of the world. So, when we label them as one thing, we are often also limiting them from becoming something else. For INFPs, the sky is absolutely not the limit. These people can thrive in finance and accounting just as much as they can being a therapist.
Upon talking to an INFP accountant friend, I realized how simple things were for them. They referred to what they do with numbered as art. And despite getting a dirty look from them after I scoffed because I thought they were joking at first, I can’t help but agree with them.
Art isn’t as we know it in the most traditional sense of the word. INFPs are creative beings, and they tend to express their creativity through their art. Who is to say that art can be one thing? Why is filmmaking an art, but utilizing a budget efficiently to create a masterpiece with limited resources isn’t?
Before writing this piece, I was okay with not being good at math, because I would often make excuses for myself for being an INFP. But while doing research in order to have a more open viewpoint regarding mathematics, I stumbled upon a YouTube channel of an INFP who loves and is good at math.
The way this kid looks at math is beautiful. He has such exquisite insight, that he turned me into a believer. He believes that math is actually like when we play with a child, and he constantly makes things up, and changes the rules of the game to ensure that he always wins. Mathematics is all about making rules, and changing them until we reach a conclusion that serves our purpose and provides us with answers to the important questions in life, according to Peter.
He shares, and I would like to quote,
“Math is about everybody making stuff up, and then realizing that everything they just made has something to do with each other. We can’t discount other ways of thinking, because we’re all connected. It validates other ways of viewing the world. Not because we want it to, but because it mandates us to accept other ways of thinking. It’s not about being a thinker, but that the thinker’s logic validates the feeler’s emotions. Because it focuses on why do we feel the way we do about things, and if our feelings about things are true. The feeler conjectures and the thinker proves it, and it is incredible how many conjectures of the feelers have been proven.”
His perspective of looking at math has proven to be quite refreshing for me. Honestly, he had me at “Mathematics, in large part, is just creativity.”
In fact, in the comments section of said video, I came across so many other INFPs who claimed to love math and shared similar sentiments as Peter.
That being said, I would like to conclude that not every INFP would see things this way. Some of you might still despise maths and might even believe that you’re bad at it. And that is okay. We all have our own strengths, and no matter how interesting math appears to be now, at the end of the day, I am a writer, and the true essence of my being is reflected through written words and not numbers.
The only point I have tried to explain here is that being bad at math has little to nothing to do with being an INFP.