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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Am I the only INFJ out there who isn't particularly altruistic? Don't get me wrong, I donate to charity when I can afford it and I'll help someone if I see they need it, but I don't go looking for it and I don't volunteer. I consistently test as INFJ, but only slightly in favour of Feeling over Thinking. Is this why I'm not trying to change the world for the better? Or could it be nurture over nature? I was an 'unexpected' child and had my basic needs met, but lacked the emotional support I needed and consequently don't know how to provide it. Or could it be because I'm extremely sensitive? I can't even watch the news because it's too distressing and can leave me depressed for days. I would love to hear from other INFJs who feel they don't live up to the altruism so prominent in INFJ descriptions or anybody who knows an INFJ like this.
 

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Probably not exactly what you're looking for.

I wrote this quote awhile back...

"I'm not necessarily a hero or even a good person. I always do what I feel is best, not what is right. It just so happens they sometimes overlap."

I'm actively involved with a lot of volunteer work and quick to donate to the less fortunate, but I don't view it as truly altruistic. I view it as pushing my own ideals, my own agenda if you will, of the world I want to be in. In a way, it's just shameless self promotion.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Probably not exactly what you're looking for.

I wrote this quote awhile back...

"I'm not necessarily a hero or even a good person. I always do what I feel is best, not what is right. It just so happens they sometimes overlap."

I'm actively involved with a lot of volunteer work and quick to donate to the less fortunate, but I don't view it as altruistic. I view it as pushing my own ideals, my own agenda if you will, of the world I want to be in. In a way, it's just shameless self promotion.

It's not exactly what I'm looking for, but I do believe if you take the 'shameless self-promotion' out of charity work, participation would be halved. :wink:
 

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I can absolutely relate to this. For me there is a bit of fear that I will become too emotionally affected by certain things, so I either avoid them or pretend they aren't happening. That makes me feel bad, but I do my best to be a good person, and like you said, I will help out when I can afford to.

It could be something to do with enneagram?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm leaning towards the too sensitive theory, too. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who can't deal with it. Solidarity in our short-comings. I'm not familiar with enneagram, I'll have to look into it. Thanks.
 

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I think @Lad said it best. INFJs seem to be high on the "ulterior motive type list" not necessarily because they're evil and conniving, more because the intuition lets them see the added benefit and positive consequences of being a "good person".
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Just something I wanted to add separately. What kind of charities do other INFJs volunteer or donate money to? I just realised that I only donate money to practical charities with tangible results like RSPCA (ASPCA in US), Red Cross, Save the Children, Clean Water for Africa. I don't donate to medical research because I feel that they already get a lot of money without producing much in the way of results. Also, hurting the fuzzy animals to do the research doesn't sit well with me.
 
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Just something I wanted to add separately. What kind of charities do other INFJs volunteer or donate money to? I just realised that I only donate money to practical charities with tangible results like RSPCA (ASPCA in US), Red Cross, Save the Children, Clean Water for Africa. I don't donate to medical research because I feel that they already get a lot of money without producing much in the way of results. Also, hurting the fuzzy animals to do the research doesn't sit well with me.
I personally find it difficult to abstain from perfectionist Ni-Ti probing for root causes; unfortunately this virtually always results in some flavour of fatalism.
 

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Enneagram, definitely.

As a 6, I think I'm too sensitive to actually get involved much, while my heart longs to.

Here's a for instance,
A few years back, I was out shopping with my mom. We had received some extra money we hadn't expected, and while we were in the store I suddenly decided we should find someone to give to. My mother agreed with me (which is important, because it doesn't feel right to me to deprive or upset my loved ones for the sake of strangers). We prayed for someone to help.

When we left the store and walked over to the walgreens, waaa laaaa, there was a lady asking passerbys for help. We had cash on us so went over and gave it to her. It was really hot summer and there was no shade, so she was badly sunburned. We invited her to come in the walgreens with us and we would get her something to drink.
While there I went off on my own mission and got her lotions and sunscreen, while my mom got her some snacks, and a new shirt.
We told her our story, how we had been homeless when I was a teenager, and wished her well.
That was the hard part - being done - because how can it be enough. I was SO tempted to invite her home with us. Safety issues were the only real reason that we didn't.

On a day to day basis, I don't show much care for people. I wish I could volunteer at a soup kitchen or something... but, all the yucky foodstuffs, and clanging pots and pans, and people crowded too close for comfort... ugh. It's too much stress for me :(

So that puts me in a weird position where my faith and ideals and upbringing all say one thing, and my actions say another :(

When we give money, it's usually only to our church, or to our neighbors who by turns help us out - we have a nice little community aspect going here where we live.
A lot of the giving is my mom though... she's an enneagram 2... my job is just to be the voice of reason and sign off yes/no when she asks for my input.

There was a time when we were giving more than we could really spare to our church. On the phone one day, our favorite minister told us, "There is such a thing as stupid giving." ... which we didn't expect to hear! But helped put things in perspective for us.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you for telling such a personal story. It sounds like you like to see tangible results, too. I took an enneagram test and it said I was a five and what little I have read sounds accurate. It said with a four-wing, but I don't really know what that means yet.
 

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I'm also not someone who has ever really volunteered for charities or anything. It's probably a combination of what @Rebecca.M wrote about the chaos involved in, say, a soup kitchen, my introvertedness, my hypersensitivity to my environment, and when I was younger I was severely shy and had problems with social anxiety. While I wouldn't describe myself as shy or having social anxiety anymore, there is still something daunting about approaching a group of people and having to meet so many people at once. I also don't function well in groups. Not that I can't work with other people, but the more people there are the quieter I get. I easily get lost in chaos, too, especially when I'm expected to help, but there's no organization and it's just a lot of people busily running around. I usually feel like the only person who doesn't know what I'm supposed to do and just get dizzy. ^^; And I can't just jump in unless I'm the one who's organized everything and know what needs to be done. When someone else is doing the organizing, I need directions.

I think I let my altruism out on the people around me. When I'm at work, I always offer help to those around me. If they say they're about to do something where it sounds like a second hand might be helpful, I offer to assist. If someone has a lot of work and is experiencing a time crunch, especially if it's not through their own time mismanagement, I'm always happy to take on some of their work if I can. I act very big sisterly toward my coworkers. Things like that. Maybe it's not quite the same, but I feel like there are a lot of obstacles to working at a charity that I'm not ready to overcome. Also, like Mara INFJ mentioned, I only slightly favor toward F over T, which probably makes a big difference, too.
 
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Since I've posted in this thread, I thought I might as well answer the question in the OP.

I've always been ridiculously altruistic, perhaps dysfunctionally so. This has not always been easy to translate into action, but there's always been, and still is, an underlying and very profound sense of owing everything I have to powers beyond me and, therefore, being obliged to do everything in my power for those less fortunate than myself. When I believed in god, I believed god had blessed me so I could help others; now that I don't, I simply feel that blind fate has favoured me and everything I have, from my thoughts to the clothes on my back, belongs just as much to the poorest sod in Wherefordshire as to myself.

If I don't actually do much, it's only because my Ni-Ti cannot see a way to make a meaningful difference other than for the random individual here & there. With every penny I spend and every bite I take, I destroy the planet we all depend on, wreak havoc in corners of the planet I haven't even heard of, and I find no other justification for my existence than having been born. I know there's meaning in little things... But in the big picture, I'm a destroyer of worlds, part of a lethal virus. If I chose not to exist, other bacteria would take my place and perpetrate the same crimes in my stead.

Whenever I have enough energy to lift my eyes from the gutter of my existence, I see suffering everywhere and myself participating in it, the tiny contributions I make towards alleviating dukkha so measly, I cannot see myself ever repaying the debt I've racked up. And yet... While I live... There can be no justification for not trying.
 

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I'm kind of in the middle, I guess. I volunteer partially because I'm glad to help out, but also because the activities are things I otherwise wouldn't be able to do without a lot of money (horses be expensive!). When I volunteer to, say, clean up after an event at work, I do it because--hey, why not? Someone has to do, I'm physically able, it might get me brownie points with my boss, and I genuinely don't mind.

But, I don't donate much (I usually will when asked, like those "give an extra dollar with your purchase" at retail places, but never go looking for it). I never give to homeless. The first is because I don't have much money. The second because I think a lot of people asking for money on street corners in my particular city are scammers. For the real ones, I also have serious doubts that giving money to them is really going to help them out. My reasoning is that they have other routes and methods of getting a roof over their head or getting a job if that's truly their intent. But many use the money to live day by day, to further feed their addiction or whatever it was that put them on the street in the first place. I'm not going to pay for someone else's trainwreck like that.

In contrast, I'm not particularly sensitive to bad news. It upsets me sometimes, but I tend to respond by not watching it at all. I don't like politics, and I believe it has a more lasting effect for me to effect my immediate community in positive ways, rather than try to get involved in these big political controversies that I barely understand.

When it comes to being charitable to friends, it's a mixed bag. I tend to weigh the pros and cons, which usually have to center around me having to break through my introverted bubble and exhaust myself in the process, and how much my friend seems to need the help and would respond positively to help.

So, there you go. This INFJ's lens on altruism. :happy:
 

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Humans are not inherently altruistic. I have never quite understood why people believe that INFJs get a pass on this rule.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I'm also not someone who has ever really volunteered for charities or anything. It's probably a combination of what @Rebecca.M wrote about the chaos involved in, say, a soup kitchen, my introvertedness, my hypersensitivity to my environment, and when I was younger I was severely shy and had problems with social anxiety. While I wouldn't describe myself as shy or having social anxiety anymore, there is still something daunting about approaching a group of people and having to meet so many people at once. I also don't function well in groups. Not that I can't work with other people, but the more people there are the quieter I get. I easily get lost in chaos, too, especially when I'm expected to help, but there's no organization and it's just a lot of people busily running around. I usually feel like the only person who doesn't know what I'm supposed to do and just get dizzy. ^^; And I can't just jump in unless I'm the one who's organized everything and know what needs to be done. When someone else is doing the organizing, I need directions.

I think I let my altruism out on the people around me. When I'm at work, I always offer help to those around me. If they say they're about to do something where it sounds like a second hand might be helpful, I offer to assist. If someone has a lot of work and is experiencing a time crunch, especially if it's not through their own time mismanagement, I'm always happy to take on some of their work if I can. I act very big sisterly toward my coworkers. Things like that. Maybe it's not quite the same, but I feel like there are a lot of obstacles to working at a charity that I'm not ready to overcome. Also, like Mara INFJ mentioned, I only slightly favor toward F over T, which probably makes a big difference, too.
Thank you very much. You just describe much of how I feel. The social, chaotic part of volunteering is definitely off-putting. I also tend to help co-workers, family and friends if I see they need it.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Since I've posted in this thread, I thought I might as well answer the question in the OP.

I've always been ridiculously altruistic, perhaps dysfunctionally so. This has not always been easy to translate into action, but there's always been, and still is, an underlying and very profound sense of owing everything I have to powers beyond me and, therefore, being obliged to do everything in my power for those less fortunate than myself. When I believed in god, I believed god had blessed me so I could help others; now that I don't, I simply feel that blind fate has favoured me and everything I have, from my thoughts to the clothes on my back, belongs just as much to the poorest sod in Wherefordshire as to myself.

If I don't actually do much, it's only because my Ni-Ti cannot see a way to make a meaningful difference other than for the random individual here & there. With every penny I spend and every bite I take, I destroy the planet we all depend on, wreak havoc in corners of the planet I haven't even heard of, and I find no other justification for my existence than having been born. I know there's meaning in little things... But in the big picture, I'm a destroyer of worlds, part of a lethal virus. If I chose not to exist, other bacteria would take my place and perpetrate the same crimes in my stead.

Whenever I have enough energy to lift my eyes from the gutter of my existence, I see suffering everywhere and myself participating in it, the tiny contributions I make towards alleviating dukkha so measly, I cannot see myself ever repaying the debt I've racked up. And yet... While I live... There can be no justification for not trying.
I'm starting to suspect when an INFJ does volunteer or donate, they need to know it's doing some tangible, practical good. We like to see results for our efforts. The only time I have volunteered is Clean Up Australia. There is a very tangible, and therefore satisfying result. And I don't have to worry about being too affected by something I see. On a side note, I wonder if many other INFJs have turned from their religion. I wouldn't say that I don't believe in a higher power, although I have my doubts, but I definitely don't believe in religion.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I'm kind of in the middle, I guess. I volunteer partially because I'm glad to help out, but also because the activities are things I otherwise wouldn't be able to do without a lot of money (horses be expensive!). When I volunteer to, say, clean up after an event at work, I do it because--hey, why not? Someone has to do, I'm physically able, it might get me brownie points with my boss, and I genuinely don't mind.

But, I don't donate much (I usually will when asked, like those "give an extra dollar with your purchase" at retail places, but never go looking for it). I never give to homeless. The first is because I don't have much money. The second because I think a lot of people asking for money on street corners in my particular city are scammers. For the real ones, I also have serious doubts that giving money to them is really going to help them out. My reasoning is that they have other routes and methods of getting a roof over their head or getting a job if that's truly their intent. But many use the money to live day by day, to further feed their addiction or whatever it was that put them on the street in the first place. I'm not going to pay for someone else's trainwreck like that.

In contrast, I'm not particularly sensitive to bad news. It upsets me sometimes, but I tend to respond by not watching it at all. I don't like politics, and I believe it has a more lasting effect for me to effect my immediate community in positive ways, rather than try to get involved in these big political controversies that I barely understand.

When it comes to being charitable to friends, it's a mixed bag. I tend to weigh the pros and cons, which usually have to center around me having to break through my introverted bubble and exhaust myself in the process, and how much my friend seems to need the help and would respond positively to help.

So, there you go. This INFJ's lens on altruism. :happy:
I get where you're coming from, there's definitely a weighing of pros and cons with who I donate to and who I'll help. There's one particular person at work I'll avoid helping because they always need help. They just can't do the job they've been hired to do, so everybody else has to make up for them.
 
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