Over time here, I've had quite a few requests from curious people of other types how INFj empathy works. "How do you do it?" Quite frankly, this often makes me feel guilty, and quite possibly mistyped: I'm not conscious of any empathy with others. I don't know what you think or feel. I have no idea what is in your head. Does that sound strange? It is. Untill just a little bit earlier today, I was unaware of any empathy going on beyond the "big emotions": Tantrums, crying, laughing etc. Then, while reading a book, I came across a line that, though totally unrelated in every way to the subject, sparked a line of thought that lead to me taking a good, close look at what goes on in my head. There, I found it: The empathy.
And now I understand why I'm not conscious of it: It is embedded deeply, so deeply that it is an integral part of me, and I can quite simply not possibly imagine life without it. That would be like imagining going through life without being able to count in the slightest bit, or like living without the sense of hearing at all. It can quite simply not be done. I always thought that everybody had this sense of empathy, of being able to read what went on in other people's emotions without any problem. It was so ordinary. So easy. How could anybody miss it? I never even contemplated the idea.
How do I know what people feel? I have no idea. I am as conscious of my empathy as I am of my bowels. Yes, I can feel something is going on, and I know the results perfectly well, thank you very much, but I have no idea what is going on. I don't think about it. I react to emotions reflexively, like most people react to having a ball thrown at you: Pick it up or shy away. Thinking about it, I can be aware of your emotions. They are in my head like a second set of feelings, not as strong as mine but there. Kinda like the Warder bond is explained in the Wheel of Time. I don't think about it. Whenever my empathy is in use, I have better things to take care of. Like the conversation that is probably going on, verbal or not. I can no more turn off my empathy than I can turn off my sense of hearing.
Mayhap you can imagine what kind of a hassle that can be . I think it may also be a contributing factor to my reservedness and asocial behaviour: Being close to people is quite simply like having completely random tunes of music played simultaneously at low burn. Still, since some people are apparently envious of this, I'll not complain. It makes up for the annoyances it can lead to.
I will try to observe my mental processes when I am around people a bit more, and report back when (Or, indeed, if) I find something more.
If any other INFjs have more information on this subject, please share it.
Now, for the other types (Or at least those this applies to), I'd like to reverse the question: How is it not being aware of others people's emotions (Or at least not to this degree)?
PS: One tidbit of strange information: I empathize with animals, as well. Although, due to the inherent nature of communication, in this case, the subjects are unable to verify the accuracy of my information :wink: .