INFJ’s, Highly Sensitive Persons, And Empaths. What’s The Difference?…

INFJ’s, Highly Sensitive Persons, And Empaths. What’s The Difference?

The Myers-Briggs test defines the INFJ as Intuitive, Introverted, feeling and judging. It is one of 16 classifications in Psychology, according to the Myers-Briggs test. Most recently, I’ve noticed, INFJ has been categorized along with empath, HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) and, therefore, making one a healer. Although many people meet some of the criteria for all three labels and they often intersect, there are measurables one must meet in order to be classified as a true INFJ or HSP. According to Psychology, there are criteria one must meet to be a clinical HSP or an INFJ.

INFJ’s makeup 1% of the population and just about everyone I meet that practices yoga describes themselves as a self-proclaimed empath. That’s well over 1% of the population. Therefore, how do we distinguish between a personality type and someone who has various intuitions as a result of practicing yoga, regardless of if they are actually an INFJ? Although practicing yoga may grant some special yogis merit defined as siddhis (special yogic powers developed through repetitive concentration), it doesn’t define one’s personality.

Empaths: Siddhis

Vak siddhi is the ability to manifest anything you say as reality. But it’s actually not even esoteric or a special power. In fact, it goes back to the eightfold path of Buddhism of aligning, right intention, right thoughts and right actions until the yogi’s power of being a diligent yogi manifests what they intended into being. Tada! All personality types have access to special powers regardless of their natural inclination or disposition. They are not reserved for the shy and quiet ones only.

Gods related to the mantras give siddhis (powers) to those who chant and ponder their meaning. A Satguru should be consulted to learn their secrets. -Yoga Mala


Let’s break down how personality type on the Myers-Briggs indicator is different than being an empath. One must be measured and tested to see if they are an HSP or INFJ. Whereas if one is an empath and/or as siddhis, this is subjective and may fluctuate with one’s yoga practice. It is not a permanent condition. INFJ’s are

  • Introversion (Introverted)
  • Intuitive
  • Feeling
  • Judging
  • Extraverted around certain people

HSP (Highly Sensitive Person)

  • Process the environment around them differently.
  • Notice everything and detail around them
  • Distaste for superficial
  • Asthma, nervous energy, and oversensitivity to bright lights
  • Overstimulated easily
  • Prone to panic attacks
  • Experience the world more deeply.
  • Being empathetic
  • All of the feels all of the time and therefore strong emotional reactions.
  • Caring about everyone and everything
  • Having a highly tuned nervous system
  • Have to touch things when they are younger to feel grounded
  • May not like hugs, but love warm clothing close to the skin and heavy blankets at bedtime
  • Often these folks are mislabeled as being shy, or aloof

INFJ’s enjoy people and in the right situation and the topic will incessantly talk. However, they spend most of their time listening since life is not cut out to their specific eccentric likings. They need a lot of alone time to recharge their batteries, are idealistic and feel their way through life. Psychologist often refers to these folks as an advocate for the people or a counselor. However, this indicator does not make them an automatic healer or empath. They have a lot of empathy and compassion for people they don’t know. Not all INFJ’s take action although Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Jimmy Carter are classified under this category. If you think you might be one, see a professional psychiatrist or psychologist to clarify. The professional may also be able to classify you into the HSP category or not.

HSP’s are not the type of people that are afraid of getting their feelings hurt easily. They are the type of people that are afraid they hurt other’s feelings. HSP’s can be extraverted or introverted and process the world around them differently than 80% of the population. That’s right. HSP’s make up 20% of the population and more than 20% are extraverts. In a spiritual discourse, I recently attended, my teacher said having deep silence does not mean one is silent and quiet, by not participating in the world. It means the well of stillness in them is so deep (underwater and within) that when they speak, their words are naturally like waves that gently greet everyone they meet. The waves uplift the others instead of crashing and knocking them down into an undertow.

Luckily, preschools and primary schools are beginning to recognize sensory processing disorders and are recognizing and appreciating the HSP children, rather than trying to change them. Why? HSP’s cannot be changed. HSP’s are born this way. There is nothing they can do to change their natural disposition, but find holistic coping mechanisms such as hatha yoga, meditation, and other healing modalities to regulate their sensitivities. Hopefully, this article clarifies and differentiates what the clinical definition of an HSP and INFJ are, and explains where there is an overlap of the characteristics (acronyms). As for the empaths, most of us have this gift and are able to tap into its benefits of helping others, through the practices of yoga, to include mantra.


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Brieanne Tanner

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Brieanne has been practicing yoga diligently for 13 years. She’s been a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance since 2010…

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