A peek inside Merja Sumiloff's mind, Part 2.
This is an except from the Youtube video series "Real Conversations with INFJs and INFPs" Season 1, Episode 5. Merja Sumiloff is interviewed by Amelia Harshfield.
Amelia Harshfield: Merja here is an INFJ and is the author and facilitator of the Integration Mentor Program. She is an MBTI Certified Practitioner and Personality Profiler, founder of Sumiloff Academy of Integration, and the INFX Project. she’s also written 2 best selling courses: the 4 People Within®️ which is an extension on Jungian work, and the INFX Unveiled, INFX Deep Dive, and INFX Mastermind, which all show INFJs and INFPs how to live a more authentic and productive life.
When she’s not busy with work, which seems like all the time, she is spending time with her partner Peter and her collection of beloved dogs and horses.
M: Amelia is an INFJ as well. She’s a mentor who helps people become free from emotional abuse. With her work clients finally move on from what’s been holding them back in life. She’s a fully qualified Integration Mentorand loves helping people transform themselves. When she’s not working she looking at her own Personal Development, spending time in her garden, reading or cooking, or walking her massive dog.
A: Today is an interview with Merja here. We’re just going to shoot some rapid fire questions at her, and we hope it will help you to get to know Merja a little better!
Are you ready Merja?
M: Let’s do it!
A: What Personal Development tools have worked for you?
M: The obvious answer of course is the 4 People Within®️ work. I wouldn’t put my name on something that I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in, or that hadn’t worked for me. I’m not like that. For those of you who know me, you will know that. I’m very clear about what I’m willing to put my name on, so that I can still sleep at night. That’s my internal gauge.
So, the 4 People Within®️ has been the most transformational piece. Of course, as a certified MBTI profiler, Myers-Briggs and the 4 People Within®️ together has been very powerful. “The Drama Triangle” by Steven Karpman, in terms of understanding how to step off it, has been very helpful. And I really like “the 5 Love Languages” work- that’s by Gary Chapman- and how I can use those love languages. Because the 4 people within me each have different love languages, how I can show them support on a daily basis through those love languages is useful.
A: Beautiful. And how have the tools worked for you? What have been the results of using them?
M: A lot of it is just grounding myself because with ADHD you have to keep steady, you have to keep grounding yourself into what the reality actually is and then take action on the high leverage item, and that’s how you can get really far in life. Especially with ADHD, really maximising your strengths and optimising or delegating what you're not so good at is valuable. So, that’s something that’s happened for me.
A lot of these tools are about self-nourishment, and I want to mention another tool, and that is the program “Playing the Matrix” by Mike Dooley. That has been particularly important for me, for my Inward Intuition, because it’s very intuitive work. Just bringing together the intuitive frame of taking in information, and then putting it into practical action has been what I’ve used all of the tools for in either self-care or taking practical steps in life.
A: Nice. What are some of the things in your personal development journey that did not help you?
M: Working with people who think they have all the answers. So, if you have a person who believes that their method works for everybody, or is appropriate for everybody, that doesn’t work. And that’s why I’m a little bit freaked out, the scientist mind in me is freaked out, simply because of the people who have applied the 4 People Within®️ method, there hasn’t been one that it hasn’t worked for yet. And I feel uncomfortable with that because in science you find both what works and what doesn’t work, and if one part of those is missing it’s not a good sign because there’s usually then something wrong with the balance of what you’re offering in different ways. I don’t know if that makes any sense! But I am looking forward to getting feedback from people who really applied the 4 People Within®️ and it didn’t work for them!
A: It sounds very interesting! So with those people who thought they knew everything, how didn’t it work for you?
M: There’s a certain rigidity and ego that comes into play. And of course, not all ego is bad. Ego is important. If you want to achieve anything in life you want to have a little bit of ego to drive that. But if somebody believes they have answers to everything, fundamentally what they’re saying is that this is where anybody can go. This is where anybody can get to. And I can’t comprehend a world where there are those limitations that there’s an ‘ultimate person’ because I believe in the ultimate potential for the human being to grow and for humankind to grow. That rigidity, or setting a ceiling or standard that implies if you don’t hit this level then you haven’t somehow achieved something, that doesn’t work for me.
The bottom line with every piece of personal development work that we do is that whenever you are honestly there for yourself, when you’re able to support yourself through hard times, these are big deals! And they should be celebrated. The thought that there’s some imaginary, arbitrary level that you need to get to in order to be worthy, I just don’t subscribe to that at all. You are worthy.
A: Beautiful, and very well said. I can really feel your passion for why it doesn’t work for you. And then how you use that to create change and help people.
M: If we don’t develop we start rotting, we start decaying. So it’s either development, or it’s decay. It’s very rarely that one can just be solid for all your life, at one developmental level, and be really, really happy and fulfilled by just being at that same level. In order to feel fulfilled and happy we need to be fluctuating. We can’t feel happiness if there’s not a bit of struggle, or strife, or sadness.
A: Yes, and when you say ‘growing’ do you mean always moving forward with it? Sometimes moving backwards is also ‘growing’.
M: You’ve heard me talk about failing forward. I think it’s the first module of the 4 People Within®️ course! You want to set a precedent for saying you’re going to have a hard time with this course when you’re doing it, but it’s going to be so worth it by the end!
There are certain levels that you hit, and if your personal development plateaus then you need to rest, and then sometimes take a step back to really get that lesson, which can seem like a step back. But what you’re actually doing is having relapses and you’re failing forward. Just so long as you keep learning from the relapse it’s never a bad thing. Unless, of course, you’re hurting yourself or other people in the process in an irreversible way. But oftentimes things are actually reversible.
A: When I heard that, I just wanted the people who are listening to know that moving backward is such an important part of personal development. If you’re moving backwards or if you’re frustrated, that’s normal. It’s part of it. Frustration often brings creativity and looking at things in different ways that you wouldn’t have seen without feeling frustrated.
We would love to know if you found this conversation helpful. Tell us about your main takeaway from this article, or share your experience in the comment section. Thank you for being an important part of this community and doing your work to create more compassionate and effective leadership in the world!
We wish you a day full of wonder!
I’m Merja Sumiloff. I’m the Personality Decoder and I show my clients and people who come to me how to heal and grow your relationships without massive disruption to your day-to-day