ENFJ Under Stress

The Myers-Briggs type indicator is a testing system originally developed by Carl G. Jung that identifies what kind of personality a person may have. There are 16 personality types each with different variations of how people function and interact in their surroundings. A person who is an ENFJ is extroverted, intuitive, feels versus thinks and judges through predictability.

These personality traits are how an ENFJ responds in normal circumstances. Under stress shadow personalities appear. Researches added four shadow personalities to the list for circumstances like stress in which an alter personality appears. This is not the normal behavior of the person but is most noticeable under pressure and in emergencies. The ENFJ exhibits introverted feelings, extraverted intuition, introverted sensing and extraverted thinking or behaviors.

In normal ever day life, ENFJ’s are extroverted feelers, they are the people pleasers of the world and get satisfaction by interacting and helping other people. Under stress they turn to inferior introverted thinking. This is when they turn their extroverted habits inwards on themselves and become self-critical. They question their competence when they feel they are not trusted or are pressured to adopt a view to which they disagree.

Triggers for these feelings of incompetence are the feeling of not being trusted, not being understood or taken seriously. As an ENFJ gets stimulation from external people interaction, when confrontation or pressure happens this turns their thoughts inwards as their external support is “against” them. They know that conflict and criticism are a part of life but it is the manner in which these are handled that make a difference to ENFJs. Knowing that they unintentionally hurt someone or are criticized in an unfeeling way are manners that ENFJs turn on themselves. They are people persons and use emotions and empathy to communicate and connect with others so when treated coldly it strikes deep in their personality. Also they strive extra hard to work with people and keep everything cop esthetic and never intend to hurt people.

In work environments, these need to put other concerns above the welfare of everyone or to recognize individual values of people causes stress for ENFJs. They are very concerned with the value they contribute and find competitive environments harmful. Other triggers to bring out the shadow traits are overwhelming workloads, uncooperative or undermining team mates and disorganization. These stressors kick in the extroverted intuition where they want to sort through the details, explore alternatives and create new strategies where they can become the driving force for action. The ENFJ will become withdrawn while trying to sort out the hostility or to devise a plan to make the entire situation work for everyone with the least amount of confrontation.

The typical response when under pressure and having gone “internal” is to lose their natural optimism, lose faith in human potential for change, become negative, critical and extremely judgmental toward everything and everyone in the situation. They will lash out at others in frustration and for not being appreciated.

There is a guilt reaction that causes this lashing out. When an ENFJ feels he has let down his friends or loved ones, he loses passion and that makes him feel guilty. As they put the feelings of others above their own and strive to be empathetic at all times, feelings of failure, rejection or disappointment create guilt to which they eventually want to escape causing the impulsive negative behavior of criticism, judgement or lashing out.

The empathetic nature of the ENFJ causes them to take the blame for conflict or failure. They often hold these feelings inside to keep the peace, losing sight of their own feelings in a sacrifice for the common good of all. Over time ENFJs dissociate themselves or stuff the emotions they feel deeply inside until some future point when it explodes out in emotional upheaval, anger or irrational sudden outbursts. Some ENFJs become bossy, pushy or patronizing under stress while others search for the “truth” of the situations that will explain everything. They try to rationalize what is happening, searching for how they are responsible and how they can fix it. In the process of rationalization the ENFJ can become obsessed with overthinking and analyzing unimportant details therefore losing sight of the big picture.

ENFJs have deep moral convictions that tend to cause stress when challenged. Being in a situation that challenges those convictions is a cause of stress that triggers the fight or flight instinct. As stated the ENFJ turns or flees inward when not understood, appreciated or confronted. The highly empathetic side of the ENFJ can become troublesome in certain situations around their hard held beliefs because they misinterpret the social signals of others as negative intentions or attacks on their beliefs creating a self-inflicted stress situation.

ENFJs are the type of extroverted people who like to please, but when under stress they withdraw into themselves and become critical of themselves or others. They prefer to keep the peace at the expense of their own emotional wellness, hold on to core beliefs strongly and feel under attack in confrontations.

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