If you’re an ESFJ, ENFJ, ISFJ, or INFJ type, then you probably know how hard it is to let go of bad things that happen to you. By “things” I mean something that has to do with an interaction or relationship with another person. If something bad happens that doesn’t involve another person it might be irritating, but it rarely haunts us.
For example, I’m an INFJ, and my car might have a flat tire on the way to church after I turned down the wrong road and didn’t realize it for a full 15 minutes (true story) and I’ll be fine. However, if someone makes an unkind, off-hand remark I’ll be thinking about it for days.
All the FJ types in the Myers-Briggs® system make decisions using a cognitive function called Extraverted Feeling. Personality Hacker nicknames it “Harmony,” which I think is a very good description. All these types crave harmony in their relationships with other people. We make decisions based on factors like how this will affect others and what gets everyone’s needs met. This gives us a valuable and unique perspective on the world, but it can also set us up for some deep heartache.
What’s Going On With Our Feeling Side
Because FJ types are so tuned-in to what’s going on with the people around us, we’re hyper-aware of anything that might go wrong in our relationships. When something does go wrong (or even just feels like it went wrong), we have a tendency to stew over it. For example …
- An ESFJ who’s so friendly they come off as flirtatious, then eats themselves up with guilt over people they have to turn-down.
- An ISFJ who accepts a leadership role, then sinks into depression when a tiny percentage of the people they’re leading expresses criticism.
- An ENFJ who wears themselves out trying to meet the needs of all their friends, then worries that their need for some down-time will cost them their friendships.
- An INFJ who awkwardly opens up to someone, then lies awake at night mentally editing every social interaction from the past 10 years.
Some FJ types report that they feel other people’s emotions like their own feelings. Others describe themselves as extra sympathetic or just in-tune with people. Some aren’t sure why they respond so strongly to other people’s words and emotions. Regardless of how they talk about it, the fact is that FJ types are going to pick up on and/or care deeply about what other people say, think, and feel about them.
It Gets (A Little) Easier
One of the biggest personal growth challenges that FJ types face is learning to use their Extraverted Feeling in a healthy way. We FJ types need to start including ourselves in “everyone” when we try to meet everyone’s needs. We need to learn how to create harmony deliberately, rather than just avoiding conflict and hoping things work out for the best. And we have to learn that we can’t always have perfect interactions with everyone, and that’s not the end of the world.
Most of us aren’t there yet, at least not entirely. Even healthy FJ types will be deeply affected by things like negative comments and friction in relationships. If you’re a little less secure in yourself or less comfortable with your Fe side, then you’re going to have an even harder time letting go of the hurt that comes when anything goes wrong in a relationship or human interaction.
I think one of the most powerful things that happens when we learn about our personality types is that we get an opportunity to understand why our minds work the way they do. Spending extra time thinking about people’s unkind words, pondering how a conversation could have gone better, or hating conflict more than another person doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It might just mean you’re a perfectly normal FJ type who’s hardwired to care deeply about other people and social interactions. That knowledge can help you accept this side of your personality, and maybe even give you the freedom to start letting go of hurts that touched the beautiful, harmony-loving side of your personality.
Wrapping Things Up
I decided to write this blog post after talking with my ISFJ dad about how deeply he’s been affected by the critical comments of a few individuals in our church group, which made him think of every critical thing that’s been said about him in the past as well. Talking with him reminded me of how much I also struggle with letting go of conflicts, disagreements, and criticisms (even “little” ones). The same is true for the ESFJs and ENFJs I know, as well as other ISFJs and INFJs.
It’s our Extroverted Feeling side that makes it so hard to let go of things that wound the part of us that desires harmony in all our interactions. But this aspect of our personality is also the part that lets us connect with people in powerful ways. So let’s try to embrace our Feeling side as a gift rather than fighting it or beating ourselves up over how hard it is for us to let go when something hurts us. That’s what I’m going to try to do, and I hope you can as well.
Your turn …
What do you find the most challenging about being an FJ type? And what do you love about your Feeling side? Let us know in the comments section!