The ENFJ's dark playground: overthinking.
As of late, my co-editor and I have educated ourselves and started to see human interaction through a lens of personality types. When we researched our own personality types (I’m an ENFJ and she’s an INTJ), we felt an immediate sense of relief; finally, someone understands me. What has followed is a series of “AH HA!” moments found through deep discussions on why we do what we do.
During a recent discussion, we started breaking down my fourth function as an ENFJ, introverted thinking (Ti). This is commonly referred to as the “demon function”, as most people do not know how to use it very well, and, for me, it only comes out under extreme stress.
Let me give you an example of the downward spiral: Your friend is mad at you. Honestly, it doesn't matter why because any social conflict is difficult for you. It could be your fault or their fault, but you generally assume that it's something that you did; you usually take the bulk of the responsibility anyway. You immediately freak out by calling anyone who will listen to help you talk through the situation. You go through the details over and over again, looking for closure. You reread text messages and emails, until you get overwhelmed and delete them. You comb through every word to see what you could have said or done to have avoided the situation. You will sometimes even bombard the other person with communication to try to fix the situation immediately. Tears are usually shed, and, a lot of times, you jump to extremes- this friendship is over, I'm financially ruined, I've made an irreversible mistake, etc.
Does this seem familiar?
I want all other ENFJ's to find peace in the fact that we all do this.
Seriously though, every ENFJ that I've had the pleasure of knowing goes into disarray when they have conflict with anyone. They need to talk it out. They need to know that they did the best they could given the situation, and they need to know what they should apologize for. It's not a flaw in our personality- it's just something we need to learn to manage so we don't get so upset.
Most importantly, I want to give my fellow ENFJ's techniques to help manage the dark playground.
Disclaimer: I'm not an expert. I'm only just learning to do some of these things, and I have a hard time taking my own advice. It's almost like I want to punish myself with emotional instability to show that I care... not sure what all that's about. Anyhow, here are 4 things I've been doing recently to spend minimal time in the dark playground:
- Find someone who you've primed with the "I know that I'm going to talk about this a lot, but please be patient with me" disclaimer, and talk about it. A LOT. Talk through every detail. Tell that person that they don't need to fix it, but that you just need them to actively listen. Also, tell them that you love them for lending an ear.
- Write down all the details in an organized way. Write down who did what. Write down a pros and cons list about the situation (if applicable). Make a list of the reasons for why you're feeling this way, and back up each of those reasons with facts/ happenings. Don't allow yourself to feel crazy.
- When your mind goes to that dark place, tell yourself "it's not helpful to think about this right now". You're not undermining your feelings. You're not telling yourself they don't matter. You're just telling yourself that they're not helpful and that they won't change the outcome of the situation.
- Ask someone to plan some fun, distracting activities for you. Depending on how emotionally exhausting the situation is, you may be experiencing symptoms of depression, and you know that you won't plan something for yourself. So ask someone. Ask a friend to plan a girls night out or your husband to plan a date night. I love seeing movies when I'm distraught because it's the only thing that will completely take my mind off of something, especially comedies.
If you're an ENFJ, then I know you have close meaningful relationships. That's our bread and butter. I also know that you don't like inconveniencing people, but this is when you need to rely on those people. You do so much for others, and your loved ones won't feel burdened when you allow them to help you.
You, my dear ENFJ, are a joy to be around when you're happy, so don't let yourself live in that dark playground. Ask for help to process and get out as quickly as possible.