ENFJ Personal Growth

written by contributing author Robert G. Heyward

What does Success mean to an ENFJ?

ENFJs are motivated by external human situations, primarily by other people; their talents, their needs, their aspirations and their cares forming the world in which an ENFJ lives. They thrive when able to "make things right" for others, to enable and empower their co-workers, friends and family through valuing their human strengths and abilities. When gifted with the added ENFJ ability to intuitively adapt their feelings to the way they are affected by others, the ENFJ has a positive drive to find co-operative pathways leading to the best possible outcome for all, including themselves. Success for an ENFJ comes through involvement in the process of making things happen for people; through the accomplishments and satisfactions of those they have helped to enrich the human world with greater value, and through finding that their efforts on behalf of others have fulfilled their own life as well.

Allowing Your ENFJ Strengths to Flourish

As an ENFJ, you have gifts that are specific to your personality type that aren't natural strengths for other types. By recognizing your special gifts and encouraging their growth and development, you will more readily see your place in the world, and be more content with your role.

Nearly all ENFJs will recognize the following characteristics in themselves. They should embrace and nourish these strengths:
 
  • Making others feel valued and important
  • Quickly seeing the positive and negative aspects of a human situation
  • Expressing their feelings clearly
  • Offering loyalty and commitment to partners, family and work mates
  • Trying to always find the solution which works for everyone
  • Encouraging humour and self expression in others
  • Finding ways to help others fulfil their needs
  • Affirming positive community values
  • Naturally falling into leadership roles within their community
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    ENFJs who have developed their Introverted Intuition to the extent that they can see the possibilities within their perceptions will enjoy these special gifts:
     
  • Understanding and empathising with the feelings of others; realizing "where they are coming from"
  • A talent for creative expression which can turn ordinary things and situations into something magical
  • An enhanced feeling of connection with and sensitivity toward the world around them.
  • The ability to see many facets of a problem and the many ways it might be resolved for the best.
  • The ability to make creative and valuable use of time spent alone.
  • Openness to the spiritual connections between all things.
  • They become increasingly creative, visionary and empathetic, and are therefore effective and kind managers of businesses, people, and various situations that life presents.
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    Potential Problem Areas

    With any gift of strength, there is an associated weakness. Without "bad", there would be no "good". Without "difficult", there would be no "easy". We value our strengths, but we often curse and ignore our weaknesses. To grow as a person and get what we want out of life, we must not only capitalize upon our strengths, but also face our weaknesses and deal with them. That means taking a hard look at our personality type's potential problem areas.

    Most of the weaker characteristics found in ENFJs are due to their dominant Extraverted Feeling overvaluing what they see as objective values in the external world and thereby judging too much by the needs of others, or by appearances. This is primarily due to the ENFJ having not fully adapted their Introverted Intuitive function sufficiently for them to be able to discern the vast range of ways in which they might be being missing the underlying needs within themselves and being misled by such appearances. The ENFJ naturally looks outward to find value and satisfaction, and whilst it is essential that this direction be taken to fulfil their primary needs of relation and comfort, without the supportive balance of a well developed Intuitive function, ENFJs can overvalue the external world to the point where they lose sight of themselves, becoming fixed in their judgements about people and the world. In such cases, the ENFJ will tend to live in a rigid - and to others, somewhat surreal - world of definite values which often seems "overstated" or obsessively connected to other people or human situations.

    Explanation of Problems

    Nearly all of the problematic characteristics described above can be attributed in various degrees to the common ENFJ problem of wanting to find the "proper" value in everything. If the ENFJ does not learn how to see beneath the appearance of what they quickly judge as good or bad about the people and situations in their external environment, they will only use their introverted intuition to support those judgements they feel are good for them and disregard not only other possibilities but their own quality of inner life as well. The consideration of these less obvious possibilities and their own needs requires that the ENFJ recognize that their own value judgements are indeed subjective, and that it is not appropriate or effective to apply them across the board to all civilized people. The practice of standing back and looking objectively at their own value system is not something that the ENFJ is accustomed to doing; trying to avoid abstract rationalisation of problems and the feelings they engender is a natural survival technique for the ENFJ personality. The main driver to the ENFJ personality is Extraverted Feeling, whose purpose is above all to find and discriminate the values in people and human situations. If their ability to find a specific and worthy value in a person or situation is threatened, the ENFJ shuts out the threatening force. This is totally natural, but unfortunately the individual who exercises this type of agenda protection regularly will become more and more rigid in their judgements and expectations of people, but even less concerned with the effect such conditions have upon themselves. Where the unbalanced ENFJ does acquiesce to the images of intuition, these will generally be skewed to support the subjective agenda of dominant Feeling. In this way they always find justification for their determinations and their self sacrifices to people, things and situations, and they will be unable locate the reality of another's true feelings, nor be interested in discovering that their seemingly objective judgements miss the reasons and subjectivities underlying both their own and others lives or worldly situation.

    Petulance, pensiveness and a sense of being let down by others can often be the end result of this one sided approach to the world, whilst if the ENFJ is in a strong company or relationship position they might become driven to manipulate others and situations to conform to their own feeling needs and value judgements, irrespective of any true value to the situation or for the other persons involved. In this case, the "big picture" valued for its great worth to all, becomes a dominant drive which seeks to blot out or crush any opposition by claiming the moral high ground, even to the point where the ENFJ sacrifices their own life to the "cause". The inability to recognize the plethora of subjective possibilities their feelings bring into their lives strip the unbalanced ENFJ of their access to both a deeper connection with others and the possibility of refining and developing pathways to the kind of self understanding and self nurturing their finer judgements might otherwise lead them to.

    Solutions

    To grow as an individual, the ENFJ needs to focus on paying attention to their inner images. This means they need to be open to the possibilities that lie beneath their judgements and values, rather than just accepting the appearance of values which accord with their sense of rightness. The ENFJ needs to understand that developing their ability to see the subjective possibilities within themselves and others does not threaten their ability to make correct judgements, but rather enhances it, and enhances their personal chances for achieving a measure of success in their lives.

    The ENFJ concerned with personal growth will pay close attention to their motivation for accepting values that come to them. Are they trying to see the background of circumstance behind their own and others value judgements, or are they trying to maintain their own image of how things "ought" to be? The goal is to find a balance between what seems correct and valuable and the many possible ways in which such a judgement might be subjective and not necessarily the best for themselves or a situation. Obviously, this is not entirely possible, but it is the exercise to keep in mind. They need to see the many divergent images of values and their conflicts which affect them, without feeling threatened, and without losing their sense of what is right and wrong.

    Living Happily in our World as an ENFJ

    As can be seen from the above, some strongly expressed ENFJs can have difficulty fitting into society. Their problems are usually due to their Extraverted Feeling function being so dominant that they are so strongly bound to what they see as objective values that they cannot relate to the world except via the objects of their feeling. In such cases the intensity of their judgements can actually drive others away from them, and the resulting lack of close relationship felt as a personal failing for which the ENFJ feels guilty. Such guilt can drive even more strongly affective behaviour which leads the ENFJ to ignore their own needs entirely, or it can become a negative drive to manipulate others to conform to their one-sided vision of the world. The ENFJ who consistently tries to see the underlying possibilities and the scope available in each situation will be able to see the right path to take with each person and situation in their life. This will always lead them to toward closer relationships, happiness and great achievements.

    The key to personal growth for the ENFJ is competent execution of Introverted Intuition. Because it is often hard to define what this represents subjectively to each person, here are some action-oriented suggestions that will help lead you down the path towards more effective use of the Introverted Intuitive function. Specific suggestions:

    1. When confronted by a person or situation which seems to be rejecting or rebuffing your value judgements and your mind filling with all the arguments, images and alternatives to the situation, look closely at those you are immediately rejecting as negative or unsuitable ways to proceed. Within these images often lie paths to understanding and agreement if you look more closely. Some of these images hold the key to seeing another's feelings and point of view more clearly. Remember, what seems positive to you may not be everything or even important to another.

    2. Behind everything of value that you see lies much potential. Try not to be satisfied with just a good result, but let yourself imagine the ways in which a person might fulfil all their creative aspects; the ways in which a situation might become useful to many more than just what it was made for. Try to imagine everything as a source of untapped magic and creative power - let your mind see all the things it might become. Above all, apply this exercise to yourself, as if you were seeing yourself in a mirror: just as you would another person whom you love.

    3. When you are alone try to become fully aware of how it feels to you, try to recognise the emptiness as a place of potential, try to imagine what you might be able to do for others in this empty time, try to realise that you are not truly alone but with this special person who is yourself. What would you do for this person if you could make their private world a better place?

    4. Everything wonderful in life proceeds from the qualities which lie behind it. You can feel these things, these drives and attitudes which seem to come from a place outside, perhaps from the creator expressing himself within people and nature. Letting the sense of these background qualities permeate your drive to life will give you purpose and meaning. Allow yourself to feel the meanings and purposes of the world, let them become a valuable gift which can be expressed in your dealings with others and in the things you strive for.

      Ten Rules to Live By to Achieve ENFJ Success

      1.     Feed Your Strengths! Make sure you have opportunities to involve yourself with others in situations where your input is valued.

      2.     Face Your Weaknesses! Realize and accept that some traits are strengths and some are weaknesses. By facing your weaknesses, you can overcome them and they will have less power over you.

      3.     Express Your Feelings. Understand that your feelings are as important as others are in the overall situation. Without your feelings and needs being valued the best result is not realised, so value and speak to your own feelings as much as you value those of others.

      4.     Make Decisions. Don't be afraid to have an opinion. You need to know show others the qualities and potentials you can see are worthy of action.

      5.     Smile at Criticism. Try to see why disagreement and discord indicate the differences between people, and use this as an opportunity to make your value judgements useful for growth, because that's exactly what they are. Try not to feel responsible for another's criticism, but try to hear it and understand the feelings and images it engenders within you. Then you may see a path not only to agreement but to a shared and truly valuable end.

      6.     Be Aware of Others. Remember that there are 15 other personality types out there who see things differently than you see them. Most of your problems with other people are easier to deal with if you try to understand the other person's perspective.

      7.     Be Aware of Yourself. Don't stint your own needs for the sake of others too much. Realise you are an important focus. If you do not fulfil your own needs, how will continue to be effective and how will others know you are true to your beliefs?

      8.     Be Gentle in Your Expectations. It is easy for you to see the value in others, but stressing this too much can drive them away. Try to show that you understand their fears and limitations and lead them gently to see how you feel: lead them gently into understanding and love.

      9.     Assume the Best. Don't distress yourself by feeling that your values are lost upon others - they are not. Perhaps it just has to sit with them too. Let the situation resolve itself and never stop believing that love is the true answer.

      10. When in Doubt, Ask Questions! Don't assume that the lack of feedback is the same thing as negative feedback. If you need feedback and don't have any, ask for it.

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