ENFP personal growth

Personal Growth for an ENFP

What does Success mean to an ENFP?

ENFPs are motivated in everything they do by a desire to understand the world around them. They are constantly searching about, mentally and physically, for input that will help them to better understand the Big Picture. They are open-minded to new people and new experiences; they're eager for the opportunity to understand what the new people and experiences are all about. ENFPs use their understanding of the world to serve the agendas of their value systems. An ENFP's value system often includes respect for the needs and desires of individual people over the needs of a social group. Their respect for the individual makes them dislike controlling others, and being controlled by others. ENFPs are passionate about their beliefs, whatever they may be. They often stubbornly adhere to their value system regardless of threats to its validity. They are more concerned with keeping true to what they believe than they are with expectations or demands from the social group that they function within. ENFPs dislike personal criticism, because it threatens their validity as an individual and the validity of their value system. ENFPs may internalize anger rather than express it; their respect for other individuals makes it difficult for them to hurt others. An ENFP's feeling of success depends upon the availability of opportunities to grow their understanding of the world, upon feeling that they're living true to their personal value system, and upon the condition of their closest relationships.

Allowing your ENFP strengths to flourish

As an ENFP, 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 ENFPs will recognize the following characteristics in themselves. They should embrace and nourish these strengths:

They're exceptionally perceptive about people and situations. They're often able to quickly and accurately assess where someone is coming from. They accept and value people as individuals, and are strongly egalitarian. They believe that individuals have the right to be themselves, and are very tolerant and accepting of most people. They're often deep and intelligent, and may be quite brilliant in their ability to tie things together. They're wired to look for connections in the external world, and so may mentally put things together more easily than many. Their interest in understanding the world usually makes them in tune with what's socially acceoptable and what isn't. This may help them to be popular and likable. They're highly creative. This ability may be used in an artistic way, or may be used to generate ideas and new ways of thinking.

ENFPs who have developed their Introverted Feeling to the extent that they apply judgment to all of their perceptions will enjoy these special gifts:

They will have the ability to follow through on projects they've begun. They will be less gullible and malleable, and generally more able to discern between "good" and "bad", rather than accepting everything without question. They may be highly artistic. They will have the ability to focus and concentrate deeply on tasks. This enhanced ability to think and process information internally will make them more capable on many levels. They will balance out their desire to meet new people and have new experiences with the desire to put their understanding to use in some way. They will find more meaning and purpose in their lives.

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 ENFPs are due to their dominant Extraverted Intuition overshadowing the personality to the extent that they don't apply judgement to anything. Or, they may use their primary judging function (Introverted Feeling) to support the agenda of Extraverted Intuition, i.e. to rationalize and support the idea of welcoming all experiences and accepting all individuals. In such cases, an ENFP may show some or all of the following weaknesses in varying degree:

  • May be what many would call a "sucker" - vulnerable to schemers and con artists.
  • May get themselves into dangerous situations because they are too eager to push the envelope of their understanding, and not willing to apply judgment to anything.
  • May feel intense anger towards people who criticise them or try to control them, but will be unable to express the anger. Left unexpressed, the anger may fester, simmer, and become destructive.
  • May blame their problems on other people, using logic and ration to defend themselves against the world.
  • May develop strong negative judgments that are difficut to unseat against people who they perceive have been oppressive to them.
  • May get involved with drugs, alcohol, or promiscuity, and generally seek mindless experiences and sensations.
  • May skip from relationship to relationship without the ability to commit.
  • May start projects but be unable to finish them.
  • May be unable to keep a job for any length of time.

Explanation of problems

Nearly all of the problematic characteristics described above can be attributed in various degrees to the common ENFP problem of wanting to understand and experience everything at any cost. If the ENFP does not learn how to discriminate things and people in their external environment, the ENFP will begin to use their judging function (Introverted Feeling) as a "rubber stamper" to support their agenda to seek out experiences. This is a natural survivalistic technique for the ENFP personality. The main driver to the ENFP personality is Extraverted Intuition, whose purpose is to understand the world as one Big Picture, seeking connections and meaning in everything. If their ability to seek understanding is threatened, the ENFP 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 unable to apply objective judgment to anything. When the unbalanced ENFP does apply judgement, it will generally be skewed to support their subjective agenda. They will always find justification for their own inappropriate behaviour. They will be unable to finish anything that they start, and generally wander through life from experience to experience.

It's very common for ENFPs to resist applying judgement until they feel they truly understand a person or situation. However, part of the understanding process includes using discernment to classify qualities. If the ENFP shuts judgment off entirely, he or she will not achieve their ultimate goal of understanding; rather they will jump from experience to experience in a purposeless fashion.

Anger can be a problem for anybody, but may be especially so for ENFPs who have not sufficiently developed their Introverted Feeling. The desire to keep everything non-judgmental, combined with the tendency to use Introverted Feeling as justification rather than true judgement is a recipe for suppressed anger. These are very contradictory forces. "I hate you for judging me" is an ironic feeling, but is unfortunately common. The inability to apply judgment, or to accept negative judgment, makes it difficult for the ENFP to express anger, as anger often comes with negative judgment in tow. Therefore, the ENFP stews in their anger, rather than dealing with it.


To grow as an individual, the ENFP needs to focus on applying judgement to all of their perceptions. This means they need to decide how they really feel about people, places and things, rather than allowing their feelings to hang open indeterminately. The ENFP needs to understand that developing their ability to discern qualities does not threaten their ability to understand the world, but rather enhances it, and enhances their personal changes for achieving a measure of success in their lives.

The ENFP concerned with personal growth will pay close attention to their motivation for making a judgment. Are they trying to really determine the objective value or merit of something, or are they trying to defend their individual right to not be judged or controlled? The goal when judging something is to not let your life experiences cloud your opinions. Obviously, this is not entirely possible, but it is the exercise to keep in mind. You want to open your mind to judgment without feeling threatened, and without using your own judgement in a defensive, rationalizing mode.

Living happily in our world as an ENFP

As can be seen from the above, some ENFPs can have difficulty fitting into society. Their problems are often due top feeling different from others because of their dominant Intuition, and being unable to stick to anything long enough to feel a sense of accomplishment. They feel like they don't fit in, and can't find the place where they belong in the world. The ENFP who consistently makes decisions and applies classifications to their ideas will be able to turn their ideas into reality, and experience the feelings of accomplishment and success that accompany being effective.

The key to personal growth for the ENFP is competent execution of Introverted Feeling. It's difficult for most to understand what this means, much less incorporate that directive into your life. I have created some action-oriented suggestions that will help lead you down the path towards more effective use of the Introverted Feeling function. Specific suggestions:

Ten rules to live by to achieve ENFP success

  1. Feed your strengths! Make sure you have opportunities to have new experiences to feel your quest of understanding the world.
  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. Don't let anger get bottled up inside you. If you have strong feelings, sort them out and express them, or they may become destructive!
  4. Make decisions. Don't be afraid to have an opinion. You need to know how you feel about things in order to be effective.
  5. Smile at criticism. Try to see disagreement and discord as an opportunity for growth, because that's exactly what it is. Try not to become overly defensive towards criticism; try to hear it and judge it objectively.
  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 fulfill your own needs, how will continue to be effective and how will others know you are true to your beliefs?
  8. Be accountable for yourself. Don't waste mental energy finding blame in other's behaviour, or in identifying yourself as a victim. You have more control over your life than any other person has.
  9. Assume the best. Don't distress yourself by assuming the worst. Remember that a positive attitude creates positive situations.
  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. There's no shame in asking.

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