There are a lot of articles out there that seek to pinpoint the biggest fears of every Myers-Briggs® personality type. They are usually really good, but I’ve decided to take a different approach. Ever since last September, I have worked on tallying up the worst fears of every single personality type. When I speak to people in forums, groups, or through my work as a practitioner I try to note what they mention. I’ve written articles about the top 10 fears of certain types, but I haven’t finished them all yet. It has been interesting to see which fears have gotten the most votes by each type. They aren’t always what you would expect! In order to complete this article, I got votes from at least 100 members of each type.
Some fears are universal, so I won’t be addressing those in this post. And if you don’t relate to your fear? No worries! Not every single person of every type is going to 100% relate to their fear. I got these results by simply talking to hundreds of people and asking them what frightens them the most. They weren’t given a list of choices, because I wanted to know the fear that first came to their mind without them being affected by a pre-conceived list.
– Loss of Loved Ones
Those three fears topped lists no matter what personality type was talking (except XSTPs, they weren’t too bothered by spiders!).
ISTJ – Crowds
ISTJs hated the idea of crowds! Privacy and personal space are essential to these types. Lack of security came in at a close second. These were the types most likely to have a home security system and also most likely to have a gun that they knew how to use within the range of their bed. Many of them mentioned the fear of home invasion as well. Find more of their fears here.
ISFJ – Harm to Family Members
ISFJs are deeply attached to their loved ones, and similarly to ISTJs, they had fears about security and home invasion. The idea of anything harmful happening to someone they cared about was an incentive for many ISFJs to learn self-defense or have security measures installed in their homes. They also tend to be exceptionally careful drivers.
“I worry a lot about whether my children will be safe coming home from school, or whether my plane will crash if I’m on it. Germs, home invasion, drunk drivers, these are the things that I worry about the most.”
– Leanne, an ISFJ
ESTJs loathe having to work with lazy, inefficient people or people who procrastinate. They want everyone to do their part and “toe the line.” Irresponsibility among team or family members will drive them crazy, and having to work on a project with someone who lacks skill or drive can make them literally queasy. This may not be a heart-racing, nightmare-producing fear, but it was what they mentioned most! Losing control and uncertainty were also major fears for ESTJs.
ESFJ – Abandonment
ESFJs are extremely loyal individuals who are deeply committed to their loved ones. They are known for their responsibility, their generosity, and empathy. Being abandoned by those they’ve committed to and cared for topped their list of worst fears.
“Divorce and families being torn apart are way too common now. I hate the idea that something like that could happen to me – that I’ll work so hard to take care of others and they’ll just take advantage of me and then leave.”
– An anonymous ESFJ
ISFP – Being Trapped
ISFPs are free spirits who tend to make spontaneous decisions and follow their hearts. They fear making the wrong choice and becoming trapped in a situation they can’t get out of; whether it’s a job, a relationship, or a cross-country move. They want their options to be open at all times, to always know they can get out of a situation if it turns sour.
ISTP – Physical Helplessness
ISTPs are extremely independent and self-sufficient individuals, and they despise the idea of having to rely wholly on others. Becoming physically handicapped in some way where they had to rely on the help of loved ones was by far their worst fear.
“If you take away my independence and self-sufficiency then I can’t see enjoying life at all. I’d just play video games and read all the time…fun for a little while, not fulfilling long term!”
– Steve, an ISTP
ESFP – Loss of Freedom
Much like ISFPs, ESFPs greatly feared losing their freedom or being trapped in a mundane existence. They want to know they can change their mind if a decision leads in the wrong direction, and they want to know they have plenty of options and opportunities.
“I hate it when people try to force me to make a decision about the future that I can’t change. I don’t know how I’ll feel in a year, much less five years. Don’t push me to decide what my lifelong career is going to be! I don’t even know where I’ll want to live in a year or two. Being trapped, being stuck because I was forced to decide before I was ready, these are the things that scare me.”
– Jake, an ESFP
ESTP – Losing Control
ESTPs like to be aware and in control of themselves in their surroundings. They are known for their fast reflexes and adaptability, and the idea of losing this is appalling to them. They want to know that they can remain in control of themselves and not become helpless, trapped, or out of control. Some ESTPs I spoke with refrained from drinking because they didn’t like the “out of control” feeling being drunk gave them. Other ESTPs didn’t enjoy roller coasters because they hated being strapped into something they couldn’t get out of. That said, these same ESTPs would have no qualms with skydiving or snowboarding or performing dangerous stunts. As long as they had their own physical freedom, they felt they were still in control.
INTJ – Insanity
The mind is the ultimate playground of the INTJ personality type. This is where they can toy with perspectives, immerse themselves in intuition, and explore mental strategies. The idea of losing their mental clarity was by far the worst outcome they could imagine.
“My vision and strategic insights are what make me who I am. If I became mentally incapacitated I would have no desire to live anymore. I would feel hopeless.”
– Andreas, an INTJ
INTP – Rejection
When I surveyed the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types, INTPs mentioned the fear of rejection far more than any other type. I tried to research this to find out if there was any other information I could find about INTPs and rejection. The only conclusion I could come up with I found in Naomi Quenk’s book Was That Really Me?: How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality. She explained how personalities with inferior Extraverted Feeling, such as INTPs and ISTPs, may, during extreme stress experience a profound feeling of “separateness from the whole of humanity. The ISTP or INTP is convinced that he or she is unloved and ultimately unlovable. Some relive childhood feelings of being extremely different from other children, marching to a different and unacceptable drummer, often with no clue about how others see things. The memory of childhood misery and helplessness may intensify the adult’s inferior function experience.”
Find out more about INTP fears here.
ENTJ – Mediocrity
ENTJs are natural-born leaders with enormous visions and dreams for the future. They are driven by an intense desire to make a difference in the world and live up to their fullest potential. They hate the idea of living a less than remarkable life. They have a deep yearning to stand out and achieve their dreams at all costs. Find out more about ENTJ fears here.
ENTP – Being Controlled
Autonomy is one of the strongest desires of the ENTP personality type. These independent individuals crave freedom and space to explore new ideas and possibilities. Being micro-managed, stuck in a possessive relationship, or even bound by financial obligations can make them feel suffocated. Find out more about ENTP fears here.
INFP – Not Living Up to Their Ideals
INFPs are often called the Idealists, and it’s not hard to see why. They have very high standards for themselves and rely on a strong set of convictions and values. They have a powerful moral code that guides them in all of their decisions. They also believe in everything they do having meaning and purpose. Numerous INFPs mentioned the fear of getting to the end of their lives and realizing that they wasted their potential or didn’t do anything significant to make the world a better place. Find out more about INFP fears here.
INFJ – Humanity’s Potential for Evil
INFJs crave a world where equality, compassion, and freedom reign. When they are inundated by news of injustice, corruption, and cruelty they start to feel emotionally connected to all the pain around them. It can be difficult for them to detach from all the struggles that people encounter at the hands of others. It can feel impossible to focus or find their strong sense of vision and purpose when they know others are in pain or being treated unfairly. At the same time, many INFJs use their fear of evil to spur them towards speaking out against injustice. After all, Mahatma Gandhi and Mary Wollstonecraft were both INFJs who stood up for their beliefs and values. Find out more about INFJ fears here.
ENFJ – Being Alone
The ENFJs I spoke with hated being alone; they felt that their lives were emptier and lacking meaning the longer they spent time in isolation. This makes sense considering their dominant function, Extraverted Feeling (Fe), is largely concerned with promoting the happiness and morale of others. Prolonged bouts of alone time can make ENFJs feel empty and uninspired.
“My mind wanders to dark places if I’m alone for too long. Being around people is a huge comfort and something I couldn’t stand to be without for an extended period of time.”
– Katrina, an ENFJ
ENFP – Lacking Meaningful Relationships
The biggest fear among ENFPs was being alone. However, this doesn’t mean they want to be around people constantly. Their fear revolved around not having meaningful relationships, dying alone, or feeling disconnected from humanity. Having a healthy social group, supportive friends, and meaningful, honest relationships are extremely important to ENFPs. Not living up to potential came in at a close second, with boredom coming in third. Find out more about ENFP fears here.
What Do You Think?
Do you relate to these fears or the fears of other types? Let’s talk about it in the comments!
Find out more about your personality type in our eBooks, Discovering You: Unlocking the Power of Personality Type, The INFJ – Understanding the Mystic, The INFP – Understanding the Dreamer, and The INTJ – Understanding the Strategist. You can also connect with me via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter!
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