ENFPs are one of the most-loved personality types in the Myers-Briggs system. It’s not hard to see why! They’re usually inventive, compassionate, and fun-loving; all things that invite people in and attract others to them. But what happens when an ENFP is in an unhealthy state? And what causes these unhealthy states?
Some people believe that the issue of healthy or unhealthy types is very black and white. You’re an unhealthy ENFP or a healthy one, point blank. I take a more nuanced approach. I believe that all of us have moments throughout our day or week where we demonstrate unhealthy and healthy characteristics. If you’re highly-stressed on Monday you might have a few moments of unhealthy behavior. If you’re feeling better and well-rested on Tuesday you might emulate healthy characteristics of your type. It’s natural to have moments throughout your life where you’re not at your best. Everyone has those. There are also times when people become paralyzed in an unhealthy state without trying to grow past it or without having enough energy or resources to do so.
Take today’s article with the knowledge that we all have unhealthy moments in life, and this is not meant to be a rough criticism of the ENFP by any means.
The Healthy ENFP
At an average to healthy level of health, ENFPs are filled with ideas, possibilities, and insights. They are anxious to stretch the boundaries of their world and discover meanings, connections, and relationships between things. They’re dreamers in every sense of the word; imagining and hypothesizing about what they could change in the world to make it better. They are always trying to think ahead and create change; to evolve past the expected and think beyond the everyday details of life. Deep within the ENFP’s heart is a personal set of ethics that they are constantly trying to sort out and understand. To live in harmony with one’s spirit and purpose is essential to this type. They long to live a life that they feel good about; a kind, compassionate, and authentic life.
The ENFP Function Stack:
Dominant Function: Extraverted Intuition (Ne)
Auxiliary Function: Introverted Feeling (Fi)
Tertiary Function: Extraverted Thinking (Te)
Inferior Function: Introverted Sensation (Si)
5th/Opposing Role: Introverted Intuition (Ni)
6th/Critical Parent: Extraverted Feeling (Fe)
7th/Trickster: Introverted Thinking (Ti)
8th/Demon: Extraverted Sensing (Se)
Some ENFP Weaknesses
ENFPs will naturally value their top three cognitive functions a great deal (Intuition, Feeling, and Thinking). They thrive when they can play with the world of extraverted intuition, and reason using introverted feeling and extraverted thinking. They are likely to see their inferior function, Introverted Sensation, as a bit out of reach. It’s natural for most types to dismiss their inferior function as impossible to master, trivial, or uninspiring. Thus, ENFPs may struggle to keep track of details, remember routines, or prioritize their physical well-being (all areas where Introverted Sensing thrives).
The 5th through 8th cognitive functions of the ENFP are also at risk of being dismissed or unconsciously used in negative ways. For example, Extraverted Feeling may be a way that ENFPs criticize or confront people (or themselves) unfairly or without patience.
If you don’t know what the cognitive functions are yet, that’s okay. You can keep reading and gather valuable information either way.
10 Ways That ENFPs Can Be Unhealthy
#1 – They Become Scattered
Unhealthy ENFPs become so fixated on their intuition that they ignore input from their other functions. They get stuck in a constant state of hypothesizing, ideating, and daydreaming. It seems impossible for them to focus their energy on actual productivity. Their brain is so busy creating multiple ideas and wandering down rabbit trails of possibilities that they can’t select just one thing to do. Thus they get stuck in an unproductive state of multiplying ideas without any particular clear direction. This can be extremely frustrating for the ENFP, because they realize they’re not actually accomplishing anything.
How to Cope: ENFPs need to take time to respect the introverted side of their personality as well as the extroverted side. When you feel scattered as an ENFP, it might mean it’s time to shut off the noise of the outside world and silence your own mind. Try going to your room, shutting the door, turning off the lights (and your phone) and just resting with yourself. Sit down and allow yourself to empty your mind for a few minutes (this may take some time if you haven’t done it for a while). Focus on deep breathing and relax your entire body as much as possible. Allow yourself to think about what matters to you; what is right or wrong or what you want your life to mean in the grand scheme of things. If that’s too complex, just quiet your mind and focus on relaxation. Drawing inward and sinking into your thoughts and feelings can allow you to become less scattered and stressed and get focused on one clear direction.
#2 – They Can’t Get Anything Done
This sign often correlates with the first sign we mentioned. Many times ENFPs who are in an unhealthy state can’t seem to accomplish anything. They are too distracted, and the moment they start investing their time into one project they begin to think of another, brighter opportunity. They leave dozens of half-finished projects in their wake and there is always something brighter and more interesting on the horizon.
How to Cope: As in the previous point, if you’re an ENFP who can’t finish things, it might mean that you’re too scattered. Write down what matters to you. Think about what you want to have accomplished at the end of your life. Try prioritizing your projects based on the values that stir your heart most and will ultimately give you the most satisfaction. Then choose to soldier on through the boredom of getting that project done. Allow yourself breaks here and there to stretch, listen to a song, jot down an idea, etc,. but then return and try to work your way through your prioritized tasks. If that seems to daunting, look at your timeline and give yourself little “bursts” of time to work on your project until the deadline arrives. These small packaged bits of time can seem less formidable than long blocks of time.
#3 – They Don’t Take Care of Themselves
ENFPs who are operating in an unhealthy space tend to dismiss their inferior function: Introverted Sensation (Si). Si is a function that helps someone to be conscious of inner-body sensations as well as past memories and details. ENFPs who dismiss this part of themselves become absent-minded and have trouble remembering to hydrate, eat proper meals, or get enough rest. In fact, they might see such things as trivial or boring. This can cause them to neglect their physical health and it usually shows up as weight problems, fatigue, constant colds/flus, etc.
How to Cope: ENFPs need to learn how important self-care is. They are more powerful when they respect their Introverted Sensing function and have a good balance in their life. They should try to set reminders on their devices to take breaks for water, nutrition, or rest. If you’re an ENFP, remind yourself that most of your ideas won’t come to fruition if you’re malnourished or sick!
#4 – They Lack Self-Control
Unhealthy ENFPs tend to have self-discipline problems. Almost everything seems more interesting and inviting than what they have to do. Just as soon as they start doing one thing, their brain is flooded with thoughts on something else that’s much more compelling. They have trouble staying committed to just one project or thought and they become unfocused, inattentive, and easily bored.
How to Cope: ENFPs need to find ways to keep themselves stimulated enough that they don’t get too distracted from their projects. But at the same time, it’s okay that they don’t work with the same style as Judgers do. Their unique style of operating means that they can work in non-traditional ways in many cases. Break a large task down into smaller sections so it doesn’t feel so daunting, or work on a project while being in a new location. Sometimes a change of scenery can make a dull project less dull. Sometimes breaking a 2 hour long task into four thirty-minute increments (with a reward at the end) will be more efficient then trying to barrel through the two hours right away.
#5 – They Struggle to Be Themselves
Authenticity is crucial for ENFPs; they prize it in themselves and others. But when ENFPs are unhealthy, they tend to wear different personas depending on who they are with. They may try to mold themselves into whatever they think the other person wants. They might even develop an inferiority complex and start thinking that no one will accept them for who they actually are. This lack of authenticity can be very damaging to their self-worth, sense of identity, and relationships.
How to Cope: ENFPs should take inventory of what they like about themselves and celebrate it instead of trying to be who they think others will like better. If you’re an ENFP, take time to understand and get to know yourself. Step outside of your current situation and look at yourself as if you were a young child. What would you want to tell that child? Who would you want him or her to be? What characteristics of him or her would you want them to hold onto? Sometimes when we see ourselves from a distance, we can get a new perspective on who we really are. If you’re an ENFP, you could write a letter to yourself as the child you once were and tell yourself all the things you love about him/her, including everything from favorite colors to talents! Go ahead and keep this letter in a safe place where you can reference it when you are struggling.
#6 – They Can Be Judgmental
ENFPs often have strong views about being themselves and sticking up for the misfits of the world. While they’re known for being open-minded, if they haven’t matured well, they can develop narrow judgments about people who don’t appear as they do. They may be quick to judge people based on differing viewpoints and be rebellious of anyone who resembles the “status quo.”
How to Cope: Take time to get to know people who are different from you (politically, spiritually, academically, etc,.) When we take time to really see someone else’s perspective, we usually can’t help but to have empathy for them and where they’re coming from. Doing this broadens your perspective and helps you to form better and clearer judgment about people.
#7 – They Don’t Take Care of Important Details
ENFPs are the quintessential “idea people.” And while their ability to generate possibilities is astounding, they can lose track of important details along the way. For example, paying the bills on time, returning phone calls and e-mails, or even remembering to eat lunch. Those who struggle in this area tend to be so wrapped up in their thoughts that they lose track of the necessities of day-to-day living.
How to Cope: Make remembering tasks as fun as you possibly can. Adding some structure can help! You can try using sticky notes, color-coded filing systems, or iPhone organizational apps to help remind you what you need to do each day. You can also ask for help when you need it – which means asking friends and family to remind you about important details.
#8 – They Fail to Apply Logic to Their Inspirations
ENFPs live to generate inspiration and possibilities. They want to help people and make a difference in the world – which often results in them pursuing their dreams with passion and vigor. When the intuitive and feeling sides are inflated, they can get so caught up in making passionate decisions about their lives that they fail to apply proper logic or discernment.
How to Cope: Don’t forget that you have a thinking side of your personality as well as a feeling side. This thinking side is typically effective in healthy ENFPs, but at unhealthy moments it can be ignored. Just remember that juicy ideas without discernment often become roadblocks or hazards on the journey of life. Consider ideas with your head as well as your heart – and don’t be afraid to ask for advice from types other than your own. Sometimes getting input from a variety of other types of people can help you to get wisdom from an angle that you never considered. But don’t restrain your imagination and passion too much; they’re two of your greatest gifts.
#9 – They Struggle to Say No
When ENFPs are unhealthy, they can get hooked on the feeling of pleasing people and lose sight of their own inner needs and values. They may feel guilty if they don’t help or show people a good time. This can lead them to overextend themselves and wind up feeling exhausted, resentful or drained. They may lose touch with who they really are in the process of being “the entertainer” or “the encourager.”
How to Cope: ENFPs who struggle with this might want to ask themselves if they’re truly helping people in the best way possible, or if it might be better for everyone involved if they take a step back. Some people take advantage of ENFPs and use them as a dumping ground for their emotional problems or for constant mood-lifting. If it isn’t a mutual give-and-take relationship and you’re feeling drained as an ENFP, then sometimes taking a break to reassess your needs and the relationship itself is a good idea.
#10 – They Constantly Clash with Other Types
It’s natural to have types you get along with more easily than others. But if you find yourself constantly clashing with one preference of people (Sensors, Introverts, Thinkers, etc,.) then it probably means you’re ignoring a certain side of yourself. ENFPs who frequently butt heads with Thinking types, for example, may find that they are feeling attacked by statements or directives that aren’t meant to be attacks at all. They may find thinkers harsh, selfish, or uncaring, when really, the thinking types just have a different communication style and a different way of showing they care. When we disregard a certain part of our personality, we tend to see demonstrations of that part as intimidating or “wrong.”
How to cope: When you’re feeling offended or irritated by certain types of personalities regularly, take a moment to step outside the situation. What is it exactly, without any personal bias, that’s offending you? What are the facts? Is there anything that these experiences can tell you about others or yourself? For example, if you constantly clash with Sensors, could it be that you’re ignoring the sensing side of your personality? Some relationships and people are just unhealthy and not worth spending your time on. But if you continually notice that you’re getting into fights and conflicts with people, there may also be some blind spots in your own life that you aren’t aware of.
Summing It Up:
There are many reasons and ways that each personality type can show up in an unhealthy way. If you recognize any of these struggles in your own life, don’t let it get you down! As I said in the beginning of this post, we all have moments where we’re unhealthy. But if we’re aware of the problem, then we can work on fixing it or making amends if necessary. None of us is perfect. For myself, I can already think of two times today I exhibited unhealthy type behavior! But if you notice it happening and can step out of yourself long enough to course-correct then you’re making a big improvement in your life!
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