ENFJs, INFJs and Empathy Burnout

Have you ever discovered that one friend who seems to literally feel your hurts and pains as well as your joys and triumphs? While all people, even dominant thinking types, can empathize, ENFJs and INFJs have an especially uncanny ability to step into your shoes. To quote one of my favorite fictional INFJs, Atticus Finch, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

INFJs and ENFJs combine their intuitive and feeling sides to absorb the emotions of others. All feeling types are prone to some form of empathy burnout, but INFJs and ENFJs seem to struggle with this the most on a day-to-day basis. You can get a look at how INFPs and ISFPs experience empathy burnout in my article: INFPs, ISFPs and Empathic Mirroring.

ISFJs and ESFJs can also struggle with over empathizing, but because their feeling function is paired with sensing, they tend to have a more practical approach to how they sense emotions in others. They are very aware of how people feel, are touched by it, but then they try to find a practical solution to solving it. If someone seems upset they will quickly try to find a concrete way to help; fixing a meal, getting them out of the house, talking about it, asking if they need help with anything. The NF way of helping tends to be less practical and more insightful; they focus on really mentally immersing themselves in your character, your feelings, the what/when/why/and how of what you’re going through. They may not be the ones to bring you  a hot meal when you’re going through a hard time (although they certainly can do this) they are the ones who will absorb your feelings, sink into them, and then discover a way to help you that is insightful, therapeutic, and inspiring.

“Every song that I’ve written, it is because of my desire to use music as a way to empower and re-humanize people who are living in a dehumanizing setting. The song is in order to better the human condition.”Zach de la Rocha, ENFJ

ENFJs and INFJs don’t have to try to absorb your feelings, it’s as natural to them as breathing. Personality Hacker calls their feeling process “Harmonizing”, and say that these types “unconsciously absorb others’ emotions in real time.” Hundreds of times I’ve heard these two types talk about feeling the emotions of complete strangers when they’re in a crowded building. This is one of the reasons that harmony is so important to them. Where there is anger, sadness, stress, or irritation, these types will absorb it all like a sponge. They may not even know why they are suddenly feeling these strong emotions, only that they seem incapable of escaping them while they exist. Being able to let go of the emotions of others and compartmentalize is extremely difficult for a NFJs. Until the environment has returned to a state of harmony these two types will feel lost inside of whatever negative emotions are clouding the atmosphere.

This ability to empathize is a blessing and a curse for the NFJs. On one hand, it gives them a frighteningly accurate ability to understand why other people feel what they do. They will cry with you, get angry with you, feel afraid with you. The solidarity NFJs can provide is staggering. Their ability to combine feeling with intuition means that they can easily understand how your situation will unfold. If you have a desire to change your life or to reach a goal, the NFJ can help you determine what steps to take to get there. They are very driven and goal-oriented people who can easily asses a situation, see hundreds of underlying patterns and clues, and determine why you’re in the position you’re in and how to get out of it.

Another wonderful aspect of NFJs is that they believe in each person’s individuality. They are unlikely to prescribe a “one size fits all” solution to pain. They will listen to you and try to understand your needs, and tailor make a way to encourage you.

“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”
Carl Jung, INFJ

INFJs and ENFJs are renowned in the fields of psychology, counseling, and philosophy. In the MBTI® Manual, INFJs are listed as favoring the fields of religion, counseling, university teaching, and the arts “or any other occupations where they can facilitate emotional, intellectual, or spiritual development.” ENFJs are listed as favoring the fields of religion, arts, healthcare, and design “or any other occupations where they can help others with their emotional, intellectual, and spiritual growth.”

The INFJ - Understanding the Mystic eBook

The negative side to the feeling abilities of NFJs is that they can feel overwhelmed with the emotional input of others. Because they are in a constant state of “absorbing emotions” they can struggle with finding any internal peace if there is any external conflict at all. As an INFJ myself I know that I can’t sleep if someone in my household is upset. I’ll lay in bed feeling their pain and trying to imagine some way to resolve the situation and return my home to a place of harmony.  Reading the news can be especially difficult for NFJs, as they are so touched by the hardships of people worldwide and find themselves immersing themselves in what it would be like to undergo other people’s hardships.

Don’t get me wrong, introverted feelers are also very capable of empathizing and feeling the pain of others. However, where Fi (introverted feeling) sorts out and works to understand one’s own feelings, Fe (extraverted feeling) sorts out and works to understand feelings in the external environment. For this reason, NFJs have a very difficult time differentiating other people’s emotions from their own. They may take on other people’s pains and anguish until they break under the pressure.

“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
– Martin Luther King Jr., ENFJ

NFJ personalities tirelessly work towards harmony, sometimes to the point of exhaustion. When this happens, they may seem like they are putting everyone before themselves. The truth is, however, that in order for them to feel at peace, their environment has to be at peace. Their efforts, while partially selfless, are also for their own good. An NFJ can hardly relax, rest, or take care of themselves while they are absorbing any kind of negative mood in the atmosphere. All must be put to rest outside, before anything can be put to rest inside.

ENFJs, because of their extroversion, often have a better ability to handle the emotions of others for a longer period of time. Because extraverted feeling is their dominant function they are in their ‘zone’ when they are dealing with the emotions of others and managing them. INFJs tend to have a little bit harder of a time because extraverted feeling is their auxiliary function, and while they absorb emotions they have to keep their dominant function (Introverted Intuition) stifled. This is one of the reason that INFJs can only handle small portions of socializing before they feel the need to escape into solitude. When they are finally all alone they can delve into their favorite function, intuition, and let the emotions and stressors of everyone else slowly and gradually unlatch from their psyche.

What Can NFJs Do When They Reach Empathy Burnout?

Just like people can overeat to the point of sickness, NFJs can over-socialize to the point of empathy burnout. Alone time is very important, more so for the INFJ than the ENFJ; but important for both nonetheless. They need to be able to extricate themselves from outside emotions every day so that they can take care of themselves and their own emotions. ENFJs may need a short period of time, because when ENFJs are very stressed, they often find relief by talking about it with a calm and trusted friend. INFJs will need a longer period of solitude and quiet to let go of the emotions of others.

Another important thing for NFJs to do is to understand what emotions are their own, and what emotions are simply the influences of other people. They can do this by writing their emotions down (the favored method for an INFJ) or speaking with someone else about their emotions (the favored method for an ENFJ). Putting their feelings “out there” into the external environment effectively helps the NFJ to feed their emotions back to themselves through extraverted feeling. The NFJ, if they choose to write out their thoughts, should read their thoughts back after they write them so that they can channel them through Fe.

NFJs need to make time to access their other cognitive functions to avoid empathy burnout. NFJs can spend quiet time in thought to access introverted intuition. They can also take a quiet walk outside and look around at nature to access intuition and sensing. Getting a change of scenery, engaging in some light problem solving, relaxing in a hot bath or drinking a cup of tea can all give the NFJ a break from overusing their extraverted feeling. The main goal is for them to have a section of time each day to unplug from other people’s emotions and feelings.

The ENFJ and Stress

I hope that this article helps you to understand what’s happening when you experience emotional overload from other people! Do you have any suggestions or experiences you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Want to discover more about personality type? Get the inside scoop with Susan Storm on all things typological, along with special subscriber freebies, and discounts on new eBooks and courses! Join our newsletter today!

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
, , ,

Similar Posts


  1. I’m glad that I was able to discover ‘weirdos’ like me exist and that’s its super normal to feel and react as I do…
    Learning more about myself one day at a time, and it’s mind blowing.
    Thanks Susan.

    1. That explained why i wanted to try psychology degree despite holding an art one. Thank you! Reading this makes me feel better and realised about myself a little better. I’m a thorough INFJ, doing the personality tests every year while feeling i’ve changed a little but the results came out the same hahaha. This is the 2nd article that said that ‘my kind’ of personality have the ‘condition’ to be stressed out of nothing, just like how i’m feeling for the past few years, especially now. Looking at the situation around me, your words speaks true, alas there’s not much i can do to actually lessen their stress so that i can finally move on and deal with my inner stress…… Still, finding a voice like yours lift some of the weight off my back. I know i’m not an alien, just like how i told my friends to not belittle themselves, but it’s good to actually got my back patted for once.. Thank you so much Susan Storm. God Bless you and your beloved.

  2. Today In GB the man who became the English PM was elected, in my eyes, a racist, neo-nazi, right extremist. Like in November 2016 I feel literally ill today. In November 2016. it took me about 1 week to recover from this shock. The shock from “how is this possible?! After WWII, Ruanda, the Palestinian question etc. etc. again the right-winged extremist are on their way up.
    I am INFJ no question about that and also an empath. Yet, I do know other empaths who struggle with this much less then I do. I hardly can breathe and I am so overwhelmed by the, I am going to say it, the stupidity from fellow humans… Thinking right extremism is the answer to something that is only made up by racist people.
    Or am I the idiot, the fool who needs to get herself checked in in a mental hospital?

  3. I am an ENFJ in the UK so I know exactly where you are coming from. Please be assured you are not mad, neither are you alone in your feelings. I think the best thing that we can do, is be ourselves – challenging what we don’t agree with and speaking out openly about what we do believe. Also, if you can, surround yourself with with some other NFJs (or at least NFs). I find it helps to have people around who understand or sympathise with your mindset. Hope this is helpful to you.

    1. Any tips on when INFJ loses empathy and shuts down? I feel I have given so much for so long I’m empty and not very nice at the moment. And I hate this cold feeling.

  4. Thank you for this! It is extremely helpful! I had no idea this was even a part of my being an ENFJ, but it 100% is! I actually started looking into this because my past few days have been a TRIP. A good friend of mine, an INFJ, whom I speak to daily, if not constantly, and whom I am especially connected to (emotionally? Spiritually? Don’t know), well he suddenly dropped off the planet 3 days ago. Complete radio silence. No explanation, no nothing. Yet around the time he quit responding and went completely off-line, I began to feel completely overwhelmed with emotions that I couldn’t pin to anything in my immediate situation. It felt like I’d just gotten slammed with the worst thing possible, and I had no idea why. My poor husband (not an -NFJ, lol) couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me, and I couldn’t either except that it had something to do with this guy friend. My husband’s like, “Uhmmm you’re freaking out because you haven’t heard from him in 16 hours? Should I be worried..? About you? Or us??” LOL. I literally spent two days feeling like I was trying to recover from the worst day of my life, all the while not hearing from my friend AT ALL. I finally went to his house to make sure he was alive! He’s alive. He’s “had a rough few days.” NO KIDDING!!! I haven’t even asked what he’s processing – I know it’s bad. He’ll tell me when he’s worked through it in his own mind for awhile. But GEE WHIZ! I’m still hurting for him, but at least now I know I’m just empathizing and not, like, feeling the sudden loss of his soul because he DIED or something. Good gracious, I thought I was gonna die ???? Thanks for clearing this up for me a bit ????

  5. Thank you so much

    I’ve been processing so many emotions ever since the pandemic in 2020

    And up until now so many things are happening in the world.

    But i’m trying to control my emotions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *