The Personality Type That Struggles With Being Too Empathetic & What To Do About It
If you're not familiar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), it's essentially a personality system that groups everyone into one of 16 personality types. Of all 16 personalities, ENFJs are some of the most friendly and personable people you'll ever meet—but they can also struggle with being too personable and, specifically, too empathetic.
Why ENFJs can struggle with too much empathy.
ENFJ stands for extroverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging, and with just 2.5% of the population falling under this type, it's one of the rarest ones out of the 16 personalities. They're a very friendly and outgoing type, but they can also struggle when it comes to putting their own needs before others' needs.
As Michael Segovia, a senior consultant at The Myers-Briggs Company, previously explained to mbg, when ENFJs make decisions, they are truly concerned about their impact on other people. "This, however," he explains, "can lead them to spend so much time making accommodations to give people what they want that it can become exhausting for them, especially if they don't take care of themselves first."
The unfortunate reality is that sometimes people take advantage of those with too much empathy and not enough boundaries. When we empathize without boundaries, we're more likely to get caught up in one-sided relationships, make excuses for inexcusable behavior, and diminish our own needs—all at the expense of our own well-being.
While it's certainly not a bad thing that ENFJs want to help people, John Hackston, head of thought leadership at The Myers-Briggs Company, adds that sometimes it can be too much even for the people you're trying to help. "Sometimes ENFJs overstep people's boundaries without noticing," he notes.
What to do about it.
Sometimes people need to do things their own way, Hackston reminds. "Be aware of people's boundaries," he says. "Remember that you can't help everyone all the time."
And just as you can't always help everyone, it's important to remember to help yourself, too. When you feel in your gut that you don't want to do something, but your conscience is telling you to do it anyway to be of service, don't be afraid to be a little selfish.
As clinical psychologist Tracy Thomas, Ph.D., previously wrote for mbg, "When you direct partial attention toward yourself, you start to show up in all facets of your life as a partial version of yourself. Your loved ones will feel that, and your relationships will ultimately suffer." In other words, sometimes the best thing you can do to help others is take care of yourself.
Empathy is a beautiful thing, but too much of it can result in someone disconnecting from their own truth, ignoring what they really need, and even being taken advantage of.
If you're an ENFJ and this sounds all too familiar, it might be time to start setting firmer boundaries and protecting your energy that much more.