Motivated by idealism and a belief in human potential, ENFJ personality types set high standards for themselves and for the people they love. They see opportunities for self-development and self-improvement everywhere, and they are enthusiastic when encouraging others to strive for greatness. This makes them excellent teachers and wonderful friends.

But there can be a downside to the ENFJ’s concern with human empowerment. At times, they may raise the bar too high, for themselves and others, and then feel let down when their high expectations are not met. They may try a bit too hard to control everything. They may worry a lot, about their own future and that of their loved ones. And it can be exhausting.

If you’re an ENFJ who worries too much, or gets frustrated by what you can´t control, read on!  Some honest self-reflection, a few subtle shifts in attitude, and consistent practice of anti-stress techniques can put you back in charge of your emotions.

Shifting your comfort zone to find more comfort

When it comes to daily routines, ENFJs prefer a strict schedule. They become stressed if forced to deviate from that schedule to any significant degree, worrying that important things won’t get done.

However, ENFJs tend to have the opposite problem with long-term planning. They often jump in feet first on exciting new projects, without taking the time to make detailed plans first. When this happens they soon become overwhelmed, dealing with the stress and worry until they finally put the project on hold or abandon it all together.

If you struggle with either or both of these issues, the good news is that you have the power to change by altering the dynamics of the situation.

For example, you can make a conscious effort to vary your daily routines. Do things at different times than you’ve done them before, or change the day on which you do them. Also, give yourself permission to change your plans on the fly, in response to sudden developments. No two weeks should be exactly alike, as you alter your patterns of behavior to eliminate their compulsive aspects.

For long-term projects, you need to start giving them the full attention they deserve. Curb your enthusiasm, and don’t make a move until you’ve completed an extensive preliminary period of research, consultation, and detailed planning. Try to consider every possible contingency, and speak to others about their experiences to gain even more insight into any complications that might arise.

This may represent an entirely new approach for you, and it might prevent you from moving as quickly as you’d prefer. But it will make it much easier for you to complete your project without being burdened by constant stress and worry.

Managing the notorious ENFJ perfectionism

ENFJs are so determined to get it right, they often develop strong perfectionist tendencies in their pursuit of excellence. Perfectionism is a primary cause of your worrying habit. 

To get a better handle on your perfectionism, you should set aside an hour or two to reflect. Without self-judgment and as objectively as you can, make a list of all the ways your perfectionist tendencies impact your life on a daily basis, for good or for ill -- in relationships, career, hobbies, organizational habits, recreational activities, and any other area.

When it pushes you to strive for excellence, or keeps you working on self-improvement, or refuses to let you accept mediocre results, your perfectionism can be an asset.  But when it leads to obsessiveness or creates tension with loved ones, your perfectionism is no longer your ally. In these instances, it is more like an alien force that has temporarily taken over your life.

Ultimately, your stress point should be your quitting point. When your perfectionist tendencies leave you feeling absorbed in the moment, gaining great satisfaction from your activities or achievements, it is fulfilling a constructive role. But when it leaves you worrying that you’re not good enough, and you can feel the frustration starting to build, that’s when you should step back and walk away, at least for a few moments.

Self-awareness is inherently self-empowering. When you understand what you’re feeling and why, you won’t have to give in to your perfectionism anymore. Eventually its impact will lessen, and at least some of the tension and worry it used to cause will fade away.

Don’t let your imagination get the best of you

ENFJs who worry too much are experts at imagining worst-case scenarios. Small setbacks are seen as evidence that the worst is indeed about to happen, and this causes anxiety that is well out of proportion to the actual situation.

Life is inherently unpredictable, it’s true. But once you’ve taken every reasonable step you can think of to avoid a bad result, at that point it’s more logical to be optimistic than pessimistic. By taking precautions you’ve increased the odds of a favorable outcome, and that is the most empowering step you can take in any situation.

If you reflect on your life and your personal history, you’ll likely realize two things. First, that so-called “worst-case” scenarios seldom actually happen, especially when you plan for them ahead of time. And second, many “worst-case” scenarios really aren’t all that bad.

If you’ve developed the habit of dwelling too much on the negative, you likely feel worse than you should about the occasional missed appointment, low grade, dispute with a partner, or criticism from an employer. If the impact of a bad moment or event is only temporary, it shouldn’t be seen as something tragic, and you shouldn’t tie yourself in knots worrying about the recurrence of such incidents in the future.   

What you need, in other words, is a more balanced perspective. You should neither fear nor anticipate failure or disaster. Teach yourself to expect the best, and if it doesn’t come be prepared to react to it at that time. Living-in-the-moment strategies are an excellent antidote to worry.  

Live and let live, it’s good for you

Empathic ENFJs spend many hours thinking about their loved ones, and devising strategies to help them grow and develop. This is not based on a desire to control them. But your capacity to perceive a future filled with unlimited possibility can sometimes make you a bit overeager. 

On occasion, your advice can cross the line into a desire to control your loved ones’ choices, and consequently you feel frustrated when they refuse to listen. Remember, others are free to make their own mistakes. It is their life to live.

And that’s a good thing. Rather than being frustrated or worried by your inability to shape or control the choices of others, you should view your limited influence as a blessing in disguise. A totally controllable world would be a totally predictable world. It could never surprise you, and without the possibility of being surprised your personal horizons would never expand, and your potential for growth would be severely limited.

ENFJs have a strong protective instinct, backed by intuition and compassion.  But sometimes you have to temper that instinct with trust, and have faith that others will make the right decisions about how to live their lives. 

Giving up your need for control may not be easy. But your worry will gradually give way to delight, as you take great pleasure from watching your loved ones blossom on their own.

Talking it out, ENFJ style

Like anyone else, when you’re feeling stressed or worried you can benefit by receiving feedback from people you trust. Those who know you will understand your tendency to worry, and they will have a better idea than most of what to say to help you calm down.

As an ENFJ you have an inherent need to talk through your problems and concerns. Discussing them with friends or family members in a non-judgmental environment will help you feel better in most instances.

If you make a habit of discussing your worries with loved ones, you’ll eventually learn to anticipate what they might say, and that alone may be enough to reduce or eliminate your fears. When you reach this stage, it means you’ve been absorbing what you’ve heard and are starting to change your perspective all on your own.

Meditating the worry away

You’ve probably already tried meditation, or taken a few yoga classes, or sampled some other forms of relaxation therapy. Many ENFJs do, either in response to stress or because it appeals to their creative side.

But for every 10 people who try these activities, only one or two will actually stick with them over time, and perhaps you haven’t been one of those. You may have lost your patience when you didn’t notice results immediately, or lost interest when the novelty wore off. In response to your ‘judging’ tendencies, you may have become skeptical that such practices really work.

In fact they can and do work, and can be extremely helpful for people who worry too much or have difficulty controlling their anxiety.

Whichever method of stress control you choose, you’ll need to make it a daily habit. You shouldn’t expect results right away, and should instead see your practice as an investment in a healthier and happier future. This will put you in a good frame of mind right from the beginning, and when you do notice results in a few weeks you’ll be delighted and surprised and even more motivated to keep on going.

Who needs worry? Definitely not you

Worrying is a natural human response, since things can and will go wrong. But worry is passive, and as such it has nothing to do with problem-solving or self-improvement.

If you gave up worrying forever, it wouldn’t change your ability to respond to a real crisis, or to be there to help others in their hour of need. Worry applies to things that haven’t actually happened, and that makes it an unhelpful response to a non-existent circumstance.

You can let go of worry and be just fine, once you realize it isn’t helping you or anyone else. Worry reflects excessive concern over what you can’t control—and since you can’t control it, why worry?

Nathan Falde
Nathan Falde has been working as a freelance writer for the past six years. His ghostwritten work and bylined articles have appeared in numerous online outlets, and in 2014-2015 he acted as co-creator for a series of eBooks on the personality types. An INFJ and a native of Wisconsin, Nathan currently lives in Bogota, Colombia with his wife Martha and their son Nicholas.