ENFPs and the Art of Self-Destruction—Stupid Things ENFPs Do to Sabotage Themselves

Anyone who is or knows an ENFP personality type is aware of all the things that make them wonderful. They’re bold and adventurous, happy to share ideas and chase wild passions, and always up for meeting new people and learning new things. 

But for every wonderful trait that draws people to ENFPs, there’s a pitfall. ENFPs are notorious for getting in their own way and are often their own worst enemy. Here are just some of the ways ENFPs sabotage themselves, plus some tips for steering yourself back towards your true goals.  

Not Following Through

ENFP personality types are always chasing the next big thing. They love art, language, travel, food, and new relationships, and there are upsides and downsides to that. With an ENFP in your life, you’ll never be bored. But moving from passion to passion can come across as flighty to those with different ways of processing information.

While there’s nothing wrong with dropping a project if it no longer interests you, it’s a good idea for ENFPs to take a moment before they move onto the next exciting idea to see if maybe it’s worth it to follow through with this particular interest or hobby. Your passion and excitement for life is contagious and enviable, but you don’t want to leave a trail of uncompleted projects in your wake. If you pause for a moment before chasing your next interest, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by what happens when you see something through to the end.

Not Giving Yourself Time to Process

ENFP personality types are a specific kind of Extravert in that they need social interaction and engagement but can also become overwhelmed by all that their friends—and the world—have to offer. As an ENFP, it’s essential that you give yourself time to process the emotions, stories and discussions that you have gleaned from friends, family, and work, rather than internalize all of them.

Because ENFPs are such sensitive and emotional people, they tend to absorb all emotions, including everyone else's. They have a hard time compartmentalizing. Give yourself space to explore and truly feel after engagements or events. Otherwise, your head might explode. 

Always Believing That There’s Something Better (and Never Being Satisfied)

This goes along with finishing projects, but at a much larger scale. Perhaps one of the biggest ways in which ENFP personality types self-sabotage is rooted in their belief that something better is always out there. That might be a better job, a better home, city, or a better relationship.

While there’s something to be said for being aspirational and having goals and plans, it’s really important to find balance and learn to appreciate the things you do have. If you’re too quick to run out the door on a new partner or a job you just started, you might end up missing out on something really wonderful.

Take time to ask yourself what about this current experience isn’t working for you or providing enough excitement and stimulation. This will give you the opportunity to think more critically about why you want to go racing off and to see if there’s anything within your power to make your current circumstances fill that perceived sense of emptiness. The feeling of needing to run away will pass, but you may not get the opportunity to go back to your job or partner, so be very sure that it’s the right decision to leave.

Taking on Too Many Projects

For ENFPs, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to meet everyone, learn everything, and try all the new hobbies and experiences they want to try. Of course, this doesn’t stop them. ENFPs are notorious for taking on way too many projects at once and, even when they realize they’re in over their heads, trying to finish everything anyway.

It’s a good idea to be a little honest with yourself before you say yes to the next big creative project, dinner party or weekend trip. Will agreeing to something new mean you can’t put the appropriate amount of time and effort into your existing projects? Is there a current responsibility that you can remove from your docket before adding something else? 

When you have too much on your mind, work isn’t completed or isn’t completed correctly, and you end up worrying more than having a fun, interesting experience. Try to find balance between wanting to try everything, and actually managing a responsible workload.

Not Sticking to Plans

It’s one thing to not finish your own projects—though you might want to consider finding a way to see them through to the end—but sometimes an ENFP’s need to run off into the sunset means they leave other people high and dry.

Of course, there’s no malintent involved. You want to see what the next path holds. But in doing so, you can end up canceling or flaking out on people one too many times. This might mean you don’t get assigned the same amount of responsibility in work or that you frustrate friends and family. Strive to keep a good balance of doing the things that make you happy and also remembering that others have lives and responsibilities as well. They want to spend time with you and make it fit to their schedule. It’s important to afford them the same respect.

Getting Too Involved

ENFPs are natural empaths. They’re sensitive and emotional people and excellent at communicating. If you’re going through something and want someone to talk to, they’re a good friend to have.

However, they can sometimes struggle with walking away from other people’s emotions. They tend to internalize emotional experiences, which takes up real estate in their mind and can be overwhelming and frustrating. To that end, ENFPs might become unduly involved in personal matters because they feel a deep connection to you and your experiences and want to help.

Every situation is different, but it’s important for ENFPs to find a good way to help friends and use their easy access to emotions for good without taking on too much. You can care for someone and love them dearly, but you have emotions and feelings of your own and absorbing everything they’re going through isn’t helpful. Learn when to take a step back for their sake and your own.

Wanting to be Liked

It’s the curse of the Extravert, and ENFPs are no exception. They want people to like them because, by and large, they’re very likeable. They’re fun and interesting people who can engage in conversation naturally and put others at ease.

In this, like in many facets of an ENFP’s life, balance is very important. It’s not necessary to agree to favors and responsibilities for people just to get them to like you. Sometimes your bold and passionate nature can make you intimidating and overwhelming to more reserved personality types. You have a natural instinct when it comes to people, so use it to try to meet them on their terms. 

Some friends are great for a cup of coffee in a quiet cafe and others for unplanned road trips. Some want to go to parties and others are more into watching movies and ordering pizza. You like it all, and this is one great place where that can be useful. That said, not everyone is going to fall in love with you from the first meeting (most people will though, so don’t worry!) And that’s okay. You don’t need to bend over backwards to get everyone interested in what you have to offer. Your true friends will make themselves known.

Being Optimistic to the Point of Naivety

ENFP personality types are dreamers—and you should be proud of that. You have a sense of hope for what the world and the future might hold and you are often inspiring to those who struggle with a little too much reality.

That said, you’ll want to try to touch your feet down on the ground every once in a while. Not only will too much optimism lead to disappointment, but unless you have some grounding for your goals and dreams, you’ll have a very hard time creating concrete plans to actually get you there. Don’t ever give up on your dreams or your hopes but add in some reliable foundation and blueprints so you can realistically achieve them.

Being Independent for the Sake of Independence

ENFPs don’t always do super well with direction, whether that’s at home, work, or school. They’re fans of making their own rules and sometimes following the path of independence for no other reason than because they can. That’s great. It’s a special kind of skill to be comfortable and happy on your own and freedom is an admirable goal.

That said, you will, at points in your life, need to operate within the system. If you work for a company, you’ll have to follow their directions. If you’re in a partnership, there will be moments of compromise and discussion. It’s not reasonable to expect you can be completely without tether at all times, and so developing the skills to take direction, while still leaning into your passions and strengths, is important. 

Not only will you find that it makes your life easier but working for a great company or being with a supportive partner might not actually be as scary as it seems.

Final Words 

The things that make ENFP personality types so wonderful can sometimes cause them trouble. The trick is simply to find balance and grounding so that you don’t become so consumed with the next great thing that you lose sight of wonderful people and projects you already have. An ENFP with their head in the clouds and their feet on the ground can expect to live a happy, fulfilled, and exciting life. And that’s a dream worth following.


Ruby Scalera recently graduated Emerson College and has since reported on a wide variety of topics from the Equal Rights Amendment to the history of the romance novel. In her free time, she loves to travel, and spent several months living in a 14th-century castle in the Netherlands. She currently resides in Nashville.

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