I’ll be honest: an appreciation for health and wellness doesn’t come naturally to me. Like many people who type as an ENTP personality, I find physical self-maintenance to be one of the least intuitive aspects of my life. I derive little pleasure from the rituals required to brighten my skin, heal my gut, and dodge premature visits from the Grim Reaper. One would think that two decades of life on Earth would be enough to teach me that I am not just a brain in a jar. And yet, I am still routinely surprised to discover that I have organs and cells that need tending to.
That said, I recognize that I cannot responsibly spend the rest of my days hunched over a laptop neglecting the demands of biology. I owe it to myself, my loved ones, and those who have to smell me to take care of myself whether I like it or not. This is a fact of life that we ENTP personality types have to surrender to at some point. As much as we’d love to exist as Sherlockian vessels of data, the symbiotic relationship between our minds and bodies forbids it. It is one of the most important lessons we encounter in our development from youth to adulthood.
Learning My Lesson The Hard Way
I would know. After years of bizarre diet trends, DIY hair bleach disasters, and raccoon-like circadian rhythms, I had no choice but to learn to respect my body as the fragile, organic machine that it is. At the time, I was a college student who had been pushing myself too hard for too long. I had gotten so wrapped up in my new interests that I hadn’t even noticed myself slowly transforming into a half-bald, anemic shell of my former self. When I got busy, self-care was the first thing to go. It did not take long for every other realm of my life to begin suffering the consequences.
My turning point came when I met my now-fiancé, a textbook INFJ with an abundance of gentleness, mindfulness, and self-discipline. He meditated, maintained a consistent sleep schedule, cooked healthy meals for himself, and avoided illicit substances entirely. At 22 years old, this made him quite an anomaly. Still, I couldn’t help but see how his ability to prioritize his health over immediate gratification led to positive outcomes across the board. The benefits were evident in everything from his radiant skin to his seamless transitions into new workplaces. It was not long after being exposed to his lifestyle that I began reconsidering the obstacles I was placing in front of myself by not approaching self-care proactively.
This began a major perspective shift. I no longer saw personal health as an elective activity enjoyed solely by the Gwyneth Paltrows of the world -- it was now a prerequisite for growth. I needed to have adequate amounts of oxygen flowing through my brain in order to speak clearly, regulate my emotions, and contribute to the world in a productive way. Traditional appeals to my vanity or my spirituality, valid as they were, had done little to excite this impulse in the same way. But the prospect of constantly progressing as a person -- that was something I valued even on my most unenlightened days. Through consciously recognizing this connection, I learned to engage with health in a way that resonated with my personal style.
Fostering Growth Through Self-Compassion as an ENTP Personality
As simple as it may sound, this lesson is a genuine revelation for many ENTPs. Our inferior introverted sensing function means that getting in touch with our bodies can be a struggle. Fortunately, regardless of whether or not you have an INFJ handy to help, a transformation is achievable for you too.
The first step is to confront your tendencies honestly. Take stock of your relationship to the concept of wellness. Rather than approaching it from a critical angle, try to remain forgiving and realistic when considering where you’re at right now. It is important to spend time considering the role your personality plays in your current habits in order to develop workarounds that best suit you.
If you are not exhibiting behaviors that are consistent with your health goals, ask yourself why. Does the lack of room for low-stakes experimentation fail to engage your curiosity? Do you idealistically assume that you can get by without it? Are you simply too mentally engaged in other things to notice your physical needs in the first place? No need to feel ashamed -- these are all qualities that, in other situations, are wonderful aspects of our personality.
As an ENTP personality, you see the potential in every situation. You breeze through setbacks in pursuit of progress. You have a seemingly infinite capacity for learning and growth. This optimism, efficiency, and curiosity is what drives you to continue improving yourself and the world around you. However, if not wielded mindfully, they can also contribute to your self-destruction. This is why it is essential to reflect before forging ahead.
This brings me to the next step. Remember, ENTP personality friends: trying to fulfill your ultimate potential when it’s not necessary can be self-defeating. Let’s say you wanted to find a way to maintain your heart health. You could start forcing yourself to run 15 miles a day and yield quick results. However, this does little to take your intrinsic motivations and lifestyle into account. What happens if you get bored of running, or injure your knees and have to quit? Would you feel defeated even if you had successfully improved your heart health? A gentler solution might be to focus on developing a heart-healthy routine that can sustain momentum with you, whatever that may be. When we focus too much on big-picture possibilities and too little on what is reasonable to expect of ourselves on a day-to-day basis, it can be easy to lose sight of the benefits we were pursuing when we started.
Part of this challenge lies in the fact that modern health and wellness culture is not always well-suited to ENTPs. As skeptical, data-oriented people, we are rarely receptive to vague claims or contradicting sources. Rather than trying to fit your logistical peg into this magical hole, try reframing self-care in the context of your existing priorities.
If your mental health means a lot to you, get into outdoor exercise classes for some community and sunshine. If you care a lot about reducing your environmental impact, develop a regimen that involves plastic-free products and sustainably-sourced food. You don’t have to be motivated solely by physical health to implement healthy changes. You can use it as a way to facilitate your thirst for knowledge, efficiency, and evolution in all realms of life.
The fact of the matter is that there are very few shortcuts when it comes to maintaining our physical and mental well-being. As much as we take pride in finding outside-of-the-box solutions, health is one matter in which abandoning consensus rarely ends up being a wise choice. Our safety, responsibilities, and relationships depend on us not becoming a mad scientist trope. No amount of experimentation is worth putting our wellness (and thus, our ability to perform optimally) at risk. This is why we have to seek out novelty in ways that support, rather than distract from, self-care. Thankfully, our talent for creative problem-solving lends itself to just that.