Every type has its own set of unique strengths and weaknesses. While we are aware of our individual differences, it’s easy to make assumptions across the board regarding particular groups and how they operate. This becomes too apparent when we look into the types that have an "F" in their four-letter combination. Here, the assumption is that they’re going to be overtly emotional and not as logical. There’s another way to say this, and that’s to assume that people with a strong Feeling preference don't struggle emotionally. Isn’t it strange that we never phrase it this way?
Of course, if you are a Feeler, you know that's far from the truth. We all have unique strengths, but we also have unique struggles. No type deals with their emotions the same way. And while it can be easy to dismiss a Feeling type who might have issues navigating their emotions, it shouldn't be.
So, what kinds of struggles do Feeling types deal with, and how can you help?
ENFP: Expected to always be positive
ENFPs are often viewed as one of the more optimistic and fun-loving types. On a surface level, ENFPs usually have a knack for keeping spirits up and staying positive. They’re great at generating tons of possibilities and rarely allow themselves to remain in a rut for long! However, because they prefer to dissect their feelings in private, others may never see that an ENFP is having unpleasant emotions. ENFPs often feel they have to put on a smiling face, even if it's not what they're truly feeling.
How to help: Helping ENFPs in this area means making them feel safe enough to express negative emotions. ENFPs will go out of their way to help others who need a pick-me-up, but they don’t always get the same in return. So, let them know that they don't always have to be positive with you. Your ENFP may not suddenly unpack their emotional baggage in front of you, but they won't feel like they have to pretend to be experiencing something they aren't.
INFP: Believes their emotions aren't taken seriously
INFPs are profoundly introspective and emotionally driven. They take a significant amount of time to sort through their feelings and share them with others they trust. Emotions do not intimidate INFPs; they embrace them! Yet, they often feel they aren't taken seriously by others, especially those who lead with a more logical, Thinking preference. This can make them doubt themselves or believe their emotional strength is weakness.
How to help: To help an INFP is to genuinely listen to them when they discuss their emotions. Give them space to talk about what they need and want rather than expecting them to continually listen to everyone else. Recognize how much time and effort it has taken them to express these emotions out loud, and affirm their emotional strength is a gift rather than dismissing it.
ENFJ: Neglects their own emotional well-being for others
An ENFJ is often looked to as someone who nurtures and affirms—they provide reassuring leadership. They will often step into this role themselves but can also be inadvertently pushed into it by others. Where they struggle is the belief that they should always be vulnerable and open to others. ENFJs believe they should be readily available to help, yet they tend to neglect their own emotions in the process.
How to help: You can help an ENFJ by encouraging them to take time for their own needs and self-care rather than burning themselves out. Remind them they can only help others if they help themselves first.
INFJ: Feels their emotions will be misunderstood or unrelatable
INFJs definitely have a strong emotional experience and are greatly in touch with the emotions of others. They struggle because they believe their feelings won't be understood—either because they will be misinterpreted, or because they just aren't relatable. This gives people the impression INFJs are closed off when the reality is they just don't feel accepted.
How to help: Helping INFJs means encouraging them to open up and then listen without judgment. If they don't want to discuss something out loud, encourage them to write down what's going on in their heads. Be very clear that you want to hear something from the INFJ’s point of view. Even if you can't fully relate, putting in the effort to understand goes a long way.
ESFP: Afraid others view them as emotionally shallow
ESFPs are often written off as shallow and uninterested in going deep with their feelings. They tend to move quickly and can be impulsive at times, and their emotional expression can be viewed as dramatic. Some people don't take them very seriously or believe they have a healthy expression of emotion—which isn't true. ESFPs feel things passionately and intensely, and are often the ones fighting for a cause or something they believe strongly about. They may not dwell on their emotions as long as other Feeling types, however, and that’s why they’re misunderstood.
How to help: If you want to help an ESFP in this area, engage with them on deeper subjects. Ask what things they are passionate about and then actually listen. Let them know you see beyond a surface-level impression. Don't be dismissive if their emotions show up in dramatic ways.
ISFP: Feels looked over because they don't express their emotions directly
ISFPs are in touch with emotions, though some might not recognize it at first. ISFPs may not want to share their thoughts and emotions in a typical fashion, because their thoughts may not come out the way they want. ISFPs often channel their feelings into a creative outlet where others may admire the creation, but don't always connect the emotional inspiration. This can leave ISFPs feeling isolated or misunderstood.
How to help: Ask about the things they’re creating and where the inspiration comes from. Allow them to open up about their emotions without feeling too pressured! These types love making connections with other people and want to share how they feel, but they need someone to honestly want to engage with them.
ESFJ: Has a hard time knowing what they personally feel
ESFJs care for so many people and make sure that everyone’s needs are met. The struggle they run into is not feeling they can care for themselves until they have helped everyone else. In fact, they work so hard to make others feel at ease that they can lose sight of what they actually think or feel.
How to help: You can help ESFJs by asking them specifically what they want before anything else. Tell ESFJs that their feelings matter, even if they don't fall entirely in line with everyone else's. They are allowed to have their own feelings that will be cherished as much as the rest of the group's.
ISFJ: Has a hard time processing emotions out loud
ISFJs can be written off as one of the least emotional feeling types, but it's far from the truth. These types process their emotions best when they can do so out loud or tangibly. Yet, their fear of letting others in means they often hesitate to do so. It gives the impression that they don't feel much or are stand-offish. But in reality, they are just having a hard time trusting others with their emotions.
How to help: The best way to help an ISFJ is by asking them how they best express their emotions. You may find that they’re doing things that convey how they feel, but you’re just not picking up on the signals. Ask them to communicate their feelings out loud, and give them a safe space to do so. Let them know this will only strengthen the connections you have. They want that as much as you do!