Within my circle of friends, Myers Briggs is like a second language we all speak, or a cult following as robust as that of Star Wars, Rocky Horror Picture Show, or Justin Bieber.
At any group gathering, it’s never a surprise when the conversation turns towards personality types. This week, I got to hang out with four of my close friends, three of whom are ENFPs. (It’s a good thing ENFPs are so likable, and that I sincerely love these three in particular. Otherwise their ubiquitous presence in my social circle and greater community would really drive me crazy.) We were chatting and laughing, sharing stories that explained our respective F-envy and T-envy. If you don’t speak Myers Briggs, those with the Feeling preference tend to make decisions based on subjective values, individual circumstances, and the effect they will have on other people; while those with the Thinking preference tend to make decisions based on objective logic and reason, or what they believe to be ‘fair.’
If memory serves, a greater percentage of women are Feelers than Thinkers, and this seems to hold true for my community. Sometimes I am proud to be in the minority as a female T, ISTJ to be specific, and other times I worry that I am unwittingly trampling the emotional needs of those around me with my natural reflex of telling it like it is. So it’s always funny to me when my friends who are Feelers express their envy of a Thinker’s ability to be direct, or their perception that T’s have no qualms about saying “no.”
This must be a case where the grass appears greener on the other side – which is true of most circumstances where you are comparing yourself to another person. It’s true that I have no qualms about saying no to someone asking for special treatment without just cause, that I am rarely swayed by emotions in my decision-making… but that hardly seems desirable. In fact, I have a tendency to distrust my own emotions in decision-making, which is hardly healthy or helpful.
The flip side of T-envy is F-envy, and the fact that I, as a Thinker, would sometimes rather be a Feeler. They always seem to know when someone is having a crappy day, and are able to empathize rather than attempt to fix. And they are so good at being excited with you about the good things that come your way. I think my ENFP friends have shown more enthusiasm than I have at most of the major milestones in my life.
I think the key, whether you are a Thinker or a Feeler, is defining yourself in terms of what you BRING, rather than what you LACK. I’ve noticed that lately I get really defensive anytime I am reminded of my shortcomings, not because I can’t acknowledge them, but because I am tired of dwelling on them. I’d rather not hear that I am not good at responding to change; I’d prefer to remember that I provide much needed stability and faithfulness to my friends and my coworkers. I’d rather not dwell on the fact that I can’t always empathize with the emotions of others; I’d prefer to rest in the knowledge that I’m a good listener, able to hear another person’s thoughts and feelings objectively, and not project my own emotions, reactions, and experiences onto them.
What is something you consistently feel you lack? There’s typically something on the other side of our deficiencies, something equally true about us, and that we can wear proudly out into the world, rather than wishing we were more _____, less _____. What would it be like to not let our deficiencies define us? Better, probably.