To most people, the ENFJ personality type seems nearly perfect—besides being communicative and compassionate, ENFJs are also well-organized and goal-oriented.
Yet, even this personality type isn’t immune to becoming unhealthy. So, if you’re looking to find out what an unhealthy ENFJ looks like, you’re in the right place!
In this article, we’ll uncover the truth behind the unhealthy ENFJ personality, including:
- How do ENFJs Become Unhealthy?
- What Are the Signs of an Unhealthy ENFJ?
- 3 Tips to Improve Unhealthy ENFJ
How Do ENFJs Become Unhealthy?
Like all unhealthy personalities, ENFJs aren’t born this way. They become unhealthy, which means that, luckily, this state isn’t permanent. Even healthy ENFJs can, at times, show signs of unhealthiness. However, when ENFJs operate unhealthily for a long time, it becomes their constant state, and it isn’t always easy to get out of it.
Here are some of the reasons why ENFJs become unhealthy:
- Extreme stress. When stress becomes too intense to bear, ENFJs can slip into using their inferior function— introverted thinking (Ti)—or their shadow functions. Because of this, unhealthy behaviors are often regarded as the ENFJ shadow side.
- Feeling underappreciated. ENFJs are naturally giving people, but they can become rather upset when people don’t value or reciprocate their generosity. In such cases, they might start relying on their less-developed functions to protect themselves from pain.
- Fe-Se loop. A Fe-Se loop happens when ENFJs heavily use their extraverted functions— extraverted feeling (Fe) and extraverted sensing (Se)—and ignore their introverted ones. Although relying on their extraverted functions can bring ENFJs comfort, it also makes their personalities rather imbalanced.
Unhealthy INFJ vs. Healthy ENFJ
Given that ENFJ and INFJ cognitive functions are the same—except for their order—you may be wondering what the difference between unhealthy INFJs and unhealthy ENFJs is.
Simply put, unhealthy INFJs and ENFJs share many common traits, such as:
- Conflict avoidance
- Increased sensitivity
That said, due to their extraversion, unhealthy ENFJs are less likely to self-isolate compared to unhealthy INFJs. ENFJs’ unhealthiness is often more apparent, as they’re more open to people. At their worst, unhealthy ENFJs can have delusions of grandeur, believing that they’ll save humanity—something that most INFJs are too modest and introverted to fantasize about.
What Are the Signs of an Unhealthy ENFJ?
Without further ado, here are the most typical signs of unhealthy ENFJs:
If there’s one overarching theme of the unhealthy ENFJ personality, it’s codependency. By nature, ENFJs love taking care of people and catering to their needs, but unhealthy ENFJs take it to the extreme. Their urge to serve others often becomes self-destructive—they could do anything to make others happy, even if it hurts them.
Oftentimes, unhealthy ENFJs—consciously or subconsciously—will seek out people who they can “fix.” Needless to say, this leads to one-sided, highly unfulfilling relationships, especially when ENFJs feel that their efforts are going to waste.
#2. Overwhelming Sensitivity
Unhealthy ENFJs often experience heightened sensitivity. Due to Fe being the dominant ENFJ cognitive function, this often manifests as sensitivity to other people and their opinions.
In an unhealthy state, ENFJs tend to be overly preoccupied with other people’s opinions of them, especially negative ones. They can spend days ruminating on the same situation, trying to grasp why someone doesn’t like them or what their words meant. On top of that, they can become highly sensitive to criticism, even when it’s constructive and well-intended.
#3. Low Self-Esteem
Here’s a trick question: are ENFJs insecure? The answer is no, but unhealthy ENFJs do struggle with a lack of self-confidence and low self-worth. Even ENFJ-A personalities, who are known for self-reliance and high self-esteem, can succumb to insecurities when they become unhealthy.
At their worst, unhealthy ENFJs may become self-deprecating. They might emphasize their flaws and belittle themselves. This serves a two-fold purpose. On the one hand, they’re simply expressing their lack of belief in themselves. On the other hand, it helps them gain sympathy and validation from others, which they often deeply crave.
While they might not want to admit it, unhealthy ENFJs can be rather manipulative. Although empathy is one of the biggest strengths of the ENFJ personality type , they can exploit their ability to read people. In the most extreme cases, unhealthy ENFJs can become dark empaths, using people for their own gain.
Most commonly, unhealthy ENFJs will throw pity parties for themselves to guilt people into doing favors for them. However, this doesn’t mean that unhealthy ENFJs are evil—they simply want to control the situation and other people’s actions, as being in charge makes them feel safer.
Although ENFJs are known for their diplomacy and open-mindedness, unhealthy ENFJs tend to think they’re better than everyone else. Most commonly, they think they’re always right, which leads them to discount other people’s opinions and experiences.
While such arrogance from ENFJs may be difficult to understand, it all makes sense when you look at the ENFJ cognitive function stack. In short, unhealthy ENFJs rely on their opposing role function— introverted feeling (Fi)—which they don’t have good control of.
As a result, the ENFJ shadow often leads them to patronize others, especially when they perceive people’s actions as immoral. Instead of doing what they do best—understanding people—unhealthy ENFJs lecture and judge others, believing they know what’s best for them.
Selfless and tender-hearted, ENFJs spare no effort to make other people happy. They always seek compromises that leave all parties satisfied and go out of their way to make someone’s day.
However, when their efforts aren’t reciprocated or, even worse, go unnoticed, ENFJs can become rather bitter. They may hold grudges against others, believing they are no longer worthy of their time, care, and attention. Alternatively, they may isolate themselves to avoid being hurt.
The truth is, most personality types can’t anticipate other people’s needs as well as ENFJs do. Still, instead of voicing their wishes, unhealthy ENFJs expect others to read their minds, which ultimately leads to disappointment.
#7. Conflict Avoidance
Like all feeling personalities, ENFJs dislike conflict. However, unhealthy ENFJs are completely unable to face it. Believing that avoiding conflict at all costs can preserve peace, unhealthy ENFJs tend to adopt a fawn response as their go-to defense mechanism when things turn sour.
The result? They focus on making others happy instead of actually solving issues. Unhealthy ENFJs can break their principles and agree with anything just to run away from conflict. Needless to say, this can become a breeding ground for bigger problems, as some people can use their agreeableness to their advantage.
ENFJs are known as some of the most hard-working personalities. They often build successful careers, both in terms of finances and personal satisfaction. And while healthy and mature ENFJs can draw the line between their personal and professional lives, unhealthy ENFJs might use their work as a means to escape reality.
Unhealthy ENFJs may work overtime, spending weekends and holidays at their offices instead of cultivating personal relationships. They may think that achieving professional success and recognition will bring them happiness or boost their self-confidence. However, this is all an illusion, as such workaholism almost always results in burnout.
Unhealthy ENFJs often become their own worst critics. They relentlessly judge themselves for not living up to their expectations, most of which are simply unrealistic. Once they slip into negative thinking patterns, they become unforgiving towards themselves, belittling themselves for any mistake—no matter how small or insignificant.
Moreover, since extraverted intuition (Ne) is their critical parent function, unhealthy ENFJs tend to criticize themselves for being close-minded. They may judge themselves for not seeing multiple sides to a situation or, alternatively, for missing a connection between different events.
When they become unhealthy, ENFJs tend to struggle with making decisions. Typically, they strive for decisions that leave everyone happy, but their shadow often stops them from identifying the best option. They may become indecisive, either by avoiding making a decision or delegating it to someone else.
If they can’t avoid making a decision in this state, unhealthy ENFJs usually enter their demon— extraverted thinking (Te)—and thus become cold and calculated. They become dismissive of emotions and focus on empirical data and logic to arrive at a conclusion.
On the other hand, some unhealthy ENFJs become impulsive, choosing any option just to free themselves from the burden of having to decide on something.
#11. Obsession With Image
Given that ENFJs are Fe-dominant personalities, it’s natural for them to care about other people’s opinions. However, unhealthy ENFJs can become fixated on maintaining a perfect image in other people’s eyes.
They may only choose to surround themselves with beautiful, wealthy, and successful people. Moreover, they might buy fashionable clothes, the latest devices, and similar, even if it goes over their budget. While they do this to make a positive impression on people, being overly focused on objects and looks often makes them come across as vain and insecure.
Just like unhealthy INFJs, unhealthy ENFJs tend to abandon their own needs when helping others. Most of the time, it isn’t a conscious decision. Since Fe is the dominant ENFJ cognitive function, they’re much better at reading other people’s feelings and anticipating their needs than understanding their own. Still, healthy ENFJs can identify their needs—unlike unhealthy ones.
As a result, unhealthy ENFJs often can’t determine whether they’re emotionally, physically, and otherwise capable of helping others. Yet, they do it anyway, often to their own detriment. Ultimately, self-neglect leaves them feeling exhausted and dispirited.
#13. Emotional Detachment
Although ENFJs have high emotional intelligence, unhealthy ones are prone to emotional detachment. This is especially apparent when they reach their limits of helping others without getting anything in return. Since they try to avoid confrontation, they bottle up their feelings and emotionally shut down.
If they don’t learn to express their feelings effectively, emotional detachment can make ENFJs aggressive. Once they are no longer capable of holding their emotions inside, they can easily lash out at others, much to their own and other people’s surprise.
3 Personal Growth Tips for Unhealthy ENFJs
If you found the above-mentioned signs of unhealthy ENFJs relatable, don’t worry—there are ways you can become healthier and happier!
So, let’s take a closer look at the most effective personal development tips for unhealthy ENFJs: spending time alone, taking things less personally, and prioritizing your own needs.
#1. Spend Time Alone
If you’re like most ENFJs, you love spending time with people—and we can’t blame you! However, for unhealthy ENFJs, hanging out with others isn’t always a good option, as they tend to focus too much on other people.
For this reason, one of the best things you can do for yourself as an unhealthy ENFJ is to dedicate a part of your day—at least 30 minutes—to reconnecting with yourself. Ideally, you should use this time to identify your own needs and take care of them. If you don’t know where to start, consider journaling to crystallize your thoughts.
If you feel completely stuck, use this alone time to do more research. For example, consider reading about unhealthy ENFJs on Reddit or joining relevant Facebook groups to learn what worked for others.
#2. Do Not Take Things Too Personally
Unhealthy ENFJs are prone to taking things too close to their hearts due to their increased sensitivity. Because of this, one of the best ways to heal your ENFJ shadow is to analyze the situations in which you tend to take things too personally. After all, we typically feel insulted by something only when it rings true—even if we don’t want to admit it.
Not only can such analysis help you avoid feeling hurt by other people’s words and actions, but it can also help you identify parts of your personality that you should work on.
#3. Think of Your Own Needs
Spending time alone is a great way to learn to listen to your needs, but let’s be honest—if you forget yourself as soon as another person enters the picture, your efforts are in vain.
So, make it a point to prioritize your needs even when you’re around others. Before you offer help or agree to help someone else, check in with yourself: do you have the time and energy to help? More importantly, have you taken care of your needs before helping someone else?
As the old saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. So, make sure to prioritize your needs—this way, you’re doing a favor to everyone, including yourself!
And that’s everything you should know about unhealthy ENFJs!
The main takeaway is that, although being an unhealthy ENFJ is difficult—both for the ENFJ and the people around them—it isn’t something that can’t be changed. With enough effort, unhealthy ENFJs can heal their shadow parts, which only makes them more well-rounded!