Have you ever met someone who came off as hostile, manipulative, controlling, hypercritical, or judgmental? If so, you might’ve encountered an unhealthy ESTJ.
At their best, people with the ESTJ (Executive) personality type are reliable, hard-working, loyal, and responsible. However, when they become unhealthy, their weaknesses get the best of them, overshadowing their positive qualities.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you should know about the unhealthy ESTJ personality, including how to recognize it in yourself and others.
- Unlike healthy Executives, unhealthy ESTJs don’t care much about other people’s feelings. They also avoid change at all costs and criticize others instead of empowering them.
- ESTJs can become unhealthy due to unmanaged chronic stress or unhealthy upbringing.
- Some signs of unhealthy ESTJs include hypercompetitiveness, lack of accountability, insensitivity, and hostility toward others.
- Unhealthy ESTJs can heal by prioritizing self-care and relaxation, talking to their loved ones, and making time for introspection.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy ESTJs
To better understand how being unhealthy affects Executives and those around them, let’s first compare healthy vs. unhealthy ESTJs.
Generally speaking, healthy ESTJs are practical, conscientious, and organized individuals who possess a strong sense of responsibility. Decisive and efficient, they shine in leadership positions and excel at empowering people.
Moreover, healthy ESTJs tend to:
- Value objectivity and make decisions based on logic without disregarding feelings, be they their own or those of others
- Hold people—including themselves—to high standards without setting unrealistic expectations, as they are rational and down-to-earth
- Embrace change when necessary, even though they seek structure and stability in their lives
- Successfully maintain a healthy work-life balance due to their ability to relax and disconnect from work
All of these personality traits and behaviors are a result of well-developed and balanced cognitive functions.
Meanwhile, unhealthy ESTJs become so caught up in one or two of their cognitive functions that it wreaks havoc on their daily lives. They lose the positive traits associated with their personality type and become bossy, stubborn, judgmental, and confrontational.
Unlike healthy Executives, unhealthy ESTJs tend to:
- Ignore their emotions and show little to no regard for other people’s feelings, which can lead to strained relationships
- Struggle to relax and do everything within their power to avoid change, even when it’s necessary
- Diminish other people’s abilities and criticize them mercilessly, which is why they often come off as cold, domineering, and even cruel
- Become rigid and look for flaws in everyone, especially those who think or act differently than they do
How ESTJs Become Unhealthy
Most commonly, ESTJs become unhealthy due to being brought up in an unhealthy environment and/or experiencing extreme stress.
More specifically, untreated chronic stress and unresolved childhood trauma stemming from an unhealthy upbringing can lead ESTJs to:
- Unbalanced dominant function. An unhealthy upbringing, such as growing up with unpredictable or emotionally unavailable parents, can stunt the growth and development of ESTJs. This can cause them to rely on their dominant extraverted thinking (Te) to the point where they no longer access other functions. Unhealthy Te can lead to repressed emotions, aggression, a lack of compassion for others, hypercompetitiveness, and other similar behaviors.
- Unhealthy reliance on the auxiliary function. Sometimes, unhealthy ESTJs will get entangled in their auxiliary introverted sensing (Si). As a result, they will resist anything that pushes them outside of their comfort zones. They may fear change and novelty, dismiss opinions that differ from their own, and go to great lengths to preserve traditions.
- Inferior function “grip.” When left unmanaged, chronic stress can lead ESTJs to an “Fi grip.” This causes them to rely too heavily on their inferior introverted feeling (Fi) function. Due to this imbalance in their cognitive function stacks, ESTJs in the “Fi grip” stress phase act out of character. They take things personally, become isolated, and suffer from hypersensitivity.
- Te-Ne loop. A Te-Ne loop happens when ESTJs only access their extraverted functions—dominant extraverted thinking (Te) and tertiary extraverted intuition (Ne). Because of this, they may struggle to see the big picture, leading them to act on a whim. Alternatively, they may catastrophize and become overly preoccupied with risk management—even when there’s no actual threat.
9 Signs of Unhealthy ESTJs
Now that you know how unhealthy Executives differ from their healthy counterparts and why, here are 10 signs of an unhealthy ESTJ you should look out for in yourself and others:
#1. Frequent Displays of Anger and Hostility
Unhealthy ESTJs tend to repress their emotions, which, paradoxically,causes them to lose control of their reactions. As such, it’s not uncommon for them to express their feelings in very destructive ways.
While it’s no secret that Executives aren’t the most patient personality types, they become even more impatient when they’re unhealthy, leading them to get frustrated very easily. Rather than addressing this in a healthy way, however, they’ll often lose their temper and fly into a rage.
Needless to say, this can take a serious toll on their professional and personal relationships. Those on the receiving end of their anger may interpret their behavior as a lack of respect, tact, empathy, and self-control.
#2. Lack of Accountability
While healthy Executives possess a deep sense of responsibility and thus have no problem owning up to their mistakes, unhealthy ESTJs show a sheer lack of accountability.
Although they tend to point out other people’s mistakes and expect them to admit their faults, they never take the blame for what they’ve done wrong. If anything, they may perceive your attempt at holding them accountable as proof that everyone’s out to get them.
Unhealthy ESTJs tend to hurt others with their harsh words, but they don’t see this as a problem. As such, they’d rather burn bridges with people than apologize for their behavior.
People with the ESTJ personality type have a relentless drive to succeed, but unhealthy ESTJs take it to the extreme.
While healthy competition can be motivating, hypercompetitiveness can cause Executives to place too much importance on achieving success and outperforming others. As a result, it can strain their relationships, especially in the workplace.
Although unhealthy ESTJs may seem very confident, make no mistake—their extreme drive to compete stems from a deep-rooted desire for external validation. Even though hypercompetitive Executives long to be praised and admired, they risk ruining their reputation due to their eagerness to win at any cost—even at the expense of others.
#4. Controlling Behavior
Unhealthy ESTJs are no strangers to control issues. While healthy Executives lead by example, those who are unhealthy tend to control people through fear and intimidation. Believing that they’re the only ones who can get things done correctly, they often struggle with delegation and micromanagement.
Overbearing and domineering, unhealthy Executives seek to exert control over others as much as they can. Not only do they watch over each step other people take, but they also tend to make decisions for them.
While they may think they’re helping others perform better or live “the right way,” ultimately, this only breeds resentment and makes others feel suffocated, exhausted, and undervalued.
#5. Unrealistic Expectations
While it’s in ESTJs’ nature to have high expectations for themselves and others, unhealthy Executives set sky-high expectations. In doing so, they set people—including themselves—up for failure rather than success.
Being extremely demanding, unhealthy ESTJs are incredibly hard to please. Not only can this cause them to feel inadequate, but it can also put other people through immense stress. This makes it even harder to live up to their expectations.
At worst, unhealthy Executives may have double standards, expecting others to do more than they expect of themselves. Because of this, they may come across as hypocritical and unfair.
Manipulation is one of the worst traits of unhealthy ESTJs. Although healthy Executives tend to see manipulation as immoral, unhealthy ones often go against their values due to their suppressed inferior Fi. In an attempt to gain power and control over others, they don’t hesitate to use manipulative techniques to get what they want.
While healthy Executives care deeply about others—even if they may not talk about it out loud—those who are unhealthy have little regard for anyone but themselves. As such, they see nothing wrong with exploiting others for personal gain or coercing them into doing favors for them.
#7. Judgmental Attitude
Unhealthy ESTJs—especially those who rely too heavily on their auxiliary Si—can be very closed off to change and novelty. Because of this, they tend to come off as rather judgmental.
Although Executives are typically very objective, their unhealthiness often manifests as an inability to consider different viewpoints. Simply put, they expect everyone to hold the same opinions as they do.
Due to their unhealthy reliance on Si, they filter everything through their subjective experience and meet anything that doesn’t align with it with skepticism. This, coupled with their tendency to jump to conclusions, can make them come off as close-minded.
#8. Lack of Sensitivity
ESTJs aren’t exactly the embodiment of empathy, but it’s undeniable that they care deeply about the people in their lives. However, unhealthy Executives become blind to other people’s feelings and can be unnecessarily harsh and critical.
Since Fi is their inferior function, they may only value their own feelings or dismiss emotions altogether, both those of others and their own. As harmful as this is, they are rarely concerned about their lack of concern for other people. If anything, they think that it’s on them to toughen up.
#9. Victim Mentality
Victim mentality is another struggle many unhealthy ESTJ men and women face. More often than not, it occurs as a result of a “Fi grip,” which causes Executives to become uncharacteristically emotional and withdrawn.
Those who develop a victim mentality may feel guilty for their past mistakes and wallow in regret. Alternatively, they may feel like they’re doing so much for others, yet no one appreciates their efforts. In any case, unhealthy ESTJs will often struggle with self-pity, even though this isn’t typical of them.
Moreover, some unhealthy Executives will play the victim to guilt people into doing what they want. As such, their victim mentality often goes hand in hand with manipulation.
3 Best Tips to Heal and Become a Healthier ESTJ
If you found out you’re an ESTJ after taking a personality test and found this article relatable, chances are you may have some unhealthy traits.
The good news is that you can become a healthier ESTJ by making time for self-care and relaxation, embracing solitude, and having heart-to-heart conversations with close friends or family members.
#1. Prioritize Self-Care & Relaxation
Unhealthy ESTJs tend to get wrapped up in a never-ending pursuit of power and success. Because of this, it’s vital to learn to wind down and take things easy.
Rather than pushing yourself to compete with others or stay on top of your game at work, allow yourself to relax and invest more time in self-care. Not only can this give you peace of mind, but it can also increase your productivity!
#2. Embrace Solitude
The thought of spending time alone can seem daunting for extroverts, but it can be extremely beneficial. After all, introspection is key to personal growth, but it’s difficult to find time for self-reflection if you’re constantly surrounding yourself with other people.
So, if you notice yourself developing unhealthy traits, don’t hesitate to spend some time alone and take time to figure out why this is happening and how you can best help yourself. Just refrain from spending too much time by yourself, as this could lead to isolation.
#3. Talk to a Loved One
Although expressing their feelings doesn’t come easily to ESTJs, getting things off their chest can help them get some clarity and return to their usual selves.
As such, you should try to find someone you can confide in and let them know what you’re going through, especially if you feel like the entire world is against you. Ideally, you should choose someone you’re close with who can listen to you calmly and give practical advice. If necessary, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a mental health professional.
Now that you’ve made it to the end of this article, we should mention that most unhealthy ESTJs aren’t this extreme.
Most often, they exhibit only a handful of unhealthy traits that become apparent under certain conditions. However, it’s crucial to address them, as they could eventually impact all areas of their lives.
That said, if you recognize yourself in this article, don’t fret—the first step to dealing with any problem is identifying it, so pat yourself on the back. With time and effort, you can overcome your unhealthy traits and develop into the happy, healthy person you deserve to be!
Unhealthy ESTJ FAQ
#1. What does a toxic ESTJ look like?
Toxic ESTJs often appear insensitive, hostile, overbearing, and judgmental. They lack compassion for others, instead seeking to exert control over them. As such, they don’t hesitate to manipulate others and use them for their personal gain.
#2. What are ESTJ’s weaknesses?
The key weaknesses of ESTJs include inflexibility, difficulty accepting alternative viewpoints, bluntness, and a lack of emotional expression. When they become unhealthy, ESTJs’ weaknesses often override their positive traits.
#3. Can ESTJs be manipulative?
Yes, ESTJs can be manipulative. Unhealthy Executives are especially prone to manipulation, as they care more about their goals than other people’s feelings. That said, manipulation isn’t exclusive to ESTJs, and anyone can be manipulative regardless of their personality type.
#4. Why are ESTJs intimidating?
One of the main reasons why ESTJs are intimidating is because they hold themselves and others to very high standards. While healthy ESTJs set realistic expectations for everyone, including themselves, unhealthy ones often expect unattainable things from people.