[ESFJ] How can an ESFJ learn to form an identity?

How can an ESFJ learn to form an identity?

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This is a discussion on How can an ESFJ learn to form an identity? within the ESFJ Forum - The Caregivers forums, part of the SJ's Temperament Forum- The Overseers category; ^ I don't have the greatest self confidence as I form my identity around whoever is near me. While this ...

  1. #1

    How can an ESFJ learn to form an identity?

    ^

    I don't have the greatest self confidence as I form my identity around whoever is near me. While this is a strength of Fe it's also caused me much harm- i.e. taking things personally, not being able to stand my own ground. I felt that if I knew who I was, I'd probably be able to "cope" better. I'm wondering from a practical sense, where is the "growth" for an ESFJ, someone who was made to please?
    Emancipation thanked this post.



  2. #2

    Quote Originally Posted by InkMyUmbrella View Post
    ^

    I don't have the greatest self confidence as I form my identity around whoever is near me. While this is a strength of Fe it's also caused me much harm- i.e. taking things personally, not being able to stand my own ground. I felt that if I knew who I was, I'd probably be able to "cope" better. I'm wondering from a practical sense, where is the "growth" for an ESFJ, someone who was made to please?
    It must be difficult to be so amorphous. It's so valuable because you can become anyone around someone else, and yet it can backfire against you if you feel like it gives you a lack of internal structure and direction. I wonder if you're enneagram 9.

    Identity becomes invisible when others become more important than ourselves. So, to revive one's identity, it's important to start noticing little things you prioritize, little things you value, things that you think are important but haven't spoken up about. Over time, those parts can be cultivated and newer parts can grow within you.

    1) Let's start with something simple. Do you have anything in particular you really care about or enjoy? Can you describe that to me? What about it makes you excited? It could be related to you (an interest you pursue), a social activity or relationship, or a broader interest (recycling, politics, anything else).

    2) Make a list of things that you believe people should value because you value them.

    3) Think of ways you believe people should be treated.

    4) Think of a decision you made for yourself by which you stand. If you had to redo it, you'd definitely do it this way again. What is that decision? Why did you make it? What about it gives you certainty that it was right for you? (While answering this, it's possible you may also remember decisions you made which you were unhappy with. That's ok! That's actually pretty informative. I'd write that down separately too).

    5) What are a few things you are curious about? Why are you curious about them?

    When you write these answers, it's ok to feel uncertain. Just write down your thoughts. You can always change your answer later if you want to.

  3. #3

    Hi InkMyUmbrella! I think the first thing step is to even be aware that you're doing this. I would take some time to evaluate what situations you're okay with that happening and which you aren't. I think it's really important for ESFJs to choose their closest friend circle wisely. You need to be around people who will also look out for you and make you comfortable enough to speak your mind and be yourself and not need to just do what others think you should do.

    I also think if you are financially able to or can take time from work, go travel somewhere on your own! Go make your own adventure and take a flight somewhere cool and just live in hostels and travel around a bit on your own. I know, I know... why not take a friend with you? Because I think you learn a lot when you're out on your own a bit and experience new things. It boosts your confidence, gives you time to reflect on your own values and goals in life, and gives you a fun memory and story to tell later. I think ESFJs would be well served to take a step back from social life for a minute and truly reflect internally. We need some downtime to think about our own values and if you find that you have certain friends that you feel you always have to put a facade on for, then it's time to spend less time with those and make different ones.

    I also think for an ESFJ you need to make sure you have your own thing going on too. Like what do you want out of your life? What makes YOU happy, not the group. Make time for those things. It's okay to say no to others (I know it's crazy hard) but you need to make sure you don't drop everything all the time that makes you happy just so you can be there for what makes others happy. I think when you aren't focused on something for you as well then it's easier to get sucked into the drama and feelings of others and spiral in that mess for awhile. Make sure you always have something of your own to come back too and that will keep your arrow pointed the direction you want out of life.

    Hope that helps a little! You can do this!
    InkMyUmbrella thanked this post.

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  5. #4

    Hello Santa gloss. I want to first thank you for taking the time to write out these very thought-provoking questions. You seem like a very insightful and empathic individual :)

    I also want to apologize for my late response, but it was for a good reason. I wanted to really understand myself a bit more before writing down what I thought (rather than coming up with an answer spur of the moment). It seems that this took longer than I had expected...lol. As you can tell, I still continue to be a rather confused individual.

    1. What about it makes you excited?
    This will sound vague... but being on the same page as other people emotionally. When I like something and they like the same thing. I've noticed that my family and I would watch a TV show, and experience a roller coaster of emotions together (happiness, sadness, confusion, excitement) and I just feel... high the entire time. Like I'm on drugs. When I watch the show, my emotions get amplified as if I'm experiencing things from his end as well.

    Another is when I make a post on reddit or somewhere and multiple people agree with me, thanking me for the post. Or just in general, when another person and I are able to relate to one another. The "drugged up" sensation occurs.

    To note, when another person experiences excitement about something and I don't, I feel...flat. Confused. I try to understand why the person enjoys that thing and see if I can like it too. If I can't, I feel extremely frustrated and alone.

    2+3. I value considering other's emotions. I value making sure the other person feels valued. I value respecting another person's boundaries. When they say no, they should be taken at face value. If someone disagrees with me, they shouldn't bully me into submission; rather explain nicely and with consideration why I might be wrong.


    4.
    There was a recent decision I made during which I put my best friend over myself. And I wouldn't retract on that.
    I did it because I recalled that my best friend is someone who is trustworthy. Someone who has considered my needs before hers. I find that's very rare in this world, especially in my world. She is also going through a very difficult time, and she needed me to do this. So I did, and I would do it again.

    5. I would say I'm curious about why people do the things they do. Particularly when I cannot find an explanation why they did that thing. If I can understand them, I find that I feel more... empowered. Like I can forgive the person for certain action, and let them be. I can be more at peace with myself without fixating on them so much, and fearing them. Or, I can help them altruistically, knowing that I am doing something truly "good".

    I am also curious about myself. As in, is there something about me that I have not considered yet? Or do I already know everything there is about me? This curiosity is also mixed with fear.

    - - -

    I think basically... 1. Altruistic reason is that I want to feel connected to others emotionally and be able to provide them what they truly need so that I can lessen suffering. 2. Selfish reason is that I want to feel validated of my existence by feeling connected to others and serving them. By knowing that other people appreciate my existence, and knowing that I'm not a burden.

    So... this answer turned out to be extremely vague lmfao. And now you know why therapists hate me.
    Santa Gloss thanked this post.

  6. #5

    Quote Originally Posted by InkMyUmbrella View Post
    ^

    I don't have the greatest self confidence as I form my identity around whoever is near me. While this is a strength of Fe it's also caused me much harm- i.e. taking things personally, not being able to stand my own ground. I felt that if I knew who I was, I'd probably be able to "cope" better. I'm wondering from a practical sense, where is the "growth" for an ESFJ, someone who was made to please?
    I have felt this way before too! As an ESFJ, we are known to please others at all costs (which can become very toxic). This means that we change how we act depending on the setting, which I do a lot. I think our truest forms are when we are able to act without fear of judgement from others. I have a small friend group which consists of INTJ, ESFP, ENFP, INTP, ISTP, and ISTJ that all interact with me in their own unique ways. We all accept each other's differences and are not afraid of expressing these differences. Try not to overthink the details that are not true. If it has not legitimately happened, then stop thinking about it. Think of the facts and stop idealizing what could possibly happen. Just be what makes you most comfortable and always be accountable for your actions. Reflect on your mistakes and don't take things so personally, but if and when you do, I think having a NT friend can help you a lot with seeing things in a logical sense. Just be prepared to potentially take their words personally. Try to look past it and see the bigger picture here lol.

    In terms of growth, it is important to recognize when you start to put yourself in situations where it does not benefit you or make you happy. It is hard to notice them, but once you start to get that anxious unsure feeling in your gut before deciding that usually means you are uncomfortable with that decision. I believe that meeting new people and accepting them for who they are no matter how much we may take their words personally is important. Studying MBTI and the differences in personality traits really gave me a more practical sense like what you had mentioned. Once you are able to truly understand and accept that people in this world have different ways of thinking and may not interpret things the way you do, you will begin to appreciate each person you come in contact with.
    InkMyUmbrella thanked this post.

  7. #6

    Quote Originally Posted by Executie View Post
    If it has not legitimately happened, then stop thinking about it. Think of the facts and stop idealizing what could possibly happen. Just be what makes you most comfortable and always be accountable for your actions. Reflect on your mistakes and don't take things so personally, but if and when you do, I think having a NT friend can help you a lot with seeing things in a logical sense. Just be prepared to potentially take their words personally. Try to look past it and see the bigger picture here lol.
    Interesting that you say this. I have a history of becoming very uncomfortable around XNTX types in particular, and this includes my father an INTP. I suppose learning to work with those types is where our true potential lies. That makes complete sense. :)

    Quote Originally Posted by Executie View Post
    In terms of growth, it is important to recognize when you start to put yourself in situations where it does not benefit you or make you happy. It is hard to notice them, but once you start to get that anxious unsure feeling in your gut before deciding that usually means you are uncomfortable with that decision. I believe that meeting new people and accepting them for who they are no matter how much we may take their words personally is important. Studying MBTI and the differences in personality traits really gave me a more practical sense like what you had mentioned. Once you are able to truly understand and accept that people in this world have different ways of thinking and may not interpret things the way you do, you will begin to appreciate each person you come in contact with.
    That's good you say that; really puts things into perspective. I've slowly started to figure that, perhaps, the ultimate potential of an ESFJ is to support others in their goals and help them see their Fi- their individual feelings and values.

    I am curious what you usually do when you are in that situation of discomfort. Do you still try to give the person a chance and ignore those feelings (after all apparently we are an "irrational" type)? Do you explore them more?

    It makes me wonder where the line should be drawn. What is a "toxic" relationship for an ESFJ, and at what point are we justified to move onto bigger and better fish?
    Executie thanked this post.

  8. #7

    Quote Originally Posted by InkMyUmbrella View Post
    Interesting that you say this. I have a history of becoming very uncomfortable around XNTX types in particular, and this includes my father an INTP. I suppose learning to work with those types is where our true potential lies. That makes complete sense. :)

    That's good you say that; really puts things into perspective. I've slowly started to figure that, perhaps, the ultimate potential of an ESFJ is to support others in their goals and help them see their Fi- their individual feelings and values.

    I am curious what you usually do when you are in that situation of discomfort. Do you still try to give the person a chance and ignore those feelings (after all apparently we are an "irrational" type)? Do you explore them more?

    It makes me wonder where the line should be drawn. What is a "toxic" relationship for an ESFJ, and at what point are we justified to move onto bigger and better fish?

    That's funny that your dad is an INTP because they are our duality types! You actually could learn a lot from your dad granted he is a healthy INTP. One of my friends is an INTP and he is very healthy/aware as I believe I am too. Our cognitive functions are the same, but reversed. So your dad is Ti dom (our inferior function), and we are Fe dom (INTP inferior function). It took me about 2 years to really understand this all and to become this aware, but based on the way you are talking it seems you are fairly aware as well.

    The ultimate potential of an ESFJ is to work on your own functions, which means to work on our Tertiary Ne and Inferior Ti. As we develop the skills to truly use these functions healthily then we become a balanced individual. It is important for us to support other people and to accept others for who they are without forcing our own opinions onto them. We are naturally caring and giving, which is something we cannot change but we need to develop our Ti to think about the appropriate things to say and when to acknowledge that something is toxic to our own well-being. When I am in a situation where I am uncomfortable, I follow the 3 chance system and then if all those chances are taken up I cut them. I don't end it on a bad note of course, but I do end it as kindly as I can. I don't remain friends with past relationships, but I do stay cordial. I am not going to go out of my way to be petty or vengeful, but just to accept how things have gone in life.

    My last relationship was with an ISTP and he was unhealthy in terms of awareness. He made me feel unloved and had unrealistic expectations like I was supposed to read his mind to know how he was feeling as he freaked out about an issue. I loved with all my heart, but he constantly gave me false hope and kept threatening our relationship and that was the last time I ever tolerated such nastiness. You need to stop and think when you notice you are sacrificing your own well being and happiness for others. Rethink it and just word it as nicely as possible, try to train yourself on how to deny people. It won't kill you, itll just feel like a huge burden lol.
    InkMyUmbrella thanked this post.

  9. #8
    ISFJ

    Quote Originally Posted by InkMyUmbrella View Post
    Hello Santa gloss. I want to first thank you for taking the time to write out these very thought-provoking questions. You seem like a very insightful and empathic individual :)

    I also want to apologize for my late response, but it was for a good reason. I wanted to really understand myself a bit more before writing down what I thought (rather than coming up with an answer spur of the moment). It seems that this took longer than I had expected...lol. As you can tell, I still continue to be a rather confused individual.

    1. What about it makes you excited?
    This will sound vague... but being on the same page as other people emotionally. When I like something and they like the same thing. I've noticed that my family and I would watch a TV show, and experience a roller coaster of emotions together (happiness, sadness, confusion, excitement) and I just feel... high the entire time. Like I'm on drugs. When I watch the show, my emotions get amplified as if I'm experiencing things from his end as well.

    Another is when I make a post on reddit or somewhere and multiple people agree with me, thanking me for the post. Or just in general, when another person and I are able to relate to one another. The "drugged up" sensation occurs.

    To note, when another person experiences excitement about something and I don't, I feel...flat. Confused. I try to understand why the person enjoys that thing and see if I can like it too. If I can't, I feel extremely frustrated and alone.

    2+3. I value considering other's emotions. I value making sure the other person feels valued. I value respecting another person's boundaries. When they say no, they should be taken at face value. If someone disagrees with me, they shouldn't bully me into submission; rather explain nicely and with consideration why I might be wrong.


    4.
    There was a recent decision I made during which I put my best friend over myself. And I wouldn't retract on that.
    I did it because I recalled that my best friend is someone who is trustworthy. Someone who has considered my needs before hers. I find that's very rare in this world, especially in my world. She is also going through a very difficult time, and she needed me to do this. So I did, and I would do it again.

    5. I would say I'm curious about why people do the things they do. Particularly when I cannot find an explanation why they did that thing. If I can understand them, I find that I feel more... empowered. Like I can forgive the person for certain action, and let them be. I can be more at peace with myself without fixating on them so much, and fearing them. Or, I can help them altruistically, knowing that I am doing something truly "good".

    I am also curious about myself. As in, is there something about me that I have not considered yet? Or do I already know everything there is about me? This curiosity is also mixed with fear.

    - - -

    I think basically... 1. Altruistic reason is that I want to feel connected to others emotionally and be able to provide them what they truly need so that I can lessen suffering. 2. Selfish reason is that I want to feel validated of my existence by feeling connected to others and serving them. By knowing that other people appreciate my existence, and knowing that I'm not a burden.

    So... this answer turned out to be extremely vague lmfao. And now you know why therapists hate me.
    It's interesting that even your answers here are very "others-focused" (focused on other people and their feelings). I think having such a strong focus on others (although it is part of who you are), would definitely make it difficult to drill down to the core of yourself and determine the unique things/qualities that make you, you. Are there are things about 'you and your identity' that don't involve other people and how they feel?

    I'm not ESFJ but I think my 9 year old daughter is. It does irritate me how chameleon-like she can be around her friends. I think it must be difficult for ESFJS who have such strong Fe, but I think it's important for everyone to develop an identity/core that doesn't necessarily revolve around others - otherwise it's just like being a chameleon - changing your colours depending on who you're around. Doesn't sound very steady or stable. I think developing Ti can be a good thing too, as someone suggested. Not exactly sure how you can go about doing that, though. I find that being with an ISTP has helped me in that regard.
    orion83uk and InkMyUmbrella thanked this post.

  10. #9

    Hi @InkMyUmbrella (and @Zeri following your response)

    You know what I think could help an ESFJ form an identity - by taking a leaf out of their ISFJ counterparts (and in fact Introverts in general) book i.e. Make sure they have some alone time doing stuff THEY enjoy doing. Doing 'stuff' doesn't always need to involve other people.

    Minor example: I have weird interest in Brutalist architecture - none of my friends, or my partner, are even remotely interested in architecture (let alone Brutalist).

    Last year I decided "to heck with it" and went to London for a few days so I could do some stuff I knew I'd personally enjoy, myself. This included visiting various buildings/structures I had wanted to visit for years, along with various other things I wanted to do while I was there - basically made myself a 'to do' list and went for it. I also traveled the way I wanted to, stayed in a hotel I knew I'd be fine with (but my partner would probably have hated lol) and so on and so fourth. And it was great!

    One of my friends who is an ISFJ regularly does things like this (he likes to explore).
    Last edited by orion83uk; 05-22-2019 at 02:18 PM.
    InkMyUmbrella thanked this post.

  11. #10

    Quote Originally Posted by Zeri View Post
    Are there are things about 'you and your identity' that don't involve other people and how they feel?
    Thank you and orion for your responses.

    Unfortunately, I can't think of anything. Everything is about people even when it shouldn't be, or I consciously try to remove the people element. Even forming friendships with Ti-doms is difficult. Whenever I spoke to INTPs in the past, I constantly wondered if I was "doing this right". Is this how ESFJs are supposed to speak to INTPs? What is the right mindset when they say something which hurts me-- am I perceiving them correctly?

    I feel almost like a malfunctioning robot lmao. I think subconsciously, I want someone to give me a handbook on "how to life the life of Inkmyumbrella the way it's supposed to be". I'm also curious how an ISFJ, such as yourself, defines their identity. Especially when your dominant function is very passive.

    Quote Originally Posted by orion83uk View Post
    You know what I think could help an ESFJ form an identity - by taking a leaf out of their ISFJ counterparts (and in fact Introverts in general) book i.e. Make sure they have some alone time doing stuff THEY enjoy doing. Doing 'stuff' doesn't always need to involve other people.
    This is interesting... you just did something without a care about the outcomes. You did your thing, lived in the moment, and took it one moment at a time. And, you learned something about yourself in the process.

    I think I gotta do this. I think I spend too much time trying to "control" my life and manage my internal world rather than just... live. Like, I'm so afraid of experiencing pain or humiliation that everything needs to be "perfect". I think I will start to do this more :)


     

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