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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi. I'm having a bit of a situation with an INTJ friend, and it's not really something I can relate to. I wondered if any of you could and, if so, please give me some advice on how to help him out with this.

To put it briefly, he's got a lot of plans in an effort to try and change the world and he's been extremely discouraged lately to the point of getting himself put into a mental hospital for over a week as well as wondering if it's just a waste of time. He's 19 and currently in college, and I figure age might have something to do with this - I'm 23, although I've never been very ambitious when it comes to "giving back." However I can see how important it is for him to feel useful in that way and I'd hate for him to give up if trying is what makes him happy. I think what's affecting him most of all lately is this whole thing in Baltimore. It seems he's just starting to feel helpless.

I told him that there are plenty of people who thought they'd never make a difference who have - it just may not happen as fast as he wants and there's a certain way he might need to go about it. I don't know how convincing that was, as someone who doesn't even understand how these sorts of changes are made. I just wanted to know what you guys would do in his situation, and what you'd want to hear from an outside party if anything. I imagine he's telling me all of this for a reason. = / Thanks in advance.
 

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I can not relate to his specific problem in that I don't think I've ever felt helpless about that, and I'm not sure in which way he wants to "change the world" as you say, but action makes me feel better about things.

If I'm stressed about something, if I know that there's something that I really want to do but I don't know how to go about doing it, I feel a million times better after I actually take action -- even if it's something simple like researching it just to become more knowledgeable. I find that the "helpless" feeling comes mostly from being totally in the dark about how to achieve what I want. It sounds like he has pretty big plans and maybe in the short-term of things there's nothing he can do, but maybe you can get the ball rolling by researching some suggestions of things he can do in the future?

ie. Find out of there are any fundraisers or events for a good cause that he might be interested in, research social improvements that have been made in the last few years? "See, it's not hopeless -- these people are doing it, so can you." Maybe brainstorm ideas of something that he can build that might help people, for example a website or a blog for inspirational ideas, self-help, historical eye-opening events. Some place where he can get his ideas and visions out and share with people.

Of course I have no idea if that will help him. But honestly as with anyone some times if you are feeling helpless you just have to scream at someone even if it's no one at all, I have written plenty of "Public Service Announcement" type social commentaries on the way that things are and the reasons behind why they are not working. Even if not many people are listening it makes me feel better about not saying anything and it helps me to collect and organize my thoughts.

My general rule is: When I get a new project, gather my tools. Even if I don't do anything with them right away the fact that I've at least made progress means that I'm not starting with nothing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That's really good advice. Thank you. And I think I can understand the helpless feeling a bit. If you're putting so much effort into something and feel as though you're seeing next to no results, I imagine that can sometimes make you feel like any effort you try to make is useless.
 

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To put it briefly, he's got a lot of plans in an effort to try and change the world and he's been extremely discouraged lately to the point of getting himself put into a mental hospital for over a week as well as wondering if it's just a waste of time.
Young INTJs are highly idealistic (in fact I think old ones are too...:tongue:) but the problem comes in with the J part of this typing. The idea that this is imperative becomes fixed and it's not easy for them to flow with life. Society is mostly a tipping point of tolerances and there is no real 'changing society' that anyone can achieve in the way that they envisage. It can be especially problematic with the black and white thinking that characterises youth of this type.

Idea - make the world a better place coupled with some serious passion in that regard.
Failure - finally recognise that society is like the ocean, a big fluid and dangerous thing with lots of stuff floating around in it. I know we like to fantasize about being Moses but the reality is far different.

He's having an existential crash because he can't continue to see the world the way he previously did. He will get through it, but it will take time. Sometimes years, decades even. And he's feeling impotent as just one small barnacle in the ocean. If there is a label I would attach to INTJ it's this....

Catalyst

From all the threads I've read here and elsewhere and what I understand about others who identify with this typing, the commonality is this, agents for change. I don't necessarily want to be at the helm of it, but I see an opportunity for improvement. I want to light that fire, but don't really want to be responsible for the entire movement because that's just too much. It's too overwhelming and I know I'm not up to the task.

Perhaps this is what your friend is going through. That uncomfortable paradox of seeing where positive change can be made but feeling not up to the task. It can be a crushing weight. As for what to do? Stand by, be there when he needs you, observe and be his witness. But this is his process, his demon to slay. Let him do it. I shifted my perspective from others to the self, I catalyse myself. It significantly reduced the helpless and impotent factor.
 

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I used to want to solve all the worlds big problems. It was so frustrating to think about because the task is improbable to complete at best. One thing that did help was running across this quote, "we cannot do great things, only small things with great love." That quote really helped me focus my energy on small things.

For example, instead of thinking about global poverty, disease, starvation, international politics, I was thinking about how I could help one person. I started coaching basketball and was able to find one student who was a senior and didn't get much playing time and I noticed that they seemed down, so I took them aside and gave them a lot of one on one attention and tried to make them feel valued and useful to the team and as a person. At the end of the year their parent came up and thanked me for making a difference in their kids life and their outlook on life. That moment was enough for me to squash my world domination plans and let me be happy knowing that I can help people and still make a difference while maintaining sanity and not being aggrivated by the world.
 

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@jeb you truly seem like a wonderful person.

I know the feeling, but jeb's right. It's a well known problem, difference between "area of influence" and (perceived)"area of responsibility".

Basically, anytime you take on a task too big for you you're going to get unhappy and stressed. It's fine taking on something a little bigger because you can work on becoming able to do it but too big and you're just going to feel inadequate. Also when you are way too skilled for what you're doing it's going to get stale fast.

The past years I've been helping social start-ups next to my job, free of charge with technical and business advice (and even hand-on work). It's immensely satisfying to see direct results of my work for once, something which I was missing in my life.

If he can find something where he's able to have a meaningful difference with his current skills, but where he can still learn a thing or two, that might help boost his morale.
 

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I know the feeling, but jeb's right. It's a well known problem, difference between "area of influence" and (perceived)"area of responsibility".
Ah, exactly what I wanted to say but couldn't find the right expression. The perception of responsibility (whether subconscious or consciously) is definitely the main issue with this. I'd be interested to know how many other INTJs go through this.
 
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