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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have often seen it put that ISFJ's have a "Need to be Needed". It seems to almost be our calling card sometimes. I have even had someone ask me if I need something to be wrong, so that I feel useful. Unfortunately it seems that this popular phrase has become a misconception of the ISFJ. From cries of White Knight syndrome from cynical outsiders and the bewildered questioning of individuals asking why we let others taking advantage of us, the idea of the ISFJ is often misunderstood.

Instead of saying that the ISFJ has a "Need to be Needed", a more appropriate saying would be "The Desire to Serve". I am not saying that the healthy desire to serve others can not become a need to be needed if and ISFJ is in a bad place, but it is not the norm for ISFJ's. Often this desire is seen as foolish or weak. Why should we let others take advantage of us? Do not mistake the ISFJ's meekness for weakness. Unfortunately we sometimes lack the forwardness to stop when others have started taking advantage of us, but we have to balance the "stopping when things go to far" and not becoming lazy in our helping others just because the situation gets a little difficult. There is great strength in helping others, never forget that. Conversely, people often accuse the ISFJ of holding grudges. I find interesting that we are often told that we allow people to step all over us and that we bend over backwards for people, but at the same time we are very unforgiving because we are easily hurt. Yes we are easily hurt, but its because we usually put are selves on the line. ISFJ's are very open and genial people, and because we leave that opening, we can get hurt. However it will generally take a lot to really get us upset. ISFJ's dislike conflict, and often seek making things peaceful for everyone.

I also find it interesting that the ideal of Knightly virtues are considered a bad thing. That are desire to help can be seen as something less then desirable. That in wanting to help means that we are condescending to others and that we think we are better than them. This is usually far from the truth. We put others before us for a reason, not because we believe that they are lesser then us, but it what we do. We care. This often comes off as too sentimental for NT's, too prudish for SP's, and too overbearing and ridged for NF's. Even other SJ's can find our mentality frustrating. The ISFJ ideals are constantly mocked and ridiculed in popular media, so its no wonder that we are seen as foolish. The misunderstanding of our motivations and the continuing devaluing of ISFJ's virtues leads to continual frustrations between us and other types.

There will always be some miscommunication in between the types, but with patience and practice it can always be lessen. Its also said that ISFJ's want others to understand them, and that we really value it. I think this is so because so few understand us outside of our type. ISFJ's can be amazingly perceptive, much more then others know, but we usually keep our perceptions to ourselves. If people could only see into the mind of and ISFJ, I think they would be thoroughly surprised. Yes we can be awkward and weird, but it comes with the territory. We care deeply for others, and often show this by putting them above ourselves. Meek, Understanding, Caring, Loyal; ISFJ.

I suggest watching the Full Metal Panic! series. They really show how ISFJ's interact with other people(albeit a slightly over exaggerated).
 

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It's possibly linked with pride one could associate with white knight behaviour, and possibly other's frustrations with paricular ISFJ's attentiveness to conventions that are unecessary and outdated. Also the fact that differences (Misunderstandings) can create frustration and conflict.

I do agree that need to be needed is a rather stronger phrase than I would use. Martyr too. They both were things that I've been a little bemused by on descriptions. And I definately agree with the part about holding grudges. It's not like I spend half my time being passive agressive and resenting others.
 

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Instead of saying that the ISFJ has a "Need to be Needed", a more appropriate saying would be "The Desire to Serve". I am not saying that the healthy desire to serve others can not become a need to be needed if and ISFJ is in a bad place, but it is not the norm for ISFJ's. Often this desire is seen as foolish or weak. Why should we let others take advantage of us? Do not mistake the ISFJ's meekness for weakness. Unfortunately we sometimes lack the forwardness to stop when others have started taking advantage of us, but we have to balance the "stopping when things go to far" and not becoming lazy in our helping others just because the situation gets a little difficult. There is great strength in helping others, never forget that.
I think what happens a lot of times is that because we work so much behind the scenes, because we're so calm, because we're so dependable, and because we keep things running smoothly, people tend to overlook us more than anything else. But when we're gone, they realize our value. So I think that's part of the reason why we may not get as much respect or validation that we probably deserve. But deep down I do think most people appreciate us and value us, I'll talk more about that later.


Trigun64 said:
Conversely, people often accuse the ISFJ of holding grudges. I find interesting that we are often told that we allow people to step all over us and that we bend over backwards for people, but at the same time we are very unforgiving because we are easily hurt. Yes we are easily hurt, but its because we usually put are selves on the line. ISFJ's are very open and genial people, and because we leave that opening, we can get hurt. However it will generally take a lot to really get us upset. ISFJ's dislike conflict, and often seek making things peaceful for everyone.
I think that's one of our main problems, is that we're so sensitive and hurt easily. I think one of the most important things for us to learn is the intent of people, because oftentimes people will hurt us without ever having any intention of doing so. Sometimes I've been hurt by things that I totally misinterpreted. So I think if ISFJ's can learn about other types, especially T types, and understand their ways of communication, then we can try to keep ourselves from taking certain things so seriously. That in turn will help us not to hold grudges so much.

Likewise, some types can learn from us to be more careful about how they word things and what the say in order to improve their interpersonal relationships with people. Really, some people do need to learn the importance of pointing out the positives in people instead of just focusing on the problems.

Trigun64 said:
I also find it interesting that the ideal of Knightly virtues are considered a bad thing. That are desire to help can be seen as something less then desirable. That in wanting to help means that we are condescending to others and that we think we are better than them. This is usually far from the truth. We put others before us for a reason, not because we believe that they are lesser then us, but it what we do. We care. This often comes off as too sentimental for NT's, too prudish for SP's, and too overbearing and ridged for NF's. Even other SJ's can find our mentality frustrating. The ISFJ ideals are constantly mocked and ridiculed in popular media, so its no wonder that we are seen as foolish. The misunderstanding of our motivations and the continuing devaluing of ISFJ's virtues leads to continual frustrations between us and other types.
I actually don't think the vast majority of people view us as condescending. From talking to people on here, there are plenty of other types that strike others as condescending. :wink: I think we're often perceived as very nice and humble. ESFJ's tend to get more flak from being annoying in that way, since they're more directly involved than we are.

I don't think NT's are necessarily bothered by our sentimentality, as long as we keep it in control when discussing issues important to them. I've noticed a number of NT's appreciating our kind nature. SP's may find us too prudish, that is true...but they also have things they can learn from us just as much as we can learn from them. I've actually had a lot of great interactions with NF's...again, I think the other SJ types tend to give NF's more frustration than we do. As for other SJ's...I think ESTJ's may find us too soft, but overall I think ISFJ's tend to get along very well with other SJ's.

However, I do agree with you very much about people misunderstanding our motivations and intentions. That's probably where most problems come in...we strike people as being colder and more distant than we really are. Part of it is me being a type 6, but I know a number of people have told me that I come across as dull, uptight, and cold at first, but once they get to know me they love me.

So part of it may be our fault, though certainly other types should make an effort to get to know us as well. I think for the most part, once someone gets to know an ISFJ, we're actually one of the easiest types to get along with. Of course, it helps when we're more balanced...if we can mix in some flexibility to balance out our rigidity and try to be a little more tough minded than sensitive, then I really don't think most people would have a problem with us at all.




Trigun64 said:
There will always be some miscommunication in between the types, but with patience and practice it can always be lessen. Its also said that ISFJ's want others to understand them, and that we really value it. I think this is so because so few understand us outside of our type. ISFJ's can be amazingly perceptive, much more then others know, but we usually keep our perceptions to ourselves. If people could only see into the mind of and ISFJ, I think they would be thoroughly surprised. Yes we can be awkward and weird, but it comes with the territory. We care deeply for others, and often show this by putting them above ourselves. Meek, Understanding, Caring, Loyal; ISFJ.

I agree that in life people a lot of times don't understand us, and like I said, this is partly due to our own quiet nature. However, as I've learned from talking to people on this forum, some people really do admire us a lot. In the same way that I might admire an NT for their deep intellect and huge wealth of knowledge, or how I might admire an SP for their ability to have fun and enjoy life to the fullest, or how I might admire an NF for their deep passions, or how I might admire an ESTJ for their strong work ethic and leadership.

It's important that we don't forget our strengths or take them for granted...not everyone can do what we do, and I do think some types do recognize that in us. And especially on PerC, I've noticed that a lot of other types get along with us well and really value and appreciate us, even if they don't understand us completely. I think the main thing is that because we don't pipe up much, it's just that we go unnoticed until it comes up, so we feel pretty unappreciated because it's not pointed out as often.



So I think you made an awesome post, and I hope some non-ISFJ's see it. But I also think there already is a lot of deep down appreciate for ISFJ's, even if it's not mentioned as much as we would like, and maybe not as much as it should be.
 

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The ISFJ ideals are constantly mocked and ridiculed in popular media, so its no wonder that we are seen as foolish.
I'm very curious of this statement. What kind of examples were you referring to?

(I'm a Broadcast Journalism major...I'm always extremely interested in how people are viewed through the media.) :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm very curious of this statement. What kind of examples were you referring to?

(I'm a Broadcast Journalism major...I'm always extremely interested in how people are viewed through the media.) :)
For one, Introverts in general are usually seen as having something wrong with them, especially in the news.

ISFJ's are usually, in most media, portrayed as stupid. Take Watson, Sherlock's faithful side kick, as example. In almost all movies and shows he is in, he is seen as a bumbling fool. He is always surprised and taken off guard by any thing new or slightly exciting.

ISFJ's are also often seen as cold, detached, as well as being unintelligent. They can also be portrayed as creepy because ISFJ's tend to have a "stare" to them.

Generally the only "Good" aspect that is portrayed in ISFJ's is Martyrdom. Sam, from Lord of the Rings and Yue from Avatar: The Last Airbender are examples of this. Tolkien had a real respect for Sam's character, though, but for the majority, ISFJ's are just generalized as "people who are willing to throw away their lives", not even truly as martyrs.

Mother Teresa is seen as the "ultimate example" of an ISFJ, and she was truly a great women. However, it seems ISFJ's are portrayed one of two ways: Martyr or Cold, Detached, Idiotic(Queen Mary I of England).

I hope this help. ^_^
 

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Mother Teresa is seen as the "ultimate example" of an ISFJ, and she was truly a great women. However, it seems ISFJ's are portrayed one of two ways: Martyr or Cold, Detached, Idiotic(Queen Mary I of England).

This probably won't help the negative stigmas against ISFJs haha, but I don't see Mother Teresa as the saint history has made her out to be. It's funny how time oppresses these things. She was pretty much a fraud..

Excerpt:
What usually went unreported were the vast sums she received from
wealthy and sometimes tainted sources, including a million dollars from
convicted savings & loan swindler Charles Keating, on whose behalf she
sent a personal plea for clemency to the presiding judge. She was asked
by the prosecutor in that case to return Keating's gift because it was
money he had stolen. She never did. She also accepted substantial
sums given by the brutal Duvalier dictatorship that regularly stole
from the Haitian public treasury.

Teresa emitted a continual flow of promotional misinformation about
herself. She claimed that her mission in Calcutta fed over a thousand
people daily. On other occasions she jumped the number to 4000, 7000,
and 9000. Actually her soup kitchens fed not more than 150 people (six
days a week), and this included her retinue of nuns, novices, and
brothers. She claimed that her school in the Calcutta slum contained
five thousand children when it actually enrolled less than one hundred.

No one will ever love us. =/
 

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Thanks, Trigun! I understand exactly what you mean.

It's sad that our sacrificing nature is so taken advantage of, that we are seen as only useful to advance the "main character," so to say. It really shows how selfish mainstream society is now.
 

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However, it seems ISFJ's are portrayed one of two ways: Martyr or Cold, Detached, Idiotic(Queen Mary I of England).
I'd agree with this too. The ones I've seen 'typed' as ISFJ tend to be either the bumbling, naive, foolish and/or ultra faithful sidekick there to show up the positives of the main character or the saintly martyr. There are very few who rise above a stereotype and seem like believable people.
 

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ISFJ's are also often seen as cold, detached, as well as being unintelligent. They can also be portrayed as creepy because ISFJ's tend to have a "stare" to them.
I have a so-called borderline processing speed, but a lot of that is due to ADD. XD I think or intelligence is highly underrated. Internally, we have such a logical world and the need for things to make sense so that we can navigate this world. Knowing things means more freedom and understanding to me. I can use this to help others.

Generally the only "Good" aspect that is portrayed in ISFJ's is Martyrdom. Sam, from Lord of the Rings and Yue from Avatar: The Last Airbender are examples of this. Tolkien had a real respect for Sam's character, though, but for the majority, ISFJ's are just generalized as "people who are willing to throw away their lives", not even truly as martyrs.
Ironically I had always been thinking about escaping mortality at one point. I'm interested in prolonging my life for the most part. In simple ways though. Stressing about it will decrease my life expectancy XD
 

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I love Full Metal Panic, and I love ISFJs.

Go figure that three of my closest friends are ISFJs... and each of them are really sweet and good-hearted people.

Us INFJs might go about supporting those around us in a different way, but in helping others, we are cousins.
 

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I've had bad experiences with some ISFJs and their martyrdom but I've also had some really wonder experiences with other ISFJs for the very same reason. As a practical hermit, I value the few friends that I have and my closest friend, an ISFJ, is very dependable and mature.

His expectations from people and the constant let downs gives him a very pessimistic view on life but for me, it's very nice to have proof that someone out there cares and is actively trying to help people and better the world one small step at a time. The knowledge that there are possibly more people like him out there warms my cold heart.
 

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His expectations from people and the constant let downs gives him a very pessimistic view on life but for me, it's very nice to have proof that someone out there cares and is actively trying to help people and better the world one small step at a time. The knowledge that there are possibly more people like him out there warms my cold heart.
I've heard more than once the depressed, resigned phrase "it wasn't what I thought it would be" from an ISFJ girl I know. The part of me that isn't dead inside yet wanted to comfort her, but another part of me was confused. What did you expect from imperfect human beings living in an imperfect world?

To the OP: I've interpreted the ISFJ's need to be needed as being based on two attributes.

1) Loyalty. They want the group to do well, and in particular, I've seen ISFJs form deep loyalties with the "alpha male," or the head of their group. I assume this is a desire to not only take care of others but to be taken care of. It's a very collectivistic attitude.

2) A desire to do the job right. My ISFJ friend gets horrified when someone teases her about looking at Facebook at work. She's an extremely dependable worker who is often the first to react when someone needs something. Even when our friendship had pretty much exploded, if I needed anything I could trust that she would get it done, because it was her job (assistant). As an INTJ who is very serious about his work, I appreciated her professionalism.
 

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1) Loyalty. They want the group to do well, and in particular, I've seen ISFJs form deep loyalties with the "alpha male," or the head of their group. I assume this is a desire to not only take care of others but to be taken care of. It's a very collectivistic attitude.

2) A desire to do the job right. My ISFJ friend gets horrified when someone teases her about looking at Facebook at work. She's an extremely dependable worker who is often the first to react when someone needs something. Even when our friendship had pretty much exploded, if I needed anything I could trust that she would get it done, because it was her job (assistant). As an INTJ who is very serious about his work, I appreciated her professionalism.
Both of these are very true. It may be our secondary Fe, but I think ISFJ's in general love those symbiotic types of relationships...to be able to serve/take care of others, but also to receive love, appreciation and protection in return.

And out of all of the types, I would say we're definitely the most ones likely to please authority and do a good job. I know that growing up I was the epitome of a "goody two-shoes", and I've heard that ISFJ children tend to be some of the most pleasant to raise and some of the most loved elementary school students of teachers.

And this translates into work when we grow older. I know I have a somewhat naive and idealistic view sometimes, but can also be crashed down into reality and accept that a lot too. I feel like a big kid a lot of times...I feel like I do everything I can for people, but I'm too soft, meek, and intellectually simplistic to be taken too seriously.

If I just let my natural instincts take over, it's both a blessing and a curse. Basically, in the right situation or relationship, I'm perfect and everyone loves me. In the wrong situation, though, everything just blows up and nothing goes right.

So I think ISFJ's have a certain innocence to us...we can be satisfied with the simplest things in life, but due to the diversity of all of the other types, we can't always get that and we're looked at as weird. In general I think we're silently appreciated but not understood.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Most people will never really come to understand the ISFJ's desire to serve, because most people do not actually care to know why. They want what makes sense to them, and so, I draw attention to one of my favorite quotes:

"You see us as you want to see us... In the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions." -Breakfast Club
 

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I don't think NT's are necessarily bothered by our sentimentality, as long as we keep it in control when discussing issues important to them. I've noticed a number of NT's appreciating our kind nature. SP's may find us too prudish, that is true...but they also have things they can learn from us just as much as we can learn from them. I've actually had a lot of great interactions with NF's...again, I think the other SJ types tend to give NF's more frustration than we do. As for other SJ's...I think ESTJ's may find us too soft, but overall I think ISFJ's tend to get along very well with other SJ's.
As an NT I can honestly say that is true, at least on my end. I have a friend since high school that's an ISFJ, and she was one of the sweetest people I knew and was very easy to get along with. I remember freshman year we had first hour together, and she'd always have the nicest compliments to say to me, like how I dressed or how smart I was, etc... You have no idea how valuable that is to a 14 year old INTJ girl on her first day in high school! :laughing: Unfortunately my others friends thought she was weird and clingy, which is really sad because she was just trying to be nice to people. My ISFJ fiance gets the same remarks when he tries to be nice. I guess nowadays people just expect everyone to be assholes that anyone who's remotely nice is considered a creeper.

I wish more people were that genuinely nice. The world would be much easier to work with. -_- I try to be polite and civil myself, but I'm not genuinely kind like you guys can be. The stereotypes are a real shame. Then again, I guess many personality types have them. INTJs are usually portrayed as evil but ridiculously smart villains (Hannibal Lecter) and on the opposite side of the coin you see these bubbly, air-headed blonde Playboy Bunnies that are supposed to be ESFP's...or something.

Stupid Hollywood. :p
 

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As an NT I can honestly say that is true, at least on my end. I have a friend since high school that's an ISFJ, and she was one of the sweetest people I knew and was very easy to get along with. I remember freshman year we had first hour together, and she'd always have the nicest compliments to say to me, like how I dressed or how smart I was, etc... You have no idea how valuable that is to a 14 year old INTJ girl on her first day in high school! :laughing: Unfortunately my others friends thought she was weird and clingy, which is really sad because she was just trying to be nice to people. My ISFJ fiance gets the same remarks when he tries to be nice. I guess nowadays people just expect everyone to be assholes that anyone who's remotely nice is considered a creeper.

I wish more people were that genuinely nice. The world would be much easier to work with. -_- I try to be polite and civil myself, but I'm not genuinely kind like you guys can be. The stereotypes are a real shame. Then again, I guess many personality types have them. INTJs are usually portrayed as evil but ridiculously smart villains (Hannibal Lecter) and on the opposite side of the coin you see these bubbly, air-headed blonde Playboy Bunnies that are supposed to be ESFP's...or something.
To be honest, it makes me feel really good to hear an INTJ say this. I've been talking to and learning about INTJ's a fair bit on PerC recently, and there's a lot that I admire about them, but sometimes I feel kind of scared or intimidated by them, like it's so easy to piss them off without meaning to. I think part of this is just because it's the internet and they feel more comfortable just saying whatever they want, because my best friend is an INTJ and I feel really comfortable around him (though he's pretty close along the J/P preference). So I'm guilty of falling into the stereotype of thinking of INTJ's as evil geniuses.

So I really like how an INTJ can appreciate the soft, nice and dependable nature of an ISFJ...it's what we do best, and to me, feeling appreciated and valued for that is one of the best feelings in the world and I just love it. So thank you very much for this post. :happy:
 

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ISFJs rock! I don't know how people can't twist all of the beauty they possess. I am married to a wonderful ISFJ who is very caring, responsible, sensitive and loyal. Nothing about this man is weak. Whatever the outside world considers weak are actually great strengths. Humble to the core, giving, caring and loyal.....what is there not to love about an ISFJ?!? They are the best.:crazy:
 

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To be honest, it makes me feel really good to hear an INTJ say this. I've been talking to and learning about INTJ's a fair bit on PerC recently, and there's a lot that I admire about them, but sometimes I feel kind of scared or intimidated by them, like it's so easy to piss them off without meaning to. I think part of this is just because it's the internet and they feel more comfortable just saying whatever they want, because my best friend is an INTJ and I feel really comfortable around him (though he's pretty close along the J/P preference). So I'm guilty of falling into the stereotype of thinking of INTJ's as evil geniuses.
I don't think its that easy to piss us off, (unless that is your purposely being dense:angry:) I think its just that we don't try to gently ease into what were saying (especially so on the internet), so it appears that we come off angry while in fact we are just stating/asking things, that being said though we do of course get angry just like anyone else.
 

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Serving as a way to be deserving?

Looking back on my past relationships, I see that I spent a lot of time and effort understanding the other person, learning their likeas and dislikes, researching activities/ topics they enjoyed and planning dates. It was as though I had to woo that person, knock them off their feet, work my way into their heart. I never thought that someone could be attracted to me just the way I was.

Now I understand that I don't need to stand on my head to earn the privilege of a relationship. I need a partner who is as fascinated with me as I am with him.
 

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ISFJs rock! I don't know how people can't twist all of the beauty they possess. I am married to a wonderful ISFJ who is very caring, responsible, sensitive and loyal. Nothing about this man is weak. Whatever the outside world considers weak are actually great strengths. Humble to the core, giving, caring and loyal.....what is there not to love about an ISFJ?!? They are the best.:crazy:
I'm an INTP married to a wonderful ISFJ man and I agree with this comment completely.

I can't count how many times I've told my hubs how I love the fact that he's not all macho, strutting around beating his chest and grunting out his accomplishments and superiority to the world. I tell him he's the true definition of a real man. He's dependable, trustworthy, faithful, giving, kind, etc. It's easy to be an asshole in this day and age. It's the decent people who are really the strong ones who're going against the flow of media-inspired society. They continue to be decent despite being mocked and/or under appreciated. THAT takes real strength.
 
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