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So, I was wondering. I have an ISFJ brother and it seems like he does a lot of spiral thinking. It seems as if he's always thinking about all the possible things that can go wrong and happen to him. Does this happen to other ISFJs? And if so, is there a way to comfort him? He doesn't tell me when things are upsetting him, even though I know he's upset. I'm not really sure what to do when he gets in his negative mode. Do other ISFJs do this? or is it a guy thing that he doesn't want to talk to me about it?
 

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I type as both an ISFJ and ISTJ, but I definitely have spiral thinking. It can get pretty bad sometimes. Usually I will start out with a perceived issue (that is sometimes in reality not even an issue) and my thinking about it can get pretty irrational very quickly. Something as simple as did that piece of chicken that I just ate look pink? By the time I am asking myself this, a few things have happened. 1. I've already eaten the piece of chicken. 2. I don't remember actually noticing it being pink, but it could've been pink and 3. My mind has now determined that in three hours I will be in the bathroom vomiting into a toilet.

For you, there isn't much you can do to help him if he isn't vocal about it. I find that there are a few people I will share my spiraling thoughts with, and their reassurance that it won't happen is sometimes enough to calm me down. Other times, not. Sometimes, someone just talking me through (logically) why that probably won't happen helps a lot. When it comes down to it, I know it won't likely happen - but in those moments, we briefly lose control of that rational thinking function and irrational thoughts take over. Slowly walking him through all the irrational thoughts may make things clear for him.
 

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I used to do this, and it was partially due to anxiety. I realized how easy a choice it is to stop worrying about things I cannot control. No sense in putting the cart before the horse (unless it is in regards to safety.)
 
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I see, well, thank you, I just want to be able to be of help. :( I'm worried about him, cuz at times, he's been suicidal or violent, so yes, I'm very worried about him. He likes to carry a pocket knife around and one time when he was really upset after a fight with one of my other brothers, he handed me the knife and told me, "Please take this. I'm don't know what I'm going to do with it, but I'm going to end up doing something regrettable, so please take it." It surprised me, and scared me quite a bit that he was thinking that way. I love my brother, so I just want to make him okay.
 

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I'm totally guilty of spiral thinking... I hate it about myself!
I'm sure you're a great person. :) Although, my brother has this sort of thinking, he's a very nice person and has a big heart. But I feel like that heart of his breaks very easily and he takes some things too personally :(
 

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Yep, that's me too :( I wish I could control it..
Hmm, well, not sure if there's much that you can do. But I can be spiral thinker too. I find that it helps to keep a little journal of the "good" things that are happening to avoid thinking of the bad. I tried to suggest this to my brother but he hates writing. :p
 

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Oh my goodness yes, I am the queen of spiral thinking. Every possible thing that happens day to day for me seems to be a potential disaster. However, this might be due to my severe anxiety disorder. But I would say it's very common for ISFJs to worry about things, especially if it's a new experience, and we can't rely on our past experiences to help us know what will happen. I briefly went through a suicidal phase once, so I can't speak for all ISFJs, but I can speak for myself personally. I never wanted others to help me when I was depressed. In fact, I believed that I was such a burden with all my problems that I would be annoying to others around me if I asked for help. Your brother might be very stubborn at first when you try to help him, but persist and eventually he will let you help. Comfort him by just sitting with him and ask him how he feels and all kinds of questions that will help him get things off his chest. That really helped me when I was in that state. If he's suicidal because of certain reasons, stress could make it worse SO EASILY. So if there is any potential stress factors in his life, you can ask him if there is anything you can do and even if he doesn't say it, he will greatly appreciate that help. I'm sorry you have this going on though and I hope that you are able to help your brother!
 

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I see, well, thank you, I just want to be able to be of help. :( I'm worried about him, cuz at times, he's been suicidal or violent, so yes, I'm very worried about him. He likes to carry a pocket knife around and one time when he was really upset after a fight with one of my other brothers, he handed me the knife and told me, "Please take this. I'm don't know what I'm going to do with it, but I'm going to end up doing something regrettable, so please take it." It surprised me, and scared me quite a bit that he was thinking that way. I love my brother, so I just want to make him okay.
How old is he? If you don't mind my asking.

Is he struggling with depression? The spiral thinking might be triggered by his anxiety, and unfortunately it can develop into paranoia. I know this feeling. I struggled with depression for a very long time. My mother labelled me as the "moody" child. It was not until I got older (MUCH OLDER) that I learned to stop and smell the roses. I used to type as an INFJ ... b/c of my depression. Depression leads to thinking about escape routes (that escape route is up to the individual...mine was a fantasy, and sometimes death.)

I think it would be to go try to figure out what his core problem is. People who are suicidal have little self-worth. ISFJs need to be needed ... and an ISFJ in depression only isolates themselves from what can free them. Of course there are many other reasons for being suicidal ... and just because one thinks about it, doesn't necessarily mean they will see it through. The problem I have is that he shared this with you. That's usually one of those deep dark secrets an ISFJ will keep under lock and key in their mind. So this worries me.

I remember being young, and thinking that problems were the end of the world. Listen ... as you get older, you become more and more desensitized to these stressors out of experience/new coping skills. They still exist, trust me ... but how you react to them is your choice. In my mind, as long as what I am doing is positive and "right", I do not worry about the consequences. I realize I cannot please everyone, and I stand firm to my principals.
 

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How old is he? If you don't mind my asking.

Is he struggling with depression? The spiral thinking might be triggered by his anxiety, and unfortunately it can develop into paranoia. I know this feeling. I struggled with depression for a very long time. My mother labelled me as the "moody" child. It was not until I got older (MUCH OLDER) that I learned to stop and smell the roses. I used to type as an INFJ ... b/c of my depression. Depression leads to thinking about escape routes (that escape route is up to the individual...mine was a fantasy, and sometimes death.)

I think it would be to go try to figure out what his core problem is. People who are suicidal have little self-worth. ISFJs need to be needed ... and an ISFJ in depression only isolates themselves from what can free them. Of course there are many other reasons for being suicidal ... and just because one thinks about it, doesn't necessarily mean they will see it through. The problem I have is that he shared this with you. That's usually one of those deep dark secrets an ISFJ will keep under lock and key in their mind. So this worries me.

I remember being young, and thinking that problems were the end of the world. Listen ... as you get older, you become more and more desensitized to these stressors out of experience/new coping skills. They still exist, trust me ... but how you react to them is your choice. In my mind, as long as what I am doing is positive and "right", I do not worry about the consequences. I realize I cannot please everyone, and I stand firm to my principals.
Well, thank you, and my brother is 15. And I'd really like to help him, he's got his whole life ahead of him. I don't wish for him to think that he's anything less than special or precious. I mean we're siblings, we don't always get along, but that doesn't change the fact that I care about him, he's a good kid, just a little troubled.
 

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I had problems with Spiral Thinking and my advice, get help. Sometimes having one person who can dedicate an hour without trying to fix the problem immediately to get a better understanding of the pattern is the only solution. Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of finding solutions, especially when it gets violent.

Most important though, don't make him feel alone. It's one thing to be alone and another to feel it with no one understanding them; the latter is much worse for some people. They would even prefer to be alone so long as they are understood. They're scared and hopeless and when everyone says that they're wrong, it doesn't make them feel heard. Figure out where they are coming from. And get accommodating help.
 

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I don't know if there's much you can do about spiral thinking.. I myself am in therapy, and it won't take away all the negative thoughts I have everyday.. I've been like this my whole life... It drives certain people crazy! To get people to understand, I explain it like "try telling an optimistic person to stop thinking positive".. It's not gonna happen... Just like how I think you can't stop someone who thinks negative thoughts all the time...

I do wish there was something we could do to not think this way... Just be there for your brother in any way he needs.. Keep checking up on him to show him that you care..!!
 

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I think this is a bit of a mix. On one hand, I do think ISFJs have a tendency to over-worry about things and always see all of the worst-case scenarios. While some people have said it has nothing to do with inferior Ne, I still believe that it does, especially since that ties in with dominant Si. For me at least, I have a tendency to want to be prepared for things and to be able to know what's coming, so as a result, I tend to imagine all of the worst possible things that could happen, even if they never do. So I think sometimes ISFJs fall into dangerous patterns of getting overly negative and worrying about things that aren't even there, to a point where it can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


On the other hand, I don't think this is something that automatically will consume every ISFJ, so there are also some things that are unique to your brother's situation. I think a huge thing is just supporting him as much as you can, and also trying to remind him of all of the good things he's experienced in life. I think it helps me sometimes to realize that there are tons of times when I worried about so many things that ended up not being a problem at all, and that I wasted time and energy worrying about them. That helps me sometimes to not worry as much about the future.
 
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Depends on which negative mode. I have one where one false step can result in a rage volcano which flings molten bitch in every which direction, and the only thing you can do is run and hide and hope for a swift death if you happen to end up on my radar. I have to be under extreme pressure and usually there's a lot of intense things going on, and it happens every... oh... 3-5 years. This doesn't happen often, but when they meet my evil twin, they never call me a doormat, or make the mistake of taking my kindness for weakness again. I'll verbally gut someone like a slaughtered food animal when I'm like that, and my venom knows no limit - I'm out for blood, and will get it. I've been compared to Willow at the end of Buffy when she loses her shit, goes off the deep end and starts destroying everything in her path.

Normally, if you just remind me that my fears are irrational, catastrophizing and unlikely, I'll come off of it. It's just panic and worry, and ISFJs tend to be profesional worriers. Usually I'm just running scenarios to make sure I can see any problems before they arise and making sure I'm prepared. It can get into a death spiral, though when I start combining worst-of-the-worst scenarios because for some reason those can become the most realistic and likely to me.
 

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I definitely have spiral thinking. I learned some techniques in therapy to help my combat my negative thinking. One of them was to write down all of the things that I was afraid would happen and challenge each of them. For instance, if I was afraid of speaking to someone (I have social anxiety), I would write down thoughts like "They might think I'm stupid" and I'd challenge it with something like "I can't read their mind. They might not think that, and so what if they do? I know I'm not stupid and it would be an unfair judgment of their part." This helped me to realize when I was thinking irrationally and allowed me to replace my negative thought with positive ones. Maybe doing that could help your brother.

I think a huge thing is just supporting him as much as you can, and also trying to remind him of all of the good things he's experienced in life.
I think this is good advice, but be mindful of not being too dismissive of his worries. Yes, they may be irrational, but it personally drives me up the wall when people try to tell me that my problems could be worse (not that teddy was saying that, but people do this to me often). I know there are worse things that could happen, but I need some validation. So maybe say something like "I know you're worried about X and I completely understand, but that doesn't mean Y or Z will happen."
 

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I think this is good advice, but be mindful of not being too dismissive of his worries. Yes, they may be irrational, but it personally drives me up the wall when people try to tell me that my problems could be worse (not that teddy was saying that, but people do this to me often). I know there are worse things that could happen, but I need some validation. So maybe say something like "I know you're worried about X and I completely understand, but that doesn't mean Y or Z will happen."
I agree with you that the validation is very helpful and it helps to contribute to the idea of not being dismissive.


That's why I think it's a very tricky situation a lot of times. It can be hard to find the right balance. On one hand, I don't think it's good to encourage the over-worrying and keep the spiral thinking going. On the other hand, it's also just as bad to tell someone they're wrong for worrying and that their problems don't matter.


I think it's like you said...having a good mix of validation along with calm, rational thinking is the way to go. That validation helps me calm down and know that the person is on my side and isn't trying to tell me what to do, or look down on me, or tell me they know better than me....but that they're just trying to help.
 
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