Monday, March 16, 2015

Superpowers.

So, I believe everybody has superpowers. I mean, clearly none of us can fly, or be invisible, or anything like that. Actual human "superpowers" are a bit less dramatic than that. But we do each have specific qualities that set us apart from others; our own unique idiosyncratic personality thumbprint, if you will. 

I say this in part as clarification, lest my readers suspect me of over-relying on Myers-Briggs' archetypes and not believing we are all snowflakes. 

Let me be clear, we are all snowflakes: unique, uncommon, one-of-a-kind, never-seen-before humans. Even the simplest of folks have some quality that sets them apart from everyone around them. I think it's part of a happy, healthy life to learn to identify our superpowers, and to harness and strengthen them in order to use them as forces of good in our lives. 

Many of us don't think nearly enough about how awesome we are, in my estimation. In fact, I'd say we generally spend way too much time taking inventory of all the ways we don't measure up, lamenting everything we did wrong, self-flagellating and feeling guilty. 

So spend some time today digging in to your self. Unearth your superpower if you haven't already; name it and celebrate it if you have. Use it every day. Your superpower is the thing about you that will shine most brightly and will require the least energy to access. It's the foundation of who you are. 

My superpower is multi-dimensional, but can be distilled down to this: intuition. Like, I just "know" things. It's always been useful for connecting with people, but it's not something I necessarily was able to identify until I started marinating on these concepts as a way to help my clients reach their full potential. My superpower is what makes me a good counselor and friend. It shows up as knowing the right questions to ask, seeing the patterns in words and behaviors, distilling down and naming nebulous concepts, using metaphors to explain complex ideas, and translating what is said into a digestible nugget of information. 

But before I knew this was my superpower, it wasn't as useful to me as it became once my consciousness grew. I didn't always know how to access it, or understand that this is where my power lies. It is where my best and truest work comes from. 

So. 

What's your superpower? What is the thing that sets you apart from everybody else and makes you feel alive and powerful when you use it? Name it. Nurture it. Manifest it. Let it serve you. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Care & Feeding of the ENFJ

ENFJ: The Giver

The thing to know about the ENFJ is that they are feeling everything around them, all the time. They are like human emotional barometers. INFJ is too, but in a different way, in that INFJ is also picking up all the other stuff in the environment and the world; ENFJ is pretty exclusively tuned to the feelings frequency. 

How this manifests is that ENFJ really wants you to be happy, and they will do whatever is needed to make you happy. This differs from people-pleasing, though, because it's about how it makes them feel to make you happy, not so much about trying to make you like them. It deeply satisfies ENFJ to provide emotional support, understanding, and practical help to the people they care about. 

This can feel very intense (even uncomfortable) to the less-feeling types, so if you're dating an ENFJ and are experiencing this, it is important to note that it isn't a burden for them to do this. You don't need to feel guilty about how much energy your ENFJ partner puts into your well-being. They are very concerned about you. They want you to succeed and they feel very confident that they can help you. They are the "teacher" types; how this manifests is that much more than they want to give a man a fish, they want to teach him to fish.

They also (although most probably aren't conscious of this) really need to be validated. They want to help you (truly) but they also want to know that you see and appreciate their help. You should be mindful of offering verbal recognition for the all of the love and support they give, and be careful not to neglect taking care of their needs as well. 

People are drawn to ENFJs. They exude an air of confidence and integrity and charisma. People believe them when they speak, and feel they can trust them to know and do what is best. They feel the ENFJ genuinely cares about them; people heavily rely on the ENFJs in their lives to support and empathize with them. And the ENFJ rises to this challenge with enthusiasm and grace and makes giving of themselves an art form that looks effortless. 

This is a good thing, right? 

Well. Kind of. Like anything, though, too much of a good thing...

While ENFJs love to be needed, the problem is that sometimes ENFJ can fully burn out from all of this giving and sharing and teaching and coaching and mentoring. An ENFJ who is being overused in this way- especially without appropriate levels of appreciation- can sometimes start to feel burdened and resentful, and cranky...and then feel kind of guilty that they feel this way, because giving is, like, what they do. 

ENFJs most often struggle with boundaries, both setting and maintaining them. The metaphor I invented for use specifically with my ENFJ clients is this: 

"So, you're an ENFJ, and you're basically feeling everybody's everything all the time. Imagine you're in the ocean, and everybody else is in the ocean too, and all of their feelings are free-flowing in and out of your space. You have no natural defenses to guard you against everybody else's emotional detritus getting intertwined with your own. So you'll get sucked into all kinds of issues and problems that aren't yours, and you will feel deeply responsible for the happiness and well-being of all the people around you. This is a lot to handle, so sometimes the ENFJ who gets tired of this or is experiencing intense emotional burnout will throw up giant walls to protect against this emotional permeability." 

Obviously that's not ideal, though, because it prohibits the ENFJ from being able to naturally do what they do best, which is feel and process things emotionally, with and for others. So what I suggest is:

"Imagine boundaries as a huge net that you set up in between you and the people around you. The net allows for free-flowing emotional energy, which you thrive on and live for, but it keeps everybody's everything from getting into your personal space, which you need to preserve for yourself and the most important people in your life."

As the partner of an ENFJ, you can help them best by supporting them in their desire to help, because they are genuinely idealistic and altruistic, and you love this about them…but you can also help them by reminding them ever-so-gently, when they're telling you about so-and-so's issues that they feel so invested in, "this is not your problem". 

I repeat for my ENFJs: this is not your problem. 

Deliver this carefully. Don't say it like, "I think you're crazy for getting all up in x person's business" because frankly, this will not go well. Getting all up in people's business is what we love about ENFJs, because they keep us sane and get us on the right track. Those of us who are unable to sort out our own stuff really value ENFJs for their insight. But they are external processors, so they're going to need to talk to somebody about all of this, and since you're their partner: it's your job, so you don't get to be resentful of it. 

Remember that they are sensitive and largely averse to conflict, but not in the way the introverted NFs are sensitive. In fact, they will ask for criticism and be genuinely receptive to it in a relatively non-defensive way. However, I'd strongly advise any partner of an ENFJ to give criticism or feedback lightly even when requested, because the ENFJ can certainly be at risk for spiraling into a "I should have done that better" rabbit hole. 

All in all, ENFJs are consistently loyal, intensely loving partners who will provide you with tons of emotional support. The very best thing you can do for them is to appreciate that, and offer it in return. 

Here is a post for your ENFJ: http://millercounseling.blogspot.com/2015/12/how-to-emotionally-protect-yourself.html

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