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Conflicted Empath

Asked by on with 1 answer:

Why can’t I just stop trying to fix everything…stop trying to make my relationship the best that I can be? Why can’t I just leave things as is without getting someone else pissed? Sometimes I feel such strong emotions I feel like my heart can’t take it I feel like no one understands me.. I feel alone..I was typed as infj /isfj I don’t know if that had anything to with it..how can I just be happy now sometimes I wish I wasn’t so introverted sometimes. (From South Africa)

Conflicted Empath

Answered by on -

A.

Thank you for writing to us about your concerns. You mention that you are identified as an INFJ (introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging) for the reader who may not be familiar, this is one of the 16 personality types identified by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Sometimes referred to as the “Advocate” or the “Idealist,” people with INFJ personalities are creative, gentle, and caring. INFJs are usually reserved but highly sensitive to how others feel.

While the MBTI is an interesting tool for some general personality dynamics it is often criticized on scientific grounds—yet remains very popular. For a discussion of its pros and cons read here.

That having been said, the INFJ personality type strives for order and are typically good at picking up on the feelings of others but struggle to express their own. They typically are protective, and this means that they are slow to change as they are often protective of traditions and habits. I am not sure that this adequately describes you and your concerns. The main issue seems to be that you push on relationships so hard to make them better that you alienate others as you yourself feel alienated. This seems a bit more nuanced than a personality type generated by ISFJ.

Striving for perfection in a relationship leaves everyone dissatisfied. Because nothing will ever be enough. This means that the main feedback you are giving to others is that you aren’t happy with them, they aren’t doing it right or good enough, and this leaves you feeling frustrated and them feeling pissed.

The more important thing about your concerns isn’t your personality style so much as what you can do to have better interactions and less stressful encounters. The key seems to learn how to manage when you feel compelled to correct others. This is a skill-based intervention. Just because you have the feeling doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) is good for this rather easy skill set to develop.

I’ll encourage you to find a CBT therapist to work on this particular skill. I don’t think you need a personality overhaul as much as you need this ability.

For readers who would like to learn what type you are you can take a quiz for free here.

Conflicted Empath

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: http://www.dare2behappy.com/. He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2019). Conflicted Empath. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 17, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2019/09/13/conflicted-empath/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 12 Sep 2019 (Originally: 13 Sep 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 12 Sep 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.