Type and activism
Gill Coombs, writer and career coach
We’re living in increasingly turbulent times. Today, constant economic, environmental and political upheaval seems almost normal.
The Intuitive Feeling NFs of the world, whom Myers termed the ‘Idealists’, arguably have their work cut out as never before. Idealists want to make the world a better place, and there are many in the field of activism, seeking to promote and enable health and wellbeing. Their concern might be for individuals, groups of people for whom they have particular empathy, humanity in general, other species, or the environment.
NF idealists find themselves in a particular bind. Making the world a better place means challenging the perceived status quo, which inevitably invites conflict. This leads to inner tension: to be congruent with their values and speak their truth, or keep quiet and maintain harmony?
Speaking their truth can be a particular challenge for Introvert INFJs and INFPs, more comfortable in their inner world. They tend to be most effective when they find ways of expressing their idealism through various forms of art and literature. Judging INFJs, good at compartmentalising their lives, work to create ingenious strategies for speaking out whilst maintaining precious privacy. Perceiving INFPs tend to be less contained. Depending how well they have learned to develop their less preferred functions, they are often seen as visionary or, painfully, eccentric.
Extravert ENFPs and ENFJs don’t naturally maintain a low profile, but are typically sensitive: so their dilemmas tend to be more about congruence of expression. ENFPs excel in adapting to their audience – and sometimes jettison their truth completely, causing sleepless nights. They operate best amidst the affirmation of many like-minded others. ENFJs don’t hesitate in challenging others’ morals and ethics, but nevertheless can feel bruised when they inevitably evoke defensiveness. Fortunately, their natural charm means they can usually restore effective relations.
NFs wanting to make the world a better place need to find the right form for their activism; and to make conscious choices about whether and when to choose a stretch. Knowledge of type can help them to avoid giving themselves a hard time for not being the warrior they would like to be, and be the warrior they naturally are.
About the author
Gill Coombs has a private coaching practice in Devon and worldwide via Skype. Her book Hearing our Calling, about finding the right work, was published by Floris in 2014. The Game, her second book, was published in 2016, and she is currently working on the next, provisionally entitled The Trembling Warrior.