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Sixteen Months of Type — ISFJ

This is the seventh post in our 16 Months of Type series and we focus here on ISFJ. To remind you, we are using our material on managing life transitions with psychological type (formerly available through CPP as Introduction to Type® and Reintegration) as the jumping off point for each piece and then connecting this material to the self-discovery process that frequently accompanies life-changing events (LCEs). Read on!

ISFJ, Introversion, Sensing, Feeling and Judging
When facing an LCE, ISTJs typically want an approach that is well established and supportive as they come to grips with their altered circumstances. If your preferences are for ISFJ, you most likely want to find peace and quiet to enable you to digest all that has been happening and to consider carefully how you can sequence any next steps so that they are most beneficial for all concerned. ISFJs tend to prefer plans that emphasize security and maintain predictability (as much as possible) and seek methods to assure them that what they are doing what is sensible and appropriate. People who prefer ISFJ often find that activities that produce a tangible or useful product – knitting, gardening or woodworking, for example – can help them feel more relaxed as they work through the ambiguities that usually accompany an LCE. Engaging in activities with specific steps and specific goals can help them regain a sense of stability and comfort when so much else feels uncertain.

When ISFJ preferences are overdone, people who prefer ISFJ may fail to recognize that their interest in preserving tradition is keeping them stuck in routines and processes that are no longer meeting their needs. This tendency may also keep them from utilizing and adapting to new data that could improve circumstances and create new and better practices and procedures. Moreover, in their desire to serve others, ISFJs may put their own concerns on the back burner. If they don’t get encouragement from significant others to make self-care a priority, they may see play or relaxation as a dereliction of duty rather than as an appropriate way to recharge that all of us need (even the highly dedicated ISFJ!). With their typically strong sense of loyalty and commitment, those who prefer ISFJ may shy away from expressing divergent views and postpone discussions about where views clash out of a fear of stirring up conflict. Counter to their intentions, this approach may increase the likelihood of misunderstandings and exhaust them as they try to do the impossible and keep all parties happy.

ISFJs typically need a kind companion to mentor, guide, and support them on their transition journey. By being available on a regular and consistent basis, a caring companion can provide the ISFJ with non-hurried, one-on-one time to discuss their hopes and fears. Such a companion can help them to sort through the facts and help make these more meaningful by connecting the personal specifics the ISFJ is dealing with to the larger picture. Since ISFJs are usually concerned with how they might be perceived by others, a sympathetic companion can gently nudge them to check the accuracy of these perceptions; reminding them to examine whether their beliefs about what others want or expect of them are accurate. Further, things have changed, therefore what’s expected or what’s appropriate is likely changing, too. Some confusion or awkwardness during the transition is normal and is not a character failing of others or of the ISFJ!

When such a companion is not present in the life of people who prefer ISFJ, they may be left staggered and adrift with all the new data coming at them and feel unable to sift through it in such a way as to create an outline of what’s happening and prioritize their actions. Similarly, if there is insufficient information, or the available data are vague, ISFJs may struggle to commit to any plans for the future, wanting to wait until they are certain of all the necessary steps. Caring companions who have “been there” can serve as role models and help the ISFJ get unstuck. Together they can list and clarify what is already or still working so that these things can become part of new plans and traditions. With this thoughtful help, ISFJs can be reassured that many current practices – albeit some requiring updates or tweaks – will continue to be usable, thereby creating a bridge from the past to the future. Through this support, people who prefer ISFJ can begin to evaluate their options more realistically, find solutions in line with their values, and perhaps even start to celebrate some of their successes – or at the very least their hard work – in forging a new way forward.

Self-Discovery Tool Number 78
If you prefer ISFJ (or you have someone in your life with this four-letter type code), the following questions may help as you process a life-changing event.

  1. How can you find the ways to enrich your connections with others by reaching out to share stories, time, and activities?
  2. How can you explore the larger meaning of your experiences in order to discover new ways of proceeding that might help you to manage your transition more successfully?
  3. How can you take an objective inventory of which approaches to your new circumstances are working and which are not?
  4. How can you build flexibility into your goals and plans to take advantage of learning opportunities as they appear?