What makes you most anxious, based on your Myers-Briggs personality type

Jenna Birch
Contributing Writer
What makes you most anxious? (Photo: Getty Images)

We all have different anxieties, and personality can affect what makes us stress and why we stress over it. It’s not always easy to identify those stressors, but the Myers-Briggs types can help us understand the sources of our anxiety. Here are a few common anxieties, based on your Myers-Briggs type.

Note: The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a personality test that helps us to better understand ourselves and the people who surround us in our day-to-day lives. It tells us what we do with incoming information — how we process it and use it to make decisions. If you don’t know your type, a quick online quiz can help you find out. (Or, of course, the official assessment.) But if you need a quick refresher, here’s what the letters stand for. E: Extraversion; I: Introversion; S: Sensing; N: Intuition; T: Thinking; F: Feeling; J: Judging; P: Perceiving. 

ENTP: When you feel stuck and unchallenged in your career.

Feeling locked into a job or career field you dislike is what causes you the most anxiety. You’re prone to feeling trapped and unfulfilled in your work, especially when you’ve been in your position for some time or you seem to do the same tasks every day. Make sure you’re challenging yourself to explore opportunities within the confines of your job before jumping to a new one. Familiarity can be stifling, or it can be the stable base from which you roam and grow.

ISTP: When everyone is stressing out at work.

As long as you have time and space to work through problems on your own, you could go years without feeling stressed. But if everyone is freaking out on the job, forcing you to step in and solve tons of problems for others? You’ll come home from work every day feeling anxious. Luckily, you can think of this as a problem to solve creatively and logically — which is your strong suit. Propose a setup where you feel you can be most effective, or find a way to completely detach from work when you head home at the end of your day.

ENFP: When you feel trapped in a relationship.

When you feel you haven’t grown in your relationship or there’s nothing left to explore with your partner, you may start to feel anxiety — almost like you’re living in a cage. This is the time to express to your partner your need to branch out (which you tend to bottle up), and propose an interesting new way you can expand as a couple, whether that’s picking up a new hobby, trying something new in bed, or having more date nights like you did in the beginning of your relationship. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to move on.

ISFJ: When you’re constantly pushed outside your comfort zone.

You’re not the “try anything once” type by any means. You know your values, and you know what you stand for. You know what’s best for you and your relationships. You don’t like to be constantly pushed outside the box. Remember, sometimes trying new things can help you grow — but only if they fall within the scope of what you care about. If your friends or partner is constantly trying to get you to do something you simply don’t want to do, explain that you’re feeling pressured (no matter how much you hate these loaded conversations).

ESTP: When you’re locked into a rigid routine.

You crave the ability to do what you want, when you want. You also like being challenged with constantly new and evolving environments, whether you’re playing pick-up sports or working with technical problems on the job. You dislike anything that’s too sequential or routine, from a job where you do the same thing each day to a relationship that’s pretty vanilla. Stick to your commitments each day, but carve out time in your schedule that’s planned as well as time when you can be entirely spontaneous.

INTP: When you’re “the shoulder to cry on” with friends.

You like hanging out with your friends, but you really like coming and going as you please — with some periods of alone time when you’re simply not as social. When you have a friend who leans into you too much for emotional support, you start to feel very anxious. You dislike being tied to strong emotions in a way you can’t escape. Next time you’ve got a friend who’s feeling down, remember that it’s important to be there for those you care about, but you can also enlist the group to help with the pick-me-up efforts.

INFP: When you feel people don’t respect your values.

You like to live life on your own terms, according to the values and principles you believe in — even if they seem unconventional to others. However, you start to feel anxiety when others don’t seem to respect or understand the way you live your life, especially if they poke fun at it. If it’s an ongoing problem, it’s important to address it directly, or make an active effort to find people who are supportive of the real you. Living life by others’ standards won’t make you happy.

ENTJ: When you’re unable to convey or execute your strategy.

You thrive in your role as “the (wo)man with the plan,” but you get completely thrown when your plan isn’t panning out the way it should. You feel anxiety when you’re unable to convey your plan to your team or get the project on track, especially if you start to question your overarching vision. Remember, though, that you’re an innovator. Not everything you do will work miraculously immediately, and tinkering with the pieces can often lead you to the final destination.

ESFJ: When you can’t help someone you love.

You derive a lot of self-esteem from helping others. Sometimes you’re the one bringing soup to your sick friend; other times you’re making calls for a fundraiser. But you are always in action, trying to help. You feel extreme anxiety if you feel there’s nothing you can do for the person you love — for example, if a family member is sick or has lost his or her job. Despite that inability to fix the big problem, never forget that your small supportive gestures mean a lot and do help the person you care about feel less alone.

ESFP: When your relationships and friendships are … boring.

You’re an extrovert, and you like expressing yourself spontaneously while engaging with others. You like to take a last-minute weekend trip somewhere you’ve never been, or crash a party just for fun (you are a big kid!). It’s how you let loose from all the routine you must adhere to so often. If you aren’t surrounded by others who will have fun with you, who don’t like to do anything last-minute or enjoy much quieter activities, you’ll start to feel really stressed participating in the same ol’ things with them. Make sure you have at least a friend or two who’s down for an adventure every once in a while; it keeps you feeling refreshed, with fuel in your energy tank.

ESTJ: When you can’t be the quarterback.

You are the quintessential quarterback, issuing directives and making sure that things run smoothly. You thrive when you’re executing a plan, whether you’re planning your wedding down to the detail or managing a big project for work. You feel immense anxiety when you are not in control of the plan’s destiny, whether you’re working under an incompetent leader, people aren’t following directions, or there are tons of uncontrollable variables. It’s important to remember that you can’t always be the leader (sad, I know), and try to take on at least a project or two in your spare time that you can execute from start to finish (which gives you the shot of self-esteem you crave).

INTJ: When you think you’re missing an important variable.

You are the ultimate planner; not only do you always have a plan but you have several contingency plans, just in case. However, despite being well prepared, you start to feel anxiety when you dwell on the realities of execution; theory works in a vacuum, but there are unseen forces that affect the IRL landscape. Once you’ve completed a project and have done all you can, recognize that there will always be quirks in any system. Work on letting go and finding a new project to devote your mental energy to.

ISTJ: When you’re forced into uncharted territory.

You do well when you follow the old-school method or formula. You like taking classic skills and being part of the larger system, working tirelessly toward a goal. However, you have an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality. You dislike entertaining new ideas when the old are working perfectly, or being forced into a relationship or job project that feels out of your element. Don’t forget that uncharted territory is where you grow — and that the anxiety you feel will lessen over time.

INFJ: When you’re truly unsure if a relationship will work out.

You love building your relationships and derive a lot of fulfillment from your bonds with your significant other and friends. However, you start to feel loads of anxiety if you are experiencing a lot of issues that threaten the survival of a relationship — whether you’re dealing with a fight or a cross-country move. You don’t like adapting on the fly and hate having to reroute a plan for the future. Talking through your feelings and new plans with your friends or significant other can really help. You internalize a lot of your own problems, which will only make your stress worse here.

ENFJ: When you’re not getting your interpersonal needs met.

The whole reason you wake up each day? To bond with others. Your life feels empty if you’re not building relationships with those you care about, in addition to stretching yourself creatively and taking on new challenges. However, if you’re constantly forced into a “logical” role — working on a major project, studying for a big exam — and have to spend tons of time alone, you start to feel anxious. Make sure you take time for play amid all your hard work, even if it’s just taking a half hour to call your best friend and chat.

ISFP: When you feel unseen or forced to conform.

You want to be recognized for your uniqueness, but you will never admit you need that. You don’t like to have to explain yourself or your feelings, and really like surrounding yourself with people who “get” you. You’re most anxious when you feel that your messages are getting lost on others, or you’re forced to conform to a routine or values that don’t reflect what you value most. Sometimes we’re obligated to do things we don’t always like (such as work), so it’s essential that you take time for yourself, just to enjoy the activities and creative adventures you love purely for their own sake. This can help you feel at peace again.

Jenna Birch is a journalist, a dating coach, and author of  The Love Gap (Grand Central Life & Style, January 2018). Her relationship column appears on Yahoo every Monday. To ask her a question, which may appear in an upcoming post, send an email to jen.birch@sbcglobal.net with “YAHOO QUESTION” in the subject line.

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