ISFJs, often nicknamed the “Defender”, are considerate, loyal, and kind. As Introverts they gain their energy through spending time alone and are quiet people, but they have an innate drive to help and protect others even to their own detriment.
While such a goal can seem noble at first, ISFJs know that such sacrificial love and care doesn’t come without a personal cost. They forge deep connections with others, however their high degree of empathy can lead them to taking on the pain of their loved ones, feeling it as if they were suffering themselves. However, ISFJs will rarely talk of their pain, as they prefer to avoid conflict and don’t always find it easy to stand up for themselves.
It is for this reason that self care is vital for ISFJs. While in person they may tell you not to worry about calling them while they’re sleeping, driving you home from parties, or for spending an entire weekend comforting you, they may never be able to vocalise the amount of energy this requires from them. This is something that other personalities should be aware of when someone close to them is an ISFJ.
Creating, vocalising, and enforcing boundaries is one of the hardest, but most rewarding, acts of self care an ISFJ personality can do.
As an empathic personality, ISFJs often take on the emotions of those around them, which can lead them to feeling the pain, grief, or anxiety of a loved one as if it was their own. Combined with their need to always be available to a friend in need, they constantly expose themselves to those emotions without giving themselves time to decompress.
While this is extremely difficult for a personality type who finds it difficult to voice their needs, a vital part of any ISFJ’s mental wellness toolkit is introducing the word “no” back into their vocabulary.
Whether an ISFJ has known a friend for years or is dealing with a new acquaintance, there is no bad time to begin vocalising where their boundaries are. While “no” is a complete sentence, and ISFJs do not owe anyone an explanation as to why they need to take time away, they may feel anxious if they do so – after all, they are a kind soul, and don’t want to risk further upsetting a friend in need.
With that in mind, phrases such as the following are invaluable in any ISFJ’s self care toolkit:
- I’m sorry, but I can’t talk about that with you right now.
- It’s getting really late and I’m tired, can we continue this conversation in the morning?
- I’m afraid I’m busy right now, but I’ll call you to talk about this later.
With these phrases, ISFJs can rest assured knowing that they are getting across their need for space to their friend, while promising them that they will talk with them in the future.
Friends of ISFJs may not even realise they have crossed a boundary so ISFJs should be prepared for a surprised response, but these personalities also need to understand that any kind of angry or frustrated response is a red flag that this friend is one who wants to take advantage of their empathetic nature.
Journaling for Self-Reflection
When an ISFJ takes on the emotions of those around them, it can be hard to differentiate where their emotions end and external ones begin. Therefore, it is important for ISFJs to take regular time to practice mindfulness and check in with their emotions.
There are numerous self-reflection exercises that ISFJs can try in order to remain aware of their own emotional state, but the easiest place to start is journaling. Best done at the end of every day, keeping a journal can be of great value to ISFJs as it allows them to process their emotions and understand where they may be taking on levels of external emotional energy that is harmful to their wellbeing. With this understanding in place, ISFJs can begin to process these external emotions and understand that their friends’ issues, while very real, are not theirs to process.
Journaling can make the world of difference to ISFJs, particularly when paired with additional self-reflection exercises that allow them to identify, process, and rid themselves of external emotional energy that may be harmful to their mental health.
Affirmations are another method of self-reflection that can feel unnatural at first, but are definitely valuable in the ISFJ self care toolkit. When used regularly, affirmations can help an ISFJ maintain and improve their mental health in any way that they believe they need.
Examples of affirmations of ISFJs include:
- I am responsible only to myself
- I have every right to say no
- I matter just as much as my friends
ISFJs do not have to believe the affirmations they come up with for themselves, however over time, these affirmations will come to be a part of this personality’s thought process. It is important for ISFJs to remind themselves that they are important and that they matter, as they may not believe this or be willing to put such thoughts into practice in their day to day life.
Affirmations such as these can be the difference between an ISFJ taking on harmful levels of external empathetic energy and remembering to enforce their boundaries to ensure the emotions of their friends don’t affect their own mental health.
Spending Time Alone
ISFJs are introverted personalities, and as such are invigorated by spending time alone. How they spend this time can look different between ISFJs, but spending time apart from people whose emotional energy can affect them is key to protecting this personality’s mental health.
People with this personality type might consider switching off their phone in order to separate themselves from phone calls, messaging apps, and emails, and spending a few hours doing things that bring them joy. Not only will this time alone help ISFJs rebuild their energy, doing things for personal enjoyment will re-affirm to their empathetic nature that their pleasure and happiness also matters.
Whether it’s playing single-player video games, getting lost in a good book, or binging the latest Netflix series, spending time alone to pursue personal pleasure is a vital part of any ISFJ’s self care toolkit.