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  1. #1
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    Default ENFJ who tends to attract negative people/downers/people who are depressed

    Hi everyone,

    I hope I'm posting this in the right place, and I hope to have some more positive posts in the future. Quite honestly, the stimulus for me to post here is that I've noticed a pattern of me attracting a lot of people who are going through problems in their life. I'm happy to listen and help out, but it does get quite wearing after a while. Any others with this problem and any advice on how to break this cycle? I feel guilty if I try to avoid them or leave them on their own.

    Thanks,

    Aracen

  2. #2
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    Hey! And welcome to the boards!

    I have quite a fair share of 'negative' people around me. I love helping people, too, and I'm a very good listener.

    After being a coach for some time, I learnt to make sure that the people we're helping make their own effort to pull themselves out of whatever they get stuck into. Yes, in the beginning I did feel guilty of avoiding or leaving them on their own. It is also very tempting for any xNFJs to project our desire to help onto these people.

    Being a little selfish helps. I mean, you have your own personal things that you want/need to do/achieve that makes you happy and feel energised. The choice is entirely up to you if you would rather continue helping the ones who show no signs of change or no effort to do so and end up feeling drained (your own health is important, too) or would you rather practise a little selfishness. It is often very tempting that we feel like we can help everyone.

    I wonder if the people you are refering to are people that you know or strangers. What makes it so hard for you to let go?

    I would like to add that we often attract 'negative' people because of our helpfulness.
    Last edited by ilovelurking; 03-22-2011 at 08:07 AM. Reason: Last line.

  3. #3
    Patron Saint Of Smileys Gloriana's Avatar
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    I experienced a very, very long period of attracting negative people, and a good portion of them turned out to have severe behavioral problems. I'm an INFJ, but this has been a big part of my life experience.

    The reasons? For me it was a varied spectrum of things.

    First, I grew up with a single mom who was an alcoholic, slightly narcissistic, and unable to deal with a lot of her own issues. Hence, I grew up having to take care of myself AND I felt I was responsible for how my mom was feeling too. I was always trying to cheer her up, make her feel better, and figure out how to 'fix' all the things that were wrong. I wanted her to be happy and I wanted her to love me.

    Hence, I developed the trait of being extremely empathic, and I was drawn to people with problems because really, those were the only people I ever knew and it felt comfortable. Sounds odd, but when I was younger I felt rather awkward and out of place around well adjusted people because I didn't know how to contend with that.

    My self worth was entirely wrapped up in what I could do for others, and so I didn't know what to do with people that didn't need any 'help' with anything.

    Second, I personally felt very aware of my fractured family and the unhealthy behaviors in everyone in it (including myself). I was bullied in school and was always on the fringes, so I was very insecure and self-conscious about coming from a screwed up family. I felt more comfortable with people who had problems because I didn't feel they were judging me. It was that classic blunder of surrounding myself with people who were almost going off the deep end because A) I felt useful because I was so good at counseling them and B) They made ME feel HEALTHY. The whole 'Things are bad for me, but at least they're not as bad as _______'s problems" thing.

    Just want to say I'm not projecting and thinking any of this applies to you too, these are just the reasons behind my former propensity to get into unhealthy relationships with people who had problems. Just throwing it out there in case you may relate at all.

    I found myself in many relationships with people who would call me at all hours with some crisis, would spend hours regaling me with their troubles, and request my company and help with all the things they couldn't handle. But if I had a problem, they had no trouble reprimanding me for asking them for help since I should have known they could not handle it. Basically, the most toxic kind of relationships you can imagine.

    I attracted these types because I thought I was only good for serving others, and it showed. I drifted toward folks with problems and they drifted toward me. I would get so angry, hurt, and so severely depressed over these relationships at the time. I felt so lost and I often wrote about feeling like I was some servant people used when it suited them and dismissed just as quickly if I asked for the smallest modicum of attention or validation from them. I would love people I knew, and then I would hate them, and then I would love them again. A terrible roller coaster.

    It took me a really, really long time to get to the bottom of all this and change. I had to take responsibility for my own part in this chain of events and stop blaming everyone else. I realized how much I enabled this behavior because I did not put my foot down and set boundaries, I didn't know how to value myself or respect myself enough to realize I was deserving of the same kindnesses and considerations I was capable of giving. All of this and more.

    I hated rejecting anyone, and I was so acutely aware of the pain they were experiencing and I felt such empathy, that I felt like some kind of ogre if I ever picked up them feeling ignored or rejected by me. I knew what it was like to feel alone and unloved, and I just wanted to help. But I was being mistreated, and I was allowing that mistreatment to continue. People would push, and I would accept, and gave them free license to keep doing it. I had to push through and figure out how to understand that I could create better relationships with people who were positive, responsible, and knew how to give back.

    Of course everyone has problems, everyone has issues and baggage they have to contend with. No one is without hard times and times where they need more support than they can give when the chips are down. I think there is just a difference between those who face the hard times in life and still handle relationships in a healthy manner, and those who are chronically troubled because they're contending with severe issues in a very unhealthy way.

    If I learned to do any one single thing that helped me improve this situation, it was learning that I am NOT RESPONSIBLE for someone else's problem and those who attempt to foist a burden of responsibility for how THEY feel on to me, they are NOT people I should have in my life.

    Again, since I had this unusual ability for empathy and understanding, I used to think it was almost my mission on earth to use it to help people. This idea isn't particularly a bad one, it's just I took it way too far. I felt like it was my responsibility to reach out to the lonely, the troubled, the depressed. I did this at the expense of my own needs and desires in a relationship. It was very hard for me to let go of this concept because I felt so incredibly guilty if I distanced myself from these people or asserted my own needs. I attracted the sort of people who counted on my propensity for guilt, and exploited it. It was very hard for me to change this around, insofar that I married a man who did the same things and left me at the first sign of me finally asserting my own wants. I never broke up with him because I always thought there was something more I could do myself, something more I could change, and I hung too many hopes on his claims he wanted to change his ways even when he showed no signs of actually meaning it (lip service without follow-up).

    It is HARD to change it, especially if you're someone like me who was conditioned from the time they were tiny children to believe they had little worth except to serve the whims and needs of others. This may or may not apply to you, but if it does, just know while it's HARD to change it, it is by no means impossible. I say that all the time, but it's no less true

    I would say to start taking a critical look at these relationships, how long you've had them, and what the dynamics and boundaries are. If these are people who consistently disregard you and 'suck you dry' as it were, if your counsel and support seem to be treating the 'symptoms' of their depression/negativity rather than having any effect on the root causes, I would say seriously consider distancing yourself and see if you don't wind up feeling happier and more positive. It's one thing to want relationships without ANY challenges and taking off at the first sign of someone being upset, but from what you've said it doesn't seem you're that kind of person. It's another thing altogether if you're in a relationship where you're constantly fearing an explosion of drama and fatalism that never ends.

    I, myself, alienated certain people in my early 20s because I was so consumed with depression and I was asking way too much of people. I was angry at these people at the time, but looking back I realize there were things going on with me that they simply could not help me with because the causes were deeply rooted in things that had nothing to do with them, things that were by nature only able to be remedied by me and me alone. I had to take responsibility and change myself.

    If someone is suffering from severe emotional problems that cause them to take it out on others and negatively impact the lives of others in a destructive way, the causes of these things can only be tackled by that person themselves, there is no counsel or supprt anyone else can give that will make up for that. It is a sad situation, of course, but sacrificing your own happiness in a situation is not fair to you, and will most likely not help the situation. If these people are incapable of taking personal responsibility for tackling their problems, they will usually chronically go from person to person in search of those who will enable them to deny and push the responsibility off themselves.

    Just remembering that people are responsible for their own well being, just like you are. Again, I think there is a difference between leaning on friends in times of trouble in a healthy, cooperative, responsible way, and seeing friends as having a duty to be there whenever you're upset as if it's their fault that you don't feel better. A real friend does not place these kinds of burdens and responsibilities on others.

    It does not make you a bad or selfish person to get emotional vampires and chronically negative people out of your life. You have a right to have relationships that are equal, supportive, and positive.

    It's not just a matter of finding better people, it's a matter of feeling worthy of those sorts of relationships and knowing you have more to offer than just empathy and counsel. All sorts of stuff like that. I had to do a massive overhaul of my own perceptions of myself and dig deep down to change how I valued myself. I had to realize I had more to give people than just being 'Miss Supportive Universe'. I had to realize I personally had a big black hole in me that was still a child craving parental love she never received and hence, I was attracting (and being attracted to) these emotional vampires and disturbed people because I wanted approval and love so badly I was going to take whatever I got. This was a difficult wake-up call to take, but it changed so much for the better.

    I went to therapy for some of it, and did a lot of reading too. My favorite book, the one I found most helpful and recommend ad-nauseum, is 'Feeling Good' by David D. Burns. It's based around cognitive therapy techniques, but it's very accessible and practical. It helped me loads and loads.

    I still struggle and I'm still getting the hang of how to form better relationships, it was hard to cut certain people out of my life, but I have the best friendships of my life going on now. No more of that sinking guilt and unhappiness, no more constant frustration and agonizing over things. I value myself more, and hence I'm around people who value me. I still have to do a lot of 'maintenance' on how I deal with things because it's like rewiring a system of feelings/reactions/perceptions that have been in place for the first 30 years of my life (I'm about to be 33) but slowly but surely it's becoming habit and a new way of life.

    Whether or not anything I've shared applies to you, I think it's great you're here and you're posting. The people around here are pretty awesome and there is a lot of brilliant information around here that covers way more than just the MBTI. I hope perhaps this may have helped a little, and I hope you keep posting
    "Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get, but if you work really hard, and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you...amazing things will happen" --Conan O'Brien

  4. #4
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    @ Gloriana

    Your story brought me to tears. You have no idea how much of what you shared I can relate.

  5. #5
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    To throw an NT into this joint: yeah, I attract negative people.

    The negative people like to go to me for advice, and to talk to me, but really it seems they want to whine. So I tell them frank: look, you are whining. Take action, or stop whining. Actually, as a second thought, while you take action: stop whining.

    The best thing you can do is separate yourself, emotionally (if you can), and try to be helpful. If you can't be, then move on. Tell yourself why your actions make sense: emotionally. Don't let others bring you down. It is a terrible way to go.

    [Add]: welcome to the home of the mentally insane board, by the way!
    Excuse me, but does this smell like chloroform to you?

    Always reserve the right to become smarter at a future point in time, for only a fool limits themselves to all they knew in the past. -Alex

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    NFJs are pretty attractive to negative people, or people with problems. They seem both grounded and empathetic.

  7. #7
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    The laws of attraction state.
    We attract the energy we broadcast.
    I am not certain I fully accept this, but it does seem to have some merit.
    Perhaps you expect negative people, so the universe delivers.
    I am broken, and I attract broken people because I feel unbroken people don't "get it".
    The unbroken people sense or intuit this and stay away.
    The broken people see and hear my broadcast and they flock.

    Kind of makes me wonder.

  8. #8
    Senor Membrane
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arclight View Post
    The laws of attraction state.
    We attract the energy we broadcast.
    I am not certain I fully accept this, but it does seem to have some merit.
    Perhaps you expect negative people, so the universe delivers.
    I am broken, and I attract broken people because I feel unbroken people don't "get it".
    The unbroken people sense or intuit this and stay away.
    The broken people see and hear my broadcast and they flock.
    Yes. It seems to work something like this. I think of it more like selectiveness. Let's say there's levels of psychological health from 1 to 10. If you are a five, you will screen out twos as potential friends, and a nine will screen you out. This happens mostly unconsciously, of course. I would assume that an extrovert will have a more large scale of in-group than an introvert.

  9. #9
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    I'm not of your type but Ive always done the same, and I dont have anyone else to account this to. I always guessed that I was already a little or a lot like that and had something in common with the same, and didn't have anything to get along with anyone who wasn't, and even turned them away if they liked my company.

    That was a long time ago, and I dont much act that way any longer. I still have a lot of the old people around though, and to be honest a lot of them rather bother me. They're nice people.. but I can change, anyone can, and maybe they didn't. You're still left with the open gap of how to build acquaintances and friendships with positive people you really want to relate to, since what you want to accomplish is still absent from your skill set. You get better though if you're self-monitoring to make sure you accomplish this.

    You (I) have to start by being the kind of person you want to have around you. When you do, some of your old people follow your lead and do the same.. leaving you with a conundrum: do you still really want these people around you?

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