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  1. #1
    Member Buds of May's Avatar
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    Default Support for Stressed ISFJ

    What are some good ways to support an ISFJ who overworks herself out of extraordinary dedication as a mother and homemaker?

    She often doesn't eat or rest enough, and she seems to suffer a lot of unnecessary anxiety. If her kids are naughty in front of visitors, she thinks she looks like a bad parent. She cleans her house and kids nonstop and then apologises to guests because she didn't make a huge dinner like she did the last time.

    Can't help her with any work because she won't have it; don't really empathise with her enough to converse, beyond How are you? How's your family? Wow, your kids are sweet and your house looks immaculate. And I'm afraid of asking her to do anything with me because she'll just end up taking on extra responsibilities.

    I bring gifts, ask her to let me help out, and look for ways to compliment her taste, but as a moderately close relative I'd like to have more to offer.

  2. #2
    mrs disregard's Avatar
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    Let her know that you are aware of this:

    She often doesn't eat or rest enough, and she seems to suffer a lot of unnecessary anxiety. If her kids are naughty in front of visitors, she thinks she looks like a bad parent. She cleans her house and kids nonstop and then apologises to guests because she didn't make a huge dinner like she did the last time.

    And that you are there for her if she ever needs to talk.

  3. #3
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Do things to help without asking or without having to be asked. Those SFJs are strange in that way. But if you just do it, then chances are she won't ask you to stop. Although she might complain you didn't do a good enough job when you are done.
    Quote Originally Posted by Silently Honest View Post
    OMNi: Wisdom at the cost of Sanity.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    Do things to help without asking or without having to be asked. Those SFJs are strange in that way. But if you just do it, then chances are she won't ask you to stop. Although she might complain you didn't do a good enough job when you are done.
    Yep! If I ask my ISFJ boyfriend, then he will say no because he HATES putting people out or burdening someone else. If I just do it, he'll appreciate it tremendously. My grandfather is also an ISFJ. When he was taking care of my dying grandmother, my mother & I would just go to the house and cook, clean, do laundry, etc because if we didn't, he would do it all himself. However, if you asked him what he needed help with, he would say nothing and cook YOU dinner. Neither my boyfriend nor my grandfather will ever ask you to stop once you start helping them & after initially just stepping up and helping without being asked, they are both more inclined to reach out to you if they do need help.

    About the complaining... haha Whenever I would take over cooking dinner for my grandfather, he always got up and had to show me how to cut the potatoes the right way or make sure I was putting in the exact amount of oil in the pan. When I was taking my boyfriend around town to look for jobs, he would make comments about our timing between places or how he would've routed our trip around time differently. However, once you let it go in one ear and out the other, you realize that it's just the change of you helping them for once & it isn't irritating at all.

    I've found that letting them know you care and notice everything they've done seems to make them smile a bit too. Frequently, ISFJ's feel unnoticed (but they'll rarely let you know).

  5. #5
    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Teach her how to laugh at her situation without feeling embarrassed.


  6. #6
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    One question: How old is she?

    This seems to be very common for ISFJ moms/wives in their 20's. Hopefully as they get older, they'll grow to accept themselves more as human rather than as Superwoman and give themselves more leeway. But often they can't accept this until they bottom out and reach a point where they CAN'T keep going as they are...

    ... at which point you should keep an eye out for her and be there to catch her when she finally fades. She'll need someone to reorient her.

    Much of the behavior you describe seems very kind and generous to others (which it is, consciously, for her), but unconsciously it is because she basically feels inadequate and always has to do and be more in order to find her self-worth. When she fails to live up to her own standards (which are usually very rigorous), she feels guilty and has to ask forgiveness.

    The first thing she'll probably realize is that others don't judge her the way she judges herself. (Note: If her mom is active in her life, and critical, that will be HARD to overcome -- the mom figure is very strong for ISFJ women in this mode.) She will probably push that aside -- "Well, fine, but it doesn't matter what THEY think, I still know what is right and ideal and I have to meet it!" This is her over-responsibility taking hold again.

    Then she'll finally start running out of energy while simultaneously feeling like no one values all of her sacrifices. But she'll still try to keep going. She's probably quite amazing in her industriousness.

    Anyway, I might be veering off track -- but you need to ride it out with her. Do not deny her vision of what she should be, when she tells you all the things she is capable of doing and NEEDS to do, you can acknowledge those are good things. I would praise her quietly because of all the things she does and is, while meanwhile trying to 'steer' her into accepting her limitations by making suggestions to her of better approaches. Especially if you can give her tangible, practical advice, she will be able to latch onto that; avoid vague abstractions, she needs application, and especially if you can give her specific examples that she can model herself after.

    You be doin' a good job, stick with her.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  7. #7
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    First, I want to say how sweet it is of you to be so compassionate toward your relative and want to help her out. Clearly you care for her, even if you're not on a similar wavelength with her.

    Second, I'd echo what others have said: don't ask if you can help her, just find a way to help and do it. She will not likely accept your offer of help, and if she does it may feel shameful to her to have burdened you. Be the laundry fairy, or the dish fairy. She'll know it was you and she'll appreciate it even if she's too embarrassed to call attention to it.

    I might try turning your compliments on their noses a bit, too-- instead of remarking on how immaculate her home is, remark on how well she has created an environment where her family can enjoy each other's company. Instead of remarking on how well-behaved her children are, remark on how they clearly love and are loved by her, and what a testimony that is to her devotion. I'm concerned with my childrens' behavior and the state of my house when I have visitors, but I'm MORE concerned with providing unconditional love and giving them a happy childhood.

    If you think she needs a break from mom/wife stuff, you could ask to spend time with the kids while she goes somewhere alone. It's probably better to make it about you wanting to see them than offering to "help her out." If she sees through that, which she probably will, you can also frame it to her as a way to present her best self to the family.
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  8. #8
    resonance entropie's Avatar
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    I think one of MY great advantages in this life is that I dont care shit. My whole life the depression of my ISFJ mum and the constant worry about the future of my ISTP father should have been a weight on my shoulders.

    I stood up in the morning and asked my mum, how can I help today. There is always something, the something is sometimes encryptically transmitted, but you get it naturally.

    I was reliable, constant and I was allowed to freak out, due to being overall constant.

    My mum herself went to a psychological health institute for half a year. My father, even more ressourceful as I am and me managed together with my sister the daily work.

    There was no emotional break in our family, when my mother went to the hospital. We were all hoping for her to get well and we supported her and we would have supported her until the ghost we were fighting would have ripped our fucking heads off.

    I myself was never aware of the fact that my mother is, what she is. Recently I got to know an INFJ girlfriend and she made me aware of the fact that my depression possibly could come from my mothers. I never thought of me being depressive. Now, I dont trust my so called girlfriend and now I dont trust myself either.

    I love my mum and I appreciate her. I try to show it to her every day in doing those things she likes and to confuse her with my university engineering knowledge.

    And most of all, I do one thing ! I be me. She can have any depression she likes, it is not me who must have it too. It is me who can try to change it.

    And in the end, when any effort of trying to change her mood or view of life has failed. I have to face the consequence that she might be happy with the way things are... on a of level of security, I barely can dream of.
    [URL]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEBvftJUwDw&t=0s[/URL]

  9. #9
    Member Buds of May's Avatar
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    I appreciate the suggestions. I have no idea how to implement some of them, but they're food for thought.

    As for doing chores against protest, I'm afraid she might take it as an insult to her domestic hygeine. Sounds like an excuse, but I'm told that when I scold her kids about some dangerous antic, she takes it as a judgement against her parenting, as though someone else is having to discipline them. I don't know if she thinks other people are having to clean her house because she's not doing it to their standards.

    Her parents are a lot less meticulous about that sort of thing. I don't know how old she is. Maybe mid thirties?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    I might try turning your compliments on their noses a bit, too-- instead of remarking on how immaculate her home is, remark on how well she has created an environment where her family can enjoy each other's company. Instead of remarking on how well-behaved her children are, remark on how they clearly love and are loved by her, and what a testimony that is to her devotion. I'm concerned with my childrens' behavior and the state of my house when I have visitors, but I'm MORE concerned with providing unconditional love and giving them a happy childhood.
    I never thought of this. Other relatives say that she's worried about her impressions on guests. Of course she has more important interests, so it makes sense that she wouldn't devote herself so much to these tasks if she didn't have another level of motives. Good point.

    She'll probably take it with the same air of demure dispassion she takes other compliments, but it certainly sounds more satisfying.

  10. #10
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buds of May View Post
    I never thought of this. Other relatives say that she's worried about her impressions on guests. Of course she has more important interests, so it makes sense that she wouldn't devote herself so much to these tasks if she didn't have another level of motives. Good point.

    She'll probably take it with the same air of demure dispassion she takes other compliments, but it certainly sounds more satisfying.
    I just saw this. I think Ivy's idea is wonderful, she really honed in the underlying motivations and what needs to be emphasized.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

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