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  1. #1
    [bento boxed] EJCC's Avatar
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    Default Friendship and Relationship Imbalances

    Making a new thread to avoid a derail.

    From "What Pisses You Off About ESTJs?":

    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    Their discomfort with emotion can cause problems in how I relate to them. They find vulnerability really difficult and sometimes can unwittingly try to maintain the upper hand as a means of self protection. They are great teachers, but find it really difficult to accept help or comfort from other people. As colleagues or acquaintances, it's no problem, but for closer relationships it creates an imbalance that I dislike.
    ^ 100% true in my experience. And the flip side of the coin is that it alienates ESTJs from everyone else, and can (but does not always) keep them from forming real, healthy relationships, with open communication.

    How can we (i.e. ESTJs) address this imbalance? Is it possible? How can we better engage with people on their level?
    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"

    ESTJ - LSE - ESTj (mbti/socionics)
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    want to ask me something? go for it!
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  2. #2
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    I suppose it takes time to build up enough trust to be vulnerable, but there's also an element of will involved. We all have ways of avoiding being vulnerable which are expressed differently,depending on type, but which get in the way of intimacy and building trust, so it's not like estjs are alone in that.

    Estjs tend to define themselves and value themselves in terms of their accomplishments and how independent and competent they are, so it is understandable that asking for help, sharing weaknesses or learning from someone else feels like the opposite of that. Maybe the first step is understanding that as long as it is done judiciously, and there is equal give and take, it is what allows others to feel close to you.

    I find estj competency very appealing, and they are often generous and accomplished at sharing what they are good at. In a closer relationship though, being unwilling to let any help flow towards them indicates to the other person that they are not really needed nor are their abilities valued by the estj. I think often estjs don't understand how serious the impact of that realization is over time.

    I think like many issues that become problems, it is the case of a good tool overused. We all have honed areas which we receive good feedback for, but sometimes when we rely too heavily on one strategy to protect a weakness of ours and to be valued by others, we become a slave to it at the expense of developing the weakness. A hammer is a great tool and one might even find a few unconventional uses for it, but there are certain jobs that would go much better using a different tool.

    Over time, I think that identifying our overused tools can help to consciously become aware of what we are protecting as well as making our shapeless terrifying unconscious fears that we are pushed around by become concrete and conscious so they shrink down to a manageable size to address and so we are not just pushed into certain actions by unidentified emotion caused by our fears.
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  3. #3
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Emotion will always trump rational thought, so if you can identify what makes vulnerability so terrifying, it no longer generates the unexpected waves of emotion and then emotional reactions to thoae emotions.

    Being more given to action than introspection, and also having feeling as their inferior function, emotion can seem superfluous and out of control and unwieldy to estjs and therefore avoided by them when it is unpleasant. However most emotion is there as a signal to move us toward action. If we shut it out entirely or just see it as a nuisance, it will still affect the way we function, but in a way that leaves us at its mercy, instead of it being a trusty servant.

    While I understand that it is unlikely for estjs to unburden themselves of their deepest fears or sadnesses and vulnerabilities in a public way, I think maybe the first step is seeing oneself as two people - one like a kid that is sometimes afraid, angry, unreasonable, anxious etc, and one part as the adult who helps that kid through it. We often are much less communicative and harsher on ourselves than we would be with any child or any friend even. By removing it one step, it is easier to see both what the problem is, and also how to be compassionate and solution oriented. Less waves of emotion to trump your ability to think.

    It might even help to try to write down what's going on first, rather than pushing oneself to share it with others right away. Practicing describing the problem in factual terms may also help the estj to feel more willing to explain whats up to those who are close. They are working with more info then and you lose the stigma felt around having a weakness. Again, seeing it as one step removed is helpful. Even saying that you are unsure of what to say but are feeling x emotion for some reason can be useful.

    Like sharing information, I think maybe starting by allowing people to do small things for you without trying to direct the process is important. If you have to leave the room to manage it, do it. I think for many ejs the thought of giving up control is not just a preference thing, but it strikes at the heart of their identity because they define themselves in terms of what they are able to do.

    To prevent fears from calcifying and spreading or deepening into phobias, the cure often is gradual exposure. In this case, allowing others to care for you in even small ways allows you to examine the resulting emotions or fears in manageable doses and also break through the initial barrier of accepting any help or fear of being seen as needy or incompetent.
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  4. #4
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    In a practical sense:

    - Finding even small ways where you accept some help or learn something new
    - Don't just disappear or get more controlling when you are upset. Tell the people close to you that things aren't great even if you're not ready to talk yet.
    - Bonus if you can indicate the general area surrounding what's bugging you and if someone can be helpful by making you comfort food or asking you questions or distracting you with something, give them some guidance.
    - Express appreciation more than you are naturally inclined to do. This is money in the bank for the times when you don't or can't consciously do that.
    - Privately, get used to looking for and writing down ways other people have helped you or what you can be grateful for. It's humbling to do so maybe, but creates a bridge to more naturally and easily acknowledge gratitude.
    - Ask questions about how people do what they do well. This is less vulnerable than asking them to teach you something but conveys that you recognize that more people than yourself are competent.
    - Express appreciation or affection for someone first, rather than just as a response. No one likes to feel like they are the only one taking chances emotionally.
    - Don't offer solutions when people close to you are upset. If you never show weakness yourself and if you expect people to take your advice or not show emotion, or you minimize their response to something, it conveys that you think they are weak and need managing, rather than that they are your equal.
    - Practice figuring out what you feel when you are upset and what triggered those feelings. Then the focus is off the feeling and onto searching for what that feeling is telling you to pay attention to. You could do this in a journal or with someone who just asks you questions to narrow it down. This doesn't have to be scary. Think of it like an emotional version of 20 questions, where the other person is just narrowing down the choices by asking what category the problem fits into.

    Don't know if any of those are useful. I struggle with issues of what to do with emotions I dislike, power imbalances within the relationship and how to know myself and communicate my needs or wishes clearly, so you are certainly not alone!
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  5. #5
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Sorry, ejcc. Didn't mean to kill all conversation.

  6. #6
    [bento boxed] EJCC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fidelia View Post
    Sorry, ejcc. Didn't mean to kill all conversation.
    No no it's not your fault! Vacation has gotten in the way of my reply. Also you gave me so much great stuff to think about.
    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"

    ESTJ - LSE - ESTj (mbti/socionics)
    1w2/7w6/3w4 so/sx (enneagram)
    lawful good (D&D) / ravenclaw + wampus (HP) / boros legion (M:TG)
    conscientious > sensitive > serious (oldham)
    want to ask me something? go for it!

  7. #7
    [bento boxed] EJCC's Avatar
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    Sorry for my slow processing.

    First of a series of replies:

    While I understand that it is unlikely for estjs to unburden themselves of their deepest fears or sadnesses and vulnerabilities in a public way, I think maybe the first step is seeing oneself as two people - one like a kid that is sometimes afraid, angry, unreasonable, anxious etc, and one part as the adult who helps that kid through it. We often are much less communicative and harsher on ourselves than we would be with any child or any friend even. By removing it one step, it is easier to see both what the problem is, and also how to be compassionate and solution oriented. Less waves of emotion to trump your ability to think.
    This is a good reminder. I don't want to get too personal in this thread right now, but I think I need practice at this specific exercise. A lot of practice.
    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"

    ESTJ - LSE - ESTj (mbti/socionics)
    1w2/7w6/3w4 so/sx (enneagram)
    lawful good (D&D) / ravenclaw + wampus (HP) / boros legion (M:TG)
    conscientious > sensitive > serious (oldham)
    want to ask me something? go for it!

  8. #8
    [bento boxed] EJCC's Avatar
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    @fidelia

    Question for you and for others, that would be helpful to me re: visualization.

    Has an ESTJ you know ever gone too far in the other direction, in this regard? Asked for too much help? Been too needy and too raw? If so, what did that look like? If not, what do you think it would look like? How far would an ESTJ have to go, to go too far?
    EJCC: "The Big Questions in my life right now: 1) What am I willing to live with? 2) What do I have to live with? 3) What can I change for the better?"
    Coriolis: "Is that the ESTJ Serenity Prayer?"

    ESTJ - LSE - ESTj (mbti/socionics)
    1w2/7w6/3w4 so/sx (enneagram)
    lawful good (D&D) / ravenclaw + wampus (HP) / boros legion (M:TG)
    conscientious > sensitive > serious (oldham)
    want to ask me something? go for it!

  9. #9
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    with the ESTJs I've spent a lot of time with, I'd just make sure that they were comfortable with me over time... spend time having fun with them, put effort into opening up to them a bit myself (NOT an easy task) and just letting them get comfortable in trusting me... over time they have tended to get comfortable enough to open up some

    and when the opened up it was my job to listen to them without interrupting (also difficult) and then at the end validate what they said and offer constructive solutions instead of focusing on emotions... once the ESTJs learned that I was not going to make them sit around talking about emotions for hours on end they have usually been more comfortable with discussing things with me

    though my advice as an 8 (also unwilling to discuss things) is to just push through it and realize that having flaws makes you human and sharing these flaws helps build a better connection to other humans. nobody trusts a robot, no matter how cool and efficient it is, and you'll tear yourself up if you keep everything inside all of the time... I know this. it's terrible to do every time I do it, but putting in the effort to just get things off my chest feels better (though embarrassing) in the end... and it's made me some closer friends over time as well.
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett
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  10. #10
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    I don't think I've ever seen an estj become too needy or oversharing. I suppose it's possible theoretically but what feels like over the top for you is likely on the conservative side of normal for others.

    Of course I'm grossly generalizing as I recognize each individual is different even if type predisposes them towards some generalized behaviours.

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