Do you pile a ton of things onto your to-do list but soon find yourself overwhelmed? Do you have a hard time avoiding impulsiveness? When a judging process is in the auxiliary or Co-Pilot position in the Car Model, it takes conscious effort to engage it. Therefore, making a decision can take forever because it does not come as naturally as the primary function or Driver position. In this article, I want to address the decision-making process called “Authenticity.”
The technical name for “Authenticity” is Introverted Feeling which values identity, ethics, and the human experience. It’s the process that many artists use to create their masterpieces. Some of the world’s best actors, musicians, and business owners use Authenticity as a strength. And since it’s in the Co-pilot position for both ENFPs and ESFPs, it is a source of growth.
The 10 Year Old called “Effectiveness,” or Extraverted Thinking, loves building sustainable systems and managing resources. It encourages the organization of time as well as the physical world, having fluency in accomplishing tasks efficiently. While that seems like a nice virtue for any person to have, it shows up as a weakness for ENFPs and ESFPs ( ExFPs for short when referring to both types at the same time). Effectiveness can sabotage any efforts for slowing down and can entice ExFPs into thinking they can do anything in the world with no regard for limitation. Having very idealistic views about what they can accomplish, they tend to fill their to-do lists with as many ‘want-to-have’ experiences to the point of not being physically capable of finishing them all and frequently becoming workaholics by accident. Whether constrained by time, money, or the unfortunate limitations of a human body that needs food or sleep, no one experiences everything in a lifetime
I have many ENFP and ESFP friends, allowing me to witness quite a few trains on a crash course, so to speak. And as a friend, I readily attempt to help them but oftentimes they’re convinced that they ‘have it under control’ and have competency. However, competency was never the issue. Effectiveness as a Driver or Co-Pilot process knows when to delegate, ask for help, and how to prioritize their to-do lists effectively for optimal sustainability. ExFPs have a blindspot when it comes to this, at least until they’re grounded in a solid value system which will help them focus their attention. Therefore, the better strategy for keeping reigns on their insatiable curiosity is developing Authenticity.
Develop Your Co-Pilot
It’s important to use Authenticity as the primary decision maker because it asks the question, “What is the right choice for me that honors my identity best?” When you first start developing this process, it might feel like you sacrifice a portion of your freedom. I’ll be honest, in a sense you are. However, that’s exactly why developing your Co-Pilot is so essential! Unfettered freedom isn’t necessarily good or right. Running away from commitment or responsibility will bite you in the back faster than you think, and then you won’t know what hit you because you’ll have forgotten what started the spiral in the first place. This can spur from something as small as a fear of settling into a relationship, to something as big as trying to run a company with no moral compass. No matter the scale of the concern, Authenticity is necessary to stabilize your life.
Before I get into this, I want to point out that slowing down and getting in touch with your feelings is a necessary preliminary step. This means creating an intentional space geared toward self-reflection. Make sure it’s your space, filling it with things that represent you. Your favorite art pieces, maybe some candles, the books that have helped you, the pillows you find most comfortable, or anything that makes this space as sacred as possible. Allow yourself the freedom to get in touch with your emotions, no matter what they are. You have full permission let go and experience everything that comes up for you.
I will list some quiet activities that you can attempt in this space, and then I’ll list a few that you can do socially. All of these exercises focus on developing your Authenticity.
- Read “Nonviolent Communication” by Marshall B Rosenberg. It teaches you how to identify the emotions you’re feeling, what unmet needs they might correlate with, and how to address those needs to remain in integrity with your values.
- If you haven’t yet, start writing in a journal. Reflect on the experiences of the day and determine how you felt about them. What do those feelings tell you? What is important to you based on these emotions? Do this especially when making a big decision.
- If you aren’t able to make a decision about the right course of action to take in this stage of your life, list all of the options that appeal to you on index cards. (That means one card for each idea. Ten ideas? Make ten separate cards.) Tape these cards around your room, your bathroom or your office space. As you go through your week, see which ones continue to give you a sense of ‘rightness.’ When one option no longer aligns with your internal values, take it down and throw it away. Continue this process until you’ve narrowed everything down to the last card that continues to remain taped up. That’s your decision. Stick with it as long as possible. Then when things aren’t feeling aligned anymore, repeat this process.
- Listen to the stories of others. Gauge what emotions they might be feeling and what values they probably have based on their tone of voice and the theme of the story. (This first part can also be done reading an autobiography or listening to a story podcast). Then ask them about their values to see if you were correct. Afterward, do the same exercise on yourself when you start telling your own story. Invite them to have a conversation about how both sets of values can be understood.
- Practice saying ‘no’ to the things you feel uncomfortable or uncertain about. Even if you think it might be inconvenient for another person, say no. This is an exercise to remain in integrity with your values. If this sounds like a scary thing to do, I recommend a book by Jia Jiang called, “Rejection Proof.” He takes the fear of rejection and turns it into an experiment – almost a game. See if this mindset will help you get comfortable with standing your ground and maintaining your integrity. Play around with your body language and how you word your dissent to see what method feels right.
As you can see, Authenticity requires a lot of inner reflection. It’s a quiet process that analyzes the human experience, so the more in touch with your feelings you are, the more accurate your emotional data will be.
Getting Into Growth
If you allow the Effectiveness process to give you a false sense of control, you enable all of your ideas to spiral into unmanageable chaos or impulsiveness. So instead, let this process act as a support system. Effectiveness builds a container or framework, so you can use that as a starting point to launch into Authenticity.
Make a priority list of what’s important to you, and then journal about what each of those things mean to you. Set aside a particular time and give yourself undivided, unscattered attention, to you and your inner world. Pay attention to what your heart tells you.
Let me give you an example of how each type uses the relationship between their Authenticity and Effectiveness processes to stay in integrity.
An ENFP I know retired recently and should be reaping the benefits of her hard work by traveling and connecting with her international friends. She grew up with an abusive parent and struggled in that dynamic well into adulthood. Now, her elderly mother needs assistance and she is the only one out of the family capable of taking care of her, so she grits her teeth and does so. As discouraging as it may be to sacrifice travel to nurture the woman who gave her a tumultuous childhood, she makes peace with this fate because she grounds herself with principles that align with her identity. Here are her three main values:
- She values family.
Never having a solid familial structure, she sought to mend the tattered pieces of family that she had. She reached out to anyone who was related, even if they’d never spoken before. Everything that her mother did to her that negatively affected her, she vowed to do the opposite. This ENFP crafted her own standard for what a family should look like, and she let that direct her interactions with them.
- She allowed God into her life.
Whether you believe in God or not, this was a massive point of growth for this ENFP. She never tries to push her religion onto others – rather, she uses it as a moral compass for her own life. It’s what helped her overcome a victim mentality and continues to be a guiding light for her today as a mother, aunt, friend, and especially the kind of daughter that took in her elderly mother.
- She crafts the mood of her relationships.
Her relationship with her daughter can get rocky sometimes, but she always remembers what’s most important. She wants love to rule the relationship, so she lets prioritization jump start her Authenticity by asking “Which is more important to me? Arguing with my daughter about the dirty dishes? Or building a positive relationship with her? If, God forbid, she were to die tomorrow, I would wish there were dirty dishes to argue over. So I’ll let her be.”
Her Effectiveness process metricized the factors in her life which led to her reflection on what they meant to her and what values stemmed from them. She is as solid as ever in her pursuit of crafting a stable and loving family.
Extra tip: If you’re an ENFP who has a solid relational foundation and you’re looking for business advice, it’s possible to use the same tactics to establish a vision for your business. Many successful ENFP business owners have left a massive impact and inspired the world.
My ESFP friend sometimes has trouble making decisions about a relationship. Her idealism leads her to a particular kind of person, seeking similar qualities in every date she meets. I think what she’s looking for is the possibility of someone giving her an adrenaline rush – however, the people capable of this aren’t necessarily right for her. She has gotten into relationships where they relied on her maturity to fix every problem in their life. None of those relationships lasted because the short term reward of adrenaline and adventure didn’t grant long-term stability. This gets even more confusing if the person you’re with is financially stable and has a good job. Knowing who is right for you takes time and patience. My friend has not yet found “the one, ” but she has started to craft her value system which I think will be inspiring for other ESFPs.
- Teamwork instead of codependency.
My ESFP friend has started to look for traits of teamwork in a person. When they’re willing to co-create a good vibe in the relationship, she’ll take them seriously. They must be prepared to put in the work. Usually, she would jump in quickly to save them from a problem they created, so now she takes a step back every once in a while and observes what they do. Do they offer to help? Do they bring up any solutions? Do they do their part in making this a balanced relationship? If she can say ‘yes’ to these questions, that brings her love interest closer to a ‘yes’ as well.
- Interest rather than adrenaline.
Getting adrenaline hits can be fun, so she has decided to continue getting those from her friends and through testing out new experiences. However, she’s decided to make sure a prospective partner is interesting to her instead of simply fun. The difference here is that the person could be a homebody, or perhaps someone intellectual that could teach her something, balancing out some of her impulsive tendencies with other things that she likes but aren’t adventurous. She happens to love psychology and learning about how people work, and although she doesn’t focus on this topic consistently, it’s still something that fascinates her. If she could find a partner that could feed that part of her without relying on them to bring her play, it opens up a wider range of possibility for a stable relationship. And you never know, they could end up being intellectual AND adventurous at the same time!
- Tangible instead of ‘What if.’
Every once in a while, my ESFP friend would get caught up in the ‘what if’ of a relationship, trying to struggle through some negative components and compromising her values. To this day, doing so never brought anything positive to the relationship. She holds the love of her family in utmost importance, maintains good rapport with her friends and coworkers, and upholds the routines that keep her on task throughout the day. She makes sure she won’t sacrifice ANY of these values, not one, for anyone interested in her. Ever. Her love interest must respect every one of these values right at the beginning.
So as you can see, similarly to the ENFP, she uses her Authenticity process to determine what’s most important to her and she doesn’t sway from it. Now she can focus more clearly and say no to the people who don’t align with these principles. She no longer expends time and energy on the people who don’t meet these criteria, and she has been able to keep some of her sanity and reduce the drama.
Extra Tip: Just like ENFPs, it’s also possible to use the same tactics to establish a vision for your business or career. ESFPs that are business owners, politicians, lawyers, etc. have crafted a significant number of the morals we have today. It’s not impossible if you stay focused.
In these examples of ExFPs, you may not like their choices or how they go about things but that’s the power of Authenticity. It makes a person centered in their identity which inevitably will lead to a unique lifestyle all their own.
If you’re an ENFP or an ESFP reading this article, don’t be afraid to get in touch with your emotions. Make a list of the things important to you and use that as a stepping stone to your deepest values. If you’re worried about losing your sense of freedom, use your Authenticity process to analyze that emotion and determine what’s right for you. Will you keep those options open, or settle? Once you’ve identified your most important ideals, you’ll be unstoppable in whatever quest you undertake. Look inward. The first few times you try to do so may not be successful and that’s ok. Keep leveling up. Keep aiming for the purest part of your identity. Then, your natural curiosity will handle the rest.
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