The Helper. The Consul. The Caregiver.
This is me.
Maybe it’s you, too?
In the Myers-Briggs personality test, ESFJ’s are called the Consuls or Caregivers. They are described as friendly, outgoing, conscientious, reliable, organized and practical. They have an innate desire to help others and feel best when being productive.
In the Enneagram personality test, type 2’s are, “Twos are a feeling-based type with a focus on relationship. They excel at making connections and empathizing with the needs and feelings of other people. They are usually good at supporting others and helping bring out their potential” (The Enneagram Network).
Whether or not you believe in tests such as these, there is much to be gained from them. If you sit down and take them without rushing through, the results are quite accurate. I’ve taken both the Myers-Briggs and the Enneagram tests several times and from several different websites, and they always come out with the same results. Also, when I showed the characteristics of these two tests to my husband (who knows me best), he agreed that they both bit my personality pretty good.
Studying the positives and negatives of these results has helped me look inward and understand myself and how I interact with those around me. My opinion is that having a helper’s heart is not necessarily a bad thing. Yet, there are a few lessons I’ve learned about having this kind of persona.
“Living in a world with this personality type is both amazing and heartbreaking. “Britt LeBoeuf
Our help or concern is not always welcomed.
I live my life in service to others. At my core, I’m a tender-hearted person that strives to enrich the lives of those around me. These qualities make me a good mom, partner, friend and advocate. Also, likely why my education is in the human services field and I have taken up writing about parenthood, my personal struggles and everyday life stuff since becoming a stay-at-home mom.
Helpers don’t like it when our efforts to help go unappreciated. As much as we thrive on providing acts of service, we also take great pride in hearing that our work is being seen. Not in a prideful way, but just that we are appreciated.
We tend to dote on others, even when they don’t need it or want it. This can sometimes be “too much” for those that aren’t willing recipients of such acts. As a result, helpers can easily get offended when our help is shunned or taken for granted. As I’ve grown and become the person I am today, I’ve learned that I need to go where I’m wanted. Sometimes it’s best to focus your help on people that will appreciate it.
Helpers are not so good at self care.
Having a helper’s heart in a jaded world can also be damaging. Helpers tend to neglect their own care. Part of being a helper is having an almost unexplainable ability to read other’s emotions and feel the energy in a room, also called being empathetic. We are like sponges to the emotions and needs of others, and while we live to help others, being around negative energy sucks the winds right out of our sails.
Helpers can also feel like they have to take the blame for others, as if something they did caused that person to act that way.
It is important to step away from the world from time to time. We need time to ourselves to recharge our batteries and disperse any negative energy that we might have had to deal with. By doing this, we are better able to return to the world in a positive light and return to our usual helpful selves. By putting the needs of others ahead of their own, helpers burn out faster than other personality types.
Relationships can be tough.
Having fulfilling bonds with other people means the world to helpers, it’s what we fill our cups with. Helping people we care about is our bread and butter. Yet, when we don’t get that in return or our efforts aren’t being appreciated, we get pissed. We expect the same out of a friend or partner as we give to them. This is where things get dicey. Not every other person thrives on giving back or even receiving. So, it’s important to remember this when focusing too much effort on people that aren’t like this.
Helpers also tend to stick their noses in when it’s not needed. I’m notoriously and inexcusably defensive of the people I love and even myself. I will draw swords for them without all the facts if I feel they are being threatened. I fight other’s battles and do it fiercely and without mercy. When I don’t get that back, it breaks my heart.
This is where those with the helper/caregiver personality need to learn to take a step back. When we feel heated, hurt or wronged, whether for ourselves or someone we love, we get white hot and see red. My mouth has gotten me into some pickles because of this. While I’m not always wrong, and I do condone sticking up for your beliefs and values, take a second to breathe.
Better yet, take a day. Sleep on it. Don’t say or do things hastily. Once you’ve had some time to think, make a plan to get your point across in a way that won’t have lasting consequences or burn bridges. This is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.
The takeaway: Living as a consul/helper/caregiver can be so hard. It’s all consuming, more giving them receiving and not always rewarding. Yet, with only 12% of the population having this personality type (ESFJ), we are so needed. The world needs those that step up and step in to help when others won’t. It needs kind-hearted people that are willing to take on the hard work and do the things that others are not. While we don’t always get rewarded or appreciated for who we are or what we do, we need to keep it up. Our children are watching and there are plenty of people in the world that do see what we are doing and benefit from the impact we have made on their lives.
Sources: https://theenneagramatwork.com/type-2-helper, https://www.16personalities.com/esfj-personality, https://personalitymax.com/personality-types/esfj-supporter/