Shadow Boxing #5: The Phoenix (ESTP Shadow)

Tuesday, May 02, 2017 2 Comments A+ a-

Hello, Cafe friends! Come on in and help yourself to some coffee, tea, a smoothie, or whatever strikes your fancy. At the moment, I'm enjoying a hot mug of Pumpkin Spice tea. Temps took a nose-dive this week and the wind is howling like a banshee outside. I'm freezing cold and so, so ready for mild weather.

You know what else I'm ready for? A house. Hubby and I have been renting for over four months now, and we've discovered that we're not good at it. In fact, it's driving us crazy. Not that this is a bad's actually quite nice. But we miss owning a home. So we've been looking around, trying to find that perfect-for-us house in that perfect-for-us neighborhood. It's become sort of a waiting game. Waiting for the buyer's market, waiting for inventory to go up, waiting for prices to come down, etc.

And it's totally stressing me out, because not only am I bad at renting, I'm bad at waiting.

Me, attempting to wait.

Patience isn't really my thing. I'm all or nothing, so when a task needs to be done, I'm either planning for it, tackling it, or wrapping it up and moving on to the next one. Waiting doesn't feel productive to me. So in order to "wait" to buy a house, I end up obsessively doing whatever seems like progress...running numbers, flying from one open house to the next, checking my Zillow app every five minutes for new listings. Sometimes, we think we've found the right one. Then, when we have to back off for some reason, I fall into deep disappointment.

And an even deeper bowl of Edy's french vanilla ice cream.

This, folks, is the opening act of my ESTP shadow. If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that my term of endearment for this beast is the Phoenix. She's like the dark side of Jean Grey (non-nerds, Google the X-Men). I try to keep her caged, but when she gets riled, she rattles the bars--you know, to make sure I'm paying attention. She's way less patient than I am, and if I don't settle her down, she'll keep rattling. And rattling, and rattling, until I can't stand it anymore and finally set her fiery butt free.

Which brings me to our final shadow boxing post. We've covered each of the four shadow functions separately and exposed their tactics. Now it's time to bring out the big guns. Gloves up, people, and prepare yourself for...

Shadow Boxing #5: The Phoenix (ESTP Shadow)

Okay, so what exactly is the ESTP shadow?

Basically, it's our opposite self. We INFJs are introverted feelers, quietly focused, driven by sensitivity and the desire for connection, justice, and harmony in the outside world. The ESTP is an extraverted sensor, radiantly divergent, driven by spontaneity and the desire for action, enthusiasm, and excitement in the outside world.

These two are radically different. Even when their motives are the same, they will take very different approaches. One is quiet, intense, and consistent. The other is loud, energetic and unpredictable. What does this look like in the boxing ring? Well, I couldn't find any images of Jean Grey battling herself, so I'm settling for this:

According to the movies, Jean is a mild-mannered, intelligent lady working with Professor X to develop her telekinetic and intuitive powers. She's skilled, but doesn't have much faith in her abilities, and she's unaware that the Professor has been mentally caging her darker, more powerful side somewhere in the dim recesses of her mind. Under stress, though, that dark creature--which calls itself the Phoenix--has a tendency to rise up and take control. She's restless, passionate, and easily angered. She also has a super short fuse, so it doesn't take much for her to lose her sh*t.

Sound familiar? INFJs can be pretty intense, and we don't always feel in control of that intensity. I suspect this is one reason we door-slam people who bring out the worst in us. We're uncomfortable destroying them, so we walk away instead. It feels better than unleashing.

But how do we get to that unleashing point? What causes it? How is it possible for us to go from mild-mannered-Jean to dark-side-Phoenix, and how do we handle the two extremes?

I'm glad you asked.

In doing research for this post, I came across a cool article. This cool article contains an even cooler graphic that visually points out what's going down with our ESTP shadow. Let's go over it, okay? And as we do, keep in mind that the ESTP shadow is our opposing self...a set of behaviors that we're not equipped to handle.

Here we go...

Wow, that's a lot of letter combinations, right? Never fear, though, this is all explainable. We'll start at the top and work our way down.

ESTP personality types are extremely dynamic. They're likes gypsies, restless and dramatic and loads of fun. I have an ESTP friend who is very dear to me, and she's a hoot. I mean, the woman is a party all by herself. She's dramatic and stylish. Creative. She's bold and often reckless, too, making life up as it goes along, and she's an expert at getting what she wants.

Now, imagine you're an anxious INFJ under stress (for most us, that's easy). One by one, our functions get overwhelmed and unbalanced. Intuition and feeling go first, quickly taken over by too much thinking and perceiving. Sensory data gets rerouted. This is where SP kicks in, and we begin to feel restless. Suppressed intuition leads to rapid decision making (ESTPs are super quick on their feet), and before we know it, ET feels overprotective and starts fighting back.

Halfway there...

Okay, if the stress doesn't let up, we go lower. And by lower, I mean out of control. On some level we realize this is happening. So we try to control ourselves, but we do it with the wrong functions in charge. Instead of using intuition to make decisions, we rely on external sensory data, and when we try to control that, EP will take us down paths we would never go down in our right minds. Along the way, we fall prey to extraverted thinking (the Trickster function), and the paranoia of thinking everyone is out to get us tricks our ST into manipulating people/circumstances to regain power and control.

I want power and control. And a bowl of Edy's
french vanilla ice cream. NOW!!!

Jeez. No wonder we freak people out when we're stressed.

Now, being under the influence of our ESTP shadow doesn't always mean destruction. It means that we behave opposite of our normal selves, and in a negative way. When I'm totally stressed, I don't become my fun-loving ESTP friend who's the life of the party. I turn into a negative version of her. Why? Because I'm stressed. I'm also an amateur at being an ESTP and can't handle engaging in her behavior. She's an expert at it, but I'm not.

The article I mentioned earlier lists some specific examples of how INFJs might behave while in the grip of their Phoenix. Rather than quoting them here (and making this already-long post even longer), I'll just point you to the article again, and you can check it out on your own. On a personal note, my Phoenix loves indulging her senses. The first thing she does when I uncage her is spend money. Without a second thought (she loves clothes). She also likes wine, flirting, expensive meals, being completely spontaneous, taking risks, saying whatever pops into her freaky little head, and talking people into buying her stuff (usually more clothes and wine). And somewhere in all that craziness, she'll polish off the rest of the ice cream.


In all the research I've done for this Shadow Boxing series, a lot of helpful hints for resolution have surfaced. They all seem to fall under two main categories: awareness and self-care. Let me reiterate their importance.


This means being aware of your own personality and everything that comes along with it...including stress triggers. Every INFJ is different. What gets on your last nerve may not have the same impact on another INFJ. Work at identifying the things that rile your Phoenix. Write them down or talk about them if you need to. Understand that your ego plays a vital role in how you react to things, and that it can be trained to react differently. When it comes to dealing with stress, soothing the Phoenix before it can escape (and make your life miserable) is half the battle.


This is the other half. We are living in a world that caters to extraverted sensors. It's also a world that puts a big emphasis on self-sacrifice. All too often, we INFJs are led to believe that giving ourselves away is a beautiful, heroic thing. And sometimes, it is. We're definitely built for it. But we can't give what we don't have. We must take time to nourish our mind, soul, body, and spirit...without feeling guilty. Yoda spent a lot of time in meditation. Jesus often fled to the wilderness. They weren't being selfish. They were recharging, because they knew it would enable them to better serve the people they cared about.

More than anything, knowing yourself and taking care of yourself will help keep you out of the shadows. :)

Well, we made it, guys. The Shadow Boxing series has come to an end. I hope that you found it helpful, insightful, or both. And before I close, please allow me to direction your attention to the PageView counter on the righthand side of the Cafe website. Yes, take a look. Right now.

It's over 1 million hits!

Woot! I'm so excited that the Cafe has come this far, and in my excitement, I went a little nuts and planned for a super fun giveaway. More details in the next post!

Giveaway teaser :)

Take care, my friends. I'm off to plan the giveaway...and stock up on ice cream...

Love and blessings,

Image Credit: Winchester Waits, Jean Grey-Phoenix, INFJ ShadowGimme Ice Cream, Giveaway Teaser (me)


Write comments
Erik Thor
July 25, 2017 at 1:49 PM delete


I loved your take on my article! It even helped me understand my own point better. :P

Glad you liked it.

July 25, 2017 at 2:18 PM delete

Hey there! Thanks for the comment. Your article was super-cool and I loved using the image to help with this last Shadow Boxing post. Keep up the good work and stay awesome! :)