Do you ever wonder if other people fear the same things that you do? Perhaps you’re one of those lucky people who doesn’t fear anything and wonders why other people fear things. For a long time I’ve wondered if fears are tied in any way to personality type. I decided to research fear months ago, and have since then been talking to as many people as possible about their fears and how they might be related to type. I’ve also been researching my MBTI® manuals and books to see if they had anything to say.
What I Found Out
There were definitely variations in the major fears of each personality type. I made it my goal to get responses from at least 300 people of each personality type before writing a blog post about their fears. What I discovered is that there were some universal irrational fears (spiders, heights, snakes) but that aside from those, the fears varied drastically according to type. NT types, for example, greatly feared mediocrity and stupidity. SJ types mentioned insecurity and financial ruin. NF types tended to have more existential worries about meaninglessness and the afterlife.
We’re Not All the Same
While this study I’m doing showed differences in the majority of fears that each personality type faced, obviously, there are exceptions to each of these fears. For example, a huge number of ISTJs mentioned crowds as a major fear, but there were several who said crowds didn’t bother them at all. There are always going to be variations within type, so all this post is going to show us is what the majority mentioned. This post will show us what the top 10 fears were based on the number of times they were mentioned.
The Top Ten Things That Terrify ISTJs
ISTJs mentioned the fear of crowds far more than any other fear. Because they are introverts, ISTJs are going to get their energy recharged from being alone. Being in crowds is physically draining to many ISTJs who dislike the hustle and bustle of getting around large groups of people and/or having to interact with them.
ISTJs like to have a plan and to know where they are and what’s going to happen. They greatly dislike being in unfamiliar, strange environments.
“I get severe anxiety from having to drive in new cities I’ve never been to before. Before I go to a new city, I obsess over maps and directions, trying to mentally ascertain where everything is so that when I get there I’ll know what I’m doing. People think it’s petty, but it really bothers me.”
– Laura, an ISTJ
To an ISTJ, having a plan and knowing what to expect is a vital way to maintain clarity and balance in life. ISTJs thrive on consistency and following through on their words. They plan for the future, and like to have an organized schedule. Having to deal with open-ended plans, unfinished decisions, spontaneity, and uncertainty in careers or relationships can cause them severe stress and worry.
ISTJs are great believers in responsible living. They are often careful with money, and they are excellent at planning for the future financially. A fear that many ISTJs mentioned was the fear of somehow facing financial ruin; whether it was through a financial collapse in the country, identity theft, losing a job, etc,. The idea of not having financial control in life was a major concern and fear for the majority of ISTJs I spoke with, which is why they are some of the best financial planners around. Many ISTJs thrive in careers that involve managing money, investments, and budgets.
Relationships are very important to the ISTJ, and the fear of being abandoned by someone important to them is nearly unbearable. ISTJs follow through on their promises and take their commitments seriously, so when they choose to marry or have children they believe in maintaining those bonds and fostering those relationships. The fear of losing a relationship, of being discarded by those closest to them, is a very real fear to many ISTJs.
“I’m a true introvert, but the idea of abandonment really scares me. I don’t want to be left alone by the people I care about. Even when I go to the airport with my husband, I worry about losing him at the airport.”
– Carla, an ISTJ
ISTJs take their security, and the security of their families, very seriously. Some said that they keep a registered firearm nearby when they go to sleep, others mentioned always having their cell phone handy so that they can dial 911 if necessary, many mentioned installing high-end home security systems. While this fear was mentioned very frequently, it was also something that ISTJs were very proactive about dealing with in a practical way.
Loss of Loved Ones
This fear was universal for nearly every personality type, but many types mentioned it in different ways. Some types mentioned losing children more, others mentioned losing spouses more, ISTJs mentioned “loved ones” in general and didn’t make as many distinctions between children, spouses, or friends.
Losing Physical Health/Disease
Being physically helpless was an area of great concern for many ISTJs. With loss of physical health comes loss of control and autonomy; both things that are very important to the ISTJ.
“I try to eat healthily and exercise so that I can ward off illness in my old age as long as possible. I hate the idea of being physically incapable but mentally being able to function well and not being able to do the things I need to do without help.”
– Jerry, an ISTJ
Driving Over Train Tracks
This was one of the more surprising fears that I came across when speaking with ISTJs. They did not like driving over train tracks, and many also didn’t like driving over bridges. Those who mentioned this fear said that they knew it was irrational, but they felt like there was something ominous or threatening about having to drive or walk over train tracks. They felt they needed to “gun it” while driving to get over them as quickly as possible.
Unexpected Phone Calls
ISTJs usually prefer having their socializing planned out ahead of time. This can apply to phone calls as well as personal meetings and get-togethers. Getting an unexpected phone call “just to chat” can make an ISTJ feel agitated or stressed. They may feel nervous about what they’re going to say when they’re caught off guard or they may just feel tense because their plans have been disrupted.
What Do You Think?
Do you experience these fears or do they seem irrational to you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!