The IAF (Intuitive Alignment & Fulfillment), true to their gift, overflows with empathy. They simply sense when something is “off” especially with people who are hurting or on the fringe feeling disconnected. But in the past couple weeks I have encountered some situations where, for the IAF, compassion can turn to worry. I would like to share them here for all you IAFs out there, as well as those that want to learn how the IAF
thinks feels. This will help everybody navigate relationships with the IAF overall.
Worrying About a New Sibling
My wife recently told me her sister was pregnant. I was so happy because her first baby girl, my niece, is sooooo cute. While I was celebrating, my wife had an interesting reaction. She started to worry for my niece. She claimed, “I feel bad for her because she won’t get all the attention any more and it might be hard on her.” I was a little taken aback at first but immediately recognized what was going on. Even though, from my standpoint, my niece gets a younger sibling to play with, my wife was having compassion for her feelings. She then began to worry about it. She shared with me how she worried about our oldest son Orlando when his younger brother Julian was born. My wonderful wife recounted how bad she felt that she had to split her attention and focus on a new baby, potentially allowing Orlando to feel abandoned. There were clearly shades of the same feelings that happened to her when she was growing up.
Later we quickly made a plan on how we would support her sister during the pregnancy and also our niece. This included ensuring she felt very loved and got all the attention she needed from my two boys during the transition of a new child in the family. It worked. My wife felt better and I get to enjoy another cute niece or nephew.
Worrying About Unemployed Co-Workers
A buddy of mine recounted a classic IAF story. This IAF was getting laid off and was given a release date. It turns out that all her co-workers were being laid off as well–before her. She immediately felt compassion but began to worry about their transition. There is nothing wrong with this. However, the potential trap is this IAF could worry so much about her co-workers, the anxiety spills into her own employment situation and clouds her judgment and ability to take healthy action. This is one of those cases where sometimes you cannot help others until you help yourself first.
What is important is the IAF can often mix up feelings of others with their own identity. That is the core of empathy gone wrong. An IAF can feel so much for another person, relating to their own experiences, it is as if everything is happening directly to them. All emotional boundaries are crossed and the IAF gets mentally “choked out.” Not to say that is what happened in this employment situation. But it can. Which brings me to my last story.
Allowing Someone to Make a Choice Out of Pain
People need to take responsibility for their own actions. This is a choice. If you do not take responsibility for your choices, you will forever remain a victim of people’s expectations and external circumstances. Yes, I recognize that sometimes expectations and circumstances are forced upon us and we are victimized. But you don’t have to stay there. You can always choose how you respond to adversity. You always have a choice.
Sometimes the IAF, in an attempt to protect another from pain, enables the victim mentality.
One of my close IAF friends learned this in a very valuable way. In an attempt to help a friend, I was observing her getting sucked into a vortex of worry and ultimately, hopelessness. I could see it on her face getting worse and worse. But the only way to coach her was to constantly remind her that the friend she was trying to help needed to make a choice. In fact, she needed to step back and allow the worst case scenario to happen if that is how bad it needed to get. I purposely articulated the worst case scenario and acceptance of it, sometimes to the chagrin of other IAFs listening. But what needed to occur was clear. No more rescuing. No more trying to be a savior because it makes you us all feel “good.”
I am happy to say she did step back and it worked. Although it kills her to see others in pain, she is learning that sometimes pain is what it takes for someone to break the victim mentality and choose responsibility.
If you are an IAF, just remember that compassion is a strength. But it can quickly turn into a weakness if it leads to worry. Compassion allows you to connect. Worry will debilitate you and in some case, everyone around you. Learn to step back and recognize the line.
If you know an IAF as described here, understand that this is hard wired into their intrinsic motivation. Their entire Motivational Value System is built upon this foundation. It is not rational. It is emotional and dare I say, spiritual. But you can help an IAF rationally take control and prevent emotional hijacking. Be a friend and provide the same empathy as they do for you.