Failing INFJ student- need help to solve | INFJ Forum

Failing INFJ student- need help to solve

Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by Dopamine, Jul 14, 2020.

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  1. Dopamine

    Dopamine Community Member

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    I came here to moan about falling for an INFJ on another thread but realized you guys might be able to help me with another INFJ issue that is very important to me. Insight is really needed.

    I have a grad student (INFJ male) who is currently sort of failing in a big way. He has Major Depressive Disorder (diagnosed). He has disclosed to me that he feels like he is sliding backwards. I have given him the support and advice I know to be useful in that situation.

    The stress of our work has become overwhelming. Without too much of a reveal- we as scientists are neck deep in the research the world is desperate for at the moment. He also has a confidence problem and still, at an advanced point in his training- is reluctant to take charge of his own work and direct the way it is flowing. This is essential for his career.
    Yesterday, because I drove him forward to try and give him a boost- we got somewhere in answering an important question. But at the same time my drive unintentionally revealed in front of the group, a major oversight he had made that wasted a lot of time and resources. I called him out on it because it was a major lesson both he and the other students needed. It wasn’t too bad but I know he is really sensitive and I feel bad about it. I was trained in a dog eat dog environment and my reaction was instinctive. It needed to happen but I now need to figure out how to repair this, as being revealed is his biggest fear. I know his dreams and we are uniquely positioned in this moment to set him up for everything he’s dreamed of- but he seems mired in quick sand.
    I KNOW he has the capacity, but I can’t seem to get him rolling forward right now and it is critical that he does. He seems really stuck and immobile. He knows we are a bit frustrated with him. He knows he needs to take a big leap forward. He knows we have accomplished this before, he and I together have gotten him over other hurdles. He knows I really care what happens to him. He knows I won’t accept excuses. How to I get to him? How do I reach him and get him to let me guide him past this one. Last time he wasn’t mired in self loathing. This time I fear he is, worse I think he has developed a resentment that he should have to.

    My students mean a lot to me. I’ll do anything to support and get them where they want to go. Advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
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  2. Sandie33

    Sandie33 Love Often & Absolutely ♡
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    It's a beautiful thing that you care to help him through, however, by stepping back and allowing him to fail or rise on his own he'll learn he can do it. Failing helps build resilience and empowers the person. They build confidence and self-worth from working through the issues causing the roadblocks.

    My question is, do you plan to carry him through his entire career?

    Provide your student the resources to build a solid framework for his future.
     
  3. OP
    Dopamine

    Dopamine Community Member

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    I agree with you, and normally that would be the track I’d take. It is the track I’ve taken with him and he has not reacted well. He makes apologies and is very chagrined but doesn’t move forward. Unfortunately the work we are doing is high stakes and the pressures from all around and above are intense. We are a pandemic team. The failures due to sloppiness based what I suspect is a worsening depression, looks like laziness and he is putting himself in jeopardy in a high stakes game. I need to figure out a way to talk to him and motivate him without pushing him further into a hole. We also need him right now. In a very real way, all of us do. We don’t have the luxury. We either get him going or sideline him.
     
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  4. Hostarius

    Hostarius A R C

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    Sorry I don't consort with the Oxbridge mafia :p

    What other (social) support systems does he have to lean on when you abandon him or otherwise take a hard-line approach?
     
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  5. OP
    Dopamine

    Dopamine Community Member

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    I have a hard time believing those are the only two choices. I don’t consort with false forced choice dichotomies.
     
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  6. Hostarius

    Hostarius A R C

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    That wasn't facetious, it was a question to be taken literally.

    What other social support systems does he have? This will determine what course of action it is probably best for you to take.
     
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  7. Hostarius

    Hostarius A R C

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    That was a pretty defensive response, actually, as if you've been habituated to anticipate sarcastic barbs under every breath...

    Are you quite sure you weren't trained at Oxford or Cambridge, lol?
     
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  8. OP
    Dopamine

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    It wasn’t meant to be too snippy. We are just at a crossroad with this student and unfortunately I am not the person who controls the outcome. I’m kind of desperate to find a solution. He has friends although farther away and generally come to him for comfort. He has a very serious girlfriend who adores him but unfortunately it is an enraged relationship. His focus on her and underlying severe anxiety is a problem.
     
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  9. OP
    Dopamine

    Dopamine Community Member

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    -* enmeshed not enraged- sorry
     
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  10. Hostarius

    Hostarius A R C

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    What is it with all these folks who adore each other? Tsk... making me sick :unamused: I'm kidding, of course.


    I see. OK, here's my opinion:

    I think that you might be the only 'non-mutual' supporter that he has, and going down a road of 'tough love' or 'sink and swim' might be counterproductive, since withdrawing that sense of security could force him to withdraw even more from the world in search of a deeper sense of security and comfort in retreat.

    If this were my student, I would recognise that the dynamic is parental in this case, and simply endeavour to be a constant, indefatigable support who would never threaten to withdraw it. That means no reputational damage, no embarrassments, no threats or deadlines, just frank and open discussion of his progress. Hold him to his own word rather than your demands.
     
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  11. mintoots

    mintoots Also: Tooth, 뚵수, Tootsu

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    Give him some space and let him be for now. How crucial is his output to your goal? If you can give him some headroom, do so. I have a sense he's cracking under pressure and must be relieved for a while. I have a feeling that when he's rested, he'll come back by his own will and be more productive. His MDD may be a tricky beat though. I think that spending time with him without demanding from him will help him greatly. I have INTJ friends who quietly stuck with me when I couldn't function and even though we don't talk about that stuff, actions like that fill me with gratitude and fill me with the drive to get better.
     
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  12. hithere

    hithere Community Member

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    Difficult situation. You want to help him, but he is not putting in the effort to help himself. The personality you are describing sounds familiar, so I am going to take a shot at giving advice. Disregard if not relevant.

    You say he has severe anxiety and underlying depression. He probably feels he is "not worth it". Not to himself and not to others (would explain an enmeshed relationship).
    You are also saying the reason you feel driven to help him particularly now is because at this time he needs to step up to the plate more than ever, and if he doesn't he will need to be sidelined.
    Doesn't sound like a good combination. He is probably feeling that underlying pressure and anxiety for him to perform from you, which would leave him feeling even more disconnected to himself and his goals. So although you say you know he has the capacity to perform, he probably is just feeling the pressure right now,
    It sounds like what he needs in order to become more "connected" to himself and his goals is someone to believe in him, but not in a rushed, goal oriented way, if that makes sense. Whether he has the courage and energy to believe in himself like that (which is a project) is questionable. However, it doesn't sound like you are in a position to do it for him at this time either. You are too pressured to work towards specific goals.
    Simply believing in someone takes emotional energy and a lot of patience that you cannot afford right now, given the situation.

    I would say, either muster up the energy to truly believe in him anyway (he will feel it if it's fake) or let him do his thing and suffer the consequences. Once that happens, you won't be pressured towards a goal with him, and either you can "work on" believing in him or encourage him to believe in himself (I am assuming he will still be your student.) As I am sure you know, sometimes people need to reach rock bottom before they start their journey up.

    Either way, best of luck with everything! Thank you for the important work you are doing.
     
  13. hithere

    hithere Community Member

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    Just saw Hostarius and Mintoots answers as well. Agree with both of them. Don't know if my "advice" adds much to that.
     
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  14. Peppermint

    Peppermint Well-known member

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    Is his MDD being treated?
     
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  15. slant

    slant Ruby Adoraboobie

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    You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

    Let go of control; you were never in control anyhow.

    Sometimes we must let someone burn themselves so that like a Phoenix they can be reborn from their own ashes.
     
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  16. OP
    Dopamine

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    Actually this advice is exactly what I was looking for, there is definitely a consensus. There is a way to not abandon him (I am not capable of abandoning one of my students, I’m just not) and also making sure his inattentive spell doesn’t derail critical research. It is true that I went to a top tier university where the competition was so rough that you didn’t get many chances at survival. I hated that and vowed to do it differently as I saw really good people crack under the pressure and wash out. I am also aware of and very concerned about supporting those with mental illnesses and know very well it isn’t something you can snap out of.
    I am not in control of the pace of the research, but I can take on more to shield him for a while. I’m pretty tough and can take the pressure for a lot longer. I spent 9 years in the military. I’ve dealt with worse for longer. It matters to me that my students have the best education and support I can give them. Science is a really tough profession. We are brutal towards each other, I worry they will eat him alive if I don’t find a way to teach him how to handle the stress. But I have heard you and recognize I have to find another way to help him get to where he needs to be in training. Especially right now. The other students are starting to crack too, they are just more receptive to efforts to keep them going than this one. We have tried to shield them best we could from the internal work pressure, but they read the news. They know the work could make a difference. But we’ve been rolling really fast and hard since March- so I need to figure out a way to give them all a real break.
    I have heard you. And I appreciate the advice. It has been good to hear the things you are saying. Thank you.
     
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  17. OP
    Dopamine

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    Addendum: he is not currently being treated- I am going to talk to him about really needing to make appointments, but that isn’t something I feel I can press too hard on.
     
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  18. Drac

    Drac Two

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  19. Drac

    Drac Two

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    He needs to know that his opinion is valid and important. That being socially different is not going to make people in your business look at him differently. That there is no need to be anxious for speaking his mind and that he deserves the opportunity to progress his career.
     
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  20. mintoots

    mintoots Also: Tooth, 뚵수, Tootsu

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    Don't forget that a break is part of the work too. I call it Quality Assurance.
     
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