Sunday, August 5, 2007

Taking It All In

What were you more likely to do with this tree if it had been in your backyard as a kid?

I think that both your answer to this question and also what thoughts pop into your head as you're coming to that answer are strong evidence as to whether you have a preference for S (Sensing) or for N (iNtuition).

Let me first briefly describe what these preferences mean, as they can be the hardest of all the preferences to truly understand. In the four letter Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I personally find the difference between the two possible second letters to be the most influential and fascinating.
Essentially, the second letter tells how you most naturally take in information; how you perceive the world around you. "Sensing" is becoming aware of things through your five senses, what you can actually see, touch, hear. Those who prefer sensing are acutely aware of the here and now, the present moment. They absorb data in a literal, concrete fashion. We also take information in through "Intuition", our indirect perception of things unseen, the conceptualization of ideas and patterns and possibilities. People with the N preference prefer to focus on the underlying meaning and symbolism in the information they take in.
Check one of these out to see it laid out clearly and concisely:

We all take in information both by sensing and our intuition, but your letter preference comes from which one you rely on and use the most.
This letter can be difficult to decipher for many people, for we aren't always conscious of how we are taking in information. But I have found that whether you prefer S or N greatly determines so many other things in your life, almost more than any other letter. What you find humorous, how you describe yourself or others, what you do in your free time, what jobs you are drawn to, and so much else. I will touch upon those things another time, but I mostly wanted to bring up how your preference for S or N likely affected your playtime when you were a kid.

One of my preferred and most accurate ways of figuring out if a friend prefers S or N is to ask what they did for fun when they were little. What games they played, and if they played pretend, what did they pretend. I've found that Sensors liked to "do". They would build forts, make swords from sticks, set up house and enjoy imitating whatever Mom or Dad did. When they play pretend, they often are an actual character, such as a ninja, or a mommy or a cook. It relates to how they like to focus on what they can see and touch, to "do" is to be. Doing is fun. Here's where the tree comes in. If you prefer S, you might have seen that picture above, and when asked what you would have done with that tree, you might have thought, "Duh! I would climb it!" My stepdad and brother are both Ss, and they would have been hanging from the highest branches, scaring their moms, or practicing their swordplay against the trunk. It would have served as another sort of playmate for them.

If you prefer N, your thoughts might have been different, as mine were when I saw that photo. I saw it and thought, "Oh the possibilities!" If I had been a kid around that tree, more important to me than the tree physically being there, was the meaning behind it, and how it would contribute to my pretend games. This is in tune with the N preference for focusing on underlying meaning. That big and inviting tree would serve as the backdrop to my and my N sister's elaborate pretend games, where we didn't focus so much on doing as we did on the "imagining". Therein lies the N difference. "That tree is our palace and we are princesses who..." or "The tree is our forest and we are elves and we are trying to..."
To imagine is to be, for an N.

I'd like to add on, that if it's not climbing or exploring that they are doing, that a child preferring S might more often be found kicking a ball around beneath that tree, while an N child would more often be reading beneath it. Again, these activities relate to the preference for either the here and now and love for action, or for symbols and the abstract and what is not of the present.

And again, like I do, I'll give a disclaimer... my S brother played a mean game of pretend with my sister and me. He made an excellent elf. And my sister can definitely climb a tree (she loves hanging from things). Your S or N preference is not an absolute, it is just your relied-upon way of taking things in and how it affects what you are drawn to do.

And now I'll stop "imagining" how great it will be to run to the beach and actually do it.


Patricia said...

Much enjoyed by your N mom, who still loves to climb trees, but who would have sat on that great curved branch imagining I was riding a dragon through the sky in some grand adventure.

Megan Stichter said...

when i first saw the picture i said, "duh- climb the tree" hahhahhhahaha

*corinne said...

ha! awesome, meg.

April said...

no doubt--this tree of sherwood forest would have been the perfect spot for robin hood and maid marian (played by yours truly) to rendevous and discuss matters such as how to overthrow the evil sheriff, and our love, of course. :) well done-i love a good blog!

christen said...

i loved being in trees when i was little because there was something magical about them to me. i could be anyone or anything while i was high up and hidden from the real world.