Carl Jung’s famous work on personality types is a vastly underused tool to help people understand themselves better. Often leaders and managers shy away from personality tools such as Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) because they fear being “stereotyped” or “labelled”. Unfortunately this perception often prevents the transformational changes which can be achieved through self-awareness or understanding self. Today’s article is all about understanding how we get our information which helps us make decisions.
If you’ve ever been confused, stuck or overwhelmed, when your life has presented you with a critical decision, then you are not alone. Many of my clients come to me because they are grappling with major decisions.One of the reasons we get stuck is because we look from different perspectives and this can result in a range of options with no real insight into what is best for us or others.
Much of my work is based on Carl Jung’s personality types, deriving from which the Myers Briggs Personality Type (MBTI) tool was developed. Although I use MBTI, it is Carl Jung’s enlightened understanding about how our personality works, which enables me to help my clients to make better choices, as they align with their heart and mind.
Part of the decision making process is gathering information. In simple terms, you usually gather information in two ways:
The first and most common way is through your senses. What you see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Predominately you are gathering information through the first three, although sometimes all five senses, depending on the situation. If you prefer gathering information through your senses, then you tend to like evidence, facts, and data. You are often described as a “down to earth” person and you like to analyse the information you are receiving to inform your decision making.
The second way you may gather information is through your intuition. Your intuition can work in two ways, it takes the information it sees through the senses, and forms patterns and possibilities, which can be creative and involves using your imagination. The second way is to tap into insights, ideas and guidance which can be described as coming from your unconscious part of your mind. When your intuition is tapping into your unconscious it can give you illogical insights and wise guidance. This can sometimes be known as your “gut instincts” or “higher self”, or “collective unconscious”.
We all have the ability to tap into both types of information, but as Jung and the Myers Briggs team have demonstrated we have a preference for one or the other. Sometimes this can be a very strong preference and sometimes it can be border line.
You also have a preference about how you make decisions. The two decision making functions are “thinking” and “feeling”. Some of us prefer to make decisions based on our feelings about the information, and others through our logical conclusions about the information. Often when we are confused, we are alternating between the information we receive through our senses, and that which we are receiving through our intuition. For example, “I have a strong gut instinct to take that job, but the salary is less and there seems to be no promotion prospects”.
For me the best decisions are made when you feel good about the decision, and the logic about the information which informs your decision aligns with your beliefs. Part of the formula for doing that is to get in touch with your intuition and trust it. If you have a strong preference for sensing, then this can be uncomfortable, but do-able. Over the years, I have found the following 5 ways help people get in touch with their intuition.
There are many definitions of some of the descriptors used, the following describes the context and meaning in the way I use them, rather than referring to any universal definition.
Meditation is giving you a holiday from the clamour of your daily thoughts and stream of information. It is finding the gap between your thoughts and staying there. Silent and observant, you can watch your thoughts without attaching yourself to them. It is allowing your intuition or your unconscious wisdom, space. Through mediation, your intuition may come to you in different ways, either through thoughts, ideas, or an encounter with someone or something. Use meditation to be open to whatever comes up.
Contemplation is also about clearing your mind, but for me it is more purposeful. You may have a problem or a situation where you’re not sure what to do, or don’t know what the solution is. Ask clearly what the problem is, and then simply observe the problem from different angles and instead of actively thinking about the information, let thoughts come up. Often, you can be inspired with a solution, although sometimes the emerging solution isn’t immediate. It can pop up at any time.
Writing is extremely powerful if you are disturbed or upset, even if you aren’t sure why. Writing down how you are feeling, why you are feeling that way and then ask your intuition how you can look at the situation differently. Then write down different ideas, until you find a perspective which feels good and you can believe. Writing is about telling the story of what is going on in your mind and giving you an opportunity to see it from a better perspective. The true trick is to ask your intuition how to perceive the situation so that you can be at peace with it. It’s not about repressing feelings though. Feelings are a great emotional guidance system, and it’s important to let them come up and help to inform the writing process.
Listen to Music – You are better aligned with your intuition or higher self when you are feeling good. You know you are feeling good when you are in touch with appreciation, gratitude, love and laughter. Listening to music you love can quickly help you get into those places which feel so good. A daily dose of music you love can definitely align you with your intuition.
Going outside - Whether it’s fresh winter air or warm summer sunshine, getting away from the clutter of a busy workplace, or a demanding home can clear your mind and give you a space which you might not otherwise give yourself. Staying in the present moment and clearing your mind while you are outside is a must. It’s no good getting out into the open and taking all your clamorous thoughts with you.
Are you a sensor or an intuitive? Or do you flex between the two? What do you think? If you’d like to undertake the MBTI type tool and find out about your preferences, contact me at Christina@peoplediscovery.co.uk
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Christina has managed people for twenty seven years and led hugely successful teams. She has worked with people at all levels in various organisations to help them achieve their potential, and she has been actively involved in the learning and development field in a number of different roles.
People Discovery is a Leadership Development coaching consultancy, based in North East England, working globally.
By Christina Lattimer
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