I lost a friend this week. I first met Tim in high school. We were never romantically involved, in fact, he dated two of my good friends, but I admired him always. In the 80s he introduced mohawks and the punk rock group, The Butthole Surfers, to our tiny-town high school. I remember learning that he used egg whites to get his hair to stand up tall and straight.
I held him in high regard for his brilliance and bravery. He wowed our AP English teachers with his perceptive perspective and well-written papers. He could hold his own on any philosophical, political or psychological discussion. He had the courage to be authentic and ballsy when most kids (including me) succumbed to peer pressure.
As a kid, I never knew what to say to Tim. My introverted brain felt too sluggish and timid to keep up with his quick wit and unique thinking. I mostly listened when he held court within our social group.
Somehow, in our late thirties, we connected online. I was finally able to communicate my thoughts without feeling intimidated. I had finally found my voice and Tim was receptive to my writing and ideas. His positive reception and understanding felt really good. Only a few people had offered me that kind of understanding and encouragement.
He shared his writing with me and encouraged my introspection, personal growth and creativity. He inquired about my life and work. I learned that he played every musical instrument and shared his talents with underprivileged kids by giving them instruments and teaching them how to play. At one point, he emailed me an excerpt on Greek philosopher, Epictetus, explaining that Epictetus pioneered the philosophy that we choose how we think, feel and react to external stimuli. I’m still pondering that.
I can’t say if he was an introvert, but he was introspective and intuitive as hell.
Are you an Intuitive or Sensing type?
As I stated in, Finding Someone Who ‘Gets’ You:The Electric Feeling of Connecting With Another Intuitive Thinker, according to Carl Jung and the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, there are two options for how we take in the world: Sensing and Intuition.
We all use both options to a degree, but people who have a Sensing preference are more comfortable with facts, details, past experience and the information that is available to the senses at the moment. Sensors prefer what is real and verifiable. They tend to be practical people. They make sure plans are carried out.
Those with an Intuition preference like and trust information that is abstract, conceptual, ‘big picture’ and future oriented. They see possibilities. They read between the lines. Intuitive processors make intuitive ‘leaps’ in thinking and judgment based on patterns or associations they’ve collected and stored in their mind. They tend to see what could be. They are the dreamers and idea generators.
Intuitives like to ask, What if?
Sensors prefer What is?
Not understood = loneliness
According to Personality Hacker’s post, Develop Intuition with Your Personal Intuitive Awakening and Myers-Briggs studies, those with an Intuitive preference (Ns in Myers Briggs typology) make up about 25% of the population while Sensors (Ss in Myers Briggs) make up the remaining 75%.
Both intuition and sensing are valuable to society. Sensors provide stability, realism and function. Intuitives provide innovation, perspective and future thinking.
The hurt comes in when either type is not valued or appreciated.
Given that Sensors make up the majority of the population, their realistic methods are often viewed as the way to be. Sensors are valued and rewarded for their focus on logistics, money management, time management, efficiency and other practical skills. Like a mohawk in a farm town, Intuitive thinking can seem strange and mysterious. Intuitives are OK with not being practical because we prefer novelty, creativity and big picture anyway, but it hurts when we are not understood or appreciated or worse, told we are wrong and should change. If that happens we can feel lonely even when we’re with people. Sound familiar?
Just like an introvert trying to act like an extrovert, it takes more energy to act and think like a Sensor if you’re an Intuitive. It takes a lot of energy to go against the norm too, so often Intuitives hone their sensing skills to fit in.
Discovering I am an Intuitive as big as discovering I’m an introvert
Discovering I am an Intuitive thinker was as big as discovering I am an introvert.
My spiderweb thinking, lack of interest or skill in mundane practical things, penchant for ideas over facts and mental leaps from A to C without mentioning B, leave me feeling inept, odd or not understood in a lot of situations.
Sensors also seem to put a high value on productivity. Measurable and tangible output is the ideal. As a writer who spends a lot of time reading, thinking and writing, I often feel subpar when it comes to tangible output.
I don’t care about breaking down things into tiny parts. I want to look at the whole and explore it from different perspectives. I love talking about big concepts like motivation and relationships versus local news or sporting events. Not that I won’t take interest in those things if they are part of something I am passionate about, but it will take effort.
A lot of times, I just ‘know’ what I know based on observing subtle nuances in the environment or in someone’s body language and comparing them to patterns I’ve collected over my lifetime. There is no explaining how I reached my conclusion. Most Sensors would never trust that kind of knowing, therefore the majority of the population doubts or discredits my perceptions.
The 5 Unmet Needs of the Intuitive Person
Again according to Personality Hacker’s post, Develop Intuition with Your Personal Intuitive Awakening, there are five basic needs that are often unmet in an Intuitive’s life. They are:
- Freedom and Space to Explore — An Intuitive must feel free to make connections, see patterns and explore your inner and outer world.
- Permission to self-define — Most Sensing individuals are happy to follow the ‘life template’ of school, work, marriage, home, kids, retirement. Intuitives are not. They are dying to live life on their terms.
- Intuitive Connection, Conversation and Community — Intuitives often settle for one-sided relationships. They act like Sensors to get along with most people. They are starving for the connection and understanding of other Intuitives.
- Making an Impact and Influencing Your World — They must have influence on the world. They want to make the world a better place.
- Mentors and Action Plan — Intuitives need a mentor to help encourage and guide them to create and implement an action plan.
Feeling less alone
When I meet someone who fulfills those unmet needs, it’s like coming home. I feel understood and not alone. Finding another member of the Intuitive tribe is such a rush. Diving deep into the thought and idea ocean with someone fills me up and gives me energy. It’s been my experience that intuitive conversations are electric two-way currents with participants riffing off each other’s ideas with ease, much like I did communicating with Tim or how I imagine Tim playing in his jam bands.
My friend dove into the intuitive ocean with many people. He made people think with his positive attitude and genuine interest in them. He gave us space to talk and share and asked us questions. He didn’t follow the ‘life template’ and in doing so gave others permission to explore and self-define. He served as a mentor and definitely impacted lives. My intuitive tribe got a little smaller this week and that makes me sad but I’m grateful for having known such an individual. I hope to coach and encourage others like he did me. The following Epictetus quote seems appropriate for honoring him.
We have all a certain part to play in the world, and we have done enough when we have performed what our nature allows. In the exercise of our powers, we may become aware of the destiny we are intended to fulfill.”
Are you an Intuitive? Do you ever feel lonely in this Sensing dominant world? Are you a Sensing preference? Do you feel frustrated by Intuitives and their non-tangible, unrealistic thinking?