Friday, June 10, 2016

"N" and "S" types in Familial Relationships. Personality (intuitive versus sensing) Affects Family Function and Friendships. Being SEEN.

Our family was watching the TV series,"The Middle" together. We can relate a lot...especially the first few seasons. Our two boys are a mix of Brick and our daughter can relate A LOT to Sue. The episode was about a quirky Aspergian/ Dyspraxic child named Brick who wished to have a birthday he enjoyed instead of the "typical" party. So his mom threw him a party for the whole class where each child was required to read quietly at the table, eat politely, and whisper 'Happy Birthday' at the library, then proceed to take a picture with the librarian. All the children groaned and thought the party was a dud. My children and I thought the party was EPIC and ideal. Finally, a few children (even if it was on TV) would understand how we felt sitting through their loud, overly scheduled, obnoxious, boring parties to us. When a child complained to Brick's mom about the party, she replied that Brick has sat through years worth of all their parties so they can sit through ONE that suits him. A perfect example of how many introverted or intuitive types feel at birthdays and big events ect.

Events, family or otherwise, seem to be a big part of what is considered socially appropriate behaviour and healthy habits in our culture. It's ironic that we expect family to show up for big celebrations when our personal relationships with them are broken. Or even when their personality preference may do best in other circumstances. Why, if both parties involved, have not picked up the phone for years to build a relationship would we expect to have a fun family get together? Why is that an expectation?

Looking at this chart you can see why this happens. (The red is women, blue men and grey the general average.) Much of the world is comprised of 'S' types. Sensing types value big functions, hierarchies (in general- not all of them do), establishments and "traditional" family methods. 'S' types are amazing people who help run our culture and our institutions. They have their upsides and their downsides like any other type of person, but they are in the majority and a lot of their ways became the "norm." 'S' types are capable of carrying on idyll chit chat and valuing it as building a relationship. A few birthday wishes make them feel very special. While most Intuitive or 'N' types not only forget birthdays often (most of those in the Idealist category anyway) but often will see the rigidity of certain traditions as pointless or boring. Generally depth being built upon and acceptance of quirks, imagination and big ideas are valued stronger than building sensory memories. Often a big event will not be viewed as quality time. Perhaps 'N' types will look at the chit chat or get togethers a few times a year as neutral or necessary but if their relationships with the people involved are not of deeper substance, it is more of a function to endure. Why do we focus on collective family function when instead we should first focus on individual familial relationships? If we do not have some basic respect, trust, and love built, why do we expect everyone to get together to have a good time?

Those that do not show up are considered the family rebels. The family just waits and prays from them to shape up to the familial standards. If it's past a certain amount of time they give up altogether and write them off as selfish. Preceding the write off are years of mini lectures, phone calls anytime a "wrong" decision is being considered, and brief civil dinners where the individual isn't even appreciated or allowed to be whom they are. Is it love to ignore whom a person is? Is it love to write off most of what a person does as "wrong" or to judge most of their process as something to change? Why do we expect people to relish these activities?

Most families have forms of dysfunction. There are normal subjects in each family that should be off limits. There are topics that are too explosive and should be saved for friendships. A general definition of a healthy family would be one that has all six ingredients of love and practises them to each other on a more regular basis. Thus, when the big events happen, everyone feels valued for whom they are and respected. Where each person feels comfortable enough to partake or leave when needed or be able to have some level of enjoyment. Then of course a big event is to be appreciated and looked forward to.

Years ago we slowly had to distance ourselves from certain events. For years we brought up how we felt disrespected, unheard or tried to foster understanding. Other than one beautiful person, and a couple healthy discussions, most of our pleas fell on deaf ears. Or it would be validated in a conversation but the key behaviours would continue again the next time. We were finally advised to focus on the individual relationships that could be salvaged or were willing to also work to understand, and leave the rest to their own lives. Family is what you make it. It's awesome if family can be blood ties but a lot of the time, the best family we have are the families we cultivate with respect and love.

 "Love is a combination of six ingredients: care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust. I found that a lot of people just felt really confused about what love is, so I said, here, take these six ingredients and as you go about your life, you can ask: the action I'm taking, does it have these six ingredients? One point that I would emphasize to people is that it's the combination of the six ingredients that make love, because so many of us have one of the ingredients in our life – like we may be deeply cared for, but we may not be in a situation of trust. To me what's great about these definitions is that they're just very helpful for people in daily life trying to engage in a practice of love."- Bell Hooks

Sometimes the minority just has to decide to stay home or do their own thing. There is no other way around it. The majority honestly do believe they want the others there in theory, but each time those others show up, there is controversy, disrespect and at least one person goes home hurt due to differences that are not held by the majority. What is the point? Why do we keep doing this? If the people in the minority aspect of the family for whatever reason (differences in spirituality, sexuality, disability, physicality ect.) decide they can be supported and happy away from the family, and the family has a general better time without them, why can't we let this happen? Why force something that isn't there? If it really seems to be an issue, then perhaps focusing on the individual relationship between the people focusing on the six ingredients of love cited above, would be a better use of time? If one seriously wants the family there that don't usually show up- it means change. It requires growth. It will take TIME. Are both parties willing to give that time? Are we going to view it as healthy and normal if both parties do not want to invest that time? Because it is ok. Life demands much. Some relationships are there to teach, sharpen or challenge, and some are meant to be left behind while some will ebb and flow depending on the ages and stages.

Another aspect of 'N's are that they are mostly unwilling to give their time to something that will not have a deep payoff...relational or otherwise. We want to know our investments of money, people, or love will at least be appreciated, helped or find depth. In relationships, we want more than talks about the weather. We want to be able to discourse about at least a few subjects deeply without having them all off limits. We want to swim in the deep end on a fairly regular basis. We want to skip the niceties that feel like a general waste of time and get down to the stuff that isn't often discussed. We want to speculate, use imagination and speak of possibilities. We want to hear philosophy or scientific theories. A shallow example would be that we would want a deeper explanation of how a person felt when the wind whipped their hair and the sun burnt their shoulders (INFP) and triggered a deep thought or existential question (many rationalists.) We don't want to just hear that it's windy and hot outside.

My husband, children and I are all "N" types. We have a lot of 'S' types in our life, because that is the majority of the world (estimated about 76% of the world.) Some are close friends who appreciate our differences deeply and we appreciate their steady differences. We need each other. We don't want our 'S' counterparts to change but we do want them to be open to understanding and reading up on us- like we understand and read up on them. It is often said that Intuitive types have had to literally be bilingual in both sensory and intuitive language because the world requires it. Yet, unless a Sensor has grown up in a household of Intuitives, they have no need to learn the intuitive language. Until one day they realize they are married to one or that person in the family they simply could never get was an Intuitive and then it is crucial if they want healthy ties to learn the Intuitive communication values. Which is why I am directing this more at Sensors.

As a family, we have listened to every personality type podcast on both sides of our entire extended family. Why? Especially when we don't even converse with some? Because we do not want to harbour any bitterness. Bitterness is easier to overcome when we can understand and at least respect the place where someone is coming from in their mind. Even if we do not want to engage or are not at a stage where we can, it is healthy for us to at least get over ourselves, listen to their mind wiring, and understand that many aspects we thought were personal were just a part of cognitive wiring.

Unfortunately, most 'S' types do not like to delve into personality on their own. Often if I hear the statement, "Oh I don't believe in personality tests. Just get to know me..." That statement usually shows that the person is an "S" type. Not all "S" types do this, but there are certain ones that are often inclined to give these statements. Naturally it is because their main values are stemming from a place of what they can see with their own eyes. Personality does not fall within the five senses as such. While they understand abstract concepts, because of cognitive wiring, many would prefer to keep the abstract on the back burner to practical concrete topics. 'N' types are generally the opposite so while they can honour concrete aspects of being they would much rather live in the abstract regularly.

Generally, we smile at a statement of opposition regarding personalities and proceed to type the person based on a few educated guesses. Are they Extroverted or Introverted according to Meyers Briggs definitions (E or I- do they get a positive or negative hit of energy with socializing)? Concrete/Sensing (do they pay attention to their five senses?) or Abstract/ Intuitive (do they pay more attention to possibilities and patterns? S or N)? Are they inclined to value a thinking standpoint when making a decision based on principles and impersonal facts or a feeling all points of view standpoint (T or F)?  Spontaneous/ flexible lifestyle or scheduled/ structured lifestyle (P or J?) Suddenly, we have a basic sketch of their personality...obviously it is more nuanced than that but because our family is so immersed in personality studies we are pretty good at our guesses. Most times if we get to test the people out, they score exactly what we thought they would. Because if we want to get to know them, we want it to be of substance. Personality gets us down to the heart of the matter and to how they operate out of the world. Understanding what they value in their world view, helps us to have a field to play on, with clear lines on what they value and what we value, and how to play the game around those factors. Thus, if we both come from those understandings it is slightly easier to garner quicker trust, respect and genuine care. The six ingredients of love follow more naturally from something that is considered by them to be unnatural.

No type is better than the other. I am giving this information because often (most) 'S' types do not give much consideration to these things unless an 'N' type, work or school bring personality studies up. It is not their natural inclination to search it out of curiosity or a desire to find out the cognitive functions of personhood, which is fine, but when in the majority, this can cause some issues. Because of the odds, it is important that 'N' types are discussed or give their opinions.

Unfortunately, for 'S' types on the net, it tends to go the opposite way online in certain forums. I find that many 'N' types use Instagram differently than 'S' types. The Intuitives tend to have questions or abstract thoughts or pictures to prod larger discussions while the sensing types gather for memory, achievement or otherwise. Both like to document of course, but the drivers for why are different. In writing, Intuitives can come across as often matter of fact yet more abstract (most rationalists) or a mix of factual with abstract concepts like Philosophy, poetry or whatever is in their interest abstract form (typically idealists.) S types will often write sensory aspects of everyday or engage with their material imaginatively but applicable to concrete ways of being. There are exceptions to every type, nuances and many other factors that make up a person. These are just generalities. So it is very unlikely for an 'S' family member to naturally read my blog unless it is to dig for information, misunderstand my intents out of curiosity, or (on the positive side) because we have already established healthy interactions or share other similar interests.

Years ago we had our children take this test (click) and this test (click). To double check we also read their descriptions to them and made sure they agreed with their results. I take issue with these tests in general if they are not overseen by someone immersed in personality studies. Because often people will score wrong results based on HOW they see themselves or how their culture expects them to be and not on who they actually are. Generally, it takes an objective party who knows them to help them with their answers. Basically, you know if you have an accurate type if you read most of it and say, "Oh my goodness! How did they KNOW that about me? How did they crawl into my brain?"

 I am an INFJ, my husband is an ENFP, and our children are ENFJ, INTJ, and ENFP. We have two extroverts who operate more like introverts. We have one primary thinker among a bunch of primary feelers...and two perceivers amongst a majority of those who value structure a tad bit more. Our cores have stayed the same over the years even though we have all mellowed in some of our stronger aspects to accommodate each other. We listen to podcasts over at Personality Hacker (click) on hour long trips. We discuss how each person feels about the accuracy of their personality result. We make sure to validate a person and if there is conflict, we first go to our main cognitive functions, driver's seats and 3 year old process to see how we can resolve while respecting the essence, strengths and weaknesses of each person involved. We know a lot about each other because of this. We can often tell when we are out, what we will discuss about something once we are home (and comfortable) as a family alone, by just a simple look. Basically we are in tune with each other BECAUSE of our deep dive into persona.

Of course, pre- personality we still understood aspects of each other, but the studies enhanced this and cut down on misunderstandings. We don't just chalk up behaviour to "sin" or "selfishness" nor do we chalk it up to "goodness" or "achievement." It's all based on WHO the person IS. On BEING. Personality studies enable us to see the person in front of us and bypass a lot of misunderstanding...or at least talk through it more constructively. Our hope is that our children's sibling relationships will carry this dignity, respect and honour of different brain function, outward preferences and inner ways into adulthood. We hope they remember aspects of these things so they can have somewhat healthy sibling relationships...maybe they will even still be the best friends they are today? Then again, maybe not, and if not, we hope they carry those aspects into their other friendships and find soul siblings to share them with.

I wish I could share this information appropriately with the relationships that long for healing in our lives but that do not understand the nuances, reasons and motivations behind many of the issues. I feel like understanding could foster the six ingredients of love. Perhaps our world would suffer less from mindless violence if we focused in on just a few people in our lives to give the six ingredients of love and if we would at least attempt to understand driving preferences, cognitive functions, perhaps we could change the course of history slowly with simple regard and general respect?

Here is a podcast titled Can Sensors Speak Intuitive Language (CLICK) it is worth a listen.

Have you studied personality? If so, did you find that your *accurate* personality type opened up a world of possibilities for you? Did you start to understand others more? Did the "box" of personality so many allude to actually become an open field of respect and understanding? Did it enable you to go beyond whom a person seems and into who they are by first having a structured view? Or did it make it worse? (If it DID make it worse could it possibly be due to inaccurate results?)

Sure, it's only one aspect of BEING but it is still important to consider. With personality, as a foundation, we can understand and judge less. Because we see that "One man's home is another man's journey...for one man's truth is another man's lie. It's just the way it goes and I couldn't say why. One man's cure is another man's poison."- Passenger Lyrics. It is brave to understand others and ourselves. To open, in compassion to be WHOM we are and allow others to do the same.
Another post I wrote on Families with the analogy of climates differing is found here:
And another post about Boundaries and how walking away from extended family can be beneficial and brave found here:

I also LOVED this site and found every word accurate for my type but this site has others too!:

 Personality hacker has podcasts and videos on each type. Here is a few of my INFJ links but you can click search for your personality initials:



Anonymous said...

These reflections are important. Specifically because they are said in a more abstract way to take what is prevalent and work within difficulties. Thinking of cognitive mindsets instead of personal wrong or right seems like it could be generally more constructive to good care. I also liked how the six ingredients of love were laid out to outline what love is. Great work.

Kmarie A. said...

@annon: Thank you. Yes if you mean by abstract that I apply them to everyone differently and imagine that each person will take what they can and ignore what doesn't apply. Esp because some points are not speficic but generalities. Bell Hooks guide with the 6 are an excellent definition of love because it will apply differently to each relationship too but still have a general definition we can all share...thus our expressions may be different but the essence will have those key factors and show what it means to love. Many of us miss one or two in our primary relationships and we should work on those factors. It also enables us to see where we can improve and what we are good at. I find it immensely helpful:) Otherwise the definitions of love are too many to even make a story out of...

S said...

Thank you for sharing this post.Yes, I have studied personality types and it has helped me a lot in self analysing and understanding myself. It has also helped me a lot in understanding others. Without this knowledge of personality types, some things were not adding up in my life. This knowledge has helped me to have so much more clarity about life ( as to why I am a recluse and why my worldview is often opposite to the popular worldview), relationships ( as to why I do not like too much mingling/socialization) and people around me ( who love to depend on each other and why I do not like dependency ) and this knowledge has also provided me with a direction in life too ( for example, creativity and spiritualism heals me)
The differences between T, S,N, F and I & E are fascinating. God made each of us into unique beings...16 different unique beings !! Yet we can learn so much from each other...
But when conflict begins due to that point of time, that is the warning sign ! I have often kept a low profile and
stopped mingling with my friends/relatives when I see differences brewing due to personality types...I go into a "silent/avoiding" mode and delve deep into creativity...I always think silence is better than argument...I even refuse to give answer to their queries....
My husband and I have maintained a distance from a lot of people since the very beginning. WE do not entertain people in our home except a few friends. There have been difficult social situations but we are very cordial to all...on the face...very well behaved...but we do not allow intimacy from others...the moment people try to act funny/get intimate or get personal/ says something that is not acceptable to us (although it is socially acceptable to all ), we cut off ties. We have cut off ties with many people, we do not answer calls...when asked a reason, we don't even give a reply and rather say "please change the topic "...within months most people realize that we will not entertain them and they too avoid us...mission accomplished !!! There have been instances though when some people don't understand boundaries and keep coming to our house asking for explanation why we cut off ties...we welcome them with a warm cup of tea, but still refuse to answer them..we just say "change the topic...let's talk of something else..." We don't address the issue because not everything is explainable and certain things are beyond the understanding of certain people ! Some people will hurt you with their words and yet not realize at you can't make them realize, even if they realize once, they will keep disturbing you the 2nd and 3rd time by crossing all personal boundaries! So let them do what they please, we are not going to socialize with them except in common weddings and funerals. We don't even go to other occasions, including their Birthdays.
There are a few positive friends, they give us good energy and feelings, we go to their Birthdays and celebrations.

Even If I did not have my hubby by my side, I too would have been the same. My husband is a "S" and I am a "N" but we both are recluse/individualistic/rebel/ even if there are differences between "N" and "S", according to personality types, it does not hold true for us as a couple because our worldview is the same.

Kmarie A. said...

S: Your knowledge always adds to the topic. I love your points...and you are right- worldview is essential to a relationship that is deep.
Yes mission accomplished indeed:) I feel the same way:) Some people just don't get it and they are not bad...they just happen to keep crossing the boundaries...yes, we are the same in that regard... and those people we show up for as much as possible because there is mutual respect, love and time.

Lovely points and thanks for contributing:)

FlutistPride said...

I honestly don't see any intrinsic value in family. What I mean by that is I don't see the point in caring about other people simply because we share a set of inherited genes. It's not that I am anti-family. I just don't experience any impact from being related to people. It's never something I really understood. I mean, if I choose who I care about, I should have the freedom to disregard others as I please, even those I share DNA with. I've been kind of a lone wolf all my life, so maybe that's a factor. It just feels strange that I see an obligation that makes absolutely no sense.

(Lone wolf extroverted sensors exist. For me, I love socializing casually, but I struggle to keep friends. Friends are not really a "need" for me anyway, just nice people to coexist with.)

Kmarie A. said...

@flutistpride: Lol this was refreshing. I like your blunt candidness. I agree- inherited genes do not mean that we need to fully relate. I have never understood it either. I get family if its a supportive place that it can be a great built in system but most times it can be more damaging. I also believe in that freedom...I feel alien in that sense in most of the world.
I love your description of a lone wolf extroverted sensor! Neat.