Developing “Sensation” for ISFPs and ISTPs
It’s not that you don’t have the ability to feel sensation. This word is a nickname for a cognitive process called Extraverted Sensing. In ISFPs and ISTPs (ISxPs for short), this works as the Co-Pilot function in the Car Model.
Since ISxPs lead with a decision-making process, they are sometimes quick to jump to conclusions. Extraverted Sensing or Sensation balances out these judging functions by gathering information. It’s a learning process that allows us to take life as it is. It gathers information in the present moment through all physical means i.e. taste, smell, sight, touch, auditory, kinesthetic, etc.
If you ever have trouble knowing what actions to take, or getting stuck in a rut because of paranoia, fear of the unknown, or anxiety, take a conscious moment to get present and take in ‘what is’.
If an ISxP bypasses their Sensation by relying on their tertiary 10 Year Old, they may blow molehills into mountains and can seem suspicious and untrusting of others.
The 10 Year Old called “Perspectives,” or Introverted Intuition, loves gaining insight into patterns and connections about the world. It encourages seeing things as they might be, and has a dedicated eye on the future. However, for ISxPs this process can plant tiny worries into their lives. They might feel anxious about how a friend views them, if their partner is being unfaithful, or if their boss felt offended at something said at work. If these fears languish, they’ll build up over time. The Perspectives process wins when these small anxieties turn into large conspiracies. Some ISxPs will feel a sense of attachment to their fear, unwilling to be wrong about their conclusions. However, a quick check-in with the people they care about and the physical world around them would probably show that they have nothing to worry about.
Develop Your Co-Pilot
It’s important to use Sensation as a vetting process before or immediately after making a decision because it asks “What information am I witnessing here? How much feedback am I receiving in this moment?”
Types that use this function as their Co-Pilot might experience resistance. In many cases, they will have to engage with others in real-time before knowing how to feel about something. Sometimes a decision can’t be made until action is taken in some shape or form first. And that can understandably wreak havoc on a person’s nerves. That 10 Year Old Perspectives process will try to convince you that you’ve got it all figured out, or that those lines are meant to be read between. But in many areas in life, things are exactly the way they are.
Checking in with the physical world is essential for getting into the Sensation process. Here are some tangible actions you can take. Accomplish the first few on your own without meeting up with anyone. I encourage you to try them this week. Then next week, try at least one of the more social suggestions. Don’t worry about how it might go or what someone might think. Just try to make it as pleasant an experience as possible.
- List exactly what happens at an outing with your friends. Don’t write down your interpretations or assumptions. Just what actually happened.
- Go to a cafe, bookshop, or somewhere with a lot of traffic. Notice the body language in others, particularly their facial expressions. Notice as many things as you can about the people in the environment and what they react to. Does their breathing change? What colors have they chosen to express themselves with? What kinds of items are they picking up? How are they reacting to those items? Simply observe these people as they are.
- Try to notice five new things every time you visit the same place. For example, if you go to the gym, try to find a new poster on the wall or recent additions to the gym. Try to mentally point out a new customer at the gym or a regular changing their routine. Maybe someone dyed their hair since their last visit. Perhaps the kickboxing class has more people attending than usual. See if you can point out at least five new details with every single visit.
- If you’re in an argument with someone that seems to be repetitive, think of a different response or behavior to use. Change the flow of the interaction, your tone of voice, or your body language and observe what happens.
- Get involved in an activity that requires all of your immediate attention. This could be a sport, a video game, a dance class, etc. See if you can expand the amount of information you observe as you improve this skill.
- Take time to engage with your family and friends. Have dinner together or take a walk in the park and stay present with them during this time.
- Start a new business or side project. Don’t worry about competency or if someone might judge you for it. Start it and see what happens. Gather feedback from your customers or from friends and take their words at face value. When one tactic doesn’t fly, look at the information gathered on your sales and use that data to inform how you can improve. Ask about what kinds of changes will have more impact on others.
Getting Into Growth
Instead of allowing the Perspectives process to limit growth, let it act as a support system. Perspectives loves recognizing patterns in the world, so you can use that as a starting point to launch into Sensation.
Let me give you an example of how each type uses the relationship between their Sensation and Perspectives processes to keep them grounded.
Some of our most popular musicians and insightful artists are ISFPs. They have a knack for showcasing aspects of the human experience in their art. The interesting thing is, ‘art’ can mean anything to an ISFP.
I know someone of this type that built a coaching business. At first, he found it stressful because he worried about the long-term issues that might come up for the company. Even with the support of his family and friends, he felt overwhelmed by the possibilities. However, he received some advice from a friend who took on mini-schedules. He planned things three months into the future at a time. The ISFP tried out this timeline and received a lot of positive feedback from his customers, and his own body. He was more relaxed, felt more competent, and his overall stress levels reduced. He still makes long-term goals, but he makes sure to set it as a ‘pin’ in the future. Then he can focus on those three month increments to get to that place and pace himself.
His Perspectives process recognized the need for long-term planning and big-picture thinking for his company. So he used that as a placeholder to mark the path for his manageable, incremental goals. Now he can focus on his personal art of building the right relationships with his clients and providing them the best solutions for their needs.
In another example, an ISTP friend of mine clears his thoughts through seeking out ‘what is’. If he feels anxious about something, he tends to break things down into manageable pieces of data. He was out of a job recently and had concerns about his future since his savings were dwindling fast. His initial truths were:
- Job interviews are draining.
- I’m not feeling my best because of low funds and a lack of responses.
- If I show up as my honest self, interviewers won’t like my energy.
- I’m terrible at faking.
So with these realizations, he decided to engage in the free social activities at the skate park. This way, would keep himself healthy so he wouldn’t have to expend energy being fake in a job interview. He made positive connections which kept his mind and body in great condition. He also met people with some new ideas and life experiences, and they were willing to give him good reviews for opportunities at the jobs they worked at. Now he has a cool gig that he enjoys that allows him the freedom to be innovative. So with the new job and his new hobby, he created an effortless social circle all because he wanted to make sure his body and mind would be in good shape at a critical moment.
His Perspectives process knew what would happen if he tried to fake an interview. So he used that insight to inspire engagement in the outside world, and to get in touch with the needs of his body.
If you’re an ISFP or an ISTP reading this article, leave the anxiety and defensiveness behind. Take a tangible action and engage with the physical world around you for growth. If you’re worried about having your identity challenged or not being competent, use your Sensation process to test out your skills and gather concrete feedback in real time. When you seek out direct feedback, you have a greater ability to enhance the best parts of you. And in turn, you’ll start seeing the best in others. Step outside of your inner world. The first few times you try to get out of a rut may not be successful and that’s ok. Keep leveling up. Keep experiencing the truth of the world around you. Then, your insightful conclusions about how the world works will impact and inspire those close to you.
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This is a great post. Thank you. It reminds me of Ernest Hemingway’s advice to an aspiring writer: https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/11/13/hemingway-on-writing-2/