As I traverse the challenging waters of social distancing, each of Carl Jung’s 8 Function-Attitudes (also known as Mental Functions, Mental Processes or Cognitive Processes) plays an important role. My self-observations remind me of the nature of Psychological Type and how it operates as a system of psychological energy. It is, as I call it, our Psychological Energy Exchange System™. Type is fluid, and with a certain amount of energy, I am able to consciously access each of the 8 Mental Processes to help me to keep myself and my family safe, balanced and sane.
If you are not familiar with Carl Jung’s theory of Psychological Types, here is an overview:
Jung theorized that when we are awake, most of our mental activity consists of gathering information (Perceiving) and evaluating that information (Judging). Jung named two psychological processes or Functions [how our minds function] for Perceiving – Sensing (S-details) and Intuition (N-insight) and two processes for Judging – Thinking (T-logic) and Feeling (F-values).
We use each of these four functions in two different Attitudes [how we face the world]; in our Extraverted (external) world, or in our Introverted (internal) world, yielding 8 different Functions in their Attitudes. These 8 Mental Processes are representations of eight distinct mental patterns, or perspectives, that shape how we see and interact in the world.
At this point you might be asking why Psychological Type matters, and what it has to do with navigating our way through this tumultuous time? The short answer is that Jung’s 8 Functions are a set of ‘mental tools’ that we can call on, in a measured and conscious way, to help us meet the challenge of adversity.
Here are some examples of how I have been engaging the Mental Processes from my personal and professional life, to navigate through these times:
Extraverted Sensing (Se) – Perception, or gathering data in the outer world by way of the five senses, in the current environment… has been nudging me to be in the present moment by:
…looking at the trees outside my office window that are blooming with white and pink flowers, listening to the birds chirping, watching people walk and run by with their kids and their dogs, and talking a walk through our garden, looking at and pulling weeds…immersing myself in the beauty that surrounds me. When I am “in the moment” I am focused on the outside world with my five senses; and in those moments, I can be free of anxiety and fear.
Introverted Sensing (Si) – Perception, or gathering data from the inner world through reviewing or “re-living” relevant sensory experiences from the past, to understand and differentiate that from the current situation...has been reminding me that I have faced similar challenging circumstances in the past by:
…recalling the times in my life when I quickly needed to learn new technology. I recall giving virtual workshops to past clients and seeing the successes. I notice the need is faster now, requiring a more comprehensive approach, but is quite doable looking from the vantage point of my past experiences.
Extraverted Intuition (Ne) – Perception in the outer world that gathers information by connecting the dots between disparate data, to brainstorm ideas and catalyze forward movement…tells me that I can generate new ideas and business approaches in conjunction with my business partner to meet the current needs of my clients when we are:
…brainstorming possibilities on a weekly basis with my business partner, delving into one approach, and then trying on another. Linking what we have talked about to finding articles and webinars that will give us more ideas, and then generating more thoughts afterwards.Talking about the trends in the market and what they mean for the future of training and leadership development.
Introverted Intuition (Ni) – Perception in the inner subjective world that gathers information by way of the unconscious; “sees” the bigger picture, the essence of things and potential for transformation…shows me a calmer more peaceful version of the world and myself when I am:
…”seeing” in my minds eye what direction to take both to help my family and my business through “aha” moments that emerge into consciousness.
Extraverted Thinking (Te) – Judgment in the outer world that seeks to evaluate information through applying logic, in order to organize and systematize the task for maximum effectiveness…shows me how to approach my grocery shopping to keep myself and my family safe by:
- Creating a list that mirrors the layout of the store
- Washing the kitchen counter with Lysol
- Putting hand sanitizer and gloves in car
- putting on the gloves
- wiping down cart including seat
- managing isles quickly, choosing only what is on the list
- Loading groceries into the car
- taking off gloves
- using hand sanitizer
- wiping down the steering wheel with wipes
- Unpacking items one by one cleaning each with Lysol wipes
- Washing hands
Introverted Thinking (Ti) – Judgment in the inner subjective world that searches for answers by categorizing, analyzing and giving order to data through applying subjective frameworks – to see if something fits into the mental model…is leading me to do extensive research and reading to:
…gain more knowledge about the subjects I teach and fit it into my frameworks for growth and development that are foundational for team development workshops.
Extraverted Feeling (Fe) – Judgment in the outer world that evaluates situations by pinpointing the values of a group in order to facilitate connection…has led me to learn to connect and build relationships differently by initiating:
..virtual Zoom cocktail hours, more Face Time, increased e-mails and phone calls, finding unconventional ways to connect, have all provided solace. Sharing information about the virus, and ways to mediate and remove anxiety, answering friends calls for connection, making special dinners for my family and treating those in my household with extra care and love. (I heard a commentator call social distancing “physical distancing” because we are staying social and connected – this is helpful from an Extraverted Feeling perspective!.)
Introverted Feeling (Fi) – Judgment in the inner subjective world that seeks to maintain congruence of inner values with the outer situation…is showing me that the really important things in life are not things by understanding:
…that health, happiness, and the well being of my friends and family, sharing and connecting with each other, and keeping those that we love safe are the important things in life. The little things that used to be annoyances and stressors are now in perspective.
And this is just the beginning of understanding the gifts that Psychological Type has to offer. We all have Mental Processes that are easy for us to engage and others that we find challenging. We prefer, use and develop the 8 Mental Processes in a different order, and with varying levels of energy depending on our whole Type pattern.
When we have knowledge of our own Type — how comfortably we access, engage and have developed the Mental Processes, we can call on Type to serve as a personal map or compass. A map that provides us with how to gain more balance, or that leads us in different or more appropriate directions that are called for by the situation. But it is important for all of us, regardless of Type, to keep all 8 Functions in the boat; they have a role to play, no matter how small.
If you are interested in finding out more about the Jung’s 8 Mental Processes, how you use them, and how it could make a difference for you and your team, we have moved our training and development programs to a virtual platform. Contact me for more information.
And stay healthy and safe!