Because sensing and perceiving (SP) types love to act on instinct, they are often described as “animalistic.” This is not just a negative bias against the so called extraverted sensors (ISFP, ISTP, ESTP, ESFP), but it is also a stereotype against animals. Perhaps you have tried to type your animal. Almost all of the personality traits we study in humans, also exist in some form in animals. When we purely see animals as driven by instinct, we miss that animals have been shown to have most traits that humans have, but in a lesser form. Most likely, animals possess all abilities humans do, but to a lesser extent. The biggest issue with seeing the sensors ability as “animal like” is that we are lead to believe that instincts are something primal that has already played out it’s role, while language is something advanced.
The difference between a human and an animal is not strong instincts
Animals are not just gifted in language and communication, but are also good at reading emotions. Some animals can know when you are sad and can even come to comfort you in times of need. Some can speak in human words. Many animals form long-term relationships. Quite a few animals can use tools. We have even found that many of the animals in the animal kingdom can be highly sensitive, just like people. When we observe animals, we can notice big differences within a species. Animals have personalities. Some are shy, while some are more friendly.
Some are sensitive, while others are loud and thrive in the spotlight. And some are more intelligent than others. And so, when we talk about animals as purely driven by instinct, we make ourselves blind to so much of the depth to an animal. Other animals are not different from humans in that they have stronger instincts than humans.
And it all just hints at a negative bias towards having strong instincts. Why would having strong instincts be a bad thing? Jokes aside, but one of the strongest qualities of the Star Wars Jedi are their strong instincts. A person with strong instincts can avoid harm and act in a moments notice to avoid collision with something. Really, a person with strong instincts can know when to run, and when to fight. A person with strong instincts can stand still in the most chaotic or crazy environment, being that pillar we all need “when shit goes wack.”
A person with strong instincts can know when your back is aching, and when you’re walking in a weird way. They can tell if you’re hurt or where you are hurt. They’re gifted with the ability to read complex sensory signals and to assess sensory information in a highly refined way. They can respond to new sensory input before anyone else. Jump and catch that ball, watch out for that car, and hug the person that needs to be comforted. Pilot the car at 150 mph, to escape from someone who is chasing you. Watch out for that puddle of water right in front of you. Save that person who is about to fall off a cliff while playing pokemon go.
Intuitives started falling off cliffs way before pokemon go.
Often, I find myself honing my instincts in times when I have a big presentation coming, or when I am meeting a lot of people, or going on an adventure. I practice breathing, mindfulness, and presence. I take in my surroundings, and I become one with my surroundings, allowing me to take action on moments notice. I’ve noticed that the people with strong instincts – especially the ESXPs, tend to have quite magnetic personalities.
They take over rooms, they become the centre of the crowd, simply because they become the crowd, and because their instincts tell them exactly where to stand, and how to do something. Instincts are one of our higher intelligences, and just as important as skill in language, empathy, or logical operations. A person with strong instincts has a higher chance of having a high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.
That means that they can more easily hone their bodies, survive in combat situations, and even that they can be great cooks. Their perception of smell, taste, touch, and feel, can even help them become great masseuses, baristas, or nurses.
Imagination isn’t everything
And here we are, intuitives, so easily biased to think that language and imagination is everything, that we don’t need our bodies, and that physical reality is just a waste of time. Maybe we’re lead to believe that if we are just smart enough, we don’t need to use our instincts at all. Maybe we think that instincts have outlived their use, and that in the future, everything can be solved through equations and theory? Well. Humour the thought that it is the other way around. Having strong instincts in this world of cars, planes, crowded cities is more important than ever.
Really, sometimes, as an INFJ I can feel a little jealous of the ESFPs and ESTPs of the world. They somehow seem to be seen wherever they go, and their magnetic personality tends to secure them with jobs more easily. As an INFJ, I can sometimes be so caught up in my own head that I just disappear from crowds and from the world. Sometimes forgetting where I am entirely. But I take comfort in that we all have our strengths and weaknesses.