Extraverted Sensing: Living in the Moment
What is Perception? It is the state of becoming aware through our senses.
Conscious awareness of external stimuli is the domain of the Extraverted Sensing (Se) function. Our senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch bring information about the world to our brain. Se is our conscious awareness and use of as much of this information as possible. Se is observant of details and well grounded in the practical reality of the here and now. When you’re told to “live in the moment,” that means using your Se to fully engage your senses and revel in the pure experience of the world around you.
I told a friend that Extraverted Sensing is his dominant function, and this means that he is aware of the world around him, actively engaging in it, living in and responding to stimuli as it occurs. He looked at me like I’d just informed him that he breathes to stay alive and said, “Of course I do that, everyone does that!”
Well, it is true that we all do this, but not all of us do it as consciously and actively as someone with a dominant Se. As an extraverted function, Se is energetic and actively engaged in the outer world, keenly aware, with a fast reaction time. As a result, those with Se high in their Function Family (ESTP and ESFP dominant, ISTP and ISFP auxiliary) may have good kinesthetic abilities and be naturally athletic.
This function will drive you to explore and experience the world physically, taking risks and pushing boundaries for the thrill of the exhilarating sensations. As a result, those with this function high in their family are likely to suffer a number of serious injuries, especially in childhood. However, they also become skilled in physical risk taking and eventually become better at skillfully avoiding injury as a result of their lifelong practice, making them the most likely daredevils.
Those with Extraverted Sensing lower in their family will have more difficulty staying attuned to the world around them. They can develop athletic abilities, certainly, but it may take more focused practice and effort. But they are just as likely to be hopelessly clumsy, absent-mindedly walking into door frames and sign posts, lost in their thoughts and oblivious to the world around them. Of course, Se is still unconsciously collecting information for them about physical reality… they just aren’t choosing to pay attention!
As an inferior function, the function least developed and hardest to develop in a function family, Se will bubble up from the unconscious from time to time, more or less successfully. For example, one gorgeous afternoon on a lovely hike in the Sierras with some friends, the fellow ahead of me effortlessly jumped across two large rocks spanning the stream we had diverted from the path to explore. Normally I am very cautious and do not take risks like that as I know my physical limits and lack of risk-taking experience. But for some reason, at that particular moment in time, I suddenly felt invincible and inspired to leap with full trust that I would cross the distance safely.
I didn’t. I completely missed the far rock. To make matters worse, the rocks were right at the edge of a small waterfall, and I would have been dragged straight over the cascade of jagged rocks by the current, had the fellow ahead of me not turned and grabbed my arm at the last second, dragging me up out of the stream before I could be pulled down by the rushing water. The friends I was hiking with were quite jarred by this near-certainly-injurious disaster so narrowly diverted; however, I was in the grip of my quite inexperienced Se and was just totally pumped and excited by the adrenaline rush. It can be rather dangerous to have an underdeveloped Se, unless you have superhero friends around to save you!
On the other hand, I know from experience that if physically threatened by a perceived attacker, I will react instinctively and violently to defend myself, using whatever body part or blunt object is most near at hand. Fortunately I’ve never had to rely on the instincts of my Se in a real life threat, and I feel a bit badly for the friends who thought they’d play a joke on me… but hey, you’d better have an agile Se yourself if you plan to sneak up on someone with a mostly unconscious Se! 😉 See how useful this information can be?
For the most part, the Extraverted Sensing function is fun-loving and adventurous. If it gets out of hand, it does a have a dark side of hedonism and excessively permissive use of resources. The US is a quite Se dominated culture, which can account for much of the pioneering drive for physical domination that established the country, and also the short-sightedness that has us plundering it.
When it comes to any cognitive function, balance is best.
If you identify with aspects of this post, contact me to schedule a Personality Type Analysis to see where Se falls in your Function Family. Together, we can devise ways to bring a balanced practice of living in the moment into your life. ~Julie