Years ago, my friend was struggling with her faith. She was part of a Christian church, but was never quite settled with it – there were so many questions that plagued her. She found a huge amount of solace and peace in Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, so much so that she asked me to read it. At the time, I was part of a leadership team running a Catholic young adult ministry, and when I was done with this book, I was ready to scrap Jesus from my list of accessible divine beings.
More than a decade later, I am experiencing something similar with The Intention Experiment by Lynne McTaggart. I believe 100% that human intention has a profound effect on everything around us, that our consciousness influences and shapes our every experience. Despite being in complete agreement with McTaggart, the way she went about ‘proving’ this made me more likely to doubt it. Nonetheless, there are hundreds of glowing reviews for this book from people who were profoundly affected by it.
I find myself unable to translate something I learned in The Intention Experiment into a post that might help you with something in your life. (If I write about the book itself, I’m going to rant, I can feel it!) Instead, I hope that I can translate something I learned by hating the book (and the long-ago hated Case for Christ) into a useful post.
How can two people have such wildly different reactions to a book? I think the root lies in how each of us perceives and absorbs information. In the coming weeks, we’re going to be talking more in depth about the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a four-component personality classification system, but today calls for a preview of two of the components, information and decisions.
According to Carl Jung, each of us has an innate preference in how we relate to information and decisions. The MBTI system has taken these preferences and expanded upon them to see how they interact with each other.
The two preferences for how we learn, or take in information, are Sensing and iNtuition. (No, that’s not a capitalization error – the first pair of MBTI preferences are Extraversion and Introversion, and types are described as 4 letters – e.g. ENFP. Since “I” was taken, “Intuition” gets an N.) In her article, “The 8 Preferences”, Myers-Briggs Master practitioner Sadie Young states that people who prefer Sensing are practical, like details and concrete information, and primarily learn through the five senses and previous experiences. People who prefer iNtuition prefer abstract information that focuses on future possibilities, prefer the big picture, and primarily learn through their ‘guts’ and what feels right.
The two preferences for how we make decisions are Thinking and Feeling. Again according to Young’s “The 8 Preferences”, people who prefer Thinking are what we would usually call logical – they prefer facts and make decisions objectively. People who prefer Feeling make decisions based on their values and how they will affect relationships.
As an NF, McTaggart’s two hundred pages of detached observation of scientific experiments were like a form of torture for me. I already intuitively believe that intention affects reality, and I see it in my own relationship with the world.
An ST might love The Intention Experiment and relish all of the detailed facts presented, with conclusions drawn only after all evidence had been presented.
My friend with the faith struggles is an ST, and we had endless debates over the nature of god and belief. She was always looking for a way to be sure god really existed. I am unable to relate to this, because obviously god exists because I feel divine love. That’s why she loved The Case for Christ and I loathed it; it gave a logical argument for something I believe can only be felt.
What can we get from this?
I would add something to this – it’s up to each of us to recognize our preferences and then honor them in our daily lives. If you are an ST, don’t try to force yourself to figure out what your gut feeling is; you will drive yourself crazy. Research as much as you need to and don’t stop until you have an argument that convinces you.
If you are an NF, trust in the flashes of understanding you have and don’t worry about justifying them with a huge list of facts. Don’t kill yourself in details. (Do not publicly commit to reading 200+ pages of “In YEAR, brilliant Professor John Doe of Prestigious University X become interested by the idea that algae has increased or decreased photosensitivity based on the…”)
For anything you want to learn, there is someone teaching it in a style that resonates with how you love to learn. If you try something and it seems impossible to grasp, check the style of the teacher against your learning style before concluding that you are just not able to understand or uninterested in the topic. What is dreadful from one teacher might be transformational from one suited to your learning style.
This week, I’m inviting you to pay attention to your learning style and see if you seem to be Sensing or iNtuitive about gathering information, and Thinking or Feeling about making a decision. Give us your best guess now in the comments, and let life inform you more this week.