Table of content
- 1 Your mentality – The seven thinking types
- 2 The five levels and seven psychological functions
- 3 The art of reading energies
- 4 The seven thinking types
- 5 Exercise: How do you communicate?
– The seven thinking types
We know that people are different, with distinctive appearances, postures, movements, temperaments and attitudes. This chapter, and the two that follow, will look at these differences from the perspective of the Seven Types. As we have seen, we each have a typological DNA that consists of a dominant type (one of seven) at each of the five psychological levels. We have already explored typology at the levels of soul and personality – and how these two types integrate to create our core identity, or identity type – now we will be looking at the psychological levels of body, feeling and thought, with this chapter examining the level of thought and the seven thinking types, and the following two chapters looking at the levels of feeling (seven feeling types) and body (seven body types) respectively.
Of course, we are each unique and cannot be reduced to labels or formulas – no typological model could ever capture the subtleties that arise from the many layers of experience that have moulded our characters. However, a knowledge of our types and the types of others can help us to see and understand ourselves and each other, which will help us to communicate, cooperate and reconcile conflict.
Just as we encounter different types of people in the world, we also find there are different types within our own unique typological DNA. We can experience internal conflicts between our dominant types at the five levels – for example; there can be conflict between our bodily needs, feelings and thoughts. This can inhibit us – we might not do what we want to do due to an inner resistance – and these conflicts can seem insoluble. However, when we understand how the different levels of our being interact we can take steps to integrate our types and achieve synthesis and harmony.
One of my clients had a conflict between her communication style and her temperament. She expressed herself directly and categorically but felt hurt when people responded in the same way. When she realised that she was a dynamic thinking type and a vulnerable, sensitive feeling type, this gave her valuable information so that she could work to create inner harmony and manage her relationships in more helpful ways.
When we understand our dominant types at the levels of body, feeling and thought, we can begin to utilise their unique resources more consciously and harmonise conflicts between them. Of course, we will also need to accept that there are certain psychological qualities we cannot change, which is what Assagioli called accepting our typological structure.
The five levels and seven psychological functions
Few typological models speak about the five psychological levels. Most typologies are one dimensional, operating at the level of the personality only. Models based on Jungian psychology, for example, tend to focus only on personality types in terms of where they lie along the introvert/extrovert dimension; the different types appear in different combinations, but these models only speak about the level and the different developmental stages of the personality. Wilber (2000c: 53) described these typologies as having “horizontal orientations”, explaining:
Finally, a word about “horizontal” typologies, such as Jungian types, the Enneagram, Myers-Briggs, and so forth. For the most part, these are not vertical levels, stages, or waves of development, but rather different types of orientations possible at each of the various levels. Some individuals find these typologies to be very useful in understanding themselves and others. But it should be understood that these “horizontal” typologies are of a fundamentally different nature than the “vertical” levels – namely, the latter are universal stages through which individuals pass in a normal course of development, whereas the former are types of personalities that may – or may not – be found at any of the stages.
These horizontal typologies suggest that a person has a basic personality type that is constant throughout the different stages of development (including the pre-personal, personal and transpersonal stages) and in the realms of the unconscious, conscious and superconscious: the personality might evolve and change, but an individual is only ever described in terms of their personality structure.
By contrast, the Seven Types takes a holistic view of the human psyche, distinguishing between five psychological levels – in addition to the level of personality we have the levels of body, feeling, thought (which combine to create the personality) and soul (which combines with personality to create the core identity). Each level is dominated by one of the seven types, and each level undergoes its own stages of evolutionary development. This understanding of our psyche allows for a greater degree of detail, variety and complexity than a one- dimensional horizontal model. Because it is a more complete typological model – including body, thought, feeling and soul types, as well as personality types – the Seven Types is able to explain why people with the same personality type might still be very different.
We describe an individual’s unique combination of types using a five-number code, as follows. Each of the seven types is numbered from one to seven: 1-dynamic, 2-sensitive, 3-mental, 4-creative, 5-analytical, 6-dedicated, 7-practical. We then list the dominant types at the five levels in this order: soul-personality, thought, feeling, body. Figure 26 gives the example of a 1-2-463 composition, where 1 is a dynamic soul type, 2 is a sensitive personality type, 4 is a creative thinking type, 6 is a dedicated feeling type, 3 is a mental body type.
When comparing psychosynthesis typology with Wilber’s integral psychology1, it is clear that when Assagioli (Undated 6) refers to “the Rays which qualify his soul, his personality, and his mental, emotional and physical bodies”, he is referring to the energy bodies or sheaths that are described in Vedanta philosophy, which Wilber also incorporates into his teaching. This is an advanced theory, so I will delegate it for further reading2.
My view is that the Seven Types gives us the only vertical typological model that focuses on all aspects of a person – not just the personality, but our psyche at all its stages and levels, including the spiritual. Indeed, the spiritual aspect of typology (the Spirit and Monad) is itself a vast topic which is not touched upon in this book.
Let’s now look into the art of reading energies and, more specifically, how we can distinguish between the seven thinking types that colour our mentality.
The art of reading energies
Identifying types is difficult. Though we might have a sense that our lives are built out of energy, we are not practised at distinguishing between the different qualities and radiations of these energy fields. We are not in the habit of observing distinctions between our bodily sensations, feelings and thoughts, so it is to be expected that initially we will find this a challenging task, an endeavour that is made more complicated by the fact that these energies overlap and affect each other.
It might be assumed that our dominant type at the level of body would be the easiest to identify because we can see our bodies directly with our eyes. But, in fact, the body can be the hardest type to identify because the energies of the other types – feeling, thought, personality and soul – all express themselves through the body or affect the body’s appearance. Indeed, the body is the physical mask through which we express our entire being.
To identify the dominant types at the different layers of our being we must become experienced psychological observers. This is difficult! We might have one view of ourselves, but others will see qualities in us that we don’t – and some aspects of ourselves might be outside of our own or anyone else’s awareness. For example, we might appear self- confident but actually feel vulnerable and not know why – and, based on this partial self-awareness, we might develop a distorted self-image by focusing on our vulnerability rather than on our confidence.
Wilber’s four quadrants can help us with the task of identifying our types because we need to practice looking at ourselves from all angles: our inner experience (upper left quadrant), how others interpret our behaviour or how we might appear to ourselves if, for example, we were to see ourselves in a video (upper right), and how others see us in group contexts (lower quadrants). Note: making use of the upper right and lower right quadrants require that we ask others for feedback about our behaviour.
The Seven Types model is being verified and finessed through ongoing research and experience. Ultimately, it is a model that not only describes the human psyche, but everything in the universe. It is informed by many schools of philosophy, thought and teaching. Roberto Assagioli and Alice Bailey are the two key theorists whose work I have drawn upon, but I am also indebted to the work of Michael Robbins, especially his book Tapestry of the Gods volumes I-II.
As we begin the task of identifying our thinking, feeling and body types, the following principles should be held in mind.
- Dominant energies at different levels can affect each other. The dominant energies at all five levels impact on each other, colouring their manifestation and expression.
- All seven types of energy are present at each level. We find all types of energy at each level, however some types of energy are more common than others at certain levels.
- An individual’s maturity or level of development determines whether positive or negative qualities will be prominent. The types at each of the levels can manifest in healthy or distorted ways; the further we are on our journey of self-development, the healthier the expression of our types will be.
The seven thinking types
To identify our thinking type – which incorporates our manner of thinking and our style of communication – we start by looking at our intellectual interests. These reveal our type’s natural disposition, which is the “mental channel” that underpins our thinking. We then look at how we think, which includes our mental habits and how we collect and processes information. Finally, we look at our communication style.
While we will each tend to exhibit one dominant thinking type, through maturation we can learn to make use of all seven thinking types (Figure 27). However, some of the types are less compatible with the level of thought/mind than others, which can make it difficult to think clearly. However, where there is a challenge there is also an opportunity: if our dominant type at the level of thought is causing us difficulty then it follows that there is a specific lesson we need to learn as part of our soul journey. The same issue of incompatibility can arise at the levels of body and feeling, and I will address this issue in the relevant chapters.
The following section contains descriptions of the seven thinking types. As mentioned above, each type can be tempered with qualities from other energy fields – both other energies at the same level and other energies from different levels – so it is unlikely that we will observe a thinking type in its purest manifestation, so to speak. For example, a proud intellect (dynamic thinking type) can be tempered by a quality of humility from the temperament (sensitive feeling type), which is a conflict one must learn to balance.
Identifying our types is challenging work. My advice is not to be too hasty in making an assessment of your own thinking type. It might benefit you to revisit this chapter several times, perhaps gathering feedback from friends and family also, before making an evaluation.
The dynamic thinking type
Assagioli (1983: 20) writes: “At the mental level, the will [dynamic] type often has clear vision, uncoloured and undistorted by emotions. When mature, he has an open mind and a synthetic vision, and he considers the broad view rather than the details. He has great powers of concentration and a dynamic one-pointedness. He expresses his combativeness, on the mental plane, in the love of argument and criticism, and this is one of his chief defects.”
Interests: You are interested in the laws and principles that underpin the world. You want to understand the mechanisms that govern people, nature, technology and any other area of interest. Whatever the focus of your interest, you want to become an expert and master it. You are interested in power and your talents are well suited to management, politics, planning and anything goal-oriented. You are sharp like a knife, focused and ambitious with an ability to think in big pictures.
Thinking style: You are free and independent and draw your own conclusions. Your intellect is powerful and quick to tune into new ideas. You are probably a trendsetter whose opinions have authority and influence.
You have firm convictions and will rarely be persuaded to change your mind. That said, you can take in many points of view and assess an argument’s strengths and weaknesses. You have excellent concentration and can be very focused. You don’t study just for fun but want to become a master in your field; you want to be the best and to share your expertise with others.
You fear being dominated so you stand firm in your beliefs. This can lead to a tendency to think you’re always right, making you proud and arrogant.
You prefer solitude when thinking through decisions and conclusions. You consider asking for advice to be a weakness, and this can further isolate you and inhibit your effectiveness.
You organise your thinking linearly and hierarchically, clarifying and prioritising by importance. And, because you are action-orientated, you don’t spend too much time on philosophical contemplation unless there is a clear objective. Your challenge is to not be too closed minded.
Communication style: An excellent spokesperson, you communicate with authority and clarity. You make strong arguments and insist upon defining principles, laws and rules. Knowing that arguments will arise when people have strong opinions, you consider the weaknesses and strengths of a topic before engaging. You like intellectual debate because it sharpens your arguments. The English parliament is a good example of your style of debate. You debate well because you express your convictions strongly and to the point. You maintain a cool overview lest emotion impair your clarity. You can argue crucial points brutally and are inclined to suppress others’ right to expression.
You are proud of your ideas and respect others who are independent thinkers.
You excel at issuing directives, delivering them with a sense of clarity and perspective. A person of few words, you avoid elaborate explanations; you tend to present the big picture and fill in the detail only if necessary.
You are concerned with the most efficient way to communicate and share information. As a consequence, you might look down on those who are slower than you or who talk in circles or digress. This impatience means you can be intolerant of indecision and reckless in how you achieve your goals.
You prefer clarity over beauty or relationships, which can make you appear cool and impersonal. You also have a tendency to display your power, which can make you seem self-centred and boastful.
The psychosynthetic task: The task facing the dynamic thinking type is to develop an ability to dominate your field of influence by understanding the core principles and facts. You must control your tendency to engage in mental warfare and harmonise your communication style by allowing more space for dialogue so you can balance opinions.
Are your thinking and communication styles dynamic?
The sensitive thinking type
Assagioli (1983: 34) writes: “The identification tendencies of this type are generally revealed in their inclusive mentalities or in their ability to see all sides of a question, which produces breadth of vision and equanimity but sometimes these are accompanied by lack of firmness and resolution.”
Interests: You love knowledge and seek to understand the world holistically. You possess an open mind and are interested in people and everything connected to you. You want to strengthen social and intimate relationships through understanding.
Thinking style: You are contemplative and receptive, absorbing knowledge instantly and intuitively, but this can also mean you are easily influenced.
Clear, concrete thinking can be a challenge for you. You would benefit from practicing discrimination so you can distinguish more easily between what is relevant and irrelevant, true and false, otherwise you can fall into the trap of believing everything is of equal value. Also, because your sensitivity can make you indecisive, you might find it difficult to dismiss some options and find your voice.
You absorb a great deal of information and become so absorbed in your thoughts that it can be difficult for others to connect with you or to keep track of where you’re at.
You know that everything is connected and you look for similarities and patterns. But being holistically-minded means you can be vague, seeing analogies and connections where others can’t. You love knowledge but find it difficult to apply knowledge practically, preferring to remain the eternal student.
You are receptive to intuition but find it difficult to formulate your ideas clearly so that others can make use of them. Indeed, at heart you are a poet who is focused on subjective truth and who employs emotional language. You see the best in others, and this is both your greatest strength and greatest weakness.
Communication style: You are gentle, inclusive, empathetic and considerate, wanting to avoid offending anyone. To avoid conflict, you would rather agree with others than assert your opinion. In fact, you do not always know what you think and often need to talk something through to help you know your own mind.
In general, you are a loving person who is focused on relationships, a good listener with a sensitive communication style who wants to help others.
The psychosynthetic task: The task facing the sensitive thinking type is to develop your capacity for inclusive thinking and fine differentiation between nuances. You need to control your tendency to be over-inclusive and vague. You can harmonise your thinking and communication by increasing your capacity to think analytically and to discriminate between subjective and objective facts.
Do you make sense of the world through a sensitive mindset? What do your friends think?
The mental thinking type
Assagioli (1983: 41) says of this type: “He is often intelligent, mentally active, enterprising and quick to find the right methods”
Interests: You are interested in the big picture, in making connections, and in devising theories about how the world works. You keep well informed and want to know about everything in your field of interest. You like to gather information and share it with others, having a particular interest in economics, business, the services industry, communications and philosophy.
Thinking style: You like to take an overview and look for patterns, and from this you are able to develop theories about the world. You don’t cut to the chase as the dynamic type does, but rather want to gather as much knowledge as possible. You can think across systems and see new connections among different fields of knowledge and so generate new possibilities. Discovering new ideas motivates you, so you keep an eye out for new trends.
Your quick, active and curious mind absorbs much knowledge and you enjoy combining this in new ways. You like to develop well-defined theories. You love to plan and devise smart strategies, that produce concrete results. You are well informed, having a large network that helps you to gather the information you need. You have sound critical judgement and can see quickly whether something makes sense. However, while you never run out of ideas, you can sometimes be too smart, calculating and manipulative, which means your communication can distort other people’s reality like a spin doctor.
You have a good critical sense and can quickly see when something doesn’t add up. You tend be arrogant – like a dynamic type – and can become muddled or over-complicate things. Also, because you know so much, you have a tendency to see others as stupid. And because you are able to remain objective, this can make you seem impersonal, cool and calculating. In extreme cases you can become obsessive and inclined to paranoia.
You enjoy challenging your intellect and seeking out difficult mathematical, philosophical or technological problems. You enjoy mysteries and solving puzzles. You understand complex relationships better than other types, but you can get lost in your thoughts, which easily distract you.
Communication style. You speak a lot, with a concern to express yourself clearly. You question everything and are constantly searching for new knowledge. You rarely get straight to the point, but you’re an excellent and easy conversationalist because you are so knowledgeable and can always think of something to say.
Your quick and easy going nature is attractive and you know how to generate a positive atmosphere. However, you tend to play your cards close to your chest, revealing little of your true feelings – although avoiding public declarations means you are able to keep your options open.
You are quick to understand what is being said and can move a conversation in whatever direction you want. You communicate well, conveying your message in the most strategic way. However, with this skill comes a temptation to manipulate and deceive others and, because you unconsciously expect others to do the same, this can result in you becoming suspicious of others.
Because you are able to see all sides of an issue, you can find it difficult to reach a conclusion, and even when you do it will be with reservations. To you, the truth is often relative.
The psychosynthetic task: The task facing the mental thinking type is to develop your mental flexibility and acuteness by holding many perspectives. You need to control your tendency to be too smart for your own good, communicating only what suits your agenda. You can harmonise your thinking style by identifying your core values and objectives more clearly so they become your guiding stars.
Have you an active and curious mind that loves to work things out?
The creative thinking type
Assagioli (1983: 54) said of the creative thinking type: “The chief mental tendency is to harmonise, include, unify and perfect, but the contrast between the beauty of the ideal and the prevailing conditions that prevent its realisation in the world easily rouses their instinct to combat the stupidity and blindness of those responsible for this inadequacy.”
You like to be in harmony with other people and enjoy psychology, humour, and relating to others spontaneously.
Your mind is visual, aesthetic and active and you express yourself best through storytelling. You are a natural talent, telling real life stories based on your experience with other people and life in general.
Thinking style: Your thinking style draws upon your aesthetic sense and imagination. You are more interested in beauty and real-life experience than facts.
You love to dramatise your understanding, telling anecdotes and stories. You take your time getting to the point, weaving stories that are full of imagery. It is through telling these stories, or by tuning into the immediate situation and atmosphere, that you are able to process and gain insight into your life.
You like to build bridges, make connections, find common ground and create harmony. You prefer thinking with others to solitary work. You can see both sides of an argument, which can make you indecisive, and you can become frustrated when new perspectives and opportunities arise.
You struggle when dealing with data, for example in the fields of economics or technology. Similarly, too much structure will restrict your fluid, creative thinking. You tend to be influenced and inspired by your emotions, which can make you seem vague, so you can be misunderstood. However, your spontaneity and creativity mean you can always think of a way to express yourself.
Your strong imagination can exaggerate your fears. You are often happy and outgoing, but your moods can fluctuate. Humour can help to remedy your darker moods and can balance your tendency to worry. You love to play with words and their meanings – this lightens your mood and presents you with alternative perspectives.
Communication style: You are talkative and wordy. You try to express yourself beautifully and evocatively. You are concerned to have an impact, so having the right effect is more important to you than being factual – and, as a result, your performance may overshadow the content of what you are trying to say.
You have a wide vocabulary and are a lively and engaging speaker. However, your imagination and fluency can sometimes work against you and cause you to lose your thread. You also have a tendency to see life through rose-tinted spectacles, and avoid unpleasant topics, which can make you seem lightweight.
You are humorous, charming and spontaneous. You connect easily with people. Being able to see all points of view means you are most likely a good mediator and peacemaker. You weigh the pros and cons of an argument and tend to oppose extreme viewpoint in principle, regardless of your own beliefs, in order to establish balance. Ironically, to help establish harmony you might sometimes generate conflict in order to bring issues out into the open so they can be fully discussed. Overall, your highest quality is an ability to turn a bad situation into something good.
The psychosynthetic task: The task facing the creative thinking type is to develop your talent for expressive and colourful language, which captures the moment in a beautiful way. Control your tendency to let your imagination run wild and distort your sense of reality. Your creativity and spontaneity will become harmonised as you develop an ability to stay focused by keeping a clear awareness on your goals.
Do you love to play with words and tell stories instead of facts?
The analytical thinking type
Assagioli (1983: 61) said of this type: “His tireless mind is always on the alert, investigating, posing questions, solving problems, searching, probing, experimenting, proving and discovering. He has a great capacity for prolonged attention and mental concentration, tireless perseverance in his research, meticulous accuracy, and an admirable ability to sift data, discover laws and conceive theories for classifying facts into coherent systems.”
Interests: You are interested in objective truth and have a professional attitude and a serious concern to distinguish fact from fiction. You are curious, with an interest in understanding how things work. You immerse yourself in specialist research, especially in science and practical know-how. You are committed to objective truth. If interested in psychology, you will aim at developing proven methods to help the human condition. Your in-depth investigations lead to discoveries which have a practical expression.
Thinking style: Your sharp and logical intellect is good with detail. You have immense powers of concentration and an analytical approach to gathering facts and seeking practical solutions. Your ability to work with detailed information means you are knowledgeable about many subjects, but this can come with a tendency to be arrogant and narrow- minded.
Your mind is sceptical and critical. You test ideas to see if they are credible and fit with what you already know. You analyse and verify. Your manner can seem cool, serious and reserved, so you can come across as curt, somewhat dry and even something of a nerd. You are a no-nonsense, cut-to-the-chase sort of person who is in a hurry to discover the facts. Indeed, you can be so concerned to discover the facts that you can miss the wood for the trees. For you, truth and efficiency count for more than beauty. You narrow-mindedly ignore the intuitive dimensions of reality, especially anything that cannot be proven physically. You have an unhelpful tendency to take a dogmatic view on topics in the subjective domain about which you have little knowledge. Still, you have much to offer and your type commonly excels in education and academia.
Your search for clarity means you have a tendency to focus on differences rather than similarities: you separate before synthesising. If presented with something about which you know little, you tend to be sceptical. You are cautious and look for errors and omissions. You have a detective’s eye for detail and see patterns others miss.
You want to use your knowledge and are satisfied if it can help you to improve things. Your perseverance and thoroughness can make you an expert in your field. You are curious and inventive but your approach to life is basically literal; you have little time for symbols.
Communication style: You are a person of few words unless you need to make a detailed point where making clear and precise statements is necessary. You think before you speak and communicate what you have to say accurately, thoroughly and methodically. However, this need to present the facts in a painstaking way can make you a poor speaker because your listeners lose interest.
You lack spontaneity. When encountering something new you need time to study and evaluate it, so very often you prefer to say no to things you don’t know about before you say yes. You ask questions and research a subject extensively. Sometimes, you will struggle to say what you think because you want to go away and study something so you can work out what you think. When something strikes you as illogical you can become highly critical, even brutal in rejecting it. Your attention to detail can leave you with a narrow perspective, so you can seem stubborn, but you are reliable, which is a great strength.
The psychosynthetic task: The task facing the analytical thinking type is to develop your ability to analyse and draw out solid conclusions while controlling your tendency to lose perspective by focusing on the detail only. Your thinking style will become harmonised if you can allow space for subjective values and goals and for dialogue with different perspectives.
Do you love to communicate facts with a serious agenda?
The dedicated thinking type
Assagioli (1983: 71) says of the dedicated thinking type: “In the mental field, this type tends to exhibit more limitations than good qualities because his intelligence is very often dominated and activated by his strong passions; he therefore easily becomes narrow-minded, intolerant and critical. His views are uncompromising and rigid, and whenever he adopts an opinion or theory, it is very difficult to change his mind.”
Interests: Your focus is on ideals, idols and utopian dreams. This passion will often be expressed through a religious devotion, but you could be drawn to any vision or cause that arouses your enthusiasm and commitment, from poetry to politics. Your thinking will be influenced by your emotions, which can be problematic.
Thinking style: Highly idealistic people can become so focused on their vision that they ignore everything else. This type is goal-orientated, focused and intense, which means they are well placed to overcome challenges.
This is a mentality largely guided by desire and passion, and these emotions can cloud thinking and make you dogmatic.
Your thinking is directed by your passion, which motivates you to dig deeply into the meaning behind your mission. It is therefore important for you to refine your passions and make them more inclusive, because this will make your thinking more complete. Religious, political or philosophical views that dismiss other beliefs as false are typical for your type of thinking. When passion takes over, your thinking will become irrational and closed to criticism. When your feelings and emotions are not open to debate, you can become a fanatic and a zealot; there is a danger that you could become a crank, unable to view your beliefs objectively. You tend to have a closed mind and can focus only on what you know to be true. You have a tendency to think in black and white concepts, further arousing the passion that can distort your thinking.
Communication style: You are a fiery and intense advocate for your cause. You find dialogue difficult because you already have all the answers to everything worth knowing so you ignore other perspectives and beliefs. You channel your passions, whether loving or hating, into your communication.
You are a campaigner who uses slogans and rhetoric to make your point, but ignoring what other people think will create conflict and generate opposition, and you might find yourself in a kind of mental warfare.
Being so single-minded will not make you a good communicator, even though your convictions mean you are powerful in your manner of communication. Given that your passion is to encourage others to share your vision, this style of communicating will be counter-productive.
The psychosynthetic task: The task for the dedicated thinking type is to develop your ability to discern your truest values and formulate them into attractive ideals. You must control your tendency to be dogmatic and dominating in how you communicate your perspectives. Harmonise your single-mindedness by debating your points and through being open to dialogue and to different values and points of view.
Are you the true believer pursuing a utopian dream?
The practical thinking type
Assagioli (1983: 78) said of the practical thinking type: “His mental activity is exercised in projecting, accurately and in detail, and in thinking out and outlining precise, elaborate models of what he intends to manifest.”
Interests: You are focused on order, systems, hierarchies and rituals. You enjoy creating well-functioning systems using a variety of elements, whether it might be an IT system or a social event. You govern, direct and bring things together in a beautiful and elegant manner.
Thinking: You are skilled at organising your knowledge into well- defined systems where everything has its place. You know how to make practical use of knowledge and process detail in a systematic manner. You are not a specialist, like the analytical type, but a generalist who is interested in knowledge that is practical and used to achieve results. You can be conservative in your mindset because you tend to settle for what you know works. When you know something works you stick with it, which can make you rigid and over-regulated. But you are sensible and quickly understand what makes something tick. You look for the laws and rules that govern the world, and seek the optimal balance between conservation and renewal. Generally, you are constructive and pragmatic.
Your thinking is purposeful. You don’t waste time playing games, unless they are power games through which you can bolster your need for control. You have a need to understand the whole system, which could be a society or a language, and you carefully analyse all the detail and the context. You are keen to master and control, leaving nothing to chance, but you can become obsessed with micro-management. Knowing the best way of doing something is the ultimate purpose of this kind of intellect.
You formulate your thoughts with a certain elegance, carefully selecting the appropriate words, as a chef might the ingredients of a meal. You are good at following processes, cataloguing information, and applying new knowledge, but you can become obsessed with words and rules and reject anything that doesn’t fit your system. Your efficiency can help you, but your tendency to force an issue won’t.
Communication: You speak with elegance, carefully weighing your words because you know words have consequences. You can be diplomatic if this will help you achieve the best results in the most efficient manner. However, always trying to say the right thing can make you overly formal and polite, while what you are saying will lack substance. You like routine, which means you tend to talk about favourite topics. You don’t like idle chatter and prefer to talk only when there is an issue that needs addressing, which can make you appear rigid and snobbish.
You communicate with politeness and grace, and people enjoy working with you. Indeed, as the practical type, you excel at getting people to cooperate, even being able to mastermind large operations. You tend to give people attention and offer them praise and constructive criticism. Ultimately, your greatest talent is an ability to express yourself in a manner that provides a framework and direction and that promotes cooperation. However, you will feel demoralised if your efforts are overlooked or not appreciated. You are easily offended if you feel your status has been overlooked.
The psychosynthetic task: The task facing the practical thinking type is to develop and fine-tune your ability to gather detail and organise, while controlling a tendency to be overly structured and rigid. You can harmonise your systematic approach to life by allowing the subjective realms of feeling and imagination to influence your way of reaching conclusions.
Are you an efficient communicator and planner who is always working on a to-do-list?
Exercise: How do you communicate?
Ask someone who knows you well to help you identify your thinking type. Consider the following statements and, with their support, identify the ones that sound most like you.
These statements have been carefully worded to include reference to the motivators that underlie the different thinking types, so please take care that you are able to agree with all aspects of a statement before selecting it.
- I often seek to convince others about my ideals, and can push my views onto others.
- I often use humour to create a good atmosphere.
- I am elegant and diplomatic when speaking because I want to facilitate cooperation.
- I’m good at mediating because I can understand people’s feelings.
- I listen more than I speak because I want to make sure others feel heard.
- I enjoy a good argument because it allows me to test my intellectual strength.
- I am considerate in my communication because I don’t want to hurt or insult anyone.
- I care about how people talk to each other – courtesy, respect and formalities are important.
- I speak a lot because I am knowledgeable – and people benefit from my knowledge.
- I love to discuss details and explore different possibilities.
- I am serious and professional in my communication, always making use of the facts.
- I know I’m right in what I believe and people listen to me.
- I always cut to the chase when speaking to people.
- I tend to be critical of others, especially when I think people haven’t checked their facts3.
Before looking at the footnote, connect the statements to the thinking types. In the footnote the first number is the question and the second is the type.
1 See Integral Psychosynthesis (Sørensen, 2008), a comparison of Wilber’s and Assagioli’s systems.
2 Ken Wilber writes extensively about how the energy bodies relate to the seven chakras in his book The Religion of Tomorrow (2017). Previously, Wilber published two well-known papers on subtle energies: Toward a Comprehensive Theory on Subtle Energies (2006) and Sidebar G: States and Stages (2007). In the former paper, Wilber wrote: “The traditional ‘Great Chain of Being’ is usually given as something like: matter, body, mind, soul and spirit. In the Vedanta, for example, these are, respectively, the 5 sheaths or levels of Spirit: annamayakosha (the sheath or level made of physical food), the pranamayakosha, (the level made of élan vital), the manomayakosha (the level made of mind), the vijnanamayakosha (the level made of higher mind or soul), and anandamayakosha (the level made of transcendental bliss or causal spirit.”
3 Statements (the number in brackets is the feeling type, where 1-dynamic, 2-sensitive, 3-mental, 4-creative, 5-analytical, 6-dedicated, 7-practical): 1.(6), 2.(4), 3.(7), 4.(4), 5.(2), 6.(1), 7.(2), 8.(7), 9.(3), 10.(3), 11.(5), 12.(6), 13.(1), 14.(5).