How to Understand People Part 9: Levels of Awareness.

How to understand people Part 9: Levels of Awareness.
The Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Schmitt

Those who have read the first 8 articles in this series, How to understand people, have come to understand some basic information concerning how simple choices help to make us the people we are and shape our overall behavior.

We have used a graphic we call The Map of Activity (shown in the current graphic as the multicolored square). This helps us to understand many things.

The first simple choice is between the top and bottom of the graphic. This is called FOCUS and is a choice between PEOPLE and THINGS. The second simple choice divides the Map of Activity from left to right and is called APPROACH. It is a choice between CONCRETE and ABSTRACT. Combining the two choices gives us the for corner squares called FUNCTIONS. They are SESNSING, FEELING, INTUITION, and THINKING.

When two side by side FUNCITONS combine they make up the four ACTIVITIES of WORDS, IDEAS, HANDS, and BODY. In the last 8 articles we have taken a look at the 16 different ACTIVITIES.

Each one corresponds with a Myers-Briggs Personality Type. However, using the work of Walter Lowen (Dichotomies of the Mind) we will show how each of the 16 Personality Types use 8 different ACTIVITIES in descending order of conscious awareness and ability.

Before going into the list of 8 levels of awareness, first understand that each Personality Type has it’s own order of preference on the broader level of WORDS, HANDS, IDEAS, and BODY. If you think back all the WORK ACTIVITIES are associated with NF Personality Types. All the IDEA ACTIVITIES are associated with NT Personality Types. All the HANDS ACTVITIES are associated with ST Personality Types and all the BODY ACTVITITIES are associated with SF Personality Types.

What is most conscious for NFs (WORDS) is least conscious for NTs and visa- versa.

Use this graphic to visualize the concept of more and less consciousness of ATIVITIES:The higher, the bigger, the more conscious; The lower the smaller, the less conscious.

Because it is the most conscious, the ACTIVITY we use in level one is the one in which we have the most confidence. When using this ACTIVITY whatever it maybe for us, we feel and are Dependable, Responsible and Accountable because what we are doing seems easy to us. Lowen calls level one “work” because of its competency. I find that term can be confusing, because we don’t necessarily have jobs that fall in this category; although it may often be advisable.

In level two “effort” is the thing that has become unconscious. Therefore what we are doing seems Restful, Relaxing, and Fun. Lowen calls level 2, “play”. Again this can be misleading because many people use level 2 in their work and don’t think of it as “play.” On the other hand this explains why some people say “find what you enjoy get paid for it.”


Level 3 is even more unconscious. We usually don’t really fully understand what we are doing in this ACTIVITY even if we might be reasonable good at it. BODY activity is in level 3 for me. I enjoy things like tennis, sailing, and cycling. When I have a good day at tennis it’s great. However, don’t ask me what I was doing that day or remember to do it next time. I haven’t got a clue. Lowen calls this level “serendipity” because it’s not usually something we plan to do but rather something we “fall into” ; it just happens to be in our life. Someone invites us or we just get a wild idea. It’s out of the norm. This is often the area of our real play and recreation. It gives us a rest from level 1 and 2. This involves what Lowen calls “entropy” and this will be the topic of another article.

Level 4 is the most unconscious. Perhaps the only think remaining conscious is the result. Whatever this ACTVITY is for your type it may seem totally other. People often say things like “that wasn’t me” or “I don’t know what got into me.” Or “That was a totally God thing.” Level 4 is always opposite level 1 on the Map of Capacities. If level one is WORDS, the level 4 will be HANDS. If level 1 is BODY, then level 4 will be IDEAS. You may notice I have also written articles on how to fold Origami Dollar models. I have created a Dollar Diamond ring, boat,and cross, among other designs. When I am creating such things with my HANDs it is a very unconscious process. Once I’ve done it, I almost have to learn how to do it all over again, because I’m not sure how I got here from there.

Each level (1,2,3,& 4) is divided into 2 sub-levels. Here is where we end up with the 8 ACTIVITIES that each of us use. Although my 8 as an ENFJ will be different from my wife who is an INFP, etc. So get ready to move on to How to understand people Part 10: Levels of Awareness/continued.