No, it’s not Captain Planet. It’s a Personality Types/Elements of Nature Mashup!
“I don’t even know if you’re like a mermaid, I think you’re more like a snail.”
“Well you know how you say you’re like a mermaid because you don’t like to just learn something on the surface, you like to dive down deep to the bottom of it – but like, you don’t even stop at the bottom, you continue to burrow down through the earth. You’re a snail.”
Despite wanting to be deeply offended by this seeming downgrade from mystical mer-creature to…SNAIL, I couldn’t help but agree with the hubs’ assessment.
Ironically in the days prior I had also just written down the word “burrowing” to describe the energetic feeling of my way of learning and interacting with the world. The longer you live with someone, the more you definitely read each other’s minds.
I’ve been working on a mash-up of Myers Briggs personality types at the level of the cognitive functions with…the elements of nature! Forging a bond between some of my very favorite systems for understanding ourselves, others, and the world around us.
Now to clarify, “Myers Briggs personality types at the levels of the cognitive functions” is a Snail’s way of saying: this is Myers Briggs at a much deeper level than what you’re going to find in an online quiz that takes five minutes and well, is just often pretty bad at correctly typing us.
This is also Myers Briggs that is different than the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Inventory). I don’t use any tests when I’m typing people. I am actually certified as a Personality Profiler, which means I interview you, look for the patterns, dive into any inconsistencies (anyone have a work self and a home self that always seem to type differently? Yeah that’s a common one!) and then allow you to be part of the verification process making sure we find the type that truly describes you and all of you.
I also don’t typically discuss the types in terms of types but in terms of something called Cognitive Functions. For example, an INFJ isn’t just an INFJ type. They are a unique individual using mental processes as described by Carl Jung that are called Introverted Intuition, Extraverted Feeling, Introverted Thinking, and Extraverted Sensing – and using them in various balanced and imbalanced ways, which means one INFJ doesn’t always look like another INFJ.
You see how the plot thickens!?
And yet…sometimes I find that I burrow down so deeply into a subject that I lose the trail that allows me to bring it back up to the light of day. Which is why in almost three years of writing to you, I have previously attempted to discuss this topic exactly and only ONCE. #snailproblems
Where I do dive deeply into this subject is with my coaching clients where we use a thorough understanding of our personality type as a map for finding our way back to our true authentic selves. Figuring out our personality type is just the beginning – the transformational personal and spiritual growth coaching that comes from it is the really sweet stuff.
In the future I can talk more about that process, and what it even means to move from our ‘false self’ to our ‘true self’ to our ‘higher and potential self!’
But today, I want to present to you…4 Ways of Learning & Interacting with the World: A Myers Briggs-Elements of Nature Mashup!
So are you a snail, too – burrowing into the deep? Or perhaps instead of burrowing, you tend to swirl, or ignite or stabilize?! Once you figure it out from the descriptions below, let me know 🙂
You don’t need any background knowledge on Myers Briggs for this; read the following 4 descriptions and see if you recognize yourself (and others!) most strongly in one of them.
The four types below are primarily related to our learning style – we also have a different type that represents our decision making style. And we’ll get into those types another time so you can continue to put the pieces of yourself together!
Should you like to dive even deeper (oh, music to my Water type ears!) into self-discovery and personal growth, or gain clarity on your type, please reach out as I also offer 1-on-1 Personality Discovery & Growth Sessions – where the real magic happens!
Here’s to the most important learning you’ll ever undertake – who you are and why you’re here. As Lao Tzu says, “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.”
4 Ways of Learning & Interacting with the World:
A Myers Briggs-Elements of Nature Mashup!
Quick Reference + Descriptions Below
Especially: ESFP, ESTP
But also: ISFP, ISTP
And at times: ENFJ, ENTJ
Fire Type Characteristics:
Fire types use Earth’s surface as their playground to explore with their five senses. If you can touch, taste, smell, see, or hear it – they are interested! They are quick to ignite into action; once a plan or goal is decided upon, you won’t see them wasting much time hemming or hawing over the details as they’ve already gotten up and gotten started! The other types sometimes watch and wonder whether Fire types actually made a plan in the first place…and the truth is “plan” is a real loose word for them. They are extremely present-moment oriented, spontaneous, and don’t want to miss out on an opportunity. Because of this they are sometimes prone to creating fires that they then have to put out – while it would exhaust the rest of us, Fire types don’t mind because it just gives them another reason to get back into action. Fire types can bring things to fruition in the space of time that they rest of us would still be drawing up our plans for. They like to figure things out on the fly and get their hands dirty. When they aren’t busy living their exhilarating lives, enjoying a rush of adrenaline, or making things happen, they are surely adding much spice and delight to the lives of those around them.
Growth Path for Fire Types:
Expanding their present-moment awareness to include the past (learning from it in order to grow) and the future (considering the future implications, setting intentions, dreaming big dreams) is a key growth step for Fire types. Ironically while most of us could benefit from exiting the past or future and returning to the present moment, Fire types can actually benefit from expanding their field of awareness to include past and future along with the present. This requires incorporating a bit of the watery expansiveness native to Water types. While fire and water are elements normally quite at odds with one another, it is this alchemy – reaching out for a bit of our opposite – that allows for true growth. Fire types are naturally gifted with an amazing opportunity to become Zen masters of the present moment! IF they can harness the wisdom of past and future while still living fully in the present.
Practice for Fire Types:
Incorporate practices that slow you down (eeeek I know) and allow you to move from your body to explore your head, heart, and intuition.
Mindfulness Meditation, Mindful Walking, Journaling – Mindfulness practices allow you to cultivate the “pause” – the space between stimulus and response. Then try this prompt for journaling: in what ways have I grown or changed over the past year? What dreams and intentions do I have for the coming year?
For Growth Inspiration!
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.” – Viktor Frankl
**While being told to slow down sounds like death to a Fire type’s ears, know that the world absolutely needs you to keep all that amazing SPARK that you naturally possess while learning to incorporate the power of the Pause. Not a stop, just a pause and then…GO!
Especially: ENFP, ENTP
But also: INFP, INTP
And at times: ESFJ, ESTJ
Air Type Characteristics:
Like Fire, Air types move quickly, but the surface of the Earth is not their playground. Instead of five-sensory experiences, Air types live in the realm of ideas and possibilities. Like the wind they move to the highest point of fascination, then swirl on to the next and the next on the tails of the question “what if..?”, leaving nothing untouched. To the untrained observer, Air types might seem “up in the clouds,” disconnected from “the real world.” But from this unique upper vantage point, Air types can see everything and understand the world in a way that many of us can’t. They aren’t tied to one singular moment in time but can understand existence across all dimensions of time and space – they can therefore become some of our greatest inventors and creatives. While they often feel at odds with worldly constraints like time, money, schedules, societal norms, they force us as a society to re-evaluate our systems and ways of living seeing that there might be some wiggle room or a new and creative way to live our lives and conduct our business. Their quick and curious minds will stagnate without some interesting idea to explore, and piecing together seemingly disparate ideas to create something new gives them extreme satisfaction. Suggesting a brainstorm session is truly music to their ears! Though many Air types also enjoy their alone time, they are often at their happiest when sharing ideas with other free thinkers.
Growth Path for Air Types:
The element of air touches everything, including the ground. But Air types can easily lose contact with their sense of groundedness as it’s so much more enjoyable to float high up in the sky. But they might float so high up they create something only to later discover it already exists on the surface. Or without a connection to the ground they can find themselves easily blown off course and cease to fully implement their wild and needed creations! For Air types, the fun is always in the starting of the idea or project – the fun is NOT the grunt work of the maintenance! If they can learn to make it through that last 20% of a project without giving it up altogether, Air types will be able to bring so many needed ideas to this world. Though it feels good to fly high above the ground, be sure to stay connected to the Earth just enough to create what it truly needs and to finish those projects and bring your genius into fruition.
Practice for Air Types:
Groundedness is the antidote to flightiness. Incorporate practices that slow you down, get you into your body, and allow you to literally touch the Earth.
Mindful Walking, Hiking in Nature, Deep Breathing in Savasana or Crocodile (lying flat on the earth belly up or belly down) – when walking or hiking challenge yourself to tune into your five bodily senses; ask yourself, what can I see? what do I hear? what do I smell? Notice the sensation of each foot making contact with the earth.
For Growth Inspiration!
“To find the balance you want, this is what you must become. You must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that it’s like you have four legs, instead of two. That way, you can stay in the world.” -Ketut Liyer, Medicine Man (from the book Eat, Pray, Love)
**Normalcy is overrated 😉 So continue to keep that beautiful head in the clouds no matter what anyone says. Just remember to plant your feet firmly onto the ground now and then to grace the world with your wild ideas!
Especially: ISFJ, ISTJ,
But also: ESFJ, ESTJ
And at times: INFP, INTP
Earth Type Characteristics:
Earth types are truly the keepers of what is. They don’t just play on top of the surface like Fire types, Earth types from the very bedrock upon which society exists. Without the grounded energy of Earth types our world would be in a constant state of change and chaos. Earth types maintain our traditions, establish norms, create systems and organization, and desire and provide stability above all else. They create family values, establish common sense, and allow those around them to feel safe and secure. It is an important role to maintain a sense of consistency within a culture as well as provide our link to the past, our collective shared history. There is some wisdom in the saying, “don’t reinvent the wheel” after all! The other types can sometimes see Earth types as unbending or stuck in the past and “what was.” But the most magical Earth types stay connected to a fluid sense of “what is.” Just as Air types must maintain connection to the earth in order to fully flourish, when Earth types maintain a connection to the fluid and changing nature of air, they create for us a society that is both stable as well as flexible, while forming the absolute foundation and glue of a truly nourishing society.
Growth Path for Earth Types:
Without the quality of movement, there is stagnation. Earth types must maintain some connection to their sister element, the Air, in order to keep things fluid so that “what is” does not become a fixation on the past and “what was.” It is a vital piece of growth to be fully aware of our history and able to learn from our past mistakes, so keep this quality that allows you to so expertly look behind you – just be sure not to keep things the same so much that you end up with broken systems in need of major repairs that now require massive change. While the idea of making change doesn’t always sound like a fun time to Earth types, it’s important to realize this simply prevents you from having to make even bigger changes later on! And if you don’t love change, small changes are a lot less scary and a lot less chaos-inducing than giant changes, that’s for sure!
Practice for Earth Types:
Change is the antidote to stagnation. Incorporate a practice of making small changes along the way so that you don’t have to implement HUGE repairs later on. Apply this to everything whether it’s the maintenance of your car, your relationship, your career – or the very rules, traditions, and norms upon which we base our society.
Explore one new thing every week! This could be an experience you’ve never had or studying a subject that’s brand new to you. Tap into the part of you that loves to explore and be creative and learn to set it free in small, manageable doses. Utilize your excellent planning skills by planning out your “one new thing” for every week in the coming month and put it on your calendar. Does your growth practice sound more fun than the other types? Maaaybe! But you spend your days playing such a mature and stable role that sometimes growth is about finding what makes you feel wild and free.
For Growth Inspiration!
The Serenity Prayer is a good one for Earth types –
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
**More than anyone, you understand the peace and serenity that comes with accepting what you cannot change – and more than anyone, you will empower yourself and inspire those around you by tapping into the courage to change the things you can!
Especially: INFJ, INTJ
But also: ENFJ, ENTJ
And at times: ISFP, ISTP
Water Type Characteristics:
While Fire types play upon the surface, Air types play above it, and Earth types form that very foundation, Water types move below the surface – the way that water always moves to the lowest point.
Water types always begin at the ground level, and tend to have a firm grasp of what is available there – they just don’t find it very attention grabbing! Their greatest joy comes in learning things deeply, way beyond the surface level. They take great pleasure in digging deeper and deeper using a shovel named “WHY?” – their very favorite question. Just like you can’t nourish a plant if the water doesn’t reach it’s roots, Water types know that you can’t find the roots of a problem and truly resolve it if you don’t dig down deep enough. And like Air types that take an expansive above-ground view of everything allowing them to make seemingly disparate connections between things, Water types similarly find that the further they burrow down below the surface, the more they are able to look back up at everything, making sense of the world in a way that often seems quite wise. Water types don’t always seem overly attached to one point of view; their watery nature allows them to explore multiple perspectives. And rarely taking things at face value, Water types also find they are able to bring this expansive perspective to people, seeing them in a sort of 4D, not just as they are now, but how they got there and how they’re meant to be. Though the world might think they just have their head in the sand, Water types know that the greatest treasures are often found hidden away beneath the realm of what is readily seen.
Growth Path for Water Types:
The quality of water that allows it to flow deeper and deeper and deeper…also means that sometimes Water types flow and flow and flow into ever deepening territory without actually doing anything with their accumulated knowledge and wisdom. It is fire that sparks us into action, a quality quite at odds with water. But just as Fire types benefit from incorporating a bit of watery expansiveness to increase their hyper-focused present-moment awareness, so too do Water types benefit from incorporating the igniting quality of fire for a little get-up-and-go. Similarly, just as Air types must stay connected to their sense of groundedness in order to create anything here on earth rather than remaining exclusively up in the clouds, Water types benefit from a jumpstart of fire energy to allow them to manifest their wisdom here on earth rather than letting it all float around inside their own heads. Taking small steps, even imperfect ones, towards a goal or dream is the antidote to becoming waterlogged. Water types will benefit from discovering the spark of excitement that fires them up! And then creating an action plan to get there.
Practice for Water Types:
Honing your connection to your inner guidance and intuition will ensure that the actions you decide to take are always aligned with your highest good. Squandering energy on actions that don’t excite you or truly serve your highest potential will just convince you that it’s better to not waste time and energy getting into action at all. A life inside your head is a pleasant one indeed, but the world needs your wisdom now more than ever.
Heart Meditation, Journaling, Oracle Cards, Movement – meditate while you imagine breathing through the heart and then journal about the most exciting insights that come up; use oracle cards to decide between two courses of action if you feel stuck, write down just ONE action step you can take to work towards your goal or dream and then…get up and DANCE! Or do something active that reminds you that getting into action can also feel good (and might actually rejuvenate your energy).
For Growth Inspiration!
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” -Martin Luther King Jr.
**So flow down to the depths that most won’t take the time to explore – the world doesn’t always say so, but we need you to do this for us. Then tap into a little fire energy to propel yourself back here and share what you’ve learned!
I love your comprehension of fire earth water & air … vs. Jung’s respectively and directly derived intuition sensation feeling & thinking from these 4 ancient elements.
You are the only one I could find that has taken Jung’s paradoxical abstractions of these 4 elements to more accurately describe the basic 4 personalities (fire, earth, water, & air).
I wish Jung would have stressed the basic 4 personalities more.
Thank you for taking the time to read and reflect on this, Philip! I deeply appreciate your comment and am happy you found the article and type descriptions useful. Many blessings to you as well! 🙂