Extraverted Sensing (Se)

‘What Is’

woman carrying barbell

What Carl Jung said about Extraverted Sensing Types:

No other human type can equal the extraverted sensation type in realism. His sense for objective facts is extraordinarily developed. This type—the majority appear to be men—naturally does not think he is at the “mercy” of sensation. He would ridicule this view as quite beside the point, because sensation for him is a concrete expression of life-it is simply real life lived to the full. His whole aim is concrete enjoyment, and his morality is oriented accordingly. Indeed, true enjoyment has its own special morality, its own moderation and lawfulness, its own unselfishness and willingness to make sacrifices. On the lower levels, this type is the lover of tangible reality, with little inclination for reflection and no desire to dominate. His lively capacity for enjoyment makes him very good company; he is usually a jolly fellow, and sometimes a refined aesthete. 

group of people dancing

What Does Se Do?

Because Introverted Sensing (Si) looks to the past, the natural mirror to that function would be Extraverted Sensing (Se), which looks to the present. Se desires to stay in the moment as it exists in reality, with little energy expanded towards seeing the hidden patterns behind things. Se does not care about the elements, themes, or motifs present when engaged in an activity. The movie is the plot, the piece of art is what’s on the canvas, and my spouse saying “Everything’s Fine” is Everything’s Fine. Looking into things is what complicates life.

Extraverted Sensing types like the ESTP and ESFP truly live out the Latin phrase Carpe Diem, and “seize the day.” Whereas other Types might be wary of how certain actions will lead to disastrous ramifications, Se dominant Types aren’t especially concerned. As the late Mitch Hedberg said, “Well I won’t eat this apple because eventually it will become a core!” is certainly NOT the way an Extraverted Sensor views life.

woman in white and red crew neck shirt eating ice cream

As Jung says of the Extraverted Sensor, life is meant to be lived, not contemplated. Life becomes fuller by the experiences you have, not by the thoughts you have.

The push to experience life in all its sensuality comes with a price, however. A long night out with the boys leads to being hungover at work, a spontaneous shopping spree leads to an empty wallet, and an overindulgent sweet tooth leads to brain fog and weight gain.

The best word to describe Se is immersion. In all encounters and experiences, you could say, there is a Zen attitude that is adopted. When I am cooking, I’m COOKING, when I’m playing, I’m PLAYING. There aren’t 16 other thoughts and plans bouncing around in my head that pull me away from the task at hand. This is a serious advantage in the world.

grayscale photo of woman hugging baby

How Extraverted Sensing Develops

Se in its healthiest form is fully immersed in the moment and pays attention. It’s hyper-observant and astutely aware of its surroundings. With that, it tends to be the most comfortable in it’s own skin. The best Extraverted Sensors are known to be great actors, dancers, performers, and showmen.

man singing on stage white wearing brown crew-neck shirt

In it’s unhealthiest form, it’s indulgent, gorging, and insatiable in all things pleasure and pain, and fulfills the stereotype of being thrill-seeking. If something doesn’t have the chance of being dangerous, risky, or precarious, Se isn’t interested. Underdeveloped Se is also the most obviously impatient of all the functions, always needing stimulation.

man in blue t-shirt and blue denim shorts sitting on concrete stairs during daytime

John Beebe, world renowned Jungian author and Typology professor, revealed in his book Energies and Patterns in Psychological Type, the ways in which each of the 8 cognitive functions develops.

For Se, it goes engaging-> experiencing -> enjoying

Put another way:

Engaging: Participating in whatever comes my way

Experiencing: Seeking out experiences for my own understanding

Enjoying: Contentment with ‘normal’ experiences

We move from simply life happening to us and reacting accordingly, to being an active and satisfied participant in all aspects of life, be it dazzling or mundane.

Using Se appropriately is about striking the right balance between fully participating in the moment when needed, and being cognizant when it’s trending towards overindulgence and excess.

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