Your Brain Thinks in Pictures, Sounds, and Feelings, not Words
We have so many words in front of us at any one time that we forget, or don’t even think about how our brain really receives and understands information. Yes, the way we communicate is by using words, but words are just the vehicle that allows us to communicate information to each other. How our brains work is through pictures, sounds, feelings, and the rest of our senses.
Flat Screen Television
These aren’t just words but representations of sensory experiences that stimulate our senses. Re-read each of those words again and focus on what you see, hear and feel. You see a circle or imagine a circular object like a basketball hoop or a coin. You may see a girl, smell her perfume, or hear her voice. You may feel a vibration or envision something that causes a vibration. You may hear the sounds and see the sights coming from a flat screen television, not to mention seeing and feeling the television itself.
My point in all of this is that our brain creates our experiences using the building blocks of our senses. If I were to say to you the name of your best friend, the word for his actual name probably won’t pop into your head, but you probably will see his face, his beer belly if he’s fat, a shaggy beard if he never shaves, a deep or high pitched voice, a unique laugh, or a secret handshake you two have been doing for years. And the sensory “picture” you form is different from person to person.
VAK – Different strokes for different folks
Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. Seeing, Hearing, and Feeling. These are the big 3, and while we also have gustatory(taste), and smell(olfactory), these 3 are the main ones most people use in everyday life, and most people have a preference for which one they use and enjoy the most.
If you talk to a car salesman, a furniture salesman, a real estate agent, or many other people in sales positions, the really good ones will confirm this phenomenon of a sensory preference.
Do an experiment and choose 5 people, whether they are part of your life or completely random. Show them your car, if you have one, or just take them to any car if you don’t. Next, ask each person, separately, what they like best about the car. Let them sit in it, drive it around for a little bit, roll down the windows, really get to experience the car fully. Once they have done this, and tell you what they like best about the car you’ll probably get a few responses like these:
- This car just looks awesome, I love the design
- The seats are just so comfortable, I could sit in them all day
- I can see myself driving on the highway with the windows down looking like a badass.
- I love putting the pedal to the metal and hearing the engine roar
- This car has a great sound system, the bass is so heavy it makes the car shake
When you get these responses, or any response at all, pay careful attention. They are telling you much more about their preferences than you may realize.
The first person uses visual cues to form their experience of the car. They are clearly attracted to the design and the visual aspects of the car.
The second person is using kinesthetic, or feeling, cues. They talk about how comfortable the seats are when they sit in them.
The third person is using visual as well, seeing themselves and how great they look driving this car.
The fourth person seems to prefer experiencing this car with their hearing, listening to the engine.
The fifth person also uses their auditory sense, but incorporates kinesthetic, or feeling as well. Not only does he like hearing the sound system, but he also likes feeling the vibration of the bass it gives off.
Find Your Strongest Sense
When looking at examples like this, it’s important not to pin someone down as solely Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic and permanently identify them as using only that sense. We all use all of our senses, right? What this exercise does is tell you the first sense they went to in this particular situation. If you put them in a different situation, they might build their sensory experience in a different way.
That being said, asking someone what they like best about something, or asking them about a recent experience is a great way to not only discover which senses they prefer to experience life with, but also understand them and speak to them in their own “language” by communicating with them in a way their brain really understands at a level that goes beyond words.
If you have a friend who has gone to a sports event or concert recently, ask them about their experience and what stood out to them. Visual people will talk about how many people there were how big the stage was and how great the light show was. Auditory will talk about the great music and the roar of the crowd. Kinesthetic people will talk about bumping shoulders in a mosh pit, how they could feel the vibration of the loudspeaker in their belly, or how amazing they felt after their favorite song was played.
Speak the Right Language(to yourself and to others)
When you understand people in this way, you not only learn more about them, but you give yourself the opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level because you will immediately be communicating to them in a way that is familiar to them and fits into their world view.
If you are trying to convince a visual friend to go on a vacation with you, talk about how beautiful it will be, both the nature around you and maybe the women as well. For an auditory person, talk about how serene and quiet it is, or hearing the waves crashing on the beach when you wake up in the morning. For a kinesthetic person, talk about the great weather, feeling the sand between your toes, or how invigorated he will feel after a long and tough nature hike.
You may also take this opportunity to find out more about yourself as well. Watch a movie, take a walk, or do something fun and pay attention to what sticks out. If you play basketball, you may love hearing the ball swoosh into the net. If you play tennis, you may love the feeling of hitting a winner or hearing a string pop. If you are sitting at home, you may love the view out your window, the feeling of your dog’s soft fur, or maybe her howl when she gets excited.
Stay open minded and pay attention to what stimulates you. Understanding your own preferences is incredibly important as well. You can use this information to motivate yourself to do something you’ve been putting off, or stay away from a bad habit.
The applications are literally limitless, and making a habit of using your senses instead of thinking in just words will put you in a place where you connect more deeply with yourself, others, and the world around you. It helps you to appreciate things more and give a richer experience to others, and you will experience life on a deeper and more intuitive level.