Sunday, September 18, 2011

Kinesthetic, Auditory, and Visual Sensory Preferences

It’s funny how learning something seemingly ancillary can change the way you view your whole life.

I always thought I was a visual learner. I am a visual artist, after all. I love taking pictures, I love creating jewelry and glass beads, I love looking at sparkly, pretty things, I love to draw and paint and create—I love the process of creation almost as much as I love the end result.

And I love the way aesthetically pleasing things make me feel. Whether it’s the home I’m sitting in, the building I’m approaching, or a presentation I’m watching—if it looks great and if it just “works”, then I feel good.

I didn’t really get it.

Until just a few days ago, I didn’t understand that the way something like an article of clothing feels on me has very little to do with the way it looks, when I’ve got it on and I’m looking in the mirror.

It doesn’t matter how great a shirt looks on me, in other words. If I don’t feel good while I’m wearing it, I won’t buy it. I won’t wear it.

And there are times when some of my favorite clothes make me feel icky, or exposed, or uncomfortable. In those cases, I have to pick something else to wear, or it throws off my whole day.

That’s a kinesthetic approach.

When I’m sitting at my desk all day, not moving, I feel imprisoned. Now I understand why.

My close-second style is auditory.

I’ve definitely never thought of myself as auditory. I always struggle with just hearing instructions and retaining anything that was said. I struggle with remembering details that someone told me. I thought I needed to see it printed, thought I needed to somehow visualize it in my head.

What I was actually visualizing, though, was the whole scene—including the way someone’s voice sounded when that someone was telling me those details, including the way I felt, the position I sat in, and what I was doing with my hands—which usually involves some sort of manipulation of fabric or another object(s) I’m wearing, or if it’s a soft pillow, I’m running my fingers across it. Constantly.

I’m very sensitive to the sounds all around me. If someone nearby is smacking their gum, or smacking while they chew food, I’ll hear it and it will drive me to near madness.

Another clue: music is vital to me. I listen to it all the time, and there are certain types of music or artists I’ll listen to when I need to feel a certain way, or when I want to express a specific mood. When I’m writing, I’ll listen to different types of music to help deepen my writing mood. There are some songs that actually cause me to dance… and I certainly can’t have the same music I’d be dancing to in the background while I’m trying to write.

The truth is, it’s all about how that music makes me feel. It’s about how I feel when I’m sitting on my couch, or when I’m sitting in the middle of Starbucks. It’s how I feel in my surroundings… it’s why I can’t sit still for very long.

It just… It all makes sense now.

It’s the reason why running means so much to me. It’s the reason why yoga has been transformative for me. It’s the reason why MovementMontage has so profoundly affected me. It’s why writing by hand is far more productive for me than typing on the computer.

The other piece to this puzzle is human touch. I had no idea just how important it is to me, but it really is...

And so, with this boat-load of new knowledge, I am immediately working to find ways of incorporating movement into each hour of the day.

Want to take the test? Have you ever really thought about whether you’re a kinesthetic, auditory, or visual sensory person? Well, then:


  1. Like you, I thought I was a visual person. In junior high, in particular, there were so many times I recall being able to see pages of textbooks in my head (somewhat photographic memory) while taking tests.

    In the last 5 years or so, though, I came to realize I was an auditory person - hardcore - and as a very close second, a kinesthetic sensory person. Music, cooking. Uh, hello. :) I am also tuned in heavily, heavily to people's voices. It is the first thing I associate with a person, rather than their hair or eyes or weight or anything else about their appearance.

    Anyway, I took the test. 17/21 auditory, 8/21 visual, 15/21 kinesthetic. :D

  2. Oo, see, I'm 19/21 kinesthetic, 16/21 auditory, and 8/21 visual!

    Yes, it's really strange how our perspective changes... Hmm!!