Common Sense Is Not So Common

Common Sense

I used to get mad at people for lacking spatial awareness. It was (and sometimes still is) one of my biggest pet peeves. And believe me, this could not be more evident than in drivers on the road. From being totally clueless of the five cars behind them in the fast lane of a two-lane highway, to driving side by side with a car in another lane (thereby blocking every car behind them), to parking, yes parking on the street (when there was a spot they could’ve pulled into next to the curb), these drivers lack common sense.

Or do they?

It took me a long time to realize, but what I thought was common sense was probably not the case for many other people. It’s clear as day, I thought – but that’s where I was wrong. Sure, these things seem obvious, but to some people, they just aren’t – and that’s okay. Nobody is perfect, and I lack a lot of common sense in many other aspects.

The example above relates to extraverted sensing (Se), one of the eight Jungian Cognitive Functions (you probably already know that I’m a big fan of personality typing). It also happens to be my second-most-developed function, coming only after introverted thinking (Ti).

Not everyone else has the same functions in the same order, and thank goodness! Imagine how boring society and day-to-day interactions would be if everyone was the same. Having different strengths and weaknesses is awesome, because the added challenge in understanding and accepting others helps us all to grow.

Case in point: my extraverted feeling (Fe) is my least developed function. It’s very difficult for me to keep track of different people, relationships, and social niceties. I’ve messed up quite a bit in this area, from being unaware of important developments in friends’ lives, to ignoring social standards, to just plain forgetting about people. What seems like common sense to many other people doesn’t come naturally to me.

So once I recognized this, it was much easier for me to understand and to forgive others’ lack of Se. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Imagine all the other differences, not just the cognitive functions, that different people exhibit. If we just stopped and thought about that the next time we’re annoyed by someone’s lack of common sense, I think it would be a great first step to personal growth.

There’s much truth in Voltaire’s quote that “common sense is not so common.”

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