Understanding How We Think

To Create Better Self-Awareness

Do you remember ever being asked if you were better at visual learning, meaning we have to see it; auditory learning, meaning we have to hear it, or physical learning, meaning a hands on approach? I know I got asked that a lot in school growing up and during many of my Military Schoolings. They asked us these questions so they may find ways that are best suited to our style of learning.

  Doing some research, I found there are even MORE different ways and styles! I want to take some time to go over them with you. Why is this important? Understanding how we think and how we best learn can go a long way in helping us better to understand ourselves. So many people will find different solutions to help kids or others learn in a manner that will resonate with them. And that is Awesome! It helps with growth! However… Most of us, take our own needs for granted. We just keep doing what we have been doing because it is what we know, what we had to learn.

        The more we understand how we process information more effectively, the easier we can sort that information into ways that best fit our process. We can tailor the stimuli and information to our best methods of learning. This will make it easier for us to learn and grasp the concepts being presented to us. This will help us make changes with this new information that much easier as well!

         I am hoping this will also help others realize that there is no wrong way to think, to process information or to learn. We are all different with unique strengths and skills. There is strength in this diversity!

Seven Different ways of Learning:

Here are the 7 ways of learning as discussed by Psychologist Howard Gardner of Harvard (citation at bottom):

Visual or Spatial– people who fall into this category think in pictures and even 3-d models. They see the scene or pictures in their minds and then have to put them into words. They are very aware of their environment. They tend to make wonderful artists, architects, engineers and more!

Movement- people who think more bodily, learn better when they are moving around. Whether they are dancing or doing patterns with their hands, they learn best by a hands-on approach. Surgeons, dancers, actors and more learn better with body language and movement being involved in their process.

Musical– There are people who feel music! The vibrations of the instruments or voice help them study, learn and digest information. They love music but can be sensitive to noises in their environment as well. Some may get overstimulated by loud noises that are out of harmony with the rest of the environment.

Interpersonal- This includes many extroverted people! People who learn best with interpersonal interactions value one on one instruction as well as classroom settings. Conferences and webinars where there is dialog back and forth are also where they can thrive.

Intrapersonal- Now this is where introverts thrive! Examining our own thoughts, subconscious, reading and researching on our own are all ways we can incorporate information and formulate our concepts.

Linguistic- These people tend to think in words. They “hear” their thoughts as dialog in their minds and have little trouble putting those words on paper. They can have highly developed hearing or auditory skills and can pick up on little nuances missed by others.

Logical and/or Mathematical– These thinkers love patterns and linear ways of seeing information. Investigative and curious, they love to solve mysteries big and small. There is usually a clear progression from A to B for them. 

We are Not Just One or the Other!

                Most of us will fall into several of these categories. I know that I am more Intrapersonal but do well with interpersonal as well when needed. I do have to recharge with some alone time after being around a lot of people. I LOVE music and think linguistically. I actually hear my voice in my head when I think. Not the voice yall hear either… it is how I sound when I hear myself speak as I speak it. Even with my podcast and videos, I still find hearing my voice in recordings is kinda odd to me. I know many who feel the same way about their own voices too. I also don’t usually think in a linear fashion. I jump from one thing to the next because there was something similar in each to make my thinking connect those dots.

 I found a description on facebook that summed this up. I would like to show it to you.

‘My old man once said to me, “your thoughts are so random and unconnected. We were just talking about the carnival- how did you get started on wasps?”

So I told him, “they’re not connected- we were talking about going to the carnival, and the carnival is on the same fairgrounds they used to use for the rodeo. And one time at the rodeo my brother spilled sprite on himself and a bee went up his shirt and stung him. Bees die when they sting, but wasps don’t. I was wondering why, so I asked you.”

And to that he said, “that makes no sense.” ‘

                If you think about the associations that the author of that followed, it makes perfect sense. Associations like that will typically include old memories or more current ones, all of them flow in a progression that make sense to the person thinking this way. However, people who think more logically cannot fathom this way of thinking. There are times when we can be either or. My thought process goes the associative route very often. But, there are instances where more linear thinking gets me more on track in creating or finishing a project. Many of us shift in and out of these different ways of thinking depending on our circumstances and what is best in the moment.

How to put this into practice:

                Understanding our strongest methods will help us to modify any information given to us so we can fit it into ways that help us learn easier.

 Having a hard time processing a lecture you are listening to? Try tapping on your knees without making noise. If the movement helps you focus and accept the information presented, where is the harm?

Learning on your own and having a hard time focusing? Try putting on some background music. There are playlists designed to be ran in the background for people who need a little extra music in their lives.

You can even break up the learning with some fun activities to help you redirect a little bit. Much like recess in school. Just because we grow up doesn’t mean we don’t need breaks anymore. Recess helped us process the information provided and allowed us to move and play so it didn’t get overwhelming. We Still need that as adults!

Have a hard time visualizing anything? Think it through. Describe it to yourself in detail as if you were seeing it. This helps your brain process all the information and can help “build a picture” using words in your mind. It may not be the same as seeing it on tv or in a drawing, but it is JUST AS EFFECTIVE!

Are you someone who loves to think in patterns and have a clear logical approach? If you are having trouble understanding someone who is more descriptive or associative, have some patience and see if you can connect the dots. It may be confusing to you, but there is a method there. If they have the patience to go over how it connects to them, it may make a little more sense for you. Keep in mind that they don’t have to explain anything either.

That patience goes both ways as those who are more associative can have difficulty in following a purely logical path.

I hope this gives some insight for you and your own methods of learning. Never be afraid to try new things or take new approaches to old problems. Seeing things from a different perspective can be extremely enlightening.

Much Love and Support,
Niki Jones


from “The Distance Learning Technology Resource Guide,” by Carla Lane. Found at:


About the Author:

    I help people fall in love with, and FULLY Accept
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