Sensory seeking or Sensory avoiding?

Posted: 3 July, 2018

By: Marieta du Toit

Section: Relationships


When I met my husband years ago, I was introduced to the world of a practical, DIY, go-getter who doesn’t hesitate to dirty his hands to get the job done.  Initially, I’d get very excited at the prospect of tackling a new project around the house. The thought of spending time together doing something to enhance our love nest even sounded strangely romantic. The mental pictures I envisioned of the end product were always very appealing.

But (doesn’t there always seem to be a “but”?), becoming part of this go-getter’s world took some getting used to! Due to my low threshold for sensory stimuli, my first reaction to a proposed new project would usually be a cautious, firm handbrake sounding like: “But what about…”, “But have you thought about…?”, “But let me just check first…” or simply “I don’t think so!” Thankfully my hubby knows by now how to ease me into any new ideas and projects.

So, what is this difference in approach between people seeking extra sensory stimulation and those trying to avoid it (subconsciously of course), like myself?

  • As a rule of thumb, sensory seekers enthusiastically create new projects in their minds and love sharing it. They have lots of plans, ideas and often excess initial energy. Imagine Donkey (from the Shrek movies) … FULL OF LIFE!
  • On the other side, we have sensory avoiders who cautiously analyze these newly proposed projects, breaking it down to specific tasks and responsibilities and often getting fixated on intricate details. Enters Shrek!

I am often amazed (and exhausted) by a sensory seeker’s ability to not only come up with exciting ideas and plans but also their ability to give attention to simultaneous tasks, seeming to be in complete control of all the various activities… seeming… By closer inspection though, there’s often a task-oriented and logical sensory avoider running around behind the scenes, organising and arranging tasks to make things happen.

So, the question pops up: who is approaching the project best? Donkey or Shrek?  In my humble opinion, I believe the best approach is a joint venture where the seeker’s energetic go-getter ambition is complimented by the avoider’s organizational approach with an end result of magic projects!

Donkey will be lost without Shrek and Shrek will be missing out on life without Donkey.

To find out whether you’re a sensory seeker, -neutral, or – avoider, complete your Sensory Matrix™.

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