Following the clues

Photo by Meg Jerrard on Unsplash

The resources

As you read through the descriptions of the types, you may have found a few that sounded like they might be you. Many people take a while to figure out which type is really their home style, so if you aren’t yet convinced that the descriptors have captured the personality prison you currently inhabit then these extra pointers and practices may help you narrow down to the one.

Your younger self

Photo by Luís Antônio De Lima Guimarães from Pexels

Thinking back to how you were as an early 20 something may help to get beneath the growing, learning and shielding you done in the intervening years. In your early 20s you were less filtered and your passion was likely much more to the fore.

Your stress and relaxation patterns

Looking at the lines connecting the numbers on the enneagram diagram, each number moves with the direction of the purple arrow pointing away from them when under stress and with the direction of the green arrow pointing away from them when relaxed. So you can see in the anchor points of Nine, Three and Six, a stressed out Nine will act out from the non-resourceful side of a Six and a relaxed Nine will access the resourceful side of a Three. Sixes will act out of stress as a non resourceful Three and Threes in stress will act like non resourceful Nines. For the other numbers, a stressed One will eventually behave like a non resourceful Four; a stressed Four will act out like an unhealthy Two; an unhealthy Two will act out under stress like an Eight, an Eight will act out under stress like a Five, a Five will act out like a Seven, and a Seven will act out like a One.

If you have done a reasonable amount of inner work, you may find that you have already learned to catch yourself from slipping into these reactive patterns, so again, think back to your 20s and how you dealt with stress then.

Dread, discomforted and embarrassed

If, on reading the description of one of the types you experience any of these feelings, it is worth paying attention. This is probably your type. If you don’t identify those feelings dread, discomfort or embarrassment but you do find yourself feeling irritation, anger, shame, fear, resistance, denial ….these are all different from ‘hmm, no, I don’t really resonate with that…’ and therefore providing you with useful (if not entirely welcome) information.

Personally, I found reading my type descriptor to be profoundly relieving – finally, someone out there knows what it’s like to be me. I felt like there was a chance that someone might actually understand me. Since being misunderstood is a Four passion, you can see why this was initially delightful. Obviously then it’s a bit like having the rug ripped out from under you….who am I if I’m not the misunderstood one? Which is to say that discovering your type is not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.

To know oneself is, above all, to know what one lacks. It is to measure oneself against Truth , and not the other way around. the first product of self-knowledge is humility.

Flannery O’ Connor

The practices

PACE yourself: Pause, Attend, Check, Engage

Set an alarm on your phone to go off three or four times during your day and when it rings Pause what you are doing, even in the midst of what you are doing. Breathe in deeply and Attend to what you are feeling, how you are in that moment, what is happening within. Check in with the story you are telling about yourself and the story you are telling about those you are working with/interacting with/ thinking of – it might be yourself. Check in to see if your story is true, fully and wholly and always. Check in to see if you can acknowledge that story and drop it. Without judging self or others, can you let it go? Can you be present to yourself and to the other without the story? You might need to breathe again. Then Engage from this unstoried place .

Reflect on the Pause, Attend, Check, Engage practice

Which part of the practice is the hardest? Do you struggle to Pause in the midst of your busy and important activities? When you Attend, how easily can you sense, get in touch with and identify your feelings? As you Check your story, do you find yourself resisting the questions or becoming overwhelmed by doubt and uncertainty? Can you Engage from a different place? What is that like for you?

Go against yourself

We all have a particular ways of approaching various tasks and particular patterns of behaving in relationship. Take some time to identify one of these and then choose to do something completely differently. Choose the other way, the wrong way, the uncomfortable, unfamiliar way to approach things and see what happens. See what happens in you – what feelings are evoked; what sensations in your body; what stories are you telling yourself or remembering? See what happens in others – what reactions are provoked; what resistance do you meet or welcome – and how is that for you?

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