Sixes again

In my last blog I suggested the US, usually a style 3 country, is behaving more like a style 6. Several of you reminded me that under stress (which we all assume/acknowledge) style 3 goes to style 9.
I don’t accept arrows or directions of integration and disintegration. I’ve seen a lot of my clients go to both the high and low sides of their stress/security points. A Nine might worry/obsess like an unhealthy Six or deal with inertia by joining a group that takes action like a healthy Six.

Exhibit A might be the US right now. Like a frightened Six, we just elected a “strong man” to protect us. (I’m the only one who can save you.DJT) We are promised a protective wall to save us from danger. Trump has assured us that the world is a dangerous place. The fear did not start with Trump, tho. Those yellow and yellow-to orange flags and stories of lurking danger under Bush set us up. These beliefs are all characteristics of unhealthy sixes.

On the other hand, healthy counter phobic sixes take action and are especially good at building community and organizing. The protests are first of all a form of union. Critics and supports both say “They all have different agendas.” Yes. The meta-agenda is union. Healthy Sixes want friends.
Healthy sixes build alliances and so millions are upset that we have alienated Australia, Germany, Mexico, all the members of NATO and a percentage of a billion Muslims.
Some pundits are saying this is a battle for the soul of the US. I would say it is a battle to see which side of Six prevails.
Will we make friends or will we ramp up our military so that we are stronger than everyone.

A Six nation?

All the dozen or so enneagram teachers I know or work with have agreed that to the extent you can categorize a nation as having an Enneagram style, the USA is a style Three.

However, under stress, style 3 can access the energy of style 6.
The US is acting very much like a style 6 nation right now. The level of fear is high on all sides. Trump followers fear people with darker skin – black or brown or yellow –will take their place. Protesters in the street fear the breakdown of law and rules of congressional procedure which are dismissed as “political correctness.

Everyone is afraid of the chaos. Sixes employ what is called “anticipatory anxiety,” in which the fear is greatest when it is unknown. Woody Allen, a phobic Six, tells Judah in Crimes and Misemeanors that if he gets away with murder that would be the greatest fear of all — that there is no justice in the world.

The usual and best action that Sixes take is to belong to a community. Sixes are frequently the glue of every bureaucracy, parish, family and sporting team. They build and nourish community.
What will frighten a six nation more than anything is feeling friendless– alone without allies. Walls and bans and bluster will help a certain group, but Sixes are most fearful when they are alone.

Course

If you want to deepen your knowledge of the Enneagram and integrate some tools of change and personal development, I highly recommend a video course by Tom Condon.

I’ve known Tom for 20 years and asked him to write for my early newsletter. He’s taught the Enneagram in more than 30 countries and has written half a dozen books. He’s probably the most popular keynote speaker at the International Enneagram conventions. He is brilliant, very sensitive when he works with clients (which he does as demonstrations at conventions) and gets real and lasting results.

Check out his new video course. https://shiftnetwork.infusionsoft.com/go/ef/a16515/?utm_source=infusionsoft&utm_medium=affiliate

Another view

One of the hazards of having an enneagram style is assuming others of your style are like you.
So I valued an e mail from another 7, whose reflections differ from what she saw me writing. Different, not wrong or right, just different and therefore adds to our knowledge of sevens. Here’s an excerpt from a new virtual friend, Brittany.

I really like your type descriptions and your blog, but I was surprised to find out that you’re a Seven. I initially thought you seemed kind of harsh in your descriptions — maybe even irritated and unimpressed by us (not sure whether it’s your humility or my fragile ego that created that impression). As a lover of the enneagram, of course I agree with much of what the experts and coaches say about Sevens… but, I really think that our philosophical, spiritual, and emotional depth is underestimated and under-described by most enneagram authors. Maybe our primary motivation hasn’t even been accurately defined, yet. Of course, we hear that healthy Sevens are more focused, in touch with their inner guidance, and, well less Sevenny… but even when I’m unhealthy and disintegrating, I always have a bent for introspection, for desiring meaning in existence, a strong compulsion to weigh moral concepts, and a sense that something profound is begging to be pulled out of the chaos… and my pain is directly related to how far I feel from that insight or connection. Of course, my personal experience is colored by my wing and subtype, but I think feelings like that are what drive 7s’ restless, yet hopeful, souls.

You’re passionate about your endeavor. I think that even your own descriptions (and most other authors’) focus mostly on 7 having a mental quickness, a shallow type of intuition, and a superficial tendency to become productive as a side-effect of avoiding of pain and boredom. Sure, that happens, but what about how deeply invested we are in continual progress? What about that altruistic sense of euphoria that washes over us when we can generate solutions for others? Or when we can use our abstract and verbal abilities to demystify an abstruse concept or resolve a misunderstanding? To at least imagine that we’re untangling the mysteries of the universe? It’s not so self-sacrificing, like a 1 or 2, but it’s an ardent desire to give and to help the world, without conditions or keeping score. Sevens want to attain that spiritual ecstasy that’s tragically difficult or impossible to achieve in the material, modern, rational world in which we live. We want to transcend the wretchedness of the physical realm and exist in a world of ideas and unfettered communication but, instead, end up carelessly dragging our bodies around like rag dolls.

Sevens fear that life is slow and dull… yeah, kind of. But we are much more childlike and idealistic than we acknowledge, and we have to save our own spirits from breaking. The deeper fear (or nagging awareness) is that there is no God, consciousness is fleeting, intimacy is an illusion, and we are totally alone.

And if that doesn’t make a person have a third piece of chocolate cake and chase it with a glass of wine, then where is their humanity?

Isn’t that lovely? I’d like to know her.
The sober lesson here is that much of the/my enneagram can focus on the low side and in doing so, really distort the enneagram and make it more difficult to really understand the person instead of a “fixation.”

Thank you, Brittany

Attention!

In his careful book, Only 10s, Mark Silverman begins with his story of dealing with ADHD.
For many teachers and parents, once the label is applied, they turn to better learning through chemistry.
But Mark details how conscious attention, some careful coaching/counseling tools and using the abundant energy of ADHD,he is able to lead a highly productive and emotionally satisfying life.
The tools he uses and the conscious focus of attention are enough. Coaches can learn from this: when a label is applied (including Enneagram styles), your next step is to struggle for conscious control and use the energy (especially the high side) of your style OR other label as a starting point for your self-development.
His story and trajectory of his process are important for this reason: chemistry has its place and must be put in its place. Coaching and counseling work very well – sometimes with the help and sometimes entirely without chemistry. Mark illustrated that things like saying no, conscious prioritizing and setting short and long term goals work despite ADHD.
He did something else, too. He kept track. Our Enneagram style and any label operates off invisible generalized beliefs. When we keep track of things, the data weakens the generalized false belief. (I coached a style Six who “knew” most people would react negatively to her cold calls. 80% were positive when she kept track.)

Focus

Mark Silverman is not exactly a coach but he does advise a lot of people on something important: focus of attention. His book, Only 10s is a small condensed set of principles on how to focus only (at least most of the time) on things that emotionally and objectively are important. The 10s refers to his scale of importance.

Sevens are the most vividly scattered in their focus (I say I focus like a strobe light), but every enneagram style has to make strong conscious decisions on what to pay attention to– and our style is usually a block to many of those decisions. Our enneagram style is the default attention when we don’t pay conscious attention.

Climate

I usually confine my remarks to the Enneagram.
But I am frightened by the lack of concern about the climate. I will share my New Year’s motto:

The human race has a great future, weather permitting.

Easy does it?

The more often we do something, the easier it gets. That’s true for physical tasks, but also for mental ones. Here’s where our Enneagram style enters. The more often we have an automatic Enneagram response to something, the easier it gets. So our Enneagram style works better all the time.

For example, if a style Two gains love by serving, he learns how to ferret out situations, people, and places where serving works the best. As he serves, he gets better at it. As he gets better it, the rewards get better. As they get better, he focuses on what works best –he’s no dummy — and he is successful.

The only thing he misses is the other ways of finding love.

Pay attention

The two most common currencies in our life are money and attention. On our TV screens we can pay with money (pay per view) or attention (to ads).
Attention, like our money, is a currency and it is limited. We can only pay attention to one thing at a time. (Multi-tasking is possible only if one of the things don’t require attention. Try to do math in your head while navigating traffic). What we pay attention to says as much about us as what we spend our money on.

One way we can weaken the hold our Enneagram style has on us is to be conscious of what we pay attention to. If we are not aware of how we focus our attention, our Enneagram style is our default position. Long before we decide what to do, we should decide what we will pay attention to. Our Enneagram style is our attention habits of which are are only vaguely to subliminally aware.
Our Enneagram style starts with a focus of attention, but it isn’t only what we’re looking at, it is what we are looking for – what we want to give our attention to.

Knightly Eights

If you life feels like a battle at times, those times are when you will value having a style Eight in your corner. Eights have a keen sense of justice and will spend the energy, enthusiasm and time or money to try to get justice done. They can be the knights in shining armor: energetic, principled and just.

My sister, Sheila was an inspiration for this song Karen and I wrote about eights.