The political scene is full upon us with the inauguration and the opinions around it. An ideology functions for the body politic like our enneagram style and ego state functions for the individual. Rigidity, tight focus, certitude and a serene inattention to information that doesn’t fit our world-view are components of an ego style and an ideology. Complexity, flexibility and openness come with emotional health.
Our Enneagram style is a younger part of ourselves that is still in control. When one throws a temper tantrum, it is because at age 3, that really worked. Mom made all nice.
Are you an adult? Dr. David Rich has a new book, How to be an adult in faith and spirituality and he has some lovely two column descriptions of what is adult and what is childish. Richo is both theologian and Jungian therapist and his descriptions of what is childish and what is adult would serve quite nicely as either an examination of conscience or a series of checkpoints to see where we are. Not a “good read;” it is too detailed for that. It is, though, a marvelous reference book or evaluation guide.
Confucius held that making society healthy began by making our words correct. He said proper speech came before helpful laws. Apparently he understood that we construct much of our reality by the words we use.
So for our New Year’s resolution-improvement, we ca begin with our speech. First notice what modality we use (imperative-should, subjunctive-might, predictive-going to. I fret about the use of the meaningless “like.”. We reinforce or weaken our ego by the way we talk, just as we weaken or strengthen society by the way we talk.
If you don’t know which you over-use, at least start noticing that your family and friends use patterns that annoy you. You probably have one that is negatively associated with it. (If they over-use “should,” you probably overuse “want.” ) If they annoy you because they are prissy (and you’re an 8) you may be a bit vulgar.
We often criticize those around us and we feel a touch of anger as we do. In some cases, the anger is a signal that you are asking for what you wanted after it is too late to get it.
Example: “Why didn’t you call me before you left?” (You are telling her that you wanted her to call but of course now it is too late. She already didn’t!) Solution: If you wanted her to call you could have asked her. “Well, she should have known” is a sure way to not get what you want. Not asking for what you want assumes that people won’t want to give you what you want. All the while you are virtuously aware that YOU like to give people what they want. For most of us it is good to assume that everyone else is at least as virtuous as we are. (Unless you’re a style One, but even then…)
I am a counterphobic 6 but had not read previously about the self preservationist style. Last winter, my husband and I got stuck, for two months, in Columbia, when I lost my passport. We stayed in an inexpensive hostal frequented by travellers from all over the world. One appeared to be involved with dope, He was a very invasive guy, always drunk, always looking for his next heroin fix, always looking for something to steal or someone to exploit. My husband (a 9) was scared stiff of him and wanted to move but we couldn’t.
What to do? I immediately went to work and made friends with him. On our last day ithere he insisted on hiring one of his thug friends to drive us to the bus station. Even I was scared at that point but what would be the point of showing it? At the bus station, we had huge hugs all round and our friend had tears in his eyes as he waved goodbye.
I’ve written to him (and he responded) several times since then and truly believe we have a friend for life. I also believe he was planning to rob us (or maybe just “borrow” money) on that last day. To me, all things and everyone is a likely source of harm so the best protection is to build connections that preclude that harm being directed my way.
I come from a 6-ish family and became adept at this kind of social judo, I believe that I am less afraid of dangerous people than many non-six people because I have practiced, and am fairly confident of, my defences. Another advantage is that I have more interesting friends than most people. (PS I enjoy your site).
The above is a true story and illustrates how Sixes are often charming and likable and have another agenda – to make friends out of those they fear might be enemies. This can be confusing to inexperienced coaches. Their pleasant personality seems so out of place with their inner negative expectations. If you look for “positive” or “negative,” you’ll get both: negative expectations and positive personal behavior.
On New Year’s Day, the news is all political: Our defense department (changed many years ago from “War Department” is a very sixish organization –“Defense” adopts a paranoid posture. I devoutly wish they would adopt befriending suspicious people instead of sending drones.
Here’s how to make New Year’s resolutions. I keep mine and so do many of the people I coach.
You don’t make generalizations — things like “I will be more patient” or “I will lose weight.” Resolutions should be small and symbolic. Instead of being more patient, say with whom and under what circumstance. “I will not correct my daughter’s grammar in the presence of her friends.” I will prepare a healthy lunch the night before (if you’re trying to lose weight). The resolution must be small and must be symbolic. When you analyze the symbolism, you are acknowledging that you can’t reverse an entire enneagram focus, but you can weaken the focus by one small action that your focus usually does not include.
Be careful how you frame it. I was coaching an alcoholic who did not want to go to AA. When I framed it exclusively as an allergy without any moral or psychological implications, he was willing to go on a low carb (paleo) diet. Wonderful results. Complete sobriety all year and he lost 30 pounds of beer belly. The frame was crucial. There is more to it, but the frame was very important.