Let’s say you had to control 50 adolescent boys and make them work 4 hours a day in the sun for free. Could you do that?
Sure. Issue them football jerseys.
Football is “fun” to a point. It requires strength and one incurs pain, bruises, frequent injuries and often abuse from a coach. So how does that work?
Ritual. When you want to cement allegiance to something, build a ritual around it. Negatively or positively. Addicts report having a clear ritual around their behavior. Olympic athletes share their training regimes and they are always rituals.
The most effective way to weaken an Enneagram habit you’d like to modify is to create a ritual.
Here’s the first component: time. Church is on Sunday morning, football is on Friday night, at the same time. The length of the ritual is specified –rigorously! Last second surprises are common and no matter how much a fluke, the time is never never extended. Church services are a bit looser, but one never has a Sunday morning 10 minute service or an all day service if you expected an hour. Part of a ritual is the neurological expectation that is built up. If that is missing or distorted, we experience either anxiety or anger or both. They MUST start on time and finish when expected.
So if you want to inculcate a healthy habit, what time frame do you want to establish. “Soon” is not a time. 8:30 is. “Until I achieve” is not a time. 20 mins is. “When I finish” is not a time. Today is.
You don’t have to do this. Unless your commitment is real.

Focus or not?

If you read business advice or watch sports, one word will usually get your attention: focus. If you don’t have that, you can’t accomplish.
And if you study addiction, you find that addiction is an obsession (read focus on steroids).
Our Enneagram number can be identified, at least partially, by what we focus on. So take away these two conclusions, and if you have a third or fifth, that’s OK, too.
Your enneagram focus will support and develop your talents. As such it is an asset. Sixes know how to “protect and serve,” (which is why a high percentage of police are sixes. Fives do research really well, which is why academia has such a Five atmosphere.
And if you are too focuses it is an addiction. Your focus excludes too many nuances, riches that are found in other areas and resources you didn’t know you had.
So one way of looking at the Enneagram is as an addiction: ranging from the Olympic games (usually good) to trashy novels (bad for everyone except the readers of Danielle Steele).

Bad news for Sevens

Sevens are described as having champagne in their veins, as being cheerful and optimistic — even when those emotions are inappropriate.
Here’s an excerpt from an article on Depression (2/16/

If you believe that a high positive mood should be easy to achieve, a prolonged low mood is an insult, which probably prompts the isolating and stigmatizing question: “What’s wrong with me?” Negative feelings about negative feelings make them a greater threat. People who set unrealistic goals for mood states may be less able to accept or tolerate negative emotional experiences like anxiety or sadness. Oddly enough, being able to accept negative feelings—rather than always striving to make them disappear—seems to be associated with feeling better, not worse, over the long run. There is evidence that when people accept negative feelings, those experiences draw less attention and less negative evaluation than they would otherwise. Some research shows that people who report an ability to accept negative feelings when they arise are less likely to experience depressive symptoms in the future.

So to be happiest, Sevens have to welcome or at least tolerate negative feelings. If I find a way to get around this, it will be in a future blog. Don’t hold your breath.

Sloth, gluttony and poison

Many of you know Dr. Shadrach Smith and I wrote a book on weight loss. I want to back off a bit from the emphasis in the book.
We titled it You’re Fat, Your Fault? because We said up front that our food supply is compromised and so we are gaining weight for reasons outside of our control.
Then with the Enneagram, we described eating habits specific to our Enneagram style under the rubric that “When we eat for non-hunger reasons, we eat for our Enneagram style.” Sevens eat for entertainment, for instance and Eights eat to augment their feelings of power.
So far so good. That is carefully correct.
But I’ve just read several books that have convinced me that we also eat for apparently neurotic/enneagram reasons but we are actually eating because our food creates excessive hunger cravings that make it much more likely that we will eat more than we should. My old understanding was vague–we are eating for “non hunger” reasons.
Now I understand more fully that our appetites are stimulated to create not just a mild hunger, but real “cravings.”
Wheat Belly,
by Dr. Davis makes it pretty clear that with the modification of wheat (technically not GMO, but chemical treatments more crude and primitive before GMO came along) contains proteins that are opiates. You know – those things that make us want cocaine, meth and oxycontin.
These stimulants are added to soups, ketchup, pretzels, and a thousand snacks and are found naturally in every wheat product.
If you have a weight problem, it is more than likely that you are not gluttonous because of neurosis but because of chemical urges. And you are not lazy. One of the side effects of this really mutant wheat is that is makes you tired.
The usual knee-jerk advice “eat less, exercise more” is about as useless as telling someone to swim harder against a powerful current.
If you read Grain Brain by Permutter and Wheat Belly by Davis you can get a full explanation.
You can get most of the information off youtube because they give long detailed lectures. If sugar, not wheat, is the source of your problem, you might listen to a rather technical lecture or two by Dr. David Lustig. His explanations are thorough and brilliant. (He is an endocrinologist so some of the detailed explanations are hard. Clear but technical).
Bottom line: stop blaming yourself and your Enneagram style. You’re being slowly poisoned. My book, Your Fat should come down much heavier on the Your Fault? Much of it really isn’t.