Television functions much like our Enneagram style. Our Enneagram style is a focus; a focus that finds what it is looking for. So we keep getting affirmed that what we see is all there is. Seeing is believing. (Actually it is just as true that what we believe is there is what we will find so believing is seeing).
Television will ONLY show us what we want to see. It’s called the ratings. If a show doesn’t give people what they want, they don’t watch. When they don’t watch, ratings fall and the show is cancelled. So on a large scale, we see only what we want to see.
That’s how an Enneagram focus can work at times. When we are shown what we don’t want to see, we blow it off. We all know people about whom we say, “I can’t tell her that; she won’t hear it.” In TV land, your information gets such low ratings, she tunes you out and switches channels.
The “Freakonomics” folks, Levitt and Dubner make the prosaic point that “incentives are the cornerstone of modern life.” If you know the Enneagram, you should divide incentives into external (gold stars in kindergarten, athletic letters in high school and corner offices for the adults) and internal.
Internal is where the conversation turns Enneagrammatical (that needs to be word). What is an incentive for a style 4 (that delicious feeling of being unique) has rather less appeal to a Seven or a Nine.
So when I coach and I search for the motives, I assume that when someone does something irrational (especially if it is repeated) it does make sense on an Enneagram level. When a style Two consistently puts the needs of his co-workers ahead of his own, we need to know that the style Two person is expecting some kind of reward that we don’t know. He has an internal incentive.
So when you find yourself doing what you say you don’t want to do, you might ask yourself, “where is my internal incentive.” What’s in it for us to be irrational? Internal incentive.
In any discussion, the progress will be in proportion to the clarity of the terms used.
When I watch the TV show, Cosmos, I am intensely interested in how deGrasse-Tyson uses the term, “evidence.” He assumes that what is evidence to you is evidence to me. He seems to assume that the scientific community knows what is evidence and what is not. And he wishes everyone would accept their evidence.
When we study the Enneagram, we see this is not always the case. We all know people that we don’t share “facts” or “theories” or “opinions” or even “evidence” because they don’t hear it. Many families cannot discuss religion, politics, race, climate etc because what completely convinces one person offends another. If the person watches Fox news, you can’t even talk about the weather, because one person considers meteorological chaos as evidence (of climate change) and Fox news watchers don’t.
All Enneagram styles and forms of egotism employ a restriction of evidence. Any narrow focus excludes other stimuli. And any tightly held conviction runs the risk of denying any evidence to the contrary.
When you know someone’s Enneagram style, it is not based on what scientists might consider evidence. What is needed is poetic insight. deGrasse Tyson and other scientists should be required to study poetry. Science without poetry becomes only literal. Poetry, paradox, association and evocation are needed to augment fully human ways of knowing.
So, if you know your Enneagram style, what kind of evidence do you think you ignore or over-rate?
The media is all excited about the legalization of marijuana. Back in the 20’s we had the same hassle about alcohol. Apparently, one thing we will fight for our is right to alter our consciousness.
Which is one way we try to loosen the hold our Enneagram style has on us. If we are a withdrawn 9, after two drinks, we are not so withdrawn. Threes can stop working during happy hour and hardened eights can love everyone if sufficiently irrigated.
Our Enneagram style is a narrowing of our universe; we focus on too few things and have too few strategies. When we alter our consciousness with grass, booze, peyote or intimacy with nature we explode our consciousness. It isn’t wise or healthy, but for millions, it seems necessary.
You’ll notice I added intimacy with nature as an alteration of consciousness. In our style three culture, we tend to think of ourselves as machines and our ubiquitous corporations powerfully reinforce that. An alternative is intimacy with nature. Or suitable chemicals.
I love to watch the TV show, “Cosmos,” (though I am bewildered as to how Fox allows science). At one point deGrasse Tyson holds a marble in his hand and says that at the moment of the big bang, our universe was the size of a marble. Now we have to rewrite Genesis: “In the beginning was the marble.”
As we contemplate our origins from the marble, we can ask one question that can loosen our Enneagram style. “Why is there anything?”
Our Enneagram style is a shrinking of our world to what we “know” about life and the universe. Sixes know it is dangerous, Fours know the universe does not appreciate them and Eights know they have to spend their time fighting it. But when we don’t take the universe for granted, when we feel a sharp intake of breath at the thought everything might not be, our personal universe gets less ordinary, we become more grateful and we take our Enneagram convictions about how the world is just a little less seriously. In our better moments, we know that we are not necessary, but what about the whole universe? Why is it there at all?