Guest Post: “The Defender” Enneagram 6 Wing 5

This is a guest post from a good friend of mine, Loreto, who showed me the power of understanding both the overall Enneagram System and my own number. He also showed me many of the tools included in the post “Understanding Personalities with The Enneagram“.

After reading the written description of my own number, I initially struggled with identifying with my Enneagram and doubted it. Needless to say, Loreto was confident and “called me out” on my Type 4, Wing 3. It was not until hearing a panel of other “fours” speak that I finally felt the connection. After this experience, I felt it best to have guest posts for each Enneagram type. Fortunately for me, Loreto was more than happy to oblige.

If you would like to share your own Enneagram experience through a guest post or a repost, please write me in the comment section!

I was introduced to the Enneagram at the start of a new relationship with a brilliant, poised woman whose self-awareness piqued my interest. While I’m typically untrusting of all things numerological, astrological, and anything that isn’t clearly backed by modern-day science, this new system was different. Personalities tests such as Myers-Briggs identify personalities as unchangeable while serving as a means to better understand oneself “as is” without change. As much as the Enneagram labels different personalities, the Enneagram also provides an outlook of what the best version of your personality can become. As a growth-oriented person, I was excited to see what my best self looked like. Enthusiastically, I took the 120 question online test and was labeled as a Type 6 wing 5, “The Defender.”

I immediately began pouring over podcasts and books trying to learn as much as possible about my newly labeled personality. A type 6 is described as a security-oriented, hardworking, skeptical yet loyal individual who is motivated by an irrational fear that their environment is inconsistent and unsafe. Sixes typically seek approval from different authorities, and struggle with trusting their own inner-guidance system. Sixes can embody the extremes of different characteristics. Sixes can easily go from courageous to fearful, from angry and sad to happy.

I could easily identify with these descriptions, and was immediately overwhelmed. I could clearly recall countless situations where I was too afraid to take action, where I was indecisive, and did everything I could to please those from whom I desperately wanted approval. If a 20-minute test was able to describe my characteristics with such clarity, what did my friends and family think of me? Did people actually respect me and enjoy my company, or was it all out of pity? Was every compliment, affirmation, or expression of love that I had received genuine, or was I too naive and needy to see that I was just being taken advantage of?

I felt a crushing pressure in my chest, and a cold-sweat dripped down my wrists. I had originally taken this test in an attempt to find a path towards enlightenment. Instead, I was left with more anxiety than I had ever experienced. After several weeks of this anxiety, I woke up one Sunday morning laughing at how ridiculous these insecurities were.

Then I sat down and folded a piece of paper into three columns. In the first column I wrote down my past successes, in the second I wrote down my decisions which were not influenced by others, and in the third I wrote down times where doubt and fear prevented me from taking action. For each item, I also noted my successes, failures, or whether I was too afraid to take any action at all.

The inaction category was the largest, followed by successes and then failures. As I went through my successes, I began discrediting my past wins by finding ways to improve.This skeptical mindset was exhausting, and I hadn’t gained much from it. Room for improvement doesn’t signify failure, and certainly doesn’t take away from success. By persistently picking things apart, I was wasting time by not taking action to see what would or would not serve me.

I finally ended this exercise and enjoyed the rest of my day. I felt care-free, laughed more than I had in months, and had fun. I went to sleep that night feeling confident, knowing everything I did that day was of my own accord. I had no doubt everyone with whom I spent time enjoyed my company, too.

As quickly as I fell into my downward spiral, I was also able to pull myself out of it by focusing on my values, and spending time in a community full of nonjudgmental, well-intentioned people.

Unfortunately, the plight of the Six is the ineffective habit of questioning the world around them. While it exposes different viewpoints, and allows for empathy in excess, it also creates an unproductive spiral of anxiety. Sixes have the potential to change the world, as long as they can drown out all of the fears and uncertainties around them.

Today, I have ended the relationship which taught me about my Enneagram number as it quickly became unhealthy and toxic. However, instead of feeling sad, I am grateful for gaining a new awareness that my skeptical, analytical, and fearful nature is also my greatest strength. With courage, I am able to create an environment which I desire; one of calmness, laughter, support and loyalty. I empathize with those who think differently from me, and care enough to find the goodness within them. For those I trust and care about, there is no doubt I am supportive, and have the potential to become their greatest champion.

Learning about my Enneagram number has also given me a sense of peace knowing my default anxiety is more of a quirk than a defect. So, while I may always wonder if the chandelier will fall in the middle of dinner, or if the careless alter server will light the entire church on fire, I can also learn to laugh at its absurdity. As for when tragedy does occur, I’ll be able to relax knowing exactly what to do, because I’ve already planned for it at least half-a-dozen times. While I may have more fear than others, it’s nothing new to me. It’s just another every day thing to adjust to.

Coming So

Exposing & Accepting Imperfections

Much of the first half of my life was spent hiding my perceived flaws and imperfections, even from myself. While it helped me to survive childhood, I’ve found that hiding was keeping me miserable. Through unmasking myself, blogging has gifted me with connecting with others who have also suffered by hiding their perceived flaws. It also helps me gain a new level of understanding by writing the process out further than I would in a paper journal, where I would most likely just vent. Finally, I have found there is transformative power within vulnerability for everyone.

What I share here are personal experiences which more often than not leave me feeling vulnerable in posting. These are first-hand experiences of what I’ve learned through exposing my flaws, often in day-to-day interactions that lead to a new understanding or awareness.

For instance, in the post The Right to Exist, I shared an experience I had that I would have avoided altogether in the past by either not going to such a busy place at a busy time or parking way out of the way to better suit others. Instead, I chose to go there during Starbuck’s morning rush hour and park where it was convenient for me, so that I could meet my needs for a meal. In the process, I also calmly stood up for my right to be there to the person who very rudely cussed at me; all things I’d have avoided before.

In its rawness, this incident allowed me to more clearly see where I and others have not felt the right to exist and take up space. Even though I’ve made many strides in the past 4+ years, I’ve come to recognize that this may well be an ongoing healing theme for me throughout the remainder of my life; a theme that is overcome by degrees. Yet I fully intend to keep chiseling away at it by continuing to live more and more authentically, exposing myself especially where I feel vulnerable.

In a recent dream, Christ showed me where our cracks are actually our strengths. With this in mind, I end with the following prayer:

May we each see our imperfections in a new way, for in exposing our vulnerabilities, we each can benefit by reaching new levels of potential by living life more authentically, by connecting more deeply with others through our shared courage and through supporting each other in living our individual truths. In living through our truths, we set ourselves free.

Namaste

Coming Soon: Wabi-Sabi: Imperfect Perfection

The Right to Exist

Do you feel the need to prove yourself (worthy)? Do you go out of your way to make things easier for others, while making things harder for yourself? Do you frequently apologize to others, even when something is not your fault or something is beyond your control (as if apologizing for breathing)? Do you feel bad for meeting your needs? OR do you feel bad when someone gives you something, expecting nothing in return (and it’s not your birthday)? Do you feel bad for having a full grocery cart and the person behind you in line has just a few items? Does it bother you when you do not feel you are helping others in some way? If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, chances are that you struggle with the right to exist.

Personally, the right to exist has been an ongoing issue with which I struggle. When things are going well and I’m contributing to a situation, then I feel comfortable being where I am. If, however, I feel that I’m only taking and not giving, I can struggle with my right to be here on earth. Recently, I have begun to see this pattern in others in my daily life where for so long I thought I had been alone in this.

This “right to exist” issue came to the forefront for me this past week when I felt the need to justify my right to park my car in a public parking lot!!! Another driver had an issue with traffic being stopped while I backed into a spot. Had her daughter not have been with her, she probably would have come at me with fists instead of angry and insulting words. I spent less time parking that she spent cussing at me (while she herself was blocking traffic) when I stood up to her to tell her I had the right to park (and exist). While I felt the right to (temporarily) take up space, later I saw where this incident still triggered my issues with my basic right to exist.

May we each see that we are on this earth for a reason, that we each have the right to exist and take up space. May we each be at peace with being. 

Namaste

Coming Soon: The Right to Receive

2018: Celebrating Wholeness & Completion

For 2019, I’m choosing to celebrate the New Year differently. For the first time, I’m going to ring in the New Year solo. In the past, I would have been in a panic to be alone. While I do have places where I could celebrate, I’m actually looking forward to the solitude. This desire is quite a shift for me and I believe the lessons I’ve learned from 2018 are a large part of it, having lead to a new experiences of wholeness and completion.

Overcoming Fears & Seeing my Strengths
As I look back over what brought me to this place of desiring solitude on New Year’s Eve, I can see the road was tough at times. In 2018, there were several significant events that lead to lessons in compassion, forgiveness and realizing my strengths.

This year, I lost out on a relationship because I felt emotionally left out and alone when he was over-scheduled and his life demands kept him away physically and especially emotionally. In my fear of rejection and abandonment, I grasped more strongly thus creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It has taken me most of the year to both see my own part more clearly and to have compassion and understanding of where he was coming from. Uncovering this process has lead to forgiveness for him, and even more so for myself. Through this loss, I learned compassion and forgiveness.

The breakup was untimely in that it was just a few days before my father had a brush with death. It was a one-two punch that threatened to take me under. I found that while my father was drowning in the bottom of a bottle, that legally I could do nothing if he refused care or treatment. Part of my lesson was one of surrender.

Once he chose to detox, due to his medical conditions, he was ineligible for inpatient rehab at any local facilities! He almost lost his life during the process when he had several detox seizures. Later, he fell and broke his back, further complicating his recovery. It was a difficult process for him, we’re all fortunate that his will helped him through.

This situation showed me both my strengths and weaknesses. I saw where my skills and tools both as a PT and spiritual traveler were called into action. Surrender showed up again when I saw where I needed help and turned to Al Anon. It was there that I learned that my father nor his addiction were my problems; my problems came from my own within.

It was up to me to focus on myself while having compassion for him; not fighting him to quit drinking. In trying to control my father, or a lover for that matter, I only lose control of myself and in so doing, steal from them their ability to recognize their own need for accountability. Much like the adage: you can lead a horse to water, you just can’t make him drink, I had to see where my tendency to help can be perceived as similar to waterboarding. While a bit of an exaggeration, the idea still stands. 

Later, still working through these circumstances, I witnessed a man tragically taking his final breaths. This rocked me to my core and lead me to a new understanding that life is brief, best enjoyed fully and that suffering is optional. This situation helped me to take the edge off of my need for perfection for perfection’s sake, recognizing the wasted energy in it.

My recent work with The Enneagram System has furthered my understanding of the struggle within each person and personality. While I am very much just on the river’s edge of understanding here, the take home message has been one of compassion, a form of surrender that leads to forgiveness. I see now where the vast majority of people are really doing the best that they can do. Our responses to others are often based on unconscious fears. As such, it is up to each of us to uncover these hidden fears, so that they no longer control and drive us. 

2019 Wholeness
For so long, I have felt this indescribable irredeemable deficiency* and sought external fixes to my internal lack. My personal fears whisper of lack, shame, rejection and abandonment. It is my duty to recognize these fears and the clues when they crop up so that I am not ruled by them. Writing has been one means to understanding and sharing my process to uncover the shame of my perceived deficiencies.

Through meditation, self-care (including writing) and a deeper spiritual understanding, I now see that I have been complete all along. Now I’m in a place where I can surrender into the truth that I am (and have been) whole and complete all along, as Unity intended. Now I see the feeling of an irredeemable deficiency is my blessing as much as it is my curse for it drives me into greater degrees of compassion and forgiveness.

May we each see our fears for what they are: our gift to propel us forward, or our curse if we allow it. May we see and experience ourselves in our highest truths, as we are each truly whole and complete. Through self-compassion and self-forgiveness, we see.

Namaste

*Irredeemable Deficiency is a term coined to describe The Enneagram Four’s Experience

Understanding Personalities with The Enneagram

I have spent much of my life feeling that there was something inherently wrong with me, having felt haunted by some “deep dark secret” that I could not touch nor fully understand. This feeling has been both a blessing and a curse. It both drives me forward into greater levels of self-exploration while at times it weighs me down and can inhibit my connection with others. Writing has been one of my vehicles for self-exploration and understanding. Then recently a friend of mine shared his experiences with The Enneagram System. In delving into the system, my self-understanding and sense of inner peace has greatly accelerated, helping to “lay to rest” some of the gnawing sense of shame from the unnamed “deep dark secret.” It is my hope that through The Enneagram that you will discover a greater understanding and peace, too. 

The Enneagram System
The Enneagram is a unique personality typing system that shows the interconnection between the nine basic personality types. Through this system we see how we are interconnected with all personalities, even though our basic personalities form the foundation of who we are. Each personality has 2 variants called wings, which reveal how the same basic personality can have variable expressions. The system also includes a continuum of how stress and wellness can affect each personality. We can use this information to move towards greater wellness and peace.

Enneagram testing* sites:

  • Enneagram Test with Instinctual Variants (free, no personal info required). This was my personal favorite, as it offers a broader continuum for each response with fewer questions making it “short and sweet.” 
  • Enneagram Test (free, no personal info required). This offers 3 options for each question: yes, partly and no.
  • The RHETI by The Enneagram Institute: ($12.00) This test was “either or” for each of 144 questions, which can be a challenge to choose between at times. 

*The challenge with the Enneagram test is that we can reply differently depending on where we are on the wellness-stress continuum, causing misidentifications. This is why the test results are reported with options and reading the various descriptions can be helpful.

Brief Descriptions of The Enneagram Personality Types, with links from the Enneagram Institute:

  1. The Reformer, Type One: The Rational, Idealist
  2. The Helper, Type Two: The Caring, Interpersonal Type
  3. The Achiever, Type Three: The Self-Oriented Pragmatist
  4. The Individualist, Type Four: The Sensitive, Introspective Type
  5. The Investigator, Type Five: The Intense, Cerebral Type
  6. The Loyalist, Type Six: The Committed, Security-Oriented Type
  7. The Enthusiast, Type Seven: The Busy, Variety Seeker
  8. The Challenger, Type Eight: The Powerful, Dominating Type
  9. The Peacemaker, Type Nine: The Easy-going, Self-Effacing Type

For more detail about the Enneagram types:

  • The Road Back to You: The Enneagram Story of Self-Discovery (book) by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. Offers type-specific ways to become more heathy and to grow spiritually.
  • Enneagram Personality descriptions with Wings/variants
  • Typology Podcasts Hearing others describe their experiences within the same personality type resonated far more deeply for me than reading the written descriptions. The panel also gave insights into what the written descriptors meant, again giving greater acceptance.
  • How Enneagram and The Myers-Briggs Temperament Sorter Compare

The Types and Relationships
Once you know your own and another’s Enneagram types, you can look up the overview of potential strengths and weaknesses within all types of relationships, here.

Freedom in Understanding
It is my hope that you will have a greater sense of self-appreciation and understanding through “seeing” your own personality through the podcasts, descriptions and interactions with other personality types.

May we each find greater peace through greater understanding and appreciation of ourselves. 

Please feel free to share your type & what you discovered! My Enneagram: Type 4 wing 3.

Namaste

 

Fasting During Workouts for Improved Performance

This is another seemingly unbelievable benefit to intermittent fasting: improved physical performance with exercise while fasting. Last week, I ran 2 full miles while 12+ hours into a fast. I outperformed my last fasted run by double and with a faster pace. In the prior month, I had been running after breaking the fast and I was unable to run more than 1/4 mile without walking.

What I’m noticing with working out while fasting: I have more energy, strength, endurance, with less muscle soreness and fatigue afterwards! I can perform more reps with less fatigue and when I run up a flight of steps, I now feel like I’m just getting warmed up instead of feeling myself slowing down near the top.

Another unexpected side effect: I look forward to working out! In fact, going too many days between work outs makes me want to work out more! 

Apparently there are several physiological factors that support improved endurance and strength when exercising while fasting. One of which is the production of more human growth hormone, which supports my experience of improved physical performance while fasting.  I can see the benefits of fasting now compared to non-fasted training. I’ve more than quadrupled my running distance in one week with just 2 sessions. (Currently, my running has been limited by my time availability and not by my endurance: cardiovascular nor muscular.)

Again, even though I’ve read the research, I would not have believed these results had I not lived them myself. I would encourage you to check with your physician prior to attempting this.

May we each find pathways to greater health today and the coming year. Go forth and be healthy!

Namaste
P.S. After writing this post, I did a non-fasted run at the same pace as my last 2-mile fasted run. Had to start walking after 0.8 miles and “walked it off” for another 1/2 mile. Decided on this day that I’d be sure to do most running while fasting vs not! There was such a difference both in how I felt and performed …

Growth Follows Grief

Grief is often seen as a roadblock to growth. More often than not, we get stuck in grief by pushing it away or sinking into it. The analogy I now see is that grief is like driving on loose sand; to struggle against it, we can get further trapped. To stop all together, we sink further into it. However, when allowed, grief can also bring forth a new level of growth. Just as with driving on loose sand, when we allow a gentle, steady movement, then we can keep going and grief becomes an engine for expansion. Driving on loose sand is also easier when we let some air out of our tires, another form of expansion, right?

What happens when people open their hearts? They get better.
Haruki Murakami

For several days now I’ve had a song stuck in my mind. The same lyrics haunting me at various times throughout the day. It is a song about loss, it seems an unrequited love after a woman’s death. The song also touches on incomplete grief, memories, and how the songwriter grasps at taking back control of his life through understanding the need to move through and past his grief.

I’ve attempted to block the song from my mind, have meditated on it, and finally just listened to it on repeat with lyrics and allowed the emotions to flow through. In allowing without pushing, without fretting over “why am I stuck here, again?” or without immersing myself into the feelings, they have moved through. Now I’m seeing where a new layer of understanding and growth has come through.

May we each allow the grief process to unfold, so that we may move into a new level of freedom. 

Namaste

P.S. Many life transitions can trigger the grief process and navigating through it can be difficult to do alone. Life coaches and counselors can help us with using tools to get ourselves unstuck. Please reach out, you are NOT alone; even though that’s often what it feels like. Find your strength through your vulnerability.

Be the Light

We are here to be the light to show others the way out of the darkness. It is through greater self-acceptance and love that we bring more light into this world. Fear blocks the light and masks keep the light hidden.

Judgment is a form of fear that blocks the light from shining through us. It keeps us from feeling whole and complete, and thus we feel unworthy. To acknowledge our judgments, we can see them differently and release them. Releasing our attachments to judgment allows us to feel whole, bringing us into a greater connection with others and our Higher Power.

Masks are the faces we wear to hide our judgments against ourselves and others; where we hide what we are feeling or who we are to feel more accepted. Yet, masks prevent us from feeling whole or holy, preventing us from reaching our Highest Potential.

It is in our vulnerability, through removing the masks, the shame, the guilt, and the judgments that we connect more deeply with ourselves and others. When we take a moment to love and forgive ourselves, we are able to see our perceived mistakes and shortcomings as the very things that help us to connect with others. In seeing ourselves as we are, we can see others.

May we each be more loving, forgiving and accepting of ourselves; being the light. In so doing, we show others the way.

Namaste

Maybe We’ve Got Christ Backwards

Religion is personally a very tough topic for me, having felt burnt in most churches. Yet, here I find myself on Christmas Night writing about Christ and how I believe we’ve overlooked a very important message…

If Christ truly died for our sins, then that is where the martyrdom should end. Right? Then why do so many of us attempt to emulate Christ-the-Martyr in our everyday lives? Confused? Look at how we: downplay our successes, feel it is wrong to be “too happy,” fear God, fear abundance, and fear our own inner light and guidance (etc). How are we honoring the sacrifices (yes, plural) that Christ made for us when we are ourselves acting as martyrs?

After many years of spiritual practice and soul searching, I firmly believe that we’ve got this Christ thing completely backwards. His death and resurrection were to get our attention. His real message was to show us The Way back to our own Divine and Sacred Hearts. To me, he states this very clearly in The Sermon on the Mount found in both Matthew 5:43-48 and Luke 6:27-36

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? … And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? … Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Perhaps we fear this Love because we fear what it commands us to do. It is easy to love those who love us, and here Christ questions what reward do you have from this type of love?

Many of us habitually hide behind masks which once removed would unearth our own disdain for ourselves. How can we love our enemies when we can barely stand to look at, much less to love even ourselves? Yet, we see day in and day out that God still sends sun, rain and blessings to those who do both “Good and Evil.”  Here Christ is telling us that God, who is perfect/whole/complete loves EVERYONE. For you to be as God, perfect/whole/complete, then you must love your enemy, as there is no reward for only loving those who love you.

May we each open our hearts more today to love ourselves, to accept Our Divinity and to begin to love our enemies.  

Namaste

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