Hi! This is a guest post from a friend who identifies as an Enneagram 1 or “Perfectionist.” This is her story to help others to identify their own kind. If you’d like to guest post on your experience with understanding your Enneagram, please let me know in the comments, below. Even if your “number” has already been shared, I feel that the more, the merrier! Namaste. Here are other posts on the Enneagram series.
Over the last couple of years, I have learned to accept and appreciate the fact that I am a one. At first sight, the thought of being a perfectionist is cringe-worthy even for a one. But in true one fashion, I had to first pick apart all of the unhealthy aspects of being a one and judge myself to see where I stack up to those characteristics. “I’m not so bad anymore”, I thought as I was reminded of several phases of life where I used to be more critical, more harsh to myself, and less emotionally connected to life and others. When I look back at all the lessons I’ve learned as a one, I am now able to see how my times of stress have guided me to be a much stronger, healthier, and happier person. It is through recognition of this growth that I am able to reflect with a forgiving and accepting heart.
Ones, like other types, often have body image issues. It’s important to find out where this stems from in order to reduce triggers and promote healthy behaviors. I can’t remember the last time I took a week off from working out since I started working out as a teen. I have always been very cautious of what I eat and prefer to have control, routine and predictability when eating. Healthy ones stay loyal to their work-out routines, work out for health rather than aesthetics, and have a thoughtful yet forgiving diet. Stressed ones can get stuck in over-exercising, ridden with anxiety when they are unable to work out due to injury or illness. Over the years, being more grateful of what my body does for me and not what it doesn’t do has helped me to be less stringent and negative.
Over time, I have learned to channel my one tendencies into my strengths. I remember one of the first staff meetings held at my current job. I had only been there a matter of weeks and our bosses were going over ways to reduce the busyness of the clinic. They mentioned expanding clinic hours, staggering clinician’s shifts, etc. As bold as it was being the new person on the job, I volunteered to rearrange the clinic’s equipment. I knew the day I interviewed that the space was not used wisely. As a one, we instantly know how to make a situation better as soon as we walk into a room. Over the next few days, I designed a poster board made “to scale” of the clinic. I designed cut outs of all of our equipment, that I arranged and re-arranged until I got it just right. Although the change at first was stressful to ones and non-ones alike, after everyone adjusted, I have to admit the layout works very smoothly now. In fact, it hasn’t been changed 2 years later.
As a one, I feel that I have a tendency to “zone-in”, especially at work. While I am attentively catching up on paperwork, I often find that I do not physically see anything else going on around me. I have had coworkers go so far as to dance in front of me to prove to other that it will take me a while before I notice (they were so right). As ones, we feel this “zone-in” ability at work allows us to be more efficient, more productive and therefore, better. Luckily, I started to realize how damaging this can be with my work relationships, and often must disconnect from what I am doing in order to be present in my communication with them. Tuning into three senses can help reduce this extreme focus and welcome present-mindedness (what do you see around you, what do you hear, feel your toes, etc). It’s also comforting as a one to know that yes, the work will still be more than satisfactory, even with a few happy distractions. We do have the efficiency of ones, afterall!
Overall the best strategy I have found for happiness in my life is to disconnect and become more fully present in daily life, leaving room for whims and desires. Yes, this means prioritizing people and things that bring me joy and not strictly abiding by my do-list. A healthy one resembles a more “go with the flow” attitude, relishes in spontaneity, and is more enthusiastic about everything life has to offer, like a seven. I find that when I slow down, I am able to relax the rules I have set for myself and feel so much lighter in life. Yes, this includes feeling and appreciating any emotions that may arise- the good, bad, pretty and ugly. I am at my best when I am hosting spontaneous or themed get-togethers, trying a new activity for the fun of it (and not to perfect it), and getting a little messy- whether it’s mud on my boots or dirt on my hands. Finally, being grateful for what I do have and not what I lack has helped me in all aspects of life including my relationship with myself, my family, my friends and my coworkers.