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

New Series & Cleaning House for Clarity with Tiffany’s Epiphanies

The dark night was showing me where I did not love myself and where I was repeatedly choosing suffering over my own happiness and joy.

Prologue
Just for a moment, I encourage you to reflect on the course of your life over the past few years. We can have such a strong tendency to jump from one life event to the next that we forget how far we’ve traveled. Right now, I am seeing how this has been such an amazing journey; yet there’s still so much to experience and explore.

Today (Tuesday) I’m also launching a series called “Tiffany’s Epiphanies,” a term that has been coined by several people who have worked closely with me over the years. My goal is to post these epiphanies on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at least once a week. We’ll see how well my creativity will flow with this goal! 

Spiritually-Cleaning-House: The Dark Night of the Soul and The Breakdown
Sunday night, I was deeply triggered by something I saw that lead to what I now consider to be one of my toughest “dark nights of the soul.” These dark nights feel like death as the emotions feel physically eviscerating. There can be grief like no other.

In fact, I believe it is a mourning process for there is a sort of death for the part of us that needs to be let go, much like the caterpillar must die for the butterfly to be born. Think, too, of how many life transformations have ceremonies… it is to recognize the movement of life from one form to another. So this dark night of the soul is the death of what no longer serves us and, if allowed, it is the movement out of the darkness and into a new light. Which again brings to mind the caterpillar and the butterfly.

Overnight, I was incredibly restless and easily awakened by visceral pangs as the energy shifted (and no, it wasn’t food poisoning). My solace? Self-love meditations (via Insight Timer app) and The Ho’Oponopono Prayer: “I Love You. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.” The person I was saying this to? Myself. The dark night was showing me where I did not love myself and where I was repeatedly choosing suffering over my own happiness and joy. I repeated this prayer overnight and into the next day whenever my emotions rose up. Also, as I typed notes at work, I listened to Heart Chakra Crystal Bowls on the Insight Timer App to support being more heart-centered and calm.

Physically-Cleaning-House: The breakdown leads to the breakthrough.
Once back at home, I literally cleaned house with a new fervor. As I scrubbed the tub, and the baseboards (don’t ask how long it’s been for either), an epiphany hit me square in the face (well, not literally). “If another human had treated your children the way this person had treated you, you’d be mother-bear furious. You’d support your child in getting the eff away. So why are you still entertaining these thoughts about this person?!” BOOM! Done. Mission: Accomplished. Heart UNbroken. AND WHOA! All that self-love really paid off!

There is another tool that I used this day, after I listened to this TED Talk about getting over heartbreak. The speaker, Guy Winch, suggests writing out a list of all of the things that someone you’re heartbroken over did not do well, and referring to that list when we begin to pine over that person. This is important for breaking the cycle of idolizing the person and our relationship with them so that we may heal. 

Epilogue
This week marks 3 years since my divorce was final; always a little bittersweet, especially in the midst of the winter holidays. Yet it also marks for me the beginning of a new journey, through self-discovery, self-love and sharing my experiences to help others through blogging; that journey being well over 4 years long now. 

Namaste

Rebuilding Connections with Ourselves and Others

Pushing and pulling, we move through life. Resisting and stopping, we stagnate and can die inside. We are human beings, yet all of this action means we are constantly doing and disconnecting. What if we’re always busy doing so much that we’re missing the point?

I remember as a child that I always wanted to be older, bigger and wiser. Then, in my mid-life, I wished to go back to where I could be more playful again. So I’m learning to seize the moment and enjoy life more in the now, being with what is.

All of our doing and multi-tasking prevents us from knowing ourselves and from being ourselves. This prevents authenticity within and between ourselves and others. How can we shift this? By being more authentic ourselves.

Slowing down, unfolding and releasing the need to go-go-go as well as decreasing the need to multi-task with everything helps us to reconnect with our own being as well as with others. In being more and doing less, we allow our true selves to shine through.

May we each connect more fully with ourselves, becoming increasingly authentic so that we may foster greater connections with others. The more we can accept ourselves, the more we begin to accept our faults that we see in others. (See what I did there?)

Namaste

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