This is part of a series of delving into The Enneagram System. If you would like to share your journey with understanding your Enneagram, please let me know. Two guest posts have already published and more are planned!
Some Enneagram resources refer to the Four as “The Creative” while others use “Romantic,” and even “Tragic Romantic.” In reading through the list of famous fours, it is peppered with many very talented artists whose deaths came tragically too early. This makes sense after reading further through the description of the four’s internal landscape, as we are both driven and haunted by a sense of being different than everyone else. In the Road Back to Yourself, Ian Cron, also a four, labels this as an “irredeemable deficiency.” For me, I chose to hide this part of myself behind a perfectionist persona for most of my life. I recognize now that this blog has been one way in which I’ve worked to unmask this persona, allowing the artist within to blossom and bloom. Just acknowledging this in black & white brings a strong emotional response.
Fours also have very strong emotions that I will add, that many of us experience physically. For example, I once described my sadness as feeling as if the River Styx was flowing through my abdomen. It was that palpable. Recognizing this as part of my personality has actually freed me to see that this is just how I am. Much like accepting that the sun is the sun and the moon is the moon. I am just an emotional being on the inside, yet I am not my emotions (that’s another post!).
A hallmark sign of 4s is that we feel unique in some way; something which can both propel us forward as well as separate us from others. Fours rarely feel they fit in with others, while we may be able to play various roles, deep down we feel misunderstood because we feel we have an “irredeemable deficiency,” a deep unidentifiable shame that we often hide. This often makes us feel separate. Through understanding the Enneagram, I now understand that this unique feeling is part of being a four. This was incredibly freeing for me.
Initially, this is a shocking title. Yet, the word sin has been misused and abused. The original definition of Sin is the action of turning away from God. The deadly sin in the Enneagram refers to the “wound” that blocks our full realization of and connection to God and others.
Envy is the four’s deadly sin. This is something I experience often, as I find myself comparing the work and lives of others to my own. “Why didn’t I think of that?” or “Look at that happy couple, I want that in my life.” One Life Coach implored me to avoid comparing my inner life to the “News Reel” of the lives of others.
This envy then keeps me from enjoying my life. In feeling upset or slighted, I can focus on the “lack of” more than the presence of anything. This has also lead me to downplay where I “do have” in my life, as I fear the envy of others. It is almost easier for me to show my sad side than my joyous side for this reason as I already feel “an outsider,” and knowing how envy blocks me, I have feared bringing forth that envy from others.
It is a challenge for me to receive compliments, love and acceptance. I see “the wounds” and where things are lacking. It’s been hard for me to believe that someone would love me, unless I were perfect in every way as I have found it hard to receive acceptance for I had felt that sense of irredeemable deficiency; the shame that bound me to my suffering.
Strategies to Move Into Greater Health
Becoming my own best friend has been incredibly freeing. In the past, I would cut myself down and then seek solace from others (or food); something they could not provide as I was the one doing the cutting. It is also ultimately our own love which sets us free!
Self-compassion is an important part of this journey. Meditation and self-reflection have helped me to gain a different perspective, giving myself more grace. The Ho’Oponopono Prayer (I love you. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.) has also helped me in gaining more ground, as well, becoming more comfortable in my own skin. These acts of self-care help to quiet the inner critic and decrease the effects of the “deficiency.”
Gratitude and focusing on what I do have helped to quell the envy. When I feel the envy twitch its head, I acknowledge it and then begin to focus on all of the positive things in my life.
The Enneagram & Freedom
The Enneagram system has gifted me with a new level of grace and freedom for myself and has helped me to take things less personally with understanding the “deadly sins” with others. If you are unfamiliar with the system and your number, I strongly encourage you to “check it out.” The system shows us that we each have the traits of the other numbers, however, we have one prevailing type, so you will probably relate to each one in some way. Yet one will stand above the fray. For me, it was reading about the “irredeemable deficiency” that resonated the most.
May we each find more freedom in accepting ourselves as we are, allowing us to move into greater level of potential. For it is in accepting where we are now that allows us to move forward.