From Perfectionist to Artist: An Enneagram Journey for a 4 wing 3

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.

Deadly Sin
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. 

Namaste

It’s Okay to be Okay

This lesson may be just as, if not more, difficult to understand than “being okay with not being okay.” When things are going well for me, I find that I look for the “bad things” on the horizon. Why can I not be okay with what’s happening?

When life is going well, it’s as if I’m constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. I find that my eyes are on the horizon, searching for any potential storms, pirates, tsunamis or other “dangers” that could threaten my happiness. What?! How does this even make sense? Instead of being grateful for where I am and enjoying what I do have, my eyes focus on the potential negatives.

We get what we look for. I’m searching for issues so guess what? Then I’m going to get more issues. Those potential issues then become my focus instead of enjoying the calm waters and sunny skies that surround me now.

So here today, I choose to redirect the focus to where I am now, and away from seeking threats that are outside of my safe harbor; that are also outside of my control. Putting down the binoculars, I can now focus on the present. Even if the present is impermanent.

I extend this wish out to each of you: May we each find the peace and comfort in where we are, even if it’s rough sometimes, even when it’s easy sometimes. Knowing that it is all transient: it will change, so let’s be okay with where we are today.

Note: This is different from complacency, this is about acceptance of what is. Only then can we choose to change course. ❤️

Namaste

Pillar

feet dug into the shifting sands

waves crash around me

ahowing me my strength

salt spray stings my face

standing still, present

it’s time to be fully in this place

of acceptance

this, yes this, is where I am.

gaining ground in the

shifting sands

seeing my place is

to just be

doing no-thing.

allowing the waves to ebb

and flow without judgment.

in faith, knowing that I am

right where I am to be.

there is truly nothing to fear here

for those who know how to see

image: google

The Rose

The rose appreciated

for all she is

thorns and petals

hardness and softness

straight lines and curves

blooms more beautifully

Questions, questions, so many questions

Photo Courtesy of dan at Freedigitalphotos.net

Does the fire fear its own power?

Does the wave ask if it’s part of the ocean?

Does the lake ask, “What is my purpose here?”

Does the bird ask, “How do I raise my young?” Or does the chickless chicken feel like less of a chicken?

Does the cloud ask what happens when it dies?

Does the Universe ask, “What force created me?”

Does the wind ponder what others think of it now?

Do the rivers spend time worrying about being liked more if they traveled a different path or flowed another way?

Do the trees think that they will have more friends if they simply have more limbs?

Does the grass worry if it is too tall, or too short?

Does the gorilla “diet” because she thinks her ass is too big?

Does the raindrop try to be something it isn’t?

Does the bee wonder if it has done enough? That is has to work harder?

Are the snowflakes afraid to be different?  Do they fight their uniqueness? Do they fear “being alone” because they are unique?

Does the sun fear offending others because it might be shining too brightly? Or hide behind a cloud?

Namaste

Image courtesy of dan at freedigitalphotos.net

Today I am Grateful

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today I am Grateful:

For the beauty that surrounds me.

For the Universe that smiles on me every day (though sometimes I question its love).

For the grace that fills my open heart.

For the breath that moves like wind through my lungs.

For the will to carry on, even when I don’t wanna.

For the body that carries me. For the Earth who nourishes me, supports me and loves me for who I truly am.

For all of the relationships in my life, as each one reflects for me something that I would scarce see in myself on my own. Even the ones that I felt hurt by, for they are special gifts within themselves.

For the sparkle in my children’s eyes and the beauty that is uniquely theirs.

For their father who loves them enough to disarm himself by no longer battling with me.

For the families on both sides who support us in the dissolution of our 15 year marriage, for they could have chosen to hold us in the energy of despair.

Yes, today I am grateful:

For the many blessings I receive.

For the gifts I give others by my presence.

For the rain that brings the rainbows.

For the rivers that bring water.

For every penny in my bank account.

For every bill I pay on time.

For every Starbucks Vanilla Soy Latte that I enjoy.

For the pain that shows me where I resist love.

For the awareness that, even as an adult, I fear so much:  my own power, being abandoned, being overlooked,  being fully seen, being vulnerable, being wrong,  being right,  and sometimes just being.

For the places that I still hold myself in self-loathing,  distrust, unforgiveness, and commit acts of self-flagellation.

It is by being grateful that I open my heart a little bit more to myself.  The more I can open my heart for me,  the more light I can help to shine on the rest of the world.  By lighting my beacon,  I help others overcome the obstacles to lighting their own lights.

For this power to love myself more, and to help you to love yourself more, I am grateful.

Namaste.

Giving Ourselves Permission

On this day I had two patients who both seemed to want to suppress their feelings; one did not want to celebrate her achievements and the other felt bad for throwing herself a pity party. They both seemed to need permission to feel what they were feeling.

So with the first patient, I pulled out my pad of paper and hand wrote a “permission slip” to invite her to feel her feelings of self-pity. “You now have permission to throw yourself a pity party. Just be sure to leave after you have cake & ice cream!” This not only made her laugh, but it also gave her great comfort to know it was acceptable to feel bad for herself after something not-so-great had happened to her. By having the pity party, she knew it would just be temporary.

When the next patient was hesitant to celebrate her improvements, I followed the same idea. I again brought out my pad of paper and wrote her a permission slip to celebrate her achievements. Her note was similar to the one I wrote to myself, above.

While they were both amused and laughed at my antics, they each saw the value of what I was showing them: they could give themselves the gift of feeling what they were feeling. They could give themselves the gift of being present within their feelings (without guilt or shame).

Later I wrote myself those same permission slips. And I gave myself permission to feel what I was feeling, so I would not have to revisit them again, (and again) at a later time. I also gave myself permission to love and adore myself, which are feelings I usually reserve only for other people in my life.

So today, please give yourself permission. Permission to feel your feelings and to feel them fully. Permission to cry when you need to cry. Permission to laugh and celebrate when you need to celebrate. Permission to BE and to FEEL. That is what we need more of: People who accept what they are feeling and allow those emotions to move through them, instead of getting stuck by shame or guilt.

You now have permission to feel your feelings, fully! (it’s your actions and behaviors that can cause the problems, so for now, please just feel)

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