Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Enneagram Signposts - Avoid Your Personality Hazards Part II

In this latest blog entry, we continue our look at the personality hazard warnings: those signposts that signal the possibility that our personality vis a vis our Enneagram type is running us rather than the converse. The specific alerts for Types Five through Nine that herald the personality’s unconscious habit is in control follow.

Type Five - The Observer: Sign #1: Detach And Rest Stop, Exit Now

Detaching and dissociating from the circumstances around him or a feeling of wishing to withdraw is the main signpost to alert the Five that his personality is on autopilot. Self - talk may include asking yourself how much others are going to want from you or wondering how you can give them what they want so you can leave.

Sign #2: Holding Back Caves .5 Mile

Withholding information and hoarding knowledge serves as another alert for the Five that the habit is in control again. Minimizing her own needs can be another form of withholding and serves as a reminder to the Observer that the personality may be in the default mode again.

Type Six - The Loyal Skeptic: Sign #1: DANGER! Worst Case Overlook Dead Ahead

Whenever worst case scenario “movies” begin playing for the Six, it is a call to notice that the “doubting mind” may be in control once more. Self talk may include a series of “what if ___ happens” and “what will I do if ____ happens.” When the what ifs start spinning out, it is a sure sign that the habit is working to support the worldview.

Sign #2: Hypothetical Substation This Exit

When the Six notices everything is falling into place to substantiate a hypothesis, there’s a good chance that all evidence that would refute the hypothesis have been filtered from consciousness. Self talk may reinforce the hypothesis by claiming “I knew it all along. I knew this would happen.” This should alert you to proceed carefully - it’s a better than even chance that the personality is running its habitual gambit.
Type Seven - The Optimist: Sign #1: New Fun Adventures Ahead, Unlimited Exits

When the desire to experience something new, interesting, exciting comes out of nowhere for the Seven, it is a clear signal that the personality is on automatic. Anxiety or difficult emotions can trigger the “escape” into experience mode for Sevens Even an erudite escape into new knowledge is often the habit running the Optimist.

Sign #2: Reframe City Next 7 Exits

A tendency to miss the dark cloud for the focus on the silver lining signifies the Seven automatic mode of reframing. It’s almost alchemical - the Seven converts painful, difficult situations into occasions for celebration. Self talk often presents as “I know ___ happened, but what was good about it was...” Loss is often converted to a new opportunity or challenge with no down time for grieving. This giddy positivism is a sure sign that the personality is running the show.

Type Eight - The Boss: Sign #1: Power Void Next 8 Miles, Shift Into Control

A sensing and compulsion to step into “power voids” where no one is taking control or making decisions (or even taking up energetic space) are hallmarks of the Eight personality on autopilot. Self talk may include “someone’s got to do it or nothing will ever get done.” “I don’t want to be in control necessarily, but I don’t want to be controlled.”

Sign #2: Boredom Gulch and Excess Alley

The rising of feelings of vulnerability can set off Eight’s habitual mode faster than anything else. These feelings are translated as boredom by the Boss and the classic antidote preferred is excess, whether it be in work, food, drink, partying, exercise, etc. The Eight feels vital and invulnerable engaging his large energy so strongly. It’s a sure bet that when excess is involved, the personality is really in control.

Type Nine - The Mediator: Sign #1: Do It Later Detour, Stop Here

Procrastination is the default mode for the Nine. Difficulty with prioritizing often has the Nine putting off important tasks and issues in favor of non-essential substitutes. Self talk often includes “Oh I’ve got plenty of time, no problem.” “ Another frequent internal phrase that pops up throughout the day is “I’ll do that later.” The Nine inevitably ends up feeling behind or pushed. These phrases should sound an alarm for Nines that the personality is pushing them, where they may not wish to go.

Sign #2: Entering “Whatever” Wilderness Area Merge, Right?

It doesn’t matter,” is also common self talk for a self-forgetter. “Whatever” is an easy way for Nines to get along with others, go with the flow, and allow the personality in its default mode to avoid the Mediator’s true desires, preferences and priorities.

The Signs
Though somewhat tongue-in-cheek, these signposts are critical internal alerts for us to break the stranglehold of personality. This is not about personality suppression, what my friend C. used to call “being a Not Four” (or Five or One etc.). This is about conscious awareness and choice. There will be times that indeed the options and gifts that are inherent in our Enneagram types are perfect for the situation in which we find ourselves. These signposts are merely meant to help us awaken, to choose when to flow with our natural bent and when to deviate to a new direction. They are meant to keep us from exiting or drifting mindlessly in habitual ways that keep us from getting where we truly want to go.

(Material adapted from "The Everyday Enneagram" by Lynette Sheppard)

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