Monday, August 16, 2010

An Inquiry into Envy for All Enneagram Types

It’s an issue, indeed it is the passion or drive, for Enneagram type Four. So the rest of us don’t need to concern ourselves much with it. Or do we?

Barbara Arney, MA, presented an intriguing look into envy as a human drive that affects all the types at the recent International Enneagram Association meeting in San Francisco.

Through lecture and dyad exercises, we were able to discover how envy plays out in our lives, generally and vis a vis our Enneagram types. We learned about envying, but we explored what it is like to be envied and how disempowering that can be.

And surprisingly, we found that envy can offer us a gift. Opening to envy consciously can open us to what we thirst for in ourselves rather than looking outside for it in others.

Barbara posits that a major underlying force of envy involves a “fierce attraction to an external good while resisting the internal good.” We project (and we do not have to be Sixes to do this) our own good or desire for good onto others. When we take our inherent goodness and put it on others, we diminish ourselves.

Concurrently, when we envy someone we also diminish them by seeing only an idealized part of them rather than the complex, multifaceted being in front of us.

There’s hope, however. Whether experiencing the victimization of envy or being envied, Barbara tells us, we can avail ourselves of practices to develop a durable relationship with the Good.

Some of these practices include:
Grounding in the body - dropping into sensation and relaxation.

Centering exercises to steady the mind.

Recognizing your own reactivity of envy/envied: gossip, sarcasm, withdrawal, judgment, hatred, independence.

Keep an ongoing list of all the little fulfillments in your life.

Perhaps most important is to acknowledge your desire for good that is underneath your feelings of envy.

These practices seem simple. And they are. But they are not easy and we must be vigilant and diligent to change the patterns of envy in our lives. Only then may we be able to recognize and nurture the good in ourselves.

Of course, our first step is to notice when we are envying or being envied and our reactions. Self observation will enable us to notice its effects and allow us to embody the above practices to break envy’s insidious hold.

How, when, whom do you envy? How does envy manifest for you or your type? What are your reactions when others envy you? Let’s explore these questions together here in the comments.

More about Barbara Arney: She is a certified Enneagram instructor and corporate trainer/coach with the Rapid Change Group teaching brain-based tools to business. She is offering a virtual course/community called Women’s Ways: The Power of your Passions...A September Inquiry with the Enneagram. It includes conference calls each Wed. that are recorded, a centering CD, and two 30 minute coaching sessions, and more. For info, please contact Barbara directly at or on her Central time cell phone at 612-387-3399.