A couple of months ago, a friend told me about a daily “EnneaThought for the Day” which I could sign up to receive from the Enneagram Institute. You know how much I’ve come to appreciate the insights of the Enneagram personality typing system over the past four or five years, so it was a no-brainer for me to sign up to get the free thought of the day about the Type 1.
But I didn’t expect it to feel as though somebody had been reading my thoughts. These people had me pegged. I appreciate it — and the recognition makes me laugh — but it also makes me a bit uncomfortable.
Am I really this easy to predict?
“A major feature of your personality is the tendency to see disorder all around you and feel personally obliged to do something about it. Watch for this in yourself today.”
I inhaled sharply when I read that one. I laughed at myself nervously. How could they possibly know this? How did they know that I feel as though the world is falling apart and that it will collapse if I don’t fix everything?
Surely that was just a fluke.
But it keeps happening. Not every day, of course, but at least once a week, one of the thoughts pierces me and reminds me that something in me is organized in a more predictable way than I like to admit.
“Remember that your Basic Fear is of being bad, corrupt, unredeemable, and condemnable. Can you feel into the existence of your Basic Fear in yourself today?”
Those are feelings that I try to hide. How could they know I feel that way? How could they know that I often feel as though I’m irredeemably bad or broken? I’m terrified for anybody to know this, so how could they see it?
“Ones have a self-defeating, negative tendency toward obsessions and compulsions. Do you see evidence of this in yourself today?”
I don’t want to admit this.
“Try this Affirmation today: ‘I now affirm that the best I can do is good enough.’”
How could someone possibly know that I need to hear this? I’m often convinced that my best will never be good enough to earn the love I need — and this leaves me depressed.
“When do you think you will give up getting angry about the indifference of others to your efforts? How about today?”
I wanted to cry out about that one. I become bitterly angry — but I try to hide it — when people are indifferent about the things I see as important, even holy. There are certain things which I offer to the world as my best gifts — and it feels like offering pearls to swine. How can I possibly stop being angry about that?
“Back to basics today: remember that healthy Ones are conscientious, self-disciplined, and highly principled. Cultivate these qualities in yourself today.”
And then another.
“Remember that your Basic Desire is to be aligned with the ‘Good,’ to be virtuous, and to have integrity. Can you become aware of how your Basic Desire is the root of many of your most compelling motivations and unconscious actions?”
Both of those hit way too close to home. Yes, these are the things I am at my core. They’re the things which I assumed everybody was or at least wanted to be. It destroyed my innocence years ago to discover that so few people care about being good — that so few care about doing the right thing just for the sake of being righteous.
“Remember that your Direction of Stress is to Four, which is a metaphor for feeling alienated, misunderstood, and self-pitying. Do you sense these qualities in yourself today—and know what triggered them?”
For years, I mistyped myself as a Type 4 and now I know why. Under stress, a Type 1 starts acting more like a Type 4, sometimes for good and other times for bad. “Alienated, misunderstood and self-pitying”? I never saw self-pity in myself but I strongly saw the other two. I still do. I suspect I always will, unless I find a place to belong — and someone to belong with.
“Your Achilles’ heel is your self-righteous anger. Try to step back and see that your anger alienates people so that they cannot hear many of the good things you have to say.”
I hid my anger for many years, even from myself. Expressing anger wasn’t allowed when I was a child, but I constantly feel anger today about the world not being what it should be — about people not being what they ought to be. I didn’t realize this until I read those words, but people are probably turned off by my strong sense of right and wrong — of how things ought to be and how they must be. I guess not everybody feels that way.
“For the One, the Missing Piece will be found at the highest Levels of type Four.”
This one made my head feel as though it was going to explode, at least for a moment. What they’re saying here is why I have trouble giving up my identification with the Type 4. The best parts of myself identify strongly with the healthiest parts of the Type 4. And now this tells me why I can’t let go of the need to create. I thought that giving up the identification with Type 4 would allow me to abandon my desire — compulsion, really — to create.
But I was wrong.
Part of me wants to never see another one of these thoughts again. Some of the insights are so painfully true that they hurt. Just a bit. But another part of me knows I need this — because I need somebody to call me on my own tendencies. (And, yes, this is why I desperately want to be loved and understood by someone who gets me deeply, so she can call me on things I need to hear.)
It’s far too easy to identify with my narratives and live in those thoughts, but these insights pierce my balloons and deflate my ego when it’s identifying too strongly with the wrong parts of me.
I want to be loved and understood, but I never thought that there could be so much understanding from someone who’s never met me and who’s not even writing for me.
At times, I fear that I can never good good enough, be worthy enough, or really be loved. But these insights show me that my inner patterns do fit among humans — at least somewhat, at least some of the time.
For better or worse, being called on my secret tendencies make me feel understood. And accepting those things — even the ugly parts — makes me a better man.