How did you get introduced to the Enneagram?
I was introduced to the Enneagram through a Spiritual Direction Cohort about 9 years ago. In the cohort we learned how to sit with other people and hold space for them and for the divine. In order to do that to the best of our abilities we had to first address our own issues so that we didn’t transmit our junk onto anyone else. The first thing we did as a cohort was to learn our Enneagram number. I identified quickly as a 4 and that knowledge has helped me be aware of the issues and reactionary tendencies that I lean towards. It’s also helped me celebrate the things I’m good at.
What is it like being a 4?
Being a 4 is a bit of a roller coaster. We have a lot of emotions and our emotions change frequently. We are passionate and compassionate and feel things deeply. The gift of being a 4 is that I can sit comfortably with grief and that I know myself well. I don’t do well with small talk or with shallow relationships. I thrive on intentional community and beauty in nature and in others. I have to watch out for my ever-shifting emotions and I tell myself frequently that I have feelings but that I am not my feelings and that helps me self-regulate.
Can you share a personal story of your number in action?
Recently a good friend of mine filed for divorce from her husband. She came to me a lot to talk through what had been going on in her relationship. I knew that Valentine’s Day would be hard on her having been recently separated. I got all of our friends to write her a note telling her why they loved her and we were able to give her a stack of cards for V-day. She was really moved and I know it meant a lot to her. I think the 4 in me draws near to folks who are broken hearted. I don’t want anyone to feel alone or unloved as those are feelings I frequently struggle with myself, so I really try to be there for people when they need a reminder that they are worthy of love.
How has the Enneagram helped you in the process of personal or spiritual growth?
The Enneagram has helped me step out of my own selfish tendencies. I tend to think a lot about myself and I can wallow in self-pity if I am not careful. I have the tools now to respond to those feelings and not just get stuck in a cycle of reacting. When I start to feel down or when shame starts to rear its ugly head, I try to do something kind for someone else. Helping others also helps us remember to be grateful and that most of the time things aren’t so bad.
How has the Enneagram impacted your relationships (e.g., spouse, kids, friends, colleagues, etc.)?
It has helped me see that we are all different and that we all view the world differently. Suzanne Stabile says “We can’t change how we see but we can change what we do with what we see.” I will always be sensitive and have a lot of emotions, however, I recognize that not everyone views life that way. Enneagram knowledge has helped me have more grace for myself and for those around me.