It’s the New Year. I’ve had another bout of self-dissatisfaction and thus have been making another try at self-improvement. This time the tool that came to mind was the Enneagram, the analysis of nine personality patterns we humans take on in the earliest stages of our lives.
What I like about the Enneagram is that it not only gives you insight into human differences and makes you more accepting of them; it also indicates paths for breaking out of the limited responses we learn when we are young. Self-understanding and self-improvement.
I’ve taken the tests and every time I come out as a Five, the Observer. I don’t fall exactly into the pattern, especially since I have already done a lot of work on myself, but most brief descriptions of the Five still capture my strengths and weaknesses:
I would characterize myself as a quiet, analytical person who needs more time alone than most people do. I usually prefer to observe what is going on than to be involved in the middle of it. I don’t like people to place too many demands on me or to expect me to know and report what I am feeling. I’m able to get in touch with my feelings better when alone than with others, and often enjoy experiences I’ve had more when reliving them than when actually going through them. I’m almost never bored when alone, because I have an active mental life. It is important for me to protect my time and energy, and hence, to live a simple, uncomplicated life and to be as self-sufficient as possible.
There are all kinds of books on the Enneagram but my favorite is Helen Palmer’s The Enneagram: Understanding Yourself and the Others in Your Life. This week I came across a website, however, that sums up everything neatly and concisely and not too superficially: Enneagram Worldwide. (Fives like information, and we like it well organized.) You have to read the explanations of the terms for it to make sense. (Their diagnostic test, too, is fast and easy though you have to pay $10 to register for it.) The description above comes from that site.
I was interested in the part of the site, under “key themes,” that lists healing and growth practices for my type.
- Recognize and release the avarice for time, space, energy and knowledge
- Make the counter-instinctive move forward into life and feelings
- Stay present, engaged with others
- Share or give more of yourself while taking in more support from others
- Recognize there are ample resources, and practice abundance
Over the course of my life I have moved forward quite aggressively “into life and feelings.” And this blog is certainly an exercise in “sharing more of myself.” You may think it comes naturally for me to write about myself but every time I do it I think, what am I thinking, does anybody want to read this garbage? This writing is a small act of courage that pushes me out of my comfortable shell.
But I was surprised how challenging some of these things still are for me. I am still protective of my time, space, and energy–so protective that sometimes I end up with too much time on my hands and too much solitude. It is still hard for me to stay engaged with others, especially in a group: I tend to withdraw. And oh my goodness I hate to think I need support from others. We Fives think we must be self sufficient and here is why: we feel there is not enough support/energy/resource in the Universe for us and we won’t get what we want so we will just not want it. We will not ask for anything from others.
For example, when this blog limped along with a few dozen followers, that was par for the course. That is what I expect. Now there are almost 1,300 of you and more every day. Wha-a-a?
So if you are reading this, know that I am grateful and that I actually need you. Every like, comment, or even view is appreciated. You are the abundance of the Universe for me.