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    October 23, 2012

    It's Enneagram Week. (LAST ONE, PROMISE)

    Are you guys sick of this? I feel silly writing about it again. Like it's this super dorky thing that only I am into. I know I'm a huge dork. This was evidenced today by waking up from a 10 minute snooze on the couch to find that a chocolate chip had melted in my cleavage. 

    SO ANYWAY. What did I say I was going to write about again? How I "use" my enneagram smarts? 

    Something like that. 

    Each of the nine types has a "chief feature" which is something really unpleasant - the seven deadly sins, to be exact, plus deceit and fear. Your type describes how you've arranged your life around that fear or failing, how you've accomodated it and worked around it and existed with it. One way that you know you've identified the right number for yourself is reading that description and feeling "found out". That thing, or how you live with or deal with that thing, sounds familiar, but also secret, like one of the things you don't really want anyone to know about yourself. Maybe THE thing. 

    The way I think about it is: what is the thing I believe about myself that most keeps me from God? 

    For a Three, it's that you're worthless. If you've been around months, let alone years, you've probably read at least a dozen posts about feelings of failure and worthlessness, that I'm not measuring up, that I'm not doing a good enough job. A Three only feels loved for what they DO or what they ACHIEVE. The idea that someone could love them just for who they are... that's crazy talk. 

    And so it is with God. Yeah yeah Jesus died for our sins, even mine, but I am not worthy of that sacrifice, I don't deserve it, I haven't earned it, I haven't atoned or repented enough, I haven't beat myself up enough, I haven't done anything special enough to win that prize. Who am I? Just a boring SAHM with a dumb blog and a dirty house. How do I even matter?

    In the Three description there's all this talk about how impressive and successful Threes are, and when I read it I thought, "Um, that's not me." I'm not charming the pants off anyone at a party, I'm not winning any elections, I am not climbing a corporate ladder, I'm even (I hope) rather honest about my lack of any Super Mom trophies. I'm probably not a Three, right? Except, when I delve into the motivations of a Three, and how a Three views the world, and what that Three is thinking about other people, oh yes. I totally get it. I totally understand it. That perception of the world makes complete sense to me, it even sounds like the right perception. The Three's chief feature is "deceit", which isn't about being a liar so much as someone who is so good at projecting an image, they even believe it themselves. They believe people want THAT person, not the real one... whoever that may be. 

    And so it is with God. God will only love me if I'm good enough, if I win enough, if I'm best, if I get all straight As. 

    That worthlessness was my Thing was not news to me, and then once I finally consented to being a Three I didn't know what to do with that information. So what. Just another personality test thing. 

    What's been helpful, for me, is two things. The first is that the more you think and learn about it, the more you understand how a person with your "root sin" can grow (I think Helen Palmer calls this "evolving") and even find ways to redeem that sin. You start to be aware of how that root sin interferes with true things in your life, and distorts how you feel and what you think about things. You're just more aware and better prepared. 

    The second thing is a little more concrete - reading about Phillip's type was ENORMOUSLY HELPFUL for me. Like... I would say that until I read the description for Nines I had no idea that other people acted the way Phillip acted about certain things. I hadn't interacted with any other person on the level that I do with Phillip, and certain things about him are SO WILDLY DIFFERENT. The biggest "discovery" for me was about "merging". So, throughout our entire relationship, Phillip has had a really hard time dealing with me if I'm moody or upset or angry or anxious or whatever. I think the way I looked at it was that he was so frustrated about not being able to fix it that he got angry too. So whenever I was not doing well, Phillip was not doing well either. I thought he was mad at me. Simply because I had a bad day at work or something. Gah! 

    I... do not do this. If you are not doing well? I don't take it personally. I empathize, but I don't feel upset about it. I was starting to think something was wrong with me because *I* didn't get upset when Phillip was having a hard time. Was I an unfeeling horrible person?!

    WELL. Turns out that a lot of Nines do this thing Helen Palmer calls "merging", which is sort of like taking on another person's feelings as your own. It's a way to ease tension or a way to focus on something instead of what the Nine himself is feeling, because he forgets himself, or doesn't want to work to figure it out. So Phillip really IS angry when I'm not doing well, because he's the type that 1) "emotionally merges" with people and 2) absolutely hates feeling anything other than peaceful and content. I get upset about something and get over it quickly - Phillip will be upset that I'm upset and take foreeeeever to get it out of his system. TOTALLY WACKO TO ME. (Sorry Nines!) 

    But yeah, it was a whole new INSIGHT into my HUSBAND! I picked out his type in seconds, seriously. (Nines are pretty easy, I think.) And just knowing a little more about how those two types interact has been helpful for both of us. 

    I am TOTALLY COPPING to the fact that this is a WEIRD PERSONALITY TEST THING and obvs I am not living my life around it. But I HAVE found it very helpful. Also fascinating. Obvs. 

    This is just a bunch of garble, isn't it? I'm so tired right now. Good night, Internet. I'll see you later. 

     

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    Comments

    Well I've gone and started a whole email chain about OMG I finally understand my husband, so no, not weird! (Though perfectionists like him are fairly well explained in general, so it really just helped me be more *articulate* in my analysis of him. Which I'm sure he appreciates, obviously.)

    Meeeeee again. Sick of me yet?

    The best part of this all was I could shove the book at him and be like SEE? Fives shut down when they're pressed or stressed. IT'S A REAL THING, I'M NOT A WEIRDO.

    Have you read the relationships part? Because I read ours and HOLY COW so right on about Brian and I.

    Also, very interesting to me that Philip is a 9.

    ooooh it is blindingly obvious my husband is a 5. first advice on how to get along with them - be independent, not clingy. Oooops!

    I can see where this kind of information would be extremely useful. I also can see where my husband would poo-poo this kind of talk. Is Phillip on board with this?

    I always like reading what you have to say! :)

    I'm a three as well :) No real surprise there. I need to get D to take the test tonight.

    So I got interested and took an online Enneagram test this afternoon. I actually scored highest on 2, but my second highest score was on 4. In reading the description of both, I think the 4 is more accurate for me. So I'm a 4...very interesting stuff!

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