Tag Archives: Enneagram Stances

Keywords: The Madeleines of Journal Writing

Before starting this post, I went into the closet in my office in search of three plastic sandwich bags full of folded slips of different colored paper with words typed on them. I’ve used those bags (and words) in my own creative writing exercises as well as in writing workshops. I found one bag full of lime green nouns, one bag full of fuchsia verbs, and one bag full of teal adjectives. I opened the teal bag without recalling what kind of words were inside and pulled out new. New is good—and so apt for the beginning of a post!

I’ve been playing around with individual words and phrases for decades. My Stance Keyword Comparison Checklist was an outgrowth of a long-term fascination with arranging and grouping words that seem to evoke a concept or a mood or an attitude or a way of being. Sometimes it’s easier to gauge your reaction to a list of keywords than it is to read through narrative descriptions. A single word can send you off on a journey, much like the madeleine that sent Marcel Proust off in Remembrance of Things Past.

When I was a substance abuse counselor, I used a two-page handout called “How Do You Feel Today?” It consisted of 140 words that described feeling states, each one illustrated by what was essentially an emoticon (although I’m pretty sure the handout pre-dated emoticons). It wasn’t in color, but it looked a little like this example (without the misspelling). Continue reading

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Changes in Attitudes … Changes in Latitudes

The word “stance” usually refers to some kind of motionless or standing posture. So it’s an interesting choice of word to describe three different ways of moving. Instead of stances, we’re actually talking about different approaches. But we’re sort of stuck with the vocabulary at this point—at least I am.

The stance we take—moving against (Aggressive), moving away from (Withdrawing), or moving toward (Compliant)—is basic to who we are and underlies our automatic responses and reactions to the world around us and to the other people in our lives. Although it’s true we access the other two stances occasionally, the stance our type takes is our “go to” stance—the approach we fall back on, especially under pressure or in unfamiliar or uncomfortable situations.

 Moving Against
Fighting
The Aggressive types (3, 7, and 8) generally take a direct approach,
moving against what gets in the way of what they want.

Moving Away From
Keeping to Oneself
The Withdrawing types (4, 5, and 9) turn inward to find fulfillment,
moving away from what disturbs them.

Moving Toward
Giving in to Others
The Compliant types (1, 2, and 6) tend to seek a point of reference outside themselves, moving toward what will help them earn what they need. Continue reading