Tag Archives: self observation

What Do You Like about Being Your Type?

like about yourself

Here’s what the participants from the past three Enneagram panels said they liked about being their type. There are similarities in some of the responses, of course, but also differences in how people experience and appreciate various aspects of their type.

Several acknowledged the positive influence of their wing, which I can relate to. I often acknowledge my 7 wing for lightening up the intensity of the 8.

What do you like about being your type?

Type 1

2015: I like that I’m not a pure 1. I have a 9 wing. That also means that my closet isn’t perfectly organized. Nor is my house perfectly organized.

2016: I don’t risk more than I think I should.

2017: I like that I take time and effort to do a good job.

Type 2

2015: One of the things I like is 2s are often friendly. My husband used to say I could start a conversation with a stone. The grocery store clerk does not need to know your life history. So I go on vacation by myself and have a lovely time and meet lots of people and come home with addresses and phone numbers.

2016: I like that most people find me friendly and approachable. I never feel alone when I’m out and about or travel. I’m always able to find somebody who’s willing to become a new friend and share their life story with me. So I make friends easily. Being social and helping others makes me smile.

2017: I can be very patient. I can be very flexible…loving…forgiving. I don’t get annoyed with changes. If someone says you can’t do this or we changed it at the last minute. Eh, so what? So I rarely get upset with people.

Type 3

2015: I like being competent and getting things done. I thrive on being organized. It’s just what I am and what I do. It comes very naturally.

2016/2017: I get so much stuff done. I have boundless energy. I have been nicknamed the energizer bunny. It absolutely drives my #4 husband insane.

Type 4

2015/2016: I like having a strong 5 wing, and I think that makes a big difference. I’m open to new ideas and different kinds of people.

2017: There are times when being a 4 allows me think outside the box and be a little more creative than others.

Type 5

2015/2016: I love research! I could do it endlessly. I love being curious and exploring and always learning something new.

2017: I’m creative. I like that. (But I’m also disorganized, which can be a pain in the ass.) I can focus really well, (but sometimes I focus on the wrong things).

Type 6

2015: I like that I’m responsible and hardworking.

2016: I like being aware. Public speaking has been a very, very large part of my career and working with people and being able to guess when something isn’t lining up, and being able to ask questions. When I’m in a good space, it leads to asking questions. And that leads to a lot of neat stuff, which is why I do what I do. When I’m not functioning well, it’s me telling people what they’re thinking and feeling because it’s all in my head anyway.

2017: I like that 6s are skeptical, and that is we don’t take things at face value. We question.

Type 7

2015/2016: I like that 7s are fun-loving, controlling—we can be bossy—but we’re very dependable and responsible. We can also be self-deprecating and have a great sense of humor.

2017: I am instinctively creative and open, kind, and have a generous spirit.

Type 8

2015: I like being capable and self-sufficient. I really feel like I can handle anything that comes my way.

2016: The greatest part about being an 8 is we always have options and we know how to find them.

2017: Everything I’ve said [about being an 8]. I happen to have a 7 wing, so 7s are OK. Actually all types are OK, but the Enneagram has really helped me put my impatience with others away. Because I go, yeah, not everybody is a perfect 8.

Type 9

2015: I like the compassion. I like the ability I’ve always had since I was little to be connected with almost anybody in any set of circumstances. I like being able to recognize something in them and feel connected.

2016: I like being able to nurture people, to bring out the best in people, and to bring people together, to work well together, to be a community.

2017: I like that from childhood I could see all the different sides of an argument. It got me in trouble sometimes because I could argue both sides, too, which people found very confusing. But it made it possible for me to get along with people I might not have been able to be friends with if I couldn’t hear the different perspectives. So I really like that about being a 9.

 

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No escape, no effort…no despair

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s an excerpt from a piece in one of the Krishnamurti Foundation Bulletins that Krishnamurti dictated in 1970.It’s titled, “The Problem of Living.” When he speaks about how we act from our centre (center), he seems in this case to be describing how we act from our compulsion.

“As one can observe, we have always acted from a centre—a centre which contracts and expands. Sometimes it is a very small circle and at other times it is comprehensive, exclusive and utterly satisfying. But it is always a centre of grief and sorrow, of fleeting joys and misery, the enchanting or the painful past. It is a centre which most of us know consciously or unconsciously, and from this centre we act and have our roots. The question of what to do, now or tomorrow, is always asked from the centre and the reply must always be recognizable by the centre. Having received the reply either from another or from ourselves, we proceed to act according to the limitation of the centre. It is like an animal tethered to a post, its action depending on the length of the tether. This action is never free and so there is always pain, mischief and confusion.

“Realizing this, the centre says to itself: how am I to be free, free to live happily, completely, openly, and act without sorrow or remorse? But it is still the centre asking the question. The centre is the past. The centre is the ‘me’ with its selfish activities which knows action only in terms of reward and punishment, achievement or failure, and its motives, causes and effects. It is caught in this chain and the chain is the centre and the prison.

“There is another action which comes when there is a space without a centre, a dimension in which there is no cause and effect. From this, living is action. Here, having no centre, whatever is done is free, joyous, without pain or pleasure. This space and freedom is not a result of effort and achievement, but when the centre ends the other is.

“But we will ask how can the centre end, what am I to do to end it, what disciplines, what sacrifices, what great efforts am I to make? None. Only see without choice the activities of the centre, not as an observer, not as an outsider looking inward, but just observe without the censor. Then you may say: I cannot do it, I am always looking with the eyes of the past. Be aware, then, of looking with the eyes of the past, and remain with that. Don’t try to do anything about it; be simple and know that whatever you try to do will only strengthen the centre and is a response of your own desire to escape.

So there is no escape, no effort and no despair. Then you can see the full meaning of the centre and the immense danger of it, and that is enough.

–J. Krishnamurti
Meeting Life

Take Ten

Visualizing mindfulness (366/194 July 12, 2012)

Visualizing mindfulness (Photo credit: ConnectIrmeli)

You know, the mind whizzes away like a washing machine going round and round, lots of difficult, confusing emotions, and we don’t really know how to deal with that, and the sad fact is that we are so distracted that we’re no longer present in the world in which we live. We miss out on the things that are most important to us, and the crazy thing is that everybody just assumes, well, that’s the way life is, so we’ve just kind of got to get on with it. That’s really not how it has to be.

–Andy Puddicombe

Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk and co-founder of Headspace. He writes for the Huffington Post and the Guardian on the benefits of mindful thinking for healthy living. He’s also pretty good at juggling (see video). He gave a TED Talk called “All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes” about spending just 10 minutes a day on mindfulness meditation. Among its other benefits, this 10-minute break is an opportunity to observe our compulsions and to disidentify with them–if only for those few minutes. I think 10-minute habits can work wonders since the effects accrue over time.

I think the present moment is so underrated. It sounds so ordinary, and yet we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary.

We can’t change every little thing that happens to us in life, but we can change the way that we experience it.

Here’s his full Ted Talk:

No Explanation Needed

No One Is to Blame

No One Is to Blame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I previously wrote a post for one of my other blogs about the idea that everything happens for a reason. There are a couple of odd things about this notion. For one, we tend to apply it only to unpleasant events and not to pleasant ones. For another, it carries an implication that the bad thing that has happened will in some mysterious way lead to something good.

Horrendous things do happen in the world, and everything happens for a reason is a proverb that’s meant to comfort. But it’s indicative of a worldview that bears examining. For one thing, it can be used as a palliative response that ignores the underlying cause of the situation or event, in which case it’s worse than useless.

Many of us habitually explain our current difficulties, bad habits, negative outlook, or troublesome behavior by referring back to our childhoods or other events from the past. Negative traits, behaviors, circumstances, or events require some kind of an explanation, even if it’s the not very satisfactory everything happens for a reason.

But how often do we explain our present good fortune, good habits, positive outlook, or admirable behavior by referring back to our childhoods or events from our past? We may recognize and even acknowledge luck and the kindness and generosity of others when we’re treated to it. But by and large, we don’t look for explanations for our positive traits, behaviors, or circumstances. We expect the good stuff; the bad stuff is an aberration.

Are you prompt, kind, generous, trustworthy, responsible, productive, optimistic, helpful, imaginative, creative, insightful, cheerful, broad-minded, well-read, accomplished or successful (at anything), happy, healthy, generally law-abiding, thoughtful, courageous, tolerant, objective, conscientious, or cooperative? Whatever positive characteristics you have, do you spend much time questioning how you got them?

THE WAY WE ARE

One of the great benefits of the Enneagram is that it shows us that, to a significant extent, we are the way we are because…that’s just the way we are. We were born with the temperament and the tendencies we have. It’s easy to give up the search for explanations for what we thought were our own individual quirks and proclivities once we discover how many other people who have very little, if anything, in common with us also have the very same quirks and proclivities.

When we give up the exhausting, stuck-in-place examination into our backgrounds to try to figure out why we are the way we are, we can begin to accept what and who we are and go on from there.

I wonder if we might not achieve the same result by starting to look for explanations not for the negative but for everything positive in ourselves and in our lives. I’m not talking about being grateful. I’m not advocating always looking on the bright side or maintaining a positive attitude. I’m suggesting we analyze everything that’s positive the same way we habitually analyze the things we define as negative as a way to break out of the habit of looking for explanations. Unless we’re really and truly trying to understand something and/or learn from an experience, simply trying to figure out why something is what it is isn’t particularly fruitful.

Focusing our attention on explaining the negative stuff leads to taking the stuff that’s OK—or even really good—for granted or assigning it less value than we assign the negative stuff. The underlying assumption is that good (at least our definition of it) should be the steady state and therefore good requires no examination. If things are not good, however, someone or something is to blame.

Most of us know from experience that observing ourselves without judgment, blame, or searching for explanations doesn’t come naturally. And the habit of judging, blaming, and searching for explanations extends outward into the world. But isn’t there anything better–or more product or even more enjoyable–that we could be doing with all the time, attention, and energy we spend on these futile activities?

The Root of Understanding

To comprehend the whole we must first understand ourselves. The root of understanding lies in oneself, and without the understanding of oneself, there is no comprehension of the world; for the world is oneself. The other – the friend, the relation, the enemy, the neighbor, near or far – is yourself. Self-knowledge is the beginning of right thinking, and in the process of self-knowledge, the infinite is discovered.

Jiddu Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

Krishnamurti Foundation of America

Related articles

Curiouser and Curiouser

Naima, the Curious Cat

Naima, the Curious Cat

In his book, Waking Up, Charles Tart points out that most people, especially in the West, aren’t taught self-observation skills at an early age. What if we had spent as much time learning how to observe ourselves as we spent learning how to read?

I’m a fanatical reader, so I don’t say this lightly, but maybe self-observation skills are even more valuable than reading skills. In many ways, reading helps open up the outer world to us, but self-observation opens up our own inner world—which is no less vast, really.

These are a few things Tart has to say about self-observation.

It’s all grist for the mill

In its most general form, the practice of self-observation is simply a matter of paying attention to everything, noticing whatever happens, being open-mindedly curious about all that is going on. This everything will almost always be a mixture of perceptions of external events and your internal reactions to them. You should drop all a priori beliefs about what you should be interested in, what is important and not important. Whatever is is an appropriate focus for observation.

THREE WAYS TO PAY ATTENTION

This open-minded attention must be more than just intellectual attention. Remember that we are three-brained beings. Thus the attention we should strive to pay to our world and our selves is an emotional attention and a body attention as well as an intellectual attention.

Above all, be curious

The practice of self-observation…is the practice of being curious, along with a commitment to do your best to observe and learn whatever is there, regardless of your preferences or fears.

I have to keep reminding myself to stay curious about what is going on around me and within me. And also to stay curious about my own actions and reactions. It’s so much harder for me to get sucked into the drama, the compulsions, and the autopilot behavior when I’m able to maintain an attitude of curiosity about everything that’s happening.

My usual modus operandi is probably the same as everyone else’s. I operate on the assumption that there’s a way things should be and when things are going the way they should be going, all’s well. But more often than not, things do not go the way I think they should. And people do not behave the way I think they should. Even I don’t behave the way I think I should. And don’t get me started on the weather!

As an 8, when things are not going as I expect them to go, my resistance kicks in. That’s a perfect opportunity to wake up and pay attention. When I’m able to do that, I feel much lighter and more expansive. When I don’t or can’t do it, I dig myself deeper into my resistance. No good ever comes of that.

What kicks in for you when things aren’t going your way?

If I want to use the moments when my expectations rub up against the edge of reality to wake up, I have to have the intention to do so.

The practice of self-observation begins with a desire and resolution on your part: “I want to know what really is, regardless of how I prefer things to be.”

As I’ve remarked elsewhere, self-observation is not for wimps. It isn’t easy to let go of our preconceived ideas about how the world should work. It’s hard to give up having a temper tantrum when we don’t get our way. Growing up can be painful at times.

If you diligently practice self-observation, you will see much that his painful and much that is joyful, but seeing more of reality will turn out to be highly preferable to living in fantasy. You will begin creating “something” in yourself, a quality, a function, a skill, akin to learning how the controls of your automated airliner work. And you will be pleasantly surprised at how much more there is to life.

Meditation: Move, Sit, Chant

Breathe

Breathe (Photo credit: PhotoLab XL)

Unless we have the capacity to be still and listen, we can’t tune in to our own inner guidance, in which case we’re more or less doomed to remain stuck in the vicious cycle of our thoughts, feelings, and actions. Acting out the same compulsions. Repeating the same stories about ourselves over and over again.

Meditating is a great way to learn to be still and to develop self-observation skills.

Meditation expands the space between each thing you notice and each action you take.

Ram Dass

There are many different ways to meditate. The best way to begin is by finding a method that isn’t overly difficult. Expecting to be able to sit or kneel in meditation and immediately clear your mind is unrealistic—and it isn’t even the point of meditation. You can’t stop the stream of thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations that come and go. But you can learn to observe how they arise and fall away. You can stop getting hooked by them. Or, as Jon Kabat-Zinn puts it, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

Meditation Sticker

Meditation Sticker (Photo credit: Sanne Schijn)

One approach to finding a way to meditate that works for you is to look to the Center of Intelligence that is your Home center: Doing, Thinking, or Feeling.

Doing center types may find one of these active practices more appealing:

  • Aikido
  • T’ai chi
  • Walking
  • Kung Fu
  • Hatha Yoga

Thinking center types may prefer some type of insight meditation:

  • Vipassana
  • Mindfulness
  • Visualization
  • Contemplation
  • One-pointedness of mind

Feeling center types may appreciate a practice that includes an emotional aspect:

  • Sufi dancing
  • Singing
  • Chanting
  • Prayer

This is just meant to suggest a starting point. In addition to helping develop self-observation skills, meditation has many health benefits, so no matter how you go about it, meditating is a good habit to cultivate.

Something for Everyone

Here are two meditation practices anyone can do:

  • Choose a mantra (a word or phrase that has meaning for you) and repeat it over and over while you are working driving, talking, etc. Say it out loud if you like—and are alone—or repeat it silently.
  • Focus on following your breath in and out, in and out. If you lose track, just refocus on your breathing.

You can do either of these practices no matter where you are. They can help you stay grounded, centered, and present instead of carried away by whatever is going on in the moment.

Meditation…A Thoughtless Act

And here is a tongue-in-cheek piece from the October 1999 issue of Enneagram Monthly on tips to improve each type’s meditation. The author is anonymous.

  1. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Take a better breath than that.
  2. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Help your neighbor take a breath.
  3. Close your eyes. Straighten your hair. Adjust your collar. Smooth the creases in your dress.
  4. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a sigh.
  5. Close your eyes. Go inside. Stay inside.
  6. Close your eyes. It’s OK; close your eyes. Close both eyes.
  7. Close your eyes. Go inside. Imagine you are at the beach. Now in the mountains. Now in the desert. Now at a party.
  8. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a goddamn breath!
  9. Close your eyes. Go inside. Take a breath. Take your neighbor’s breath.

It’s best to approach meditation lightly, rather than with dogged determination.