Enneagrams are a hot topic right now. If you’re not familiar, an enneagram is “…a system of nine personality types combining traditional wisdom with modern psychology – a powerful tool for understanding ourselves and the people in our lives.” Your personality type is discovered by taking an online quiz, which then tells you characteristics of yourself. I always get baffled as to why we need someone or something to tell us about ourselves, but it is fun nonetheless.
One thing that’s not as well known about the enneagram is that each of the nine numbers falls into one of three emotional centers (so 3/3/3). Now, I’ve taken three different quizzes and each one has told me I’m a different number. So ultimately I’m skeptical of the test’s validity, until I saw this emotion triad. If the enneagram has one thing right, I believe it’s this.
In my study and learning of emotions, I would say these three (or some variation of) are definitely the motivating factors that create the behavior patterns you know to be you. You do not have to take an enneagram test to know which is your primary driver. These patterns are in the way that you operate. For instance, if your driving emotion is fear, you are most likely great at thinking through all options and scenarios before diving into something new. You may have difficulty making decisions and have a fair amount of anxiety and skepticism. But if you pay attention, you probably already knew that about yourself.
You probably also know that when you notice your behaviors for a while, eventually you experience some frustration and wonder “why do I always do that!?” and seek to switch things up. This I highly encourage because it is our diversification of life that make it fun, interesting, and an adventure.
Do not be afraid to diversify, it is what keeps life vibrant and interesting.
And don’t forget, you are a diversified creature. You have all of the personalities above and all of the driving emotions, so it’s only natural to vary your approach to life.
Here are my favorite tips to keep life spicy based on the three driving emotions. Anytime you know you’re living life from one of these drivers, use these tips to break yourself out of the cyclical pattern.
Most individuals that experience immense anger actually stuff it down, knowing that it’s a challenging, and often frowned upon, emotion to display often. They find other coping mechanisms and focus their minds to other things. So those that are driven by anger actually do much of the opposite of what you might think an angry person would. Of course, there are those that “rage out” and freely express their anger. Try either of these tips based on how you cope with this driving emotion.
- Rage room/self-expression – I have not personally experienced one of these, but they seem to make sense. Any time you stuff an emotion, such as anger or rage, it has to go somewhere. If it is stuffed inside, you are the one that suffers. So try a safe space, like a rage room, to express this anger.
- Powerful movement – this could be anything that allows you to use your body to minimize the force of anger. If you’re a stuffer of anger, something more rigorous such as power yoga, running, or even axe throwing may be beneficial. If you already express anger, something calmer will be the most powerful for you—think swimming or slower forms of yoga (Zen or Awaken1 on our schedule).
How you manage your feelings of shame will determine the behavior you may try to counteract your normal behavior. Similar to anger, most individuals cope with feelings of inadequacy. They’ll focus on their strengths or seek to please others so that they receive personal satisfaction. They also may be high achievers, because success is the antithesis of shame—those that have it all couldn’t possibly feel bad about themselves. Assess how you cope with these feelings, and then try one of the tips below.
- Try a new activity – as human beings we tend to stay in the same wheelhouse. To offset attachment to strengths, try an activity you know you won’t be good at and focus on appreciating the process while doing it. If you’re a people pleaser, try something that will be personally fulfilling regardless if it’s of interest to the people around you.
- Do something for yourself or others – seems counter intuitive, I know. But again, it depends on your particular response to feelings of shame. So if you tend to mitigate these feelings through personal endeavors, it’s time to focus on others. What would someone else enjoy? If you are always do for others so that you feel enough, do something for yourself. Attend a yoga class, sit in quiet, read a book… what do YOU enjoy?
We tend to think of fear as “being afraid,” but fear shows up more subtle than that. It tends to rear its gnarly head in the form of distrust, which can run a whole gamut of circumstances. Most individuals that experience fear as a driving emotion also experience anxiety. The distrust is focused towards either the outside world or their inside world, neither of which they have full faith in. Try one of these tips to switch of the behavior patterns of fear.
- Do something spontaneous – fear especially shows up when we live within our own world for so long. We become so familiar that we forget there is a whole world out there full of fun experiences. So this week, pick something new and different that takes you out of your routine.
- Meditate – anxiety is a form of motion. If we follow law #1 of physics, a body in motion will want to stay in motion unless changed by another force. Meditation is a force that can help the continuous fluctuations of your mind. It may not seem that exciting as this post proclaims, but trust the process of stillness as an avenue to more joy.
Since we are a little bit of all these, use any of these tips when it seems applicable. If you try one, leave us a comment to let us know how it goes! Most will take practice, but you may experience some freedom in just one try.
Want to know more and take an enneagram? Here are a few links to quizzes that I’ve taken. Leave a link below if you have a favorite!