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What got you here won’t get you there | Part 5

Although this statement may sound counter-intuitive, over years of working with people and groups on the Enneagram-based development, this has proven to be more accurate than not. Of course, working with the Center of Intelligence that instigates the challenging dynamic can be effective, it is simply more difficult. If the Head Center is the instigator, can the Head Center easily change course?  To clear the Mental Center, soothe the Heart Center, or calm or embody the Body Center, another Center of Intelligence can be called into service to help support the desired growth and transformation.

This 9-nine-part blog series will clarify this developmental idea for each of the 9 Enneagram types, with this blog focusing on Enneagram type Four.

A common type Four development area

Believing ‘I am what I feel’

Although we all struggle with answering the question ‘Who am I?,’ Fours deal with this quandary in a unique way. Their most common answer is this: ‘I am what I feel.’ The issue with this answer is that feelings come and go, like the tides, so a feeling at one moment may change in the next. With the ever-changing nature of feelings as a guidepost for identity, the Four’s sense of self becomes less solid and more fluid. Such a  fluid answer to this important question raises more questions than it answers.

Although the ‘instigator’ for this development area sounds as if it may start in the Head Center as a thought, it actually begins and ends in the Heart Center. Here is how it works. Fours, like the other two Heart Center types Two and Three, search for who they really are, partly because they create an image based on how they want others to respond to them. At some level, the Heart types know that their image is not the real them. For example, Twos create an image of being kind, thoughtful, likeable, while Threes create an image of being competent, effective, and confident. These two kinds of images can sustain people for a while because the image is simple and seems to be solid enough. Fours, however, create an image of being different, special or unique, and this image is more vague. What does it mean to be different? Fours migrate to the idea that what is unique about them is their feelings. And feelings are in the heart. But feelings change, as it is in the nature of emotions to do just that. As a result, Fours experience an ever-changing sense of identity.

Fours can, however, use their Head Center as a development path through their journey to uncover who they really are, and this means in addition to their emotions, not instead of their emotions. So this is the question for Fours, one that needs to be answered multiple times and on multiple occasions until the answer becomes solid and deeply clarifying: In addition to my feelings and emotions, who am I? Keep answering this question in a truthful way. Notice that the question is not, Other than your emotions, who are you? Feelings are part of who we are, just as thoughts or what we do are also part of who we are. But none of these – thoughts, feelings, behavior – are all of who we are and none of them are who we truly are at the deeper and deeper levels.

You can do the above activity – again with multiple answers and on multiple occasions – in several different ways. You can write them down and keep adding to the list. You can speak them out loud to another person or into a recording device. If you write the list down, post the answers in a place you can see it daily. Now if you get adventurous, you can walk around as you name each answer to this question, embodying your answer as you walk. This can be extremely valuable as it anchors your answers in your somatic system, thus increasing retention. For example, if the answer is I am a sensitive person, walk allowing your lovely sensitivity to fill your body as much as you can at the moment.

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, author of eight Enneagram books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs and training tools for business professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications. TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com


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Linda S
Linda S
1 year ago

Thank you, this is helpful, especially the part about anchoring my answers in my somatic system.