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Choosing to be awakened | an insight by Catherine Bell

You’ve met people who are asleep to themselves, to their patterns, to their families, to their friends, to their coworkers and to their communities. What’s the opposite of this? What we’re looking for in ourselves, our employers, our supervisors and mentors, our colleagues, our friends, our relationships, in a candidate, and in our community, is awakened: someone who is alive, ready to be present with us. Not someone who knows it all, not someone who is out for themselves, not someone full of ideas with no action, not someone giving to get, not someone who is a complete control freak. NO. We want someone who we will have magical alchemy with, someone who ignites our flame and awakens us. This awakened state is the electricity that follows an individual around; it’s the energy. We aren’t attracted to the unawakened because they can be rule followers, bleeding hearts, or talkative “know-it-alls” (to name a few). No, it’s the sense that they have sufficient experience, juiciness, knowledge, care, creativity, openness, self-awareness, drive, vision, and passion to create lightning at will. They are willing to stick it out and are determined for the long haul to hit that mysterious destination. They are open, dynamic, deliver, and are INTERESTED. Being interested is far more fascinating than being interesting.How interested, curious, and awake are you? As we build the Enneagram community, consider being interested and you will, as a result, become far more interesting.

Ginger’s Blog
Although Catherine’s insight ends with an important message – that it is far more important to be interested (in life, others, the environment) than to be interesting (to place more value on being interesting oneself) – this blog is going to focus on the idea of choice. We can choose (or not) awakeness, as well as a wide array of other qualities, but our ability to make a choice can be greatly reduced by two factors: (1) how we define choice and (2) our type-based reactivity.

A woman who attended one of my certificate programs went through 4-5 days where she was not engaged with the program or any participants other than the friend with whom she had come. When I asked her about this, she said, “It takes me 6 days to warm up to people, but that’s OK because I am choosing this.”

I responded, “You may be aware that you take 6 days to warm up to a group, but have you even done it any other way? If not, you are aware of your behavior but are not making a conscious choice about it.” She said she had never behaved in any other way.

Viktor Frankle, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as Holocaust survivor, put it this way:

Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

Without the space in between stimulus and response, we are all in a continuous state of reactivity, prisoners of our own unacknowledged or unnoticed habits that stand invisibly in the way of our ability to choose.

Enneagram One | The need to be right, feel right, and be righteous, as well as angst or worry about making mistakes; feeling resentful, having strong reactions and opinions that they immediately express; feeling subtly superior to others for a wide variety of reasons; being overly self-controlled and needing to control their immediate environment
All of these elements of reactivity get in the way of the space between stimulus and response.

Enneagram Two | Being so attuned to others that there is minimal or no focus on self; being so easily activated to provide for others without consideration of one’s own motivation, the other’s true need, or the consequences of creating such dependency; carrying around an invisible audience without even recognizing they are doing so; feeling sad, angry, or deflated when others don’t respond favorably or appreciatively
All of these elements of reactivity get in the way of the space between stimulus and response.

Enneagram Three | Driving toward the end result or goal so tenaciously, and particularly so when under pressure; believing that they can and should always be moving and active without taking any time for stillness or pausing; avoiding failure so fervently that they become like race horses with peripheral blinders; protecting their self image as if defending a fortress
All of these elements of reactivity get in the way of the space between stimulus and response.

Enneagram Four | Dwelling on their own feelings and experience extensively and intensively, while downplaying those of others; assuming others are competing with them or rejecting them for no apparent reason; being attached to suffering without recognizing this is the case; protecting themselves from feeling not-good-enough; being over-identified with being different from everyone else
All of these elements of reactivity get in the way of the space between stimulus and response.

Enneagram Five | Detaching from feeling and physical sensation so both stimulus and response are minimized; analyzing situations autonomously, with minimal input from others; not sharing responses with others and holding onto them internally; delaying actual response and/or disallowing spontaneous response
All of these elements of reactivity get in the way of the space between stimulus and response.

Enneagram Six | Analyzing and re-analyzing over and over; immediate responding when anxieties are activated; responding quickly off own projections rather than actual situations; denying their own inner responses as untrustworthy or unreliable; seeking advice on alternative responses from others rather than digging deeply into themselves for a choice of responses
All of these elements of reactivity get in the way of the space between stimulus and response

Enneagram Seven | Engaging in instantaneous response in most instances; thinking their impulsivity is actually spontaneity; limiting themselves to primarily positive responses or frustrated ones without examining the range of possible responses available; being over-stimulated by external stimuli and under-stimulated by internal stimuli; moving quickly to grab what they want without stopping to consider if this is a true desire
All of these elements of reactivity get in the way of the space between stimulus and response.

Enneagram Eight | Moving to action instantly whether they are excited, sad, anxious, angry, or just feeling vulnerable; engaging in revenge or fast action without pausing to consider the full consequences of the action; believing they have to respond to everything big but not respond to the smaller items; limiting their responses to that which will make them look strong and tough, even if they want to respond in ways that are more gentle and squishy
All of these elements of reactivity get in the way of the space between stimulus and response.

Enneagram Nine | Under-responding to external and internal stimuli; non-expressive responses; not being awake enough to their own inner cues; not trusting that their own responses matter or fearing that their responses might create tension in them or between themselves and others; becoming instantly passive or passive aggressive when pressured
All of these elements of reactivity get in the way of the space between stimulus and response.

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Teresa Roche
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This was outstanding. I welcome reading Catherine’s insight and Ginger’s response. Made me pause and reflect on my walk today. Thank you.

Teresa Roche
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This was an outstanding read–I welcomed Catherine’s insight and Ginger’s response. Reading it made me pause and then reflect on my walk today. Thank you.

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