Ones | If you really want to understand yourself, take something really challenging to try to change, not just what you might perceive as something you can do better or something that needs improving. Here’s something hard: Try to change your need to feel that you have to always be working on self-improvement or improving others and situations. What if nothing really needed improving, that good enough was really good enough or if something that wasn’t 100% perfect was so very interesting because it wasn’t all tied together in a neat bow? What would you do with yourself if you weren’t striving for perfection and avoiding any and all mistakes? What would you do with yourself? Try changing this to truly understand yourself.
Twos | How much do you really want to understand yourself? Compare your answer to the amount of time and energy you spend trying to understand others. Changing by spending more time on really getting to know yourself, apart from analyzing your relationship to others, would be a way to really get to know yourself. Are you willing to explore yourself that deeply, without taking a “spiritual bypass,” thinking that all you do is out of the enormous generosity of your heart? Try changing this to truly understand what it really means to be as deeply honest with yourself, and you can!
Threes | Changing something about yourself can be a difficult challenge, particularly when your focus on goals and plans usually gets you some to a high degree of satisfaction. Here’s a challenge: Spend one hour each day with no goal and no plan. Set a timer, as it will seem much longer than it is. Experience yourself with no goal and no plan during this time. See what happens. Do this for a straight month. Can you? If you can change yourself in this way – that is, to give up goals and plans, even for one hour per day – you will really start to understand what lies underneath.
Fours | If you want to understand yourself in ways that may feel foreign to you, here’s a way that starts with your mind and moves down to your feelings and then your body. As a Four, you likely explicitly or implicitly identify with your feelings. In fact, you likely over-identify with them, thinking “I am what I feel.” This thought, albeit an embodied one, actually keeps you from understanding yourself. It is counter-intuitive. If you think who you are is your feelings, then this suggests you should explore your feelings for ultimate self-understanding. However, this mindset actually gets in your way of true self-understanding. Here’s a challenge: Each day, come up with a different substitute for “I am my feelings.” For example, “I am my body;” “I am my thoughts;” “ I am my art;” “I am the work I do;” I am my child’s parent;” “I am a lovely person;” and so forth. With your substitute for each day, use only that phrase and repeat it to yourself over and over; 100 times a day is not too much! As you do this, see what happens when you start to identify with something other than your feelings. Do this for three weeks, a new self-statement each day. Experience the changed you!
Fives | What would be a huge challenge for you, one that is very healthy and just as difficult as it is healthy: Breathing fully? In all seriousness, to fully know oneself is to fully experience oneself, and it is impossible to have a full experience without breathing fully. Without breathing fully, we lose the connection to our bodies and our emotions. Your challenge is to breathe fully 15 times each day for at least three minutes. Make sure to do this in the morning, at lunch, before dinner, before you go to bed, and multiple times in between. Do this every day for two weeks. A whole world of understanding yourself will suddenly be available to you. This would be a major change!
Sixes | Since you like challenges, here’s a good one. Challenge yourself to do something that is pure fun once a day, but make sure it is not a big physical challenge to make sure you are not afraid. This would be feeding the counter-phobic quality in you. And make sure it doesn’t involved puzzles or problem solving. This is too easy. Just do something each day that is pure fun! Blow some bubbles! Make up a song! Dance your heart out in front of the mirror. Watch a funny movie and laugh out loud. To have pure fun and to enjoy it will teach you so much about yourself. Are you up to the challenge?
Sevens | The first question is how much do you really want to know yourself. Clearly you like change, but to fully understand it, try to change something, in this case, you! So pick something that you know is very hard for you to change. For example, sitting still? Listening to someone else without interjecting a comment or idea. Cleaning your house room-by-room instead of following where your attention goes. It doesn’t matter what you select, just make it something that really is a challenge. Make a commitment to practice the new behavior – something different from your normal way of proceeding – that you think would be beneficial. Do this twice a day for 15 minutes, and longer if you can, for two weeks. Don’t change what you commit to initially; stick with your original plan for the two weeks. Then you will be fascinated that by changing yourself, you open up new choices and more freedom.
Eights | Here’s a very big challenge for you: dial down your intensity. This will be so hard since you are likely used to amping up your energy, not dialing it to a lower volume. This is not the same as being quiet, as this is easy for you. The idea here is not to have an on-off switch but to be able to reduce your intensity at will, yet still be very present. Every day, when you feel yourself becoming intense (aka feeling the surge of momentum forward or to take action), just dial it back to 50%. Then dial it up to 75%, then down to 25%. Play with your intensity dimmer switch for three full weeks. You will notice some very intriguing shifts in you and learn a whole lot about the nuances of real change.
Nines | You may not want to change, but surely you love understanding things, including yourself. Here you will need a “wake-up call” every hour on the hour. Set your cell phone time to go off every hour, and when it does, think this: What am I thinking and feeling right now in this very moment? What do I want to be doing or not doing right now? Nines are called “anger that went to sleep,” but in a sense, more than your anger has gone subsurface. Give yourself this wake up call every hour of your waking hours, and do this for one whole week. See what happens. Can you change your alertness and attention? If you can, big congratulations. If you can’t, you will have learned something terribly important.
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of four best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com. firstname.lastname@example.org