The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely. ~ C. G. Jung
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. ~ Joseph Campbell
What gets in the way of true self-acceptance? There are so many factors: social context and norms, family background, early experiences. Many of these factors are givens, but if they have a negative impact on our self-acceptance, they can be worked with and their impact diluted over time. There is also a third area, the ego structure that is our enneatype, that can be understood and worked with to support our increased self-acceptance. Here are some fundamental ways to do this:
How can Ones be truly self-accepting when they have such a strong and well-fed inner critic that has kept them “on the right path” for so long? But the difference between the One’s inner critic and the inner critics the rest of us have is that the One’s inner voice can also tell them when they did something well. Instead of fighting the inner critic, which often makes this voice even strong, particularly in Ones, befriend it, thanking it for all the times it has served you. Then let it go a short, occasional and much needed vacation.
How can Twos be truly self-accepting when they take their sense of self-worth from how others respond to them? If your self-worth depends on other people, it is near impossible to be self- accepting. For Twos, self- acceptance starts with being willing to explore and accept their own feelings – that is, lifting their tendency to repress and discount what they actually experience – and finding an inner compass for their sense of self-worth.
How can Threes be truly self-accepting when their self-acceptance is based on their accomplishment, their ability to get things done, and the degree of respect they get from others, all of which keep them from truly knowing who they are deep inside: the self? The first place to start is to get to know your real self, aside from the results you achieve or how you are perceived. Who are you aside from your accomplishments? What is it you truly enjoy doing, as opposed to what you think you should enjoy?
How can Fours be truly self-accepting when they unconsciously absorb most negative information coming their way – some of which may not even be negative – and also discard positive feedback and information? Self-acceptance requires Fours to examine this underlying dynamic that is intrinsic to enneatype Fours and to practice ways to undo this pattern. A good place to start is to hold all information, both negative and positive, at arm’s length and to then decipher which pieces of information are true and useful. Then, let the true and useful in, giving as much weight to the positive as to then negative.
How can Fives be truly self-accepting when they cut off so much of themselves from themselves? If you don’t access all of yourself – for Fives, this means “reowning” your emotions and your body – total self-acceptance is impossible. Have you ever heard of someone being fully self-accepting by accepting their mind alone? To re-access your emotions, inhabit more of your body because emotions are anchored somatically. To energize and fill your body, breathe through it, especially at times when begin to feel something.
How can Sixes be truly self-accepting when they doubt themselves so much and so often? Self-acceptance means satisfaction and happiness with yourself as you are; self-doubt refers to questioning yourself and your abilities as you are. Self-acceptance and self-doubt take you in opposite directions. So choose between self-acceptance and self-doubt, hopefully working to lessen your self doubt. The real power to fuel your self-acceptance will come from the inner authority within your body; the location is your power center right below your belly button. Take walks focusing on this place and breathe life into yourself as you do it.
How can Sevens be truly self-accepting when they do not accept the parts of themselves that experience pain and discomfort? These are also parts of self. What is helpful is to learn to stay focused longer in general but, in particular, to stay with distress and sorrow instead of jumping to positive possibility thinking.
How can Eights be truly self-accepting when they keep their softer interiors, their vulnerable inner landscapes, so far removed from their every-day experience? To be self-accepting means to honor all of yourself, including those areas where you let down your emotional armor. Go inward.
How can Nines be truly self-accepting when they unconsciously live more in a fog state than a fully awake state? To be self-accepting requires you to see all of your “self.” So that is the place to start: choose to become more alert by asking yourself what you are thinking and feeling and also noticing when you are engaging in comforting activities instead of paying attention to yourself. Stop the comforting activity and ask yourself what you are actually thinking and feeling that caused you to distract yourself from your “self.”
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of six 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