Here is Gerry Fathaur’s July Insight Activity. Gerry is a Senior Member of the Enneagram in Business Network (EIBN) and lives in lovely Sedona, Arizona.Generosity can be as accessible and familiar as breathing. It may be tangible or intangible. We can be generous of spirit without tangibly transferring anything. And it costs us nothing.
We choose in every moment whether to be generous with our time, our resources, ourselves. We also choose how much generosity we receive. The natural environment teaches unbounded generosity with her plentiful nourishing water, vast sky, and atmosphere whose perfection sustains our breath. Similarly, generosity is a way of being that is in our human nature.
Pause for a moment and become aware of generosity in your inner and outer worlds. Open to all forms of generosity available to you and allow yourself to be nourished and filled. Imagine now, with your generosity reservoir full, gifting generously to others your wisdom and warmth, your voice, time, and resources.
What is it like to give generously to others? Are you able also to give generously when you’re not full, yourself? How generous are you in gifting to yourself?
Giving and receiving generously lead to generosity in our lives. Generosity’s flow exemplifies the abundance all around us and its availability for sharing. We need only remember to do so!
This Insight Activity raised more questions for me than answers, and I am sure this has to do with my being an enneatype 2, always trying to differentiate whether I am doing something to be generous in a pure sense or from my enneatype – that is, behavior stemming from the type 2 passion of pride and the ego-ideal of myself as a generous, giving person, one with an altruistic gene.
Here are specific, recent examples of my struggle with issues of generosity:
Example 1: Lending money
I recently lent someone I know (well, but not well) $3000 for a 1 month loan only (no interest). Why? Because she was $3000 short for important surgery, and she assured me she would pay me back within a month or she would call to discuss a 2-month pay-back plan. Did either of these things occur? No! Can I afford to give someone $3000? The answer is also no. Has she returned my emails or phone calls about this? Also no!
So what is generosity in this case? Would it be just accepting that she can’t/won’t pay me back and have that be OK (meaning I truly no longer think about it)? Does it mean I really need to not loan people money: I either need to give it to them if I can afford to do so or just not offer a loan to someone?
In this case, I am just as troubled that she is ignoring my requests for information as I am that I have given away money without knowing I was doing so. But the issue is in my mind and heart, more than I would like.
When I look at the graphic on this blog, I think that I was faulty in 2 areas. I did the loan out of love, but not out of abundance or exchange. By abundance I mean that I had taxes soon due (so did not have $3000 to give away), and the exchange, though verbalized, was never documented. She verbally agreed to repay the loan within 1 month or if she could not, to call me and we would set up a 2-month payment plan. She did neither (though she did call to set up a complicated 6-8 month plan, but when I asked her to send me a schedule for the payment, she never did).
To further my self-reflection, it is very clear to me that I offered, she didn’t ask. I really need to look at my instantaneous reaction to help others, without regard for the consequences. It’s not the money (although that is a factor). It is also about relying on someone to keep their word and, in addition, the relationship damage (on both sides) when they don’t.
Example 2: Providing Enneagram resources (graphics) to people
Within the last week, two different people – both have been through my coaching certificate program – have made requests for my graphics, and I have said no to both (a nice no with explanation, but no!). In both cases (and one more than the other), I got quite a bit of push back. One person wanted a high resolution of my newest Enneagram symbol (the one that is on our soon-to-be available fabric banner). The other person wanted several graphics (and some guidance on topic-related activities) that are only in my 1stTrain-the-Trainer, which she has not yet attended (though she is signed up for it).
It’s not that I mind people asking (although it does surprise me a bit that people would expect me to give them free graphics that are copyrighted, proprietary, and took hours upon hours to create). And I don’t actually sell graphics; I just give many (and different) graphics as part of both my T-the-Ts, and the activities in the T-the-Ts are not for sale, nor can they be shared with others who have not been part of the T-the-T (this is primarily a quality issue and secondarily a intellectual property issue).
What I do mind (and my 2ness goes into gear) is the push-back (3 times in one case). I go through a collection of thoughts and feelings, but they boil down to these: Is there a way in which I am saying no that people don’t take as a no? Since I give away many more resources than people expect in all my programs, do they think I will simply say yes to their requests for more resources? Should I be giving these to people when they ask, just because they ask? Should I be developing other ones that I don’t care about and are not so proprietary, just in case. Where is the boundary? Emotionally, I feel a mixture of guilt (I should do this) and anger (as in why do they keep asking, as was the case with one of these individuals).
If I go back to the graphic on the blog, in both cases, I had no real, specific love for these individuals (like, yes; love, I hardly know them). There is no abundance (I don’t have many Enneagram symbols that I love, for example, and the one she was insisting upon is my very newest, took the most effort, and I’m only using for one thing: the fabric banner). But the real issue is the exchange. Something was wanted from me, with nothing offered in return. While I’m not sure that anything offered in exchange would have prompted me to offer the Enneagram symbol in any resolution (but she wanted high resolution), I would have felt better if there was something she said she would do. For example I might have sent her some other Enneagram symbol if she had offered to do some free community work with the Enneagram.
The 9 Enneagram Styles and Generosity
My suggestion is that each of us examine our own relationship to generosity, using Gerry’s insight and the graphic as a guide.
One way to do this is to think about how your enneatype may be a factor in how you perceive each of the four factors – love, abundance, exchange, and generosity. Using specific examples – whether they are recent, memorable, or chronic – can be helpful to keep it real.
In addition, here are some ideas to consider for each Enneagram Style:
How do you relate to the idea that Ones live in a reality of false structure, one that separates love from acceptance, acceptance from exchange, and exchange from love?
How do you relate to the idea that Twos live a reality of false abundance, thinking they can give everything away from an unending reservoir?
How do you relate to the idea that Threes live in a reality of false love and exchange, thinking people must always do something to receive love?
How do you relate to the idea that Fours live in a reality of false deprivation, regarding exchange with other, so that they always feel they end up with less even when they get more
How do you relate to the idea that Fives live a reality of false scarcity such that there will never be enough to allow for pure generosity?
How do you relate to the idea that Sixes live in a reality of false fear: fear of love, fear of abundance, and fear of exchange?
How do you relate to the idea that Sevens live in a reality of false exchange, so that mental stimulation becomes a substitute for abundance, love, and generosity?
How do you relate to the idea that Eights live in a reality of false generosity, mistaking protecting others and control for generosity?
How do you relate to the idea that Nines live in a reality of false love, mistaking generalized acceptance for deep love?