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Spring cleaning for each type

Spring cleaning is real; most closets are filled with things we don’t use much or no longer fit us, and although it takes effort to go through the closet and make decisions, I always feel good after the effort has been made. Cleaning our closets is also an apt metaphor for examining and possibly discarding what no longer serves us. For fun, and perhaps it might be helpful, this blog extends the metaphor to the 9 Enneagram types.

How we can best clean our closets…

Most Ones I know have very organized and clean closets. So what is there left to clean? My favorite suggestion is for Ones to refrain from cleaning their closets, recognizing that their closets may be more than clean enough. Then, Ones can go out and play (have some fun) instead of working hard on something that doesn’t need to be improved. On the other hand, if they want to clean out their closets anyway, I would suggest they go through their closets to see what’s actually there and then make a pledge: to wear some really nice items in their closets, but put them together in ways that they don’t normally do. In other words, don’t try to match so perfectly. Spread your wings and find the beauty in the unexpected ensembles.

As a Two, I do not go through my closets very often. I do it when there is no more room to hang things or when I feel guilty that I have more clothes than I need and that giving them to others would put them to better use. This happens about twice a year, but somehow the closet gets filled once more. If I am honest, when I am tired and over-worked, I often shop just to relax and buy myself something I like. And these things might not be worn because I forget I have them. It is a substitute for self-care (and an expensive one, even when I buy on sale) and a big guilt inducer. So here’s my recommendation to other Twos who might be similar to me. When you are about to buy something, not because you need it but because it is a form of self-care, think before buying and ask this: What am I feeling now and what do I really need? This might save money and room in the closet, and it will certainly offload guilt. And don’t save nice things for the “rainy day” or special event. Wear them now while they still fit!

Yes, there is time to clean out your closet. Maybe it doesn’t seem like productive time, but try to be in the moment, in the “here and now,” when you do it. When you go through your closet, keep what you like, not what you should like. And you don’t have to try everything on and look in the mirror to see how you look in the items you keep. For each item, simply ask this: Do I like it? If yes, keep it. If no, discard.

You probably have many different clothes so each day, you can select what “feels like you” that day. Or, you may be more of a Spartan Four who wears less colorful and simple clothes in all black, neutral tones, or something like that. I am honestly not sure that any suggestion I might make would make a difference in cleaning out your closet, but here’s a try in terms of what to wear. One way to think of this is that your clothes are not you, just like your feelings of the moment are not really you either, even if you think they are. Clothes are simply clothes, and feelings come and go. Since you likely enjoy novel approaches, here’s an idea: day 1, wear the first thing you see in your closet; day 2, pick out 3 different outfits, rank order them in terms of how much you respond to them, then pick the middle choice; day 3, wear something you’ve had for a while but haven’t worn in a long time; day 4, just wear anything, but don’t put more than 2 minutes of thought into it; and day 5, make up your own rule and follow it! By the end of one month, go through your closet and discard whatever you want!

It is possible that you don’t put a great deal of effort into what you wear, but you might put a great deal of effort into taking good care of the clothes in your closet and may actually wear most of them. If this is the case, there is no reason to clean out your closet at all. You might, however, want to consider buying something(s) new. And if you do, try buying something quite colorful that draws attention to you visually. This could be a terrific developmental opportunity, to intentionally draw attention to yourself. Try to enjoy it!

I am not highly familiar with the Six closet, except for my brother’s. He is more a phobic Six, and he stuffs everything possible into his closets, then doesn’t really want to go in to look knowing what a mess it is. But he does like nice clothes, so he keeps things for a very long time (too long) even when they no longer fit or need to be altered. He keeps hoping that something will change and that he will once again be able to close that button. But since he has lots of hope and very little faith, he doesn’t think they will ever suit his body and is afraid to find out. All of this said, going through his closet for any kind of cleaning is an ordeal he would rather avoid, although he feels wonderful when the job is complete. As he sorts, he has a hard time deciding what to discard, so he will often call me for my opinion, even though I have no idea what is actually in there. He does really well, however, when someone is with him when he does his closet cleaning. So here is my suggestion. If you are a Six, invite someone over who is honest and who has good taste and will ask you all the right questions so you can answer them yourself and then you decide what to keep and what to throw away (really, to give to someone in need).

I have no idea what a Seven closet looks like, but I do know that most of my Seven friends seem to have a lot of clothes, very interesting ones, in many colors and curious fabrics and designs. Who am I to suggest giving any of these items up? And would a Seven, if he or she likes clothes, listen anyway? And even if he or she doesn’t like clothes, would they want anyone making a suggestion of what to give up? I doubt it. So I would simply say this: when your closet gets too full, either get a new closet or give something to someone who will also enjoy the item.

There are some Eights who adore clothes and others who could care less. This is meant as a joke (sort of): would Eights be cleaning it themselves or would they get someone else to do it for them? I remember an Eight who was in a support role at a company where we were doing an Enneagram project and a piece of it was videotaping type panels, where her job was to arrange the people of type for each panel. On taping (videographer on site and me there as the panel leader), we discovered that she had only sent out an email about this a few days prior, with no follow up. As a result, we were short several panelists and had to scramble to find them that very day. Her response when asked about this was very clear: “I just didn’t think it was a big enough task for me to put much time and effort into!” Her honesty was impressive! As for closest cleaning, this seems a much smaller task. So my suggestion here is that Eights allot a specific amount of time to do spring cleaning – for example, one hour – and just do that quickly and swiftly.

Having lived with a Nine husband for many years, where he had his closet and I had mine, I was always intrigued by the fact that our closets were of equal size and his closet had more in it than mine. He had clothes from 30 years prior (and wells as friends from eras long ago), and he just couldn’t give up any of his clothes. He liked them so much, they reminded him of pleasant times long ago, and he would wear them when he felt like it. Because he took good care of these precious items, they still had their shape intact, even if some were out of fashion. But he didn’t care. In his reasoning, fashion would come in and out of style, so if he kept articles of clothing long enough, they would become fashionable once more. I never tried to suggest he get rid of anything; otherwise, his “don’t tell me what to do” energy would surface and to what end? So my suggestion to other Nines is to think of your closet like your inner space. Do you want to clean it out a bit or do you want to stay in your comfort zone? If the former, then select a few items every month which you know you’ll never wear again because they really don’t fit, aren’t in good shape, or just no longer suit you. Then give these away to someone you like, if they want them. If not, donations are great because someone will love them just as much as you did, once upon a time.


Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven Enneagram-business 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, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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8 years ago

Dear Ginger, thank you for this so nice description of “closets behavior” of the types that I can recognize in different people I know. As a four I feel exactly as you have described and I would add that very often I feel orientated to change something in my personal style but if I have a look to my closets ……. Black and black and black…….

8 years ago

MarinaMele R u a 4w5? I’m a 4w3 and I NEVER wear black. I wear bright, noticeable colours, mauve and fuchsia and blue mostly. Some red in the winter. I’m known for being colourful in the literal sense.

7 years ago

NINE cleaning out the closet found 2 more ‘collections’ and a knowing.

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