Normally, I try to stay on the sidelines of political blogs, the exception being a situation that feels extraordinary. These are such times. The recent US presidential elections took many people by surprise and in shock, the ramifications of such a decision being enormous for people both inside and outside the US.
More than not, I think that many more people in the Enneagram community – and both inside and outside the US – were not supporters of Donald Trump, and he won. Were they all Hillary Clinton supporters? Some yes, of course, some yes by default, and others perhaps either did not vote or voted for a 3rd party or write-in candidate. And, there is vast, deep reaction to Trump’s victory; many people with whom I have spoken liken it to the feeling after 9-11: shock, disbelief, unrelenting sorrow, horrible anxiety, and intense anger. Those who did support Trump – and I do not personally know many, but I live in a big city, a California “bubble” – seem to be joyful and exuberant with some becoming nasty and aggressive.
It is the non-Trump supporters to whom this blog is addressed. What to do with these reactions, and how can the Enneagram help us move through, deal, heal and increase our resiliency as we move forward? Here, I am going to draw from one path on the Enneagram map to make some suggestions: Starting at type 3, then moving to type 9 and then, finally, shifting to type 6. This is the central triangle of the Enneagram; the movement is one we can all use, no matter what our core Enneagram type.
Type 3 | the start | being honest with yourself
Remember that you are not alone in your complex, intertwined and deep feelings
Type 3 represents “honesty,” or in other words, what do we need to be honest about, particularly with regard to our emotions and our current reality. In Western psychology, there are 4 primary feeling groups: mad, sad, glad and afraid. It is the mad, sad, and afraid to which I am referring in our forward movement. It is these feelings that are stirring inside, at different levels and different times and intertwined with one another; you are not alone. Almost everyone who did not support Trump is going through this.
Untangle, examine, experience, and accept your feelings as yours
Type 3 suggests that the path forward is to untangle these feelings, to look at them, experience them, and to find some sort of acceptance of them. I’ve asked people I know who are suffering in this ways the following question: Are you more mad, sad, or afraid right now? And if mad, what are you aware of that you are angry about? If sad, what are you so sad about? And if anxiety is more prominent for you right now, what are you feeling most anxious about?
Talk with multiple others if and when you feel OK doing so
You can answer these questions for yourself and/or you can talk with someone you trust and share your answers with them. These are a set of repeating questions you can ask daily, weekly, or hourly, because your responses will shift. They may even shift as you bring more focus to your feelings. For example, you may have thought you were primarily sad, but close by may be your anxiety and/or anger. Be clear, be specific, and be accepting of your answers. And remember that millions of others are going through what you are, maybe not exactly, but the process is similar. You are not alone. We don’t know how long these feelings will last or how they will change form because we have never been through anything quite like this.
Understand that you and others are all impacted by this, but differently so based on multiple factors
In addition, try to remember that everyone who is distressed may have different feelings and different aspects about what has occurred because of their own context. If you are a person of color, the election would have impacted you differently than if you are not, which isn’t to say white people don’t care deeply about what has occurred. If you are Muslim, of course your experience of this election will be impacted. If you are Jewish ¬ and especially if you have emotional links to the Holocaust, you will be affected differently and more deeply. A victim of sexual assault? A person who is directly or indirectly impacted personally by LGBT issues? Victim of bullies? Are you a “blue” person in a “blue” state, or are you a “blue” person in “red” state? Remember that many of us have multiple ways in which we were deeply impacted, and we are different in how we respond.
Give yourself time and space; this is a big deal that doesn’t shift quickly or easily
What’s important is that you give yourself time and space to process, and that we do not, for example, take our anger or anxieties or sadness out on one another, eating up kindred spirits at some level who are also hurting and dealing with this in their own way.
Type 9 | the middle | being awake
Remember and honor yourself throughout the process
Type 9 represents being awake to what is most important, which follows on from being honest with ourselves about what we are feeling and why (without judging ourselves). So whatever your experience has been as you go through this, acknowledge it as real for you and do not judge yourself for it in any negative way. Even if your feelings don’t make logical sense, that is in the nature of our emotional states. They have a logic of their own.
Allow yourself to engage in your own and new communities
Type 9 also represents community and being in community. It’s about being connected and engaging in mutual respect. You are not alone in your experience and sharing it with others, even people you don’t know very well can bring a bigger sense of support and this will likely bring some solace. Important to this is listening to others, sharing as much or as little as you want, and knowing when for both of you, talking more about what has occurred isn’t helping anymore. Respect what you and others need.
Be kind to yourself and others for a long time
If your process takes longer than you think it should or feel comfortable with, treat yourself with grace and kindness. Some people find themselves binge-eating comfort food, while others have lost their appetites. Trust your body right now. You will get back to a new normal on this. If you’re needing more sleep right now or feeling exhausted even with enough sleep, just accept that’s how it is right now. If you aren’t able to sleep, try to get some so your body doesn’t get wired from sleep deprivation. How long will this go on? The longer you are not kind to yourself, the longer it will go on.
Be alert to your core values and things that emerge in the political world that are not congruent
If you, I, and others numb ourselves to what is occurring within us and in the external world, we lose our core of consciousness. If we are unclear about or forget our core principles and values, then we lose touch with our inner being, our core consciousness against which we can measure what we will accept and that which is unacceptable. This leads us to “right action” which then leads us to the last step: courage.
Type 6 | the last | courage
True courage means knowing both what we should do and then having the courage to take this action. It is here where we face our remaining fears, face ourselves and act in faith, having the audacity to take action aligned with our convictions.
We are not fully at type 6 yet; most of us are likely too close to what has just occurred at type 3 and incrementally inching toward type 9. And some of us are further along. Wherever you are right now, movement forward will occur since this is a process, a cycle unfolding. There may also be movements backwards. And if we think of this as a process, this cycle may loop around 3-9-6 numerous times until the cycle is complete.
I know people who are taking action: organizing or participating in protests, writing articles and blogs, making donations to organizations that are positioned to combat what appears on our horizon, taking out subscriptions to newspapers to sustain our media, and keeping abreast of the latest news – as much as they can tolerate without getting discouraged. It will be in these small and bigger acts of courage that we will find and nourish our collective consciousness. And from here we will find our collective and individual resilience.
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