Enneagram type-based obstacles to relationships | type 7
In this 10-part blog series, each blog covers a different Enneagram type, focusing on one essential way – of course, there are many per type – they get in their own way of having real relationships with others. These can be seen on the graphic above. Diving deeper, the blogs will connect the particular way the type creates specific obstacles in genuine relating to the issues and dynamics of that type. In addition, there will be one activity, process or idea that can relax or relieve this ego-based way we constrain ourselves from having what we deeply want in relationships.
Biggest obstacle | Lack of constancy and avoidance of emotions except joy
A false narrative about Sevens is that they don’t or can’t commit to relationships, and this is not true. Like everyone else, Sevens can have great, committed relationships that are real. However, there are type-based obstacles that get in their way. The biggest challenge for Sevens is their diverting of attention, becoming distracted by that which is new, stimulating, loud in a figurative sense, and demanding of their momentary focus. In real relationships, most people like their close friends and intimates to be more constant in their attention. The question isn’t “Will you still love me tomorrow” as the Carole King song so poignantly sings; Sevens can be deeply loving today and tomorrow. The issue would be a rename of the song: “Will you be here tomorrow?” with the word ‘be’ referring to physical presence and attention. It is so challenging for Sevens to stay in a state of undivided attention even when they are physically present. Most people in real relationships expect and want the other person’s undivided attention, particularly when they are speaking about something important or serious. When Sevens, as they are apt to do, start thinking about something when the other person is talking, comment quickly, ask a question before the other person has finished talking, or simply move around a lot in the midst of a conversation, the other person can feel that the Seven is not really present. Real relationships require constancy of time and presence.
The second Seven obstacle to real relationships relates to their continuous pursuit of pleasure and positive possibilities and their avoidance of other emotions. It is the full exchange of real emotions – joy, but also anger sorrow and fear – that make a relationship real. It is essential in real relationships that both parties can share their anger with one another when it arises, the hurt and sorrow they experience in relation to each other and in other areas of their lives, and the fear or anxieties that arise both within the relationship or in relation to the external environment.
This is an opportunity, if you want deep, real relationships, to become deeper and more real with yourself first. For all of us, no matter what our Enneagram type, the first place to look is within. For Sevens, the first step is to spend time within and learn more about your own emotional reactions and experiences. It is important to stay in tune with your body or physical reactions as you do this. Where do you feel a certain feeling? Stay with that somatic experience longer than you may feel comfortable doing. Work to extend your ability to stay with your feelings for longer and longer periods of time.
If there is a particular emotion you have trouble accessing, ask a friend who you trust and can confide in to help. Ask this person to ask you an open-ended, repeating question where you fill in the statement out loud to this person. For example, if you have trouble accessing your anger, the repeating question would be this: What are you angry about…? If sorrow is what you want to explore, the question would be this: What are you sad about…? For fear, the question would be, “What are you feeling fearful about…?
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 | email@example.com