Traveling with the Enneagram

A Type Five and a couple of Type Twos took a trip, and the some of the differences were text book.

On the plane, when a baby was crying the Type 5 picked up a magazine and gave them privacy, the Type Twos were twisting around in their seats trying to offer help and solutions…  the Type Five had researched the itinerary and had maps and suggestions in a folder, the Type Twos were so appreciative and the Type Twos offered help with luggage and shared their resources readily which the Type Five needed having packed minimally…  and when invited to a large gathering, the Type Twos arrived early and were trying to help set up and talk to the leader, and see what was needed, the Type Five was in the car, getting some quiet time before the (somewhat draining) main event…

What they enjoyed that the weekend, was the adventure, weather and outings with each other and the chance to debrief with someone who shared the wonderful experience.  What joy to have good friends that help us in our weak areas and appreciate our strengths!








True Braveheart

The personality Dot is fascinating, as it seems to be the effort of our True Self to have a safe identity out in the world.  Born into families and cultures with values, and certain behaviors and feelings that are affirmed, we as clever little tykes quickly figure how to get our needs met by developing certain identities. Below is a list of common identities we can use:

Common Compensatory Identities

Why is understanding your Acting Identity important?  Because even though you bring the gift of yourself somewhere in the role, there are automatic reactions from the chosen identity that keep you from really connecting to others and feeling the kind of joy we usually reserve for celebrations and special occasions.

For instance, if you are the Angry One you tend to attack and push your energy/opinions forward or if you’re the Easy Going One you may withhold/withdraw and even though these actions keep you safe in the short run, they don’t make for respectful connections that bring the sense of being understood and loved – because your heart is not open.

So a braveheart for the Angry One: take a deep breath (Holy Spirit time) and truly listen, or for the Easy Going One: take a deep breath (equally Holy Spirit time) and put some words out there. True actions open opportunities for true interactions, and love is found in that space between.

Jane Austen, PhD in personalities

Jane Austen Fairfax-xmas-08-18

Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often
used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to
our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us.
  -Jane Austen

Before modern personality assessments, there was Jane Austin. Her observations on the different behaviors and motivation are really perceptive.  The people that she creates, complete with history, preferences and values, make for some well rounded, unforgettable characters. She seems especially fond of exploring the difference between the task oriented and the heart oriented, between the practical and the romantic (idealist, adventure – not necessarily flowers and chocolate).

From Pride and Prejudice, I feel most akin to some Elizabeth and some Mary characteristics, I do love to read and discuss, and it must be for love and deeper values that everything is done, but I can be a party pooper and melancholic about issues/events that others enjoy.

What is your favorite Jane Austen book/movie?  To which character do you most relate?


Truth or kindness?

Ever notice how rare it is to find someone who speaks truth in a kind way? Many of us have to be worked up to spout off the truth, and then in ways that are not helpful.

Truth alone can be brutal                                           Kindness alone can be people pleasing


TRUTH baked in the oven of KINDNESS can be digested and used to nourish.

Getting through – the 3 Minute Check In

The ASAP access of social media and instant messaging makes old fashion phone calls seem outdated.  Dialing up someone and waiting for it to ring, then having a conversation where you give attention to one person and what they have to say…  what a quaint notion.


Are there any teenagers or young adults in your life? Try the 3 Minute Check In. My kids will pick up now that I have instituted this format.  There is often a reason for the call, but I have thought about it and have three minutes to check in with them as well, how are they – what’s up recently, and then my idea, request or question.

If you have older friends or relatives that still use the phone to stay in touch, it might be good to think of your own adaptation of the 3 Minute Check In.  If Aunt Martha reports on every physical ailment and condition of her and her neighbors, you might try the 10 Minute Check In.   Just the structure of the time frame might help to eliminate organize topics.

Whether it’s a land line, a hand held or the latest cell phone there is a place for the voice to voice conversations, especially when travelling, to help you feel connected.  Skype was a challenge for this tech resistant caller, until our daughter was studying abroad – then it was a magic portal into her international experience.  How do you best connect with your friends and loved ones?

to be (close) or not to be

We are all born or raised in a family system and we need other people, right from the start. The system is already in place with two people trying to work out their need for connection (bonding) and separateness (boundaries). You might have noticed when growing up that one of your parents enjoyed togetherness activities more and one enjoyed some time alone to recharge, often that is the case.

When relationships are under strain and these patterns get exaggerated, the therapy world calls the togetherness fan – the ‘pursuer’ and the one who steps back – the ‘distancer’. Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. writes about this dynamic, and gives examples that are easy to relate to in her “Dance of Anger” and other great reads on relationships. Each position is trying to get their needs met, but the more one steps back, the more the other pursues. Frustration builds and it feels like the other person is smothering and demanding or selfish and uncaring.

Bowen Theory, developed by Dr. Murray Bowen, suggests that these two fundamental needs account for the anxiety in triangle2graythe family system and the difficulty of maintaining healthy one-on-one relationships. He proposed that the triangle, made up of three people, is more stable and therefore we humans often ‘triangulate’ when there are times of stress or change. A common example of this is when we talk to others about a problem, say, how we are feeling smothered or neglected instead of talking directly to the person involved. Often it’s easier to complain than to confront.

Signs of maturity – learning to speak the truth kindly and to ask for what we need and want, whether it is some trianglegraytogetherness time or some time alone… or some mix of the two. Our family learned over the years that before holidays or vacation, if we each wrote down some activities we wanted to do,  we were far more likely to include items from each person’s list. It makes for a more enjoyable holiday or vacation all around!

Who am I? Part 2

“We are many parts of one body and we all belong to each other.”

When answering the age-old question, “Who am I?”,  we find there are different roles in different relationships (friend, daughter/son, boss, neighbor, in law, etc), and we even have different parts within ourselves. Have you ever felt, “part of me wants to do this, but part of me doesn’t”?

We each have different parts, different aspects of our personalities. In future blogs, I will explore some of the wonderful assessments that help define who we are and are not by how we learn and love, and what we value and want out of life. My favorites include the Myers-Briggs, which gives a framework of the four main temperament types, the Love Language test with the 5 ways we give and receive love, and the Enneagram a tool that highlights 9 different points of view and underlying values.

But today I want to focus on some of the Parts we each carry with us, like the Creative part, the Judging part, the Responsible part, the Loyal to family/tradition part and the Loving part. You might notice when next you’re clicking on all cylinders, lost in doing something that really engages you – that would be your Creative part. How about the times you feel ‘you should exercise’ (or stop eating, go to bed, not argue…), that would be your Responsible part speaking up. When you are hard on yourself, or feel let down or betrayed, most likely your Judging part is in the control room. When you feel life is worth living, or can see the other’s point of view, feel compassion or gratitude or connection – your Loving part is humming along.

For example, my Creative Part loves to learn and share stories like with this Blog, my Judging part would keep reviewing and editing the Post and perhaps never hit ‘publish’, my Responsible part wants to commit to some type of regular sharing, my Loyal to family tradition part is nervous when I talk about anything that invites conflict and my Loving part appreciates the opportunity to connect and share ideas of the mind, places in the heart and the mystery of the spirit with others.

Living and interacting in the workplace, at home and with friends, notice which part of you is most engaged. When you’re at your best, which part of you is stepping forward? When do others connect with you? Which part of you is rewarded, in which situations? Each part is important and tells us something about ourselves.

Next week – moving towards change, and how these different parts can gang up and make new action steps feel like mission impossible.