This episode continues our discussion on personality, specifically as it relates to the Enneagram. In this third part, Kyle interviews me to get an in-depth look at the Enneagram Four.
015: The Timbre of Marriage—Personality, Part 03
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All About the Enneagram Four
To continue the conversation of personality types within the Enneagram, we decided to interview each other and dive more in-depth into each of our own personalities. Last week I interviewed Kyle about his personality type, and today he interviewed me. The following questions were provided to us by some friends in our marriage group, and they all revolve around Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile's book The Road Back to You.
Type: Four (The Romantic
Deadly Sin: Envy
Possible Wings: Three (The Performer) and Five (The Investigator)
Stress Type: Unhealthy Two (The Helper)
Security Type: Healthy One (The Perfectionist)
1. Out of the Healthy, Average, and Unhealthy versions of your number what do you identify with most often? Are there aspects of the others that you identify with at different times?
I connect most with the Average version of a Four. I struggle to accept myself as I am (I often think that something’s wrong with me because I don’t live like other people). I don’t know if I’m as melancholy or melodramatic as an average four, but I am often moody and needy.
I think that sometimes I also dip into the Unhealthy version of a Four. There are times when I find myself lacking in comparison to others. Also, at my worst I definitely feel a lot of shame, which cripples my ability to change.
I also resonate with the last sentence of a Healthy version of a Four: "They are deeply creative, emotionally honest and connected, and attuned to beauty."
2. What is your deadly sin? How accurate do you think it is in describing you?
My deadly sin is envy. When I first heard that my deadly sin was envy, I didn’t really agree with it. I thought envy was "wanting other people’s possessions" and usually that’s not true of me. However, when I realized that envy was also "desiring other people’s attributes or lifestyles," I started realizing just how true envy as my deadly sin is.
Before reading this book, I hadn’t ever really thought much about envy. The church so often focuses on pride being the sin of all sins, so I was always trying to assess if I was being prideful—not envious. Therefore, this is a huge area for me to grow in. I’m just now starting to notice when (and how often) I’m envious of others. Also, as I was reading this, I assumed that envy and jealousy were the same. However the book makes a distinction between them. It says it this way, "Envy has to do with desiring a characteristic others possess, while jealousy occurs when we feel like something we already possess is at risk of being taken away from us. Though envy is their big sin, Fours experience jealousy as well. For them, jealousy has to do with their fear of abandonment and expresses itself in the possessiveness they feel toward the people they love." This is definitely true of me.
3. What are some of the challenges of your type that you face?
A challenge for me is relying too much on my feelings. I tend to define myself by my feelings. So if I feel really tired or sad or simply not wanting to do something, it’s hard for me to move past that feeling and actually get things done. It’s really hard for me to separate myself from the feelings I am experiencing in the moment. These feelings can also turn into a pining for the past or a feeling of nostalgia. Sometimes this can become unhealthy because I’ll start to think the past is always better than the present. I also often think that something’s wrong with me. That I’m not like other people. And sometimes that can turn into negative self-talk. So I need to be especially aware of how I’m talking to myself in my head.
4. Does the childhood explanation jive with you?
For the most part the childhood explanation jives with me. Fours as children often feel "different and misunderstood by their parents, siblings and peers." I was home schooled and only had brothers. Therefore, I think I just attributed the sense that I wasn’t like other children to that. However, I felt lonely a lot growing up and never felt like anyone completely understood me.
As a kid I always had a ton of emotions, and that would generally overwhelm the people around me. So I often went off by myself and wrote about all my feelings in my many journals throughout the years. I also had imaginary friends, and played make-believe alone in my backyard. I reminisced and thought about the past a ton (I still do). I remember deciding which college to go to and what major to pick was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I was very anxious about what the future would hold.
5. How do you see aspects of your type play out in relationships?
The book says, "Fours are always scouting around for the ideal someone who will help them overcome their feeling of unworthiness and complete them." I definitely was looking for an ideal spouse…someone to complete me. And I feel like Kyle is that person for me. A lot of times that can be good, but sometimes it just puts way too much pressure and expectations on him to be perfect.
I’m definitely intense and have a lot of emotions, but Kyle is really good about separating himself from my emotions and just letting me feel them on my own. (He doesn’t usually get sucked into my "swirling emotional vortex.") Sometimes, though, since I experience high highs and low lows, Kyle will feel like I want him to feel those things to the same extreme, but he just can’t.
On a more positive note, Kyle has told me many times that I help him recognize and feel his emotions. I help him understand that emotions are good and okay to feel. I also help him slow down and see all the beauty that surrounds us in the world.
6. What do you think your wing is and how do you see this play out in various areas or situations in your life?
So at first it was really difficult for me to decide which wing is my dominant one. My first thought was that I was a Four with a Five wing because I tend to be more introverted. However, I have a tough time "letting my emotions be without having to talk about them." Therefore, I now believe my wing is predominantly a Three. However, since I’m more of an introvert, I tend to be less outgoing and less dramatic than the book says. I am dramatic, however, in the way that I tell stories. I usually do this to make people laugh. I’m definitely aware that I often need to dial back my quirky idiosyncrasies, and I also attempt to dial back my emotional intensity (depending on who I’m around). I do like to be noticed, and I am attempting to make all of my dreams a reality.
7. Where do you go in stress and security? Do you think that's accurate and how do you see that play out in your life?
I go to the unhealthy side of Two in stress. In this state, I can become really dependent on others and very clingy. I'll also need a lot of reassurance and affirmation. This is definitely true of me when it comes to my relationship with Kyle. If something is stressing me out, it'll be hard for me to do things on my own.
In security, I go to the healthy side of One. In this state, I actually buckle down and do all the creative ideas I've been talking about. I'll also become more independent and less concerned about all my swirling emotions.
8. Have you had any breakthroughs in any of your "Paths to Transformation?"
I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself through reading this book. So understanding the specific ways I can grow has been so helpful and also very difficult. Currently I’m really working on letting go of my longing for the ideal, and instead "working hard for what’s possible and seeing it through to completion." I’m also trying not to "embellish and get swept up in my feelings," but that’s proving to be quite difficult. Also, realizing the fact that envy is my deadly sin has really opened my eyes to all the times I compare myself with others.
9. Do you think that your type looks different for different genders? If yes, how so? Have you struggled with being your type in your gender?
I don’t really think so. I’ve just struggled being my type in general because I don’t seem to fit in with the world around me, but I don’t think that’s because of my gender. I mean I often felt like I was too loud or opinionated for a woman, but I don’t know how much that has to do with being my type.
The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery — A book by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
The Road Back to You: Discover Your Enneagram — A quiz to help you figure out your Enneagram number
Typology — A podcast by Ian Morgan Cron on the Enneagram
The Enneagram (Episode 37) — An episode on The Liturgists Podcast about the Enneagram
The Enneagram Institute — A website dedicated to the Enneagram
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