Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Exploring The Enneagram

IMG_8834Are you familiar with the Enneagram? I first heard about it a couple of years ago, but wasn’t given much of a compelling introduction, so I didn’t think much of it. But this year, I heard my friend Sarah’s podcast episode—and it changed everything. She interviewed the co-author of The Road Back to You, a popular book about the Enneagram, and after hearing that episode, I was hooked.

First of all, if you aren’t sure what the Enneagram is, it’s a personality typing system, but the difference between it and others like Myers-Briggs , Strengths Finder, or DISC is that it includes the spiritual component, which is really important to me. So, I was intrigued to hear how my specific personality related to aspects of my faith.

And if you didn’t know, I love personality tests! I’ve written about being an INFJ on this blog before, and have always found exploring my identity a fascinating pursuit. I now know that’s pretty common for my type as well.

The other thing I learned about about the Enneagram is that you shouldn’t take a test to determine your number type. As Suzanne Stabile describes in that podcast episode on Surviving Sarah, it’s an oral tradition. It’s a way of seeing the world. You are supposed to hear your type and recognize it. She also notes that the questions aren’t written correctly in most tests, so your results will likely come out skewed if you just try to Google a test. I found this to be the case for me. I took three tests, and only one came out with the number I’d already resonated with.

So, what’s my number?

I’m a 4. Specifically, I’m a 4 wing 3.

As with every personality type, there are pros and cons. But those who know the Enneagram well often have a slight look of sadness in their eyes when I tell them that I’m a 4. Why? It’s hard being a 4!

There are things that set it apart from everyone else, and Suzanne and some others like her believe there are also fewer 4s than any other number in the world, meaning less people can relate to you. I’ve definitely found this to be the case for me.

And did you know INFJ is the smallest percentage of the population as well? So, combine a 4 with an INFJ and…we’re a rarity. There aren’t many people who think like us and see the world the way we do. Because of that, I even put out a call on social media recently to try and find others. I wanted them (and myself) to know we aren’t alone!

I did manage to find a couple of them, and surprisingly, even found one in my social circle, which was fantastic. We had coffee the other day to discuss what it’s like being us because it ain’t easy. There aren’t many people who could survive a day in our head’s, ha!

So, what’s a 4, you ask?

It was hard to find a good, condensed breakdown of the types that I felt would immediately give you a clear picture, but TheWorldCounts.com talks about the 4 this way:

4’s are described as the Individualist or the Romantic

Dominant Traits:

  • Creative
  • Expressive
  • Sensitive
  • Emotional
  • Introspective
  • Artistic
  • Authentic

Focus of Attention: In Search of What is Missing… the Ideal… the Unattainable.

Basic Fear: To Have No Identity

Basic Desire: To Be Unique, Different

Strengths:

  • Expressive
  • Sensitive to Feelings
  • Self-Aware
  • Appreciative of Beauty
  • Empathetic
  • Compassionate

Challenges:

  • Moody
  • Temperamental
  • Prone to Melancholy
  • Self-Absorbed
  • Self-Indulgent
  • Intense
  • Unsatisfied with What Is

General Behavior of an Individualist

A Four believes that they are unique, and different from the norm. Their whole identity is attached to this belief. They perceive this difference as a gift, because Fours hate to think that they’re ordinary and common. But at the same time, their feelings of uniqueness is a curse which keeps them from enjoying the simpler things in life, the way other people do.

Fours tend to feel superior from everyone else, since they think they’re special. However, deep inside, they feel that something’s missing, and they fear that it might be caused by a flaw or defect in their own selves. Fours, as you can tell, are emotionally complex. A deep feeling of abandonment makes them feel that they will never be happy or fulfilled.

They long for deep connections in their relationships, to be understood and appreciated for who they truly are. For people to see and appreciate their uniqueness. It is easy for them to feel misjudged and misunderstood.

Fours are moody and temperamental. They are often wrapped in their thoughts, analyzing their feelings. They are very self-aware, and in tune with their emotions. This trait extends to others. Empathy and compassion are strengths of this personality type.

Ian Cron often says, “The 4’s don’t have emotions, they ARE their emotions!” And I’d have to agree. There’s a lot going on in here every minute of the day. 😉

You can read more about a 4 here, as well as a quick overview of the other types.

That’s just a little bit about me. Now, let’s talk about you.

Interested in learning more? I suggest starting with Sarah’s podcast episode because Suzanne breaks down the main points of all nine types. If that gets you more curious about the Enneagram, I definitely recommend reading The Road Back to You. It’s a really great book. Of course, I may be biased because the other author is a 4. 😉 But it’s actually a fun read. Not stuffy or super academic like you might expect a book on personalities to be.

From there, here are a few other resources:

  • Typeology Podcast from Ian Cron
  • The Road Back to You podcast
  • Your Enneagram Coach with Beth McCord
  • Attend one of Suzanne Stabile’s events
  • There are also a number of random Enneagram people I follow on Instagram.
  • You can Google and find many, many other resources, but these are the ones I’ve looked into myself.

So, do you know your type? List it in the comments. I’d love to hear!

 

Oh, and a quick warning, exploring the Enneagram is a bit like going to therapy. You can probably tell that from the quick intro the 4 that I listed above. It’s not all pretty! While most personality tests tend to focus on your strengths, the Enneagram focuses on your motivations.

It definitely talks about your strengths and weaknesses, but it’s also meant to help you grow spiritually and as a person, and that can sometimes stir a few things up. But I highly recommend this process! Just give the podcast a listen or read an overview to see what you think before making a decision.

 

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Describe Yourself in ONE Word

200321305-001My friend Daron and I have a lot of things in common: gourmet coffee, restaurants, movies/TV, life philosophies, friends, ministry perspectives, good books, and adoring his wife and son, to name a few. Another commonality is our love for personality tests and philosophical questions. A year or so ago, he asked me a question that’s come to mind multiple times since. He said, “If you had to use only one word to describe yourself, what would it be?” Intriguing, right??? Surprisingly, it only took me a second to answer.

If you check out my All About Me page, you’ll see me use multiple words to describe myself. I believe they are all characteristics of my complex personality. So, initially it may seem like a really hard answer. I thought it would be. But I guess, over time, I’ve just come to identify more strongly with certain aspects.

So, what was my word? Writer.

I write for work. I write for pleasure. And I constantly write in my head for no reason at all. But right now, my job isn’t to be a writer. I’ve written professionally for many years, and I even supported myself solely that way for a couple of years. (By the way, I was the best boss I ever had. I was funny and generous and thoughtful. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay well at that time and had to let myself go. But we’re still on good terms.) However, more often than not, writing is not my primary paid task. It’s usually just one of the functions I perform. So, why “writer”?

Growing up, being a writer is one of the first occupations I ever considered. I’ve always loved writing. It came easy to me, and I really enjoyed it. In elementary school, I remember being assigned to write a story with about a page requirement. While everyone else was finishing, I was just getting started and had to add multiple pages to complete my story. I just couldn’t stop. And journalism steadily moved into my heart and rented a room.

I thrive when using words. I adore words. I like to play with them. I have fun putting them together in clever ways. In fact, my TV schedule is pretty much dominated by shows I think are well-written, not just entertaining. Words have weight and value to me. I’m not a great speaker, but give me the ability to write out my thoughts and feelings and you’ll get an ear full.

And okay, I have to admit, there is a certain degree of romanticism at the notion of “the writer.” I’d love to be sitting at a cafe in Paris, sipping coffee while the sun is setting all Monet-like, just plugging away on books and articles and whatever else struck my fancy that day. It would be a dream to live out scenes from movies about writers a la Midnight in Paris, Stranger Than Fiction, Eat Pray Love, Lady in the Water, Finding Neverland, Moulin Rouge and the like. Okay, so maybe excerpts of some of those, just to skip the hard stuff. But, hey, being a starving artist isn’t easy.

I also think it’s why I resonate so much with the concept of life as a story. When considered a narrative, it naturally makes sense to me. It just feels right. The words fall into place, moving in a direction. They take on life and begin to breathe. I see myself as living a role. I think Shakespeare was really onto something. Even the books of the Bible with story lines are the ones I prefer. Most people love Psalms, but I’m drawn to anything with a beginning, middle and end. I want words I can follow.

One of these days, I’ll write a book. Who knows when. I start them all the time in my head, but the words haven’t taken on enough life to make it to the page. Some day they’ll flow out of me, pouring out of my heart and on to the page. Until then, I’ve got plenty of writing to do—in my job, on my blog, for my volunteer work. And for now, that will suffice. The amount of words do not make me a writer, it’s the mindset.

So that’s my word—writer. What would yours be?


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Who am I? Who are you?

We’ve been focused on spiritual gifts lately at church. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart. I love personality tests of all kinds, and am pretty fascinated by them. Knowing and understanding my gifts, as well as the gifts of others around me, has had a tremendous impact on me. It helps me to relate to others more, work better with them, live life more harmoniously with them and appreciated our own uniqueness. And I love helping people discover their gifts as well.

In focusing on Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12, we learn a lot about how we work together in the church. We learn that unity is not uniformity. We learn that we are each created by design, not chance. However, too many people still don’t even know what their gifts are. We see the gifts of people we admire, and though we may find commonality at times, too often we compare ourselves to them, wishing we could be more like them.

“If only I could speak as well as…”

“If only I could pray for hours like…”

“If only I could engage people on the level of…”

It’s an easy thing to do. We do it all the time. I have found myself there on way too many occasions. But when I go down that path, it distracts me from who I am and what God put here to do.

So, on the off-chance that you’re someone who doesn’t know or appreciate your own gifting, I wanted to provide some resources that may better help you better understand the person you are created to be. It’s when we are all playing our own instrument we can find harmony.

Spiritual Gifts

Personality Test

Sacred Pathways Worship Style

Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Teacher, Preacher

Love Language

Happy discovering!

PS – If you’ve taken these before, but it’s been a while, I suggest taking them again. Profiles can change based your circumstances, life stage, etc.