The Enneagram is a symbol which describes nine personality types and the interrelationships between them. Although we have aspects of all nine types, there is typically one type which primarily drives us. After doing some research a few years ago, I found out I was a four on the Enneagram.
At first, I was disappointed to learn I was a four. The doom and gloom mentality felt so boring compared to the charismatic seven, or tough eight. However, the more I read about fours, the more seen, validated, and (gasp) “normal” I felt.
Like all the types, fours have many high and low aspects to them. Overall, having the awareness of this has helped me understand where I keep getting “stuck”, and how to utilize my strengths to get out of certain ruts. Recently I explored the fours tendency to feel like an outsider. Oh my, but not just any outsider, that would be boring. Fours tend to feel like a deeply flawed and inherently broken outsider, forever on the outside looking in.
According to The Enneagram Institute, “They feel like outsiders, somehow flawed and different from others, unable to break through the barrier of self-consciousness that separates them from easy commerce with the world.” In my own life, I was familiar with the experience of never fitting in completely.
The “Rise Up Break Through – Blast Off 2015” workshop, developed and facilitated by Ben Saltzman, addressed the Enneagram types in depth. Listening to other people’s experiences (especially other fours), was so healing. I listened to others describing the challenges and benefits of their type. As I heard them, I began to make connections between the collective experience of “that which we do not allow”. That which we do not allow in ourselves and that we do not allow others to see in us.
I began to understanding that, at many points in our lives, we feel like we don’t belong in one way or another. Some of us bend to blend in. Some of us completely disconnect from our authenticity in order to belong. At times I do both or stand in myself and feel separation and disconnection from others. When I do this I end up believing I am unique in not fitting in and miss the truth that we all have this experience of not fitting in (we just experience it differently) .
For example: For years I struggled with feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere. When I would connect with communities there was always some part of me that just didn’t seem to feel welcome. Even though I enjoyed the community (let’s say, an activist group), I would leave feeling like some parts of me couldn’t show up (for example, my spiritual self). The result was never fully feeling like I had authentic connections, and feeling lonely despite spending time with others. I felt and believed that, because I had this experience and felt this way, there was something wrong with me.
Truth is, those parts that don’t fit in can add to the community, and shine a light on things that may not be in integrity. If the community won’t allow these seemingly “ill-fitting” parts of me, then it is probably not the right community for me.
Hearing other’s experiences of how they feel they don’t “fit in”, helped me to understand that most people have some parts that they don’t show in certain communities. I also understand that some people do bring those mis-matched parts, and it often adds a depth to the group, points out an unhealthy pattern, or an area that needs attention.
I now also understood that my self-worth is not determined by other’s ability to accept all parts of me. That’s a tall order! Who can possibly do that all the time? The only person that can do that is myself. Now, when I go into my communities and groups, I know that my outcast gets to chose if and how they want to show up.
If you would like to know about upcoming transformational opportunities, check out Ben Saltzman‘s website for information about his trainings and seminars.