Sunday, February 3, 2008

Fear and Anxiety in Nashvegas: Enneagram Autobiography Class 3 Recap

Before session 3 of the Enneagram Autobiography class, there was a Mexican dinner in the social area of FUUN. During the dinner, we were asked to say a few words about the topic of the class. I tried to win over prospective new students by saying we would be "exploring issues of fear and anxiety." Shockingly enough, a couple of new people came to the class anyway.
As is our way, we went around the room sharing our thoughts. The two most popular homework questions turned out to be "How do I know that I am loved?" and "What does focusing on your differences with other people cost you?", so most people spoke to those.
We talked about differences and the creation of drama in relationship to type 4. The 4s in the room denied being dramatic. That is not the way they perceive it at all and they explained their behavior, rather, in terms of being sensitive.
I recommended the book Emotions and the Enneagram, by Margaret Fringes Keyes, as an insightful take on the Enneagram as a whole and type 4 in particular. It explains how 4s romanticize loss and use melancholy to stave off real depression. Mary Beth talked about connections between personality type and brain chemistry and recommended Riso and Hudson's book Personality Types, which correlates Ennegram Types with the DSM, and a website called something like "The Enneagram: A Clinical Pharmacist's View." It seems that this site has been taken down, but I was able to find the pahramcist's description of type 4 here.
Next, we segued over to the head triad -- the triad associated with fear, anxiety, and worry. I was reminded of this church sign I photographed recently:

We meditated a bit, and having acheived full Presence, were able to fully notice things like how funny-shaped the room was and that it had closets. If you would like to have such revelations at home, follow the instructions on page 217 of The Wisdom of the Enneagram.
We spoke of type 5 and their love of skulls and dead chickens. I found myself talking at length about the "effective" combination of the type 5 propensity for ignoring one's emotions combined with the type 4 habit of making a really big deal of them. It sound like a paradox, but it has played out in my life, and there were a few knowing nods in the room.
For homework, we suggested the consideration of the following questions from The Wisdom of the Enneagram:
"Record your observations about isolation. What kinds of situations cause you to detach emotionally? What are your attitudes about people at such times? About social life? About yourself? Can you recall any incidences from your childhood that you feel reinforced this tendency in you? Did you feel engulfed by others' needs or intruded upon? What would it take to be in relationship with others and not lose your own sense of purpose?"
"Record any examples of times in your life when you let significant opportunities for growth and challenge pass you by. Why did you decide to let them go? Would belief in your own abilities have changed the outcome?
Recall some times when you did fly against common sense and took a chance. What was the outcome? How did you feel at the time?Are there areas in your life now where you know that you are resisting your true desires out of fears or doubts about yourself? What can you do differently?"
Up next: More fear and anxiety, as Mary Beth leads the discussion on types 6 and 7.
To Prepare: Look over pages 235 - 286 in The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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