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The enneagram and the art of slow

The Enneagram is both an ancient symbol and a modern tool to help identify your personality type. Andrew Rockell explains how it can be used to break away from your unique frustrations or compulsions and step into the now.

Ones: the Perfectionist

Ones are reformers. They feel the world has serious problems – and it’s up to them to find solutions. They’ve got a strong sense of responsibility, value justice highly and feel compelled to campaign for change if something offends their sense of right and wrong. Ones can feel they’re never quite good enough. They have a tendency to avoid their own failings by imposing their high standards on everyone else. At worst, Ones can be self-righteous, judgmental and nitpicky.

Famous Ones include Al Gore; Margaret Thatcher; Joan of Arc; Martha Stewart; Anna Wintour; Christine Lagarde.

The path to slow: Ones can break out of their perfectionistic patterns of behaviour by recognising the achievements of themselves – and others. Try giving yourself a reward for a job well done and practise praising those around you rather than finding fault. Ask yourself: What would I do in this situation if I really thought I was good enough? Another challenge: try going for a week without a watch.

Twos: The Helper

Warm-hearted, empathetic and self-sacrificing, Twos tend to say things like, “Here – can I get that for you?” Twos find themselves compelled to do things for others in order to feel needed. Their biggest fear is that they’re not inherently lovable – so they end up trying to earn love by helping others. This can turn into people-pleasing, or the Two can develop resentment that their unselfish behaviour isn’t properly recognised and valued.

Famous Twos include Mother Teresa; Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Florence Nightingale; Princess Diana.

The path to slow: Of all the personality types, Twos most need to be more selfish. If Twos practise caring for themselves, they don’t need to seek out others to care for. This doesn’t mean Twos need to stop helping – they just need to do it without the expectation of receiving something in return. Try being completely self-indulgent. Book a massage, make an extravagant meal just for yourself, or ask someone directly to meet one of your needs.

Threes: The Achiever

Threes really need to succeed – win the game, win the account, win the attention. They don’t just want to look good, they want to look the best. They’re self-assured, full of energy and well liked. The Three’s biggest problem is that they often feel they’re only as good as their last success. It’s easy for Threes to become obsessed with image or status, and they can find themselves constantly comparing their achievements with others. Threes feel that the world is wonderful, but its exquisite sense of magic has vanished, and it’s their job to bring it back.

Famous Threes include Lady Gaga; David Beckham; Sting.

The path to slow: The solution for the Three is to learn to enjoy the marvellousness of others without feeling threatened. Try doing something for the whole group, rather than yourself.

Fours: The Individualist

The artist or the tragic romantic, Fours are driven to be original, and if they can’t be that, then to be authentic. Sensitive and introspective, Fours see themselves as apart from others. They’re fascinated by the depths of emotion and the world’s uniqueness. Highly creative, you can count on Fours to produce great art – or a lot of drama. The Four’s greatest fear is that they have no depth of their own, that their uniqueness won’t be recognised – or worse, might not exist. A downward spiral begins when the Four mistakes their sense of brokenness for what makes them unique. Fours can combat this by recognising there isn’t anything about them that needs fixing.

Famous Fours: Kurt Cobain; Lord Byron; Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell; Grace Coddington; J.D. Salinger, Virginia Woolf.

The path to slow: Try only dwelling on positive thoughts for a day or shopping somewhere outside your zone of taste, such as The Warehouse. Fours often feel their best when they play to their strengths by becoming immersed in their creative pursuits. A fast way to get into the now is to get out of bed early and practise your art – regardless of how you’re feeling.

Fives: The Observer

The brainiacs and investigators of the world, Fives are compelled to attain knowledge and figure out how things work. They’ll research everything into the ground – and then research the research. Visionaries and pioneers, their identity is built on the constant accumulation of ideas. Trouble begins when Fives doubt their own research and perception. This means they can dwindle into a lifetime of infinite fact-checking and endless postponement. Fives can also retreat from areas where they’re not knowledgeable, leading them to become isolated or socially detached.

Famous Fives include Albert Einstein; Bjork; Steve Jobs; Stephen Hawking; Stanley Kubrick; Emily Dickinson.

The path to slow: When Fives trust their perception and directly engage with the world rather than retreating out of sight, they can produce acts of genius. Try building your confidence in being out of your depth by joining a conversation without knowing the subject or the rules.

Sixes: The Loyalist

Committed, reliable and trustworthy, Sixes crave the security and support of the crowd. They’re community builders, ideal neighbours, or the kind of friend who always stays in touch. Sixes value fitting in because they feel there’s safety in numbers. Their ultimate fear is that they’re not capable of dealing with life’s challenges on their own. They’re dependant on social structures and are often lacking in self-confidence when it comes to their own beliefs and judgements. This can lead to irrational fears of change or of being abandoned by their friends.

Famous Sixes include Bruce Springsteen; Jon Stewart; Oscar Romero; Marilyn Monroe.

The path to slow: Sixes grow when they can develop courage in their own convictions. Get in touch with your inner voice and try striking out on your own. For example, take a different stance from something all your friends agree on – and see what happens.

Sevens: The Adventurer

Extraverted, spontaneous and the life of the party, Sevens do everything, do it superbly, do it at speed and have great fun along the way. What could be the problem? At a deeper level, the Seven’s high-speed momentum is a headlong flight from anything unpleasant or painful. And that includes finding out that the excitement they’ve arrived at might not be the best kind – because Sevens often aren’t sure what they’re looking for. Sevens can be vastly productive, as they keep busy to distract themselves from their potential failure – but they can find themselves impulsive, undisciplined and exhausted by all they take on.

Famous Sevens include Robin Williams; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; Sarah Ferguson; Robert Downey, Jnr.

The path to slow: To find satisfaction and contentment, try focusing on one thing exclusively – giving yourself time to discover the richness and significance that you seek. Additionally, try taking a moment to contemplate your experiences and savour each one fully before moving on to the next.

Eights: The Challenger

Assertive, charismatic and visionary, Eights feel compelled to take total control of their own destiny. Often the boss, or thought of as the neighbourhood bully, Eights have as hard a time as anyone else. They may feel there was a time when they were made extremely vulnerable, and they’ve sworn that they’re never going to let that happen again. Eights are able to tackle difficult challenges and stand up for what they want. As they mature, their urge to fight can grow into a pursuit of justice for others. You’ll find Eights championing a cause or making the tough decisions.

Famous Eights include Gordon Ramsay; Martin Luther King, Jr; Henry VIII; Donald Trump; Susan Sarandon.

The path to slow: Eights can be confrontational, domineering or risk steamrolling others’ ideas. When they ease up on their assumption that the world is out to challenge them, they let their more vulnerable self out into the open. Practise allowing others to be in charge – try letting someone else take control without challenging or undermining them. Try an activity where you don’t need to feel combative, such as time playing with a baby.

Nines: The Peacemaker

Nines crave harmony – both externally and internally – making them superlative conflict managers or mediators. Nines can’t stand conflict because it reminds them of their own, leading many Nines to explore the spiritual dimension of life and to seek deep connections with others. But the desire for peace has a downside. Nines can end up going along with others’ ideas simply to keep things sailing smoothly and minimise disruption. Nines can fall into the trap of being invisible and suppressing their own opinion rather than raising conflict with others.

Famous Nines include The Dalai Lama; Abraham Lincoln; Queen Elizabeth II; Grace Kelly; C.G. Jung.

The path to slow: When Nines step out, become angry and find their voice, it makes their gifts as mediators astonishing. Assume others will be interested in your opinion and practise saying what you think, or find a safe way to express your anger about something that outrages you.

Want more? Search ‘Enneagram’ on YouTube for interviews, video clips and visual montages. Visit www.enneagram.com or www.enneagraminstitute.com for more about each type. Andrew Rockell is a meditation coach and Enneagram mentor. Visit www.andrewrockell.com for more.

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