When You’re Wrong About Your Enneagram Number (And I Was)

Everything that happens, happens of necessity.

Arthur Schopenhauer

The Enneagram journey has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life, right up there with marriage, parenthood, and (good) therapy. I have been sharing about the Enneagram on this site for a while now, I even created a downloadable pdf called, “Nail Down Your Enneagram Type.” After a year’s worth of research and soul-searching, you’d think I would have felt pretty confident about knowing my own Enneagram Type. Frighteningly, I was confident that I knew my Type- most of the time. Sure, I had doubts that would come and go, but I stood-by my assessment: I was a Four with a *strong* Three wing.

Now, this is incredibly humbling to admit (I’m a therapist, I’m supposed to be superhumanly self-aware, you know) but I was wrong. I’m going to tell you that this experience was nothing short of a full-blown identity crisis. But first, let me tell you how I got there because maybe something can be learned from this.

Themes That Didn’t Fit

For each Enneagram Type there are common themes that you will hear repeated again and again. These are phrases or words that seem to resonate deeply with everyone within that archetype. One of the phrases that I often hear for Type Four is this sense of always being on the outside looking in. Admittedly, this is a phenomenon that I just don’t connect with. I do, however, resonate with this: if everyone knew who I really was, they’d know I don’t belong here. Both are sharing feelings of not belonging yet one is saying “I’m an Outsider,” the other is saying, “I’m an Imposter.”

It always bothered me that I didn’t resonate with this experience as other Fours did. I thought that maybe it was because I was the “countertype” of Four which is the Self-Preservation Four. I thought that maybe it was because I had a strong Three wing. With all of the nuances that are available for each type, it can be easy to rationalize anything that doesn’t seem to fit within the “typical” caricature. Still, I decided to keep an open mind…

Characteristics are Not What Makes Personality

The other reason why I confused myself with a Type Four, is that I have some of the typical characteristics of a Four. I care deeply about aesthetics, I’m obsessed with music (on vinyl in particular), I write poetry, I like to wear black, and I let me tell you, I think about death a LOT. I have also experienced bouts of clinical depression throughout my life. I’ve made a career out of deep conversations and feeling feelings. Yet, these are not the things that truly make a Four a Four. What makes a Four a Four is the underlying motivation and fear that drives their behavior. This is what makes any of us fall within a Type. Here is my interpretation of the basic desires behind each Type:

Here’s what I realized: I’m not particularly fixated on being unique or irreplaceable (Type 4). I want to be impressive and needed- in a unique way. All of these fall within The Heart Types; 2, 3, 4. To be honest, I also resonated with being infallible or perfect (Type 1) and with being competent (Type 5). Most of us will resonate with multiple drives. It’s the one that wins out that matters. So how do we tease this out?

The Importance of Instinctual Variants (aka Subtypes)

Now anyone could read the above list and think, “I want to be all of those things!” And truly, we each have some of all nine Types within us. Our Tpye is just what we “lead” with. When I was feeling stuck, Yoga Therapist and Enneagram coach, Abi Robins suggested that I start by looking at general definitions of the Three Instinctual Variants. Your subtype will flavor the way your Type manifests. They are as follows from The Enneagram at Work:

  • Self-Preservation- Governs our needs for material supplies and security, including food, shelter, warmth, and family relations.
  • Sexual/One-to-One- Governs our sexuality, our intimate relationships and close friendships, and the vitality of the life force within our bodies.
  • Social- Governs our needs for belonging and membership within the larger group and community.

All of us connect with each of these drives but there is one that will outweigh the others. When I took a historical look at my life, I can see there have been many times when I chose to prioritize intimate relationships over material security and community belonging. This means that my primary Instinctual Drive is One-to-One.

Now Look at the Variants of Each Type

With my Instinctual Variant, One to One, in mind I let that flavor each of the above Types I seemed to connect with. It looked something like this:

  • Type One: To be in charge of perfecting my partner.
  • Type Two: To be indispensable in my intimate relationships.
  • Type Three: To be impressive as the image of what an ideal partner should be.
  • Type Four: To be irreplaceable, my partner’s “soul mate.”
  • Type Five: To be competent by obtaining an ideal partner who is trustworthy.

Again, looking historically at my life, I have persistent themes of trying to be an ideal image of what a woman partner should be in a heterosexual relationship. I was able to rule out all of the other Types for various reasons although with Type Four, I still felt some connection. I was between Type Three and Type Four.

What is Your Stance?

If you’re still struggling with your Type at this point, I get it! This was a long process for me. It is so worth it though, so don’t give up!

Another way to help tease-out your Type is to look at the Three Stances:

  • Withdrawing– We struggle to engage through action. (Numbers 9, 5, 4)
  • Compliant– We struggle with independent thinking. (Numbers 1, 2, 6)
  • Aggressive– We struggle to connect to our own feelings or those of others. (Numbers 3, 7, 8)

I was able to rule out the Withdrawing and Compliant stances as I have never had a problem with: 1) Having an opinion, 2) Sharing it, or 3) Drive. Consequently, my Number is within the Aggressive Stance which meant that between 3 and 4, I was most likely a Three.

Try it On With an Open Heart

Realizing I was probably actually a Three was really hard for me. Above, I mentioned that I was embarrassed that I wasn’t as self-aware as I thought I was. Being a therapist, this felt like a failure. I never thought of myself as someone who was afraid of failure but then I realized how many times I had tried to keep relationships from failing. I also don’t like engaging in activities that I don’t think I’ll be good at! Ha!

The problem with Type Three is that I didn’t naturally resonate with wanting to look “successful.” While reading through more literature though, I came-upon the word “impressive.” Threes want to be impressive. This 100% resonated with me. I don’t always like being seen as the “winner” because people seem to not like the elite. Being impressive, however, meant that I could be down-to-earth, friendly, but still impress my “audience” in ways specific to their ideals.

This leads me to the next major connection I have with Threes. I can be a Chameleon. I can easily connect with people because I can pull from myself only the parts that they will like and identify with. Threes can edit their personality. Fours don’t really do this. Fours are ok with being unique and different. I only liked being unique if it would be impressive in some way.

Mistyping is Not Failure

I’ve admitted that I was embarrassed to have mistyped for so long. However, now I can truly look back on my, “Year as a Four,” and see the importance of that season. There are some very key aspects of my personality that are still influenced by my Four Wing, even though I lead mostly with Type Three. The parts of me that are more Four than Three, got the attention they deserved. For so long my Threeness has taken the spotlight (as you can imagine) and my Fourness was something only expressed in solitude or close relationships.

The Enneagram is meant to be a spiritual journey. This means that no matter where your path takes you, something can be learned from it.

In Summary: These Three Steps May Help You Find Your Type

  1. Start by finding your Subtype: Social, One-to-One, or Self-Preservation.
  2. Now consider what Stance you may have. Aggressive, Compliant, or Withdrawn.
  3. Look at the Types through the lens of your Subtype.

Here is an updated pdf to help you along your way:

Jaclyn-Snyder-Considerations-for-Finding-Your-Enneagram-Number-

I hope you find this helpful! Please share your Enneagram journey with us! Did you mistype? If so, what did you mistype as and what do you know yourself to be now?

Thanks for being a part of this community,

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LGBTQiA: Becoming Whole

Image: A rainbow heart made of fluorescent lights. Representing LGBTQ Pride.

Photo by Matias Rengel on Unsplash

Last Spring, I had the pleasure of working with 10 individuals in group therapy. The group was called, “LGBTQiA Spiritual Reconciliation.” The purpose of the group was to allow space for LGBTQiA individuals to process any struggles with their spirituality. My hope was that this would be a safe place for self-awareness and healing. I learned a lot from this group experience. Below are some of my take-aways from the group.

Take-Aways
  • We all want to known and loved for who we truly are.
  • Even within the LGBTQiA community, there is hate and prejudice. Find people who build you up. Cherish these people.
  • Wounds that have been inflicted by community are best healed by community, but probably not by the same community that caused them.
  • Ideally, we need to do our own inner healing work before we engage in a romantic relationship with another. Internalized homophobia is real. It hurts us and those around us too.
  • Spiritual trauma is real and it makes us feel like it’s not ok to be both LGBTQiA and religious.

Have you experienced wounding from a religious community?

Here are some things you can do:

If you connect to this article and live in the Austin or San Marcos area, I would love to work with you. My Summer group is already full but I will launch another in the Fall. Please contact me today to receive a free consultation for group, individual, or couples counseling at my office in Buda, TX.

Thanks for reading!

Take Care,

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Raising Respectful (and Kind) Kids

Discipline comes from the Latin word discipulus or disiplini, which means a follower of truth, principle, or venerated leader. – Jane Nelson, Ed.D.

How many of us think of punishment when we hear the word “discipline?” I know that I do. That’s how many of us were raised to think. In fact, most of us think that there are two options for parenting: punish or step back. What I’m learning through Positive Discipline is that neither are very effective for developing character. The thing about character is that it sticks with us no matter who is watching. We call this having an “internal locus of control.” Unfortunately, punishment (and rewards) rely on an “external locus of control.” In other words, someone else is in charge of how I act- I’m being watched to be good. Stepping back, or being too permissive, on the other hand doesn’t create good character either!

So… how do we know what makes for good character?

Here are the Significant Seven Perceptions and Skills (or the things we want our kids to think about themselves):

  1. “I am capable.”
  2. “I contribute in meaningful ways and I am genuinely needed.”
  3. “I can influence what happens to me.”
  4. “I understand my emotions and am in control of myself.”
  5. “I’m a good friend. I can understand the emotions of others. I can work well with others, listen to their needs, and be flexible.”
  6. “I understand the limits and consequences of everyday life. I will do what’s right even when no one is looking.”
  7. “I can make wise decisions.”

We all want our kids to be “followers of truth” whether we’re watching or not right?  I don’t know about you, but when I was young, my behavior wasn’t always consistent. I acted one way when my parents were looking, and another when they weren’t. Punishment has been proven to teach “sneakiness, low self-esteem, violence, and other negative skills.” And when they say punishment, they don’t just mean spanking, we’re talking about time-outs too! What?! Stay with me!

The problem with punishment (and rewards) is that they require an authority of some kind to determine whether a kid is acting right or acting wrong. That puts a heck of a lot of pressure on the adults in the situation and unfortunately, doesn’t teach kids to have integrity when we’re not around. What if I told you there’s a way to guide kids that will promote their internal sense of right and wrong?

As a parent, I have been so thankful to learn about Positive Discipline and now, as a Certified Educator, I get to share this philosophy with other parents too!

Here are the Four Criteria for Effective Discipline:

  1. Is it kind and firm at the same time? (Respectful and Encouraging)
  2. Does it help children feel a sense of belonging? (Connection)
  3. Is it effective long-term? (Punishment works in the short-term, but has long- term negative results)
  4. Does it teach valuable social and life skills for good character? (Respect, concern for others, problem-solving, accountability, contribution, cooperation)

So, if we don’t punish bad behavior and we don’t reward positive behavior WHAT IN THE WORLD do we do??

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If You’re Wondering How You Can Be a Better Parent to Your Kids, Just Ask Them.

Photo by Joshua Keller Photography

Yesterday my four-year-old son came to me and said, “Mom, how else could you have said that to me?” Implying that I could have used a kinder tone. (I may have been a little bitchy about asking him to put away his fishing rod, again.)

He’s also been known to say things like, “Look in my eyes please” and “Mom, you’re not being very nice.” So weird, because I, of course, ALWAYS look him in the eye since ask him to look me in the eyes when I’m speaking to him. I’m also ALWAYS kind. ALWAYS.

So why don’t I flip the flip out on my smart-mouthing kid when he says these things? Because he’s being the exact kind of “smart” we want more than anything. The kind of smart that’s more likely to help him succeed in life than any other kind. I’m talking about emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence includes the ability to ask for your needs or desires to be met. Lack of emotional intelligence generates a life of frustrating relationships and perpetual loneliness. We expect others to read our minds and guess our needs. Newsflash: this is a recipe for disaster.

Sometimes my partner and I flat-out ask our kid how we can be better parents to him. And you know what? He has very simple, but very helpful answers. Yes, it hurts to hear sometimes. It requires some hard core humility and also grace for ourselves.

When he tells us how we can better, we accept his feedback the same way we want him to accept feedback. We thank him for his thoughts, we validate his feelings, we share that we would like to improve, and we don’t get defensive. We model that feedback is good. It’s not scary, it’s not so powerful that we can’t survive it. We want him to be able to handle criticism well so we have to do the same.

We also acknowledge that sometimes in our culture, we have a double-standard for our expectations of children’s behavior versus our expectations of adult behavior. For example, we may angrily scold our child for being unkind to their sibling every time they do it. But let’s be real, are you ALWAYS sweet and gentle when you speak to others? Do you ALWAYS say “please?” Be real.

We can’t expect our kids to be perfect all of the time. We’re not. So when we can admit our own imperfection, we can also help our child to see that we need grace sometimes too. Otherwise, we seem just a teensy bit (actually, VERY) hypocritical. It’s an impossible standard we hold over them. We inadvertently teach them that they must be the epitome of politeness in front of adults but as soon as they’re out of our sight, they can be unkind to their peers or those smaller than them.

So how do we help kids to handle feedback positively, speak their needs and not be jerks to other kids behind our backs?

We must model who we want our kids to be, ask them how we can do better, and when we fall short, we have to own it.

You got this,

 

 

 

PS Hey! Did you know that I’ll be practicing therapy again soon? Unless you’re my mom (Hi Mom!) you probably didn’t. Let’s get you in the know! Sign-up for my monthly newsletters over in the right hand column and then you’ll get great relationship tools like this one and you’ll also receive updates about my practice and other upcoming events. I also appreciate feedback (obv) and would love your requests for relationship tools. Send them to jaclyn@jaclynsnyder.com.  Thanks for reading!

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