The Enneagram, Core Stories, and Forgiveness

There is this belief, resulting in recurring suffering in relation to, what is referred to in these circles as the core deficiency story. No one comes to the inquiries looking for the “brilliant genius,” or the “devoted peacemaker.” This makes sense in the same way psychologists do not tend to see fully integrated, content individuals. The concern here is with the concept of the inevitability, or necessity, of eventually meeting that core root of suffering and its attendant identification as if it were a requisite, necessarily painful, and therefore noble, right of passage.

When we overlay the Enneagram on this trend, what is implied is divisive differences, mainly towards the negative connotation. Fours are hopelessly dramatic, fives are frustratingly mental, and so on. Our defense mechanisms are maddeningly consistent, and ultimately at the source of all inner and outer conflict. Our compensatory style is the way we erroneously assume to protect ourselves from the world, and it is what others find to be difficult about us in relationship. It is the card you wear on your forehead in this game/life of Liars’ Poker. We cannot see it, yet we lead with it in all our interactions. Others can quite clearly see it–it’s right there on your forehead–and relate to us accordingly.

The suggestion here is to level the playing field of such divisive differences–by simply stopping, right here and right now, and fully accepting our own inherent human frailty, in whatever way that manifests in our interactions with the world, thereby creating a more compassionate and utilitarian perception of that world, and the people who appear in it. For instance, “So it seems that I am overly needy (or distant, or unreasonable) in my relations with others.” Then go from this insight/confession, to something as simple as, “Ah, there it is.” One need not be a grasping drama queen, nor a cold-hearted son of a—, or an unmitigated tyrant. See that this doesn’t imply an overarching, fixed and unacceptable identity, but simply a quirky proclivity to respond, a perceptual filter. The implication of the core story is that we will meet, just past the gates of hell, our festering inner nemesis and wrestle with it mightily until it is vanquished, and forever laid to rest (dramatic overlay added by this sometimes-four author). In short, the assumption is–there will be blood. Must we hang ourselves from a cross for our apparent sins?

“Yeah, I kinda suck at that” is an astonishingly simple yet profoundly forgiving way to view the way we show up in this comic-tragic play. We all come up short, one way or another. Knowing and allowing this is how we see we’re all in this together. Not all personal defense styles, such as despots and serial killers, will be subsumed under the designation of quirky, but there’s definitely a core deficiency story in there somewhere that was not inquired into, nor accepted.

The other side of the coin is to see these idiosyncratic proclivities as gifts–not as lifelong curses, but as the offerings we give back to the world. We do not have to do battle with our theoretical disabilities if we are willing to see the inherent strength or talent that is hidden just underneath. Perhaps Shakespeare was a four, Einstein was a five, and Mother Theresa was a two. Go with whatever is annoying about yourself, rather than suffer interminably in the role of misfit.

In relationship, use the acceptance of your own “failings” to happily allow others to be exactly as they are. See the strengths and talents that are barely obscured behind their best defense. Our core stories can all too easily become another’s deal breaker, and vice versa. The reversal of this perception is called forgiveness–the capacity and willingness to see beyond appearances–and it begins at home. Look right at the one you love, or the one you cannot tolerate (often one and the same?), and see that the love you feel for the first is what the latter desperately needs. Both reveal the world as it is, within and without. Remove the Ace of Spades from your forehead, and stand naked before kings and jokers alike. Thy kingdom come.

The Unfindable Inquiry ~ What’s it good for?

If any of the following “complaints” have a familiar ring, we can look for the one who thinks they’re a problem.

  • I never have enough money to do what I want.
  • I can’t believe he/she lied to me.
  • Why didn’t anyone like my Facebook status?
  • God, I’m fat.
  • He/She never called me back.
  • I’m a total failure.
  • She/He didn’t even notice me.
  • Why are you always late?
  • He/She would never love me.
  • I’m feeling pretty hopeless/helpless.
  • My boss is an overbearing tyrant.
  • There’s something wrong with me.
  • I did all this for you, and you didn’t even say “thank you.”
  • I feel left out, excluded.
  • I made such an ass out myself; I’ll never live that one down.
  • Stupid people really bother me.

Wherever there’s a complaint, there is an identity being triggered. Add your own to the list. What is the biggest, or the most recent, source of dissatisfaction? Even the smallest disagreements with life as it shows up can be symptoms of a general malaise, reflections of disapproval projected out there, because it’s easier than looking towards the source.  A whine or a low moan might go deeper than you think. If you could get to the root of even a single complaint, you’d see them all for the ineffectual strategies they really are, and you could begin to feel yourself breaking free. Imagine that. No complaints.