The Enneagram is an ancient wisdom tool that describes nine personality types. One of the unique features of the Enneagram is the patterns it reveals in our personality when we are under stress. Given the current situation of a worldwide pandemic, a group of individuals was gathered together to find out how they have experienced the circumstances of COVID-19 through the lens of the Enneagram. This post is part of a series of posts sharing thoughts and insights from each of the nine Enneagram types.
God has uniquely made each one of us and we are called to love God and love one another. These posts are offered in the hope that, the more we understand ourselves and others and our often differing reactions and responses to life, the better we will be able to offer compassion to one another, to bring out the best in each other, and to offer the gifts of our unique perspectives to the world.
Spotting a Four
No one wants the world to be as it is right now, with so much sickness and death connected to the novel coronavirus and financial strains and losses being suffered by many. But when it comes solely to the experience of being quarantined at home, Fours are living their best life. Surrounded by their favorite plants, beautiful pictures and calming scented candles, Fours have created the sanctuary they’ve always wanted. With much of their social anxiety safely tucked away behind a Zoom screen, Fours are relaxed, productive and more consistently present for the people in their lives.
Why It’s Hard for a Four
Well… it’s really not that hard for a Four. With a full refrigerator and a strong internet signal, Fours can out-hibernate a bear in winter.
There are some challenges, though. With much of work being done online, Fours, like all of us, are more acutely aware of what their peers are doing, sharing, and producing – personally and professionally. That can cause anyone to feel a lot of pressure, but Fours struggle with envy and are apt to see the plans and projects and performance of others as evidence that, once again, they are not keeping up. There’s something wrong with ‘them; something missing that seems to come so much easier and more naturally for others. If they head down this path, Fours can slip into a melancholy, self-loathing funk.
Fortunately, given the reduced anxiety that many Fours are reporting right now, they are able to more fully draw on the realistic perspective and organizational strength of the One, helping the Fours to stay productive and emotionally grounded.
Try to Remember
While Fours do value their time alone, it is important to be intentional in staying connected, for your own sake as well as for others. You are uniquely created by God and have much to offer, and little to prove, during this time of social isolation. The rhythm and pace and perspective of the Four is something that others need right now. Find ways to share your creativity and your compassionate, emotional honesty and you will be a balm to the wounded spirit in the world and an offering of hope.
Spiritual Practices for a Four
Be Ordinary. Fours often struggle with the mundane details of life. It feels very free spirited to go through the week doing what brings you joy until you’re late for an appointment and can’t find a clean shirt because you haven’t done the laundry in, well, a long time. And then you start beating yourself up. Take this time of a slower pace of life to set some habits for yourself. Meaningful, sustainable habits. Cleaning the bathroom. Calling your sister. They will anchor you and bring you confidence and satisfaction.
Gratitude Journal – Each day write down three things for which you are grateful. Be specific. Fours tend to focus on what is not working, particularly what is not working in themselves. A Gratitude Journal helps Fours to intentionally focus on what is good and to be able to turn to those pages as a spiritual practice, a reminder of what is true when the voices in their head try to lead them in self-critical direction.
Loving a Four
Fours long to be understood and known. They feel like they don’t belong or don’t fit in. Take time to tell the Fours in your life what is special about them; what they uniquely bring to your life or your team.