Who Are You? The Benefits of Self-Reflection

As I was reading the next chapter in Doing Less and Having More: Five Easy Steps for Achieving Your Dreams by Marcia Weider I realized that the more we know about ourselves the more at peace we will be with our self and with others around us. When we recognize what unhinges us we can become more conscious in our reactions to ourselves and to others.

How do you tend to deal with stressful situations?  There are 5 main reactions that people will have:

  • Expresser – let your feelings be known by saying what’s on your mind
  • Blamer-look for a place to point your finger – even at yourself
  • Dismisser or Avoider-look for alternatives or work at avoiding confrontations
  • Fixer or Doer-make things happen – take action
  • Accepter – go with the flow

Each reaction has positives and negatives.

Expressers – say what’s on their mind – often in the moment – can experience a wide range of emotions from sad to angry.  People will know where they stand as you are clear about what you need and expect.  However, others can be left wounded and may have negative reactions to your response.

Blamers- take responsibility for their actions - they will even take the blame for things that are not their fault. Blamers are very reliable and can be counted on in hard times.  Often they are way too hard on themselves and will carry burdens that they should not be carrying.

Dismissers / Avoiders – are good at taking things in stride and are able to avoid unnecessary confrontations.  Sometimes however, they will have difficulty standing up and speaking up for things that are really important to them.  They will seek alternatives but can also inconvenience themselves or place aside what is really important to them.

Fixers / Doers – you can make things happen even in the most stressful of situations.  However, they can lose precious time and energy trying to fix something when it would be better to scrap the project for a different idea.  You have many good ideas and options.  Fixers can tend to make things happen and do not like feeling out of control

Accepters – Many things do not bother you that would bother other people.  However, are you aware of your needs and do you have good boundaries. You are a great team player and get along well with others.  Sometimes this is a detriment to yourself as you take care of others but forget yourself. You are very open to new ideas and always willing to try new things.

Self-Reflection using ENNEAGRAM

Before reading Doing Less and Having More I think I only saw the term ‘enneagram’ once and never looked into it to see what it was all about.  In fact I am not even sure how it is pronounced, but hey I have learned that it has been around for over five thousand years.  It is a way to expand and integrate all parts of ourselves.  The system has nine (ennea) parts to the model (gram) and it describes different personality types and explains the inter-relationships between them.  It helps point out our main reaction styles and helps us recognize where other people are coming from.  It helps us learn how you will react to others and to stressful situations.  Learning about ourselves and others helps us live with others with more understanding and brings greater peace.

Each personality type has good and bad points.  The whole goal is to integrate all parts of yourself and to learn to accept yourself.  Most of my life I have fought against the parts of myself that I saw as being negative.  As long as you try to cut off the parts of yourself you don’t like or parts you see as defective you will never be at peace.  Integration of your whole self is when peace will be attained.

As Marcia Weider explains, “Personally, what the enneagram has taught me is compassion. I now know that I am all the bits and pieces I see in everyone else.  All those nagging behaviours that I didn’t like about other people are just unintegrated and disowned parts of myself.  Nothing will give us greater ease than recognizing and accepting our differences. As I accept myself and all my foibles, I also become more accepting of you. It works both ways.”

Therefore this month I am advising you to do the free enneagram tests that are on the web and learn more about yourself.

A quick outline of the nine types are: (Taken from the Enneagram Institute)

  1. The Reformer- principles, purposeful, self-controlled, perfectionistic
  2. The Helper- generous, demonstrative, people-pleasing, possessive
  3. The Achiever-adaptable, excelling, driven, image-conscious
  4. The Individualist-expressive, dramatic, self-absorbed, temperamental
  5. The Investigator-perceptive, innovative, secretive, isolated
  6. The Loyalist-engaging, responsible, anxious, suspicious
  7. The Enthusiast- spontaneous, versatile, acquisitive, scattered
  8. The Challenger-self-confident, decisive, willful, confrontational
  9. The Peacemaker- receptive, reassuring, complacent, resigned

Inside the personalities there are three centers: Instinctive center, feeling center, thinking center.  The challengers, peacemakers and reformers are often in the instinctive center.  The helpers, achievers, and individualists are often in the feeling center and the investigators, loyalists and enthusiasts are often in the thinking center.

Each center has a primary emotional way of dealing with stress.  Instinctive centers tend to react in anger or rage.  The feeling center type people react with shame and the thinking center types will often react with fear.   However, all of us contain these three emotional responses.

It is been a great journey for me to learn more about the enneagram model.  I am a helper primarily with the achiever as my wing.  So therefore my primary emotional reaction will fall in the feeling center which means that my main reaction will lead me to feel shame.  We are born with these personalities – they can be damaged or strengthened by our environment growing up.  We also will develop skills in each area depending on our upbringing but the underlying personality will be there.  Each of you should determine what your main personality type is and embrace it.  The western world may not celebrate all types of personalities and that has made a lot of people insecure or downright upset about parts of themselves.  It is only as we embrace who we truly are that we will be at peace and be able to truly live.