My first husband never took responsibility for his behavior or anything that happened in his life. He spun lie after lie to cover up his bad choices. Funny, I was one of those bad choices myself. I chose to, well, I made the choices I made and I have had to live with them. I have spent my entire adult life feeling like I am paying for the sins of my youth. I mean I am really good at making bad choices. I’m also really good at taking responsibility for my choices.
That’s part of what this journey I am on is really about – figuring out why I do what I do, even when really deep down I know it’s not what I should do. We all have moments like that. Some make huge impacts on our lives immediately. Others are like a tiny pebble dropped into a pool of water. The ripple effect can be major sometimes.
I guess I am super thankful God has the capacity to forgive and show us grace and mercy. Now if I could just do that for myself… Learning who I am through the Enneagram, I’m hoping, will allow me to see who I am through God’s eyes and give myself a better understanding of me, and those around me. I am hoping I will be able to have compassion for myself, and more for those around me when we run into differences. I hope to be able to show grace and mercy to those around me as well. And eventually, believe I am worthy of forgiveness myself. And forgive others more quickly as well.
I recently took a class on-line called The Science of Well-Being through Yale University. Something we talked about in week 2 was the misconception that simply knowing is not enough to change behavior. We have to actually put that knowledge to work – turn it into an action – before we can change our behavior. That’s what I want to do, figure out what action I need to take to change the behaviors I don’t like that I do.
When my kids were little, we had a family counselor come to the house every few weeks to help us with some issues we were having. I was a single mom and young and trying to juggle it all on my own. It was hard. I was always tired, both physically and emotionally. So asking for outside professional help seemed to be a good idea.
One time the counselor was working with us on breaking a behavior cycle that wasn’t the most positive. He asked us to think about what was going through our minds right before things got crazy? What did we notice was happening to our bodies? These were the signs to watch for so we could attempt to break our pattern. When we noticed these things happening, we need to work on removing ourselves from the situation and go away from each other to calm down. Then we could come back and try to talk things through more calmly. A better choice and different pattern.
Noticing those physical changes in our bodies would allow us to take control of our behavior and make the changes we wanted to see happen. Warning signs, if you will. It’s like watching for a tornado. If you know the signs, you can go for safety and survive the storm. My hope is learning about myself through the Enneagram will help me see those patterns and make the changes I’d like to see in my own life.
Back to The Enneagram Type Three book, In Day 2, Beth talks about, when something is happening that we would like to change, think of the word AWARE:
- Awaken – notice how I am reacting in my behavior, feelings, thoughts and body sensations. Just like the counselor said to do all those years ago. He was a really smart guy. If I can find these signs, I can train myself to respond differently to what ever is happening around me.
- Welcome – be open to what I might learn and observe without condemnation and shame. For me, SHAME is a huge issue. My behavior is widely motivated by trying to avoid things that bring me shame. And I’m not even Catholic!! I need to ask myself, what would be so terrible if I did this differently this time? What do I have to lose? What’s the worst thing that could happen? Because if I do what I usually do, I already know I don’t like that outcome.
- Ask – ask God to help clarify what is happening internally. Praying. It’s just that simple.
- Receive – receive an insight and affirm your true identity as God’s beloved child. And then get out of my own way, be quiet, listen and do what I know I should do. Be brave. Philippians 4:13.
- Enjoy – enjoy my new freedom from old self defeating patterns of living. What a relief??!!
It sounds so simple. If only. It’s working to change 50 years of habits. That’s what is so challenging. But it’s OK. It’s what I want to have happen. And even if I don’t get it right the first time, there will be other times to try again. And someday I will get it right and then there will be times that I mess it up again. As long as I keep trying, I can do this.
There are major life events that I wish I had mastered this concept before they happened. My life would be so different now. Part of me wished I didn’t have to go through those things. Another part of me is really glad that I did, because it’s made me who I am today, and I really like who I am today. It’s wonderful that God has been able to gift me so many amazing opportunities in spite of myself. Mostly I would love to take back the pain and hurt I have caused for those around me. I suppose those moments shaped them as well. The good news is, today is a new day and I can move forward and work on being a better person.
One thing I can say, I have a great life. Amazing family and friends. And a God that always loves me.
So if you’d like some insights on how to love me, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
- Reassure me by telling me you like me and like being around me
- I love to hear how proud you are of me and my achievements
- When I’m working, please don’t distract or interrupt me. Yes, I have ADD.
- Feedback is always welcome as long as it is not overly critical or judgmental. I will get defensive and your words will fall on deaf ears.
- I am the best me when my things in my life are harmonious, tidy and peaceful. Yes, I get distracted and make messes – but eventually I do clean them up. Too many messes over whelm me and I just can’t.
What are some ways you feel loved?