The Why

Why?  Question Mark Quiz Maze Icon Logo  - mohamed_hassan / Pixabay

Kids are curious creatures. Ever spent any time with a 3 year old? They are always asking questions. One of the most often asked question is WHY?

Why? Why? Why?

As a parent, when you find a child does something they know they weren’t supposed to do, we ask them why. Why did you do that? You know that’s not allowed, don’t you? We want to know what motivates their behavior, maybe so we can prevent them from doing it again. We want to know how they justified their behavior that we think is unacceptable. Maybe something else happened and they had to take that action to avoid harm.

Right now, I am asking myself WHY? Do I do the things I do? Why do I do that this way and not that? Why is it so hard to do things differently? Why did God make me this way if it’s not always acceptable for me to be this way all the time?

Always sharing the WHY - Girl Scouts Girl Woman Female  - Clker-Free-Vector-Images / Pixabay

My poor volunteers with the Girl Scouts. I am always explaining WHY I am asking them to do the things I am asking them to do. I explain why, because I am the type of person who wants to know why, so I can get on board with it. Too, I want to know why because I might have a more efficient way of doing it. They might too! And I want to learn that. Some of my volunteers appreciate the “why”. Some don’t.

The Enneagram helps me find the why about my behavior. And I like knowing why. If I know why, then I might be OK with it.

Because the Enneagram is about our core motivations, why we do what we do, it’s super hard to figure out what types others are. That’s why I am always asking everyone I care about to take the Enneagram test and tell me what they think they are. I can guess Jill is an 8, or Mark is a 1. But if YOU don’t agree those are your motivations, I won’t know if they are correct, and therefor won’t be able to understand the different ways we approach the same situation.

So the Enneagram looks at our core, the central, innermost, or most essential part of us. There are 4 parts:.

The WHY at our core - Dandelion Core White Wind Seeds  - lueleng / Pixabay
“Ones”
  • Core Fear: what I am always avoiding and trying to prevent from happening
  • Core Desire: what I’m always striving for, believing it will completely fulfill me
  • Core Weakness: the issue I’m always wrestling with
  • Core Longing: the message my heart always wants to hear

So diving right into my type, my core motivations are:

  • Core Fear: Being exposed as or thought incompetent, inefficient or worthless. Failing to be or appear unsuccessful.
  • Core Desire: Having high status and respect. Being admired, seen as successful and valuable.
  • Core Weakness: Deceit. Deceiving myself into believing I’m only the image I present to others. Embellishing the truth by putting on a polished persona for everyone, including myself, to see and admire.
  • Core Longing: I am loved for simply being me.

Boy howdy, if that ain’t the truth in a nutshell.

Why I get it all done always - Superhero Super Hero Girl Costume  - comicvector / Pixabay

So all of these things aren’t necessarily bad. I mean, God made me this way, right and these things are not only my weaknesses, but my strengths as well. I can totally perform under pressure. I’m the person you send in when you want it done right the first time. I generally make an amazing first impression. I can work a crowd like no other. I’m the person you always put 4th on the line up to bring them all home because I’m always going to knock it out of the park. I am able to spin the truth to fit the present needs and you will buy it – hook, line and sinker. And all I need is a pat on the back and a “I couldn’t have done it without you!”.

Why I am sad - Melting Heart Red Melted Love  - LIAN30 / Pixabay

These things are also the things I tell myself when I’m alone at night, crying in my bed, feeling like I have no idea who I really am, thinking I honestly have no real friends, feeling so down and just wanting someone to let it all out to, but can’t because that would mean sharing my vulnerability with them and what if they don’t love me any more? It’s what makes me feel alone and lonely in a crowd, why I struggle with depression, see a counselor and sometimes take happy pills. This is what I, and other threes like me, will always struggle with until I’m in heaven. What a wonderful reminder that I need God’s help on a daily basis. My room is filled with art work I have made, reminding me how God loves me in spite of all this.

So there’s a fine line between keeping all of those things and changing them as well. But I have to own all of it first. And that is what this time for me, with me, is all about. It’s about exposing the condition of my heart. Then loving it, even the yucky parts. Then really taking the time and doing the work to be a better me.

It’s not an easy path. If it were, we would all be on it, right? Maybe in someway we are. I just know it’s hard for me to see my flaws and be OK with having them. I see them. If I didn’t I would be on this journey. It’s the embracing them and owning them that is super difficult. There’s going to be crying, and frustration and praying and ugly. Then there can be forgiveness and mercy and grace and improvement.

Buckle up buttercup, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

A.W.A.R.E.

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.

How small behavior changes can have a ripple effect
Don’t Underestimate the Ripple Effect of Your Actions

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.

Just knowing does not change our behavior

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.

If you see the pattern, we can change the behavior

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.

Behavior that shows me love

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?

The Enneagram and My Faith

As I am pondering who I am during this time in my life, I am reminded by the author of the book, The Enneagram Type Three, Beth McCord, who’s I am. On my Facebook page I list all the different roles I play in life, the first one being Child of God. It’s what I came into existence as first, and plan to leave with it someday. So when I look at all my flaws, I have to remember that those flaws, along with all my strengths, are exactly what God intended me to have. Sometimes my flaws are a strength. Sometimes my strengths are my greatest downfalls too. I believe the Enneagram is going to help me leverage my self improvement.

When I say I want to become a better version of me, it’s not that I am saying I’m a bad person or not good enough, as I am right now. I’m not saying somehow God made me “less than”. But rather, I’m saying I’d like to hone the gifts I’ve been given by God. I want to use what I have been given to the best of my abilities.

Learning to use all my gifts through the Enneagram

If you look around my room, you can see that I have many pieces of art that I have made myself, and they are all based on scripture. They are there to remind me constantly that God is always present in my life, even when I don’t acknowledge His presence, and that He always has my best interest in mind. One more piece I need to make and hang, maybe above my TV, is something to remind me that God cares, not just about my physical actions or words, but that He is always looking at my heart, seeing what my motives and intentions are. Maybe I can incorporate my Enneagram type into the art. hhhmmm…

1 Samuel 16:7 RSV

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the LORD sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

When I first was presented with the concept of the Enneagram, I was in a secular group. And I’m not going to lie, I questioned if it was something I should be dabbling in. It seemed a little on the “woo-woo” side. I was really interested in the information! I love learning about my natural self and why I do what I do – and why others do what they do. And I love learning things like this so I can change my behavior to get YOU to do what I want you to do. Pretty selfish, huh? Well, but is it? Because it’s MY behavior I am initially changing.

For example, with my volunteers I work with, if I better understand what motivates them, I can change how I approach them so they feel more appreciated and cared about… and therefore are willing to a better support system our movement. I was very much in love with my boyfriend, Mark, and I fully know that I am super selfish and well, I didn’t want to lose him. I wanted to change anything in my behavior that might push him away. So this was super interesting to me.

As I do with anything I am super interested in, I dove in head first and ordered two more books about the Enneagram, and the workbooks that went with them, and started reading/listening to them on Audible. What a relief when I found that the Enneagram is actually a tool to help a person understand who they are in Christ and give some insights and direction on dealing with our physical self. One of my favorite ministers, Dr. Larry Hostetler, often said “We are spiritual beings having a physical experience. This tool helps me understand “me” and how God made me and maybe even WHY He made me this way.

Genesis 1:27 RSV

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female he created them.

When I understand me, I can then better understand you. I can understand where you are coming from. I can empathise with you and your perspective. I can feel comfortable in accepting our differences. I think it’s a great benefit to be able to do these things. I believe it will cut down on the amount of conflict between people or ideas. I believe it will open the doors to efficient productivity. I believe it will make the difficult conversations a little easier.

Something with myself that I have really wanted to change in general is how annoyed I get when I have to interact with someone that clearly doesn’t know what they are doing. Know what I mean? For example, when I applied for unemployment due to being furloughed thanks to this whole COVID-19 thing, I was initially denied benefits. Boy howdy, was I ever angry about that. I mean, seeing red and feeling my blood pressure up, mad. I contacted my HR department, asked what they suggest I do, and searched the internet for options. HR came through for me and told me how to file differently to get approved. I did. And I got approved. It took about five days to get things squared away. During those five days, I was angry. The anger I felt was a complete waste of emotion and energy.

I HATE it when I over react. I want to learn how to stop myself from getting “wasted angry” like that. My friend Jill is very good at not responding as such to similar things. She knows it doesn’t do any good and she simply moves into “how do I fix this” mode. She bypasses the anger. I want to do that. I may never get as good at it as she is, but I sure want to try. I think I’d be a better self if I did.

Philippians 4:13 (RSV)

I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

Another thing I would like to do differently is to learn how to relax. I mean REALLY relax. I have such I hard time not being productive. And it really is hard for me to unwind and go to sleep at night. I have tried and tried to teach myself how to meditate to help me unwind. It’s still a challenge. My mind wanders into 15 million directions, thinking about all the things I need to get done. And like a little cloud, I let the thought float on by… and right behind it is the next little cloud, and the next and soon there’s a full on storm rolling though.

I’d also like to be content, no, not just content, but HAPPY being single. I wish I didn’t desire to have another half to my life. You know, a boyfriend or husband. I am more than capable, now, of living on my own. So WHY do I want someone to share my life with? …anyway…

Life is a better journey with the Enneagram

I also wish I was better at saving money. If I’ve got it, I’m going to spend it.

It’s a journey, right?

I did start seeing a counselor about 6 months ago to try to look at these things and, well, Mark dumped me and so our sessions got side-railed by that and then I moved and we are in lock down so finding a counselor here has been put on hold. Which is kinda why I started this blog. It’s a place for me to sort things out and see what sense I can make of these things. It’s also a place to open myself up for feedback and perspective from others. So be sure to leave me comments so I can continue to grow.

The great news is, I know I can enjoy this journey because I have God on my side. He’s given me great friends and family to love and support me. I have always felt loved. Best of all, I have Jesus always walking by my side.

If you would like to find out what type you are in the Enneagram, you can take a free test on the Energy and the Enneagram website. I recommend the shorter one. Be sure to comment with your Enneagram Type so I can learn to better interact with you too!