Head Heart Gut

Thoughtful Distraction versus Reactive Distraction

Pardon my excessive writing about Fours lately- it feels a bit self-indulgent, but this last month, they've been on my mind.   

 I've discovered some good shows on Netflix lately.  I'm trying to let myself off the hook from finding the educational value in everything, and just enjoy fun for the sake of fun.

I've discovered some good shows on Netflix lately.  I'm trying to let myself off the hook from finding the educational value in everything, and just enjoy fun for the sake of fun.

Don Riso once said that all the personality types have a distraction from suffering except the Fours.  Fours are drawn inward to it like flies to honey.  They think if they focus in on it and anaylze it to pieces, what they will find will be the key to their freedom, and so they spend and inordinate amount of time sinking further and further into immobility, blaming, and sadness... never finding the key.

You hear all kinds of horrible things about unhealthy Fours, like how they get depressed and alienate their friends, cut themselves off from interaction with the world, stay in bed all day, forcing their children to wake themselves up and make it to school on their own, and generally neglect self-care and security. 

As a Four, I can say I did touch down into a certain level of unhealthy immobility in my twenties, but thankfully since then, have found a life purpose and a goal.  However, as a self-preservation Four, the countertype, it's almost like I've swung too far in the opposite direction.  Now I'm the type of Four described by Beatrice Chestnut, who "is more masochistic than melodramatic."

Self-Preservation Fours demand a lot of themselves.  They have a strong need to endure, so they develop an ability to do without.  They put themselves in situations that are tough.  They test and challenge themselves.  One of my clients with this subtype says that she "throws herself into the fire."  These Fours have a passion for effort- they engage in intense activity and may often appear strained and tense.

A passion for effort.  Even at the end of a long day when I'm tired and I can't think anymore, I will refuse to leave my desk and get ready for bed.  I think SP Fours are kind of like Threes in that regard, who over-value hard work (although, unlike Threes, will get panicky when it they see the finish line). 

Meanwhile, I've developped a complete disdain for entertainment or taking anything that resembles a shortcut, or any kind of distraction from hard work.  I remember in college, my RA went shopping and came back with a bunch of new clothes.  I commented on them, and she cheerfully said "yeah it was time for a pick-me-up".  Right, I thought.  Like clothes can heal the underlying issues that need to be handled with introspection. 

Don't get me wrong- it's not like I haven't ever indulged, it's just been in the fashion of the Type One with the backdoor indulgences, as Helen Palmer calls them.   The type One's overactive Superego is so invested in ensuring perfection that out of a need for relief from the constant judgmental flogging, the id inevitably slips up and indulges in a manner clearly out of character for the One.  For example, I've gone overboard and spent too much on clothes, but that was out of overattention to my image, envy, and lack of financial planning. 

So there are clearly two approaches to letting loose, either in how we spend our time or how we spend our money- reactively and thoughtfully.  Lately when I'm drawn inward to think about my suffering, I know the correct answer is to go do some exercise or get my gut energy activated somehow by DOING, DOING, DOING.  But as a SP Four, that's what I'm already trying to do.  So the last couple times I've been in the swampy swampity swamp of my emotions and tried uselessly to gun my motor through it, I've taken a break and watched Netflix.

Now I haven't watched TV in about ten years- I think 2007 was the last time I allowed myself the pleasure because to me, TV- and sitting in general- represent laziness and lack of direction in life, as well as the possibility of falling back into the habits of my twenties.  But lately, a dear friend invited me to share his Netflix account and here I am nibbling away at shows here and there. 

Today I was having trouble getting out of a funk, and I was like, "just keep pushing!  EFFOOOORRRRTT!!!, but the guilt of not being able to get into my gut only sunk me further into inaction.  Noticing I was just sinking more and more, I was like, "wait a second, maybe if I took a minute to press the reset button with some of that Downton Abbey show... I can come back in a more relaxed state of mind!"  And I did.

So carefully, little by little, I'm learning how to do the exquisite balancing act between effort and a little bit of distraction.  Of course, I think exercise would have been the best choice, the gut being the great balancer of the heart, the wind that dries out the swamp, but sometimes there's too big a leap between immobility and doing jumping jacks, that it's okay to take a half-step instead of a full one... as long as the momentum gained is used to make it into the gut eventually.  So there's my cautious thesis for today: can a thoughtful amount of time set aside for entertainment have a redeeming effect for workaholic SP Fours (and Threes)?

 

Little Type Four Kids at Level 6

Some teachers I know are working with a couple of dramatic and melancholic Type Four kids whose need to be different and special have both blown up in the last few months.  From what I can tell about their Riso-Hudson levels of health, they're both at Level 6, flirting with Level 7.  The Red Flag fear at Level 6 is "I am ruining my life, I am wasting

Bernie Math

I love College Humour and also Bernie Sanders, so I thought this skit was super funny.  I mean, don't ask me about math or the American political voting system, but this is totally the kind of math I'd love to get away with.  According to Jung's definition of introvert- I'll have to look it up later- but it's something like we perceive truth on the inside, like in the psyche, or by way of intuition- there's some kind of technical definition, and Enneagram Fours are definitely introverts, so give me a psychological problem to solve any day over math.  When I do math, the information enters through the head centre, goes down to the heart (the intelligence centre of the Four) and does some twirls and summersaults and maybe even some drugs, and then gets discharged to the gut centre for execution.  I mean, not all Fours are bad at math.  Knowing the information makes that extra stop at the heart definitely makes me more careful, I know that.  Anyway, this video totally reminded me of heart math.  Still can't stop me from cheering tho.

City Planning, Politics and the Human Body

 In the Enneagram personality typing model, there are several triadic divisions of the types- several ways you can slice the 9 types 3 ways.  The division of head, heart, and gut are is just one of them.  The gut types, types 8, 9, and 1 are the body types, and there's a central issue for them around anger- they over-express their anger (8), they deny it (9), or repress it (1).  Types 2, 3, and 4- the identity types have a central issue around shame- they are the heart types.  Types 5, 6, and 7 are the head types, and their central issue is around fear- fear of invasion (5), fear of underpreparedness (6), and fear of cessation of arising (7). 

In the Enneagram personality typing model, there are several triadic divisions of the types- several ways you can slice the 9 types 3 ways.  The division of head, heart, and gut are is just one of them.  The gut types, types 8, 9, and 1 are the body types, and there's a central issue for them around anger- they over-express their anger (8), they deny it (9), or repress it (1).  Types 2, 3, and 4- the identity types have a central issue around shame- they are the heart types.  Types 5, 6, and 7 are the head types, and their central issue is around fear- fear of invasion (5), fear of underpreparedness (6), and fear of cessation of arising (7). 

There's a distinction to be drawn between North-enders and Sout-east-enders in my city, Regina.  I don't know how it ended up this way- maybe the division started with the Ukranian labor workers' families being excluded from Regina elite life when the city was being laid out, or a certain type of person wanted to move close to the university or the Legislative building, or maybe only certain types of people were welcome around Wascana Lake.  Either way, North-enders and South-East-Enders have turned out to have quite different "personalities".  I think it's the same difference that exists between LA and NY, between Canadian Liberals and Conservatives, and between American Democrats and Republicans.  In Regina, ask a house-shopping East-ender to look at houses in the North end, and they might do it, but they'll probably bristle first.  Ask your North-ender clientele to if they'd consider moving to the East end, and they'd probably only do it in desperation.  I don't know the stats about this, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say there's about as much wealth in the North end as in the South East- construction is booming at both ends- so I'm not attempting to disparage either ends of Regina.

Now I COULD TOTALLY BE WRONG ABOUT THIS; this is just an idea that floated through my brain a couple weeks ago, and i wanted to write it down.  

My dad used to repeat this axiom, that small minds talk about things, mediocre minds talk about people, and great minds talk about ideas.  His belief- which isn't actually his, by the way- is part of the heritage of the West's deification of the head- I'm going to say this started around the turn of the 20th century.  IQ tests determined peoples' entrance to university and if they could get certain jobs. This belief has cost us dearly.  This of the lack of progress that has happened because of stringent partisanship.

Ancient religions, however, acknowledge plural brains- and this is my argument- that Regina's North enders and South-East enders use different "brains", and hence have two different wisdoms.  In the Chakra system, there are 7 "chakras" laid out vertically on the body- centers of energy that relate to different functions of our psyche.   The lower chakras have to do with one's foundation, how one defends against the outside world, and how we move.  Action is the key word here.  The basic human right at the first (the lowest) chakra is "to be here and to have".  There is a lot more I could go into to describe this more, but I have to run, so this is going to be short and sweet.  Evolutionarily, this is the first part of the psyche to develop- the part that defines our boundaries, our separation from mother.  In the elementary school where I work, I notice a lot of KDG, grade 1 and 2 teachers are body-types.  Their wisdom arises around a body intelligence.  (This isn't to say that body-types are less intelligent!  Not at all.  Just at the top of my head, one of my intellectual heros, Carl Jung, was an Enneagram type 1w9, Martin Luther King, an Enneagram type 8w7, and Abraham Lincoln, an Enneagram type 9- great thinkers with their wisdom around the body).

The next set of chakras are around the heart, and we won't go into that so much, but you could probably associate that with down-town Regina.

The next set is the head.  The fact that the university is in the south end probably has something to do with this, but South East enders, known for having the highest ratio of university degrees in one riding (the one with Ralph Gooddale as the MLA) is overall, a head space.  Again, it's an error to put head intelligence above body intelligence- it unfolds later in human development, and it sits on top of the body, but later in life, these head people stumble over themselves if they don't consciously develop a body intelligence, ie. if they don't put their ideas/thoughts/values into action.  Same thing with the body types- when they start to get conscious about their development, often it's their head center that needs opening.  

This is super rough, but as a heart/head centre person, I can acknowledge the brokenness that comes from being undervaluing the body/action/movement.  Enneagram wisdom has a lot to say about the integration of the whole body.  The disdain of one centre of intelligence for the other is at the root of the spiritual poverty of politics- the polarity between two ways of viewing reality.  What they really need is integration with each other.

Making Decisions from the Gut

A friend of mine is trying to make one of the biggest decisions of her life right now: when and where to retire.  She could retire where she feels comfortable and where she's got her circle of friends, or in Eastern Canada where her children are.  Understandably, she's torn- how do you choose between the two? 

Last night, we talked about making decisions with the head, heart, and gut, and how they each have different voices, speeds, and energies.  The head and the heart tend to come up with the logic, math, and reasoning,  and the dream, vision, and the aching respectively.  The gut is the centre of action.  It recognizes opportunity or danger and springs the body into action. 

Everyone operates primarily from one of the centres, has secondary access to another, and has trouble getting in touch with the third.  So for example, you could be a head type, a heart type, or a gut type and be completely literate in that centre's vocabulary, but then you could have real difficulty deciphering what one of the other centres is saying, which can have you unconsciously flying in long, slow circles over the bird sanctuary of your life with a clipped wing for years on end. 

  Jim Treliving .  Image from CBC.ca

Jim Treliving.  Image from CBC.ca

Jim Treliving is a Canadian entrepreneur and investor, known as the RCMP officer-turned-owner of the international Boston Pizza franchise and now a fixture on CBC's the Dragon's Den (like the US' Shark Tank).  He's possibly a lusty, gut-driven, tough yet self-effacing Enneagram Type 8w9 (although I'm not positive on that), but one thing is clear in reading his book Decisions- he accesses his gut to make decisions over and over again in his business deals.

 

My RCMP training taught me the most crucial business lesson there is: Always do something.  That's the one thing that sets successful people apart from not-so-successful people-- the ability to actually make a decision.  Unsuccessful people freeze in the face of choice.  Why does this happen?  It's fear of the unknown that keeps us stuck.  Or fear of making the wrong decision.  Sometimes it's easier to continue doing things the old, familiar way, even if that way is all wrong.  But a big change will take you to a whole new place in business, and in life.

Joanne Wilson, an entrepreneur with a powerful presence whose gut decisions have served her well.

At a workshop a few years ago with Enneagram teacher Ginger Lapid-Bogda, she had a participant come up to the front who was trying to make a major decision in her life.  This woman - a heart type- was trying to decide whether or not to pursue her passion by opening a Body Shop-type of business.  The purpose of the exercise was to "hear" from all three centres, and she was to put her hands on each of the three centres in turn, picturing that body part in her mind's eye, and talk about her business idea, as if she was in that centre.  It was interesting to notice how her voice changed when she spoke from each of the centres.  Sometimes the words had the ring of a parents' dissaproval, or betrayed desire with the way the breath carried the words.  The voice from the gut was meek, but there's something about the gut- how it knows things.  (Actually, we now know from neuroscience that it literally knows things, as nerve fibers from the nervous system surround our hollow internal organs [ie. our visceral organs] and are the first point of contact for our internal sensory perceptions that get sent up to the pre-frontal cortex in the brain via the insula, hence the expression, "a gut feeling".)

A lot of us don't listen to the gut and turn the volume way down because we're afraid of action, and we get stuck in the head, or start stewing in the heart.  It can get really sterile in the head or stinky in the heart if we don't get out to the other centres.  I'm reminded of a Kaballah principle for those with a weaker connection to the gut: "When challenges appear overwhelming, inject Certainty. The Light is always there!"  I'm not sure how reliable this is, but Rav Berg says the Israelites fleeing from the Egyptians had to walk into the Red Sea until the water reached their nostrils before the water started parting for them.  That's injecting certainty into a difficult situation!

  "You know what my favorite quote is?  It's right here:  'I seen my opportunities and I took em.'"  Mr. M, a gut-type.

"You know what my favorite quote is?  It's right here:  'I seen my opportunities and I took em.'" Mr. M, a gut-type.

On the other hand, some lucky people have immediate access to their gut and can act instinctively.  Those are the people who get things done in a self-assured decisive way- they tend to be society's leaders; later in life, however, they may find out they've neglected the head or heart centre and have to make corrective action at that point.

We all have to make corrective action- the question is how long does it take us to recognize that we're slightly out of balance?  For most of us, 50 years or so.  Less for some people.  More for others.

Whatever your main intelligence centre, getting into that third, under-utilized "brain" is the spark that lights the match, the redirection of the flow of energy that brings our lives into a balance heretofore unattained.

 

Join the Conversation