I feel ill-qualified to write a blogpost about depression this morning; there are hundreds of millions of articles on the internet about it, many of which are written by medical doctors who've been studying psychology for several years. Having depression doesn't necessarily qualify a person to write about it for two reasons.
The best part of these Olympics is that I kind of kept up with them. People who are Fives, or who have a Five wing tend to wait till something is over to get excited about it. They get overwhelmed with hype so easily that they tend to be either futurists or historians- they want to be studying what everyone has left behind, or what no one else knows about yet, because being
I think teaching the positive traits of each Enneagram type is the hardest to do, probably because it means if you can, you see the divinity in each type, and let's face it, that's often a difficult task.
But this morning, I was looking at Don Riso and Russ Hudson's brilliant piece about the Type 5 from Personality Types. I love this idea that Healthy Fives allow reality to inform their perception of patterns, whereas average and unhealthy Fives impose their own idea of patterns on reality.
"The connection between genius and madness has long been debated. These two states are really poles apart, the opposite ends of the personality spectrum. The genius is someone who fuses knowledge with insight into the nature of reality, someone who has the ability to see things with utter clarity and with awe-inspiring comprehension. What separates the genius from the madman is that the genius, in addition to extraordinary insights, has the ability to see them correctly, within their context. The genius perceives patterns which are actually present, whereas the madman imposes patterns, projecting erroneous perceptions onto every circumstance. The genius may sometimes seem to be out of touch with reality, but only because he or she operates at a more profound level. The madman, however, is truly out of touch with reality, having nothing but delusions to substitute for it.
This makes me think of white people who don't understand what the big deal is about racism anymore, or men who don't grasp how sexism could still exist. Of course, not all white people and men are Fives, and other types certainly have their own ways of denying reality, but a search for patterns, and an imposing of those patterns onto reality is a truly unique quality for the Fives. A Five lower down on the ladder of emotional intelligence will say, "I don't see patterns of discrimination; therefore your suffering isn't real." But here, again, is the healthy Five per Riso and Hudson:
At their healthiest, Fives have the paradoxical abilty to penetrate reality profoundly while comprehending it broadly. They are able to take things in whole, perceiving patterns where others see nothing but confusion. They are able to synthesize existing knowledge making connections between phenomena which no one previously knew were related, such as time and space, the structures of the DNA molecule, or the relationship between brain chemistry and behavior.
... The healthiest Fives do not cling to their own ideas about how the world works. Instead, they encompass reality so profoundly that they are able to discover unanticipated truths they could not have arrived at by mere theorizing. They make discoveries precisely because they are willing not to know the answers, keeping an open mind while they observe reality.
Just reading these words opens my heart up to Fives. I guess that's the exercise in learning to see the divinity in others.
I was looking at a car the other day, and some friends met me at the lot. They arrived just in time for the test drive, so the sales guy was like, "are you guys coming along?" My one friend, an intellectual type 5, started to decline, "oh I'm okay, I don't need to come...." I started to see what was happening, and I said, "Just get in the car." I said to the sales guy, "He's coming." And he got in the car without complaint. It was a Honda Civic, so it was a good ride.
Type 5's are head types, which means they "experience" life by observing it from the sidelines and processing it intellectually (hoping to someday have enough knowledge to be prepared enough to live), so if we'd gone without him and told him about the ride after, he'd be able to feel like he was totally there, because he got the "explanation" with all the attendant information. Information processing is their way of connecting to reality, or Source.
Which is an unconscious cop-out to living life in the body- an absolutely addictive and succulent ego lie- but a lie nonetheless. When you think about it, there is no real substitute for in-the-body experience- our heart can't conjure up experience if there's nothing to connect to, and our mind can't conjure up experience if there's nothing solid to reason with. If the body- or one of the other centres- isn't involved in a present-moment experience, we're in dangerous territory of dealing with fantasies, abuse, excessive fear or worry, hedonism, or other fancy curlicues of the ego.
We have three intelligence centres: the head, the heart, and the gut. Each of us relies primarily on one centre, partially rely on the second, and needs major intention and attention cultivating the third one. When all three are in balance, we can live a full life of knowing, loving, and action. Of course, the West has deified the head, and that's why so much stock was put in IQ tests when they were first invented. Now thanks to Daniel Goleman, we know about emotional intelligence (EQ), and lately I saw in a newsletter someone was talking about body intelligence (BQ). We need all three for a full-bodied life, but our ego structure clings to one in particular as the only necessary way to knowing, and our life ends up rather flat as a result.
I caught my own lying-ass ego in the act today. Another friend across the country is on Maternity leave, and she must be bored because she texted me last night asking if I thought you could speak in French with a British accent. I said I didn't see why not. She texted back and asked me if I'd tried it. My first impulse was to say, "I don't need to- my thinking it is is enough to satisfy me", but I stopped myself. I realized this was my head asserting itself as the reigning intelligence centre, and when I got in the car to go to lunch I tried singing the national anthem in French with a British accent. It didn't reveal much because I'm not super strong on accents, but it made me giggle anyway.
This may sound super trivial. Who cares that my friend may not have joined me on my test drive, or that I hadn't tried singing with a particular accent? But consider how much our life experience can be incredibly one-sided when we spend all our lives neglecting our heart. Or how much trouble would we be in to not pay any attention to what the head said. And what a waste to spend your whole life not putting any of your perceptions into action (gut)!
Hopefully this story will help clarify what I mean. When I was on vacation in Mexico two Christmases ago, I was walking along the shore with Mr. M and his kids to go swimming, and contrary to how I would get in, he picked me up and threw me into the ocean. Now if I had been there by myself, I would have totally been fine intellectualizing the experience- noticing the water, being like, "ok what a big ocean" and maybe forcing myself to stick my feet in the water for the full effect. When I got thrown in, I was out of the comfort zone of my two other intelligence centres, and I suddenly didn't know what to do, say, or think- I was speechless. Of course it ended up being fun- I just had to let go of the control and trust Mr. M, who is a body (gut) type, that I was physically going to be ok, and I didn't need to process it through my first two centres to have fun. It haunts me to think of what my Mexican holiday would have been like had I not gotten in the water.
I was saying yesterday how developping the social instinct, whether it's in the middle (second) position, or bottom (third) position is kind of hard if you've neglected it for so long that you don't have anyone to practice it with. There really is an epidemic of aloneness in the Western world today. People get left alone after a divorce, or after the children leave home for university, or maybe they just never got married in the first place. For most people being alone is a terrible feeling, leads to depression, and has been shown to lead to earlier death. People stay in marriages to avoid being alone, or they cling to their adult children by going to visit them as often as possible. People avoid growing up so they can stay out late and party, and don't have to face being alone. Like seriously very few people want to be alone forever. Even Type Fives, with the archetypal battery that needs to be alone to recharge, want people to come knock on their doors every so often and engage them.
Now, some people just gravitate towards social situations, and that's their preferred way of human interaction. They maybe make up a third of the population. They find it easy to be around others, and it feels wonderful. I'll eventually write about those guys, but this blog post is for those people who find it hard to be with others, either because they have trouble reading social cues at school or at the office, or they feel like they don't fit in at parties, they never know who to talk to at business events, or how to make networking feel natural, or it simply exhausts them too much to be in a group of people.
Let's first take a look at what Social people look and feel like from the outside. To those with a Social blind spot, the energy of the group feels like everyone's all gently swinging in a hammock together, and they've all figured out the rhythm of the swaying back and forth, and they want it to keep going, so awkward pauses get filled with extra verbiage- maybe a platitude here and there- that may not mean a hell of a whole lot, but it keeps the rhythm going, and allows the other people to figure out a thread to pick up on and start on that.
The point is the rhythm and the delicious and alive feeling of giving and taking. There's a buzz in being able to connect, to support and feel supported, engage in a back-and-forth conversation that isn't necessarily going anywhere, but they're knitting something- and that's a big fuzzy sweater, and when the sweater's done, they're going to all get in the sweater and wear it together.
Someone with Social as their lowest instinct is going to be like "What the fuck people. What color of yarn are you using? [because Socials aren't knitting an actual sweater- it's a metaphor] What pattern are you knitting? Who's in charge here? Whose lead do I follow? Where am I supposed to sit? Is anyone going to lend me a pair of needles? Oh. I was supposed to bring my own? Dammit. They're in my room. Maybe I'll go knit the sweater from there. See ya!"
For those with a Social blind spot, it's going to feel like they're a big old dog that just ruined the swaying of the hammock, and they just took their sharp energy and ruined everything, and now the Socials have to get the momentum going again.
OK, so if this is you, there is help.
I was listening to a talk with Russ Hudson and Jessica Dibb the other day, and they were talking about intimacy, how you don't necessarily have to be around other people to experience it- you can be intimate with the night sky, or with the forest, Russ was saying. Now intimacy is the domain of the Self-Preservation and Sexual instincts, and the area that Socials may struggle with.
So if that was true, I thought, the opposite must also be true- that you don't necessarily have to be around others to develop your social instinct. I thought that was an interesting idea, and it's something you can breathe into at home or at work as you notice your connection to the potted plant and the connection to the kitchen sink and the walls on either side of you as you go up the stairs. Just noticing the energy of what's physically around you, and how it feels to be amongst the objects in your environment is going to wake you up to a different energy.
Dr. Dan Siegel provides another lens. He says that our brains were initially wired to be social, and we can improve our social connections just by being social with ourselves. That may sound weird but it's actually the neurobiological starting point for the practice of mindfulness where we become our own observer.
But unfortunately, I now have to say "To be continued..." because it's getting late, but I will talk about the neurobiology of Social tomorrow.