The Individualist. Enneagram #4

The Individualist. Enneagram #4

“I listen to the wind, to the wind of my soul. Where I end up, well, I think only God really knows.

-Cat Stevens

Enneagram Four (the Individualist) stirs up feelings of melancholy and self-expression more than any other type. Rightly called, we associate our most famous Fours with their creative works. Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens). Stevie Nicks, Judy Garland and Anne Frank just to name a few. Sensitive and reserved, self-aware and emotionally honest, Fours can also be moody and self-conscious. 

At their worst, they typically have problems with self-indulgence and self-pity. At their best, inspired and creative, they are able to renew themselves and transform their experiences.

Healthy Fours own their feelings.

They look at their motives, contradictions, and emotional conflicts without denying or whitewashing or rationalizing them.. They are not afraid to see themselves “warts and all.” 

Healthy Fours are willing to reveal personal and potentially shameful things about themselves. They are determined to understand the truth of their experience—so that they can discover who they are and come to terms with their emotional history. This ability also enables Fours to endure suffering with a quiet strength. 

Nevertheless, Fours often report that they feel they are missing “something” in themselves and may have difficulty identifying that “something”. Is it will power? Social ease? Self-confidence? Emotional tranquility? Fours see all of this in others, seemingly in abundance.

Fours do not really want to be alone.

While Fours may feel socially awkward or self-conscious, they deeply wish to connect with people who understand them and their feelings. The “romantics” of the Enneagram, they long for someone to know and appreciate the secret self that they have privately nurtured and hidden from the world. 

Some of the most difficult challenges a Four will face are:

  • Low Self-esteem and negative self-image.
  • Basing their identity largely on their feelings.
  • Learning to let go of hurt feelings and wounds from past relationships.
  • Becoming attached to longing and disappointment.

How to Work on the Challenges:

The “monster” self-critic resides within you.  This monster may have been created in an unhealthy upbringing. Moreover, it is important to realize that the narrative of your critic masquerades as reality.

Take steps to diminish this voice by comparing it with the positive feedback you have received from others. Work toward seeing yourself as others see you. This will be difficult at first. Be assured that learning to focus more on your good qualities will start the creation of new habits in finding your strengths.

Practice self-compassion.Here are three steps to help you get started:

  1. Self-kindness. When we are engaging in self-kindness, we extend gentleness, consideration, and empathy inward to ourselves.
  2. Common humanity. If we’re using this aspect of self-compassion, we comfort ourselves with the knowledge that we are not the only ones who make mistakes, have imperfections and are going through a hard time. It can help us to feel some solace knowing that other folks are going through similar struggles.
  3. Practice mindfulness. Acknowledge inner experiences without trying to cast them off or become completely absorbed by them. Researchers have examined the impact of self-compassion on self-criticism using meditation and self-compassionate exercises.

““People don’t have to like you, people don’t have to love you, people don’t even have to respect you. But when you look in the mirror, you better love what you see!”

Sheryl Lee Ralph words of wisdom while accepting her 2023 Golden Globes Award.

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