Understanding

Frannie turned me onto the Enneagrams this week. She texted over an online assessment link, and I bopped on over to the site and quickly clicked through the questions. In less than 5 minutes, I was looking at my results.

She also sent me a link to the descriptors of each of the personality types. When I read the profile for my number, I was eerily impressed. This personality test was reading my emails. How did it know? So I did what anyone of my personality type would do, I shared it with everyone I knew. I sent the link to my husband, to my book club, the women of my church group. Everyone was taking this online quiz and coming back to me with their numbers. “Six, obviously.” “Me Three too!” “1.” “I’m a Five, and my boyfriend is a Four”.

I’d read everything about my assigned profile, and now I was curious to learn about the rest of them. Do you know what I found most compelling? That every one of us, from my book club to the Sunday school group, the husband, and the best friend’s boyfriend, everyone has negative and positive attributes to their personality types.

Somehow this undeniable fact seems to elude me when dealing with the people closest to me. When I first got married, I watched the way my partner did his life. How he dealt with his stress, managed his laundry, loaded the dishwasher, commented on the neighbor’s back yard shenanigans, communicated with his colleagues, etc.– I found great fault in all of it. Because he didn’t do the things the way I did the things. Since I’m ALWAYS right, then he must be WRONG.

(Please recognize my tongue in cheek humor. My husband is amazing and the best thing that has EVER happened to me.)

Reading about the different personality types on the Enneagram’s site, I realized he isn’t wrong; he is DIFFERENT.

Guess what else I learned? The negative attributes of my specific personality profile are intrinsic to my personality’s makeup. In other words, I’m not wrong, either.

I have spent years wishing that I was more like so-and-so. And wondering why can’t I act like such -and- such. Understanding my personality type allows me to accept these things that I find lacking.

Judging these attributes as bad subconsciously feeds my shame and drives self-sabotage. It’s time to cut it out.

I’ve been reading Brene Brown recently, in “The Gifts of Imperfection,” she talks a lot about “owning your story.” Owning the part of me that I would rather not exist. When we fully embrace the whole of ourselves, it becomes so much easier to embrace the whole of the people around us fully.

Steven Covey lists “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” as one of his 7 Habits. (By the way, he got that from good ole St Francis.) If we take that to heart, seek first to understand where other people are coming from, what makes them tick, what makes their heart sing and what deflates their enthusiasm, then we will have less conflict. When we seek to understand our own motivations and inner wiring without judgment or criticism, then we will have more inner peace.

Just for Today

I’m going to seek to understand as to be understood. If I conflict with someone, I’ll pause and reflect. Am I getting frustrated because I’m trying to “make them see”? Are they just not getting it? If the answer is yes, I’ll quit trying to make them see and start trying to understand them instead.

Prayer
Oh, dear God, help. It’s so hard to shift my perspective and try to understand where others’ points of view. Divorce me from my selfish interests. Allow me to trust that you will take care of my interests and all I have to do is listen to understand.

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