Fear and The Enneagram Personality Test
Have you taken the Enneagram Personality test? I know what you may be thinking if you haven’t, “Another personality test? No Thanks.” But this one, at least for me and my circle of friends that have taken it, really nails me as a person and has helped me to clarify my responses to certain situations. On the Enneagram I am a 7 Personality type. There are 9 personality types and the 7 is “The Enthusiast”. All of my life I have been excited to start new things, to travel, to go to parties – and I’m sad when the party is over. The 7 personality type also has a problem with commitment and when commitment is eminent – it can be easy to bail instead of powering through and dealing with whatever comes my way. As I have gotten older what I have found about myself is that I have allowed fear to paralyze me. A friend of mine calls it “Paralysis by Analysis.” Has this ever happened to you? You start down a path and you are confident and things are moving well and then you start to think about the “What ifs?” It can be terrifying to run through a list of possible outcomes and to have a mind that always goes to the worst case scenario.
Recently I was talking to a mentor and telling him of my dilemma about finding someone I care about greatly, but the fear of marriage and commitment. He said, “What bad thing couldl happen if you do get married?” I started to list all of the possible negative outcomes. He continued to press me, “Then what could happen?” My answers were all fear-based and what I really feared was what other people would think about me if I did end up failing. He then said, “What positive things could happen if you get married?” I started to list all of the possible positive outcomes: I could get married and go on an awesome honeymoon, I could have children and be like Jack and Rebekah on ‘This is Us’, I could watch my children go to college and get married and I could have grandchildren.” He then told me “Both of these outcomes are within you, which one are you going to focus on to make it happen?” Boom. It was one of those clarifying moments that showed me that I too often move from a position of fear. Instead of starting the race I think, “What if I trip and fall?” So without ever starting I never know the possible outcomes. I have lived too long playing it safe.
So now I’m dating a new girl and with her I have been the most honest about my feelings and I’ve shared with her how fear is a constant third wheel in our relationship. I told her about how I often end relationships out of fear once they start getting serious because I get caught up in the idea that I am going to get hurt, or I am going to hurt someone and I don’t want to have either happen.
I’ve learned that communicating feelings with people you care about is better than just keeping them to yourself. Seems like a no-brainer, but in my experience the opposite is true: We don’t communicate how we feel because we fear how the people we love will respond. Vulnerability is scary. Rejection is painful. We learn early on to not feel, maybe more so as men, and that emotions and feelings are “feminine” or weak. However, I have found that when I communicate how I feel with people I love and care about, allowing them to enter into that space can be hard, but it also can allow for growth and understanding. It can bring rejection in pain, but in my experience, it usually brings me closer to the person I am sharing with, especially if their response is judgment-free.
A close friend of mine is very much like me, also a 7 on the Enneagram scale, and she sent me the video below. In the video Susan David talks about fear and how as a culture we have grown fear-averse and we have grouped our feelings and emotions into “good feelings” and “bad feelings” and how it is only acceptable to be positive and happy all the time. We don’t want to feel stress or discomfort, but she says something very powerful, “Discomfort is the price of admission to a meaningful life.”
Please take a moment to watch this video uninterrupted from beginning to end, it is truly worth the fifteen minutes of your time.
The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage
“Sowubona – the Zulu word for hello. I see you and by seeing you I bring you into being…”
Psychologist Susan David shares how the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. In this deeply moving, humorous and potentially life-changing talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity over emotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility. A talk to share.
Start a New Career as a Teacher
As you are moving through your life and you think “I’d like a new career” it can be easy to think through all of the negative outcomes. If you want to be a teacher there can be fear of failing, fear of your students not liking you, or fear of passing the certification exams. But, what if instead of focusing on the negative possibilities you focused on what could happen if you did become a teacher? You could impact students’ lives, you could have holidays off and summer break, you could travel more, you could spend more time with your family. The possibilities are endless. Don’t let fear stop you from reaching your goals. Don’t let discomfort allow you to play it safe, it is in the discomfort and pain of life that we change and grow. Real success comes from hard work, failure, and more hard work.