Its been a while since I've discussed the Enneagram on my blog. Its still a constant part of my life, though-- and I refer to its knowledge and philosophy while working out the whys of human behavior in day to day life.As a Type 4, I've long taken notice of the ups and downs of 4 idiosyncrasies. One thing I've often taken issue with in descriptions of Type 4s is the whole "ENVY as primary sin" part. I've certainly wasted much of my life longing for aspects and states of being that seem well out of my reach. My fantasies are so much more enriched than my real life-- there are various characters and circumstances in which opportunities to explore relationships and personal expression are obviously much more expanded! 4s drench themselves in fantasy to the point their pretend lives are almost more real to them than reality-- which isn't to say they're crazy. They well know one from the other-- they just prefer the other most of the time. It can be a real source of inspiration-- or the worst time waster of a mentally self-spoiled hedonist.The way I hear it, most people's fantasies are quick things that come and go. Wish-fulfillment or fear-practice ("if THIS scary thing happens, I'll do THIS to meet it") type scenarios. Perhaps an actual story will be made up-- maybe a better version of real life, just with more money/love/fame or something. But 4s have very complex alternate lives with repeat characters (who resemble no one in real life) and often much angst and suffering, with happiness hard to find but precious when found. Its embarrassing to admit to people, but uh--- yeah.My love for these alternate storylines of life are what I've considered my own envy issue. I envy the characters I make up and toss in to the stories I come up with because their lives seem to have meaning and romance, adventure and divine inspiration. There is a purpose to such lives-- when I am the goddess who proscribes them! OF COURSE there's always an answer to the question "Why?" Whereas my life is a confusing blend of unanswered mysteries enmeshed in mundane reality-- and somehow I never get any satisfaction on either front: the weird stuff has no answer, and the mundane stuff keeps plodding along like it always has. I envy the people in my private universes for having me as their god! LOL! I don't just throw shit together, shrug, and walk away like our God apparently does! =^)However, in general I don't envy "real life" people much. Everyone is either flawed or lives in flawed circumstances, or both! I respect most people, but I admire almost no one. Sounds horrible I suppose, but in my personal life, their are few heroes or heroines I come into contact with. The vast majority lack too much of something for me to wish I had what they have: if they're rich, they might lack creativity or compassion, the nice people might lack intelligence, the creative people might lack ambition, the intelligent people might lack wealth, and anyone with anything can yet lack beauty, health, grace, courage, honor, fortitude, etc.! My point is not that I think I'm the cat's meow, its that it seems like most people are a mixture of strengths and weaknesses same as me, so what is there to envy!? Most people have qualities that bring in me, if I bother to notice at all, a mixture of pity and envy, and of respect and compassion.This attitude I hold means I don't really "get" the whole competing for status thing. Everyone I meet who seems so hung up on it are so obviously trying too hard that I'm embarrassed for them and pity them almost automatically, even if I wish I had some of their access to adventure or opportunities to meet interesting people. The idea that having more stuff makes you a more admirable person has never made sense to me. Nor the idea of fame. Most of those who have the qualities I truly admire-- human qualities quite aside from money, fame, and status, live modest lives and touch too few to be much noticed. I treasure each and every one of them in my sphere-- but they all struggle with issues, too, just as I do. How can I envy their personal set of ups and downs as opposed to my own? It seems silly.So the envy issue--? I have a weird take on it myself, having a hard time feeling it for any one REAL. There are ideals in my head of course. Wishes and "wouldn't-it-be-great-ifs". But they just don't translate well into the world in which I actually exist!I know many 4s, and yes-- they all have very rich inner lives. I talk to several of them on Facebook and over the phone quite regularly. Yet I have not paid enough attention to the "envy" problem we have-- likely because I don't think of it in those terms nowadays. But today, talking to a Type 4 friend who was sharing her biggest source of sorrow, I found that very issue hitting me like a ton of bricks. My friend was feeling INADEQUATE and hating herself for not being more beautiful, more intelligent, more humorous, more creative, etc. She is drawn to very talented and gifted people. People 'above normal' intelligence and playfulness. And sometimes she can't keep up or at least can't compete on their level-- which is what she expects of herself in all times and all situations ideally-- no matter how unrealistic that is.I've heard her bring up this type of thing every time she's depressed in this existential way. She starts to hate herself for not being the way she feels she ought to be. And I realized: that's envy! She wants other people's qualities for herself, and feels as if not having them is actually unbearable. Of course, she has qualities other people envy-- she's a very talented artist, and is unafraid to pursue her passions, and she's bright and fun and kind. But she discounts these qualities as having less value because she already has them, its the qualities she wants more of that are truly prized.And it came back to me... when I felt that way. When I looked at the world and people as parts and pieces of things I wanted and couldn't have, and hated myself for not having them. (I didn't hate people who had what I had, but rather myself for not having them? I think that's backward of how it usually goes!) Its been a very long time since I've felt that way, but it was a strong part of my personality in my teens for sure. I pushed myself to get over that, however, because that very attitude made me absolutely miserable, and I knew I was the one bringing that misery to myself. Which was unacceptable-- because I have enough problems as it is without being my own worst enemy on top of it!So I lost my envy of all things in the real world, and retained only a fraction reserved for fantasies made up in my own mind. Now when I face it in others, I am both confused and bemused-- because sometimes I forget about when I was like that, too. Looking over it all again now, I am grateful I lost this 'sin' for the most part while still young. It is a terrible way to waste your energy, always wanting what you can never have-- and forgetting to appreciate what you do.Sometimes devotion to a realistic worldview can save your spirit. Everyone in the real world is a mixture of suckage and win, deal with it and move on I say. There's enough suffering in your own life without burdening yourself in expectations of perfection.
Moderator here.I thought I'd expand a bit on my answer to a recent poster who lamented perhaps being a 4 and "losing" their imagination along with other good qualities of a 4. Please understand, I'm not trying to pick on anyone! I don't want to hurt feelings, just help clarify the confusion.Every type has good and bad qualities with no type better than another, yet people often project how they think they'd LIKE to be upon the Enneagrammatic label and decide they're a different type than they are. This comes from 3 things:1-- An incomplete understanding of the Enneagram. In which case, more knowledge is called for--.2-- Concentrating on only a few part of a description of a type exclusively rather than looking at the entire type. For example, the notion that "4s have a good imagination-- so do I, therefore I must be a 4." MANY types have access to a broad and colorful imagination (for example 5s, who nonetheless prefer creating abstract systems or entire worlds over mental melodramas, which is the typical 4 imaginary pattern. Or 9s, who like epic stories with a "happily ever after" at the end...) Simply reviewing all aspects of a type and acknowleging where things do NOT match up will address this. 3-- Romanticising and idealizing certain types above other types and at least subconsciously deciding egoistically that one is the type they admire the most. In this case, it is difficult to convince one to realize their true type because that would go against their Ego Agenda. Sadly, the point of the enneagram is to go beyond the ego, not to label oneself as Special just for being one type rather than another. It doesn't end with the label-- that's just the beginning of the process. If a person is unhappy and turns to the Enneagram for help, but can't accept facing that they are NOT the type they want to be-- the Enneagram is of absolutely no use at all. If anything, it may be a step backwards.Now, as for Type 4s...Type 4s are known for being addicted to their imaginations-- to the point they neglect "real" life and it's responsibilities. So, imagination is NOT seen as a good thing for 4s, but rather as a gift turned upside down. When stressed, a 4 GOES TO their imagination FIRST, they sort of slide into it as a habit, like a kid who couldn't stop pretending long after they grew up. Therefore, a stressed out person who thinks they are a 4, but laments losing their imagination, could not possibly be a 4. (Age can have a lot to do with this question, too. A teenager or early 20-something who laments losing their imagination may be in fact lamenting the loss of the widespread imagination ALL children possess-- and this is a normal part of growing up for most people.)I would urge anyone who thinks they are a 4 but has "lost" their access to their previously amazing imagination to reassess what Type they are. 4s, even healthy 4s, don't lose their imagination, they just balance it all out and channel it more productively. One of the most frequently mis-typed Types is the 4, apparently because many other types romanticize 4s without comprehending the actual drawbacks to this type. (Or maybe they even romanticize those drawbacks-- we live in a victimhood culture, so that wouldn't be surprising either.) If you don't know what your type is, you are most likely from the Triad of 3, 6, or 9-- the 3 types most characterized by LACK OF SELF-INSIGHT. 3s try to create themselves in the image that will gain the most status. 6s try to create themselves in the image that will gain them the most security and freedom from fear. And 9s just pick what seems the nicest to them (typically 9s mis-type themselves as 5s or 2s.)Appreciate the use of the forum. Thank you for posting! I hope you don't see the above as me scolding everyone. I'm just trying to lay all the facts out for you to look over and think about as you like. In the end, only you get to decide what to do with any sort of Enneagram information. Good luck! =^)
Well, I have been noticing all of today that it's been one of my more shameful days, and I know that our type is well known for this difficult feeling and so I thought I would reach out to my fellow Fours... Do you experience it, and to what degree and what about?I am hard on myself about quite a few things...Did I perform this or that action right, do I come across okay... The biggest thing tends to be relationships with other people. Sometimes out of the blue I'll remember something I did to hurt somebody and I'll say, "I hate myself" out loud without even thinking about it, and I'm also so inside myself that I wouldn't say I was the best at intuiting what other people need and so I sometimes unintentionally hurt other people and other times don't even know if I did or not, and what to do about it... Sigh. And the fact that my social subtype comes first in the stacking and my self preservation last doesn't help my dwelling, you know? And my 5 wing with being so inside myself.I usually just try to take these feelings in stride, I don't really know what else to do...
Hello again.I want to know if any other fours can also identify with sevens? there is no 4 7 wing although I feel I truly am a mix of them. I have improved greatly over the past years. Once comforted by my dellusions depression self defeating overly sensitive self now... in my greatest state I am extremely energetic positive and feel the need to try everything, and end up starting far too many things but not necessarily getting much done and in turn feeling scattered. I attribute a great deal of this to the 7 personality type, or if it just manifests in that way in having far more energy and experience than I used to. I also want to mention something that has transformed my life, or allowed a transformation is daily streneous exercise. I was overweight my whole adolescent life, which was one way my anxiety was furthered and why I felt so depressed and isolated as well as misunderstood, overly sensitive, cynical and moody. I have changed a great deal and consciously try and remain positive which is one way in which I have helped myself but this has really happened I feel because of daily exercising which has given me far more positive energy and has allowed me to rid of overly emotional sensitive states.I really feel strongly about this and really hope other fours can relate to this and I encourage anyone who is feeling depressed and lives in negativity and melancholy to really seek some form of exercise because it honestly can transform that state to the opposite, and then you become addicted to the positivity and feeling good! Ha. Anyway just something I wanted to share. Apologize if I sound preachy. I just know how secluded and depressed us fours can feel but know the opposite side when you just feel so connected and positive.
I am curious as to whether any other fours have a problem with being attracted to those who are unattainable, seem rather unemotional on the surface (I assume this would be appealing for us because its the opposite?) or are attracted to those from far away but then when become closer the attraction ceases. This has happened to me a few times and I cant seem to understand it. I want someone who will treat me well and show me proper attention, then again I am currently attracted to someone who lacks proper empathy, claims to be unemotional, and doesnt give me nearly as much attention as I give him. I also idealize those I'm attracted to wishing they were someone they are clearly not , evident once I actually begin to know them. It seems I am most attracted to people when they are NOT there...that whole fantasy focus on absence thing common in fours. My question is how do we as fours know if the attraction is real or if its just a fantasy? Please share thoughts or experiences with this. Thanks!
I have always been focused on absence and only recently realized that what I thought others had was often on the surface or a product of their own doing as opposed to feeling resentful and envious. I have always 'lived in my head' .. has anyone else had this phenomenon of either being IN a conversation or not, like I only truly feel emersed in some social situations other times I am hyperfocusing on small details or I am so hyperaware of my every move it distracts me from what is going on, or often I feel like Id rather be somewhere else and go off in my head,, when at other times I truly feel there and it feels wonderful to attain a deep connection. I suppose that is the fantastical world we as fours inhabit. I have recently taking a great liking to meditation and mindfulness as a way to come back to reality, stay in current surroundings and focus on the present. I think this is an extremely helpful tool especially for fours who are prone to escaping reality. Yet in my my most anxious states I can stare at an object for hours and attatch excessive thought and meaning to it, often reflecting on the past or who I could BE and fantasizing about how others might perceive me in the future and how happy I could be doing this and that, when in reality I dont get much done that I seek out to do or fantasize about in my head. I am currently having troubles focusing in class, studying, and getting work done, my mind tends to go off and self obsess, and as a result I feel absentminded and forgetful or let myself do something else because I dont 'feel' like it. I am insanely occupied with what most people refer to as 'too deep' to talk about, when I'm sure as other fours could relate would just assume is the the REAL stuff. I find small talk utterly nauseating. Anywho as fours does anyone have any suggestions to focusing and truly being emmersed in a subject of studying rather than saying oh I dont feel like doing work so I'm going to do this instead, I always pay most attention to how I feel. I have only recently learned this is not realistic in the real world. Also, if anyone has any ideas as to what jobs or areas of study fours tend to be attracted to , that place a large emphasis on creativity and feeling. Thanks! I apologize for the jumble of words and rambling.
Some background info:When I was 15, after months of anxiety attacks on an everyday basis, I was diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorder. The night before my 15th birthday, I absolutely snapped right off my hinges. I was certain I was losing my mind (never really knew what that felt like until that point) and was pretty sure I was going to end up killing myself, but there was this one song that got me through that night, called Fiction (Dreams in Digital), by Orgy. To this day, I treasure that song immensely and I like to listen to it from time to time. When I started taking interest in the enneagram, the song had a whole new meaning and I found it pretty humorous at just how much it shouts Type 4. I thought I might share it with you and let you take a gander at the similar descriptions in the lyrics...
Everyone here is talking about their numbers and wings but no one has really mentioned their variant: Intimate, Social and Self Preservation. Has anyone explored these?
Hi ! I'm new here , and recently I found out about the enneagram and I was fascinated by it .I'm definitely a 4 , not sure which wing yet.Right Now I'm trough a very hard time in my life and I'm kinda depressed , but I'm ok I guess.I would like to know more about 4's relationships , because right now I'm really confused with the "relationship" I'm in , it seems to be pretty one sided , this guy does not give me the attention I need , just when he wants. But for some reason I'm always there for him , even though I know hes not really interested in me. So the thing is that I I seem to want what i can't have , hes not the cutest or intelligent guy on earth but i still need his attention and I'm definetly not getting it .There are some guys that would like be with me , that would treat me right but for some reason I'm only focusing on what I cant have , or on whats not there for me . What I notice is that he does not see me as interesting , he thinks I'm boring and i have found myself trying to change his mind ,I cant stand that he thinks that I'm boring or not interesting because deep inside I know I'm not like all of the other girls .Well what a pathetic story .. I just wanted to know how this could be related to the enneagram . type 4 . and sorry if this has nothing to do with it . Has someone been is a situation like this before? Sorry about my english , my native language is spanish so I'm doing my best :)have a nice day
This entry was elicited from commentary betwixt myself and Odyssey. We were discussing the similarities and differences in how 3s and 4s search for a "mirror" in other people, and what exactly that means to each type, and I was rather proud of one of my responses, so I re-post it here:
"I think both 3s and 4s have a preoccupation with mental and archetypal "mirrors." Both are preoccupied with themselves in really intricate, complex, but rather different, ways.
It seems that when most 3s look into a mental mirror, they are comparing what they see with an ideal of what they SHOULD see, and they try to understand what impact the image of themselves will have on others, & they surmise how it would compare to the image were it closer to the ideal. They want to be attractive because they are ADMIRABLE-- they try to hide the shameful faluts. It's like they want all their good parts to be appreciated. Not appreciated enough? There must be ways of enhancing or adding to the good parts, right? The tragedy for the 3 is to often be so occupied with the lists of good parts and the appearance of the image, that they neglect their spirit, their heart, and their truth.
Contrast this to the 4. When they look in the mental mirror, they're trying to understand WHY they are so... who they are. And who they are seems so out of touch and apart from everyone else. WHY? What is the STORY behind the odd appearance and the sad eyes they see in the mirror? When 4s get preoccupied with mirrors, they're searching for the hidden layers, the stuff you DON'T see in an image (by looking at an image? huh? but yeah...) and they look at and claim the FAULTS as much, perhaps more, than any strengths. They almost savor their own shame. Because it points to a unique person with a unique story. There is redemption in the pain (so they tell themselves) for it teaches compassion-- and an appreciation for the melodramas of life. And they hope (as I do in my secret shadows) to be SEEN, faults and all, and yet still be appreciated for the fascinating beings they are-- as they strive to learn to appreciate themselves. (All 4s think they're fascinating in comparison to most others-- this is our one TRUE vanity!) The great tragedy for the 4 is that they are so occupied with their own tragic, fascinating, image of themselves (no matter how true) that they no longer allow happiness and hope to touch them.
I want to be "seen" because I don't feel I am seen or understood very often at all. My shadowy 4 side wants to be interesting enough that I seem worth the effort to someone else-- and I selfishly want to be the heroine in someone else's story besides my own, I guess! (At least sometimes.) I've mostly outgrown the sensation, but it comes back to haunt me from time to time!
I want to be "seen" because I don't feel I am seen or understood very often at all. My shadowy 4 side wants to be interesting enough that I seem worth the effort to someone else-- and I selfishly want to be the heroine in someone else's story besides my own, I guess! (At least sometimes.) Probably to fulfill that intense need for validation that all 4s have (and, indeed, 2s and 3s-- or the "feeling" types-- as well.)"