Regardless of how much we study personality, we will still occasionally become gripped by it.
Eradication isn’t the name of the game, I think. The aim is to get more skilled at meeting what we encounter, moment-to-moment.
What I notice in my own Observer practice is that awareness contracts around familiar vortexes. Some of mine are “is this it” and “is that all?” Regularly, I meet a frustration that surfs on the brink of disappointment.
The same ideals that drive me to want to learn how to improve things for myself and others – in the specific way that I do – make it challenging to accept too many unengaging conversations and mediocre plates of food (for example). Embracing those things has at times felt confronting.
In meeting our awareness events, those of us engaged in inner work turn the lens inward for cause and freedom. It’s an effective strategy; Viktor Frankl would surely approve.
But do this enough times in regards to the same things, and you do start to question where the line is between changing something and changing yourself!
Emotional responsibility is necessary. Ego observation is also necessary.
But for me, and for anyone who identifies with being a person of ideals, those impulses we have towards better, happier, more depth please, are expressions of innocence as well as traps of personality.
Tempering them requires care.
When to act on your ideals and when to let them go
So how do we discern the innocent version of our ideals from the fixated version? As a person with ideals, how much ordinariness do you embrace?
What helps with the knowing (at least from a Head Center perspective) is to get really intimate with the tenets of our egos – what I seem to spend my life doing and the major reason I do Enneagram work, and why I encourage others to.
Lately, I’ve been acquainting myself with the facets of my idealism and asking myself the question, are they grounded?
What I am trying right now is abandoning my ideals (although not my disappointment) when they are directed at external conditions. Acting on them hasn’t made me happy in the past. I’m wondering what can open up by improving my capacity for presence with the mundane and the lackluster.
I can do grounded. I just hope my idealism forgives me!
Anyways, some wisdom you were after I think?
How the Frustrated Idealists – Types One, Four and Seven – can ground their ideals
I am on this Prison Training thing at the moment. There are quite a few Enneagram Sevens. My type, or more accurately, the type I work with.
My teacher, Susan Olesek (Type One), says it’s normal. It’s because we Sevens, along with Ones and Fours, are Idealists.
Oh yes, I thought. Why haven’t I spent more time engaging with this aspect of my type structure?
There’s a beauty to idealism. It contains the drive to improve things. Susan’s Prison Project perfectly illustrates that, and I’ve illustrated it myself in different ways in my own life.
Idealism is not a burden, except when it is.
Later in the same week, when researching the Hidden Lines on the Enneagram, I found my way to one of the less known (to me) aspects of the ‘gram: a Triadic grouping called Object Relations (or Dominant Affect Groups), one of which is the Frustrated Idealists triad.
As per Kathleen of Enneagram Discovery:
“Our ego exists only in relation to something else. It is how we affect or are affected by the other. The three fundamental affects are attachment, frustration and rejection. Although everyone experiences all three affects, each Enneagram Type derives its strongest, most familiar sense of identity from one of these affects. Three Types are attachment-based, three Types are frustration-based and three Types are rejection-based.”
So Ones, Fours, fellow Sevens, we are the frustration-based Frustrated Idealists.
The three kinds of Frustrated Idealism
As per Leslie Hershberger (Enneagram Seven):
“The 1/4/7 Triad are the Idealists of the Enneagram as they each hold a vision of the way the world could be in order for life and spirit to thrive.
They experience frustration that the world isn’t as it should be (1s seek a world where people and things run and operate the way they think it should be, 4s long for a world where nothing of substance is missing and 7s seek a stimulating, interesting world that is free of limits, boredom and physical/emotional/spiritual pain).”
Interestingly, we may hold the clues to one another’s salvation.
“The energy patterns of the other types in your harmony triad can help you to become more grounded in your ideals.”
Can this explain my attraction to Fours and Ones?
Probably, maybe, at least a little.
Leslie Hershberger’s advice for Frustrated Idealists
Leslie elaborates on the work:
“With intention and a shift of attention, the 4 can access the 7ish part of their pattern that is funny, optimistic and senses potential and possibility. As 4s deepen their awareness, they tend to take themselves less seriously much like a 7. They can also attend to ordinary tasks that are less interesting and meaningful as a 1 might do, while sharing assertively what they think (as long as they don’t go on too long in an attempt to be understood).
With intention and a shift of attention, the 7 can slow themselves down and allow quiet time for internal reflection like a 4 which may put them in touch with painful, darker feelings that have much energy but are compulsively avoided. As they become more comfortable with a fuller spectrum of feeling, they are less escapist and can attend to details that are less interesting like a 1 and take time to do things precisely in a timely manner.
With intention and a shift of attention, the 1 can experiment with spontaneity and possibility much like a 7 and do something without a hyper-organized plan. 7s also love to laugh and 1s are often drawn to the way a 7 can activate their silly switch. They can access their inner 4-like creative self and write, dance, paint as this allows them more freedom and expansion. In the creative realm, there is nuance and this helps the 1 shift their black and white thinking and allows them to open their heart.”
I hope these give you food for thought as they did for me.