The Healthy One
John, a Type One, is a delight when he’s healthy. Light-hearted, kind, reasonable, fair, wise, discerning, Jon Stewart-funny (of The Daily Show) and self-effacing, he can laugh at his tendencies to be a perfectionist, and to take himself way too seriously. Although he has an eye on what he could improve in you, he holds it very softly. He is a good-hearted and committed to embodying ethical principles but not compelled to force them onto others. He is concerned about your well-being, able to look at things objectively, and lives by a code of honesty and integrity. A shining light of truth, purpose and hard work, if you need help he will deliver it with excellence and precision. Want solid advice on how to do something well, he’s the ‘go to’ person. In touch with his basic goodness, he has no need to improve or fix you according to his standards (when he is less healthy he is more than glad to point to the details of your errors and what should be done to improve). At his best he is called to help and find effective ways to serve others and improve their quality of life without criticism or self-righteousness. Honest, fair, and dedicated to a high standard of integrity, he can be counted on to take impeccable, responsible, skillful action. His journey in recovery has not been an easy one. Like all Type Ones he still struggles under the heavy burden of self-criticism, and feeling that he has fallen below his ideal standard of behavior. Under stress, he notices that he loses contact with his heart and his graciousness, and goes into work mode, trying to make himself and other things ‘right.’ Then he becomes intrusive with his ideals and others feel the pinch of his criticism. Although his perfectionism is more quietly expressed today, internally he notices that he is often under the microscope of his never-tired Inner Critic who sees flaws everywhere and goads him to improve and make things correct. When healthy he can laugh about this, and not become so strident that his body constricts and hardens into a vice grip. An important part of his recovery is noticing when he is gripping the steering wheel of “what should be improved” and feeling the heavy weight of obligation driving him to fix everything and everyone that needs improvement of some kind. Today, because of his work to become present and aware, he can more often see when his personality habits are taking over, and with the support of others, come back into a state of presence and awareness. Able to apologize when he has criticized and judged others, he is less often taken by the dictates of his Inner Critic who is always willing to remind him of what he has done imperfectly. As he’s become less critical his capacity to relax and engage life with grace has grown, and his belief that he is responsible for fixing everything, softened. He notices his level of health on a given day by his capacity to be in touch with his heart, his feelings, or whether in fact they have disappeared behind the iron wall of his opinions and a need to correct others, or self.
Type One in Addiction—Life at Level 6 & 7
At L6 and L7 the addicted Type One expresses the “opposite” of his healthy qualities. He is aggressive and undermines individuals with his opinions and principles in the name of serving and improving them. Blinded by a narrow view of reality and how others should be engaging it, he loses contact with his balanced wisdom and fairness. Driven to attack and criticize those who offend his standards (including him/herself), he has fallen far from being an exemplar of reasonable, patient and well thought-out principles. In the grip of his suffering, his principles and opinions (which he mistakes as reality and truth because he feels his opinions so ‘viscerally’) become weapons that discourage and dishearten the efforts of others. Instead of shining a light of heartfelt, well-reasoned wisdom onto matters of concern, he rivets people with resentment-filled judgments. Often compelled to bring attention to what is wrong with people, places and things, he fails to see what is good, correct, and in order (At Level 4 and down, these tendencies increasingly intensify). Overwhelmed by his sense of defectiveness at Level 6 and 7 and doing all he can to numb it, he delivers a message that others are evil, defective and irredeemable. (This is an example of ‘The Leadon Rule from The Wisdom of the Enneagram, by Riso & Hudson: Do unto others what you fear being done to you. The One, fearing that he is bad and irredeemable, makes others feel this way.) Instead of a graceful and balanced delivery of logical intelligence (think of Al Gore in Inconvenient Truth) he has become rigid and contracted with resentment. Filled with self-hatred he attempts to restore his well-being and integrity by trying to be good, trying to reform himself and his environment by ‘making’ people (and himself) do things according to his ideals. When he arrives in addiction recovery he has violated the vast majority of his principles, has often fallen sway to the chaotic impulses of his body and passion, and is riddled with shame and self-condemnation. His deepest fear has come true: he is defective, bad, and condemnable. He is the failure he feared he might be, and seriously questioning whether he is redeemable. His innate capacity to be a force of change, service and reasonableness has vanished into the distortions of his addiction. Instead of being modest and balanced, he has fallen prey to self-indulgence and acting on his impulsive feelings and desires, while stridently asserting his right position. (Note: The Direction of Stress for the One is to move to Level 4-7 of the Type Four. Read the Type Four chapter to get a look at how the One responds under stress.)
The First Twelve Weeks for the Type One in Treatment
The newly sober and clean Type One arrives at a men’s treatment facility filled with tortuous and overbearing self-condemnation (Well, he condemns you, too. Don’t take it personally!). He has an Inner Critic the size of Kilimanjaro, who greets him with a ranting film clip of all his errors and violations the second he opens his eyes each morning. In self-defense, he begins casting aspersions on those who have failed him including God, the liberals, the conservatives, the government, the spouse! This mechanism of blaming and condemning is as sharp as a stiletto and what he is compelled to use to protect himself from his dire circumstance: addiction has forced his hand, stripped him of everything, and cornered him in a residential treatment facility. Horrified, he is realizing that his opinion-driven life has not worked and he must turn to others to guide him from the darkness. His innate gift to the groups he participates in is his chilling, laser-like honesty. He will tell you exactly what he sees and is unconcerned who sides with him. If he believes someone is not being honest or not living up to their commitment to recovery, he will call it as he sees it, direct and true. At his best he can cut through his rationalizations and delusions and take an unsparing look at his failures with shuddering precision. His down-side is his tendency to see his errors with so much harshness and judgment such that he nearly crushes his spirit with his laser-like clarity (or the spirits of those in group). He is in desperate need of forgiveness and the ability to see his flaws with a kind heart. Having lost his lightness of being, he approaches everything in a stringent and logical fashion, rigidity his only hold on power or control. In vulnerable moments, self-hatred and impatience churning in his gut, his gift of honesty can become a weapon to judge those around him, pushing them far away. With great speed he can assess their weaknesses and strike with cold logic. And yet doubt rails inside him: “Maybe I don’t really know what I’m doing. Maybe I’m as lost as they are.” The truth is ruthless: He is one of these men that he so harshly criticizes. He is just like them, imperfect, in trouble, humiliated and addicted. Humility and mercy are the doors he must pass through. He, too, ‘deserves’ and ‘needs’ help, and truck loads of mercy. His Inner Critic thinks otherwise!
Protective Mechanism of the One in Early Recovery—You Can’t See my Flaws
Afraid that his flaws will be seen, that he will be condemned as other than perfect, the One constructs a tough boundary of protection fortified by his strident criticisms and right opinions. He arrives in early recovery well-defended and quick on the draw, compelled to assert his judgments and opinions as if protecting his very life. His inflexible opinions have become the replacement for losing touch with what is good within him and a buffer for avoiding the suffering his addiction has caused. Unconsciously the One is saying “You will not get close enough to see my imperfections and failures. My opinions and judgments will keep you at bay. You will not have access to that part of me that feels I’m am condemned and unforgivable! In fact, I don’t let myself in that close; it’s too unbearable. If I allow you to get close you could touch my heartbreaking disappointment with myself. I cannot bear this!”
The newly sober One can barely sit still in groups and is anxious to take actions that can quickly clean up whatever “external” messes he sees in his life (He will struggle against this habit throughout his recovery!). He is a man of action! Looking internally into his heart is alien territory and is his Achilles heel. As he impatiently sits in treatment, memories of his errors flood him. In response he is quick to notice who doesn’t follow the rules, and feels an overwhelming obligation to bring all of this to the attention of staff…and the guilty clients. He points out the imperfections he sees in fellow clients and counselors with anger and condescension, while his judging mind screams, “What is wrong with these guys? They have no commitment to working hard on their recovery.” Many times, the Type One at Serenity House becomes the renowned ‘Cleaning Nazi.’ Never has Serenity House been so clear under the impervious eye and clean-the-house-of-all-disorder-and dirt passion of the Type One. Never mind that one week earlier he sat in his own apartment, dishes stacked to the ceiling, ants having formed a food-line to and from the dishes, his clothes unwashed and crumpled on the floor, bed, couch, for weeks! Mired in ‘blackout hell’ and ‘alcohol fog’ for years with little ability to commit to anything but drinking or drugging, this reality has faded into drunken amnesia. When it awakens, he will be riveted with shame. This must be prepared for. And, his Type One passion of ‘bring chaos to disorder’ will come online in a nano-second, as in lightening speed. I say to Paul, a man sober seven days, “Paul, are you aware of how passionate you are to bring order and chaos to Serenity House, the clients, to myself and staff, when for the past few years, you’ve lived in crack-house-style-disorder?” He looks back at me, a fearless alertness in his eyes, pauses, grins sheepishly, and says, “Yes, that’s true. But that doesn’t matter because I’m back!” We both laugh. Unwittingly the One protects his vulnerability and sense of failure by criticizing the environment with his principles, ideals, perfection-driven positions, dividing everything up into right or wrong, black or white, pass or fail assessments (These are major relapse triggers thru-out his recovery). This keeps those away who might actually help him heal his inner sorrow, self-judgment and disappointment. He girds himself with a boundary of “I’m right and you aren’t, so don’t mess with me.” Held hostage by his opinions, he makes others feel unredeemable and condemnable. Squeezed into a knot of certainty by his standards, he experiences a false sense of independence and capacity. Driving all of this is his self-rejection of his imperfect humanness. His passion to see errors creeps into everything he does. At an AA meeting he will quickly see the flaws of AA members (while unable to see their positive qualities). In short time he will conclude: “No one works these steps the way they should be! The help given here is substandard.” In his short time clean and sober he believes he knows what should be improved in AA and NA. Superiority (hiding despair and heartbreak) churns in him as he is angered at the lack of order, discipline and honesty demonstrated by recovering individuals. Unwittingly he has set up a boundary that makes it nearly impossible for anyone to lead him out of the grip of his addiction (all types have a different version of this). In short time, unless he softens this habit, he will relapse in a flame of righteous indignation. He will feel justified in self-destructing!
Core Wound Relapse Pattern: I am Bad and Unredeemable
The core wound & relapse pattern, consisting of the Core Fears, Emotional and Mental Habit, and Inner Critic Message of the Type, is the psychological and emotional stuff of the type’s “central relapse pattern” which encountered and is challenged at deeper and deeper levels throughout one’s recovery. It is the Minotaur standing at the doorway of deeper growth, transformation, freedom and communion with self, others and the Divine. It will be confronted periodically at deeper and deeper levels until fully transformed and healed (See “Excavating the True Self” in The Wisdom of the Enneagram, and Chapter 13: “The Reality of Growth and Change on the Recovery Path—Navigating the Nine Strata.”) That said, the One habitually compares himself to an idealistic standard of right and wrong, good or bad, which he’s strives to achieve (no matter how long he’s been clean and sober). He is straddled with an illusion at the lower average levels of health (Level 5-7) that his standards should be followed by everyone, and he feels obligated to enforce them. He feels good when he meets his standards, and badly when he doesn’t. When he enters addiction treatment his standards for himself and others have become stringent and harsh with little room for error. Paradoxically he has violated his very standards and fallen into rebellious, self-indulgent, addictive behaviors which he has great difficulty recognizing and acknowledging. Since his errors are unacceptable, he is compelled to deny them by seeing his flaws in others. Wrapped in a psychological iron coat of self-control designed to avoid errant behaviors and impulses, his heart and soul can barely breathe. The driving force—and a key relapse trigger for the One—is his core fear of being bad, corrupt and condemnable, and that his body, feelings and impulses could cause him to make unforgivable mistakes unless he strictly controls himself. John explains his struggle with feeling he is condemnable:
“When I came into addiction treatment I was wrapped in anger, resentment, depression, and hopelessness. I could barely look at myself, and could barely sense my feelings. Mostly I felt rage and self-hatred, and would say to myself, ‘How could I have ever let myself do those things. I can’t believe it. I broke my rules so often, and couldn’t do a thing to stop it. How can I ever forgive myself? I should have never made those mistakes.’ This tape would play over and over in my head, myself feeling like I didn’t deserve to succeed, that I’d broken my own rules too many times, that I was condemned. I’d see the flaws of others and feel the same thing towards them, that they too needed to be punished, that punishment would be the only thing that could correct the errors. The idea that mercy and kindness was the anecdote would take me a long time to digest and understand. Sometimes men would attempt to be kind and merciful to me and I’d reject them as being too soft, and too lenient. I came to understand that I was drawn to men in recovery who were hard on me, and were punitive, and that my real growth path meant allowing mercy to touch me.”
Wishing with all his being that he could feel ‘good’ again (his deep wish), he gets lost in the machinations of his personality. In the grip of his emotional habit of “resentment” he feels duty-bound to fix the errors he sees in himself and in others. This duty translates into direct action at Level 5, 6 and 7 and he has no qualms about sharing his opinion. His mental habit (or fixation) of “judging” compels the One to habitually evaluate reality as imperfect, fueling his intense resentment for feeling required to fix what is wrong. What does resentment do to the sweet, human heart? It squeezes it shut. It strangles and chokes it. And when a heart is strangled, also strangled is the capacity to savor the sweetness of the heart, or to feel the delicate and loving essence of the heart, or to enjoy the kind and tender connections with those we love. And for most human beings, disconnection from this heart turns to fierce resentment. As in, “Hey, I’m pissed because this delicate instrument of my existence, my heart, is squeezed shut, and frankly I feel awful.” John explains the intense personality habits that he became aware of:
“When I got sober and clean, I felt horrible. I wasn’t conscious enough to really get what I was feeling but over time I did: I felt that I was a bad person. What I did notice was that I was constantly criticizing everyone around me, feeling both compelled and right about my judgments of them, and was constantly in a state of frustration and anger. Nothing was right, nothing was done correctly, and I thought I was the one who should and could fix it. I would tell people that they were doing something wrong without waiting for an invitation. I just assumed that since I saw it, I had a right and duty to say it. In my mind I was just being honest and true to my values, and I was sure I was right even when I wasn’t. I had a weird sort of confidence about this. I didn’t realize that what I was truly communicating to others was that they were bad, that their errors were worthy of my condemnation. It took me considerable time to realize that when I felt under the spell of “I am a bad person,” that I’d quickly shift the attention away from these painful self-judgments onto evaluating and scolding others. I would skewer them with judgment and feel completely justified. This habit was so compelling that I actually relapsed several times because of the intense misery and resentment I was feeling towards others, and because no one wanted to spend time with me. I was utterly alone (and heart-broken) and couldn’t understand why. I was so cold and unable to feel my heart and emotions that I had little to offer people in the way of kindness, true empathy, or support. My heart was squeezed shut by my opinions. And, I thought that being kind and merciful to others (or myself) would let people (or myself) off the hook for their errors.”
The One becomes the “burdened one,” the one responsible for making things right, the one angered by responsibilities he can’t possibly shoulder or succeed at, the one responsible for things that are not his responsibility. As he has descended down the Levels of Health and into the arms of his addiction, his anger at failing his mission has intensified, and his need to obliterate his awareness through his addiction the often-taken door. But numbing the persistent emotional current that is constantly reaching to him, that he is defective and condemnable, is only momentarily successful. In his desperate attempt to be ‘good’ he intensifies his rationalizations for his behaviors and his strident judgments of self and others. He begins to take ‘pride’ on how hard he is on himself, and a strange form of vanity develops in which he says to himself, “I am good because I do not let myself off the hook. I treat myself harshly and I’m proud that I can endure this, and inflict this upon myself. I don’t need mercy. Mercy is for irresponsible people.” His addiction and his defensive behaviors close the door on his ability to impartially discern what is real.
Terrence experienced his Oneness in another manner:
“My entire life has not been about negatively correcting others. My personality and sobriety issues have revolved around my unrelenting self-criticism and self-punishment. This, of course, closes and hardens my heart which most definitely affects others and my relationships with them. I had always considered everyone else an expert at what they do and their choices in life. I assumed others were better than me. I can’t fathom how others have allowed themselves permission to try something and fail, or to do something imperfectly. My whole drinking life was the illusion that everyone else was perfect and I was somehow so flawed and fearful—afraid to try anything new or challenging; afraid I’d fail or be found out as an imposter. My escalating drinking fed into the fantasy that I had much to hide and that I was definitely flawed. I became intolerant of self—relentlessly pushing myself to do more and more to meet the self-imposed bar and turn off the inner critic. I thought ‘Everything will be OK if I just do XX today.’ In the depths of addiction I was filled with fear and self-loathing. I must hide this and myself from others. They must not see my flaws. This fed into my denial of the real problem. I didn’t know until I began sitting in a lot of AA rooms that people are just as flawed and imperfect as I am. That imperfect people are parents, doctors, lawyers and pilots. There’s the realization in sobriety that nobody plays by my strict and harsh rules and nobody cares much for them. And that I’ve wasted the majority of my life tightly restricting my choices, options and enjoyment of life. This brings me tremendous humility and remorse, and the growing ability to continue respecting everyone as unique and perfectly imperfect individuals.
This pattern is fueled by the One’s powerful Inner Critic message: “You are okay if you don’t make mistakes, if you do what is right, if you fix what is imperfect, if you make everything flawless including other people.” For the One this means rarely being able to rest, to enjoy, or to savor his life while always being under the microscope of perfection. He must watch himself and control his thoughts, words and actions. Everything counts, for or against him. If he could only get things or people ‘right’ he could rest. But the list of things to improve is forever expanding; there is no limit to it (and his Inner Critic is always raising the bar on what is ‘right.’). In this tight crucible of ‘make no mistakes’ resentment naturally arises, along with the desire to drink and drug.
Transformation in Recovery—Seeing Through My Self-Idealizations
The One arrives in addiction recovery when the brilliant light of reality finally reaches him. Who he wanted to be, who he thought he was, he is not. Identified with the Type One self-image of “I am honest, fair, balanced, responsible, principled, accepting, and wise,” he experiences the wrenching awakening that he has lost contact with these qualities. His addictive distortions blinded him from the reality of his actions. Then, like a great dragon, his Inner Critic will rise up before him, chanting, “It’s hopeless. Give up now. Don’t even try. You’ve failed completely and utterly.” Shocked, he sees his honesty became a tool to punish others and himself, his passion to be fair turned to self-righteous superiority, and his principles of treating others with dignity vanished in his condemnation of those who offended his ideals. Promoting ‘the truth’ he lied to himself, denied what was real, dissociated from the moments in which he indulged himself and his instincts, as he looked blindly through the singular lens of his closed mind. Believing he was ‘beyond reproach’ he acted badly, rashly, impatiently, arrogantly, dishonestly. In these moments of “awakening” he intensely experiences his core fear: he is bad and condemnable. He stands at a perilous gate where many have fallen. He sees that as he descended into addiction, his need to inflict his standards on others (and secretly to himself) grew. He will feel great remorse and sorrow as he realizes the harm he has caused, to self and others, and the delusions he fell prey to. Instinctively he will want to punish himself mercilessly. He must learn to receive mercy if he is to withstand the withering assaults of his self-criticism.
Middle Stage Recovery and Beyond The good news is that as the individual stays clean and sober his life will begin to improve. He’ll feel better! The difficult news is that the fundamental core issues previously described do not disappear but must be encountered on deeper and often more intense levels (this is the excavation work of the true self.) At predictable intervals the core fears of being bad and condemnable will arise. The recovering individual will confront ever deepening aspects of this “fear core” (along with ever-expanding states of well-being) until it is digested and healed. At each new evolution in the recovering person’s transformation, a deeper aspect of the core suffering will arise, blocking the way to the next level of growth and awareness. All the habits of the personality will come online in vivid color. He will feel as though he has made no progress in his recovery as habits that he hoped he had destroyed rear their head for another go around. This is the natural flow of healing in recovery, captured by the phrase “three steps forward, two steps back.” When it is a time for a leap in consciousness (produced by the spiritual/psychological work the individual has done) his ego-defenses will begin to melt down, his core fears will arise ever more clearly and strongly, and he will feel as though he is lost in a desert with no guidance home (In fact, he is closer to home than ever!). At each step into deeper intimacy with himself, he must walk through disorientating emotional and psychological states in which he declares out loud, “Who am I? I don’t have a familiar sense of myself! What went wrong?” It is when he passes through new doors of growth that he will be greeted by strange and unfamiliar demons—the next layer of resistance, delusion, or fear pattern to be digested so as to reach deeper freedom (his is peeling the onion of his soul, reaching deeper within). Once again, he must broaden his self-awareness, once again he must learn new skills to see and move through these inner, deeper resistances. Don Riso, in Understanding the Enneagram, captures this when he says, “No matter what your type, remember that the deeper we go in our process, the more difficult it becomes—at least for a while, and from the perspective of our personality.” (Understanding the Enneagram, p. 361) Being aware of this principle alone, could save many recovering people from middle and late stage relapse, when thinking they are through the worst of their suffering and pain, they are temporarily faced with even more difficult emotional and psychological material. The good news: this is a natural process in which they can successfully navigate these unknown regions of self—with support. As one faces into deeper shame, hurt, anger, rage, there are those traveling with you who have made this passage.
Suggestions to the Type One
1. Begin to mistrust the certainty of your opinions and judgments. You easily believe that your perspective is the truth (whether it’s about yourself or others). Your task it to begin to mistrust or question the certainty of your opinion, and to hold it with lightness (meaning don’t take yourself so seriously). This means putting your judging, “I-know-what-is-right” mind on hold long enough to allow the words of others to touch you, to reach you. Become teachable, open and curious about the perspective of others. Only in this way will you be able to receive help. Remember this, if you can: In the arena of addiction, your addiction is way smarter than you. It feeds on your ego and whispers: You don’t need help. You’re smarter than these people. Your deeper fear: If people realize how imperfect you really are, that you are in need of true help, they will annihilate you with criticism. They won’t help you, they will judge you!” You need the loving support and perspective of others to outwit it. You must let go of your instinctive habit of thinking you know the way home as the means in which you avoid getting support.
2. Begin to sense the suffering your resentment and judging cause you. Notice that underneath the heavy hand of your judgment and resentment, if you slow down to sense it in your body, is a terrible sadness and heartache. It hurts you to be judging yourself and others all the time, and devours your potential for savoring and appreciating life. You must start to observe that you are hypnotized by the belief that self-judgment and judgment of others will lead you to satisfaction. Unconsciously you believe, “If I impose my standards on others (or on myself), I will feel better.” When you slow down your judging mind with meditation or awareness activating practices, you can feel it in your heart—you want connection. And you want mercy. Your heart needs it; you need it. To allow mercy to touch you means opening your heart, letting the grief and sadness that sits frozen in your being like a stone monolith, to arise and open in you. It means noticing when you push mercy away, habitually choosing self-reprimand as your gateway to healing. Mercy works!
3. Let go of being right. Unwittingly you’ve identified your self-worth with this position—I’m being good if I’m correct and improve others or myself. Fact: Being right does not give you happiness or satisfaction. You don’t arrive at the experience of your true nature and your real goodness by willing your way through the door of your soul with right opinions. In fact, you make the door thicker and more difficult to budge. Relax this urge to prove you are right. Breathe. Soften. Allow room for other’s opinions. Allow yourself the right to not know what’s right. Drop the war. Remember, being right is the ledge off which you fall back into your addiction and recurring emotional suffering.
4. Observe how you tighten your heart and miss the perfection of the moment. Your habit of judging and resenting others and self, and comparing everything against your mental standards of perfection makes your sensitive heart tight and stern, and blocks your ability to truly sense what is perfect in this precious moment. And this, dear One, is a prime source of your resentment. You cannot sense your fundamental goodness when cloaked in an iron coat of resentment and judgment. It’s time to step back and sense gently into your rigid body. Sense, breathe, let go, allow yourself to be unguarded. You must ask yourself this question: Is your ability to correct and improve others (or self) driven by love and acknowledgment of their fundamental goodness, or it is in service of your personality (and your suffering) such that you are trying to inflict upon another the very judgments you detest. When you offer criticism is your heart involved, or is your Inner Judge, who likes to scold you and others, running the show? Remember: judgment filled criticism harms others and yourself, the opposite of what you truly seek to
5. Begin to see how resentment sets you up for rebellion against your standards, and for addiction relapse. You’re addicted to feeling “resentment” and habitually rejecting reality so that you are never satisfied. In fact, your identity is based on feeling frustrated with reality. Nothing is quite ‘right’ and is always out of order. Your heart pays the price, squeezed shut by the tense grip of your frustrated judgments. You’re not right, reality is not right! If you deaden your felt sense of reality through the mechanism of your tightened heart, you will forget precisely where your addiction takes you—straight into horrendous, soul-cracking pain. Blinded by the trance of resentment your addiction magnetically taps into all your repressed instinctual energy that you’ve attempted to control. The next thing you know you’re pouring a drink down your gullet, and everything has gone wild in you. Suddenly you’ve joined forces with your repressed instinctive needs and drinking the juice of rebellion against your perfectionistic standards. Hey, you can’t win in the eyes of your Inner Judge, so why not have some pleasure. It feels good to finally break away from the continuous “shoulds” that sit like heavy stones on your delicate soul. Being “bad” and breaking your standards becomes the wave you ride into the familiar land of addiction hell. This will be a repetitious rebellion party that is anything but alive, fresh, awake, joyful, or inspiring.
6. You must begin to seriously resist the urge to improve others via sharing your opinions. Instead, begin to sense yourself and what drives your improvement mechanism: the desire to avoid feeling bad and condemnable. Stop acting on your judgments and you open the door to your depths…and to your real goodness. As you develop Presence (or awareness of Now) by learning to sense your body and by learning to quiet your mind through meditation, you begin to spot the on-going ‘judging’ of your mind. You will begin to sense in your body the feeling of obligation to improve, perfect, and take responsibility for the work of others (you will sense your body tightening, i.e., your jaw, your gut, etc.). Instead of acting upon these impulses, you can resist. You say an inner “no” to this habit. You simply sit and observe this inner show of impulses, body sensations and thoughts. And then comes the suffering of your Inner Judge who will scream, “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you see what needs to be fixed, improved, finished, and done correctly? Tell that person (or yourself) to shape up and fly right. Don’t just sit there, do something. It’s your responsibility to say something. If you don’t follow your principles and enact them, then you are bad, defective, and condemnable. If you don’t enforce your principles and hold people accountable, then you have no integrity and are deserving of punishment. You are guilty.” Don’t buy it! Sit through the attack. Sense it, and notice that compassion will begin to arise…for you!
7. Learn to be a field of empathic listening, receiving individuals with an open heart, a quiet mind (letting go of your advice-giving mind), while feeling the sensations in your body. Relax with the idea that deep listening allows others to be heard, to hear themselves, and to sense their own answers. If you can resist the compelling need to intercede and improve others, compassion will begin to arise for the suffering you have endured as the one carrying the burden for everything, the one driven by the dictates of a cruel inner critic, the one in which nothing is ever good enough. Sitting through this suffering can and will open your heart, and open the door for Presence to arise, this being the stuff of true goodness. As you begin to develop enough clarity to discern when your actions to improve/advise others are healthy or dictated by a compulsive need, your capacity to sense what is good and true about reality will continue to grow. Along with it will come a sense of relaxation, and with a little time, a spirit of playfulness, delight and curiosity will arise. For one week, each time the urge to give advice or share an opinion arises, resist it and see what happens, i.e., what feelings arise, what inner criticisms begin. Did the person you were going to give advice to actually figure things out by themselves? This exercise may begin to help you relax your need to point out improvements for others. In fact, you might begin to relax the feeling of “obligation” that often plagues you. Caution: Your Inner Critic will not like this exercise and will criticize you for engaging in it. Smile and pat him on the back. And detach from his message!
8. Begin to trust joy, celebration and your inspiration. Begin to see how sad it is to deny yourself enjoyment of life—all work, no play leads to relapse. Notice when you feel the compulsion to snuff out the joy of another when they have missed a detail that you consider important, or when their joyfulness irritates you. Notice how something inside you scoffs at joy, resists it, tightens against it, is anti-joy, while hiding behind a cloak of “I’m doing the right thing first. I’m being an adult. I’m following my ideals. (Never mind that my ideals kill joy and happiness!) That’s the price of adhering to my principles and doing the right thing. You need to get things right, first.” You must begin to disidentify from your Inner Kill-Joy! Your Terminal Adult. You must notice how you take strange pride in denying yourself pleasure as means of being ‘good.’
9. Begin to see and embrace what is really good in your life. Notice how your attention is drawn to what isn’t done correctly, what is disorganized, what doesn’t fit your perception of right, wrong, good, bad, such that you take little notice of what is truly good. You must make effort to see outside the framework of your conditioned mind. Part of seeing what is good involves being kind to yourself, to your body, learning to take time to say what you love about the people in your life, expressing gentleness, kindness, and support in others, and not withholding compliments. And, drink in deeply the compliments and kindness others offer you. Let yourself be touched and changed by people’s love.
10. Begin to sense your heart. Notice this critical message: your partner, or a string of partners tell you this—“I can’t tell what you are feeling. What do you feel for me? (This could be the million dollar question.) What does your heart feel?” Take these observations seriously. Know then that you have become a cold-logic machine that has inadvertently cut you off from your heart. Observe when emotion arises and you “logic it” away—you stick it into some internal logical category, you define it, organize it, and organize it and snuff the life out of it for fear that you will lose control of your boundaries, impulses, feelings, and your ability to keep the world at bay. Your Inner Critic might say: That’s childish to feel hurt or sad. You’re supposed to be a reasonable, a ‘serious’ adult, unaffected, responsible, joyless, following the rules. Notice this and then sense how this affects your sensitive heart.
11. Begin to recognize when you are pushing yourself too hard, pushing the limits to complete a task, turning yourself into a pretzel to accommodate the ‘shoulds’. Sense when your body is telling you, “I am tired” and listen to it. This will take time and you will do well to ask your sponsor or support system to help you begin to identify when you are caught up in the action of too much striving, or striving too hard. Fact: Others can see when you are wound tight and striving too hard. Let them help you to begin ‘sensing this when it happens.’ Sensing this pattern in your body will be a game changer. Noticing when you are tightening your body in your efforts, holding your breath, or starting to wave the finger of reproach at self or others—that’s a key that you are caught in the Type One personality machine of striving and self-criticism.
12. Just say ‘No’ to your habit of planning/dictating your day and then berating yourself for not completing an impossible list of ‘to do’s.’ Resist the Inner Judge who will scream, “You are worthless. You didn’t do such-and-such when you clearly more in a position to do so than other people.” Ask your sponsor or support network to help you in noticing how you pile too much on your plate in the attempt to be good, or beyond the criticism of yourself, your Inner Critic, or others. Ask them directly, “When do I expect too much from myself or others. Help me to identify the cues.”
Remember, the real you doesn’t need to be fixed, or improved upon, and is patiently waiting for “presence” to arise so that you will contact and recognize that what you have been seeking is already here, now, in this moment. Simply put: you are not bad, irredeemable, or defective. Not by a long shot, and sobriety will teach you this, slowly but surely. In time you will see the delightfulness of who you are, and as you relax, your sense of humor will arise. Your playful soul will have permission to be, and along with it an innate and balanced wisdom will gracefully inform you, when needed, right time, right place, effortless. Pretty great stuff!
And, as you continue to unfold and embrace your deep goodness, awakening with further teach you that you are never, nor need be, able to judge anyone or anything objectively. You can drop this job and this habit and breathe a huge sigh of relief. Then, before you, reality with reveal its rich sacredness and fundamental goodness, of which you are a part of, and immersed in.
Michael Naylor, M.Ed, CCS, LADC is an Authorized Enneagram Teacher and Faculty Member of the Enneagram Institute. He is the director of the Enneagram Institute of Maine/Enneagram Center For Transformation and Change. He teaches The Relationships and the Enneagram Workshop, The Enneagram and Recovery Workshop, The Wisdom of the Enneagram Workshop, The Enneagram and the Three Instincts Workshop, and The Journey of Growth–Working with the Dynamism and Levels of Growth, in the USA and Canada. He facilities the seven-day Part One Training in the USA & Canada. In addition, he is trained as a CTI Co-Active Coach and coaches individuals on Enneagram and life transformation issues. He worked 16 years at The Serenity House–an Addiction’s treatment facility for men in Portland, Maine–as a Clinical Supervisor and therapist. He also facilitates Men’s Spiritual Transformation and Intimacy groups at the Health, Education and Training Institute in Portland, Maine. He has found the Enneagram to be priceless in his relationship with his beloved wife, Donna, his three children, in his clinical and spiritual practice, and his work as a Teacher, Consultant and Coach.