Helping The Type Four in Addiction Recovery
Type Four— The Creative Alchemist in Addiction Recovery
“Don’t give up. What often follows endarkenment—if you continue your inner work—is equal enlightenment.” —MICHAEL NAYLOR
The Type Four, often called the romantic, the individualist, the creative alchemist, is endowed with a deep sensitivity to the emotional states of others and themselves. He sees the hidden suffering that others have attempted to bury, the pretend happiness and conditioned, shallow joy of those around them. He is often inspired to go to the depth of his soul, to retrieve his soul and the souls of others, too, if they are willing. The Four thrives on expressing emotional honesty, and when healthy, inspires others to do the same. At his best he translates this deep journey into a creative form through his love of beauty or artistic forms. When addiction takes over, these gifts get drowned in intense emotional reactivity and suffering, the inability to keep a creative focus, and the horrid sense of being a misunderstood outsider. Substance abuse both causes and temporarily relieves his suffering.
THE INTERNAL PLAYING FIELD OF THE FOUR
When the Four is in addiction, his internal playing field becomes unbalanced, sending him down into the unhealthy aspects of his type. The following is a brief overview of the Four’s internal playing field.
Deep wound/relapse pattern: The deep wound of the Four is the fear of having no identity or personal significance, of being utterly ordinary, generic, and emotionally shallow. He feels cut off from the Divine, as though this connection has been severed.
Key Commandment: The Four is in a continual search for his authentic self and authentic self-expression. Suffering these questions, “Who am I?” and “What is the purpose of my life?” his key commandment is to make himself into an original, non-ordinary human being. Because he relies on his feelings of the moment, he rarely experiences inner stability or resolution of these questions.
Deep wish: The Four’s deepest wish is to know himself, to find himself and his true significance and creative purpose. He desires to be a force of encouragement and transformation for others. How he sees himself: The Four sees himself as someone who is emotionally sensitive, deep and honest, intuitive, passionate, creative, gentle, and able to articulate feelings. He sees himself as a unique gem whom few understand.
At level 4 and below: When the Four falls into the lower levels, he falls prey to his emotional habit of envy, in which he feels that others are happy and have a niche and he doesn’t. He feels ripped off, like he didn’t get the necessary instructions for living a good life. Add to this the mental habit of fantasizing, in which he retreats to his imagination to create emotional intensity, amplifying his envy by comparing his life to others. He begins to live in a fantasy self, the self he feels he should be, and then hates himself for not living up to it. Inner critic:
The Four’s inner critic tells him that he is lovable and acceptable if he is unique, different, and emotionally deep, but the truth is that he is utterly insignificant, a nobody, so why try at all? Or it may encourage him to indulge in fantasy, sensuality, food, or sex as a rebellion against his soul-cracking shame and hurt.
At his best: When the Four is at his best he has transformed his personal suffering into compassion for the suffering of others and developed a deep sense of internal equanimity. At his core is a steady river of calm that, in spite of the emotional waves on its surface, remains still at his depth. He feels and senses his significance and the significance of others, and often can create a creative form that captures and heals the suffering of others.
THE HEALTHY FOUR
The healthy recovering Four is known for his ability to drop into the depths of the moment, embrace the dark and the joyful from a place of stillness and equilibrium, find humor and heart-opening compassion even in the face of horror—whatever is necessary for healthy and healing navigation of the moment. He has traveled through the swamps of his own emotional trauma and disorientation, and often is a guide for others lost in the labyrinth of their suffering. Creative and able to find an artistic expression that illuminates the soul journey, he is able to transmit tremendous hope and inspiration for those in need. Transforming his often dark and challenging suffering into lighthearted, joy-inducing, self-deprecating humor, his ability to laugh at himself is a tremendous force of healing for others.
When healthy, the Four inhabits an overflowing heart that is able to savor the beauty and uniqueness of each moment and those around him. Emotionally honest, he embodies tremendous emotional strength; he could survive and thrive in just about any difficulty thrown at him.
Case Study: Shane
Shane came into recovery twelve years ago. He was a thirty-year-old-heroin addict, alcoholic and homeless, not a penny to his name. Raised in foster homes, tossed from home to home since he was a little boy, and living on the street since age sixteen, this intelligent, creative, big-hearted Four represents the stuff of real miracles: the capacity to endure incredible, soul-killing difficulty and trauma beyond comprehension, and to arise as a deeply loving, sensitive, and kind human being. He is truly a phoenix.
Shane embodies the Four’s emotional courage to persist through impossible difficulties. He has experienced first-hand the darkest of the dark, he being the rejected outsider walking the streets of Portland, hoping to cop dope or find a communal gang of drunks to get loaded with, a fringe-dweller lost in despair, sorrow, shame, and outrage. Witness to crazy moments of his father’s rage then fatherless at age five, raised in an emotionally impoverished home with no strong parental forces to guide and shape him, he wandered, heartbroken and filled with rage but somehow sensing that something would someday help him. He has worked hard to transform himself, and when healthy, he is deeply attuned to those around him, and able to sense the emotional undercurrents of unacknowledged feelings. He shoots for the core of emotional honesty and is able to articulate the depths of his feelings, can share them openly, can go where most are unable to in recovery.
Because of his inner work, he is able to hold and empower others with compassion and confidence when they are lost in the throes of their personal suffering. Deeply committed to his twelve-year-old daughter, Shane is ever aware of supporting her personal growth and creating safety for her to talk openly with him. No longer overwhelmed by the tide of his emotions, he is able to focus and follow through on his commitments, such as parenting, working, and finishing his degree. At his best Shane is hilarious. When he talks about the inner pretzels he sometimes finds himself in, such as when he is caught in the throes of an envy attack or assumes that others are judging him as harshly as he judges himself, he articulates this in graphic Four style. His heartfelt, brutally honest storytelling captures both his suffering and gracious joyfulness at what he has seen and digested. Because of the enormous gratitude for being sober and clean today, and because of his intense labors to resurrect his life, he is deeply committed to helping others in their liberation. Intelligent and extremely self-aware, he invites others to show their flaws, warts and all.
THE FOUR IN ADDICTION
When the Four is in addiction and at level 6 or 7, he is cut off from the wonderful capacities described in Shane’s case. Often shrouded in turbulent emotions, his ability to embrace and express his gifts is terribly narrowed. Instead of feeling a part of the spacious beauty that life expresses, he experiences himself as a misunderstood outsider, his precious capabilities and qualities devoured by emotional torment. Disconnected from a felt sense of his own being, his heartrending question of Who am I? turns into emotional rants and despair. Furious that he wasn’t given the right ingredients and right chances to live happily, he is held captive by rage, envy, and self-pity. Identified with being different from his family and culture, the Four struggles to create a unique identity. His capacity for compassion turns to narcissistic rage; his ability to sense and feel the depths of his being turns to preoccupation with each passing emotional state; his gift of understanding and articulating the suffering in others turns to compelling self-absorption. His gifts—gentleness, compassion, emotional honesty, and clarity—turn to bitter despair, emotional reactivity, hyper-sensitivity, elitism, entitlement, and hostility. In addiction, the Four imagines a fantasy self that he wants to be—an idealized version of himself—and then mercilessly beats himself up for not attaining it as he compares himself to what he imagines he should be and falls short.
He might imagine himself to be a great painter but becomes so lost in his imagination and disconnected from reality at level 6 or 7 that he fails to make the ordinary, necessary efforts needed to actually get good at painting. Then he hates himself for not living up to his fantasy self. Or, under sway of his imagination, he longs to quickly master his creative capacity, hates himself for how slow the process takes, and gives up. This habit of fantasizing can reveal itself through the Four’s dream that if he finds the right partner, the soul mate, that his life of suffering will be over. She will love him, support him, see his genius, be the mom and dad he always needed, and a great lover, too. His fantasizing makes it extremely difficult to deal with a flesh-and-blood imperfect partner who continually fails at fulfilling his infatuated dream. This habit creates terrible suffering, loneliness, and chaos for the Four who truly wants a significant relationship.
The emotional habit of envy is insidious. The Four looks over at his neighbor and imagines that his neighbor has a comfortable and happy life, doing ordinary and socially accepted things that others do, apparently having no cares in the world. Envy rips through him. He thinks, He’s happy and I’m not. I hate him for this, and I hate me for not having it. Suffering with envy, the Four then takes a sharp turn and thinks, Wait a second; the happiness he has is shallow and dull. I never want to be content with such ordinary, mundane pleasures. Forget that. I’ll go back to my lonely apartment and write sad poetry, ponder the real horrors of suffering in the world, and be miserable. At least I’m real! Back and forth he swings between these two poles.
Case Study: Shane
Shane explains his struggle with envy this way: “When I was first in recovery I thought that everyone else had it together and that I was the only one who really suffered. I imagined I was the weirdest outsider in the room, with a life no one could ever understand. I didn’t fit anywhere, and yet a part of me liked not fitting in, liked being the one who was different and original, even though it often made me feel lonely and left out. I was angry that I’d been robbed of my childhood and gone through so much abuse and trauma. “Sometimes I imagined myself one day being a rock star and found it very difficult to enter real life, where everyone struggled with jobs, relationships, money, kids. It was as though doing everyday life things was beneath me. Imagining myself as someone great took the edge off my low self-esteem.”
THE FIRST TWELVE WEEKS IN TREATMENT
When the Four arrives at a treatment center, he seems as if he is cloaked in a thick, black veil. Mysterious, he exudes a faraway aura, and yet there is the sense that at any moment he could explode. Often he does. Hungry for emotional realness and contact while simultaneously spurning it, he wants the truth of his reality out front and seen. From his cave of mystery, he demands everyone to embrace what he has experienced: misery, disappointment, self-hatred, self-rejection, and shame. He anguishes over his losses in relationship, over his inability to anchor his unique gifts, and his unsuccessful efforts to find happiness and real purpose.
The Four in recovery is mired in a psychological struggle: safely distancing himself from others in his imagination while yearning to be with them, worried they will embarrass and shame him yet hungry in his heart for real emotional connection. He often chooses retreat—better than revealing his turbulent heart. He abandons himself and his gifts, imprisoning himself in the role of the unwanted outsider. Ultimately enraged with this position, he will respond with emotional reactivity and intensity to stimulate connection or intimacy with others. This will often be expressed as anger and discontent with staff and other clients who are not being as emotionally deep, honest, and intense as he is. If people aren’t talking about their deepest, darkest feelings (which the Four assumes he knows and can sense, and on good days he can!), then they aren’t being real.
When the addicted Four enters recovery and begins the journey of healing, the driving engine of his addiction is his core fear of feeling insignificant, a nobody, and of being emotionally shallow, dull, ordinary, and generic, indistinguishable from anyone else. These fears will be the cornerstone of his inner work throughout his recovery. In early recovery, these feelings will feel justified because his life is in ruins. But at predictable intervals, whether he has been clean and sober six weeks or sixteen years, from his depths will arise the feeling that he is utterly insignificant, a zero. In the midst of his greatest successes these feelings will have the uncanny capability of temporarily erasing all self-confidence.
Shane describes the feeling of insignificance this way: “When I entered recovery, the feeling of shame and insignificance clung to me like tar. Walking down the street, it seemed that everyone could see my shameful life and into the depths of all my mistakes and misery. I felt utterly naked. I’d walk into an AA meeting and feel overwhelmed with self-doubt and shame, sure that everyone in the room could see my flaws. I reacted by deciding they were idiots, shallow, uncreative fools, and not worthy of my time. “This turned to envy, where I experienced jealousy of everyone. I’d look at another recovering man and it would appear that he had a good life going on, that he was comfortable with himself. God, I wanted that. Then I’d hate myself and him. Awful stuff to go through. It sent me out onto the streets many times.”
THE FOUR’S PROTECTIVE MECHANISM IN EARLY RECOVERY
The Four protects himself and his shame-filled heart (“I’m a nobody”) by withdrawing into his imagination and avoiding real contact with life, which he anticipates will cause him more shame. He creates an imaginary character to live through—a fantasy self—and fantasizes himself doing incredible creative works or failing miserably. If the Four allows others to get close to him, he risks the possibility that they might say or do something that touches his feelings of deficiency and shame. Floating in the depths of his psychic waters is a ghostly tormentor who continually hisses to him, You are insignificant and unimportant. You are insignificant and unimportant. His intuitive radar is hotwired to protect this sensitive and vulnerable soul-wound. It takes little to brush this hypersensitive shame-button. When he does attempt contact with others, it is often through his emotional confessions regarding his painful past.
Although his emotional honesty is a tremendous gift, if he uses it too often, others struggle to hold the big emotional space needed to communicate with him. The Four’s blind spot (and self-protection habit) is that he believes he knows what emotional truth is and that everyone else in the treatment center (or AA, NA, or the world) is shallow and fake. He mistakenly thinks that he is the deep one. This is a compelling delusion and self-protection mechanism and can trick him into feeling people have disappointed him and let him down. He thinks, See, it happened again. No one can understand me. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Although he demands that others attune to him in just the right way—and immediately—he pushes them away with his judgmental insensitivity while asserting that he is simply being honest and true to his feelings.
He reasons, How can people who don’t have the courage to walk into the swamps of their personal suffering, like I do, help me? I’m justified in feeling like a victim of emotionally inept people and refusing their help. Their brand of help isn’t suited to my special depth. Mistaking his brand of emotional experience as the right or only one, he rejects or avoids everyone else, and treats them as if they were nobody, as though they were insignificant—the very feelings he wishes to avoid. Unwittingly, the Four becomes entranced by this perspective: What I’m looking for is deep and profound, intimate and beautiful. And I’m too deep and too intimate for you. He mistakenly confuses honesty, depth, and intimacy with spilling and retelling the contents of his shame, his childhood suffering, his disappointment with his parents, his rage at being ripped off and misunderstood by life, or through his emotional outbursts. Little does he realize that this is a distortion of intimacy and emotional honesty, a heavy veil that obscures the real depth and significance he seeks, the passionate creative impulse he wishes to express, and the real intimacy his soul longs for.
CORE RELAPSE PATTERN
The process of deepening the Four’s contact with his heart and his body, with a quiet mind, entails learning at deeper and deeper levels how his actions do not match his self-image or his imagined idealized self. The Four will confess out loud that he has discovered another level of illusion. At each discovery, if compassion ensues rather than self-hatred, he will gain a deeper sensitivity to his heart and the hearts of others. He will have a felt sense of his significance, and his innate gift to experience beauty wherever he sets his eyes will arise. When he can, he may put into words, with exquisite precision and raw clarity, the depth and truth of his suffering. He may uncloak himself in group and let others see all the way inside his misunderstood heart, giving them front row to the inner machinations, fantasies, and the jungle of his confused emotions. Fiercely he will rip the covers off himself. Everyone in the room will grimace, guts tightening, eyes widening, leaning forward, as the Four’s deep confession sweeps away the “don’t talk” rule.
Other men will follow suit and drop to a new depth of courageous self-expression, telling secrets they have never told, opening up the dark corners of their inner lives. The Four will courageously sacrifice himself and his facade, inviting everyone to unmask. Gratitude will touch him when he has inspired others to express deeper self-honesty; he has given his gift. But in a few short moments, his habit of personality will return, and he will again be caught in soul-torturing angst and emotional turmoil, his emotional clarity swept up by the blinding waters of his shame and insignificance. This will be the dance of his early recovery: navigating his emotional depths with lucidity followed by disappearance into the black hole of his hurt and shame.
TRANSFORMATION IN RECOVERY
Recovery for the Four truly begins when he sees that he has erroneously imagined himself as sensitive, creative, and compassionate when his real behavior has been self-absorbed, hateful, and self-centered (levels 6 and 7 behavior). As he stays clean and sober, he will witness the countless unconscious lies he has told himself. Where he imagined he was sensitive, he sees self-absorbed, self-pitying behavior. Where he dreamed himself creative, he sees work that was never started or completed. Where he thought he was emotionally honest, he sees that he used friends to dump his feelings. Dreaming himself empathic and kind, he sees the many times he was cruel, mean-spirited, and judgmental, often in the name of emotional honesty.
As the Four sees his real behaviors revealed, remorse and humiliation will drop him to his knees. This is the process of being stripped of one’s delusions (and it will recur throughout his recovery). As the Four sees his real behaviors revealed, remorse and humiliation will drop him to his knees. It is then that he must not flee but sit with the feelings; resist attacking himself with self-hatred; and allow others to support, guide, and empower him in his walk through the fire of self-revelation. Here he must learn to rest in compassion and realize that the illusions he encounters are the result of the many moments of suffering he has accrued throughout his life. He didn’t create the illusions, but he is responsible for dismantling them. This is the work of recovery and not for the faint of heart.
HELPING THE FOUR
Helping the Type Four provides many challenges for the therapist, counselor, coach, or sponsor. The Four is heavily attuned to his mood or feeling of the moment, and often takes too seriously the nuances of his changing emotional tide, at least in the beginning. He is magnetically drawn to trying to understand this fluctuating emotional world he inhabits, and it causes him great suffering and confusion. Partly because he hungers to identify who he is, he searches for this through his feelings of the moment; since his feelings are constantly changing, so is his identity of the moment. You will witness the Four changing directions repeatedly, starting and stopping with the latest inspiration or mood swing that touches him. Your work is in helping him to “be where his feet are” and how to sort out this inner tide such that he takes practical steps in his recovery.
Since the Four is subject to the force of his powerful imagination, which is potent and ever at work in his psyche, his task is to learn to translate and skillfully use this creative force instead of being used by it. The Four’s inner wish is to create a unique and creative life (in early recovery this fantasy can border on the outrageous) such that he fancies himself to be an amazing author, and because he can infuse so much feeling into this fantasy, it can register as yes, this is who I am meant to be. This is what I should be focusing on right now. This is the real me. That is, it registers as a temporary, felt fact. His feet leave the ground of reality, and because his fantasy life is so strong, imagination easily gets mixed up with the facts of his current reality.
You will need to compassionately pull him from the clouds to now, as in, “Right now, Christopher, you are one week sober. You are doing the important work of learning how to be sober, how to ask for help and get the help you need. Of course you are impatient, especially because you feel the suffering and heartbreaking shame of not elevating and manifesting your gifts in the world. Great patience with ordinary efforts is the doorway to the fruition of these dreams. Taking the next unglamorous small step, this is preparation for the future you wish for. But first things first, my friend. You’ve got to learn to walk before you can fly.” When he is caught in the tidal wave of the current high or low, your job is to be the still waters of calmness he needs.
The Four will need much encouragement around this dynamic, as his imagination machine, in concert with his inner critic, may say, This recovery work is beneath you. You’re not a failure like the rest of these dudes. You should be succeeding famously. You’ll be stuck here in this insignificant life if you don’t get the hell away from it. Here, the wound of I’m ordinary and insignificant is used by the Four’s inner critic in service of self-sabotage. Helping the Four see this pattern will help him relax and slow down.
Add to this his tendency to inflate his emotional states. You will witness him going from an inspired state—I know it! I can be a great artist! I can feel it!—to utter disappointment: I’m just crap. I’m nobody. There is nothing good about me. I am a failure. When he is caught in the tidal wave of the current high or low, your job is to be the still waters of calmness he needs. That is, be the stillness his soul craves. Teach him, through your example, how to step back from the intensity of these feelings, and remind him that these high and lows signal to him that he is feeling hurt, ashamed, unloved, so let’s talk about this. Your grounded presence will teach him how to ground himself.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THE FOUR
It will be incumbent upon you to provide supportive, helpful guidance to the Four as he navigates his way to health. Share the following suggestions, perhaps just one a week so as not to overwhelm him.
Begin to notice how you unconsciously confirm your feelings of being a rejected outsider.
The Four looks to his environment to confirm his feelings of being flawed and insignificant. The more self-absorbed and fearful he becomes, the more he takes everything personally, as a referendum of rejection on him. He believes his feelings of insignificance, longing, and emptiness come from outside himself.
Try these suggestions to help him recognize his feelings of being a rejected outsider:
- Remind the Four that within him is a pattern that shows itself through his imagination. That is, he begins to imagine he is different from everyone else and that because of this difference, he is rejected by others. You must help him see that he begins to believe this fantasy (which is not based on fact) and starts to separate himself, distance himself, and act as if this imagined rejection is real. Thus, his very actions create what he fears.
- You must help him see how his inner critic is always whispering this story to him, trying to get him to disconnect from the help he needs.
- Challenge him to consciously be aware when he is caught in the movie Me, Myself, I: The Great Outsider. Have him write down the circumstances and share them with you.
Begin to notice when you avoid important activities that feel ordinary and mundane.
When faced with the methodical actions he needs to take to create more inner stability and capacity to stay sober and clean, the Four will feel that these lifesaving actions are ordinary, boring, and not tailored to his unique needs. He will need support from a kind sponsor, a counselor, or a coach to help him stick with these ordinary, repetitious actions that can save his life.
Try these suggestions to help him notice when he avoids important activities:
- Invite the Four to begin observing the flow of his emotional feeling states.
- Instruct him to notice what he does when he is engaged in an activity and a state of feeling ordinary flows through him. What does he do? Does he stop the activity because the feeling of “ordinary” is appalling to him? Does he stay with his activity while the feeling of this is ordinary is still there? Remind him that his efforts to continue his work efforts while in the midst of changing feeling states is in service to his not being ruled by his feeling of the moment, which is a trap door for the Four.
- Remind him that this feeling cloud of this is ordinary and mundane is like a blaring signal that says, halt what you’re doing, you’re going in the wrong direction, you’ll be stuck in this state of ordinariness for eternity. This may stop him from completing work he cares about, sticking with relationships that are important to him, or continuing with his recovery efforts. As my mentor said, “It’s just a feeling. Don’t build a damn cathedral for it!”
- Remind him that if he pays attention to his daily flow of feelings, he will notice that these unwanted feeling states visit him randomly throughout the day, and that he would be wise to see them, smile at them, and continue what he is doing. With compassion, notice how you set yourself up for being an elitist, a mysterious, gifted outsider whom no one can reach. The Four positions himself atop an unreachable summit (or a deep and hidden cave) as a way to compensate for feeling like he doesn’t belong and is a nobody. When he is caught in the suffering of the outsider, others must pass through the narrowest of doors to reach him while he inadvertently pushes away one of his special gifts and greatest joy: his ability to connect deeply with the hearts of others.
The Four must learn to walk consciously with his shame, as if it were a welcome friend that he invites inside.
Try these suggestions to help him notice how he sets himself up for failure:
- Remind the Four that this is one of the sneaky patterns of his type wherein he begins to imagine himself as entitled, as in, I shouldn’t have to work as others have to in order to succeed.
- Remind him that although this temporarily gives him a feeling of being elevated above the ordinary efforts of others, this attitude sets him up for not working diligently through ordinary, boring, must-do efforts to bring his creations to life.
- Remind him that he must bear the suffering of and aversion to his entitlement story and continue with ordinary efforts. Encourage him to let you know when he has stopped efforts that are important to his life due to getting tangled in the entitlement of I shouldn’t have to work like everyone else. I’m better than this! This is too ordinary for me!
Learn to observe your envy.
The Four’s inner critic constantly infuses him with thoughts of envy: “Hey, look over there at that person. He has all the good stuff that seems to make him really happy.”
Try these suggestions to help him learn to recognize his envy:
- Suggest that he say to himself when he notices he’s caught in the storm of envy, “I’m feeling envious because Tom has succeeded where I have not. I’m thinking that he got the support that was denied me. I’m feeding this imaginary story with my envy and jealousy right now.” He can learn to catch himself in the act and simply notice how this is making him feel. Encourage him to see the story, name the trance (How I was ripped off by life), and then consciously drop the story, sense his body, feel his breath, and return to the moment.
- Challenge him to turn his attention toward the actual admiration that underlies his envy. In fact, admiration is at the core of envy. Invite him to remember and feel this, and to notice that admiration opens up his heart, making him more able to feel and sense his creativity.
- The concrete antidote for envy is taking direct action on what he wishes to achieve. Remind him that his practical, creative actions will quiet the flames of his envy. He could ask himself, “What might I do now to move in the direction of what I love and care for today? How can I bring out what I am gifted at instead of engorging myself on the poison of envy?”
- Have him make a daily action plan and report his efforts to you weekly.
- Encourage him in the practice of mudita when caught in envy. Explain to him that mudita is the capacity to delight in the happiness and good fortune of others. It is the flip side to feeling compassion for the suffering of others and is a powerful practice for transcending envy and opening one’s heart to delighting in the successes of others.
Use your artistic expression as a meditation to observe your inner demons and to dis-identify from them.
The Four might set an artistic goal and decide to work on his chosen art for an hour a day; then he can watch the flood of feelings and thoughts that coax him to stop engaging in his artistic efforts. He may experience waves of feelings of I’m nobody; this is boring; and this isn’t what I really want to do. I’ll never succeed. This will take too long. No one will like my work. As he disciplines himself and refuses to be distracted by his changing feelings or the voice of his inner critic, he will see that these cycles of emotional and mental distraction rise and fall over and over again, and will begin to quiet as he sticks with his work. As he stays focused in his discipline, he will slowly develop an observing witness that can see the emotional storms and not buy into them.
Try these suggestions to help him develop his artistic expression as a form of meditation:
- Instruct him to make an aim to show up for his given creative project, such as thirty to sixty minutes in the morning he will sit at his computer to write. Ask him to notice all the thoughts and feelings that arise and meet him as he makes his effort. He must not leave the playing field of his commitment—writing, painting—even though the chant of You’re insignificant and wasting your time may echo through him, or feelings of hopelessness might arise in his heart.
- Instruct him to notice these phenomena and then name them; for example, there’s the insignificance, there’s the movie that I’ll never be as good as the artist I admire, there’s the feeling of hopelessness, then stick with his creative effort. Encourage him to continue to work in the midst of the storm of feelings and thoughts.
- Remind him that this storm of thoughts and feelings will pass, and through his efforts he will develop the necessary stamina and fortitude to take healthy actions regardless of his passing moods or thoughts. Remind him that when he is swept up in a cloud of feelings or self-criticism, bringing his attention down and into his body and breath will anchor him in the moment and help him continue his efforts. A
MESSAGE TO THE FOUR
Share this message with the Four in recovery: You of all the types are most susceptible to giving up. Don’t give up. In your darkest hour, which is the darkest of the dark, there can be resurrection and joy. You won’t believe this until it happens, but if you keep reaching out for help, doing what is in your hands to do, you will be the phoenix resurrected from the flames, and you will be a great gift of redemption for others. This is fact. Just don’t give up—not for long, anyway. Yes, you will go through dark passages. Just be careful of the tempting thoughts that arise like snakes in your consciousness, hissing, You are all alone. No one suffers as bad as you. No one has been wounded as badly as you. No one is so misunderstood. It is hopeless and forever broken. The inner critic voice lies every time. Consider this: at this given moment, one in nine people walking the earth is a Type Four. There are millions like you, hardwired with the same psychological predispositions. Many have gotten the help they need and resurrected from the bondage of these inherited patterns. You, too, can resurrect. One day at a time. The gifts you receive will be equal to if not more than the suffering you transcend. Stick with it.