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Joan and Betty are friends. They are both passionate about their lives and their relationships. They both would go to the mat for their families and value spending time with them above all else. But Joan and Betty also have some pretty major differences. Betty would be described as a total blast by her friends. She loves to be out and about, meeting new people doing new things. If you are looking for Betty you can usually find her out with her kids, engaged in some fun activity. Betty always is looking for the next best thing. She has been married twice, had 4 jobs in the past 2 years and is a HUGE dreamer. Betty’s biggest fear is getting stuck or feeling trapped.
Joan on the other hand is soft spoken and dependable. Joan has been married for over 15 years. If you are looking for Joan you can usually find her at home a fun activity with her family. She has worked for the same company for the past 20 years and worked her way up to a manager position. She has good benefits and makes a good salary. She doesn’t LOVE her job and sometimes wonder what else is out there so she occasionally dips her toe in the job searching pool. Unfortunately, she rarely finds a job that makes the risk of leaving her the safety of current job worth it. Joan’s biggest fear is taking a bad risk and getting hurt.
Although Joan and Betty appear to be complete opposites the similarities between them is that they both engage in behaviors that protect them from 100% engaging in the world. Betty runs from thing to thing not really engaging in any one activity but hoping that the next event will finally fill the never ending void. Joan stays safely in her shell, constantly looking at the risks vs. rewards and unwilling to make any changes where the rewards don’t exceed the risks.
Joan and Betty aren’t alone in this need to protect. We all have this need…but it is how the need is shown to the world that is different. Some protect through running, some through always having to be right, some through avoiding conflict and playing small, some through being a bully. When you know can name your protection mechanism you can start to work around it.
So as Betty starts to realize her need to be active is really her need to not get trapped or pinned down, she starts to explore that. Because her kids are the most important part of her life, Betty starts to notice when she is ‘running’ rather than engaging with them. She repeatedly challenges herself to stay present as her youngest daughter shares about her day (when her temptation is to constantly interrupt or multi-task). She encourages her children to call her out when they aren’t feeling ‘heard’ or when she is multi-tasking in their presence. As a result, her relationship with her kids grows stronger.
Joan realizes her tendency to live in insecurity and constant doubt. She starts taking small little risks in her life. Trying new things, speaking up for herself at work, and exploring new parts of the city. Joan actually applies for a couple of jobs and goes on a interview for a wonderful new job and she gets it. Although it is a little risky, Joan (after much talking with her husband) decided to go after the job and loves it.
Just because we have personality characteristics that protect is from really engaging in the world–doesn’t mean we have to be stuck with them. When we know our tendency we can then actively work on changing it and slowly working around it. Breaking the habit, the pattern and finally engaging fully with the world. In essence, getting out of our own way!!
The best place I have found to learn about these patterns is through the Enneagram Personality Assessment. July’s Seminar Saturday will take an in-depth look at the Enneagram. You will not only learn what type you are but active strategies for engaging with the world despite your patterns. It will be an amazing class not just for yourself but understanding the other people in your world. When we have greater understanding of ourselves and those around us we can Live Happier. For more information on the seminar–click here.