Sunday, March 21, 2010

Being a self-preservation One

In the Enneagram personality system, I am a One. I prefer order and structure. I play by the rules and expect others to do so as well. I’m good with details (better than with the Big Picture). I lead groups easily but am really only comfortable with that if there is an organized structure that others are willing to follow as well. Give me an assignment and I’ll get it done on time and with great care. I make an excellent administrator. And Ones make great editors, so I’m in the right field.

There’s also a subtype system in the Enneagram work. Each of us fits most comfortably in one of three groups: those who prefer one-on-one relationships above all else, those who prefer group interactions, and those who are most comfortable with solitude in (and this is important) a very comfortable environment. This last group, known as the self-preservationists, is my group. Being safe and comfortable is important to me: I’ve often said that I was born with the comfort gene, not the adventure gene. In fact, being comfortable in myself is more important to me than interactions with others. It’s not that I don’t enjoy interacting with others, both in groups and one on one, but I like what’s called “parallel play,” where I’m doing my thing by myself and you’re doing your thing by yourself, and we get together and talk about it some from time to time.

Knowing these things about myself has been really helpful. It’s helped me accept that I’m a certain way by nature, and although I can be other ways, this is what I like best, so I don’t have to strive to be a social 7 or a relationship-focused 2.

Knowing this about myself has also helped me be more accepting of my anxiety off sugar. Without the drug of sweets, I’m uncomfortable. The rules have changed, the patterns are shifting, and that makes me nervous. I’m needing to put new structures in place, new routines, that are more healthful for me than numbing out on sugar was. And that takes time. So I continue to be gentle with myself and kind as I look for new comforts. That’s the self-preservation that’s available to me right now.

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