"I like reading your blog Lindsey, but it's just not practical."
"Doing all that mindfulness work is easier said than done."
"Here's the thing. I bet none of these self-help people have real jobs, or real problems, or financial constraints. Yeah, I'd love to live my dream life but I have to live in reality."
I used to think like this too.
I used to believe that a happy and fulfilled life was beyond my reach. That I had missed the boat. But not only did I think this to myself, I used to make sure everyone around me knew it.
"Hey look at me! I am miserable and depressed! Nothing I try ever works out! This is God's will for me! God has burdened me with this cross to bear!"
I think back to those times and I think, if only I knew then, what I know now. [Insert wistful gaze]
While pregnant with my first child I got very sick. And NO I do not mean, I had morning sickness. I mean sick, puking my brains out from morning to night, burning up from the inside, losing tons of weight, sick. (I would not wish it on my worst enemy!) I could barely function. In truth, I had nothing to give. I could barely hold my head up at work, except over a toilet. The very sight of my Sweetie made me curse all man-kind. Look, it was not a good time for me...
But, it was the most transformative time of my life.
It was transformative because it made me confront one of the deep seeded aspects of my ego structure - "You ain't worth shit if you are not achieving or winning." [Oh yeah, my ego swears at me... Doesn't yours?]
You see. Somewhere early in my life, 'Little Lindsey' learned that the way for her to get the love and belonging that all humans desire, she had to present an image of achievement, success, winning. And, not knowing any different, 'Little Lindsey' constructed an entire world-view, a lens, that fed this assumption about the innate workings of the world.
Can you guess as to how this has played out in my life?
1) A gross fear of failure
2) A persistent, if not sometimes, perverse work ethic
3) An inability to show weakness or vulnerability
4) An obsession with my "image of success," even if it means lying to maintain it
5) A fear of being incapacitated by relationships or commitments
6) A need for control over others
7) A need to be liked by others
Wow! Writing this out like this makes me feel awful. "Yuck!" as my toddler would say. But it also sets me free. Because what I learned (with my head in the toilet) is that the antidote to my obsession with my image is radical truthfulness. The more truthful I am about my shortcomings, my flaws, my weaknesses, my vulnerabilities, the more capable I am of figuring out who I am, what I want, what my greatest hopes and desires are AND ATTAINING THEM!
What if I told you that we ALL live with a similar 'ego-lens' over our lives....?!?!? Yours may be similar to mine or it may be very different than mine. Suffice it to say, the more you learn about your lens the more realistic the practice of transformation and mindfulness will become. If I told you that there is a practice you could start doing today that would help you:
1) identify your lens 2) breakthrough common roadblocks and fears, and
3) totally transform the way you move through the world
you would jump on it right???
Welcome to the Enneagram!
So here's the thing. While I had my head in that toilet for nine months I started to study and train in the Enneagram. Google Enneagram and you may get a thousand definitions but for our purposes let's use this defintion:
"You are in a box.
You did not know you were in a box.
You need to get out of this box.
The Enneagram is one of many ways to learn about boxes and how to get out of them."
- Lindsey T. H. Jackson
Over the next nine weeks I am going to teach you about boxes. The box that you are living in, that you may or may not know much about. The more you know about your box, the easier it becomes to decide when it serves you and when it doesn't. I already told you some of the ways my box has failed to serve me, but there are great aspects to my box , too- also called the Type 3 on the Enneagram -. My box has led me all around the world. It has inspired me to own my own businesses. It is has given me an innate knack to understand people and their needs. Unfortunately, it has also caused me a lot of pain.
So, no time like the present (hahahaha! There's that work-a-holic streak!)
Lindsey's Simple Guide To The Enneagram
(A practical guide to getting out of boxes.)
Introduction to Type 1: The Reformer
Early on in life the Little Reformer learned that love and belonging was bestowed upon those who were 'good,' 'just,' 'righteous.' The forgotten message of the Little Reformer is that we are all innately good, even though we may sometimes do bad things. (If you are rolling your eyes at this, you might want to start your Enneagram journey here)
If you are a Reformer, or know a Reformer, you might notice that their lens on the world is seen in very black and white terms. Things are either good or bad, right or wrong. There is very little room for gray. The result of this lens, this ego structure, is that The Reformer is always judging themselves and others against this merit stick. They can become very critical when they, or others, do not measure up. This in turn can produce a lot of anger or resentment for The Reformer. Anger at themselves for not meeting their high standards, or anger at others for not holding themselves to equally high standards.
Anger however is not often viewed as a 'right' or 'good' emotion, and so ironically, The Reformer is often considered to be the most cut off from their feelings of anger or resentment.
If you are a Reformer, or have a Reformer in your life, you might describe someone who is bound by duty, hardworking, always willing to help, and ethically and morally irreproachable.
So how does this get in the way of Transformation?
1) I am always doing for others but never for myself.
2) I feel bad about saying no or letting people down.
3) I am highly critical of myself and my mistakes.
4) My partner (and, or my children) tell me I am highly critical of them.
5) People tell me I appear unapproachable or distant.
6) I always take on extra work because everyone else will do it wrong if I don't do it.
7) I very rarely let loose, it would be a waste of time or too embarrassing.
8) I get burnt out a lot.
9) I try to control everything and everyone.
It's challenging to start a journey of transformation when you are so used to doing what you've been told to do, or when you are living someone else's version of what is good or right.
What do you want, Dear One?
Who are you, Dear One?
You know you are sick of being loved for what you do! You know you are sick of holding yourself to these high standards.
I see you.
Put down that cross.
If you never do a 'good' or 'right' thing ever again for the rest of your life, I want you to know this:
You are good and I love you.
You are good.
I love you.
Stop trying to buy my love and belonging with your deeds. You will resent me for it anyway.
You are good and I love you.
Do us both a favor and start figuring out who you are and what you want, and then write me and tell me about it here.
Next Week: Tye 2, The Helper
Lindsey T. H. Jackson