Ronna & Other Experts
Talk to the National Diabetes Council about
Or just read RONNA’S Enneagram of Personality SECTION
by Dr. Ronna Phifer-Ritchie
Good, close relationships are essential for our mental health, and that is even more true for the millions of Americans facing the medical challenge of diabetes. Theirpsychological well-beingis essential to sustaining the motivation and the perspective needed to live life well with the extra demands diabetes places on life-management resources.
The research is clear: psychological and medical issues need to be cared for together to create the best outcomes with this health challenge (Monitor on Psychology, More Psychologists Needed to Treat Diabetes), and healthy family relationships create a foundation for effective management of this disease that should not be overlooked. The question is, how do we, as family members, best create that kind of healthy relational environment for our loved one diagnosed with diabetes?
The research supports this closer look at relational health in families as an essential strategy for dealing effectively with diabetes:
95% of the diabetics in this country fall into the Type-2-Diabetes category, where lifestyle choices have been shown to be even more effective than medication (NIH-funded Diabetes Prevention Program, New England Journal of Medicine, 2002).
Therefore, our ability to show up for these individuals in ways that encourage their best behavior choices is worthy our ongoing attention, especially if we in their circle of highly significant family connections.
These 2 areas tend to be mismanaged most in family relationships with diabetics:
In my work as a relationship coach and personality style researcher, I have observed that family members’ relational styles often deteriorate, become more automatic and less relational, in response to stress.
When this relational style deterioration gets triggered, family members can easily slip into mismanagement of the line between actual therapeutic relating and “overdoing” a relational pattern (instead of relating). This tends to occur two key areas, when a family member is diabetic:
1. Supporting life management:
The line between providing support, and engaging in too much supervision (modeling anxiety, creating resistance by attempting to control to many of the diabetic individual’s behaviors, etc.)
2. Encouraging independent life management:
The line between encouraging independence and disconnecting (moving into dangerous denial, unconsciously closing pathways to contact, avoiding necessary honest confrontations, etc.)
How understanding our relational styles can help us createa more therapetuic relational environment for our loved ones:
This is where an understanding of our relational style can be so helpful for the concerned family member of the diabetic who truly wants to support and encourage their loved one in building an effective life and good relationship with reality.
TheEnneagram of Personality is one powerful tool we can use for this self-awareness piece around relational style. (For more on the Enneagram of Personality and relational health, visit my website: www.RelationshipDoctorOnline.com)
IfI, as a family member and support person, notice that I am starting to slip into my personal Enneagram relational style “over-doing-it” traps, that is a clear signal that it is time for me relax, take care of myself, and do some work on my own supporting and encouraging patterns.
If I lean towards being a….
REFORMER Type: I’m wonderfully principled, idealistic. But, under stress, I can slip into feeling an obligation to “fix” my loved one or resenting them for managing their program imperfectly, and criticizing and finger pointing from an almost parental position.
HELPER Type: I’m astoundingly caring, interpersonal. But, under stress, I can slip into doing things for my loved one just so I can feel needed, leaning into their life in an imposing way, forgetting to have a life of my own and ignoring my own needs.
ACHIEVER Type: I’m remarkably adaptable, success-oriented. But, under stress, I can slip into being overly concerned with image and what others think of my loved one’s ability to manage their illness, even pushing him/her for the sake of appearance.
INDIVIDUALIST Type: I’m exquisitely introspective, romantic. But, under stress, I can slip into withholding myself from family due to feeling defective, pulling back from needed structures in the household, with a self-absorption that can cause me to miss important things going on with my loved one.
INVESTIGATOR Type: I’m profoundly perceptive, cerebral. But, under stress, I can slip into detachment, and being so high-strung and intense when I am around my loved one that I flee to isolation, instead of nurturing the healthy relational contact we both need.
LOYALIST Type: I’m honorably committed, security-oriented. But, under stress, I can slip into being overly cautious and indecisive, and reactive. I can get stuck in irrational doubt about myself and my abilities to handle things, and in suspicion about my loved one’s compliance with treatment.
ENTHUSIAST Type: I’m excitingly busy, optimistic. But, under stress, I can slip into constantly seeking new and exciting experiences, becoming distracted and exhausted by staying on the go. I can run from the reality of my loved one’s discomfort and needs in this flight.
CHALLENGER Type: I’m impressively powerful, aggressive. But, under stress, I can slip into believing I must control my environment, especially my loved one, sometimes becoming confrontational and intimidating. This can damage the needed vulnerability between us that builds relationship and helps my loved one feel his or her own power.
PEACEMAKER Type: I’m deeply easy-going, self-effacing. But, under stress, I can slip into being complacent, simplifying problems and minimizing anything upsetting. The inertia of our family patterns and my stubbornness can keep me from noticing when my loved one needs important intervention in their health journey.
The remedy when I slip into unhelpful relational patterns with my family member?I need to remember that I can stay awake to this kind of relational style automatic “slippage,” and correct course when necessary. Then I can continue to be a well-functioning part of that relational foundation so necessary for my loved one’s best psychological and medical outcomes in life!
BOUNDARIES & SELF-ESTEEM in Couple Life
WHERE ARE YOU BOTH ON THE RELATIONSHIP GRID?
1up & Boundary-less?
1down & Boundary-less?
1up & Walled Off?
1down & Walled Off?
ANOTHER WAY TO DESCRIBE OUR STYLE OF STUCKNESS & CREATE A DOOR OUT!
Check out this amazing grid for understanding those rigid positions we can get locked into in couple life, positions that block intimacy – created by Terry Real, master couples therapist!
What do you notice about your self-esteem style these days? What do you notice about your boundary style these days?
This training from Terry Real can help you and your partner map out a new route to peace and balance in these two areas!
Click The Relationship Grid below for
with Terry Real
Here’s a link directly to Terry’s site: https://www.terryreal.com/
This Relationship Grid is one of those powerful tools for awareness building, like the Enneagram of Personality, that can help us build a door out of unhealthy patterns, and into behaviors that work much better with our partner. Use it for regular relationship CHECK-UPS!
Intimacy health is not a destination, it’s a dynamic process of growth, one we commit to if we want to have rewarding and fulfilling relationships. Just like Enneagram Type awareness and development! (In fact, I bet you’ll notice that as you and your partner get healthier at intimacy (self-esteem and boundaries), you will notice that your Enneagram Type issues soften, moving up the Riso-Hudson Levels of Development.
The Riso/Hudson Levels of Development: …people change constantly—sometimes they are clearer, more free, grounded, and emotionally available, while at other times they are more anxious, resistant, reactive, emotionally volatile and less free. Understanding the Levels makes it clear that when they change states within their personality, they are shifting within the spectrum of motivations, traits, and defenses that make up their personality type. … (Additionally,) two people of the same personality type… will differ significantly if one is healthy and the other unhealthy. (www.enneagraminstitute.com)
|The Structure of the Continuum of Levels|
|The Level of Liberation|
|Level 2||The Level of Psychological Capacity|
|Level 3||The Level of Social Value|
|The Level of Imbalance/ Social Role|
|Level 5||The Level of Interpersonal Control|
|Level 6||The Level of Overcompensation|
|The Level of Violation|
|Level 8||The Level of Obsession and Compulsion|
|Level 9||The Level of Pathological Destructiveness|
Used with permission from the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Institute, All Rights Reserved 2005
THE CHRISTIAN ENNEAGRAM: THE DEEPER RELATIONAL CHECK-UP!
Love and relational health are deeply interdependent. So we can conclude that love and personality health are deeply interdependent as well.
As Terry Real’s Relationship Grid shows us, unhealthy relational patterns like shame and compromised boundaries show up in varied ways. Shame can be expressed as self-contempt or grandiosity; lack of good healthy boundaries can mean over-reactivity or under-responsiveness to others. Our personality can sometimes DEFINE those patterns as its own version of love, and frightens us into continuing to seek that version of love. Yet that ersatz version of love is never fulfilling.
Even though our personality usually has a powerful agenda that it pushes as its version of love, we can remind ourselves that we are going for the REAL thing here.
And IF we’re going for the real thing, we need to understand that real love means a commitment to continually working on our distortions regarding God, self and others – the relational health triad! (That is, if you are seeking a healthy relationship with God, yourself and others, you’re going in the spiritual health direction. NOT ONE OF THOSE CAN BE IGNORED, NO MATTER HOW UNIMPORTANT THE PERSONALITY THINKS THAT RELATIONSHIP IS TO ITS GOALS!)
…and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…..The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these. (Mark 12:30-31)
Until Next Time, Builders,
Look at You…Comin’ in for Your Relationship Check-up! Nice Work!
THE HEDONIC TREADMILL
Couple happiness has the same problem all human happiness tends to have: we habituate to it. This has been referred to by researchers as the hedonic treadmill. Without doing the work of relational growth, it’s very easy to let our amazing partner and valuable connection fade into life’s wallpaper of normal expectations. That is, all those gifts from God become a kind of happiness baseline that we just grow to expect every day. It doesn’t give us the happiness jolt that it used to give us. And we start looking for that jolt somewhere else. So we add a new career, a new social group, and the same thing happens with each new shiny object we grab at…..it becomes part of our life’s wallpaper, we don’t even notice it after a while.
Our Inner Individualist has some important perspective on this topic of couple life. This is the part of us that understands the role of authenticity in creating REAL happiness. Most research done on the hedonic treadmill reveals this Four-ish piece of wisdom: the real happiness in our lives comes from paying attention to the little things that are full of reality. Fours teach us that it is important to look at the entire landscape of reality, to find the beauty in all of it, even the hard parts we’ve traversed together. (Check out this amazing article about the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, valuing those repaired cracks in our lives, relational and otherwise!)
These are the things about my relationship with my partner (no matter how small or insignificant those things may seem to the observing world) that tell me who I really am, and what I really care about. It’s an awakeness issue. I stay awake for our weekly Saturday morning coffee and reading-the-New-York-Times appointment, our occasional picnics at sunset, the bittersweet absence of the sound of her laughter when she’s out of town, the undefinable smell of him coming through the door after work, the sight of her bare back when we’re in bed, the things we both like to laugh about, the things we’ll never have in common and the funny stories those mismatched fantasies have created…..the list is as long and eternal as love itself.
The Couples’ Enneagram:
MIGHT REVEAL ABOUT
HOW HAPPY WE REALLY ARE
WITH OUR MATE…
So how do we stay awake and immersed in the power of reality, in our life with our partner? Well, all those Nice Guys who used to be thought of in the dating world as finishing last, showed us something about appreciation in romantic relationships recently. There’s some new research from Spielmann and MacDonald (2016) that indicates CONTRAST might be part of what keeps us in touch with reality. (Or we could say the reverse, that reality might keepimportant CONTRAST in our faces!)
When does the nice guy win? So, when does a nice, but maybe not-so-attractive, person best have a shot at garnering women’s romantic interest? The evidence points to a fascinating subjectivity in women’s judgments: women were much more interested in the responsive (i.e.., nice), unattractive target when they have previously viewed an unresponsive (i.e., not so nice) target (Spielmann & MacDonald, 2016). This target could have been unattractive or attractive: in either case, the responsive and unattractive target was preferred.
These findings underscore the fascinating way context affects social judgements. When you’re scrolling through potential partners, the order in which you study their different attributes and see their different physical qualities makes a difference…
Contrast effects seem to play a fairly big role in the very first impressions that then translate to future interaction, but scholars have yet to examine how they could play out later, once a relationship is off the ground. Perhaps comparing to other couples, or contrasting with other ex-partners, has a role in relationship maintenance.Theresa E DiDonato Ph.D.Meet, Catch, and Keep, When Do Nice Guys Finish First? , Psychology Today
THE CHRISTIAN ENNEAGRAM EXPERIENCE:
In Enneagram Psycho-spiritual
we might think of this
contrast factor in happiness
as a widening of our
personality’s habit of attention.
When I’m feeling dissatisfied with my marriage or partner, what exactly am I focusing on and why? Do I need to bring in the bigger perspective? Something beyond where my personality type is stuck. Here are some examples:
ONE: Do I need to widen my focus beyond my personal expectations of our life as a couple?
TWO: Do I need to widen my focus beyond my hyper-attention on how much someone else is demonstrating that they love me in our life as a couple?
THREE: Do I need to widen my focus beyond the constant comparisons with which I am concerning myself, in our life as a couple?
FOUR: Do I need to widen my focus beyond my self-absorbed definitions of depth in our life as a couple?
FIVE: Do I need to widen my focus beyond insisting that every experience in our life as a couple be run through my demanding cognitive filters to determine its value?
SIX: Do I need to widen my focus beyond ensuring a risk-free environment for our life as a couple?
SEVEN: Do I need to widen my focus beyond making sure I’m never uncomfortable in our life as a couple?
EIGHT: Do I need to widen my focus beyond my vision of what needs to be moved along or managed next in our life is as a couple?
NINE: Do I need to widen my focus beyond my avoidance of conflict, as a path to my version of happiness, in our life as a couple?
IN COUPLE LIFE:
Did you know that many spiritual masters
teach their students about happiness
using THIS METAPHOR on distant stars in the sky?Speaking of contrast, spiritual masters often teach their students about authentic happiness using this metaphor regarding viewing distant stars against the dark night sky!One of my teachers once told me to look up in the sky at night and pay attention to this important metaphor for happiness: There are stars that are far away, very important, very beautiful, but can only be seen if you DO NOT FOCUS ON SEEING THE STAR. Why? Because those stars are dim to the human eye, and the contrast is low against the dark sky. The ocular neurons called rods concentrated in the outer part of the human eye pick up contrast better than the cone neurons concentrated in the center of the human eye. If you look just off to the side of one of those distant stars, off into space, the star will reveal itself.Happiness is like this. It cannot be chased directly….if it is it just becomes a bright shiny object that goes the way of the hedonic treadmill. You have to look beyond happiness, to the whole reality surrounding it, in order to find it!Happiness is a side effect of aiming your life in the right direction, a side-effect of looking at truth when it shows up, a side-effect of determining to be a seeker of God and HIS version of reality.Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4, NIV)
TYPE ONE (Reformer)
& THE DAILY DOUBLE!
Turn Those Relationship-Building Behaviors Into Habits, and Leave Your Willpower intact to Keep Your True Value System Awake During those Unexpected Stressful Moments in Couple Life.
We’ve all been there! You avoid that doughnut that’s been calling to you most of the afternoon from the office coffee room, because you just started a new fitness program. Or you decided to keep that first Saturday morning commitment to getting up an hour early to do some journaling. Then, you are faced with a decision regarding good behavior you weren’t expecting today: He left his dirty socks in the hallway again! She wants to talk about that bathroom fixture that needs replacing during the game! ..AND YOU START YELLING. You’ve made a commitment to breathe and think before reacting in your relationship with your partner. BUT the doughnut or the early wakeup time seemed to have used up your willpower allotment for that day. While there is some current scientific debate about exactly what creates that phenomenon, there’s a lot of sound techniques that have been proven to address this WILLPOWER GAP in couple life.
What the research says about
this thing we call
“THE WILLPOWER GAP”
Following is great summary of some of the research on the willpower gap and human behavior from Leslie Baehr, Los Angeles Times:
‘The basic idea is that if you resist a really delicious piece of chocolate cake at a party, and then right after that you drive home and your roommate left his socks on the floor, you’re more likely to snap and yell at your roommate than you would have been if that cake had never been offered to you,’ said Jessica Alquist, assistant professor of psychology at Texas Tech University, whose research interests include self-control and health.
…Keep in mind that self-control is on duty more often than we realize and that many of the tasks that zap willpower fly under the radar. Researchers estimate that the average adult spends about three hours every day resisting desires and half an hour giving in to ones previously resisted. Choosing lunch, making business decisions, moderating emotions and staying on task — all tax willpower, so try to make important decisions when you’re fresh. Just picking up lunch on your way to work, rather than once your willpower is exhausted in the afternoon, can lead to healthier choices.
‘One of the best ways to manage that self-control resource is to set yourself up so that you don’t have to use it,” Alquist said. Research suggests that those who have good self-control actually aren’t great at resisting desires. Instead, they use their willpower for “playing offense,’ according to Baumeister, setting up their lives to encourage good behavior (like making sure they have a gym buddy) and avoid potential land mines (like staying away from the doughnut shop).
Turning those good behaviors into habits is even better. Habits leave willpower intact by putting desirable behaviors on autopilot. Plus, when our willpower is kaput, we are more likely to fall back on habits, healthy or otherwise.
(LESLIE BAEHR, How to improve willpower? Feed it. – Los Angeles Times)
An Exercise that Will Create One of Those Relationship-Building Habits
that Leaves You Both with a Surplus of Willpower!
Start with this easy, fun exercise to create a powerful set of willpower-saving, relationship-enhancing new habits? CLICK HERE and ENTER THE PASSWORD “yourdaily2” & get the DAILY DOUBLE EXERCISE for Couples!
The Riso-Hudson Insight Approach of Catching Yourself in the Act
Requires Taking Care of Your Willpower Stores!
The Couples’ Institute Daily Double is a Good Habit that Our Inner ONE Can Really Latch Onto! In addition to creating a supportive environment of great relational habits with each other, it is important to fortify that atmosphere of couple growth with your own personality development practices, that themselves can turn into helpful, willpower-saving habits. The Riso-Hudson Insight Approach to Enneagram Type development has a foundational habit-building activity of catching yourself in the act. Simply unpacked, that means noticing your personality’s wake-up call that indicates you are getting less conscious about what you say and do with your partner, slipping into your particular Enneagram style autopilot! Every time you notice that you are stressed and about to (or recently did) slip into unconscious, unhelpful behaviors (criticising, losing yourself & your boundaries, faking it or using charm to deceive, over dramatizing, isolating, getting overly dependent on something…or someone, escapism, controlling/objectifying behaviors, numbing out, etc.):
- NOTICE (WITHOUT JUDGMENT), and realize at that moment you have (or had) a choice.
- AND if you want to really add some power to this practice, DO what we call at The Couples’ Institute AN INSTANT REPLAY! Imagine the lead up to this moment again, and what it might be like to choose to respond in a healthy way to your partner!
That’s all it takes. Just keep practicing that awareness-expanding insight, and you will begin to build one of the most important habits in your relational growth journey!
Waking Up is a Life-long Journey,
Powered by God’s Spirit and Grace!
Getting in touch with this kind of reality throughout our relational day, means getting in touch with God’s reality….the only reality to reach for if we want to be anything beyond delusional in our decision making patterns in this life. Fortunately God’s Spirit and His Grace are readily available, all we have to do is seek them. Anyone who tells you that is not true, is probably holding back from an all-out open-minded search.
The New Testament church discussed this often. After Jesus physically left their lives, they often talked about, wrote about, told stories about the only real path to this kind of remembering what matters, especially while in community. Their writings about this, our shared struggle, echo what many ancient Enneagram scholars have concluded about this work: any real work on our Type’s autopilot issues MEANS basing that journey in genuine spiritual practice.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (James 1:5New International Version (NIV))
…walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). – Galatians 5:16
Until Next Time, Builders,
That’s You One, Willpower Gap Zero!
What Our Inner Seven Knows About Those “Little” Compromises
(Or…Observations from a Former Grave Digger)
IF YOU ARE DESIGNED TO
DANCE, WRITE, TRAVEL, HIKE, CREATE, STUDY, LEAD,
OR SHINE IN SOME OTHER WAY,
HONORING THAT, SPEAKING UP ABOUT THAT,
IS PART OF BUILDING A GREAT RELATIONSHIP!
Observations about (one kind of) Marriage from a Former Grave Digger.
BY PETE PEARSON, THE COUPLES’ INSTITUTE
(Peter Pearson, one of my favorite dominant Seven colleagues 🙂 , is the co-founder of the famous Couples’ Institute in Menlo Park California, and co-author with his wife, Dr. Ellyn Bader, of the seminal book on couples’ therapy “IN SEARCH OF THE MYTHICAL MATE.” I study and work with Ellyn, Pete and their colleagues in the Couples’ Institute Master Mentor Program.)
I used to be a grave digger. College summer job. No heavy equipment. Just two good shovels, pick axe, tape measure, string, and a tarp.
I wasn’t that philosophical then.
I could not have imagined that someday I’d see parallels between that and my current psychology practice specializing in couple’s therapy.
I’m talking about the price that some couples pay to keep the peace in their marriage. The slow, torturous death of continuous acquiescence.
Every couple knows it is important to compromise.
But what happens when conflict avoidant couples carry it too far?
What parts of their relationship get buried when they deny or distort their dreams?
What price is one or both partner willing to pay to be accepted or loved?
Too many people choose a form of death over speaking up for themselves. Not literal death like when I scooped the last shovel of dirt on the grave. But killing off parts of themselves to fit in, be accepted, do whatever it takes to avoid scorn, ridicule, rejection, or failure.
I have done it too often in my own life.
Give up on what makes me feel alive.
These “small compromises” done often enough can lead to becoming a zombie without the fearsome looks.
This process can happen on a larger scale. The psychologist Rollo May said, “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it is conformity.”
In a different context, Patrick Henry eloquently stated, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
Patrick Henry faced a parallel and painful dilemma many couples face today: the slow strangulation of excessive accommodation vs holding on dearly to what makes you feel alive.
Stop digging your grave. Put down your shovels. Talk to your partner about what makes you feel alive. Talk about what you can do to bring out the best in each other.
The good folks I buried could not return from the grave and get another shot at life.
But for your marriage it is not too late.
There can be liberation, freedom, and coming back from the grave if you don’t give up what makes you feel alive.
Till next time.
THE COUPLES’ ENNEAGRAM:
Move Out of that Avoidant Pattern Now!
Learn the Secrets of Doing Conflict Well with Your First FREE Video Training from THE RELATIONSHIP DOCTOR: RECIPE FOR HARMONY – A Coffee Break Course on Using the Enneagram Harmonics to Differentiate Well!
(You Can Find Your Password for the Video in Your Relationship Builders Email!)
THE CHRISTIAN ENNEAGRAM EXPERIENCE:
The wisdom of scripture is full of important paradox: Death teaches us how to live, Jesus says to gain your life you must learn to “lose” it…..You almost cannot find a piece of wisdom in scripture where there is not this kind of hidden paradoxical wisdom running through it.
When the ego wants to avoid conflict, wants to avoid honoring our callings from God because it means conflict with our significant other; it can feel like risking a kind of death to be honest with our spouse or partner. So, “die” this way (differentiate) regularly. Differentiate and discover just what that kind of relational abundance that scriptural risk produces.
Even one partner continually choosing to not speak up and to avoid healthy conflict can halt your development as a couple. That avoidance can also hamper the personal development of both partners in different ways. Spirit-crushing compromises have no place in God’s plan for your relationship!
Get comfortable with being a loser, with being uncomfortable, with the risk it takes to grow! Then, when that frightened ego start warning you about what you’re going to “lose” by being real with your beloved, you can quote this New Testament powerhouse scripture right in its face:
Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:33)
Anyone who ever wanted to explore new lands needed to accept that they were going to “lose” the ability to see the old shoreline at some point.
Until Next Time, Builders,
Choosing Life Together!
Are We Doomed to Keep Dating (or Marrying)
the Same Person with Different Names?
When Facing a Major Relationship Pattern in Your Life and seeking BIG shifts in that pattern, do these 4 things:
Sometimes we feel stuck in relational patterns, feeling like we’re living the same script, over and over again, just with new actors playing the parts. Attachment patterns in the relational nervous system are coded in childhood, and determine a lot in terms of how healthy our personality “auto-pilot” functions as we enter adulthood, especially in our romantic relationships. Relational anxiety drives the pattern in deeper; so every time we avoid reality’s feedback to keep doing the same unrewarding behaviors and making the same stress-inducing choices in our relational lives, we create more anxiety, and we keep the attachment style going. However, attachment experts site a few important choices we can make that have a deep and lasting effect on the level of anxiety driving our attachment patterns, and thus an impact on how we can shift into more secure attachment patterns.
Here are some BIG relationship pattern shifters, according to attachment experts, like Allison Abrams, Psychology Today author:
When You’re Trying to Shift a Major Relationship Pattern in Your Life, make sure to do these 4 things:
1. Manage significant stressors in life well. Get support and create structure you need – it reduces the over-all anxiety in your relational life, which is good for moving you out of anxious or avoidant attachment patterns and into more secure ones.
2. Engage in new, emotionally-correcting relational experiences, like being in a committed relationship – that can change those patterns.
3. Seek secure partners, with good attachment work in their history that grounds their relational patterns – this can be a health-bump in your way of being in relationship.
4. Support your relational life with counseling or coaching, to help you understand when and why the attachment anxiety gets triggered – a smart move, in the direction of healing.
Level of Health Trumps Every Other Factor in Dating Choice!
When talking personality style, what’s the “Type” that goes best with your Type? The only answer to that question is THE HEALTHY TYPE! This is the type of individual who, regardless of Enneagram style, is self-motivated to “do the work” of his or her personality development. In doing so, that individual is dealing directly with any attachment wounds in childhood, and preparing to be a great partner. Here’s a recap of some ways someone’s Enneagram Type Level of Development (Don Riso & russ Hudson’s Description Matrix of Personality Style Health) might speak to you through an online or in-person encounter:
THE EMOTIONALLY CORRECTIVE RELATIONSHIP
|1||The Truly Liberated Dater: ”IF I ENGAGE IN DATING AT ALL, DATING IS A VERY HIGH SPIRITUAL AND RELATIONAL PRACTICE FOR ME – BLESSING OTHERS, AND BEING FULLY OPEN TO RECEIVE THE UNIQUE BLESSING EACH OF THEM BRINGS TO MY LIFE AT THIS MOMENT. BEING IN MY PRESENCE MAKES AWAKE PEOPLE FEEL RELAXED, ACCEPTED, FEARLESS!” (Level of Liberation: Ego Transcended — Balance & Freedom)|
|2||The Very Healthy & Psychologically Capable Dater: ”ENJOYING DATING IN ITS PURE FORM, HOLDING ITS FORM LIGHTLY HOWEVER, AND EMBRACING THE RICH EXPERIENCE OF BRINGING WHO I AM FULLY TO THE TABLE IN EACH INTERACTION, AND INVITING THAT FROM THE OTHER AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE” (Level of Psychological Capacity: Ego is Identified with as the basis of a Particular Mode of Being)|
|The High Social Value Dater: It might say…”DATING WELL & WITH MEANINGFUL PURPOSE MATTERS TO ME (AND PURPOSES THAT MATTER TO OTHERS) – GIVING WHAT ONLY I CAN OFFER IN THIS MOMENT, AND APPRECIATING THE UNIQUE GIFTS OF THE OTHER” (Level of Social Gift: Ego Operating in a Constructive Way, Successfully Sublimating)|
Anxious or Avoidant Attached
THE RELATIONSHIP WITH HIGH POTENTIAL & HARD WORK AHEAD
|The Pleasant, Effective Social Role Dater: ”I AM SOMEWHAT GOAL-ORIENTED IN MY DATING, OCCASIONALLY MISSING THE VALUE OF THE MOMENT WITH THE OTHER, BUT GENERALLY GOING FOR HEALTHY GOOD THINGS IN MY ROMANTIC LIFE AND SUPPORTING THOSE THINGS IN THE ROMANTIC LIFE OF THOSE I DATE. IF WE ARE BOTH WORKING ON OUR DATING PRACTICES, WE COULD REALLY CREATE SOMETHING WORTH DOING HERE.” (Level of Fixation: Losing Contact with Presence and Awareness, the Beginning of “Sleep” — as Ego-Role assumed)|
|The Interpersonally Controlling Dater: ”A MIX OF HIGH-POTENTIAL OPENINGS AND MY REALLY DIFFICULT-TO-DEAL-WITH HABITUAL BEHAVIOR UNDER STRESS, MAKES UP MY REPERTOIRE ON DATES – YET I AM ABLE TO BE REALLY “THERE” FOR THE OTHER IN SOME KEY MOMENTS. I NEED SOME PERSONAL WORK TO BRING MY DATING PRACTICES UP TO A HEALTHY LEVEL. AND YOU’LL BE AWARE OF THAT VERY SOON, IF YOU DATE ME…..” (Level of Interpersonal Conflict: Ego Controlling Environment to get its needs met — Manipulative & Defended)|
|The Defensive, Over-compensating Dater: ”I AM SIMPLY DIFFICULT TO BE PRESENT WITH, MOST OF THE TIME, AND ON MOST DATES. I COVER MY FEARS ABOUT THAT, AND ABOUT WHAT THAT MEANS FOR MY FUTURE, WITH AN UNATTRACTIVE PUSH FOR REALITY TO CONFORM TO WHAT I WANT, MISSING A LOT OF THE VALUE OF DATING THAT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! I AM LIKELY TO RESIST YOUR EFFORTS TO MOVE ME INTO HEALTHY DATING PRACTICES; YOU SHOULD LOOK ELSEWHERE UNTIL I HIT BOTTOM AND REALLY CHANGE.” (Level of Overcompensation: Ego Inflation, Aggressive defense of Ego-Identity. Demanding that others/reality support the ego-agenda)|
Disorganized Attached (Unattached)
THE RELATIONSHIP THAT NEEDS TO END
|The Violating Dater: ”IF LISTED ON A DATING SITE, MY STORY FEELS VERY UNHEALTHY, OR THE PIECES JUST DON’T FIT TOGETHER IN A TRUE OR HUMAN WAY. I RESIST YOUR EFFORTS TO GET FACTS ON ME OR MY RELATIONAL PAST. MY DATING LIFE, IF YOU COULD CALL IT “DATING,” IS REALLY USING, IN A KIND OF HIDDEN FORM OF SOCIOPATHY, FOR THE MOST PART. DON’T DATE ME BEFORE I GET TO THE INTERVENTION AND HEALING I NEED SO DESPERATELY.” Level of Violation: Ego willing to violate self and others to maintain itself. Abusive, Devaluing, Desperate (Serious pathology arises)|
|The Out-of-Control, Deluded Dater: ”I AM BEYOND DANGEROUS. YOU’D NEED “MONEY, GUNS, AND LAWYERS,” AS THE SONG SAYS, TO SURVIVE ANY DATING CONTACT WITH ME WITHOUT BEING DAMAGED. YES, WITH SERIOUS HELP, AND THE KIND OF PERSONALITY MIRACLES THAT ONLY GOD CAN PROVIDE, SOMEDAY I MAY BE A LITTLE MORE HEALTHY AND ABLE TO INTERACT WITH OTHERS WITHOUT HARMING THEM. BUT, I SHOULD NOT BE AROUND THE DATING WORLD IN ANY WAY, BEFORE HUGE SHIFTS HAPPEN IN THAT AREA…AND PROBABLY NOT EVEN THEN.” (Level of Delusion and Compulsion: Ego-self out of Control and Out of Touch with Reality (Major Personality Disorders)|
|The Pathological & Destructive Dater: ”I AM SO DETERIORATED AT THIS LEVEL, THAT I DOUBT I EVEN REACH OUT RELATIONALLY, AS THERE IS NO SENSE OF SELF TO BE IN RELATIONSHIP WITH OTHERS. PRAY FOR ME. DO NOT CONNECT WITH ME IN ANY KIND OF OPEN TRUSTING HUMAN WAY, UNLESS THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES ARE CONTROLLING THE SITUATION, AND YOU ARE CALLED TO INTERVENE IN A PROFESSIONAL CONTEXT. DATING IS OUTSIDE OF MY ABILITIES, THANK GOD.” ( Level of Pathological Destructiveness: Extreme Pathology or death (Psychosis))|
The experts have observed a deep scriptural theme here. If you want big changes in your relational habits, make sure your most intimate circle includes healthy, loving people who KNOW HOW to do relationship well.
Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ (1 Corinthians 15:33 New International Version)
Until Next Time Builders,
You Pattern Shifters, You!
HIGH PERFORMERS Avoid
Using Up Brain Neurons on DIFFICULT PEOPLE!
Stress costs us in neurons! Stress of any kind exacts a high price on our brain, body, and relational health. Research shows that high performers (usually high in emotional intelligence) take that reality seriously, and they stay in control of optional stressors. This includes managing the impact of difficult people on their internal and external environment.
When dealing with difficult people in the personal or professional setting, it’s especially important to stay awake to what you CAN control and contribute: your invitation to psychological and spiritual health. (Another’s response to that invitation is really outside of your reach, as a human being. That is where our calling to be Presence in any given relational situation stops.)
“Difficult people defy logic. Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife and worst of all stress.
Studies have long shown that stress can have a lasting, negative impact on the brain.
Recent research from the Department of Biological and Clinical Psychology at Friedrich Schiller University in Germany found that exposure to stimuli that cause strong negative emotions — the same kind of exposure you get when dealing with difficult people — caused subjects’ brains to have a massive stress response. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome or just plain craziness, difficult people drive your brain into a stressed-out state that should be avoided at all costs.
The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance.
While I’ve run across numerous effective strategies that smart people employ when dealing with difficult people, what follows are some of the best. To deal with difficult people effectively, you need an approach that enables you, across the board, to control what you can and eliminate what you can’t. The important thing to remember is that you are in control of far more than you realize.” (Travis Bradberry, How Smart People Handle Difficult People!)
I absolutely love the following quick workplace tips from Travis Bradberry, that can be applied to homelife as well…
The Couples’ (& Family’s) Enneagram:
The 9 Ways to Remind Yourself
HOW MUCH CONTROL YOU ACTUALLY HAVE
WHEN DEALING WITH DIFFICULT PEOPLE!
And it’s Far More Than You Realize!
…Your Personality Health Can Be a Force that Teaches People
How to Treat You….and Possibly How to Treat Others!
Here’s a summary of Bradberry’s great tips, plus my follow-up on how each of these brilliant strategies invite us all to access our inner Enneagram wisdom. When Dealing with a Difficult Person, REMEMBER TO USE THESE NINE SMART STRATEGIES:
1. Bradberry says: Rise above when dealing with the difficult person at work. Access your inner ONE (Reformer)! In family life, it’s even more important you don’t get sucked into the emotional chaos the difficult person swims in; keep your objectivity in place and let those difficult patterns face the upward pull of your rising above an invitation to drama. You don’t need to answer the drama, just deal with the facts.
2. Bradberry says: Use your support system when dealing with the difficult person at work. Access your inner TWO (Helper)! In family life, it’s even more important to get perspective on the crazy-making interactions with a difficult person, and see where we need to adjust out boundaries, means having the social humility to ask safe people for their input. Ask them what they would do. Defuse some of the difficult energy by staying in real connection with the healthier people in your life.
3. Bradberry says: Don’t focus on problems — only solutions when dealing with the difficult person at work. Access your inner THREE (Achiever)! In family life, it’s even more important to keep your focus on how you will improve your management of the difficult-person situation, and your real priorities. If you let the difficult-person problems become your focus, you’re creating more stress for yourself. Keep that solution-focus energy out in front of you, as a shield, when dealing with the difficult.
4. Bradberry says: Stay aware of your emotions when dealing with the difficult person at work. Access your inner FOUR (Individualist)! In family life, it’s even more important to be honest with yourself about when your buttons are getting pushed by the difficult person. Know yourself, and know when you need some time to regroup and strategize. Introduce those difficult patterns to the individual you are by taking care of yourself actively.
5. Bradberry says: Don’t die in the fight when dealing with the difficult person at work. Access your inner FIVE (Investigator)! In family life, it’s even more important to learn to look out for your inner resources. Toxic battles with difficult people can leave you depleted, without a lot to show for the struggle. Investigate those difficult patterns ahead of time, think them through, and have an exit strategy ready to keep your emotional distance in place.
6. Bradberry says: Don’t forget when dealing with the difficult person at work. Access your inner SIX (Loyalist)! In family life, it’s even more important to value your memories. Yes, move on, forgive, understand that the difficult person is in pain. However, stay vigilant regarding the memories of of their character! Difficult people manipulate and play games, because it’s what they know to do at their level of development. Face that reality head on with the level of trust the difficult person has earned. Keep memories intact.
7. Bradberry says: Squash negative self-talk when dealing with the difficult person at work. Access your inner SEVEN (Enthusiast)! In family life, it’s even more important to do this. I love Bradberry’s admonishment that we should AVOID NEGATIVE SELF-TALK AT ALL COSTS. Difficult people tend to send normal folks into those negative self-assessment spirals. Remember to love your life enough to leave that kind of pointless pain in the dust. It’s not practical, it’s not real. Introduce those useless guilt messages to THE SQUASHER! Haha.
8. Bradberry says: Set limits & Establish boundaries when dealing with the difficult person at work. Access your inner EIGHT (Challenger)! In family life, it’s even more important to get comfortable with healthy firmness, AND with coming off a little callous or rude, when unavoidable; don’t let your time & energy be a resource the difficult person gets to waste. Challenge the difficult patterns, and trust your ability to spot game playing when you see it.
9. Bradberry says: Get some sleep when dealing with the difficult person at work. Access your inner NINE (Peacemaker)! In family life, it’s even more important to practice all the things that arm you with the brain power and creativity you need to deal with difficult people. And sleep is a vital tool. Emotionally intelligent people get enough sleep, because they are always checking back in with their center, and asking what creates or damages peace in their life. Sleep is an essential peacemaker to have at your side when difficult people are in your environment.
Until Next Time, Builders,
Love that you’re keepin’ those brains relationship-ready!