In a society filled with disconnect and division, how can the Enneagram guide us toward compassionate living within our communities? Suzanne Stabile, teacher and author of numerous books, including The Journey Toward Wholeness, talks with Amy Julia Becker about the Enneagram’s identification of the nine different ways of seeing the world and the healing available through naming who we are.
See the Book Giveaway tab below for instructions on how to enter to win a copy of Stabile’s newest book!
“Suzanne Stabile is a highly sought after speaker and teacher…After 25 years of studying the enneagram, learning from people’s stories, cultivating relationships, and learning under Father Richard Rohr, she has become a bestselling author and world class teacher of the Enneagram and how individuals can best utilize this spiritual tool.”
- Instagram: @suzannestabile
- Facebook: @EnneagramSuz
- Twitter: @SuzanneStabile
On the Podcast:
- Books: The Journey Toward Wholeness, The Road Back to You, The Path Between Us
- Workshop: Know Your Number
- Subscription Service: The Table
- The Enneagram Journey podcast: episode with Morgan Harper Nichols
- Consolations by David Whyte
- Speaking by the Numbers by Sean Palmer
“[The Enneagram] offers an awareness that there are nine different ways of seeing the world and your way isn’t everybody else’s, and that’s the primary cause, I think, of all the disconnects that keep us dividing and circling the wagons and thinking we’re right and everybody else is wrong.”
“I’ve learned to ask myself three questions, and the questions are: ‘Why am I moving toward this person? What if anything do I hope to get in return? And does the other person want my help?’ Now that, then, helps me think about what I’m about to do. And then my fourth question has become, ‘If I say yes to this, what does that mean I’m saying no to?’”
“We are an imbalanced society.”
“You can’t change what you can’t name. And the reason I love the Enneagram so much is because it names the things you already know but you have not been able to articulate about yourself. And once you can articulate them, you can do something about it.”
“You have all of the natural resources you need…they are thinking, feeling, and doing.”
“The question I ask myself every day is, ‘What is mine to do?’”
“To assume that we’re all having the same experience in a room, in a family, in a small group, in a women’s group—we’re just not. And to make room for difference may be a step toward making room for diversity. And it’s for sure a step toward us living more compassionate lives as we try to live together in one city, town, group, school, church. All gifts are necessary.”
“It doesn’t matter what you have to say if people can’t hear you.”
Season 5 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast connects to themes in my newest book, To Be Made Well, releasing Spring 2022…you can pre-order here! Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.
*A transcript of this episode will be available within one business day, as well as a video with closed captions on my YouTube Channel.
Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
You can’t change what you can’t name and the reason I love the Enneagram so much is because it names the themes you already know, but you have not been able to articulate about yourself. And once you can articulate them, you can do something about it.
Amy Julia (24s):
Hi friends, I’m Amy, Julia Becker. And this is love is stronger than fear. A podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of personal pain and social division. You were in for a treat today. I’ve been a fan of my guest Suzanne Stabile for many years now. And I can’t really believe that I had a chance to interview her about her new book. So her book is called the journey toward wholeness, Enneagram wisdom for stress, balance, and transformation. And it releases today, thanks to the generosity of InterVarsity press. We are get to give away a copy of this book. So if you want to find out about the giveaway head over to Instagram this morning, my handle over there is Amy Julia Becker, and you can enter to win a copy of the journey towards wholeness.
Amy Julia (1m 9s):
You’ll get all of those details there. Or you can also look at the show notes. So Suzanne is a teacher of the Enneagram. And if you don’t know what that is, I have asked her on the show to explain it in kind of, you know, cliff note form. And also we get to talk about why it matters, how it can be helpful to us in understanding ourselves and the people around us. Suzanne’s books and lectures have all been really helpful to me, not just in my own spiritual and personal growth, but also in experiencing healing these past few years. So I really do recommend listening to this, but also checking out the show notes for links to her other resources.
Amy Julia (1m 49s):
I hope you get as much out of this conversation as I did. Well. It is my honor to be here today, talking with Suzanne stip, Beale, Suzanne. Welcome. Thank you for being here.
Suzanne (2m 2s):
Thank you. Thank you for having me. I love to talk to folks and I love to talk about the Enneagram. So it’s a joy for me.
Amy Julia (2m 9s):
Well, you have come to the right place. I am someone who has followed your work for many years. I’ve listened to you teach. I’ve read your books in my mind. You need no introduction because I’ve spent a lot of time with you, even though you’ve spent no time with me. I’m grateful for that. That said, I’m sure that there are listeners to this podcast who are not familiar with you and perhaps not familiar with the Enneagram, which is your subject matter. And I want to talk today about your most recent book, the journey towards wholeness, but before we get into the nitty-gritty of the details of that book, I’m wondering if you can give us a big picture view. What is the Enneagram, why does it matter?
Amy Julia (2m 50s):
Why have you spent decades of your life bringing this truth and wisdom into the world?
Suzanne (2m 57s):
Well, the Enneagram is essentially about nine ways of seeing. And when I teach a initial workshop, which is all nine numbers, I teach each one for about 30 or 40 minutes. And I say to people when I start the day that I, I’m not sure they’ll know their number when they leave, generally people do, but not a hundred percent of the time. What I am sure of is that there’ll be more compassionate and they integrate is probably 3000 years old, maybe older. And it was an oral tradition in every faith belief on the globe until the 1970s, when Americans started to publish Enneagram wisdom and any REM work.
Suzanne (3m 50s):
And I have been studying for 30 years and teaching for 26. Okay. But it’s only been trendy in the last three or four, and there are two sides to that, which I can address later if more is needed. But I would just say that this is an unending wisdom to them that has layer upon layer upon layer. And to know your number is kind of like buying a ticket to get in. And then all the work starts. And unfortunately with its trendiness, there are shortcuts to knowing your number, which often means you don’t really know your number and everything stops there, which makes it so much less than it is.
Suzanne (4m 42s):
And yet it offers an awareness that there are nine different ways of seeing the world and your way isn’t everybody else’s. And that’s the primary. Cause I think of all the disconnects that keep us dividing and circling the wagons and thinking we’re right, everybody, else’s wrong. I teach primarily in universities and churches and hospitals, my husband, Joe, and I have our own ministry. He’s a Methodist pastor, but we all have a nonprofit and I teach our nonprofit. And I think I’ve gotten more mail during COVID than at other times.
Suzanne (5m 32s):
Although I get a lot that said, thank you so much. This made everything easier because people learn how to more than tolerate one another, but make room for one another and make room for difference as they begin to learn and know and wonder and be curious about the Enneagram and about people who see differently than they do.
Amy Julia (6m 2s):
So interesting to hear you say that because in 2019, a couple months before COVID, so December of 2019, my husband and I, our family was on a sabbatical road trip and we listened to your know your number workshop. So we both had done, we both had read both you’re the road back to you and the path that one, we had read both of those books, but I was like, you know, I’ve listened to her too. And I really liked the way she talks. So we listened to know the, know your number of series over the course of that road trip. And it did set us up well for COVID both in terms of understanding each other. But we also, I think have both felt that understanding again, whether or not we actually know exactly what number someone else is knowing these different ways to see the world and that there are these strengths and weaknesses and particular hardships and gifts that come within each of them has been really, really helpful for us.
Amy Julia (6m 59s):
So I will make sure we include in the show notes links to both of those books, as well as to that audio teaching, which again, it’s maybe three hours, but it’s well worth it and was a really great conversation and understanding, I guess, empathy, compassion tool for us as a married couple and in thinking about other people’s in our other people in our lives. But today I do want to kind of hone in on this new book that you have that journey towards wholeness and the subtitles, Enneagram wisdom for stress, balance and transformation. And what I loved about this book is that you are doing this work that actually, although you’re talking about individual numbers, it also groups, these different numbers together and talks about what they have in common, which has been again really helpful for me in recognizing, oh, that’s why I have this in common with this other person, even though we’re not the same number, I’ve really appreciated that.
Amy Julia (7m 54s):
And one of the things you write about is different centers of intelligence thinking, doing, and feeling. So I thought maybe we could start there. What does it mean to approach the world through these different centers of intelligence? How does it help us to know and understand the centers of intelligence? Could you just talk about that for a little bit?
Suzanne (8m 14s):
And the 1940s and 1950s, there was a man, a scholar in England who wrote a paper. He suggested that there are really only three centers of intelligence. His name was Maurice Nicole. And he said that the three centers of intelligence are thinking, feeling and doing, and he then went on to say that we all respond to stimulus from the world first with one of the three, either with what do I think, what do I feel or what am I going to do? And at the same time, the modern Enneagram was surfacing and people were beginning to talk about it.
Suzanne (9m 1s):
Some in Europe and another person whose name is Karen Horn. I Dr. Karen Horner, a German American also wrote a paper during that time, suggesting that we either move toward people or away from people or against other people. If you take the Enneagram and you say, Maurice Nicole’s work right on top of that, then what you end up with is three numbers side by side that approached the world first with what do I feel? And three numbers side-by-side that received stimulus. And their first question is, what am I going to do?
Suzanne (9m 42s):
And the other three, what do I think? So to lay one piece of wisdom on top of another and have it fit in that way is pretty astonished. Then if you like corn, Karen Horner has work on top of that. What they found is that in each of those groups of three, one number moves toward people. One number moves away from people and one number moves against people and I’ve changed. The language moves again, moves against two stands independently. Cause I think that’s more of what happens in those numbers. So twos, threes, and fours on the Enneagram are feeling dominant.
Suzanne (10m 24s):
Five sixes and sevens are thinking dominant and eight knives and ones are doing dominant and they make up the triads of the Enneagram. And within those triads, there are different ways of stacking feeling, thinking, and doing, but they stack according to which one is dominant and which one is repressed. And you kind of have to learn to manage your dominant center before you can achieve any balance in your life. And this book is all about balance, right? The road back to you is to help you. It’s a primmer so that you can know your number. The thing that comes up right after that for people is what am I going to do with then the first place to apply it is in relationships.
Suzanne (11m 11s):
And that’s the path between us after you’ve done that. This is spiritual wisdom. So my third question for myself came to be okay, what is wisdom? Then if the road back to you is information and the path between us, his knowledge in terms of how to apply that, then where does wisdom come? And it comes in doing our own work. And in our relationship to our understanding of the holy one or of whomever or whatever is bigger than we are. Right. And I think that there’s one more piece that I may add later if I am smart enough long enough to do it.
Suzanne (11m 57s):
But this third piece is where the greatest value lies because you can’t change what you can’t name. And if you don’t understand how these centers of intelligence operate within you, then you don’t know what to do about them. So I walk into a room as nanny Enneagram too, and I feel everybody else’s feelings. I know who needs what, and my next response after feeling is to do something about what I’m feeling, but thinking comes last for me. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not smarter, that I can’t think like I, you know, I have degrees and I’ve written books like I’m smart enough, but I don’t think productively because in my feeling dominance I’m relationship centered.
Suzanne (12m 51s):
And so a great deal of my thinking is about relationships. An aside is the path between us was easier to write than this book or then the road, because it’s about relationships. And that’s my thing. So that was an easier world for me to live in for a year to do that work. And so this third book is about doing personal work that helps you manage your dominant center, bring up your repressed center and then try to level out using each of the three centers for its intended purpose.
Amy Julia (13m 32s):
So in other words, all of us have all three types of intelligence. One is dominant, one is repressed, one’s kind of in the middle, but also I’ve heard you say this, and this was in your book and I’ve experienced this in my, as I kind of try to apply it in my own life that we, it on first viewing, many of us might say, well, no, that’s not me. So for example, I mean, you, I know I’ve heard you say that you were like, wait a second. I think all the time, what do you mean that that’s repressed? Right? And I’m an Enneagram one. And similarly I’m like, people call me a thinker. Like that’s how people know me as, as a thinker. And so it took a long time for me to be like, wait, what would that mean?
Amy Julia (14m 12s):
That my thinking is unproductive, that my thinking actually often gets in my way because of my inner critic and the fact that I, yes, I can get very much sidelined by thinking at the same time. One of the things that you’ve, you’ve spoken to this a little bit, but I want to ask a little bit more. You said that we all kind of respond to stimuli or take in information through these dominant centers. So in my case, that would be with doing what can you think of an example of a situation where like three different numbers would take in the information as like doing feeling and
Suzanne (14m 52s):
Sure. Okay. So I want to add another, a descriptive word to each of the three triads. So 2, 3, 4 triad is the feeling triad or the emotionally centered triad or the relationship prion or the heart triad it’s referred to as all of those things. But they’re all pretty much the same 5, 6, 7 is referred to as the thinking triad or the head triad. But they’re also referred to as the fear, triad, eights, nines, and ones are the doing triad, but they’re also referred to as the gut triad, but they’re also referred to as the anchor tribe.
Suzanne (15m 38s):
So you, you have a lot happening then with what do I think and what do I feel and what needs to be done. And if we took the 8, 9 1, let’s just use yours just for fun. Let’s use yours. So w you are thinking dominant, but let’s talk about what you think about then I’ll talk about you being in a dependent stance, which is the next step. Okay. So eight nines and ones, ones see everything that is wrong. That’s how you see. So when you walk into a room, you know what isn’t where it should be.
Suzanne (16m 21s):
You know, the photographs that are hanging crooked, you know, all, you see all of those things and you feel compelled to do something about them, right? And so you, you, you are a doer, but you have feelings about what you do. So you have to do it correctly, nines, which are right next to you are both doing dominant and doing repressed. The core numbers on the Enneagram are dominant and repressed in the same center. So what that means is my husband, Joseph, that means he walks into a room and he sees the things that need to be done.
Suzanne (17m 1s):
Right? But he thinks somebody ought to do that. You think I ought to do that. If I want it done correctly, I should do it. Aids are doing dominant. And they walk into a room and see what needs to be done. And they do what will affect the reason they came into the room. So if they’re going to speak, might straighten the photograph behind them. If not, they do what will affect their purpose for being there. And they get a lot done. So eight do, and they do quickly and fast, right?
Suzanne (17m 43s):
They think into, or doing things, but they don’t have any feelings involved in that nine, what needs to be done? Thanks. Somebody should do it. They do something all the time, but only sometimes is it what needs to be done and once are going to do correctly and thoroughly, whatever they do, which means they’re limited in how much they can address of what they see, because it has to be done and correctly.
Amy Julia (18m 15s):
And so bringing thinking into that, just to use the one as the example, because I can do that easily since that’s who I am would mean before you just start doing everything that needs to be done and doing it correctly, stop and think about what that, what those consequences would be, how important it really is that the photograph three straight, et cetera, et cetera, and then make some decisions about what you’re going to do. So it’s not the doing is bad. It’s just that if you’re not involving thinking in what you’re doing, you’re going to end up doing a lot of things that might not need to get done or not need to get done correctly right now.
Suzanne (18m 55s):
That’s right. And so we got to move around to stances, which are determined by which is repressed, right? So if we’re going to talk about being, thinking repressed, then we’re talking about the dependent standards and you and I are together there right along with sixes. And we are dominant in something else and thinking repressed. So for you to be thinking repressed, that means that you spend a lot of time conversing with your inner critic. And you count that as thinking, right. It feels like thinking to you, but it isn’t, it’s not thinking, and it’s not thinking productively.
Suzanne (19m 41s):
And the critic is never giving you compliments. So you for sure are not feeling good about yourself. As you’re trying to think through what you’re going to do. I think all the time is a two but 80 to 85% of my thinking is about relationships. And there are many other things that need to be thought about. I need to think about where I’m supposed to be. I need to think about what I’m on teach this weekend. I need to think about travel. I need to think about next month. I need to think like, and I’m just thinking relationships all day. That’s where my world is. So I have to work to, to think more productively, right?
Suzanne (20m 25s):
Sixes are in the fear triad. So they’re thinking dominant, but they’re also thinking repressed. And what they do is they read the world through a lens of a, life’s a slippery slope. And if you’re not careful, there’s trouble waiting everywhere. And people have hidden agendas and you better be ready for that. And so six is out of their fear. Anxiety is better word because they’re concerned about possible future events. So what six are doing with their thinking Trinity’s is preparing for the worst thing that could possibly happen.
Suzanne (21m 7s):
Unfortunately, that’s a waste of time. Most of the time, because worst case scenario planning is planning for things that generally don’t come to fruition, right? So in Enneagram world, what you want to do is bring up, what’s repressed, not pushed down, what’s dominant, but you have to be able to manage what’s dominant in order to bring up what’s repressed. So I can’t manage my feelings. I can’t bring up thinking because feelings are just too big for me. If you can’t manage your doing, then you can’t bring up thinking. So the journey is how do we look at the tribe that we belong to head heart gut are thinking, feeling, doing, and learn to discipline ourselves and our dominant center supported by the middle center so that we can bring up thinking.
Suzanne (22m 8s):
So here’s an example as a two, I walk into a room and I know what people are feeling. So as I start to move towards somebody, because I want to do something about feelings, I’ve learned to ask myself three questions and the questions are, why am I moving toward this person? What, if anything, do I get in return? And does the other person want my help? Now that then helps me think about what I’m about to do. And then my fourth question has become, if I say yes to this, what does that mean? I’m saying no to, so I can’t, I couldn’t just walk out into the world one day and be balanced and thinking, feeling and doing.
Suzanne (22m 54s):
And I had a difficult time accepting that I was thinking repressed. So I had to kind of figure out what my method was going to be for bringing up thinking. And you perfectly did it when you were talking about walking into a room and thinking about whether or not yours to do and whether or not it needs to be done now and whether or not it’s germane to what is about to happen. But that doesn’t mean it’s easier.
Amy Julia (23m 19s):
Oh, no. And I mean, yeah, it, I think also for me as a one, and this is related to the thinking you, one of the things you often say is that, you know, you’re a one, if you’ve got this really loud inner critic, and I thought, gosh, I really think I’m a one, but I don’t know about this inner critic business. And essentially it was just how familiar there was. I mean, truly, I didn’t know that those, that was what that was. I mean, took me a long time to even get there much less to say, okay, I’ve got to learn how to manage this and silence her and, and do some thinking around that. So I think that’s, I mean, I guess for anyone who decides to explore this, knowing that we probably have some presuppositions about what feeling thinking and doing mean, and that actually trusting essentially the Enneagram wisdom around this might get us to a place.
Amy Julia (24m 15s):
It might get us to a place where we realize, actually this is not my number, but it also might get us to a place in my case of being like, oh no, this is true. And this aspect of myself thinking that I’ve always thought was really defined me, is actually a place where I need to do some work in order to be more balanced in my life. So yeah, that, that all rings very true. To me. I’m curious, this is another something you wrote in a chapter about Enneagram twos, but I think it might apply outside of that. So this is a quote from the book you say, your head will lie to you and your heart will lie to you, but your body will not learn to pay attention to what it tells you.
Amy Julia (24m 57s):
So my first question is just, is this true for all of us, for all numbers? And then second, what does that mean to learn, to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us in knowing that our heads and our hearts might lie?
Suzanne (25m 11s):
I think there are so many ways of knowing that we dismissive of. So if we have a semi mystical experience, you know, if I’ve just talked to somebody yesterday whose grandmother died and he ha she has talked to him since she died, and I don’t have any trouble believing that, right. But people do have trouble with that. And I think we have limited our understanding about ways of knowing to it all is head knowledge and ways of feeling are it’s all what you feel.
Suzanne (25m 56s):
And if you’re busy doing, then you’re disconnected from both of those. And there’s this disconnect with our bodies that we are going to have to get back to. So a number that intuitively is the best at reading the world, I think intuitively with their bodies is eight. Our oldest daughter, who’s now 43, but I’ve known the Enneagram for a long time. And for many listeners may not know that my husband is a former Catholic priest. And I was a single mom with three kids.
Suzanne (26m 37s):
And he and I married and he became a Methodist minister. And in our first Methodist church, she was in the third grade, I believe, second or third. And first Sunday we walked in and sat down children and me, and she said, mom, you see that lady down there in the red coat? And I said, yeah. And she said, you can’t trust her. She’s not a good person. And I said, well, Joey, we don’t know her. And they brought dinner to the parsonage when we moved in and she seems pretty nice. And this little bitty girl looked at me and said, do what you want.
Suzanne (27m 19s):
And that woman was a snake in the grass. And I’m telling you, Joey, doesn’t ever miss it. She just doesn’t miss it. And she reads it all in her gut, eight nines and ones have an intuitive way of connecting with the world. So that is actually pretty easy for you if you connect to your body, but you have to connect and understand to differentiate after that. So for example, if we talked about eight to 9,000, one’s connecting to your gut because you’re in the intuitive gut, triad, jelly automatically read. So you can’t trust.
Suzanne (27m 60s):
She and Billy, her husband, who’s a nine we’re in the target parking lot. One day as school started, they got the boys in the car with them and they’re in the parking lot and it’s wide parking lot. And it’s crowded. And one cars coming toward them in one car in front of them. And those two cars decided to go for the same parking place. And I mean, they’re serious about it. And Joey grabbed her belly and she looked over and Billy was holding his tube. And she said, do you feel that? And he said, yes. And she said, integrate as an eight. She said, integrate. And as a nine, he said, no, like I’m nauseous, right?
Suzanne (28m 43s):
You would feel it in your body as a one and know which car got there first and who should get the parking place. But when we don’t listen to our bodies, we miss that. And I’m just saying, heart people need to learn to listen to their bodies because your heart will tell you stories about people and about your relationship with people that are not true, both on the good side and on the bad side and head people trust thinking way too much. They manage their fear using their heads.
Suzanne (29m 24s):
And you can’t use one center to manage any challenge you have to learn to use all three.
Amy Julia (29m 33s):
And do you think, as far as the kind of listening to your body, you’re giving some examples that are very visceral and immediate and almost subconscious, like holding your belly and not even noticing you’re doing that, but are there any practices or like deliberate steps that people could take in order to do that more if they’re not instinctively or even if they’re not noticing that they’re doing it instinctively.
Suzanne (29m 59s):
Yeah. So, you know, I teach everything by towns story. So here comes tonight. I was an athlete. I started out as a high school basketball coach and then college basketball coach, pretty strong and well put together. And I’m old now and I’ve lost a lot of that, but I started having trouble with my back a lot of trouble. Now, remember, I’m a two on the angry gram. So I read feelings and then I try to do something about feelings, but the feelings that I read are never mild, always somebody else’s. I go to a, I live in Dallas, we’ve got really good docs to choose from.
Suzanne (30m 42s):
And I go to a top notch back, doctor orthopedic guy, who said, how long have you been carrying the weight of the world on your back? And I had to have major back surgery because I was carrying everything that I was feeling and trying to do something about without ever thinking about whether or not it was mine to do. Right. And so I think that, and some Enneagram authors who’ve written about it, that there are different parts of your body that respond to being overused and underused and not being used well.
Suzanne (31m 26s):
And I’m really not good at it, but I’m beginning to really encourage people to do yoga. We have a subscription. Oh, you know, I don’t know all the technical terms, but in the show notes, whatever it is, we’ll ask Joel. Oh yeah. Well, we have a subscription service has called the table. Okay. And we’re bringing in different people who will teach different things that we think help with Enneagram work. So we have a good friend who lives in Minneapolis, her name’s Courtney Perry. And she, after doing a three-year apprenticeship program with me, she started Yanni a gram and that’s yoga and the ramp connecting.
Suzanne (32m 14s):
And she’s working with yoga and head heart and gut, which all fits. Right. I think there are ways that we can live more holistic loss far beyond what I’m talking about as a journey toward wholeness. But I don’t see a path forward unless we learn to balance head, heart, and gut thinking, feeling and doing, I don’t see a way forward. That is going to be healthy unless we find some balance and all that we’re doing. Right. And we are just an imbalanced society.
Amy Julia (32m 57s):
Amen to that. And it’s, so we don’t need to go into all this, but I will just add to this conversation. You had your back issues when I was in high school, knowing nothing about the Enneagram that came much, much later, but my stomach was paralyzed, literally like hospitalized because my gut could not handle the world. And it was, there was no, you know, discernible physical cause. So right. Just to underscore your point that our bodies convey a lot of information. If we are willing to do the emotional and spiritual work, to make those connections and trust that they are wise tellers of truth.
Suzanne (33m 40s):
Yeah. And I think I I’ll just have to go back to it again and say, you can’t change what you can’t name. And the reason I love the Enneagram so much is because it names the things you already know, but you have not been able to articulate about yourself. And once you can articulate them, you can do something about it. Honestly, I thought in my helping everybody, I was just being Jesus. Like, like I thought I am being so Christ-like. Yeah. And I was so not
Amy Julia (34m 17s):
And learning how I think that’s true, especially for many women in Christian circles, but that sense of what does it mean to have, I mean, the language of healthy boundaries, but also I think that the place where the Enneagram comes in and is a little more, I don’t know, nuanced maybe than that is understanding as you’ve been talking about that, the way we see the world and what our instinctive reactions are going to be and how to balance that, not by dismissing that instinctive reaction, but by putting it into balance with some of these other things, I’ve one other question just specifically on these different ways of approaching the world and then a couple more broad questions at the end, and that is this idea of orientation to time.
Amy Julia (35m 1s):
So you also write about and speak about how these different stances are oriented towards time differently. So I’d love to hear you talk about that. And then I have a specific question about being a one in terms of orientation to time, but you can fill people in on what I’m even talking about here.
Suzanne (35m 19s):
Okay. Ones, twos and sixes makeup, the dependent stance and their orientation to time is the present moment. And that means that whatever happens right in front of us determines what we do right now. We can have a planner and we can have the newest planner. We can do all of the extra skills that go with the planner. And if somebody’s standing in front of us needs something, the plan we had for our day is out the window. We all three have terrible boundaries, and we tend to believe that we’re responsible for what’s happening in real time, fours, fives, and nines.
Suzanne (36m 2s):
And, and a way to talk about that is that we are tethered to the present moment. Fours, fives, and nines, orientation to time is the past. And they’re tethered to the past Morgan Harper. Nichols was on my podcast yesterday and she’s a five on the Enneagram, very creative. She has a big four wing and she was talking about, and her recent work that she has been quarantined with all of us, but she has memories of nature that are as real now, as they were, when she experienced.
Suzanne (36m 44s):
So she told a story about a waterfall that she had been thinking about and writing about and wanting to do some art around. And it’s like, she saw the waterfall yesterday and that’s because she gave herself to it then. And she has brought it with her because she’s tethered to the past. Hmm. My husband, Joe’s a nine. He went away to high school seminary at 14, but he can tell you where they ate on that trip from Houston to Missouri. And he knows what year they went to New York to see his grandmother. And he knows where they stopped on the way, because his orientation to time is the past.
Suzanne (37m 30s):
And so living in the past means that you’re free from some of the things that are happening right now and your way of being in the world. But actually you’re not, but that’s what contributes to the fact that you’re doing repressed. Right? Sure. We’re dealing with whatever’s right in front of us, which is what contributes to the fact that we’re thinking repressed. We’re not thinking about whether or not it’s ours to do or what else we have to do. Just give up everything and do that three sevens and eights orientation of time is the future. Well, there aren’t feeling matters in the future.
Suzanne (38m 10s):
Hmm. Like you can’t feel the future. It’s not here feeling repressed. People are thinking and doing or doing and thinking because they’re way out there planning and preparing for what’s going to go, right. And what might go wrong and what they’re going to do if it does. And so it’s a trick for us to bring together thinking, feeling and doing. And it’s a trick for us for reasons that I think have to do with orientation to time to bring up all three to the point that we are also capable of having some equanimity and a full range of responding to life with all three.
Suzanne (38m 58s):
It’s really hard to do. I think so, you know, I’m 70 and Joe and I have a little altar here at home and I love the work of David White, w H Y T E. I just really love his work. And he has a small book that the name of it is constellations. It’s not very big and it is, was on our altar. I had to put it away for awhile. I just had to have a break, but I was flipping through and every day is a word. And then it’s just a challenge. You know, it’s just a, it’s a, this is what this might really mean. And I had read some words that were all really getting to me and I kind of flipped around and I saw maturity and I thought, well, I’ve got that one.
Suzanne (39m 41s):
I need an easy day to day. So I’m going to read that. And he said that he believes maturity in a totally non Enneagram context that he believes maturity is being able to hold the past and the present and the future all at the same time. And that was all the affirmation I needed to know that that was work that I needed to keep talking about that we need to do, because it does seem that maturity re requires all three.
Amy Julia (40m 13s):
Yeah. And that, I mean, your answer answers my specific to being a one question which was about, but why do I like planning so much? But that sense of, yes, I will drop anything for the person who needs me right at this moment, even though I’m a great planner. And so I feel like I’m living in the future, but you’re right. That I am tethered to the present in a way that the, you know, my husband, who’s a three is not at all. And that’s, that’s really, really helpful. I’m curious. And I think this might speak a little bit to what you were just saying about David White. There’s a line in your book that I like underlined starred and, you know, on both sides of the margins.
Amy Julia (40m 53s):
And I talked to friends about when I first read it. And so here’s what you wrote. We have spent far too much time growing our personalities and not nearly enough time growing our souls. So first of all, I love that sentence and it rings very true to me, but I would also love to just hone in a little bit on the difference between our souls and our personalities and the ways in which we can consciously grow our souls, which perhaps you’ve already been talking about. I’m also just wondering whether there are aspects of self-help that only grow our personalities. Like, are there things that we’re doing that are really just growing our personality so you can take however you want, but those are some of my thoughts that that sentence brought up for me.
Suzanne (41m 39s):
All right. Well, first I’m going to compliment you because it’s obvious that you did a lot of thinking to prepare for this podcast because you are asking some really good questions. I’m having a really good time. All right. So it was a shock to me. I grew up in the church and I’ve been in the church all my life. And it was a big shock to me to find out, maybe in my thirties that I could grow my soul. You know, I thought my soul was done and then I could harm it. You know, I could do the wrong thing.
Suzanne (42m 21s):
And I grew up in the Methodist church where there’s not a lot of, you know, you’re going to hail and all that. We kind of don’t do that. And I thought, well, I like what’s that about? And then I started reading Richard Rohr and Thomas Martin, and there’s all this true self, false self, big self, big S self, little S self, you know, all of that. And that all fit into what is soul. And then I heard somebody say that your essence, that your soul is essence, and that your essence is who you were before you did anything wrong.
Suzanne (43m 6s):
And before you did anything right. And the idea that we could grow up that vulnerable and that exposed or one just immediately knows that that can’t happen. You have to have some protection to grow up. And some of us, I, for one, got to grow up in a really safe container and others of us did not. And you make your way in the world by adding on personality. So we have nine grandchildren and our children and grandchildren all live here in the Dallas area.
Suzanne (43m 48s):
So we’re holding those babies when they’re less than an hour old, they have a personality, then they’re just essence. But as soon as you try to get a baby to smile at you, when they’re not smiling, as soon as you tell a crying baby, to be quiet, as soon as you tell a toddler to be still, because you don’t feel good as soon as you then in order for us as the grow up to feel like we’re safe, we add layer upon layer, upon layer of personality to connect us to our caregivers so that we feel safe.
Suzanne (44m 31s):
And after you’ve added a lot of layers of personality and you get to midlife, you’re tired. So let me give you an example and Enneagram wisdom. What we learn is that the worst part of you is also the best part of you, right? So we can’t do this Western world thing of getting rid of whatever part of ourselves that we don’t like. That’s not an option. Our only option is to recognize that at least in any grand wisdom, it shows you what what’s wrong, but it shows you how you already have what you need to make it right inside of you. You have all of the natural resources you need.
Suzanne (45m 13s):
And by the way, they are thinking, feeling and doing, and with those natural resources, you can be okay. You can take care of yourself for the most part. So in mid life, we had a couple of foster kids and our four kids, and we’ve got kids everywhere and Joe’s in ministry. And I can’t keep helping everybody. I’m tired. And I, I have my own to do, and I have to learn where to say no. And I don’t know who I am, though. If I’m not generous and giving and helping and trying to, you know, do all the, all the, all the right and what begins to happen when we approach life from a more balanced place in thinking, feeling, and doing what begins to happen then is personality.
Suzanne (46m 10s):
We allow it to fall away, but you can’t make it go away. You can’t clench your fist and grit your teeth and say, I’m not gonna continue to need this part of my world to be perfectly ordered. That’s not gonna work for you as a one, right? I can’t say I’m not going to help. I’m just not gonna do it. It doesn’t work. But by using all three centers, you can kind of find your way on a new path and then parts of your personality that you just don’t need anymore, that you needed as a child, but you don’t need now can start to fall away.
Suzanne (46m 50s):
And then you are a healthier person living a more holistic life, doing more of what’s yours to do. You have shared that you’re familiar with my work. And so you probably know that the question I ask myself every day is what is mine to do. And that grew out of me thinking everything that happened in front of me was mine to do. Right. And that’s just not true. Right?
Amy Julia (47m 18s):
That’s a good question for me to be asking myself everyday, too, probably for all of us, many of us, I don’t know. And, and it’s interesting though, to even think about that, because for some of us, I think you and me included, it will be usually what do I need to say no to, whereas there are other numbers where the instinct is the opposite and it’s what is mine to do? What are those things I need to say yes to. So again, similar questions, but different ways of seeing, thinking, doing, and feeling. So, yeah, that’s, that’s just that alone tells us so much of the diversity, even though there’s so many of the same challenges we face, but just in different ways.
Amy Julia (47m 59s):
So as we come to a close, oh, did you want to say something? I don’t want it.
Suzanne (48m 2s):
I say one more thing. You know, if you think about aggressive numbers, three, seven, and eight, then what they have to ask is what do I need to not insert myself into, you know, you and I, in the dependent stance, wait for a stimulus that’s in front of us. And there are plenty, but three sevens and eights see themselves as the leaders in the room when they walk in the room. Right? So the question for them becomes things like this. Here’s a teaching I have, particularly for eight, but for all three of those numbers, you can’t lead a group that you haven’t joined.
Suzanne (48m 43s):
They’re not going to follow you. Right. So lots of times aggressive numbers think faster than the rest of us do not more correctly necessarily, but faster. And they end up taking over intuitively. So part of their work is they got to walk in, find out what’s happening first, before they rise up and say, that’s it a da, I’m here to save the day. Right, right. Because that’s their natural intuition.
Amy Julia (49m 15s):
Thank you for that. And for all of those, all of this, but I’m curious, I have one final question for you, which is just as we think about this idea of wholeness and healing, I am curious just in broad terms, ways in which the Enneagram contributes, not just to our personal healing, I think we’ve spoken somewhat to that, but also to the work of healing in the broader sense of our social, certainly family relationships and social relationships, but really our society more broadly, how does the Enneagram contribute to healing?
Suzanne (49m 53s):
I’m going to, I’m going to say something, but I don’t, I don’t want to get any more specific than what I say cause it’s dangerous territory, but it’s important. We’re in a time right now where we are divided over many things, personal health being vaccinated or not asks or not, and not all of it for sure. But I think 60 to 70% of the people who are lined up on either side, in some ways it has to do with their Enneagram number because that’s how they see the world.
Suzanne (50m 45s):
And I’m on one side of that. And I am not compassionate enough toward the other side. And I know the Enneagram as well as anybody does. So there’s no magic here, right? Even if you understand that people see differently. And even if you’re willing to embrace that, that has its limits to sure. And you know, I’ve been asked on with the other two books and I’m willing to answer it and grateful that you didn’t ask. But the question is I’m often asked, well, what’s dangerous about the Enneagram.
Suzanne (51m 27s):
And my only answer is it’s dangerous to take it to be more than it is. It’s one really great spiritual wisdom too. And it’s actually much better if you use it with others, it’s better. If you have a contemplative practice and you know, the Enneagram, it’s better. If you have a spiritual practice of baking bread or gardening or that something that connects you to God, it’s better. If you have that with the Enneagram, because it too can become exclusive. And we’re in the know and you’re not.
Suzanne (52m 7s):
And you know, there’s not a thing you can say about the Enneagram using numbers that you can’t say without using numbers. You know, you don’t have to say I’m a one on the Enneagram. You can say, here’s what I’m learning about myself. Right. And I don’t know what the question is anymore. Feeling social feeling. Okay. Thank you. So I think recognizing that other people are in the same room and they see the same thing that you see, but they don’t right. They see it differently and they don’t process it the same way that you process it.
Suzanne (52m 49s):
So that’s the support center you take in information with your dominance center, you process it with your dominant center and your support center and your refresh centers left out of the whole thing. Right? And so to assume that we’re all having the same experience in a room and a family and a small group in a women’s group in a we’re just not, and to make room for difference may be a step toward making room for diversity. And it’s for sure a step toward us living more compassionate lives as we try to live together.
Suzanne (53m 37s):
And one city town group school, church, and all gifts are necessary. I had a lunch with a head of an organization that I’m on the board of directors for today, and they’re new to the Enneagram. And I’m explaining why we need these numbers on the board of directors and these numbers on the advisory board. And it’s because they bring the gifts to that, that we need. Right. And I happened to be on the board of directors, but you know, if there were a lot of me, we wouldn’t get much done, right.
Suzanne (54m 22s):
Because frankly, to run an organization, this big, you need a lot of people who are feeling repressed, even though they’re working on bringing up their feelings, right, right. Balance is better, but you can’t run a business with feeling dominant people. You just can’t successfully.
Amy Julia (54m 46s):
I’m also just one thing you’re making me think about Ida had an exercise I’m in an ordination process within my own denomination and was in a class about it. And one of the exercises they had us do was to read a passage from the Bible and ask the question, how would I preach this to different Enneagram numbers? And it was a really interesting exercise in thinking about the different ways that people see and how instinctively I am going to be probably actually either preaching to some triad of the Enneagram that I relate to, or just to me, but nevertheless, to actually think about, I know something about how different people see the world and let’s, let’s try that on, not in terms of pretending.
Amy Julia (55m 33s):
That’s how I see it, but acknowledging that what they bring into this room, into this conversation, into this listening experience. I was also thinking, I teach Bible study a lot more than I preach. And so needing to provide a space for Lectio Divina, where we are sitting and reflecting and sitting in silence and contemplative practice. And not just let me give you the right information about what’s going on here, which is my go-to, but oh my gosh, how blessed am I when we actually just sit and listen, and I hear from other people, not from scholars, but from what the holy spirit is doing in our midst. So I think there’s also just, there’s the compassion that can come in understanding that other people see the world differently, but then there’s also that beautiful.
Amy Julia (56m 20s):
If I can be receptive and see that as a gift, as you just said, then I can both receive the gifts that I have to offer and not be shy about offering them, but recognize that there’s a lot I can’t offer and I never will be able to, which is why I really need these other people to be at the table. And that just when you were talking about the board of directors made me think of that as well, that we have to be careful not to have all the same people at the table and to also recognize the different gifts that we all bring on, the ones that we don’t bring.
Suzanne (56m 53s):
Yeah. You know, I have three responses to that. And one is that Sean Palmer is, has a book with RVP that I was honored to write the forward for. And he’s talking about how to communicate to all the numbers in that book. I think the net, the exact title is speaking by the numbers. I’m not sure when it’s coming out, but it’s good. So there’s that the another thing I wanted to tell you is that I have a good friend. Who’s an eight, a male eight, very aggressive pastor. And years ago, he kinda got in trouble for being himself.
Suzanne (57m 36s):
And I said, you know, it doesn’t matter what you have to say. If people can’t hear you. Hmm. It doesn’t matter. Right. And we don’t all hear the way you do. So you kind of have to, you gotta get that figured out, right. If you want to communicate well to all of us. And in terms of preaching, I’ve said to my husband, for years, you’re never going to preach to all nine numbers and make them happen. Right. So whatever they tell you at the door, as they’re leaving church, you can’t take it very seriously. On either side.
Suzanne (58m 17s):
I do think that there are gospel stories for every Enneagram number. And I’ll tell you quickly the one that gets me the most. Yeah. So my husband’s a lectionary. And that means that every three years, the same readings, again, again, like gives you a chance to try to get it. And I’m pretty sure that Martha was a two on the Enneagram of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. And, you know, Jesus has coming to their house to dinner and Martha is in the kitchen. And for those who are biblical scholars, just take a deep breath because this is my way of telling the story, but Martha’s cooking in the kitchen.
Suzanne (59m 6s):
It’s hot and she’s hot. And she’s doing all the work to prepare, to feed Jesus. And Mary’s just in the other room with Jesus. They’re just chatting it up and having a little talk. And as any two would, Martha goes to tattle on Mary and she says, did Jesus, like I’m in here doing all this work for you. Are you just going to let Mary sit here and talk to you and not help me? And Jesus says, well, you know, Martha, Mary has chosen the better part. So as a two, who’s heard that every three years for a long time, what I’ve learned is this, the fact that I think I’m serving God, doesn’t always mean that I’m serving God, lots of times as a two, I’m serving me.
Suzanne (59m 55s):
And you’re not going to ever hear that in a Bible study from an aggressive auntie grandmother, because they don’t relate to Martha. Right? And so to get the whole story, you have to listen to the people in each of them hearing from their perspective, whether it’s Bible study or a board meeting or a PTO meeting or whatever.
Amy Julia (1h 0m 22s):
I love that. Well, I could ask you questions for the next three hours, but I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to say, thank you so much for sharing this wisdom with us. And I will really encourage anyone. Who’s listening here to make sure they check out your books and your teaching, your audio, teaching your podcast, all of what you are offering from your gifts into the world. Thank you for that.
Suzanne (1h 0m 44s):
Thank you. It’s so nice to meet you. I hope our paths cross somewhere. We do post COVID. I’ll give you a big hug. Sounds great. Okay, let’s do that.
Amy Julia (1h 0m 56s):
Thanks so much for listening to love is stronger than fear. Again, in the show notes, you can find out more about Suzanne’s work and her new book and teaching and the giveaway that we get to do today. I will mention again, that the journey toward wholeness, Enneagram wisdom for stress balance and transformation releases today, and we are giving away a copy. You also can check out my Instagram page at Amy Julia Becker to find out more details. And of course, I always am hopeful that you will share this episode, subscribe to this podcast, give it a rating or review wherever you find your podcasts. And that way even more people can benefit from these conversations. I’m also really grateful to Jake Hansen.
Amy Julia (1h 1m 36s):
My editor here to Amber Barry and my social media coordinator. They both support this show and make it happen. And I’m really grateful for them. Finally, as you go into your day to day, I hope you will carry with you. The peace that comes from believing that love is stronger than fear.
We are giving away a copy of The Journey Toward Wholeness thanks to InterVarsity Press. Go to today’s post on my Instagram and follow the instructions to enter the giveaway!