Saturday Night Jukebox: Enneagram Type Four - Elliott Smith and Joni Mitchell

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The Enneagram is a personality typology (click here for an overview of it). Type Four is the Individualist, the Tragic Romantic Sufferer, the Special One - exemplified by Joni Mitchell and Elliott Smith.

Elliott Smith at the pianoFours feel they're different. They're not part of the crowd. This can lead to great feelings of isolation and hurt. And that hurt feels good, in a strange way. Even though it's painful. It's real. It's mine.

 

Fours often develop these feelings into fantasy lives. Everything's perfect there. Their uniqueness is recognized. They aren't bound by the horrible necessity of paying bills, small talk and all of those long stretches where you don't feel that magic touch of inspiration.

 

Real life is full of disappointments for Fours. There's so much everyone else seems to have that they don't. Love and happiness, for instance. Fours are particularly prone to unrequited love. Twist that knife. Keep that exquisite torture alive.

 

Elliott Smith embodies these various elements in the song In the Lost and Found (from his 2000 album Figure 8) which also contains a subtle suicide threat:

 

                        

 

Elliott SmithHe held his breath to hold your hand

To walk the stairsteps in pairs

Climbing up a slippery slope

I'm in love, love I hope

Don't go home Angelina

Stay with me, hanging around in the lost and found

He kissed you quick, feeling weird

Lonely leered, and disappeared

This is such a simple place

The passing time can't erase

Don't go home Angelina

Paint tomorrow blue

Day breaks

But every morning when he wakes he thinks of you

I'm alone, but that's okay

I don't mind most of the time

I don't feel afraid to die

She was here, passing by,

Don't go home, Angelina

Stay with me, hanging around in the lost and found

 

Fours crave complete artistic control. Musician Fours are more likely to be singer/songwriters than members of bands or orchestras. They have their own vision. They want to get it out their own way. They're a lot less concerned with scoring a big hit than with expressing themselves authentically.

 

Fours' artwork is very often autobiographical. Fours experience their lives as stories. They want to relate their experience of the world to the world. Hey world, this is me.

 

Joni Mitchell hits a lot of these elements in A Case of You, from her 1971 album Blue.

 

                      

 

Just before our love got lost you said

"I am as constant as a northern star"

And I said "Constantly in the darkness

Where's that at?

If you want me I'll be in the bar"

 

Joni Mitchell in the snowOn the back of a cartoon coaster

In the blue TV screen light

I drew a map of Canada

Oh Canada

With your face sketched on it twice

Oh you're in my blood like holy wine

You taste so bitter and so sweet

 

Oh I could drink a case of you darling

Still I'd be on my feet

oh I would I still be on my feet

 

Oh I am a lonely painter

I live in a box of paints

I'm frightened by the devil

And I'm drawn to those ones that ain't afraid

 

I remember that time you told me you said

"Love is touching souls"

Surely you touched mine

'Cause part of you pours out of me

In these lines from time to time

Oh, you're like holy wine

You taste so bitter and so sweet

 

I met a woman

She had a mouth like yours

She knew your life

She knew your devils and your deeds

And she said

"Go to him, stay with him if you can

But be prepared to bleed"

 

Oh but you are in my blood

You're my holy wine

You're so bitter, bitter and so sweet

 

Oh I could drink a case of you darling

Still I'd be on my feet

I would still be on my feet.

 

Joni Mitchell and Elliott Smith frequently wrote songs in alternate tunings. They never followed standard chord progressions. Their songs never get mistaken for anyone else's.

 

Unhealthy Fours torture themselves brutally. If their muse isn't singing, if time goes on and they come to recognize they've wasted the actual opportunities available to them, they can wither into bitterness, substance abuse, deeper layers of fantasizing (which keeps them even further from their actual goals) and even commit suicide.

 

But healthy Fours adopt the discipline and idealism of Ones. They create a regular practice for themselves, working past how they're feeling that day. They relax in their uniqueness. No need to prove it. In fact, how can a person not be unique? They see the uniqueness in others, and can draw it out of anyone.

 

They gain confidence in their identity, and experience the glory of creativity. They dive deep into the human psyche. They aren't afraid of sadness. They not only see the beauty in it, but allow everyone to experience it as well.

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25 comments

  • Comment Link Tim Walker Monday, 28 November 2011 19:21 posted by Tim Walker

    Hey TJ,

    Very nice article on the Enneagram type 4. I'm definitely going to listen more carefully to both Elliot and Joni's lyrics to get more of a sense of their 'Fourness'.

    I'm a four myself and I've recently been blessed (in other less aware moments cursed) with a bit of a crisis that has allowed me to become very intimate with many of the lower functioning levels of the four, which I have been out of touch with in recent years. The Enneagram typology has been a great companion and teacher at times of late. I'm continually amazed at how bang on it is...

    Cheers,

    Tim

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Monday, 28 November 2011 22:49 posted by TJ Dawe

    Thanks so much, Tim. A few other Four musicians off the top of my head: Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen, Bert Jansch, Van Morrison, The National, Bjork (although I've seen her typed as a Five), Janis Joplin (though I've seen her typed as a Seven), Lykke Li, Beach House.

    Last night I was listening to Fr. Richard Rohr's lecture on Men and Grief (which you referred to in your recent Beams article), and he said that after the age of 30, your victories have nothing to teach you. It's your failures, your humiliations, your sillinesses - that's what shows you what's going on inside of you. He fully endorses the Enneagram as a path toward that kind of transformation. Totally recommend his book The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective.

    I was pretty out of touch with a lot of the emotional aspects of my Fourness in my twenties. Our society discourages men from being with their pain, and from being emotional. I wore the mask of a Five, and people often thought that was my type. I still wear that mask, to protect myself. But finding out more about being a Four has really helped me live in that space. It's helped me become more at ease with the sadness in my life, and to connect and sit with the sadness of life in general - to joyfully participate in the sufferings of the world.

  • Comment Link Tim Walker Tuesday, 29 November 2011 15:13 posted by Tim Walker

    TJ,

    Wow, many things are resonating with me here. It's funny, I was in a Leonard Cohen mood yesterday (I've become fairly obsessed with his work lately, especially since living in Montreal) and listened to a lovely CBC interview with him and thought he was likely a four. Here's the interview, you'd appreciate it if you haven't heard it:

    http://www.cbc.ca/andthewinneris/2011/11/15/leonard-cohen-in-three-acts-2/

    I remember that piece of wisdom in Rohr's talk as well, "the victories have nothing to teach you, it's the failures..." Damn, am I feeling that in my early thirties.

    It's interesting, I feel my mask works in the same way, just on the opposite side as you, masking as a Three. I have also been out of touch with my emotional world as a four since my late adolescence. That's when I started to wear the mask of the Three, and it was only when I fell on my face and hit rock bottom that I was more aware of my 'fourness'. I'm starting to see this pattern that whenever I stray to far or deny to much about my emotional world as a four, some event (or series of events, failure, or humiliation occurs to bring me back home to face the four's emotional music.

    It's only very recently that I am more at ease with many aspects of the four and can even appreciate it. I spent most of my twenties trying to deny I had these qualities. And similar to you, I've been able to become more at ease with my emotional world, the emotions of others, and welcome it.

    Thanks again for the article.

    Tim

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Tuesday, 29 November 2011 23:36 posted by TJ Dawe

    That's a great interview - thanks for that. I actually got into Leonard Cohen listening to a BBC interview with him in 1993, when I was 18. Back in university I found this NFB doc about him in the 60s, before he wrote songs.

    http://www.nfb.ca/film/ladies_and_gentlemen_mr_leonard_cohen

    He strikes me as a healthy Four. full of joy and humour as well as an acceptance of sadness. He also has sustained a regular practice, writing four hours a day (or so it said in that documentary), and I'm told various songs of his took him years to write, but he came back day after day, working on them.

    One of the things Richard Rohr says in his Enneagram book is that people usually don't come to the Enneagram till age 40, or later. Before that your survival strategy (your personality) has worked, at least somewhat. And then things start to wear thin. And you wonder at the patterns in your life.

    I imagine many Four men have fought or denied that identity like you and I have. But once you come to understand it, it's really not a bad place to be. And Fours can bring so much of value and beauty into the world. What would things be like without Famous Blue Raincoat, Sisters of Mercy, or the Favourite Game?

  • Comment Link Amy Wednesday, 30 November 2011 05:20 posted by Amy

    TJ, I thought you were a nine? I thought that's why you wrote a show called "Lucky Nine"? (I haven't seen it so I realize I could be mistaken.)

    It is agonizing how much that 4 description fits me...EXCEPT for the whole "lost in a fantasy world" element. I'm usually too sad, injured, isolated and heartbroken to invest energy in developing a fantasy life. :) Depressingly, the description of an Enneagram 4 is a LOT like the description of a Pisces sun sign, which I ALSO am. I've got the misfit-old soul-sensitive-damaged-creative artist thing comin' and goin'! YIIIKES!

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Wednesday, 30 November 2011 21:28 posted by TJ Dawe

    I'm a textbook Four. I make my living doing autobiographical solo shows, that don't even have a director. As a kid, nine was my lucky number because everyone loved the number one, everyone wanted to be number one, and yelled at sporting events "WE'RE NUMBER ONE!" But nine lived at the lonely end of the digits. Nobody loved nine, except me. So I was clearly projecting my own Four-ish feelings of exclusion onto a number. And there are nine Enneagram types. So I liked "Lucky 9" as a title. It could cause confusion as to which type I am, though.

    The fantasy life isn't something it necessarily takes time or energy to create. it's more a matter of nursing old wounds, or playing out conversations (especially if there's a confrontation on the horizon) over and over again. But there is also the component of envisioning success and acceptance. And this can often take the place of doing the actual work that would lead to success and acceptance.

    Also, with looking into one's type, it's important to go beyond seeing it as a simple description of what I'm like. Its function is to point you toward your compulsions, to help you see the unconscious mechanisms at work inside, and start catching yourself in the act, with the eventual goal of transcending the ego's dictates and agenda.

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Thursday, 01 December 2011 08:03 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    Just had to say I loved this post, TJ.
    So true for me too as a 4 :) I also think what you say about discipline is huge for the 4. It definitely has been in my case.

    Learning to keep going with my deeper vision, everyday, anchored in something deeper than the ever-shifting states of my very vibrant internal life, has been huge for me (ongoing deep soul work).

    Then all that depth and vibrancy that the 4 brings can actually become a gift, rather than an escape into fantasy... I've found your work in this area really helpful for me. So thank you.

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Thursday, 01 December 2011 17:28 posted by TJ Dawe

    Regular practice is good for Fours, as is regular exercise. And man, did I resist both of those things for a long time. In my Four-ish way, I deemed myself above the need for such things. Different and special, beyond the restrictions that bound normal people, such was my extraordinary brilliance and uniqueness. Yeah, good luck with that.

    very glad this connected with you, Vanessa. and once I've gone through all nine types in the Saturday Night Jukebox, I'll focus on specific artists of each type, to give a more in depth look at someone and how they reflect that type. And I'll certainly give an extensive look at some Fours.

    Also - the title "Lucky 9" was a very subtle reference to an obscure Calexico song "Lucky Dime" from their album Garden Ruin. It captured something of my experience as a Four - covering up a deep emotional wound while pretending everything's okay - noticing a dime on the ground, for instance, while smarting from lost love:

    Found a dime in the metro line
    Funny to see a familiar face
    Since you left us long ago
    There's never been a trace of luck to guide me

    Hoping to see a sign
    Or a lucky dime

    Searching as I go
    Hoping to see a sign
    Or a lucky dime

    Someone told you long ago
    All you ever needed to know
    No matter how far you drift alone
    I'll always be here around'

    Hoping to see a sign
    Or a lucky dime

    I might have projected a meaning onto the song that isn't there, but I'm okay with that. It works for me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBtm-7z9SNM

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Thursday, 01 December 2011 23:56 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    TJ, I'm curious if you've encountered with 4s (or any type) that different tools and advice apply more to at different points in their developmental journey? It seems there is some advice that sticks all the way through, with some minor adjustments as 4s develop. But is there anything advice or tools that significantly change, in what you've found?

    I'm sort of fascinated with the developmental aspects of this...

    Partly why I ask, is that I've found two things show up in my life. One is that regular practice and discipline has been HUGE for me (as you mentioned above). Even having a 9-5 job at a business english institute has been been amazingly grounding for me...

    I also used to meditate everyday for 5 years, and have been very devoted to the gym and yoga for 7 years.

    That said, I find that changing now. I'm still doing regular exercise, but my formal meditation practice has completely stopped, and I often find myself following a different source when making decisions about practice and where to turn my attention and it is more based in intuition (with proper check ins with the outside world of course).

    I realize some of this might be a downfall (or be laced with my own narcissism or refusal to conform), but it also feels real in some way for my spiritual path and for carving out my own unique offering. It feels I need to step outside proscribed boxes to touch into my own gifts, and yet, as my recent article on Beams explicates, it is also important to keep in touch with the wider culture and elders while making these leaps into the unknown. I find the balance of the two a tremendous practice...

    I remember spiritual teacher Adyashanti once saying, "There will be a point in your path where all the spiritual tools in the spiritual toolkit (meditation, centering, etc etc) will no longer work, and you will be forced to let go into pure faith as your guide..."

    So both these points seem real to me. Both the discipline and this developmental moment that Adyashanti is speaking to, where your discipline becomes your chains... (btw, Adyshanti frames this developmentally also, which is quite fascinating)

    So in the case of 4s, I guess what I'm trying to sort through is what is unhealthy 4ness in regards to being unwilling to conform to any standards, and what is healthy development of 4s at higher levels that call for a push outside of proscribed norms in order to carve out deeper pathways of intuition? I find this a hard edge.

    Any thoughts?

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Friday, 02 December 2011 00:23 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    As a small sidenote, Mark Forman (who is also a 4 and also works as a psychotherapist) once told me that he believed there is a lot of pathologizing of type 4 in the psychological literature that may be inaccurate.

    He said that when we live in a culture that mainly caters to 3s and 1s, 4s are viewed through a screwed lens, and can be pathologized by the dominant worldviews that don't understand 4ness. He said we don't live in a 4 culture, so 4s can be forced to conform in ways that aren't native to them. Do you agree with that?

  • Comment Link Olen Friday, 02 December 2011 04:00 posted by Olen

    Great post TJ! I didn't realize I had strong 4 tendencies until I read this post. Thanks! Since I can remember I've been suspicious of the Enneagram, basically any typology for that matter (how 4 of me! lol). Anyhow, what's your recommendation for a top read on this subject?

  • Comment Link Lindsay Robertson Friday, 02 December 2011 05:42 posted by Lindsay Robertson

    Hey Vanessa,

    Those are some great questions. They push us little deeper into the Enneagram, which is great because it does indeed go deeper than typology. The typology itself is a tool (a brilliant, insightful one), but still just tool for personal, psychological, and spiritual growth. The growth is the important part, not just recognizing certain personality traits and patterns.

    I’d like to respond to a few of the things you brought up, and I’m sure TJ will have some things to add also.

    There are definitely tools and practices that will apply more at someone’s level of development, health or cultural situation, than another. The Riso/Hudson teachings focus a lot on the ‘Levels of Health’ for each type. The levels of health differ from development (in integral terms). Someone can move through (in both directions) the levels of health at any level of development. There’s not a lot written about this, but I think TJ’s going to take a stab at it one day.

    I think your example speaks at bit more to ‘Health’, than ‘Development’, so I’ll run with that for now. Russ Hudson teaches that our level of health directly corresponds to our amount of Presence. The more Present we are (to our true Essence, the Divine, Unity, or God), the healthier we are. Using the example of your daily meditation practice, for years, it’s quite possibly you’ve ‘built up’ the ability to be Present more often, and therefore lessened the need for that daily practice and have the desire to move on, or to find a new tool to take you deeper into you Presence. However, you may find that there comes a time in life that you come back to it. In your case, you’ll have a pretty solid foundation to come back to. All people will move through the Levels of Health in their lives. Some people experience it on daily basis. ‘Developmental movement’, is not quite the same. Someone is not going to move though the Levels of Development in a day, some not even in a lifetime.

    That being said, the healthier someone is at their specific level of development, the more likely they are to transcend that level of development. So there is a very important connection here, and I’ve love for there to be more discussion on this, so let's have it!

  • Comment Link Tim Walker Friday, 02 December 2011 20:16 posted by Tim Walker

    Thanks Everyone. This is a great Discussion. I'm learning so much.

    Vanessa, I can totally relate to your experience regarding letting go of certain disciplines and moving towards more intuitive-based experience and decision making.

    I used to meditate regularly, exercise diligently, and I have been fairly disciplined and structured in work for the past several years after becoming fed up with the unhealthy, fantastical, and unproductive patterns that I found myself falling into as a four. In many ways I embraced my '1' ness.

    But over the past 6 months or year I have really started to move into more intuitive ways of engaging in these practices. In a way, I guess I found that the regular practices were not always leading to more Presence, as Lindsay described. I got lost in the disciplines at times, although I know they were building different capacities in me as well. I still do these practices, but not in the same regimented ways. There's more fluidity and I listen to what my body needs.

    I'm no expert on the Enneagram, but my understanding is that as the Four moves into higher levels of integration they begin to embrace and trust their intuition. TJ or Lindsay may be able to say more about this...

    On your second comment regarding the unwarranted pathologizing of 4 tendencies, I think there is something to this. After recently going through a bit of a crisis I read up a lot on some of my tendencies that have been causing problems for me in relationships. Particularly, tendencies such as withdrawal, avoidance, and isolation. While these tendencies can be unhealthy and pathologized a times, there are healthy expressions of these. But in the pop and scientific psychology literature, these qualities are largely criticized. If you read the APA descriptions of the various levels of Avoidant Personality Disorder (APV), they pretty much match up with the Type 4.

    I certainly agree with you that in our culture Fours could easily be steered away from their 4-ness. I know I was. Being a 3 (my wing), was a lot easier than being a Four. And whenever I did express my Fourness, I was often judged.

    Oh, there I go again thinking I'm special... :)

    Tim

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Friday, 02 December 2011 20:28 posted by TJ Dawe

    Olen - very glad you identified with this. Juma introduced me to the Enneagram on that cabin trip you were on, and I remember you typing as a Nine. One school of Enneagram teachings (Patrick O'Shea's, I believe) posits that we have three types: head, heart and gut. Two, Threes and Fours are all about their feelings. Fives, Sixes and Sevens are all about their Thoughts. Eights, Nines and Ones are about actions. We all have a head, a heart and a gut, so we're going to relate to one type from each group. So it's entirely possible you've got Nine as your gut (or body) type and Four as your heart type. I've got that combination myself, with Five as my head type.

    But I haven't read any books that expand on that element of the theory yet.

    The books I know and recommend:

    The Wisdom of the Enneagram, by Riso and Hudson - this is pretty much my bible on the subject.

    Understanding the Enneagram, by Riso and Hudson - has some points that aren't in the Wisdom of, but are vital and fascinating.

    I've just borrowed a 4 DVD set from Juma: The Enneagram as a tool for your Spiritual Journey - recordings of Russ Hudson and Fr. Richard Rohr speaking at the Laughing and Weeping conference in 2009. Russ is an incredible teacher, and there's a fair bit you get from watching him that doesn't come across in a book. Also Fr. Richard Rohr has recently leapt up to a very high place in my estimation. His opening talk about non-dual thinking and the Enneagram as a tool to attain that absolutely blew my mind. Riso/Hudson have levels of health as a central component to their teaching. It isn't just about identifying your type, it's about seeing your ego at work and untangling yourself from its tentacles.

    Fr. Richard Rohr's book The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective - totally recommend that too.

    And Helen Palmer's the other big guru on the subject, and her book The Enneagram in Love and Work is full of insight.

    But if I were to narrow down my recommendation to one item from the above list, I'd go with the DVD set.

  • Comment Link Olen Gunnlaugson Friday, 02 December 2011 21:58 posted by Olen Gunnlaugson

    The books are ordered and I'm looking into the DVD. Thanks for sharing your memory of our cabin trip TJ, and to Juma also for bringing this work into our sangha. The conversation, though admittedly a bit foggy, is coming back to me!

    I find it interesting how we're often introduced to new tools, perspectives, authors or totem figures as you've put it, and that it can sometimes take years before we finally stop and get into the richness of what has been there all along.

    I look forward to picking where we left off in our conversation around all this when we get the chance TJ.

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Saturday, 03 December 2011 00:02 posted by TJ Dawe

    Olen - yes indeed. Juma introduced me to the Enneagram in late 2005, and I bought a copy of The Wisdom of the Enneagram within a month and did what most people do at that point: read the chapter about my type. And that's it. I might not have even read the entire chapter. It wasn't until 2009 that my interest in the subject really kicked into high gear. And then this past May Lindsay and Jill Cherewyk and I did level one training with the Enneagram Institute, and have been meeting with each other and with guests every Monday evening to keep learning and exploring and sharing information. And this has only helped us realize how much more there is to learn, and how eager we are to keep delving in.

    Tim and Vanessa - I completely agree that certain aspects of Four-ness can easily be misinterpreted and seen as pathological. This doesn't take away from the fact that Fours can become pathological - like any other type. But a healthy Four can connect with the sadness of life altogether, and this can been seen as morbid, self-pitying or just mopey, and it might not be any of those things, but the mistake is easy to make from the outside. For instance, the common dismissal of Leonard Cohen's music by non-fans is to call it "music to slit your wrists to."

    Something Russ Hudson teaches is that all Enneagram types intuit something true about our relationship with that thing that we can at least call "God" for shorthand. In the case of Fours, it's the sense of a "tremendous piercing suffering from being away from the Beloved. Until I can be with the Beloved, I'm just bleeding here." Our ego interprets this in a misguided way, envying others for having something we perceive we don't. And in that DVD set, Russ describes a lighting bolt moment Don Riso (a Four) had, walking across the street in New York one day, realizing in a flash that there wasn't a single thing wrong with him. And so it is with any Four, and any person altogether. Our sense of separateness is a defence mechanism, a way to explain that deep longing from the pit of the soul. And we identify with that misinterpretation. And build our self-image around it.

    Richard Rohr and Tom Condon both name France as a having very Fourish cultural aura. Many French movies and novels have Fours as main characters. At least stereotypically, it's a country full of artists, where people have an acceptance that painting, playing music, or creating theatre are legitimate and life-giving pursuits. In Canada and the US there's a Three-ish sense that unless you're making money with it, you're wasting your time. You're a self-indulgent navel-gazer. You're much better off being a Three, relentlessly accomplishing, or as a Five, keeping your eccentric, non-practical interest hidden behind a straight-faced mask. Don't let them see you cry. Beauty for its own sake is useless and meaningless.

    In terms of transcending recommended practices like exercise, a consistent artistic practice, daily meditation, anything like that - it's definitely possible to find ways to keep moving toward your higher levels of health without those things. What's important is turning a curious and compassionate eye at your motivations for doing so (and an especial danger with Fours is the desire to be beyond the things that bound "ordinary" people). Are you abandoning these things because you don't need them anymore, or because you'd really rather not (because they're too hard, because you're too special, etc)? And most importantly, do your motivations in adopting or foregoing a given practice flatter your ego? If they do, you can probably guess what that means.

    A Four at the highest levels of health, according to Riso/Hudson, is life-embracing, self-renewing, spontaneous, connected, gentle, quiet, self-aware, introspective and honest with themselves. A Four at the lower/average range is dismissive, superior and inferior at the same time (Fours will understand that one), diva-like, precious, sulking, playing hard to get, withholding/withdrawing, self-absorbed and inclined toward petty retributions. So which set of traits describe where you're at? Are your practices and habits leading you more toward one end of that polarity, or the other? And can you sit with whatever's arising, even if it isn't what you want it to be?

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Saturday, 03 December 2011 00:07 posted by TJ Dawe

    And something Lindsay remarked - who'd have guessed that the most lively discussion on any Enneagram post on the site so far would be the one about Fours?

  • Comment Link Vanessa D. Fisher Saturday, 03 December 2011 03:39 posted by Vanessa D. Fisher

    Wow, this is so awesome! :)Very helpful points Lindsay, Tim and TJ. I really resonate with so much.

    I love what you said, Lindsay, about out level of health corresponding to our amount of presence (no matter which type we are). That makes a lot of sense to me. It also ties in with some of what TJ brought up here about checking in with our motivations for "transcending" practices.

    I think for myself, when I feel into it, it can definitely be a hard edge. I think in many ways, it is never cut and dry--That is, I'm never fully at these higher levels, and never fully at the lower levels.

    I can find myself growing into more intuitive presence, capacity, etc etc, and it is real, but it can turn to the more negative 4 attributes that TJ described when I'm under stress. And when under stress, I find going back to strutctured practice can be helpful, and it is often the time when I least want to do anything structured!!

    That said, I do think my capacity to follow my intuition, and listen to/be sensitive to my own inner calibration of where I need to go and what practices I need to engage at any time, is increasing as I grow. I just turned 28, so I think I'm growing out of the turmoil of the 20s that comes with being a 4 :) LOL, and starting to find more anchoring in something deeper and more stable. 20s were hell--period.

    I used to fall into long periods of very intense depression, emotional dissaray, and fantasy (sometimes to the point where it got very dangerous) and would sometimes have to go into crisis before I could shift patterns. I find that this is changing as I grow. I'm able to be more objective and catch myself quicker and re-calibrate. But staying humble about the whole process also feels really important, especially because of 4's tendency to think they are above things that they may not be.

    So I think it is a dance that requires a lot of self-honesty and inquiry, and a check in with others (particularly other 4s, like on this thread!)

    Tim, I also really resonated with your sense of your 4ness not being ok, and that you've leaned on your 3ness because it is more acceptable in the wider culture. I have a 5 wing, and have found that my 5 is much more accepted in this culture, and also that it keeps my sensitive 4ness somewhat protected in the world, so I've leaned on that.

    At the same time, I also like my 5ness because I think it keeps me grounded and rational in times when my 4ness would take me in all kinds of other ungrouned emotional directions.

    Anyways, all a great inquiry.

    In regards to your last point, TJ, about being surprised about the most juicy conversation on the enneagram coming from 4s. I'm actually not surprised, because we are so deep :) LOL

    Actually, I heard from another 4 friend that 4s are the one type that actually really like being around eachother and that most of the other types don't. So it makes sense that we are finding juice in our mutual suffering and equisite uniqueness :) haha

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Sunday, 04 December 2011 01:02 posted by TJ Dawe

    Self-honesty, inquiry, and checking in with others - most certainly. Something Russ Hudson says in the DVDs I referred to is that the inner script for gut types (Eights, Nines and Ones) is "Don't Mess With Me." For heart types (Twos, Threes and Fours) it's "See Me How I Want to Be Seen." And this is something we tell ourselves too. It's an imperative. So any Four would do well to recognize this inner tendency and come into a relationship with it. Learn to recognize when you're doing it, and what's at the root of it. And see how often that impulse comes up. And so begins the very long work of disentangling oneself.

    Fours actually liking being around each other... I hadn't heard that. There's probably truth to it in that any Four who knows about the Enneagram would probably like it, at least in our culture, because we know we can be Fours with each other. No one will tell us to "Get over it!" or that we should get out more, or to "stop being so sensitive!" That's certainly a benefit for me being in a relationship with a Four now.

    But Fours also have a tremendous motivation to reject the Enneagram and any typology altogether: don't take away my uniqueness! Or Fours might be so married to their pain and suffering, and only let their interest in the Enneagram go as far as describing their personality. But the challenge of inner work? Getting past the need to be different and hard-done-by? No thank you. And similarly, I can picture unhealthy Fours not enjoying being in the company of other people who believe they're the most misunderstood person in the room. Oh, can we ever come to love our crutches.

  • Comment Link Nicky Saturday, 17 December 2011 05:04 posted by Nicky

    Great blog post! I didn't realize that Joni Mitchel is considered a 4. I am a 4 and in the process of trying to integrate to a 1. One day I think I'll write a book called How to help a 4. (playing on my feeling of shame that the 4 is the worse of the types to deal with ha! :P)

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Saturday, 17 December 2011 22:27 posted by TJ Dawe

    Joni Mitchell has been typed as a Four by various Enneagram writers, but you're always on somewhat shaky ground when typing others, especially people you haven't met. But a case can be built. Here are some more Four-ish quotes from her:

    “Sorrow is so easy to express and yet so hard to tell.”

    "People used to say nobody can sing my songs but me — they're too personal"

    “I take photographs, and that's a journal-it's what I see in a given period of time. It's a document of where my eyes have come to rest. My songs to a certain degree contain a document of incidents that happened. Sometimes it takes many years to write about them-they're not necessarily chronological."

    "I think I'm a habitual documenter. I think the chords I choose are a document of where I'm at at any given time, that they depict-if not the state I'm in at the time that I create it-at least the companion for the story."

    How to Help a Four - I'd like to read that. In my experience as a Four, it's very hard to accept help. the offer or recommendation of help is immediately resented. I'm continually working to integrate to One as well, but the motivation had to come from within, like so much else for Fours.

  • Comment Link Samantha Schoenfeld Monday, 16 January 2012 18:57 posted by Samantha Schoenfeld

    Thank you all for this wonderful discussion. I am a four with a three wing, have been studying the Enneagram for over 20 years and am a certified teacher for the last 11 years. And as a four, what I have found that works for me is to notice when I am not present. Since we fours tend to either project into the future or dwell in the past being present in the moment can be a bit of a challenge. Yet, when I can get there, my intuition can flourish, I am happier, and less tragic in my thoughts.

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Monday, 16 January 2012 20:50 posted by TJ Dawe

    Samantha - thanks so much for being part of this discussion. It's also very flattering to hear from someone more experienced in this subject. I was only introduced to the Enneagram six years ago, and have only been studying it for the last two or three.

    Presence, yes indeed. Do you have any technique to recommend to come back to presence, or is periodic self-examination enough?

  • Comment Link Francisco Javier Saturday, 22 September 2012 01:01 posted by Francisco Javier

    Hello,
    I recently discovered that I am a Four. I have to say that I found very difficult to deal with this, specially that this way of being has been driving half of my life. I am 47 years old. and having raised in a family and social enviroment that promoted, actually magnified being "special". As a four I achieved all the "Sucess" that most of the people are looking in their lives. "I had it all" and suddendly everything went wrong... RIgh now I am in the more unhealthy stages of the four. The more diccildult part is that I am resistent to let go being "special" I have to say that I am afraid of this part of me who takes over and I become the "prince" in my mind, everything looks a challange and I find myself very resistant to take respnsability for my actions, I am embarrased by seing me like that. A big part of me wants to continue to have the world in the way I wanted, but I can see that i was very unhappy becasue it was just an illusion in my mind.

  • Comment Link TJ Dawe Monday, 12 November 2012 20:52 posted by TJ Dawe

    Francisco - the transformational process is nothing if not frustrating and arduous. And as a Four, I certainly didn't want to find out that the feeling of specialness that had been with me all of my life - that sense of being separate from the world (both in terms of not belonging, and in having something great inside me that no one else had) was an illusion and a fixation.

    At the same time, I found a tremendous sense of liberation in feeling understood at last, at long long last.

    There's no doubt that it's difficult to let go of the sense of being special. Without all of things that make me different, who am I? Just another bland, meaningless face in the crowd? What value do I have?

    The crux of it lies right there, I believe: the sense that I only have value if I'm special and unique. Each type has their own version of this: I only have value if I _______ or if I am ______.

    That belief warrants some looking into. Is it true? Is my value as a human being genuinely predicated on that? If that's the case, does it apply to everyone? Is there any possibility of having meaning apart from that? Is there any part of me that exists outside of that belief? Have I ever experienced a quiet feeling of well-being and belonging that had nothing to do with my sense of being different? And if not, what would it be like if I did?

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