A POWERFUL TOOL TO CHANGE OUR CURRENT TRAJECTORY
In this post, I’ll spend some time setting the scene around current world events, how we are related to it by exploring how we develop as humans.
I’ll also start to breakdown how The Enneagram, a potent tool and process for self-reflection, has the potential to save us from ourselves.
Life: Confusing. Expensive. Relentless. Exhausting. Unprecedented. Soul-destroying. Would you agree?
Take a look at the outside world, and it’s easy to feel despondent, right? A catastrophe on the other side of the planet can be as emotion-bringing as a fallout within your own family. YES you’re busy. YES it can be overwhelming. YES some days it can be like what the actual fuuuck is the point. Does this mean you’re losing it? Well perhaps…but, actually…you’re just being a human being.
Cost of living crisis.
Left vs. Right.
Rich vs. Poor.
Woke .vs. Establishment.
Human vs. Environment.
If you can see the common denominator throughout all of these, it is us, humans. Our planet was evolving along nicely for aeons, a perfect habitat for creation, a blue marble floating in a universe of relatively inhospitable nothingness. And then, we happened. The human race (of late a race to the bottom) and our so-called ‘gift’ of rational thinking.
And yet, look at what we are doing to ourselves, to our planet.
We can think about our thinking. We have this thing that develops from the moment we are born, that will be with us for as long as we are in our bodies. It’s called the ego.
Our ego is the thing that narrates our experience, and talks about how fantastically different and special we are, or, not different/special enough, and how we need to to be told that we are different and special, and so we set about ways that we can assure our specialness.
The ego is the thing that differentiates us from all living creatures on this earth. Animals cannot think about the past or future, they are primal. Thoughts like ‘do you think my bum looks big in this’ are not of concern.
In our need to assert our ego, we create and produce ‘stuff’. And this is partially good, and partially bad: Creativity as in the creative process, in terms of fixing solutions to challenges – good…overconsumption, overproduction – bad. If you think back to that list of current affairs I cited a short while ago, there is another denominator, alongside ‘humans’, and that is ‘resources’. Turns out for the most part, we suck at sharing resources.
In terms of left .vs. right, let’s journey to some linguistic definitions, (briefly, I promise).
Communism? Good, in theory, turned out not so great, coz humans (mostly straight white men) manipulated the fuck out of it and used it for bad. Capitalism? Good, in theory. Flying the flag for the solution to all our problems, opportunities for all, etc, and then, yep, turns out also not great, coz humans (again thank you straight white men), manipulated the fuck out of that one too. At the root of all fuckups? GREED.
We are, whether we like it or not, a part of this ginormous, out of scale machine that is making a bin-fire out of our resource-rich blue marble floating in space.
Mother earth will carry on just fine without us, we, however, will not carry on without her, if we don’t change our ways.
All the while we are hooked to what’s happening in the outside world, sucking at the teet of the newsfeed like a baby with its bottle, we are blinded to the bigger picture at play: yes in the media, but most notably, what’s happening on the inside of ourselves.
For many, the prospect of looking at the internal world can be impossible to grapple with. It can be so damn hard to process what’s going on in there, what’s coming up day to day, moment by moment: It’s not like we were given the tools to do it in school! For many (many!) others, finding resources in terms of both time and money is a luxury (this is not lost on me).
The frenzied outside world meets our unreconciled, chaotic inside worlds. This clashing makes clarity seem less like a foreign land, and more like a distant galaxy:
At best, it’s a recipe for noodle soup, at worst, an over-fuelled bin fire.
And all the while this interaction of outside .vs. inside is happening, we humans are physically and metaphorically running. But are we running toward something? Or, are we running away? In my personal self development journey, and in my role as professional facilitator of the development of others, we are in fact doing BOTH.
We are running toward something external to us that we assume will make us happy, that will fill a void. When we get to wherever ‘there’ is, we are already onto the next thing. (Think: promotion, new home, car, book deal, marriage, vacation, and so on). There seems to always be some ‘thing’. In this running toward, we are in fact running from our internal world.
For us to process our inside world, we require ways and means. We need proper tools. Not just any tools, but awesome, powerful tools.
Enter the most powerful tool I know, The Enneagram.
Ennea, the Greek word for nine, and Gramma, something that’s drawn or written.
The nine ‘things’ that this tool draws out are the nine core personality types. It is a tool for self-reflection, around these core types, and it works on the basis that we all have all nine aspects within us, however there is a ‘lead’ or driving typology that drives the ship.
As we have this gift for self-reflexive, self-aware thinking, it might well be smart to take a look at how we each inhabit these nine types. By using Enneagram, we can each take a look at the part we play in the mechanics of this world. Getting involved in the mechanics may well be the single most rational thing we can do in a world of such irrationality.
So how the heck does The Enneagram link to activism, and saving our world, I hear you ask.
Whilst we are ‘had’ by our own personality, caught up in the weeds of our own ego, we see ourselves as separate: Separate from each other, and therefore separate from the world. As if, by some stroke of luck, our actions won’t have an impact on those around us, less so the planet.
Albeit somewhat dysfunctionally, we exist as a collective of individuals. We are ‘run’ by economic, political and media systems that have been built over time by a range of men. When operating from fear, we humans will go to almost any lengths to preserve ourselves. From fear, our ego hears the message ‘you are different, be afraid’ loud and clear.
This is why the meme ‘STOP THE BOATS’, is currently being peddled by the Tories in the UK. It serves to divide us, and overpower us. This slogan is proving almost as effective as ‘LOCK HER UP’ or ‘BUILD THE WALL’ was on the other side of the pond around the time Trump was conniving his way to the Oval Office. In the division? Distraction, from what’s really going on with the laws, regulations and codes that will impact generations to come.
We, the average people, are seeing in real time what lengths ‘they’ (and by they, I mean the shadowy corporate forces that exist) will go to in order to maintain and even rapidly increase the status quo of production unchecked.
Will Enneagram be an immediate ‘fix’ to every problem in the world? I doubt it. There are no ‘quick fix’ processes for where we are currently. However I will say that when we are looking for so-called leadership that will solve our challenges, and not finding it, we must recognise that we have to lead ourselves.
If all humans possessed a trifecta of discernment, compassion and perspective, we would simply not allow ourselves to be duped by a nationalistic rhetoric that is so clearly based in ego (hear the sentence ‘what can I get from this’, and the ego is present), and obviously in service of an elite and powerful few.
To see through the distortions and generalisations in the world outside, we have to see that they exist first inside, and with inside work, we can each take ownership, and enjoy some form of power and self-efficacy.
If we do this work, the conversation becomes ‘what can I do’, rather than a despondent ‘I just feel so fucking powerless’. We will feel less exhausted. We will feel more like getting involved in the conversation, and yes, even the action.
By going inward, we can counteract the ‘what can I get’ theme of today that is trashing our planet.
My parting thought comes in two questions: What if we made the inner work spread like the wildfires of California or Southern Europe? What if we flooded our realities with truth just like the water that has deluged most corners of the world?
My first guess is that we would see Mother Nature for what she really is – a precious resource that we must preserve at all costs. If enough of us were on the same side, we would overpower the systems that oppress her, and in turn, us.
My second guess is that we would lead by example, and vote accordingly.
In the next post, I will go into the more practical aspects of The Enneagram, including how to use it, and how it fits into a process of self-reflection that can be equally useful in personal life as well as professional and corporate environments.