One of the many, many things I love about the Enneagram is the way in which “the work” — or, personal growth — is not intended to be forced. I might not like lots of the characteristics of being a Type Five, but I can’t force my way out of them. I can’t make myself Arrow to Eight or shed it all and get in touch with my true self on command — as much as I might try. It has to happen organically.
The work of the Enneagram is to become healthy the old-fashioned way, through time, experience, insight, life-lessons, other people, spiritual practices, and self-awareness. The key here is time. And since a lifetime is required to become who we really are, there’s a lot of acceptance that has to happen during the in-between. This is where Both/And comes in. It’s the idea that life can be experienced in non-duality — the same way you can look at a pencil and just see an eraser, or turn it and see the tip, yellow side, and eraser. It’s still a pencil, but there are different views, different ways it can be experienced and seen. People are like this. We can be two things at once. We can be many things at once. Confusing, yet true.
I’d invite you to ask yourself how the following Both/And’s might apply to you and how that makes you feel, think, or act. Enjoy!
Both/And Type One: You both have a drive for perfection AND the capacity to understand that the imperfection of life is truly valuable.
Bonus: You can learn to whimsically enjoy things going wrong.
Both/And Type Two: You both need to be loved AND you are innately worthy of love without doing a thing.
Bonus: You can learn how to love yourself well.
Both/And Type Three: You both lose yourself behind a myriad of successful images you present to the world AND have the capacity to be insanely alluring and desirable when you let your authenticity show.
Bonus: You can learn from failure.
Both/And Type Four: You both swim in a sea of fluctuating shallow emotions AND dive deep to find what is authentically true in your heart.
Bonus: You can learn to help others discover their true selves through attention and divine insight.
Both/And Type Five: You are both someone who observes and acquires knowledge to feel distantly safe AND a fountain of innate wisdom, feeling, and connection.
Bonus: You can learn to be vulnerable with others in the moment.
Both/And Type Six: You are both mentally preparing for every worst-case scenario AND innately able to courageously and competently handle unforeseen circumstances.
Bonus: You can learn how to give people your trust.
Both/And Type Seven: You both seek constant stimulation as a way of running from hard/boring things AND have the capacity to truly delight in every day, ordinary events.
Bonus: You can learn to teach others how joy-filled their lives are right now.
Both/And Type Eight: You both react in anger as a way to protect yourself AND have tender hearts that empower others who are marginalized.
Bonus: You get to say fuck more than any other number.
Both/And Type Nine: You both merge with others as a way to narcotize your own feelings AND are powerful forces for uniting people in true peace.
Bonus: You can learn to be fully yourself while mitigating conflict.