I love talking to Type Fours, (because I have a Four Wing and I’m so special!) but I especially love Type Four men because they are super interesting. When thinking about society in America, the outstanding qualities of a Four aren’t much encouraged. Someone who identifies as male, who can make space for pain, who lives authentically, who feels the full spectrum of emotion, who dives into the deep questions of life, and who can love imagination and creativity…these are not qualities the Western world deems worthy in men. And yet, these attributes in men are SO NEEDED! I’m convinced, the more men get in touch with their emotional lives and their authentic selves, the more healthy society will be.
I’m excited to hear from you, Eric. Welcome!
1. Emotions are dominant for Fours as part of the Heart Triad. How do emotions affect your daily life? Work, friendships, partnership, kids?
Emotions are huge for us in our family. It took me a long time to understand my emotions and to accept them as part of who I am, but not the definition of who I am. When I worked for a big company, my emotions would get in the way as I struggled to explain why I had feelings about particular decisions. In a dull, boring financial firm my feelings were not convincing arguments. That felt pretty bad. Once I learned that my emotions are indicator lights that should make me explore deeper, it became easier to express my feelings and find my voice. This is true with my wife and children as well. On good days I’m able to set aside my emotions and attend to theirs. On bad days, well, let’s just say the feels are everywhere.
2. Are you a parent? How does your Type influence parenting?
I am the father of a girl and three boys. Being a Type Four parent means I’m the fun dad who gets on the floor and wrestles, plans a surprise, or encourages them to use their imagination. One of my strengths is that I am able to see my children’s creativity and encourage it. My daughter wants to be a writer. My parents never would have encouraged me to go into the arts for a living. But I tell my daughter to go for it as long as she understands the business as well as the art. My kids get the benefit of belief in their creative ability. On the downside, I can also be quite moody and emotional. Sometimes, I have days when I am in the dumps and simply do not want to hear them. I imagine that it feels arbitrary for them and hope they do not equate my emotions with having to earn love from me.
3. What happens when you’re stressed and go along your Arrow to Type Two? What happens when you’re in a healthy place and go along your Arrow to Type One?
Interesting question! For years, I thought of myself as a Type Two. I was a helper, a shepherd, but never satisfied. I guess I was just stressed all the time. But it does come in handy when there is stress in the home, and I can see the needs and help find a resolution. I’m still trying to figure out what it’s like to move to a Type One. I love it when I’m working on a project and tweaking every detail to make it just so. Maybe that’s moving in the right direction. One thing I’ve had to learn, though, is the value of iteration. Expecting perfection on the first try held me back for many years. Once I allowed that I could try, learn, and get better, the lid came off, and I’m working in my zone of genius more.
4. How does Envy play out in your interactions with people? Do you find yourself comparing your life, experiences, career, etc. to others?
YES! Envy is a huge problem for me. I often ask “why not me?” when I see all the cool things others are doing. Realizing that (1) social media does not reflect reality, and (2) everyone pays dues to get where they are, has helped me tremendously. This quote from Biz Stone speaks to me: “Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”
5. Talk a little about the desire to be unique. Why is this so important to you? Is it important? How do you try to be a unique person in daily life?
Oh my, yes! The tension between being normal and being unique is so difficult to live with. In middle school, I was bullied for being weird (I was kinda nerdy) and that fueled this desire to belong while never feeling like I do. I’ve realized that there are situations where I feel I don’t belong, but the feeling is mine, not anyone else’s. They accept me, and I don’t know it. Being aware of that is super important for me.
I’ve also learned to accept the ways that I want to be unique. I left my corporate job to start an online business. Most people thought I was totally crazy. Maybe I am! But I knew I had to do it or I would regret it forever. Embracing that kind of uniqueness actually helps me love being me. It may not work out, but I love that I tried.
6. Talk about what the words Discipline and Objectivity mean to you today.
My two least favorite words! Discipline is always a challenge. Lately, I’m learning to rely on others to help with that. For instance, I’ve partnered with a friend who is good at being disciplined to create a business course for soul care practitioners. I just liked the idea and would have been happy to have imagined it and moved on. But he wanted to actually create it. His drive is helping us accomplish something together.
I also learned about discipline when I started my podcast, Halfway There, in 2016. The show is about the ups and downs of the spiritual journey, and I really love hearing the stories people share with me. That love drives me to keep episodes releasing every week. Once I tapped into my desire, discipline was still work, but not hard.
Objectivity is a myth.
7. What does the phrase, “You are good enough,” mean to you?
I wish I felt that way. This is a message I have to receive from God often. If I’m not careful, any criticism feeds the “not good enough” monster in my head.
8. Are there any spiritual practices you are drawn to as a Type Four?
I love imaginative prayer! Going through the spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola was life-changing for me. I have a B.A. in Biblical Studies and a Master of Divinity and can get super academic with Scripture. But learning to imagine Jesus really connected to my heart. Suddenly, the Scripture came alive in my mind, and I fell in love with God in a fresh way.
9. How has learning about your Enneagram Type impacted your life and relationships? Has it changed the way you view yourself or others?
I am learning how to love and accept myself and let others be who they are. Learning how Fours and Sixes relate has been helpful because my wife is the latter. My dreams rubbed her fears raw and created a lot of tension. Learning that fear was her issue changed my expectations when I’m dreaming. It helps so much to let her off the hook for making my dreams a reality by saying, “I just need to envision this for a moment.”
Eric Nevins is the host of Halfway There Podcast, a show that has honest conversations with ordinary Christians about today’s Christian experience. His first contemplative exercise, Jesus is Willing: An 8 Day Experience in Mark 1:40-45 is available now.