Self-Preservation Four: Sharalee Roberts, Justin Brown & Kelly Craig

A friend of mine was recently struggling to define her Four subtype, waffling between being a Social (So) Type Four or a Sexual (Sx) Type Four. I found that even though I have a pretty good grasp on what the subtypes are in general, I was no help with the nuances of each and every number. Enter you amazing Twitter-verse people and some digging back into The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut. Today, we’re going to learn about the Self-Preservation Type Four (Sp) from Ms. Chestnut and hear from Sharalee, Kelly, and Justin about their experiences as Self-Pres Fours!

According to Chestnut, Self-Pres Fours are the Countertype, expressing envy and suffering much less than the other two subtypes. “[Instead] of dwelling in and expressing envy, this Four works hard to get what others have… Thus, this Four makes a virtue of toughing out difficulties without talking about them, hoping that others will see this, admire them for it, and help them meet their needs… They put themselves in situations that are tough. They test and challenge themselves… This Four tends to be a humanitarian with an empathetic and nurturing disposition, someone who protests for the sake of others and is sensitive to the needy, the dispossessed, and victims of injustice.” (Beatrice Chestnut, The Complete Enneagram, She Writes Press, 2013)

And now, welcome Sharalee, Justin, and Kelly thank you for sharing with us!

Clip0013.MXF.06_45_14_23.Still001-46My name is Sharalee Roberts.  I am a 39-year-old female.  I am a film cinematographer, writer, photographer.  I have three children and have been married for seventeen years.

Instagram: @sharaleeroberts Twitter: @sharaleeroberts

1. What does it mean to you to be a Self-Preservation Type Four?

For me personally, a Self-Preservation Type Four displays my desire for my space and my comfort as a way to de-stress the constant emotional connections the Type Four battles with. My mind is in a constant state of high function creativity and I’m also typically the person everyone wants to talk to. I have a need for my den, my home, my Zen space. My home has lots of throw blankets, and plants, with calming paint colors. My office, my room, and my kitchen have to be clean and organized in order for me to find comfort within them. This may be because I’m a Type Four with a Five Wing (4w5). If given the choice of a fun night out for drinks and dinner with friends or a good book under a blanket at home, I’m choosing the book and blanket! I love to push my comfort levels for art. I love a good hike for a picture. I can endure endless hours behind the camera in poor weather. However, at the end of the day when everyone wants to go out and celebrate, I want nothing more than a warm bath and my home. I find comfort in travel.  Old spaces and history are warm, inviting, and cathartic. You just probably won’t find me being a chatty Cathy with the stranger on the plane. I will have my earphones in and under the extra blanket that I probably have in my bag. There is no subject that I don’t love to learn about and pick apart, even death and the macabre. Others may find this disturbing, but I am just playfully psychoanalyzing and sifting through all the complicated layers of the subject.

2. How does the Self-Preservation Instinct as a Four shape your need for physical security, including food, shelter, money, time, energy, and relationships? Which of these needs do you most require to feel safe?

I need to know I am safe. Physically and emotionally. At the age of 39, I have experienced the lack of security in all the areas of physical security, including food, shelter, money, time, energy, and relationships. I have learned how to not panic at the mere idea of the lack of security in these areas. I have also learned to work hard to meet the areas at the level in which I need them. However, the level in which I need each of these has also changed throughout the years. Relationships being the least of these for me, and Energy being the highest right now. Meaning, the level of which I will exert my energy into a high number of relationships has dwindled. People expect a lot emotionally from Type Fours. Even as much as I try to protect my energy, people still tend to drain me. So, I have learned to place a high value on my energy levels and who I am willing to drain it for.  Mainly, my immediate family (husband and children) and a close friend. I have drained it too often to the point of severe depression not to be very protective of my energy now.

3. What does Stress look like for you as a Self-Preservation Four? What does Integration/Health look like for you as a Self-Preservation Four?

When under high stress I can sink into my comfort places to an unhealthy degree. I can stay in bed for days. Blocking my endless spinning thoughts by reading four or five novels a day. I will be obsessive about my space, but not my food. I can be so concerned about what to eat that I cannot eat at all. I can be unwise in spending because looking at a budget is too stressful and I clearly really need one more comfort item. All of my energy turns inward and the endless cycle of negative thoughts and lost conversations from years gone by will resurface to berate me. Depression is very real for Fours—many of us have to constantly manage it or battle with it.

For a Healthy Self Pres Four, it’s all about balance. It’s learning about what is a healthy lack of communication with family and friends versus when my depression is returning. I have to balance my diet with exercise to find balance within my mind. I balance people time with alone time and have learned to find enjoyment and value with both. I set boundaries with people, even when I want to help them because I know they are not healthy for me. Again, going back to protecting that energy and learning when I have the extra to give and when I don’t. I have to balance my work, which I can obsess over to perfectionism, with a non-work-related creative endeavor. I’m currently in pre-production for a business commercial, planning out my fall photoshoots, starting to writing one book, and already in the research phase of another book. It’s non-stop for Fours. I’m always figuring out when to let my crazy creative juices run wild in a project and when to pull back and calm it back down again.  It’s finding just the right balance between it all and then recharging my energy within my comfort places.

image1My name is Justin Brown. I live in Springfield, IL, and I have been learning and studying the language of the Enneagram for nearly two years. As a Type Four I’ve often felt misunderstood, but the Enneagram allowed me to see that I’m not alone.

Twitter: @jlbrownik

1. What does it mean to you to be a Self-Preservation Type Four?

To be a Self-Preservation Type Four means enduring difficult emotions. It means making sure my frame is intact. It means using my resources, or physical resources (money, time, energy, sustenance) to my advantage in order to keep myself intact or be the best version of myself.

2. How does the Self-Preservation Instinct as a Four shape your need for physical security, including food, shelter, money, time, energy, and relationships? Which of these needs do you most require to feel safe?

I think that ‘physical’ security is prioritized being a self-preservation type. I think I am perhaps more aware of what I need, or what I need to do in order to feel physically secure. It’s not simply attending to those physical needs that allow me to feel safe, it’s also about how I attend to them. For example, it’s not just about eating food, it’s about what I eat that allows me to feel secure (eating healthy). It’s not simply that I have a shelter that makes me feel secure, it’s also taking care of my living space and cultivating that space for comfort. Time and energy aren’t tangible but, I am cognizant of where my time and energy go. I mostly require time and energy to feel safe. There is an emphasis put on energy though. I am careful where I spend that currency because I can lose it during social interactions being an introvert. When I am limited energy-wise, it affects what I can do or the way I do something because I’m low on energy. I am aware of my energy levels when I’m in the presence of family and friends, and I try not to spend all my energy in one place.

3. What does Stress look like for you as a Self-Preservation Four? What does Integration/Health look like for you as a Self-Preservation Four?

Under stress, I tend to be more expressive, and I can become suspicious of long-suffering. I may reach out to someone in the form of self-expression to let my plights be known. Under stress, I may become frantic and to cope with what I’m experiencing. I can become “proactive” in an attempt to keep life from becoming even more stressful.

In health, I’m more structured, disciplined, and organized. I live more in the present moment, while also considering the future in order to do what I need to do—in the now to be secure in the future. For example being financially stable, physically healthy, and emotional well/intelligent.


Kelly Craig: Artist/Writer

Instagram: @kellycraigart Twitter: @justkellycraig1

1. What does it mean to you to be a Self-Preservation Type Four?

For me, it means I have a place of safety/nurture to retreat to when the world feels chaotic; when everything feels like it’s too much. In fact, when I look at my core values feeling safe and creating spaces of safety, where others feel safe to be vulnerable, to dialogue and to be themselves, is at the top of my list. Being a Self-Preservation Four also means I surround myself with people who respect that space, even protect it. Also, as a Self-Preservation Four, I don’t enjoy conflict. It causes a lot of anxiety and doesn’t bring out the best in me. I want to be with people who bring out the best in me even in spaces of accountability or differing points of view.

As a Self-Preservation Four, my home aesthetic is really important. I want it to feel intuitive & peaceful (which doesn’t always happen). Also as an artist, I have always been drawn to nice things. In my studio—one of my primary nesting spaces—is a chair hammock so I can rock in it to feel physically secure and facilitate energy for creative ideas. Even as a kid, growing up where we didn’t have a lot of money to buy a lot of extra things, etc, and without knowing the price, I almost always picked the most expensive pair. My nickname in our family was “princess.”

2. How does the Self-Preservation Instinct as a Four shade your need for physical security, including food, shelter, money, time, energy, and relationships? Which of these needs do you most require to feel safe?

You may laugh, but when my family sits down at the dinner table (food & shelter), it’s really important that we make sure everyone has enough to eat. It’s important for my kids to think about other people in this way. Actually, having a “family table” is also a central value to me. Oddly (because I’m not the typical throw paint to the wind artist), I handle most of the finances.

Regarding energy, I get easily drained by too much noise or chaos. If I don’t protect that, I get anxious and frustrated. Enter the need for space to breathe and express through words, photographs, drawings, and painting.

As for the primary need for feeling safe, by far it’s having that “nesting space,” (physically, emotionally, even spiritually) which if I don’t have this, it negatively affects my relationships, with myself and others. Like I said before, if I don’t feel safe or secure in my home, even relationships, I won’t have peace. And if I don’t have peace, the energy of that invades my home, my time, my energy levels, all relational things, and it taxes me. I feel like I’m losing myself (being swallowed up). And honestly, that’s death for any Type Four. In the end, I’m my best self when I feel honored and protected. In those spaces, I flourish and can engage in arguments without losing my peace.

3. What does Stress look like for you as a Self-Preservation Four? What does Integration/Health look like for you as a Self-Preservation Four?

For me, stress is being so busy that I don’t get time to saturate myself in the things that feed my soul or energize my creativity like nature, writing, taking pictures, and one-on-one time with my children and husband.

Integration/Health happens when I can take that inner peace, energy, and positively affect the world around me instead of letting the world and its chaos affect me to the place where I hide. Honestly, the word “BALANCE” has been my life’s mantra for as long as I can remember. I am on a life-long journey of knowing when to reach out from my nest/cocoon versus knowing when to stay in that place. And because life is life, I know disagreement will arise. So, I have to discern when it’s safe to dialogue and tackle hard and when it’s not. Enter everyone’s favorite word, boundaries!! I think Fours, especially Self-Preservation Fours, need to know how to navigate this because of a propensity towards extremes.

Thank you three so much! – Melissa

2 thoughts on “Self-Preservation Four: Sharalee Roberts, Justin Brown & Kelly Craig

  1. Thank you so much for this beautiful post! It’s given me so much clarity. I’ve been on a journey to discover my subtype for a while, and the descriptions I’ve read in some places regarding Self-pres 4s really threw me off, even though I resonate with the basic definition of having a self-preservation instinct. But reading this, I can relate 100% to everything your guests wrote. It’s confirmed for me that I am indeed a self-pres 4. Truly appreciate you and this blog!

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