Peace from the Inside Out, Part I

The Enneagram shows how different our own world-view can be from the world-views of our family members and neighbors. The importance of this for individuals and their relationships has implications for what can be achieved between countries and nationalities. Using this system of describing nine basic types of people usually begins as a tool for individual self-discovery and self-growth. When we find our main type, our relationship to the other eight types inside us begins to change. Little by little we realize that we connect easily with some of these internal types yet we cannot easily access others. The same is true externally—there are some types of people we have trouble understanding. By studying the system, we try to understand all the world-views with the goal of acceptance, which eventually leads to realizing they are universal. The concept of “us and them” weakens. We can’t see people in Iraq or Afghanistan, nor can we see any group, as “other” because we see they have personalities like ours. Only their cultural style is different. To see all humans the way we see ourselves is crucial to peace. Self-acceptance begins inside and spreads outward.

Each of us has the potential to understand the other types, but shadow issues or unfamiliarity can present a challenge. We hope to grow more healthy in our type: the Perfectionist learns that it’s common to be self-critical in order to be perfect, so she works on being good to herself instead of hitting herself over the head. This is the self-acceptance the system encourages. For example, Edith was an Adventurer and avoided the most fearful type, the Questioner, both internally in the form of denying her fear and as represented by Questioners she met. As her attitude toward fear became healthier, she increasingly accepted live Questioners as well as her own fear.

Nine Ways to Make Peace

If a team of nine, one of each type, were sent on a mission of peace, they might contribute these gifts, according to their type:

1 The Perfectionist  – fairness

2 The Helper – harmony

3 The Achiever – can-do

4 The Romantic – compassion

5 The Observer – new angles

6 The Questioner – loyalty to the cause

7 The Adventurer – enthusiasm

8 The Asserter – protectiveness

9 The Peace Seeker – conciliation

Perfectionists are motivated to improve things. If you understand this type, you will realize they are trying to help you when they give advice, more than to criticize you. Most value being a fair, logical, and level-headed force for peace.

Helpers also give advice, as they are motivated to meet others’ needs. In order to accomplish this, they empathize in order to find out about you. Helpers excel in the role of harmonizer.

Achievers are motivated to attain a successful image. Knowing this, you may not be offended if they boast about their car, house, or accomplishments. They are energetic, work hard. get things done, and will follow through. I would call upon an Achiever to come up with a plan for peace that works.

Romantics are motivated to express their individuality. They are compassionate, deep feelers—they can go to someone’s heart space and can be excellent communicators.

Observers are motivated to acquire knowledge and tend to be quiet and sensitive. Some are creative and able to think up new ways of putting things together. An Observer might come up with an original plan for peace.

Questioners are motivated to reduce risk, though some act daring in order to prove they aren’t afraid. Many comedians are of this type because they’re good at scanning for danger, information to help them stay safe, and what will amuse audiences. Questioners will crusade for causes they believe in, including peace.

Adventurers are motivated to explore possibilities. They’re fun loving, optimistic, and like to keep their options open. As some of the most idealistic of the types, they treasure life. Many want to save the earth and end war.

Asserters are motivated to set clear boundaries and are protective of the underdog and those they love. They have a great deal of energy, often prefer to be independent or to be the boss, and want you to be worthy of their respect. They have tough exteriors but soft hearts and can make excellent warriors for peace and for those in need.

Peace Seekers are motivated to maintain inner calm. Sometimes this necessitates mediating when people are in conflict. They’re good at negotiating because they can see many points of view. They connect well with people and can work for peace among nature, humans, and the technology and superstructures we have created that are now harming the earth.

Part II is now on my blog on Psychology Today. Please click here:

Intention to ‘Break Enemy’s Will’ Can Produce Unwanted Results

Senator McCain said the purpose of war is to break the enemy’s will. This in opposition to President Obama’s decision to have a short military involvement in Afghanistan. My mind jumped to the ways in which I’ve witnessed less overtly violent will-breaking in other situations, namely in families and in the workplace.

Okay, here’s my point. If you have two armies going at it on an isolated military field that’s one thing. It’s horrible enough, and maybe war should never happen in a world as civilized as we could be in almost 2010. But fighting a war against a few among a civilian population means we can lose their good will from fallout from the drones, errant bombs, etc.  The same thing happens in families where there’s a bully. Even if only one person is singled out to be bullied, the others witnessing the bullying are being abused too. Now we get to the workplace. “Break the enemy’s will” becomes “carry out strict rules” or “run a tight ship.”  These expressions aren’t necessarily abusive but when overdone they can be. When applied to one or more employees unfairly they can have a demoralizing effect on the others. Collateral damage, whether it’s rage, bullets, or second-hand smoke, can occur in many situations.

When my first child went to kindergarten many children hadn’t had preschool and didn’t behave well. The teacher reacted by screaming at the whole class for most of the day, at least that’s how it seemed to me. I felt my son was being abused having to listen to this. He must have wondered what was wrong with him that he should be screamed at this way.

Writing “The Career Within You,”, we interviewed a few people who had bosses who seemed to  regard their employees as enemies. I’ve known professors and teachers with this attitude toward one or more students, too. I’ve also seen a completely broken will. After I gave my highly spirited dog to a relative who lived in another town, unknown to me he beat it into submission. The dog’s personality was unrecognizable the next time I saw him.

In this blog, I’ve talked about physical will-breaking and emotional abuse as it occurs in jobs and at home and how it impinges on those not directly involved in the conflict. This has implications for all nine career types. For example, some types have thicker skin than others and aren’t bothered much by criticism, but a sensitive type who is caught in the middle can be shattered by it. In another example, some types are extremely generous and expansive. The more uptight types in their presence can feel uncomfortable by comparison.

In conclusion, in Senator McCain’s experience in the Viet Nam war,  North Viet Nam itself was considered a vile enemy.  Except for the fact that he was being held there as a prisoner, would he have been happy obliterating the country? One would think he knows that maintaining a sincerely friendly relationship with the Afghan people is to our advantage.