Have you found that stress or mood swings drive you to unintentionally stir up drama—in a way that only you can?
Why do you seem to get in the same fight over and over again, with your kids or your partner, even though you have vowed not to? It has to do with the underlying (and often unseen) motivation that drives your reactivity. The best way I know how to understand why your actions do not match your intention is by looking at your Enneagram Type and what drives it.
If you are unfamiliar with the Enneagram, it is a personality model that was named for its structure based on the Greek words Enna - meaning nine - and gram - meaning drawing.
The Enneagram model is a circle with nine points denoting the nine different Enneagram personality types - with lines connecting different types based on how you respond to stress and integration. Each of the nine Enneagram Types have their own unique way of going on autopilot and unconsciously creating drama.
Through an understanding of the Enneagram, you can learn about your personality type’s traits and behavior patterns as a parent in general and then develop awareness around your own unique expression of those traits.
More importantly, you begin to understand what exactly motivates you to do and think what you do.
So you can be a better partner and a better parent.
How is it helpful to know what your personality type does and why?
Once you are aware of your motivation, and how it unconsciously drives you to behave and think a certain way, you can more objectively discern when it is useful to engage certain traits and when it is not.
EXAMPLE: For instance, if you know that your personality is one that wants peace and harmony above all else and tends to withdraw rather than argue when feeling pushed to do something you are not ready to do, you can choose, in the moment, whether withdrawal will be effective in a particular situation.
Say there is a crisis at hand - like your accountant completes your taxes showing a balance due and you do not have enough money in your checking account. You don’t want to tell her you can’t write a check. You don’t want to tell your spouse because they might get upset. You don’t want to inconvenience your brother by asking him for a loan. You do not want to upset the apple cart and you do not know what to do. Your strategy of withdrawing is going to be activated. So you tell the accountant you will handle and then go into “hiding”.
Is that going to work? Probably not - because you would be creating a lot more drama. The government would penalize you and you would end up owing more. Your spouse will be upset when they see the penalty notice. You would also have to deal with your accountant who is trying to track you down, when she realizes you did not submit the returns. She would get irritated with you. None of that would feel peaceful or harmonious and that would make you want to withdraw more.
So your knee jerk response to withdraw and ignore will not help. If you are aware of this pattern AHEAD OF TIME you can either stop it before it starts or catch yourself in action and head in a different direction.
When you see that you are about to withdraw or already have, you can tell yourself - this is just my pattern. Then ask “What would create more peace - handling the situation or not handling the situation?” The answer might be “handling the situation.” As soon as you consider that thought, fear comes up again because you still don’t know the solution. What you do know, however, is that SOMETIMES withdrawing, when done intentionally, allows you to hear yourself think. With this understanding, you could consciously choose a planned and brief withdrawal that would allow you to calm down enough to consider your options. This is the difference between taking conscious action rather than operating in reactive autopilot mode.