What we perceive as negative is not always so…

Photo by Andrew Nicholson. Look deep beneath the surface... because the differences between us are what make the world beautiful.

I truly believe that we all have a purpose and destiny. I believe this so deeply, particularly now that I have spent so much time studying the reality of the 9 Enneagram types. I can clearly see the innate gift which each type has to offer the world. This gift is intrinsically tied in with the individual’s purpose in life. Yet so many are not connected with their gift, and are even unaware they have it. They are unaware of what this means in terms of the place they hold in humankind. All they know is that they are different to many, similar to some, and that those who are different often judge them. As a result, many are fearful to take the risks necessary to step into their potential.

Some are naturals at sales and marketing, some at relationships, some at technical skills, others at creative skills. But most don’t actually know why, or what drives that natural skill, or what having this skill means when it comes to understanding their behaviour.

Each Enneatype has a fundamental purpose in creating an essential part of humankind. Some naturally focus on the positive, and others naturally focus on the negative i.e. what can potentially go wrong, or what is wrong. Now you may think that this is simply a negative way to experience life, but it’s really not. Let me explain…

illusionAlthough it’s wonderful to be positive, particularly in today’s society with the personal development movement, there is a desire to avoid all people with a negative outlook, and to focus only on being around people with a positive outlook. But we are missing something huge in doing so, and blinding ourselves massively at the same time.

Take a look at the photograph on the right. At first glance it looks like a negative. Yet when you look beneath the surface, you begin to see something altogether different. Stare at the red dot for 30 seconds, and then look directly at a white wall or at a white sheet of paper. Then you will see the real person.

With understanding and knowledge of the true Enneagram, it allows us to see the real individual and the motivation behind their behaviour. With understanding comes acceptance and forgiveness. Now that, to me, is what authentic positive thinking and personal development is really about. It is not a superiority complex about being positive and looking down on others whose brains to do work in quite the same way.

Those who focus on what could go wrong are able to see life’s metaphorical potholes, whilst those who are naturally focusing on abundance tend to miss them. These seemingly negative folk are also some of the world’s greatest trouble-shooters and risk managers, and have an innate ability not only to perceive potential problems, but to put plans and procedures in place to prevent them. The naturally positively focused Enneatypes miss this gift altogether, preferring to be around people who do not point out potential potholes. Yet, without the Enneatype who naturally focus on what could go wrong, many businesses and households would face falling into those potholes. But instead of understanding this, we experience others through our own model of the world and simply put them into the ‘negative person’ category.

The result is that these Enneatypes often begin to feel bad about themselves, having been labeled as negative by society, they accept that label and try to become someone they’re not in order to be accepted. The outcome of this is that many live within their negative behavioural traits (which every type has, yes, even the positive ones!) rather than their skills and potential, which is to bring safety into the world. It’s a little like cutting one’s nose off to spite one’s face. But very few even choose to consider this… nope, just stick around the positive people instead.

There is another Enneatype which focuses on what is wrong, as opposed to what could go wrong. They are very different perceptions on life, even though they may sound similar. These individuals say it as they see it, purely because that is the way they experience the world, and others often feel criticised or judged by them for doing so. Yet these people are some of the world’s greatest reformers, dedicating their lives to putting right what they can so clearly see is wrong. Again, those who make it their intention to focus only on the positive miss this immense insight, and again often label these folk as simply negative or critical.

So sad really, because when they begin to feel bad about themselves as people, they delve even further into their critical side than their reformer side. What we’re failing to realise is that in many cases it’s actually the positive outlook types which, by taking on a superior rather than loving attitude, are keeping the not so naturally positive outlook types feeling negative about themselves, which is simply creating more negativity in the human race overall. We really need to take responsibility. Judging others for not being positive is not a way to make others positive, nor is it positive thinking.

You see, in order to become a reformer, or to put plans and procedures in place to prevent failure, someone has to be able to see what’s wrong, or what could potentially go wrong, first. This is in fact an incredible insight.

Just imagine if Gandhi or Martin Luther King had decided to focus only on the positive…

As for how this affects society and particularly relationships. Well, I’m one of the Enneatypes who naturally focuses on the positive. It came as quite a shock to me to realise that my optimistic attitude to life was actually my ego working away beneath the surface for a very specific reason. Andy is the Enneatype who naturally sees what is wrong, points it out, and then works to correct it. The 9 Enneatypes are not in any way pie in the sky or fluff, they are 9 very different ways of using the human brain, which in turn create 9 very distinct ways of perceiving and experiencing life. Each of the 9 types has a default set of negative behavioural patterns, and each type also has an immense talent which comes naturally to only their type.

During the early days of our relationship, when I was optimistic about something, Andy would often point out what was wrong. It drove me nuts, but then my overly optimistic attitude drove him nuts too, because it simply didn’t feel like a realistic outlook to him. So who was right, and who was wrong? Neither, and both. We are both perfect exactly as we are. Our journey was to embrace the other’s perception as well as our own, thereby massively expanding our ability to experience an authentic life. Our challenges occurred because we were too determined to stick to our own corner and be right. Problem was, we were both right. We didn’t realise that until we discovered the real Enneagram, and from that time onwards we were both able to embrace our innate gifts, understand and see one another in a new light, and bring out the best in ourselves and each another. Even more importantly, once we understood our individual skills, we were able to apply them with complete trust, and really begin living to our potential.

The gift which comes with my Enneatype is emotional intelligence, the ability to see and understand human relationships at a deep level. This is brilliant, however, this also means that I am lacking in the skills that other types are blessed with. You see, no one has everything.

This, in essence, is humankind’s journey. When we stop judging from an egoic need to be right, then we learn. We expand our knowledge and skills. If you want to learn something new, go to the Enneatype who has the inherent skill you are looking to learn, has surrendered to their gift, and has mastered their art in teaching it. Once you understand the Enneagram, you will clearly see whether a teacher is authentic in their art, and whether they are indeed the right teacher for you.

Some are experts at relationships, some at sales and marketing success, some at being a visionary, some at risk management, some at mediating, and the list goes on. In other words, if you want to learn about risk management or safety, don’t go to someone who always focuses on the positive…

And yes, there is a difference between someone who is just being negative for the sake of it, or someone who naturally focuses on problems even when they are in a great energy. With insight you will clearly be able to differentiate between them.

Understanding my gift allowed me to surrender fully to my purpose with no resistance and absolute trust in myself. Since then I’ve discovered the greatest insights of all, because everything I need flows to me, and I’m in complete alignment with my intuition. There are no words which can aptly describe waking every day with a deep knowing that this is what I am here to do, and then taking every step in alignment with it. This really is stepping into the flow of life. We are doing incredible work with the Enneagram as a direct result. Andy’s gift is to reform, to put right what he clearly sees wrong, and he has surrendered to his gift in everything he creates for, and achieves within, our business. He helps me see where things can be reformed and improved, I help him see the abundance. Together we make an incredible team, and are able to offer two clearly defined perspectives which we have weaved into one very powerful philosophy. This hugely expands upon what one of us could create individually. We are both living a deeply authentic life as a direct result.

To awaken to what we previously could not see, to acknowledge our purpose, gifts and talents, we had to discover ourselves. Then we had to make the conscious choice to apply everything we learned to every aspect of our lives. This is what we now share in all our work.

Andy came across the most incredible YouTube recently, made up of a compilation of Robin Williams’ films, which the creator of the video turned into a deeply profound piece of music. It’s 2.40 minutes long and well worth watching. The words are everything… You can watch the video here. Seize the day! Find your voice…

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