When I went through my “awakening” nearly six years ago and realized that I’d been “in my head” and fused with my thoughts for quite sometime, I sort of believed everyone struggled with this issue, (is it just me or do most people assume other people are like them??) But, as my personal growth and exploration have continued, I’ve discovered many aspects to my personality that help explain why I’m more prone to being “stuck in my head” than others.
The Enneagram has shed the most light on my personality. I’m undoubtedly a Type 1: The Perfectionist. As an aside, I get a kick out of the fact that I’m a Type 1 with Type 1 Diabetes. 🙂 Perfectionists have a deep desire to be “good” and avoid making mistakes. We have a very persistent critical inner voice (Sienna helped me name my Nutzo Butzo) that judges everything we do against the standard of perfection. Yes, it can be exhausting.
The thing is, we also evaluate all of our emotions as either good or bad. Therefore, when emotions such as anger, sadness, or anxiety arise, we tend to consider them unacceptable and therefore repress them. Turns out that my personality type is great at repressing emotions or using what’s technically called “reaction formation” to flip our emotions to something more acceptable, such as happiness, cheerfulness, etc. I think this explains why I thought I was “happy all the time” before anxiety took hold in mid-2013. In my mind, with my thoughts controlled, I kinda was.
All of the Enneagram resources explain that Perfectionists (Type 1) need to embrace acceptance in order to grow and shake themselves out of their personality patterns. I got such a kick out of that, since it’s the major lesson I stumbled upon in my awakening. I’ve also discovered, over and over again, how true it is for me. In order to let go of my thoughts and be present, I have to accept my thoughts, and most importantly, my feelings for what they are, without trying to change or control them.
Actively trying to “feel my feelings” is something I remind myself to do frequently. It’s like there’s this dichotomy – in any given moment I can either be aware of my thoughts or my feelings, but rarely both. The best way for me to get in touch with my true emotions is to defuse from my thoughts and judgments (let them come and go). When I don’t need to control my feelings by “flipping” them to a more acceptable/positive emotion, I am able to be fully present.
When I am present to my feelings, I get chocked up and teary on a daily basis. When I really take in a moment, looking at my child’s face or a sunset, listening to birds chirp or clouds slowly pass through the sky, there’s a deep peace and connectedness that feels like living.
I don’t want to analyze and evaluate my way through life. I don’t want to assess and judge all day long, every day. I want to directly experience my life and be fully awake for each moment. I want to feel things deeply and I want to connect with my loved ones.
Another way this mind/heart dichotomy plays out for me is in writing. I admire writers who write from the heart and share their deeply felt emotions. But, I struggle to do that kind of writing consistently because my default setting is to think about experiences rather than feel them. When I sit down to write a blog post, it’s like I’m looking for a thesis statement or central argument to share rather than getting in touch with my feelings and writing from that space. I imagine writing a blog post each morning that’s just a flow of all my thoughts and feelings in that particular moment. But, it’s been the fear of it not turning out just right that keeps me from doing it. Not this time.
For the next week, I’m going to write here each morning. It won’t be well thought out ahead of time. I’ll be getting back to the original concept of a blog – an online diary. Thank you for being here. 🙂