Hello, My name is Vicki and I am a 9. 🙂 This sounds funny, but if you are familiar with the Enneagram, you know just what I mean. The thing is, though, they say 9s are sloths. Hmm…not sure I like that. Don’t get me wrong – sloths are super cute. In fact, I have had the privilege of petting a sloth, and they are just as soft and cuddly as they look. But, yes, they are slow-moving and seem to not have a lot of direction or motivation in their daily lives beyond survival in the easiest way possible. And I happen to be a go-getter that is running in several directions at once…spinning multiple plates in the air…and getting things done!!! So…how am I a 9?
GOING 100 MPH
It’s truly all about the battle in my mind. If I stop long enough to consider reality, the things going 100 miles-an-hour in my head are really a coping-with-stress mechanism that chase away the sloth! I think I have a deep-seated and sort of hidden fear of not being significant –of fading into the background of life, worried that I don’t matter. So I run hard and get involved. I say “yes” to too many things. And then…I get stressed!
Then there is always the temptation to sit and do nothing. The inner child in me says, “The world is too big for you, it’s overwhelming…if you sit here on the couch you can watch it all pass by, and you will stay comfortable, cozy, peaceful. Just stay here…”
Yes, Vicki as a little girl can be pretty convincing –she knows all the buttons to push, all the persuasive comments that make adult Vicki want to listen to her, agree with her, cuddle up with a blanket and a book, and self-medicate with distraction so I don’t have to face the big bad world.
WE ALL CRAVE PEACE
The thing about 9s is, we all crave peace. We must have it at all costs. In every relationship, conversation, and task, we pursue peace.
Wow, can you see how there is a lot going on inside –all covered in a calm demeanor, exuding tranquility to everyone else?
9s also see all the angles at once. This is a great tool that gives way to being an ambassador and a bridge for people to meet in the middle and come to peaceful agreements. But, it also makes it difficult to know our own heart. We can see all the sides and they all make sense!
Do you see that the peaceful, easy-going 9 actually faces quite a bit of stress, but it’s usually under wraps?
So, today, I’d like to explore some dealing-with-stress tips for 9s.
DEALING WITH STRESS
Turn the Light On
I was speaking to a fellow 9, and she said this to me:
“Monsters are only scary until you turn on the light.”
She went on to explain the “big bad things” you run away from are only terrifying when you keep them inside, overthink them, and allow them to occupy space in your brain. When you take them out into the light and share them with others, they become so much smaller. Other people provide their opinions and insight, and all that was convoluted becomes clear.
For example, when you go into a dark room, it is easy to bump into things, stub your toe, fall, and make a mess of things. If you turn on the light, you can see all the obstacles, and skirt them, step over them, or even move them. This is the simple way to face the stress – turn on the light and look at all the things you are facing.
When the mental to-do list is screaming at you, it feels scary and overwhelming. You lack priorities and clarity. The temptation is to run away. But if you bring those mental to-do’s out into the light, you can see them in front of you; you are able to prioritize and make a plan. Then peace can freely invade your mind and heart; you will have all the energy you need to complete the list.
Make a Physical List
So, when things are creating chaos in your mind and the inner stress becomes unbearable, simply get a pen and paper and begin writing them all down as they float by the front of your mind’s eye. When you think you’ve captured them all, look at them, and rate them in order of importance. If this is not working because they are all important, group some together that can be done at the same time, or in categories that make sense. As you consider each one, a natural priority will emerge, and you will be making progress immediately. Progress provides fuel for the next thing- and it truly takes away the intimidating fears that stop you from winning!
Open Your Heart
Many 9s are internal processors, and do all their thinking and feeling on the inside –in the quiet hidden recesses of their minds and hearts. They often don’t have a ready answer to the questions, “What did you think about that movie?” “What do you think about what so-and-so said?” And if we have just come back from a mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting experience, such as a mission trip or a conference, we rarely can give an intelligent answer to the questions of “How was your trip?” We always have the polite platitudes at the ready, because we really don’t know how it was, how we feel about it, and what we think about all the things that happened. 9s need time to think it through, file it away, and then they are ready with a concise well-thought-out answer in a nice little peaceful package.
I am finding that not everyone appreciates this well-packaged answer…they want to explore the answers together and feel all things along with us. It is difficult to allow others into the sanctuary of our inner processing room, it is risky!
I would like to suggest that this risk is worthwhile! Being vulnerable and authentic (with people you have built trust with, of course) is a rewarding experience. And, yes, this also brings stress. But, truly, if we can get past the anxiety and discomfort, we can really love others well by letting them into the thought processes and wisdom that comes from seeing things from all the angles. That particular “superpower” gives others the opportunity to process their own opinions and grow, hearing things that they may never encounter if we do not share our hearts.
How can we deal with this particular stress? The relief to this one comes with the understanding that if we agree to take the risk of opening the doors and letting others in, the joy and growth that we inspire brings that ultimate peace we are craving. Holding it all in is not all that peaceful, because we are still having the conversation inside our hearts – it is so much more productive when it is spoken out loud and there are results from others.
So, fellow 9s, let’s remember 3 things:
- Turn the light on – the scary goes away when we expose the darkness.
- Make a physical list when things are all jumbled up inside your head, then prioritize, and accomplish things in order, for the win!
- Take the risk to open your heart to others and share your thoughts, feelings, and wisdom, giving others the greatness you carry inside you – love them well!