The Story of You – Ian Morgan Cron

Argh yet another book on the Enneagram! If you do not know what it is, the Enneagram describes types of personalities. What Ian Morgan cron does in The Story of You is more than describing what those personalities are. He describes them as stories we have been accustomed to believe from our childhood in order to meet basic needs such as being loved, approved, safe or finding peace.

What’s the issue then? The author gets quickly to the point. Those stories do not work… or not anymore. At some point, we hit a wall. The stories of our childhood lead us nowhere close to what we were looking for. As adults, we realize our needs are unmet or met partially and temporarily.

Understanding the story of our Enneagram type helps us to understand our motives and the patterns we have followed. Then, we can learn to get to a better story. The author offers the SOAR method to change: See, Own, Awaken, and Rewrite for each Enneagram type:

  • See: “uncover all the false, self-limiting stories and mistaken beliefs”
  • Own: “[Explore] both the shadow sides as well as the strengths of each type.”
  • Awaken: “[Wake] up to how certain situations and stresses can trigger us to fall back into the old narrative.”
  • Rewrite (or agere contra): “[Address] past and present readies us for making choices in light of the future.”

“We can be attached to patterns of behaviour that seemingly make us feel safer, be they our insecurities, doubts, or unwillingness to be pulled out of our comfort zones. They prevent us from living our lives fully in the way the Lord intends. When we live our lives in Spirit and in Truth, we live in a true freedom. Agere contra helps us to confront those things that hold us back from such freedom; better yet, it helps us to grow into this freedom.” (pp. 27-28 – quote from Edmund Lo)

The nine types can be grouped in three:

  • 8-9-1 (dealing with anger)
  • 2-3-4 (dealing with rejection)
  • 5-6-7 (dealing with fear)

The author oddly starts with the type eight also known as The Challenger

  • See (the origin story)

Type eights live in the conflict. They have learned early in life that that the world is a place where only the strong survives. The weak is crushed. So they believed in the lie that they had to stand up and fight for themselves. Innocence and vulnerability are signs of weakness. They cannot rely on anyone else than themselves. No one can be trusted unless they show truly loyalty. So they have developed confidence in their abilities.

“They must conquer the world before it turns on them and disintegrates into the chaos they often experienced in their childhood.” (p. 35).

Their motto is: “do to others what they would do to you.” They do not want to be controlled, so they seek to control others. They believe they are invincible and they can do anything they want. No one can tell them what to do. They only respect power and strength.

  • Own (Strengths and Weaknesses)

The type eight’s strengths is confidence and leadership. They take initiative and give a sense of security to those who follow them. They do not back down from critics and difficulties. On the contrary, they thrive when they are challenged.

“Eights can be fiercely protective and coach others on how they should fight harder. They may question or criticize others for not handling situations the way they would: You can’t let him walk all over you like that! Get in his face! Unskillful Eights who are stuck in their old story do not tend to apologize, or at least not easily.” (p. 36)

The eights’ weaknesses are power-lust, lack of self awareness, forgiveness and compassion. Their relationships are conflictual since “conflict can actually become their way of expressing intimacy.” (p. 36). Those they see as weak have little room and often get stomped.

“Eights who lack self-awareness don’t seek forgiveness—they won’t own their offense, feel genuine remorse for how they’ve hurt another, or try to rebuild trust. Instead, they ask forgiveness for what others blame them for, not for what they see in themselves and are vulnerable enough to admit. It’s almost as if they’re saying Too bad you can’t handle someone as powerful as I am.” (pp. 36-37)

  • Awaken (Counting the cost)

Type eights awaken when they start caring for others. Instead of fighting for themselves, they fight for others.

“Replacing the old mantra ‘do others before they do you’ came a new script: ‘Do for others and it will be done for you.’ ” (p. 38)

  • Rewrite (from the Passion of lust to the Virtue of innocence)

The story of the eight contradicts the story God has for His people. Self-reliance, power and strength are contradictions with the Gospel. The Gospel calls for humility and dependence on God. Many times the Bible says, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matt 23:12).

“Eights need to see that adopting a pusillanimous posture isn’t strength—it’s faintheartedness masquerading as toughness. Dominican priest Simon Tugwell described Christians as those who ideally live a “radically unprotected life” in cruciform shape. They dare to outstretch their arms and bravely expose their hearts to the world the way Jesus did on the cross” (p. 42)

The type nine is the Peacemaker

  • See (the origin story)

“Most Nines internalize from childhood: conflict is scary, anger must be avoided, and to stay connected to other people it’s vital to stay attuned to their moods and go with the flow.” (pp. 51-52)

The Nine are afraid that the external world disrupts their inner peace. People may react in ways that are too much for them to handle. So they believe that the best way to keep peace is to avoid conflicts even to the detriment of their own needs.

“Better to become invisible than to voice my needs, feelings, and preferences.” (p. 54)

They bought into the story that what they need and desire are not worth bothering others. On the contrary, they may be able to meet their needs if they put themselves aside. They prefer to be kind than angry. If everyone is happy, then they are happy as well. As result, they struggle making decisions. They procrastinate to escape the stress of deciding. They lack initiative “because change—even positive change—is scary and requires that they burn calories. […] If they don’t wake up and make the choice to inhabit a new story, Nines can end up with a life that’s unworthy of their gifts and spirit.” (p. 58)

“The tendency to procrastinate, is related to their inability to figure out what they want.” (p. 57)

  • Own (Strengths and Weaknesses)

The Nines struggle to make decisions. They run away from conflictual situations. They are passive-aggressive. They do not know how to deal with anger and eventually blow up.

However, they have many qualities. They are quick to love, and slow to judge. They do not seek recognition for what they do. They are also able to understand others well since they have learned to read people to avoid disrupting their harmony.

“Healthy Nines can actually be difficult to type as well, but for a different reason: they have beautifully integrated the strengths of the other numbers.” (p. 59)

  • Awaken

“Worst case, they continue acquiescing to the decisions of others at the expense of their own sense of identity. Trapped in their old story, they say, “It doesn’t matter to me as much as it does to you—whatever you want is fine,” while inside, perhaps subconsciously, their true self becomes angrier and more stubborn. Left unchecked, undeveloped Nines may seem like pleasant, easygoing people at first but then quickly become passive-aggressive as their resentment grows over the way they accommodate others to keep the peace.” (p. 60)

  • Rewrite (from the Passion of sloth to the Virtue of right action)

“For Nines, agere contra starts with the mere decision to do something.” (p. 62)

Healthy Nines realize people actually appreciate them for so many of their qualities. They have so much kindness and compassion to give.

“When others disagree or a conflict develops, awakened Nines realize that it’s okay. They see how much they’ve mentally exaggerated the potential fallout from facing a problem with someone head-on.” (p. 63)

“One important activity for them is to make a list of all their default numbing strategies: surfing online, gaming (yes, crossword puzzles and Sudoku count), listening to podcasts, eating donuts, binge-watching HBO, or whatever.” (p. 65)

“One thing I’ve noticed about Nines who are spiritually asleep is that they routinely discount their own desires and anticipate that others will discount them too” (p. 66)

“When they toss out their old stories, Nines often become incredibly self-aware leaders. They embody a kind of wholeness and grounded soulfulness that combines the superpowers of the other eight types.” (p. 67)

The type one is usually called the Improver or the Perfectionist.

  • See (the origin story)

The type one grew up as the kids who do the right thing. They are often appreciated by their parents. Their parents might have raised them with very high standards. Or it can be the opposite. Their homes were messy and inconsistent. Therefore, they have to be the ones who improve and restore their families.

They have believed they must be perfect to be accepted and appreciated. No one would accept them if they are flawed. They also believe they have a mission: make things right. What they want is not what matters the most. It is about what’s necessary. If they don’t do what is right, the world will crumble. Who can do as well as they do anyway?

“Even if no one is watching, One kids tend to follow the rules and set a good example. They have high standards for the world and, most of all, for themselves.” (p. 70)

“Ones work so hard to be perfect and then wonder why everyone else can’t relate. Which is ironic, of course, because they first started forming their One story in order to fit in, to please, to exceed expectations, to uphold rules and principles—all in order to get their needs met for control, esteem, and safety.” (p. 73)

  • Own (Strengths and Weaknesses)

The strengths of the One is to make things right. They do not overlook what is wrong and seek to improve it. They are driven people who do the “right thing.” However, they can be overbearing. They can be overly critical and corrective. There is always a “right way” even when things are not clearly defined. They do not understand how others cannot uphold the standards they have for themselves and for everyone.

“The compulsion to improve themselves and others becomes a problem when Ones start believing that enough is never enough. No matter how good they are, they still feel that they’re not good enough. Theirs is the story of religious legalists who are committed to meritocracy, earning their goodness every day while secretly knowing it won’t last.” (p. 78)

  • Awaken

“The cost of the story Ones tell themselves adds up quickly: simmering resentment just below the surface waiting to boil over, self-condemnation and contempt for their imperfections, and exhaustion from always striving to improve and do more.” (p. 80)

On one hand, the type ones cannot stand leaders who don’t share their values or commitment to integrity. On the other hand, they feel resentment for all who are lazy and are not working as hard as they do.

“Ones have a complex relationship with anger. While Eights overexpress it and Nines underexpress it, Ones internalize it.” (p. 81)

“For Ones, we have to accept that life is not as it should be. We operate in a world filled with unbearable disappointment and loss. To truly be free, we have to find our way in the midst of our brokenness to move toward a more hopeful future.” (p. 82)

  • Rewrite (from the Passion of anger to the Virtue of serenity)

“Creating a new story requires Ones to rethink how they view the world. They have to shift paradigms, from absolutes to both/ands, from being righteous to being in relationship.” (p. 82)

Type ones need to relax. They will realize that the world will go fine without them. They allow others to choose their own ways of doing life. Rather than condemning themselves for failing the world, they need to find forgiveness. Rather than condemning others for failing, they need to “applaud them for trying” (p. 86).

“In order to break out of their legalistic mind-set, healthy Ones practice the spiritual discipline of stillness and Sabbath rest.” (p. 84)

Type twos are the Helpers.

  • See (the origin story)

The type Twos believe that they must give in order to receive. They are driven by the appreciation of others.

“The road to receiving the love, affirmation, and security every child needs became for Twos a matter of pleasing and giving. They started weaving a story around the false belief that they were not allowed to have or express their own needs. To do so would be considered selfish, and a shameful rejection of the family rules.” (p. 90)

They are helpers and do not need help. They actually believe their needs are too much for others to handle. They are afraid they will be rejected and abandoned if they confess their excessive needs. The only way for them to feel worthy is to gain others’ approval by pleasing them. They believe they are either indispensable or worthless.

“The false story Twos tell themselves is that being open about their own needs will only reveal their unlovable true selves, leading to humiliation and rejection, so they work at being indispensable to those around them.” (pp. 93-94)

The underlying desire is that those who are helped are expected to return the favor – even if they are told they do not need to do it.

“As they grow up, Twos also begin to gravitate toward meeting the needs of others in ways that reflect their own.” (p. 92)

  • Own (Strengths and Weaknesses)

The Twos’ strengths are their positive and helpful attitude. They show up when there is a need to fulfill.

“Twos buy into their old story and assume no one would like or want them just for who they are. They mistakenly believe that, if they stopped helping, giving, and serving, then others would abandon them. So, they continue ingratiating themselves in ways that are, paradoxically, often generous and disingenuous at the same time.” (p. 94)

However, Twos are confusing for those who are helped. They are helped with expectation of reciprocation. If they fail to do so, the Two may start to act as under-appreciated saints. At times, they may become clingy in desperation to be needed. They judge those ungrateful and unworthy of them. Unfortunately, it may reinforce their beliefs that they do not need help or that their needs are too great for others.

“Once Twos realize their usual methods are driving others away, they judge anyone who withdraws from them as ungrateful and unworthy. They reinforce their story by creating walls and acting as if they don’t need anything from others.” (p. 96)

  • Awaken

The twos often bind their happiness to others’ happiness. When they become more aware of their motives, they will start to distinguish their happiness from others and start to stand up for themselves.

  • Rewrite (from the passion of pride to the virtue of humility)

“There is a “where would the world be without me?” nature to the pride of a Two.” (p. 99)

“What lies at the other side of this process is the Virtue of the Two: humility. This means finally accepting that they don’t have all the time, treasure, and insight to help everyone.” (p. 100)

Twos need to pay attention to their own needs. Understanding motives and emotions is a first step to become healthy. They may see their need to release unconscious grudges and debts others “owe” them.

Type three is the Performer.

  • See (the origin story)

The Performers believe that overachieving is the way to receive love, admiration and acceptance. The more they do, the more they get praised. Conforming to the expectations is not enough. They must exceed to be viewed favorably by those around. They work hard and care about the image they present to others. “The origin story of Threes revolves around their central belief cemented early in life: they can’t be loved simply for who they are” (p. 108). Success is the key to be loved.

“They have to be smarter, stronger, faster, and more prepared than anyone else. Fueled by the desire to please such a demanding audience and to avoid the shame and anger associated with whatever constituted losing, these Threes didn’t stop until they were on top. Their pattern of success became their identity.” (p. 109)

“While everyone wants parental approval at some level, Threes want it but don’t always realize it when they get it.” (p. 110)

  • Own (Strengths and Weaknesses)

The Threes have many qualities that people appreciate. They are knowledgeable, savvy, personable, and admirable. They are leaders who work hard, but also expect others to work as hard as they do. They are driven, organized, and efficient. They are able to juggle with multiple things at the same time.

“Of all the types, Threes often appear to be the most confident, laser-focused, and put-together.” (p. 111)

However, Threes need to put up a mask since they need to project this winner image. They can hide and pretend as long as they preserve that image. They struggle with shame and do not know how to respond emotionally. They are also unaware about others’ emotions because they have little understanding of their own. They often display a resume facade with all of their accomplishments. They “like being personable to everyone but personal with very few” (p. 107).

“Threes who are stuck in an old story don’t have an awareness of an identity, a true self, beyond what they do, so it’s often confusing and even terrifying when others call them out or glimpse more of who they truly are.” (p. 113)

“When pressed on internal change or required by others to reveal themselves, Threes may grow insecure and retreat into denial and incredulity. Perhaps the most image-conscious of all Enneagram types, Threes may also channel their frustration into vanity and narcissism, clinging to the belief that others must never see ’em sweat, that they must always be dressed for success, well-groomed and ready to go into action. Threes know how to look the part no matter what’s going on around them. Fake it ’til you make it was the message graffitied in the minds of all up-and-coming Performers.” (pp. 113-114)

  • Awaken

Unfortunately, the Threes hardly see a need for change. Indeed they live in a lie where they are what mankind offer at best. They only come to realization through a “massive quake” (p. 114). Their marriage or career falls apart. etc. Then they finally accept the possibility that there is something wrong within, and start to work to see their true and authentic self.

  • Rewrite (from the passion of deceit to the virtue of authenticity)

Threes have been so busy working on their image than the best way to start a change is to slow down and reflecting on what is going on inside.

“They’ve had a lot of years of unconsciously focusing on doing more so they wouldn’t have to explore those very feelings. So, getting to authenticity involves a deep dive into their own feelings, and that means pausing to regularly take their own temperature.” (pp. 117-118)

They start to acknowledge their darkness and emotions. They may find a few people who can listen to them without shaming them for their faults.

“Threes, you know you’re doing good work when you believe you’re loved for doing nothing but simply being. And that’s a better story.” (p. 122)

The Type Four is called the Romantic or Individualist.

  • See (the origin story)

Like everybody else, Fours grew up in search of love, security, affirmation and acceptance. The world being broken as we know, the Fours did not receive all that perfectly. Fours being idealists, they started to believe that something was wrong with them. They cannot be loved according to their idea of love because they believe they are missing something that everybody else seems to have. They struggle fitting in their family, at school, at work, and in this world. They feel misunderstood and invisible. Therefore, they try to get the appreciation and acceptance by standing out and seeking to be special. Here is how they think:

“It’s probably my fault when a relationship goes south. I feel things more deeply than other people. Life will always be vaguely disappointing. I’m magically special. Because I’m defective I’ll be abandoned. I will be denied the love I seek. I need someone to complete me. I will never be understood. I don’t have the magic key to happiness that other people are born with. I can’t be ordinary.” (p. 129)

  • Own (Strengths and Weaknesses)

Fours have a great sense of imagination. They are creative and seek to innovate. They have also a cynical sense of humor. They also desire deep relationships. They search for authenticity and what’s true. They have a great awareness of their emotional state. They are actually called individualist because they spent much time analyzing their feelings.

“They can sniff out anything fake with the tenacity of a bloodhound. They crave genuine interactions and know instantly when other people are merely putting on a show or furthering their own agenda.” (p. 132)

On the downside, they are moody. They are self-absorbed. They dwell on pain for a long time and replay in their minds hurtful situations. They fill their minds with regrets about past opportunities. They also do not like to comply, and do not like to be corrected. It reminds them that something is missing. They suffer the imposter or outsider syndrome. They lack confidence. They are afraid that someone finds out how they are broken and that they do not belong where they are. They are sometimes called the withdrawn type because they retreat when there are opportunities to connect – afraid of being found out.

“They desperately want to be understood, but when they are understood they worry that they’re just like everyone else instead of unique and special.” (p. 130)

“They think they deserve so much more because no one recognizes how special they are or sees how much talent, potential, intelligence, and creativity they have. Their unrecognized genius becomes proof that no one will ever understand them.” (p. 130)

  • Awaken

Fours awaken when they realize that everybody else is flawed, and they stop trying to stand out. They move on to the new story when they refuse to dwell on all the negative and be thankful for the positive. Instead of hoping for the ideal romantic partner (which they will never have), they need to appreciate what they already have. They would start to live in the present instead of the past.

“They realize that being authentic occurs when they stop trying to prove how different they are, no matter how long they may have refused to see the truth.” (p. 133)

  • Rewrite (from the passion of envy to the virtue of equanimity)

Type fours envy. Profoundly and deeply. They do not envy material things, but who others are. They wish they could have the missing piece that others have. They often look at the other types and wish to be any of them.

“Fours envy other people’s contentment and the apparent ease with which they seem to move in the world. They tend to presume that other people just haven’t suffered as much as they have. Other people seem to have an easier time of it. And that can sometimes give Fours a little feeling of superiority because, if they’re not careful, they can become addicted to their own suffering.” (p. 136)

They can rewrite their story if they decide to live in the present, and learn to do the right thing day after day.

“Fours in a new story understand the truth about themselves: they are already enough.” (p. 137)

“To combat envy and arrive at equanimity, one of the most crucial spiritual exercises for Fours is to express gratitude every day.” (p. 139)

“Realize that being self-critical and judgmental is often envy in disguise.” (p. 139)

“Discover the forms of beauty that best nourish and replenish your soul” (p. 140)

The type five is the investigator or observer.

  • See (the origin story)

The Fives fear an unpredictable and overwhelming world. Fives believe they do not have enough resources to handle it. They fear to be exhausted by the demands of others. So they retreat in knowledge to protect themselves, and to gain “what most of us get from relationships—namely love, support, and community” (p. 145). Information is power to fight chaos and disruption. Indeed, they live in their head and detach themselves from their heart.

“Fives are committed to the belief early in life that they would never have enough of what they need to survive—not only enough information but enough resources, time, money, privacy, and self-sufficiency.” (p. 146)

Fives grew up seeking self-dependence, learning new knowledge and minimizing their emotional and material needs. Here are their beliefs:

“It’s safer to observe than to participate. If I open up to relationships, people will demand more than I have or want to give. If I’m spontaneous or express my feelings in the moment, others will disapprove and I’ll feel embarrassed and out of control. The more I know, the safer I’ll be. Self-sufficiency is the key to my happiness. Other people’s needs and emotional dramas will overwhelm me.” (p. 149)

  • Own (Strengths and Weaknesses)

Fives are analytical and organized in their minds. Since they are detached from their emotions, they stay calm in times of crisis. They offer structure to the disorder others create. Their responses are thoughtful and objective, which makes them great resources to others.

However, their old story get them stuck socially and emotionally. Fives may appear to others as odd. They retreat when they feel overwhelmed by others. They have difficulty to read people and have normal discussions. They can overload others with information, and feel overloaded with their feelings. They may also look neglected on the outside since they do not care about physical bodies.

“While these structural systems served them well while growing up and needing to control chaos or avoid engulfment by others, by adulthood they can become rigid, obsessive, and dysfunctional” (pp. 153-154).

  • Awaken

Fives have difficulties to relate to others. When they try, they may indeed feel insecure and rejected reinforcing their story that the world is unpredictable, that they do not have enough resources to deal with it and that it’s best for them to stick with what they know.

  • Rewrite (from the passion of avarice to the virtue of nonattachment)

Fives start rewriting their stories when they realize they can serve others through their knowledge. They are attached to their need to have enough energy for themselves and to control their environment.

“The Virtue of nonattachment isn’t about disconnecting further from people but realizing why they desired to cut themselves off in the first place.” (p. 159)

Fives can learn to take care of their body. They can grow in their social interactions, and take the risk of being known by others. They will understand they “have an abundance of [themselves] to give” (p. 160)

Type six is called the Loyalist.

  • See (the origin story)

The Six’s story is centered on fear. As children, they believe that they cannot survive on their own. They are anxious about danger, and as result, they seek someone who would protect them such as parents.

“They’re loyal for a reason, at least initially, receiving whatever strength they’re convinced they’re unable to provide for themselves.” (p. 163)

Six believe they do not have what it takes to make good decisions. They need the support of others to remove their doubts and insecurities. Another way to deal with their issue is to follow standards created by reliable authorities. Six appreciate leaders whom they can trust to care for them.

“Careful listeners, they like following leaders who respect them and explain the rules and, more importantly, the reason for the rules.” (p. 165)

However, Six do not all appear to be fearful of any danger. They can be divided in two groups. The first is called “phobic.” Those six stay away from dangers. The second is called “counterphobic” and contrary to the first group, they fight fire with fire.

“At the heart of their narrative, Sixes commit to becoming fear’s dance partner, sometimes following and sometimes taking the lead.” (p. 166)

“The story Sixes tell themselves isn’t the story God tells. If left hidden and unchallenged their faulty beliefs will eternalize their old story. The phrase ‘do not be afraid’ appears 365 times in scripture. Sixes who want to live in a better, truer story have to surface and put the screws to their unconscious assumptions: ‘Does God want me to believe that I’m alone and defenseless in a chaotic and uncertain world?’ ” (p. 167)

  • Own (Strengths and Weaknesses)

Strangely, one of the Six’s greatest strength is to be brave and to intervene in times of crisis. They spend so much time figuring out the best way to avoid danger that they are the most ready. The downside is they can be paralyzed as well by the fear that nothing would go the way they have planned.

  • Awaken

“Sixes who are ready to live in a new story start by waking up to the reality that most of their fears don’t actually materialize.” (p. 170)

  • Rewrite (from the passion of fear to the virtue of courage)

The Six may need to face their worst fears in order to be liberated. They realize that what they fear is not as bad as they thought. They find resources to confront those fear where they did not suspect.

“Being courageous is when you feel all the fear but you choose to do it anyway because there’s something more important at stake.” (p. 173)

Six are afraid for themselves, but they can overcome that when they see that there are other things or people that matters to them more. They also need to pay attention to how much power they give to those they decide to be loyal. Being controlled may feel easier than making wrong choices, but if they choose to embrace mistakes, Six can grow in making decision on their own.

“Sixes can be our freedom fighters, not running from fear and not reacting against it, instead acknowledging fear with healthy respect while stepping forward to do what needs doing.” (p. 176)

The last type is the Seven also called the Enthusiast.

  • See (the origin story)

Sevens are optimists. They are happy people who seem to be untouchable by suffering. They always see the good side of life. Things could be worse. They believe they get to choose the type of life they want which always ends with a “happily ever after.” At their core, Sevens fear pain and run away from it. They trick themselves and reframe their experiences in way that removes suffering. They have learned to ignore pain through lying to themselves. They avoid looking within. They toss away disturbing feelings through hyper-activity.

“No one can manufacture optimism continuously without sacrificing a part of their humanity. Life’s challenges are unavoidable and produce seasons of loss, disappointment, and wounding.” (p. 179)

“It’s hard for them to hear that we have a God who opens himself to suffering, that Jesus is the Suffering Servant, that the more we avoid pain the less we become like him.” (p. 183)

  • Own (Strengths and Weaknesses)

Sevens have many strengths. They are fun and enthusiast. They bring the energy and the positivism so many need. They are spontaneous and find ways to find solutions to difficulties. They are able to use common and boring material to make it attractive and interesting. They are also busybodies. They like doing many things at the same time. They are not afraid of having too much on their plate.

However, Sevens cannot stay still. They fear boredom. They have difficulty to connect with other people and build intimacy. They do not know how to rest and find time for relating. Also, they cannot handle routine and conformity. They have the need to explore and cross boundaries.

“Addictive behavior, in fact, symbolizes the theme of the Seven’s false narrative, an impatient demand for instant gratification in order to avoid their fear of never having enough of what they think they need.” (p. 188)

  • Awaken

Eventually Sevens get stuck when they experience something they cannot handle. They are forced to look within and reflect.

“Taking time to examine their lives, they come to terms with key losses and unacknowledged trauma. They grieve what they didn’t have in childhood that they should have and accept that there’s nothing they can do to change the past.” (p. 190)

They will finally realize their hyper-activity is just escape from reality. Moving from one thrill to another cannot fulfill them. They are confronted by their inner emptiness.

  • Rewrite (from the passion of gluttony to the virtue of sobriety)

Rewriting the Seven’s story starts with pausing, resting and reflecting. They are forced to meditate on their painful experiences and accept the fact that God and others may meet their needs. Instead chasing after new things and never be satisfied, they learn to be sober. They do so by facing pain as part of what we are experiencing as human beings.

“Sobriety is the way of freedom for Sevens. It’s about resisting the constant temptation for more, more, more and resting in the knowledge that there is already enough.” (p. 191)

I appreciate the Story of you because it does not present the Enneagram as types of personality, but as stories we have trusted to fulfill our deepest desires. In other words, those stories describe the sinful and destructive patterns we have followed to meet needs only God can provide in full. Those stories shows our idolatrous ways we need to confess. Using the Enneagram to justify and reinforce our behavior is refusing to repent and hardening our hearts again God.

As I reflect on these enneagram stories, I find them deeply saddening and discouraging. We, as human beings, are all so desperate for love, approval, joy, safety, and still, we act in ways that hurt ourselves and others. Our culture shouts “love and happiness for all” but is completely dismayed by the every day news. We all want the same goodness, but cannot be achieved. Why? Because we are all stuck before this wall that is called sin. Some may think it is selfishness – but is being loved an happy selfish? The truth is that we have not found a way to reach that heaven outside of Heaven. So we sink deeply in our stories. We grow old repeating the same patterns that seemed to work – or at least that we are convincing ourselves to be working.

And that is also true of Christians.

As type four, I repeat these patterns resulting from my belief that I am different and I am missing something others have. Rejecting this belief all together would be lying though. I indeed grew up being the only Asian around. I was bullied too many times for that. I am still struggling finding my place. So why not feeling different since I have had major differences with my social surroundings?

I think Christians claim to be free and happy too quickly (Matt 13:20-21). We have this social media syndrome. We all (maybe except type Fours) present to others this happy-forever-after life with pictures of our vacation, and deny being stuck in our old patterns. The truth is we are doomed to be stuck. Or let’s call it “plateau” since many of us use that term. It is just a matter of time before deep sufferings catch up with us. So let’s stop denying it – especially Christians who think that everything will be fine if we make the right choices and do the right things.

So far the book has been useful to bring attention on what is wrong. Though Morgan Cron explains how to rewrite each type’s story, I felt somewhat disappointed by the self-help flavor. For example, he advise for the type two, “In all cases, do what must be done to forgive others. Then forgive yourself for resenting and begrudging them for so long” (p. 102). Such counsel can be useful, but lacks of power. Once in a while, he would draw the attention back to the Larger story of God. For example, he writes for threes, “While all of us need to hear we’re loved for who we are and not just what we do, Threes must come to terms with this daily. Remember: you are a reflection of a son or daughter of the Divine. Threes, you know you’re doing good work when you believe you’re loved for doing nothing but simply being. And that’s a better story.” (p. 122). I was craving to read more about God’s better story for us. Fortunately, the last chapter of the book focuses on that Larger Story.

” ‘Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.’ That’s what the playwright Eugene O’Neill once said through a character in his play The Great God Brown, and he was right.” (p. 196)

The Larger Story is the story God has written where He is the main character and where we have a role to play.

Now this said, I have mixed feelings about this last chapter and the book in general. There is lack of explicit confession and repentance. Though our needs are legitimate and brokenness real, false stories we trust are idolatry that we need to confess with contrition. Yes it hurts to say it. We just wanted to be happy, but we sinned against God by searching other saviors. The good news is that God is gracious to welcome us in Christ. It is His glory to satisfy our deepest needs. Also there is too little Gospel, and too little Scripture. I wish Ian Morgan Cron would have lavished us with what God has done for us. He did a bit though, and here is the most beautiful passage of the book:

“It struck me. Of course Jesus was in the trash—this is the crux of the Larger Story of God! It’s the true tale of a God who willingly plunged into our fallen, often dumpster-ish world to restore and redeem us. Though we still bear life’s inevitable cracks and scars, God fills them with luxuriant love, making us resplendent. Now, like the pierced risen Christ, we can proudly display our mended wounds to the people of the world and announce that they, too, can be restored.” (p. 197)

Jesus is the savior, which means more than taking us from hell to heaven. Not only He saves us from eternal damnation, but also from ourselves. When we have come to the end of ourselves and surrender to Him, He starts the work of redemption. He takes our broken-by-sin being to make it anew. He helps us see how we have wrongfully sought happiness, love, peace, safety outside of Him. And He offers us a better story. Here is what God offers for each type:

  • Type one: God’s love is unconditional, and not based on how perfect you are. (Rom 5:8)
  • Type two: You cannot earn God’s love through giving because it is already yours in Christ. (Eph 2:8-9)
  • Type three: You will not impress God by your accomplishments because only Christ makes you valuable in His eyes (Php 3:3-9).
  • Type four: Something is missing indeed, but Christ died for the broken (all of us) that you may be known, loved and made complete (Rom 8:29-39).
  • Type five: You do not need to retreat from an unpredictable world because Christ offers you safety despite the surrounding circumstances (Php 4:6-7)
  • Type six: Put your trust in nothing else than Christ the true savior who will never let your story end wrongly (Rev 21:4-7).
  • Type seven: You know pain is inevitable and running around will not change that. Instead, face it not alone, but with Christ who knows too well what suffering is and can sympathize with you (Matt 11:28-29).
  • Type eight: Your safety does not depend on your strength, but humble yourself and rely on Christ who does not seek to take advantage of you, but desires what is best for you (2 Cor 7:2, Php 2:1-8).
  • Type nine: God sees you through and is not angry at you for wanting. You lower God by thinking “better safe than sorry.” On the contrary, it is His glory to accept you and to satisfy your needs in Christ (Ps 40:17).

Hear me out: The Good News is that Christ came into our stories to redeem them so that we may be part of His Better story! Now we may practice some of the advice given in this book, but fundamentally, what we need is to read the truths about God and ourselves. It means meditating on Scripture to correct our false and misplaced beliefs, and to renew our belief in what God says about us.

Today, I read 1 Pe 1:3-7:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Let me show you how this is encouraging to me as a type four. Type Fours always dwell on past pain and hurt – which filled my life in the past few years. I often feel abandoned, disappointed and angry at others and at God. But this passage reminds me:

  1. The hope that is coming. Without denying past hurt, I do not have to dwell by them because there is a hope and an inheritance for me.
  2. This hope is guaranteed by God’s power because of Christ. It won’t be taken away from me despite possible beliefs that I am not not good enough and unworthy.
  3. My past and current pain and trials are tests to purify my faith so that it may be refined like gold and glorifying to God. When I dwell on difficult experiences, I see injustice and evil. So I want revenge and destruction, but 1 Pe 1:3-7 reminds me that God is purifying me that my faith may be genuine. When I want revenge, what does it say about my faith in Rom 12:19-21? Do I believe God is just?

Not only would the truths of the Good News help us individually, but also as people of God. We often wonder how our relationship with God matters since the problem is what others can or cannot do to us. If each one of us was being transformed by Scripture, then would we not be able to provide for each other more love, approval, kindness, peace and safety? If this is not happening, then we should question if there is any faith in our churches. My prayer for all of us is:

God, let us be the truth that is in Christ.

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