Staying away from classification
Everyone with a toddler knows vacation is just another word for DIY full-time child care. While family time is always an adventure, I am still not good at carving out time for myself during those periods. So here I am, trying to recuperate after a few days of a car trip.
I have been doing a bit of casual reading on Enneagram during this time. I can’t say I have enjoyed it as much as my psych class readings. However, keeping an open mind, I recognize it as another way, albeit simplified, to understand the human psyche. Many personality systems try to interpret the same reality of human nature. One writer wrote that each claim is just one slice of reality. That is probably closer to the truth. I am wary that, if taken as the whole truth, this can be just another dangerous device for classifying people. That is probably why I was a bit restless while reading it. No matter how sophisticated the writers want to describe each type, the simple fact of dividing people into a limited number of types will inevitably be too crude to understand something as complicated as the human psyche. This goes for planetary signs or any widely accepted personality systems such as the Myer Briggs. So the reading can be rather uninspiring. I will take it for what it is worth and leave the rest behind.
I am happy that I felt this way. My new instinct has an alarm for anything that is remotely related to the black/white way of looking at things, even if it is many shades of gray. I did spot a range of types that I closely resemble in the Enneagram. It is hard to pinpoint my exact type if there is one. I am not sure I care to. Perhaps there is validity in determining the exact type so we can understand our highest form and avoid any pitfalls. However, even if that is true, I am not sure I am ready. I am wary that my own old neural path will take this as an opportunity to pigeonhole myself and others around me. In fact, that old instinct was probably what made me feel uneasy while I was reading this. While it made me want to escape the narrow possibilities of being the system presented, it was also seducing the organizer in my old self to discover the “ultimate truth” of our personalities.
Maybe one day I will be so secure in my completely open self to see various slices of my reality in so-called systems without being tied down by it. For now, I will settle for the awareness of the possibility of various types of personality and stay with the uncertainty of it. Let the discovery increase in clarity on its own, as my own energy become more at home in my natural field. I also believe that while we might or might not have a dominant type or types, our being has the potential for fluidity in all types, in other words, all components of human personality. The dominant factors might show up differently according to whom we are with, what aspect of our life we are dealing with, or the development cycle we are in. It can also be differently expressed depending on what tasks we are trying to master even within the same day.
In truth, all theories, even those we learn in our officially approved psychology courses, narrow the way we look at people. It gives us some shortcuts to solutions by reducing the range of the information we need to consider. Given the limited time that we have each and everyone in our lives, a certain amount of shortcuts is inevitable for efficient judgment during interactions. However, given how we filter our present and future experiences with perceptions of the past, we must be forever aware of the impact these theories can limit and misguide us at any given time and space. The awareness won’t make us perfect in judging every situation; however, it will help us stay more open in our interactions. It will help us stay attuned to the totality of a moment or a person, instead of resorting to narrowing something down to a category as a default response. I believe openness is our biggest ally in staying present and connected to those sitting across from us, friends, family or clients.
For me, it also feels more secure to keep all the interpretations of ourselves and others’ actions as open as possible. This will not only reduce the impact of the automated reaction from our old coping mechanism but also expand the limit our existing knowledge framework has set. The key is to always stay connected to our own bodies instead of mental concepts. It is often mentioned in various personality systems, we lose our health, or energy balance, when we lose touch with our real selves and identify with what was expected in our own head. Staying connected with ourselves makes sure we are at the highest form of whatever possibility there is in us at that moment. Our interaction with others is how our energy field intersect with them. The more fluid we stay the better we can naturally attune to each other’s flow. As a healer, this is paramount. If fixed on a particular point or frame of thinking, we might not even realize where it hurts, let alone find the relief for ourselves or others. When our energetic fields are open, we can better provide or receive guidance using all the forms of intelligence endowed to our human form.
In the end, all slices of knowledge about the human psyche intrigue me, whether be it counseling theories, enneagram, horoscope, MBTI or zodiac. However, the most open ones will always provide the biggest potential in understanding and ultimately healing. So let us never become too comfortable with any categorizations and never be afraid of uncertainties. Absorbing a wide array of knowledge will provide more slices of reality about the human psyche. At the same time, maintaining the courage for the unknown and the patience to be still with our solution-seeking mind, we can bring powerful therapeutic energy to those we care.