Moving Beyond Your Number: Enneagram Seven
Sevens spend very little time in the present moment. This is unfortunate because the present moment is all we have. Sevens have much energy, but when they are not present, they place their energy into things that are not actually happening. Consequently, sevens prefer to anticipate the excitement of life rather than experience the real thing, but the present moment is all we have. They want to stay in anticipation because anticipation is not reality, and reality limits possibilities. Sevens will have a lifetime of disappointment until they can get to the present moment. You must put your energy into what is happening right now.
Sevens scan the horizon for traps that lead to despair. They fear they will fall into a trap that will keep them from experiencing all of the pleasure life has to offer, so they leave the present moment to scan the horizon from their heads. Sevens are called epicures because they, more than people of any other type, are driven to experience the fullness of life. Herein lies the irony and tragedy of the seven: They leave reality to scan for a trap that might keep them from experiencing pleasure, only to miss the gratification they seek. Their strategy to avoid a trap has snared them. Not being present in the moment is the trap. The ironic becomes tragic when gratification continues to elude, and the seven increases the “dosage” or intensity of an experience in hopes of finding enjoyment. However, their failure to be present to what they have thwarts their every attempt, and the dosage increases and results in addiction.
We cannot be present to reality if we are in touch with our heads alone. We must be in touch with our entire body to be present to what is. When you become grounded in your body, the world is experienced on a visceral level. Life hits you in your body and becomes more real. You can become present to the world from your gut through contemplative prayer. I use an app on calm.com to pay attention to my body each day. I try to pay special attention to my chest and stomach until those areas feel heavy. Go ahead, spend time paying attention to the weight of your head, and then compare it to the weight of your body. Your head may feel heavy, while the rest of you feels light. Try to balance them until both feel heavy. This balancing builds a residual awareness level with your body that you can carry around throughout the day. Once you are grounded in your body, your feelings and the feelings of others will become real. From this place, thinking, feeling, and sensing become integrated. Until you do this work, your mind will continue to keep you from feeling your feelings; and when we catalogue our feelings rather than process them, our feelings begin to silently control us in powerful and painful ways. Mary O’Malley defines compulsions as those things we do repeatedly to manage our feelings but end up managing us. Sevens need to get in touch with their feelings via their body so their personality does not manage them.
Sevens, your desire to avoid the dark side of life can keep you from reflecting on your mistakes. You are prone to reframe conflict so that blame falls on everyone but you. You must engage in honest self-reflection. You are not prone to self-reflect since it is not much fun, but do it anyway. You might try to practice the Daily Examen. This Christian practice will help you look at the difficult situations in your past and ask, “What was my part in this? Was that my fault?” If your initial answer is “nothing,” reflect again. Our pain has at least two sides.
You might also consider journaling as a method of sifting through your past. It can be merely six sentences, but you have to write about the hurtful things in your life, and you have to write about your part. Try journaling in a plain journal for ten minutes on a typical Monday. Don’t write like you are trying to change your life; just write about it. Once you write about it, you can put it away. You won’t have to do it again.
A seven who has sifted through their past, touched their pain, and is present here and now will be an exceptional seven indeed. They will find the joy they seek, and will undoubtedly share it with others. It will be powerful.