Type Four: The Need to Be Special — Center for Action and Contemplation

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Type Four: The Need to Be Special

Enneagram Part Two: Heart Center

Type Four: The Need to Be Special
Friday, March 6, 2020

Holy Idea: Holy Origin

Virtue: Equanimity, Emotional Balance

Passion: Envy [1]

Fours once lived serenely as an essential part of a united and beautiful world. But at some point during childhood, the union and beauty were seemingly broken. So, for much of their lives, Fours desperately try to create an outer world of balance and symmetry. They put their gifts to work to awaken a sense of beauty and harmony in their surroundings. They are highly sensitive and almost always artistically gifted. They grasp the moods and feelings of other people and the atmosphere of places and events with uncanny precision.

Fours reject the division of the world into “sacred” and “profane.” They are more at home in the realm of the unconscious, of symbols and dreams, than in the real world. Symbols help them to be with and express themselves.

Like others in the Heart center, Fours draw their vital energy from other people. Their life question is: “What do you think of me? Do you notice me? Do I catch your eye?” Fours strive to be attractive in some way, to be exceptional, or, in some cases, to appear eccentric or exotic. Fours avoid ordinariness. They may panic when expected to look or act like everyone else.

The life of Fours is primarily shaped by longing—for beauty, for love, for something lost. They wish that the world and life would fit together into a harmonic whole. Fours face the temptation to strive frantically for authenticity. Children, nature, and everything that radiates originality awakens in them the longing for the simplicity and naturalness that they lost at some point.

Their root sin or passion is envy. They see immediately who has more style, talent, and original ideas. They constantly compare themselves with others, although not necessarily in a selfish way. This awareness hones their own giftedness.

Fours are better than most types at understanding and guiding people in psychic distress. They are not intimidated by the difficult, complicated, or dark feelings of others, since they themselves have lived through it all. They are perhaps the least scandalized by “sin” in others because they have learned so much from disorder, asymmetry, suffering, and failure.

Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson write:

In the process of transformation, Fours let go of a particular self-image—that they are more inherently flawed than others, and that they are missing something that others have. They also realize that there is nothing wrong with them; they are as good as anyone else. And if there is nothing wrong with them, then no one needs to rescue them. They are entirely able to show up for themselves and create their own lives. . . . At this stage, Fours no longer need to feel different or special, seeing that, indeed, the universe has created only one of them, and that they are part of everything else—not isolated and alone.

When Fours abide in their true nature, they are one with the ceaseless creativity and transformation that are a part of the dynamics of Essence. [2]

References and definitions:
[1] Christopher L. Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Zondervan: 2017), 123. Chris defines these terms as follows (see pages 246-248):

Holy Ideas: The unique state of mental well-being, specific to each of the nine types, in which the mind is centered and connected with the True Self.

Virtues: Like the nine fruits of the Spirit [see Galatians 5:22-23] the Virtues are . . . gifts of a centered heart that is present, nonreactive, and at rest in the True Self.

Passions: The inverse of the Virtues are the Passions . . . [which] emerge as the heart indulges the Basic Fear that it will never return to its essence and therefore seeks out coping mechanisms that ultimately compound each type’s state of emotional imbalance.

Chris’ new podcast, Enneagram Mapmakers: Exploring the Interior Landscapes of the Ego (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2020), will begin March 24, 2020 on most podcast platforms!

[2] Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types (Bantam Books: 1999), 203, 205.

Adapted from Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (The Crossroad Publishing Company: 2001, 2013), 98, 100, 101, 102, 108.

Image credit: Study for the Visitation (detail), Jacopo Pontormo, circa 1528, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: What does the heart bring us if we actually do abide in the heart, if we just let ourselves be still, be here? We feel this exquisite sensitivity and delicacy. It’s like the Body establishes “I am. I am here. I exist.” It brings me to the sacred now moment. The Heart then tastes what’s actually here, with exquisite awareness. The Heart knows the taste, the fabric, the texture of this moment. —Russ Hudson
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