The Enneagram is often called a “map” because it guides us to our patterns. These patterns manifest in our sub-conscious. They become habitual reactions to the world and those around us. We are thinking, feeling, and acting before we know what’s happening to us. Many of us have lived our lives in these habitual patterns, refusing to see anything about those patterns except what represents our “best” selves. This part of us that we keep hidden from ourselves is usually more than obvious to the people we interact with. Some have called this hidden side our Shadow. Beatrice Chestnut in her book The Complete Enneagram – 27 Paths to Greater Self-Knowledge, explains it this way:
“The Shadow represents everything we refuse to acknowledge about ourselves that nonetheless impacts the way we behave. Being blind to parts of ourselves means that there is often a difference between the person we think we are–or the person we would like to see ourselves as–and who we really are as we walk through the world.” P. 16
Awareness takes courage, receptivity and mounds of self-acceptance. Peter O’Hanrahan is quoted as saying, “Self-Awareness never gets too far ahead of Self-Acceptance.” If we cannot accept something about ourselves, we are not able to hold on to it long enough to begin to be curious about it. This curiosity allows us to really look within to see the motivation behind what we’re doing. Our motivation, many times, comes from a loving place, a desire to help in some way or to ease someone’s pain. And with true awareness, we can begin to see how our behaviors are bringing about the opposite of our intentions. The motivation could also be an habitual self-protection that when discovered, we find no longer needs to be true for us.
Self-Awareness also takes a community of people who are trustworthy and willing to tell us the truth. Some may find it easier than others to be aware of themselves internally. I (Jayne), on the other hand, have relied upon peoples’ responses to me as a clue to my impact on them. However, the more I was able to use the tool of the Enneagram, what I was once blind to (the sub- or unconscious) I was able to allow into conscious thoughts.
Without Self-Acceptance, there will be no Self-Awareness. And, without Self-Awareness, there will be no change in our behaviors and perceptions. During my certification process, I learned about the Three Laws of Behavior. Here are the first Two Laws:Law #1 Wherever attention goes, our energy goes: where our energy goes, our behavior follows. Law #2 To change behavior requires self-observation of attention and energy.
We all operate with instinctive, cognitive, and emotional reactions to our world and those in our world. Some are beneficial to us and others and some are not. Being able to identify the body sensations, thoughts and feelings we’re experiencing in the moment is an invaluable tool to guide us into responses that reflect wisdom, compassion, and authenticity. What we begin to discover, as we embark on this practice of self-awareness through self-acceptance, is that we do not need to do anything with what we find. That’s the grand mystery of this entire process. Our job is to become of self-aware. That’s it. We don’t have to add to or take away anything from ourselves in order to live more wholeheartedly. We have everything within us already for living godly lives. Our awareness simply creates the pathway for allowing God to remove the veil that keeps us blind. Now, we can begin to see with more clarity and a purpose beyond ourselves and our responses to Life can come from a broader perspective allowing in more Light.