Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What are Enneagram Instinctual Subtypes?

Picture taken from Ginger Lapid-Bogda, The Enneagram in Business

I have collected information on the Enneagram Instinctual Subtypes from a variety of sources, however I would especially like to acknowledge the following online sources for their expertise on the subject, from which I synthesized most of my forthcoming A to Z Challenge information.

Clarence Thompson, Enneagram Central
David Daniels, Enneagram Worldwide
Peter O'Hanrahan EnneagramWork
Beatrice Chestnut guest blogger at The Enneagram in Business

We all have three centers of intelligence. There is the mental center, which includes our ideas, plans, thoughts. There is the emotional center, where our feelings come from. There is the body center, from which come the three primary instinctual drives. The drives are known as Self-Preservation, Social, and Intimate (otherwise known as One-to-One or Sexual in Enneagram literature).

We have a distinct preference for one of the primary drives, which exert significant influence on how we express our type.

If the Self-Preservation instinct is our primary drive, then we focus on material security, which includes food, shelter, warmth and family.

If the Intimate (or otherwise known as One-to-One or Sexual) instinct is our primary drive, we seek to bond with one person or a few close friends. We may or may not be especially sexual, but people whose Intimate instinct is primary tend to be more energetic overall than people whose other instinctual drives are primary.

If the Social instinct is our primary drive, we feel the need to belong and to be members of groups that extend beyond family into the community.

Each Enneagram Style has all Three Instinctual Subtypes: Self-Preservation, Social and Intimate, and there are NINE Enneagram Styles, which makes a total of 27 Instinctual Subtypes, each one very different from the others.

Tomorrow, I'll put up a chart of the names I've given each of the Enneagram Types with Instinctual Subtypes, and the day that each will appear in the A to Z challenge.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Preview of Coming Attractions: The A to Z Challenge

For many years, I’ve been a student of the Enneagram, which is a personality typing system. If you’re familiar with Myers-Briggs, it’s a little like that, except I find using the Enneagram to be about 100 times better in terms of understanding myself, others, and for understanding how to create characters.

The Enneagram sorts personality into Nine basic styles. From there, each type has two wings—the styles on either side of the number, a stress point and an integration point. Besides all of that, people fall into one of three Instinctual Subtypes.

It’s the 27 Instinctual Subtypes that I’ll focus on in the challenge.

If you’re interested in determining your own Enneagram style, there are various online tests for the Enneagram. Each type has good traits, bad traits, and downright ugly traits. Each type also has a potential for greatness, a particular gift that your type best bestows upon the world.

While you might be thinking the purpose of knowing your style is to become a better example of your style, that is NOT why we study the Enneagram. We all have ALL styles within us. The problem is, in stressful situations, we fall back on a certain paradigm, or Enneagram style, of reaction. You probably know that a definition of insanity is trying to solve a problem the same way, time after time, and getting the same result? Well that’s what we do. We use habitual reaction styles—and get the same results. It’s a recipe for self-defeat.

A sound knowledge of our own reactions, which also known as self-awareness—which is gained through intense scrutiny of our thoughts, feelings and behaviors—gives us a baseline for change. From there, if we thoroughly understand other Enneagram styles, we can step out of our paradigm, or box, and choose a behavior from one of the other styles that serves us better in a given situation. That’s known as transcendence, or growth.

The Enneagram also helps us to understand where someone else is coming from. You might think that everyone thinks and feels and reacts to things the same as you do, but if you do, you are dead wrong.

We all focus on different things in the environment, and use different means to try to gain control, depending on our Enneagram style. Nor is everyone the same within a style. An Enneagram style is like a nationality.

The Enneagram is a map of personality and the State of the Art in personality studies. Psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors and coaches everywhere use it to better understand and help their clients. Lord knows how many books there are on the Enneagram, how many Ph.D. dissertations, and so on. I’ve read 21 books on the subject (nowhere near all of them) and have listened to 78 CDs.

For help in understanding human personality, the Enneagram is second-to-none. For help in understanding characterization in a novel, you couldn’t find a better place to start and end your studies. But it's not a quick study. If you become a student of the Enneagram, expect to go through layers of understanding and growth. It will take a long time to understand your own style. From there, a long time to understand other styles.

But once you have an excellent grasp of it, you will often be able to read someone, or even their blog! like a book.

If you want to start studying the Enneagram, you should first determine your type. For a great overview and introduction to types and a list of online Enneagram tests, click here.

Tomorrow, I’ll give a general introduction to the Instinctual Subtypes, and on Friday, Arpil 1, I'll start rolling out the Enneagram Instinctual subtypes in A to Z format.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Your Protagonist's Theme is Your Own

A friend wanted to know my answer, with regard to my WIP, to one of the questions I wrote about theme in a previous post. She wondered about my answer to this question:

What was I personally struggling with while I wrote it?

I'll answer that question, along with the following:

Does my own story, combined with the resolution of the protagonist’s story, come together to create a general statement about what I personally think or believe? How?

First, I'll say that there are reasons why we write the books we do. We are struggling with an issue in our lives to such a powerful extent that we are compelled to write about it, in order to work it out for ourselves. The key word is compelled. I think that's why so many of our ideas fall short, and we give up on them. We are not personally involved with the story's key issues. We are not working with our own personal themes. When we are, we are so intrigued to find the answer that we cannot NOT write the story ...

So here goes:

The primary theme of my story is that to fully live and love our life, we have to accept the full reality of it. All of it. It means we accept our joys as well as our heartaches, our strengths as well as our limitations.

That’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t push the boundaries to reduce our limitations. But if we never see the whole picture, but compulsively pursue one quality, such as happiness, or perfection, or love, or success, or knowledge, or strength, or peacefulness … our lives are greatly diminished.

My protagonist is compulsive about seeking happiness. Do you know what happens when you seek out one thing in that way? It forever eludes you. My heroine, Crystal, is never happy with what IS. She always thinks the grass is greener elsewhere, and she’s always looking for elsewhere.

In the end, she finds out that true happiness is accepting what IS in her life. She’s no longer trying to live in a future, happier state, but is content to be present and enjoy NOW.

How is this similar to my own struggles? My journey with Crystal has made me far more alert to my own thoughts and feelings about my life. I’m someone who is easily dissatisfied with just about anything. I always see an image of how something should be. On the other side of “how it should be” is an image of how far it fails to measure up against the ideal. Now that’s a recipe for dissatisfaction.

So in many ways, although I’m seeking perfection, and Crystal is seeking happiness, our struggles are the same. The manuscript ends with Crystal accepting her life as it is. She comes to realize that the things she’d thought were most important are really only of secondary importance, at least for now.

Once she graduates from high school, she can revise her plans and goals, but for at least one more year, she will stay put. She also gives up the compulsive search for happiness, realizing that joy can be found in every minute of your life, if you’re willing to open your eyes and see it.

I had the same realization as Crystal. I so want to quit my day job and be a full time writer. (Don’t we all?) But if I project myself into the future too much, and do not see the joys in my life as it is now, and there are MANY joys in my life, I live in frustration instead of happiness.

I believe this, although it’s not always forefront in my mind. While I’ve been working on the manuscript, I’ve been making more of an effort to be aware of it and to live it. I’ve become more aware of the tyranny of my ego—its compulsive thoughts that cause my dissatisfactions—and not to be taken prisoner by it. We are not our thoughts or even our feelings. We are the far deeper, and freer, knowing that is behind our thoughts and feelings.

I hope that makes sense. My manuscript is not an intellectual treatise. It’s a story. Stories showcase our themes, but in a way that is not expository. Stories bypass our intellect to go straight to our hearts and touch us deeply.

In one sentence, what is your theme?

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: I Would've Given Anything to be Like ...

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs.

I've known about RTW for a couple of weeks but never gotten around to participating. Today's topic is one I couldn't pass up:

I would've given anything to be like Scarlett O'Hara of Gone with the Wind. Instead, I was far more like sweet, long-suffering Melanie Wilkes than spoiled Miss Scarlett. While reading the book, I had so much fun imagining that I was the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner in the antebellum South. Oh, the dresses I'd own. The suitors who would stand around me like love-sick puppies! But I never understood what Scarlett saw in Ashley Wilkes, when Rhett Butler was so obviously her match in every way. 

Interestingly, I had a good friend in high school who was like a blonde Scarlett O'Hara. Like Scarlett who tried to steal Ashley from Melanie, my friend did actually did steal my crush from me. That's me on the left, and my friend on the right. She had boyfriends galore, and a closet full of clothes ... but she also had a darker, more troubled life, which I didn't really see as a teenager.

This friend's life has intrigued me to this day, and was the inspiration for the heroine of my current WIP. After high school, I lost contact with this friend. She's never attended any of our class reunions, and has always been one of the people on the list of "Can you help us find this person?"

Monday, March 07, 2011

Rudder Authority: aeronautical term for Staying on Theme?

Being married to a recreational pilot, it's inevitable that I make connections between flying and writing. Now that our kids are grown, the greater part of our conversations follow one of three themes: politics, flying and farming.

Regarding flying, my hubbie did something recently that sparked a writerly connection  with me. The plane above is a homebuilt KitFox. The thing to know about this plane, and my story, is that it's a Tail-Dragger with a Small Rudder (tail).

My husband is a veteran pilot with about 2500 hours of flying time in a Tail-Dragger, which is an airplane without a nose wheel. Instead, it has a tiny tail wheel. (See how small?) Tail-draggers are far more difficult to maneuver during takeoffs and landings than planes with the more usual landing gear known as the Tricycle Gear. The three-pointed triangular shape of the Tricycle Gear adds enormous stability, automatically keeping an airplane straight and steady on the runway during acceleration.

In contrast, without a nose wheel, the weight and gravity of the airplane fall in the back. On takeoff, the plane has to reach a certain speed before the tail lifts off the ground. Until that happens, the back wheel is terribly “squirrelly.” That is, unless the pilot is really paying attention to what he’s doing, the back wheel is apt to twist the plane around in what is known as a ground loop. Ground loops are seldom life-threatening, however one’s airplane can suffer damage after being ground-looped.

In addition to dragging their tails, airplanes with small rudders are more difficult to fly. They don’t have enough of what my husband calls “Rudder Authority” to combat the squirrelly tail wheel. I’ve just learned all of this because, for the first time ever, my poor husband accidentally ground-looped an airplane, our KitFox. There were several reasons for it, which I won't go into.
As he was telling me about his experience, it occurred to me that in order for our stories to hang together, to follow a straight path from beginning to end (take-off to landing), and not ground loop somewhere along the path, we as writers need to have a sufficient amount of Rudder Authority. In order for our story to “fly,” we need to stay on an easily understandable path from the first page to the last.

How do we do that? We ask ourselves several questions:

What does our protagonist want most?

Why did I write his or her story?

What was I personally struggling with while I wrote it?

What happens to the protagonist with regard to what she wants most? Does she get what she wants? Does she discover that she wanted something else instead?

Does my own story, combined with the resolution of the protagonist’s story, come together to create a general statement about what I personally think or believe? How?
If we can answer these questions, besides possessing other requisite writing skills, we should have enough Rudder Authority to lift our stories off the ground.

Do you have control of your story? Do you know your themes? Do you have sufficient Rudder Authority?
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