What's in a Name?

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , ,

What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet
-Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

I’m a sucker for good names.  I actually keep a (long) list of potential baby names on my notes app and update it whenever I hear another one I like.  My current favorites: Liberty and Valentine Xavier.  Concurrently, I’ve been debating about my business name for sometime and Enneagram New York City didn’t seem to fit just right.
Whereas it’s true that I live in New York City, and am currently building a community of Enneagram Enthusiasts here, I offer my services nationally, and ultimately envision the business having a Global Reach.
I also believe it’s important to choose a name that captures what the business is about.  The services I currently offer and intend to provide in the future are geared towards making the Enneagram a part of your daily life, showing how it is applicable to your own personal development, as well as in regards to your relationships, and even in the workplace.
When people ask me: What is the Enneagram?  My go-to playful response is: If yoga and psychotherapy had a love child, it would be the Enneagram.  It’s a process of self-discovery, a practice of mindfulness, and a journey of compassion.  It serves as a map to understanding yourself and others in your life.  It provides a framework to transform your life.  It’s difficult to define because it is both complex and fundamental.
Then it hit me yesterday.  I’m changing the name of my business to: Art of the Enneagram.
Art, as defined in The New Oxford American and the World English Dictionaries means the following.
art (noun)
·      the expression or application of human creative skill
·      the skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice
·      method, facility, knack
The Enneagram is not a quick fix; it’s not a magic pill.  It can be, however, the most effective tool to make lasting changes in your life.  As my teachers in the Narrative Tradition taught me, what the Enneagram requires is intention, attention, repetition and guidance.  When you make it a practice, like yoga, you start to peel away the layers of habits that no longer serve you, and blossom into the person you’re meant to become. 
I thought it would be fun to take a look at the names of the nine Enneagram types, as they each have variations.  I say, choose whichever one you think/feel/sense captures you the most.  

Elizabeth Elkins, MFA, Certified Enneagram Consultant with Art of the Enneagram offers individual and group sessions, as well as workshops.  If you’re curious about how the Enneagram functions in your life, schedule a Discover Your Type session today.  Or sign up here to tune into the weekly blog and to hear about upcoming events.

Curiosity, the New Hat

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , ,


I feel stuck, a wave of inaction has crashed over me and now I feel paralyzed, prey to resistance and scared.  Why am I weighed down?  I have a whole list of excuses and reasons, but when it gets right down to it, I think it’s procrastination born out of perfectionism.  I know this story well.  I feel safe in its sluggish embrace.  Truth be told I don’t even want to write this blog.  I can sense the desire to fold into myself, to hibernate, to disappear for a little while.  I spent a good six hours on Sunday bingeing on Scandal episodes, and it was safe, warm and cozy, I've even started dreaming about the characters.
There are a lot of things I do when I feel this way, and a lot of things that I don’t do.  I do watch a lot of television, especially HGTV.  There’s something about seeing other people build and create and makeover homes that’s incredibly satisfying, that's instantly gratifying, it’s as if I have accomplished something just by watching.  I don’t do a lot of exercising, moving my body.  I do ruminate a lot over why I’m stuck, scared, and anxious.  I don’t do a lot of sucking it up and just taking a step forward. 
The dilemma I am facing can be summed up as procrastination, and I believe I’m procrastinating because I want everything to be perfect.  I don’t write blogs consistently because I reign myself in with self-doubt.  I don’t exercise consistently because I want to be that person who naturally loves the gym and has amazing discipline.  I don’t do a lot of things because the image I have in my head, the ideal, the dream is so pristine in it’s unachievable nature, that I paralyze myself through procrastination.  
Time for sucking it up.  Time for kicking myself in the ass.  Time for getting out of my comfort zone.  What’s my ticket out?  CURIOSITY.  Isn’t that such a beautiful state?  When we are curious, we are open, we are willing to live in the unknown, we see new pathways, we get creative, we are filled with delight, we are alive.  Last week I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my niece and nephews, and boy, don’t children have curiosity in droves?  They are so moment-to-moment, so quick to find new solutions, to seek new possibilities, to play. 
So, enough with the procrastination, the perfectionism, the resistance, the paralysis.  I know that story well, I’ve mastered that role.  It’s time to try on a new hat, the curious one.  Time to see what the fear of failure actually looks and feels like: where does it live in my body, what color is it, what size is it, what is the nature of it's energy?  Time to see what tiny baby step I do feel capable of taking: writing this blog, for one, or maybe just laying my yoga mat on my floor and doing a few stretches for 10 minutes.  Already I feel lighter just by inviting curiosity to be a part of the conversation. 
How does the Enneagram factor in with all of this?  The Enneagram is a map of nine different personalities styles, including how they think, feel and act, where they focus their attention and where they place their energy.  The nature of my perfectionism and procrastination is articulated in my specific type.  The Enneagram is a helpful tool to figure out where you get stuck, why, and it offers practical applications on how to forge new paths.  If you're curious about your own process, sign up for a session today!

Elizabeth Elkins is a Certified Enneagram Consultant.  She offers individual, partner and group sessions, as well as workshops.  For more information, go to www.enneagramnewyorkcity.com.   

Happy New Year!

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , ,

The Enneagram

Happy 2014!  I wanted to start the year off by taking a minute to introduce the Enneagram for those of you who don’t know it and as a reminder of the beauty of it to those who do. My hope is that more and more people understand and engage in this system, as I believe it is an awesome tool for developing more compassion towards ourselves and each other, and who doesn’t deserve a little more compassion?!
So, what is the Enneagram? 

The Enneagram is a personality system that describes nine different ways of seeing the world involving fundamental patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting.  The basic idea is that when we were born, we had a closer connection to our essential self.  Then, throughout childhood and growing up, we developed certain patterns in order to survive and seek satisfaction.  In other words, we were once able to see the world from a 360 degree perspective, and in an effort to protect ourselves we sectioned off most of that, ending up with a mere 40 degree outlook on the world.  Tunnel vision, you could also call it.
The Enneagram provides a map of each type’s 40 degree perspective, including:
  • What is the essential truth that they lost sight of
  • What they came to believe instead 
  • Where their focus of attention turned to, as a result of this new belief
  • What is the number one fear they avoid
  • What makes them personally reactive
  • What this costs in their daily lives and relationships
And then, unlike other personality systems, it offers an opportunity for spiritual growth by:
  • Identifying your blind spots
  • Offering practical applications in order to let go of old habits and develop new patterns
  • Reclaiming more of your essential self; or getting out of the box you are already in
What interests me most about the Enneagram, and one of the primary reasons I became certified, is the idea that there is so much more to see, to do, to participate in and the Enneagram provides a way to shrink the blinders and see more of the 360 degree perspective.
The first step in applying the Enneagram to your life is Discovering Your Type.  
This session is a one-on-one process where I will guide you through a series of questions, in order to help you discover your type.  These questions are designed to help you look at the motivations behind your actions: why you do what you do.

At the end of the session, I will give you feedback on your answers and how they match up with the Enneagram, narrowing down your likely type. 

The purpose of this interview is to engage in a process of self-discovery.  To help you continue in this process, at the end of this session you will receive a free copy of TheEssential Enneagram (a $12.99 value) by David Daniels, MD and Virginia Price, PhD to help you further explore your type.

Sign up today

Elizabeth Elkins is a Certified Enneagram Consultant.  She offers individual, partner and group sessions, as well as workshops.  For more information, go to www.enneagramnewyorkcity.com.  

How Truth-Telling is Like a Soccer Field

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , , , ,


A question came up over the Thanksgiving holiday with family that I'd like to explore today.  That question is:  Would you rather be told the truth with love OR be pandered to?  Now, it's not really that black and white.  Of course, there are variations to truth-telling.  But, for the sake of this argument, let's just examine those two possibilities: being told the truth with love and being pandered to.

Allow me to give you an example as to why this question came up.  My boyfriend, Michael, and I celebrated Thanksgiving two days late, as I had to work at my restaurant on the official holiday.  We drove to Pennsylvania to spend the weekend with his dad and his sister, Kim and her family.  I love Kim.  She's like a soul sister to me.  She is incredibly thoughtful and spiritual.  We bond over loving Oprah's Soul Sunday and great written characters, like Katniss in The Hunger Games.

Kim and Michael talk almost daily and one of the thing she picked up on and paid attention to is the fact that I love soy chai lattes from Starbucks.  So, on Saturday morning, Kim prepared chai bread.  Now, one of my weird quirks is that I don't really like pastries.  Growing up, my mom would make cinnamon rolls and french toast and I would never eat them.  I don't like muffins, either, unless they are the Duncan Hines kind.  I never order waffles or pancakes for brunch.  For some reason, I am just not a fan of sweet breakfast breads.

Now, Kim made this chai bread specifically for me, which is incredibly thoughtful and makes me feel good that she had me in mind and wanted to make me something that I would like.  And yet, I didn't like it.  I told Michael and he insisted I tell Kim.  But I didn't want to!  I didn't want to hurt her feelings, and I wanted her to know how appreciative I was of her considerate gesture.

So, the question came up, over breakfast: which would you rather?  Be told the truth with love?  Or be pandered to?  Well, finally, after discussing with Kim and Michael which we would all prefer, we decided that we'd rather be told the truth with love.  I am a firm believer that honesty is the best policy.  So, I came out with it, the truth.  I let Kim know that I was grateful for her kindness of making the chai bread, but that I was not a fan.  I stammered and stuttered and was not very graceful in the telling, but in the end I was honest and she heard me and was fine with it.

Now, this is just a simple example with fairly low stakes.  It's much more difficult to be honest with someone when there is a greater risk involved of hurting their feelings.

How does all of this fit in with the Enneagram?  Well, the Enneagram is about having compassion for ourselves, our own truths and perspectives, as well as each other's.  It is important to take responsibility for your own truth, all the while keeping your heart open to the other.


Imagine communicating truth with others like the landscape of a soccer field.  You are responsible for your half of the field, the other is responsible for their half of the field.  In order to best communicate, you approach that center circle on your side of the halfway line and you speak your truth with compassion and respect.  Now, depending on how hurtful your truth may be to the other, they may stay all the way back to their goal line.  However, as long as you remain solid and grounded from a place of love, the other has space to hear you, to respond and perhaps even to move closer and meet you halfway.

This, of course is all easier said than done, but I believe it is not only possible, it is imperative.  It never feels good to be pandered to, and if we can remain open to each other's truths, as well as our own, I think we will be stronger and closer as a result.

Where do you fall in the spectrum of truth-telling?  Would you rather be told the truth with love or pandered to?  Do you find it easy to be honest with others?  Are you a people pleaser?  Are you a bulldozer?  Chances are, whatever your truth-telling style, your personality type can give you clues as to how to rise to a place of more compassion and integrity.  If you don't know your type, sign up for a Discover Your Type session today!

Elizabeth Elkins is a Certified Enneagram Consultant.  She offers individual, partner and group sessions, as well as workshops.  For more information, go to www.enneagramnewyorkcity.com. 

Oprah, Brené and The Enneagram

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , , , , , , ,

I watched Dr. Brené Brown on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday this past weekend.  For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Brené Brown gave an awesome Ted talk that put her on the map about the power of vulnerability.  She has also written two books:  The Gift of Imperfection and Daring Greatly.
Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday is kind of like my church.  Spiritually, it is right on target for what I feel in my heart to be true.  But what also surprised and astounded me was how much I could connect what Brené and Oprah were talking about with the Enneagram.
In the segment, Brené was expounding upon why vulnerability is so important and how it’s the only way to achieve greater intimacy with our loved ones.  Oprah was asking her what that looked like in Brené’s own relationship with her husband.  As she described a scenario, in which case they were both teetering on the edge of a fight, she said that being vulnerable is pausing and being honest about where her mind was going.  She was making up certain “truths” in her head against her husband, putting her into an oppositional stance, that weren’t actually True.  She said her go-to postures are anger and blame.  I immediately thought of the Type 8.  Their go-to stance is very much anger and blame.  And the place they seldom venture is vulnerability. 
Brené and Oprah continued their conversation and they got on the topic of Perfectionism.  They were saying that perfectionism is like a mask, a shield of armor to protect the world from actually seeing you.  There is an inherent fear that underneath you are not good enough, so the strive towards perfectionism is really a race away from that fear of unworthiness.  This is a perfect (no pun intended) way to describe the plight of Type 1.    
The Enneagram is a psychological personality system, but equally, and almost more interesting to me is the spiritual component in the system.  Every type has a vice and a virtue.  Type 8’s Vice is lust and their Virtue is innocence.  Type 1’s Vice is anger (which usually looks more like resentment) and their Virtue is serenity.  What this means is that your strength is your greatest weakness and your weakness is your greatest strength.  They are two sides of the same coin.  In order to access the spiritual gifts of your virtue, you must go through the challenges of your vice.
Other Types Virtue and Vice:
Type 2: Humility and Pride
Type 3: Honesty and Deceit
Type 4: Equanimity and Envy
Type 5: Non-attachment and Avarice
Type 6: Courage and Fear
Type 7: Sobriety and Gluttony
Type 9: Right Action and Sloth
If you’re interested in learning more about the Enneagram’s Vice to Virtue conversion, contact me to set up an Individual Typing Session.
Thanks Brené and Oprah for giving me some awesome material this week!

Follow Up Friday: The Conversation I'm Starting

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , ,

Follow Up Friday is a series where I check in on the questions and issues that I introduced on Tuesday's blog.

Turns out I didn't get any comments on my last blog to follow up on today.  Michael asked me how a Four would usually respond to that.  Great question, I thought!  My default reply was that I, as a Four, would feel rejected.  However, even as I said the word rejected, I knew I wasn't.  It didn't sit right with me.  In truth, I felt fine about it.  I understood.  I certainly am not the type to leave comments on other people's blogs, hey, I don't even read other people's blogs.  Yes, I was hoping I would get some of your thoughts and ideas in the comments, but I wasn't expecting it, and I didn't have an attachment to the outcome.  That non-attachment and release of expectation helped me to not take it personally, nor feel rejected.  Fantastic! 

On Wednesday night, I was serving tables at my job, and one of our beloved customers came in towards the end of the night.  If Woody Allen and Larry David had a love child it would be Harold.  Now, Harold is very particular.  He knows what he likes and what he doesn't like.  He wants butter with his bread, not our organic olive oil, and he wants it brought to his table immediately.  He wants a healthy pour on a wine glass, not a measured-out pour.  He wants the perfect amount of digestive time in between his two courses.  If his entree comes too early, he'll send it back; if too late, he'll demand it's arrival at once.  To some of my co-workers, this is off-putting, and I can understand why.  But to me, it's refreshing.  You always know where you stand with Harold.

We began talking and he told me that he had checked out my website (this blog) that we had spoken about the last time he was in.  I perked up and said, "Great!  What did you think?"  His response was "Meh--it didn't really catch my interest."  Again, typically, I would be personally offended by his very blunt critique of writing.  But, surprisingly, I didn't feel offended.  I checked in with myself, and I felt curious.  I asked him to tell me why, to give me more details.  We got into a great discussion about what it is I'm trying to do and put out there, and how to go about doing that.  At the end of the conversation, I had some genuine pearls of wisdom from Ol' Harold, and I had some questions that I wanted to continue to ask myself.

This blog is a work-in-progress.  The Enneagram is a complex system and it's difficult to convey its depth in soundbites.  It is best discovered through conversation between types.  As, I hope to turn on people who've never heard of the Enneagram, as well as pique the interests of those who are Enneagram devotees, it will be intriguing to discover where the sweet spot lies between authentically expressing myself and resonating with the readers.   

Finally, in the middle of the night, I woke up to go to the bathroom, and I remembered the dream I was having.  There was a young man in it and he was telling me (in regards to my blog), "It didn't resonate with me, but keep going, keep going."  I captured that experience as I groggily went back to bed.  This blog may not resonate with you yet, it may sometime in the future, or it may never.  And that's okay.  But, I'm gonna keep going, keep going.

Hope you have a great weekend!  I'll be back on Tuesday, and if you feel compelled to leave a comment on this blog, I will relish in reading it!

The Conversation I'm Starting

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , ,

You know that little thing I say at the end of each blog post, something to the effect of "leave a comment?!"  Well, let me tell you a little bit more about the conversation I am hoping to start with you.

First of all, the way I connect is through sharing.  I tell about my experience in hopes that you will tell me about yours.  Share and Tell was always my favorite day in lower school. My boyfriend always jokes with me because he'll say something like "It's hot in here."  And I'll respond, "I'm not hot."  Or he'll say, "I'm tired."  To which I'll say, "I've got a ton of energy!"  And with love and a little bit of poking fun, he'll say, "It's not always about you."  I know it's not always about me, and I'm not trying to make it be.  It's not that I'm not hearing him, or that I don't care about his experience of the world.  It's that, as a Four, I am self-referencing, and oftentimes, I connect through comparison.  And I want to connect most of all.

Whenever I meet someone new, I always try to break the ice by sharing, usually a story.  Again, it's not because I am self-involved, although, I can be guilty of that, as well.  It's that I want to make the other person feel comfortable and that I am trustworthy.  So, if I am revealing, self-disclosing, and honest, maybe you will open up to me, too and together, we can forge a connection.

One of the reasons I was drawn to the Enneagram, was because it was such a helpful and spot-on road map to my patterns.  It was like a light bulb went off, or seeing clearly for the first time.  Everything just seemed to make sense.  Parts of myself that I had inherently known, but could never fully verbalize, came to the surface.  Like the joy that passes over a two-year old's face when he is first able to communicate "I'm hungry."  I was ecstatic that I could finally use words and concepts to describe aspects of myself that I had subconsciously known all along.  Now, I am also a diarist.  I keep fervid journals of my thoughts, discoveries and experiences.  I have been doing so for as long as I can remember, and therefore it's the easiest way I know how to express myself.

My intention for this blog is three-fold.  It's a way for me to express myself and my reflections.  It's a way for me to share with you the Enneagram system and how it shows up in day-to-day life.  And lastly, and most importantly, it's a way for me to connect with you by starting the conversation.

As a soon-to-be Certified Enneagram Consultant, I am trained in the Narrative Tradition.  This means that we learn about type by hearing from people's own experiences.  Through question and response, through stories, we get at what it means to be a specific type.  I am an expert at Type Four, and therefore, I can tell you all about what life is like from the perspective of a Four.  What I don't intrinsically know is what life is like from the other eight perspectives.  This is where you come in.  This is why I invite you to share.  So, please do!

Let's start with some fun beginner getting-to-know-you questions...

  • What is a nickname that people call you?  (Not related to your actual name, but more related to your personality).
  • What is one aspect of your personality that trips you up over and over again?
  • How are you your own worst enemy and how are you your own best friend?
I am very much looking forward to reading your answers in the comments and following them up on Follow Up Friday!

Much love!

Follow Up Friday: To Commit

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , ,

Follow Up Friday is a series where I check in on the questions and issues that I introduced on Tuesday's blog.

To Commit or Not to Commit, that is the question.

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.   -Goethe

Well, it's day four of my journey on the Dukan Diet and so far, I haven't given up!  Here's an interesting thing I noticed about my commitment to the diet.  I am accessing my One resource point.  I have been able to accomplish my goal thus far by seeing it objectively.  My feelings don't really matter.

It hasn't been easy.  Temptations are always around the corner.  Last night, I worked an event at my restaurant.  At the end of the night we had several beautiful bottles of Sancerre that we had opened, but had not poured.  My manager decided to do something she never does...let us all take a bottle home!  I, of course, could not take her up on her generous offer, because I'm not drinking.  I expected to be more disappointed, but truthfully, I just felt like: oh well!  And I hurried home to my darling, proud that I hadn't caved. 

Then, tonight, I am meeting six of my best girl friends at a Latin Tapas restaurant on the Lower East Side.  I am sure that there will be margaritas flowing, and my favorite tapas (empanadas!) being passed around the table.  I have taken precaution, however, and already checked out the menu to see what I will be able to order.  And I'm looking forward to my sparkling water with a squeeze of lime.  I have a suspicion that I will be even more engaged with my best friends, able to put my focus fully on them and be completely present!

Now, all types can struggle with commitment, but here are some pros and cons of each type.  You may be able to access the positives of a resource point, like I did with my access to the practical, objective One!  

Ones, as I have laid out, tend to be very practical and objective.  They are also list-makers and doers.  Responsibility and following through on their word is important to them.  For example, my boyfriend, who is a One, after having smoked for 23 years read a book and in one afternoon decided to quit and hasn't touched a cigarette since.

Twos have an easy time committing, if the commitment is in association with another.  When it is a commitment to their own needs and self-care, they tend to shirk from completion.  Committing to one thing inevitably means saying "no" to another thing, so Twos can get caught up by trying to do a lot for others and end up saying "no" to their commitment to themselves.

Threes are doers.  Hands down.  Goals, accomplishments, success is all a part of their daily vernacular.  They are able to achieve almost anything they put their minds to.  However, they can overdo which can result in pushing themselves beyond their physical limits. 

Fours, as I discussed in Tuesday's blog, in general don't like commitment.  Their feelings come first and foremost and they never know how they're going to feel day-to-day.  Also, commitment can bring up associations with ordinary and routine, both of which are allergies for a Four.  If the commitment brings up close connections with loved ones, or deep experiences, the Four can gladly commit.
Fives can be incredibly non-committal to others agendas.  I once heard a Five say that if someone invited her to lunch on Wednesday, she would say "no" for fear that that same friend would want to go to lunch with her every Wednesday.  Fives are very possessive of their time, space and energy.  However, if the commitment is on the Fives agenda, they tend to follow through with ease. 

Sixes value loyalty and duty.  They show up for their commitments.  However, they may procrastinate when it comes to getting started on a project.  This is a result of them over-thinking instead of doing.  They may also get tripped up on their worst-case scenario analyzing.

Sevens are allergic to limitation.  And commitment can often feel limiting.  They also like variety and new experiences.  If the commitment is fun and brings them joy, they are more likely to stick to it.  Getting a Seven at the beginning of a project, when they can brainstorm new ideas and avenues is when they really shine.

Eights have a ton of intensity and energy, both which lend themselves well to commitment.  They also are their own boss and don't answer to anyone.  If something is important to them, they will get it done, no excuses, no question.  Getting an Eight to commit to a project that is out of their leadership may be a more difficult task.

Nines merge with others agendas.  When their loved ones initiate a commitment, they are able to follow through.  When it comes to their own commitments however, they often get distracted by the inessential.  They tend to make themselves less important and therefore, like the Twos, have trouble saying "no" to others and "yes" to their own agendas.

If you know your type, please leave a comment about what commitment means to you!  

Have a great weekend!

To Commit, or Not to Commit?

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , ,

After a week long of overindulging in The Big Easy, Michael and I have decided to start The Dukan Diet and today is Day One.  I hate diets.  I hate restricting myself and I hate depriving myself.  To me, diets = commitment.  And I have a very complicated relationship to commitment.

Why I am allergic to commitment?  Let's see, as a 4, I prioritize my feelings above all.  And when you make a commitment, feelings don't always get to have their say.  Then there is the element of routine, which I tend to avoid (even though I crave it).  This is not to say I am unable to commit.  If the commitment involves another person, I always follow through.  Be it a date night with Michael, a girls dinner with my besties, a lesson with my guitar teacher, or anything else that involves my loved ones, I am there.  No question.

It's when I need to make a commitment to myself, and the agendas that I deem important, that I tend to fail.  That list includes diets, exercise regimens, meditation, studying the Enneagram, practicing guitar, and any other self-care activity.  If I can enlist another to join me (as in Michael with The Dukan Diet), I know I'll have a fighting chance to keep my promise.

Moving forward, I am hoping that this joint pledge to the diet will open up opportunities for me to follow through with other commitments I've longed to keep to myself, mainly meditation and exercise.  Commitment has a lot to do with trust.  When we make the agreement to commit to something and we follow through with that, we have taught ourselves that we can self-trust.  When we fail to follow through, there is a part of us that doesn't have inner faith.

I am looking forward to self-trust and inner faith, and the sense of accomplishment and self-worth that comes with showing up for my commitments. 

How do you show up for your commitments?  Where are you most committed in your life?  Where are you least committed in your life?  What stops you from committing and what propels you forward?

As always, feel free to comment on the questions I've posed!  I'll follow up on Friday with more thoughts on the relationship other types may have to commitment.

Have a great week!

Follow Up Friday: Awake My Soul

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , ,

Follow Up Friday is a new series where I check in on the questions and issues that I introduced on Tuesday's blog.

Question:  What awakens your soul?

I go in and out of being present and connected to what awakens my soul.  When I have experiences like I had last Monday night, where I truly felt free to be me, connected to everything and all around me, I wanted to hold onto that feeling as long as possible.  I desired to bottle that feeling up.  Inevitably, I wasn't able to carry over that bliss in the days that succeeded the event, leaving me disappointed and damn near depressed.  I assume this is because I have been trying to hold onto the past.  This refusal to let go of the past and live in the present blinds me to what new soul-awakening experiences I could witness in the here and now.

So in thinking about what awakens my soul, it begs the antithetical question: what puts my soul to sleep?  

As a Four, my soul is asleep when my attention is on:
-Expectations as created through my fantasies and idealism 
-Seeking for what is missing
-Resistance to what is here and now
-Comparing Mind   
These are all elements of my vice: Envy.

If you are one of the other nine types, here is a brief list of where their attention goes, in addition to their vice.
One: Improving, Correcting, The Critical Mind, Anger.
Two: People-Pleasing, Suppressing your Needs, Pride.
Three: Impressing, Doing, Over-achieving, Deceit.
Five: Withholding, Detaching, Intellectualizing, Avarice.
Six: Worrying, Doubting, Over-preparing, Fear.
Seven: Plans, Fear of Limitation, Rationalization, Gluttony.
Eight: Power and Control, Asserting One's Opinions, Lust.
Nine: Numbing Out, Comfort Seeking, Inertia, Sloth.

So, logic would tell me that if these vices are putting our souls to sleep, perhaps the key to awakening our souls lies in our types' virtues?

One: Serenity- Accepting the presence of all emotions without judgment
Two: Humility- Giving and receiving freely without need for approval
Three: Hope- Grounding in possibility without the compulsion of doing
Four: Equanimity- Balancing emotions out by surrendering to the present
Five: Non-attachment- Letting go of the fear of not enough
Six: Courage- Ability to face fears while having faith in self
Seven: Sobriety- Commitment to a single course of action without diversion
Eight: Innocence- Witnessing without need to control
Nine: Right Action- Valuing worth by embracing one's separate self

Check in the next time you notice your soul is asleep.  Where is your attention?  And get curious about what wakes your soul up, was the key in your virtue?

Share in the comments below or email me.  I look forward to reading!

Have a lovely weekend!

Awake My Soul

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , , , , ,

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life

Awake my soul
Awake my soul
Awake my soul
For you were made to meet your maker

-Mumford and Sons

Last night, while at home visiting my parents in New Orleans, I had the immense pleasure of attending the Mumford and Sons stopover concert at Mardi Gras World with my boyfriend, my brother and sister-in-law.  It was in a wide open space with about 9,600 attendees right next to the Mississippi River.  And though it was a warm 80 degrees, the breeze coming off of the Mississippi kept us cool for dancing.  

I don't like to fight to get to the front because even though I like seeing the band mates up close and personal, I would rather have an unobstructed view and freedom to loosen my limbs.  So, Michael and I parked ourselves right on the river railings.  The sound was crystal clear.  I could hear Marcus Mumford as if he were whispering into my ear.

They played all of our favorite songs from their first two albums.  Michael and I tend to have these on repeat wherever we are, at home, in the car.  But when they got to "Awake my Soul" I jumped off my river perch, kicked off my flip flops and danced my little heart out on the cement.  (Not a pleasant dance floor texture, but I didn't care).  I was so immersed, so incredibly content, expressing myself in my crazy dance moves and singing at the top of my lungs.  

I was aware that this moment and this experience is what awakens my very soul.  Music has such a beautiful and great capacity to get right into your bones and blood stream and make you feel connected to all and glad to be alive.  Mumford and Sons music certainly does that for me.  As does being in my hometown of Proud New Orleans.  As does connecting eyes with Michael as we listen to our favorite band.

What awakens your soul?  What makes you feel the beauty of being alive?  Where are you fully aware of all the magic that life has to offer?  When are you hyper attuned with all of your senses?

As always, please leave a comment and let me know what awakens your soul.  I look forward to reading!  And tune in to Follow Up Friday where I will revisit this question of soul-awakening as it blossoms throughout the week!

Have a blessed day!

Follow Up Friday: What is your favorite worst feeling?

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , , , ,

Follow Up Friday is a new series where I check in on the questions and issues that I introduced on Tuesday's blog.
As I continued to examine this question throughout the week, I found myself sort of hating my personality type.  I actually got mad at it, like it was this other outside organism (which it sort of is).  Saying things in my head like: why can’t you be happier with where you are?  What’s wrong with you?   You’re missing out on life, you know.  These kinds of thoughts, I realize, are not helpful.
One of the reasons I love the Enneagram so much is that it is not about changing who you are.  It’s not about being some perfect specimen.  It is about shedding light on your automatic patterns, your default perspective.  When you shed light on these patterns, then you have a choice.  This is the awareness piece in any spiritual practice.  You can either remain a victim of your old methods of existence, or you can choose a new way of seeing things.
What comes before gratitude and after awareness is acceptance.  As my teacher, David Daniels says, when awareness gets too far ahead of acceptance that’s when you have discord.  So casting back on that night where I had a conversation between my Inner Guidance and my Habitual Mind, I was missing the piece of acceptance.  I was trying to force myself to the gratitude step. 
So, what I’m planning on practicing is acceptance with compassion and curiosity.  My therapist has an analogy that I think is very fitting.  It’s like having a new bud planted on your windowsill and urging it to instantaneously blossom into a flower: Grow!  Grow!  Grow!  It’s an absurd idea, so why do we do it to ourselves? 
The next time my mind casts back to yearning for the rose-colored past, or gunning for the idealized future, I hope I can get curious and with compassion discover why it is I am leaving the present moment.
Let’s continue this conversation!  If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave them in the comments below or email me.
Have a lovely weekend!    

What is your Favorite Worst Feeling?

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , ,

This question was passed down to me by mom through her good friend, the late Teresa Adams. 
The other night, I lay in my bed after a long workday.  My thoughts were begging to climb to heights of new ideals for the future, were scrounging to crawl back to the past to see it with rose-colored glasses.  I caught myself.  My inner observer seemed to be especially attuned that night.  The conversation in my head went like this:
INNER OBSERVER:  Wait, wait, wait, hold on just one minute!  Instead of longing for the sacred past or the idealized future, why don’t you spend a few minutes right HERE, right NOW, giving gratitude for the day?
MY HABITUAL MIND:  Yuck!  How boring?!?  I don’t want to do that!  I want to daydream of a beautiful future, how I’m going to lose weight and have long lustrous locks, how I will wear beautiful clothes, how I am going to make a living doing something that I love.
IO:  Just try it.  See if you can say what you are grateful about today, the present moment. 
MHM:  That does not sound fun AT ALL.  I mean, I’ll try it, but I’m not happy about it.
So, I tried it. 
MHM:  I am grateful for this comfy bed that I am lying in, with these soft sheets.  I am grateful for this cool air-conditioned room.  I am grateful that I babysat two beautiful babies this morning and got to see their smiling faces and spend two hours walking through Central Park.  I am grateful that I had a busy and fun night at work at the restaurant. 
As I started naming all of what I was grateful for, I was amazed at how awesome my life is right HERE and right NOW.
IO:  Good job!  I know it doesn’t feel as fun or as juicy.  But that is because you’ve trained your mind to see what is lacking or what is missing.  It’s habitual.  So, it requires effort to shift it, but the more you practice it, the easier it will be and the more fun you will have in the present moment!
An element that distinguishes the nine different types of personality in the Enneagram system is where your focus of attention (a.k.a. your favorite worst feeling) goes.  Here they are for the nine different types:
Type One:  Right and Wrong/What needs to be improved
Type Two:  Fulfilling other’s needs
Type Three: Approval for tasks
Type Four:  Longing for what is missing
Type Five:  Detaching in order to observe
Type Six:  Worst-case scenarios
Type Seven:  Pleasant options
Type Eight:  Power and control
Type Nine:  Merging with other’s agendas

What is your favorite worst feeling?  Investigate it.  See why it’s juicy for you.  What do you do to counteract it? 
Leave your discoveries in the comments!  I look forward to reading them and engaging in the conversation with you!

Divine Forgiveness

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , ,

"To err is human; to forgive, divine."

 - Alexander Pope

           Wednesday night I was working at my restaurant job, waiting tables.  I had been off for several days, and in those days my boyfriend and I had visited my family in Charlottesville, and I had a belated birthday celebration with eight of my girlfriends.  I was ready to get back to work and I was also ready to be a little more disciplined.  After having spent the majority of the summer, indulging in wine and rich foods, my jeans no longer fitting comfortably, I was also ready to go on a healthy eating regimen.  My boyfriend, Michael, and I decided we would do without alcohol, the beloved sugar in our morning coffee, and eat more whole grains, greens and lean protein. 
            So, Wednesday, we began our new diet, I went to therapy in the morning, I took my first run around Central Park after a long time, and on my subway trips I was reading Helen Palmer’s The Enneagram.  Now, back to my serving shift.  I had focused on so many things that day, trying to change big habits in one fell swoop (I’ve never been good at baby steps), that by the time I got to the restaurant I could barely see what was in front of me. 
            It started as awkwardness, so stuck in my thoughts I was, that when I would try to speak to the guests, it came out fumbling and flustered.  It was a very busy night, with 300 guests on the books, so I told myself, “Liz, you better get your sh*t together!”  I did and I went into turbo speed.  Obsessed with pushing forward out of this unfocused, awkward state, I did my job and others jobs (helping open dozens of wine bottles, running people’s drinks, clearing, and remarking, and taking orders).  This is not to say other people weren’t doing their jobs, they were, but it was a busy night, so we all needed to pitch in.
            In the hurricane of my forced attempts, when I went to put in the order for a table of four as three lobsters and one halibut, I put instead three halibuts and one lobster.  This may not sound like such a big deal, and in the grand scheme of things it isn’t.  But, when the kitchen is trying to churn out over 300 meals, that mistake can set them majorly back.  It’s a domino effect.
            There was a surge of heat that filled up my body.  Burning tears brimmed at my eyes.  I was furious with myself!  How could I have done that?  Where was my head?  (In the clouds, for sure.)  I went to the table and took the blame and apologized profusely.  They were lovely, assured me that it was not a problem, the two couples had not seen each other for eight years and they were enjoying catching up.  I told them, “I don’t know what happened.  I am known as the waitress who doesn’t make mistakes!”  Promptly, the older gentleman said, “I make mistakes all the time, everybody does.” 
Wow.  That stopped me dead in my tracks.  He was right: everybody makes mistakes.  I realized that I had been so hard on myself, pushing myself and pressing myself further, that I had worked myself into a tizzy.  I slowed down, apologized to my manager and chef, and tried to get through the rest of my shift as gracefully as possible.
The next morning, on Thursday, I sat down to meditate.  When I asked my heart for a word, it said “forgiveness.”  It was the perfect word I needed to hear.  In the Enneagram, we all have different foci of attention.  As a four, my Focus is on what is missing or what I lack.  It is incredibly easy for me to see all the ways that I am deficient or not whole.  I can also go to my resource point of One, whose attention is on improvement, and seeing things as right versus wrong.  Under stress, I go to Two, whose attention is on meeting others needs (and as a byproduct neglecting one’s own).  Once you understand your Enneagram type, and where your focus of attention naturally goes, you have a choice whether or not to play out that fixation, or have some distance from it.
It is easy to not forgive yourself if you are in the grips of your personality.  All you see is what is not measuring up.  It’s as if you have the potential to see the world from 360 degrees, but instead all you see is 40 percent of it.  When you are able to take a step back, you can see more clearly the whole picture, and like the glass is both half-full and half-empty, there are more ways than one to see that picture. 
Forgiveness is an incredibly hard concept to grasp and put into practice.  Forgiveness implies grace, self-awareness and self-acceptance.  If we can forgive ourselves first, we can certainly forgive others more easily.  Seems like a worthy pursuit, doesn’t it?
What ways are you hard on yourself?  How do you forgive yourself?  What type are you and where does your focus of attention go?  Please leave a comment so we can get this conversation going!  And feel free to share or like this blog with friends!

Be. Still.

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , ,

Growing up my dad use to say that when either one of my four siblings or I was being rambunctious…in car rides, on the sofa, at the dinner table, “Be. Still.”  It always annoyed me because it was usually when we were just having a good time, laughing, and being silly. 
Yesterday, I pulled the muscle located on my right side, somewhere midway between my shoulder, and all the way up my neck.  I returned from the Enneagram Intensive last Thursday night and since I’d been back, I’d been go-go-going.  Creating this blog, setting up an accompanying Facebook and Twitter account.  I’d been reconnecting with my beau, with my friends.  I am doing Dallas Travers “Actors Business Breakthrough,” an Eight Week Tele-course designed to help actors break through whatever current blocks they are facing.  I’ve been trying to incorporate all that I learned in my Enneagram Intensive: meditation, staying with myself when I feel reactive, eating healthy, exercising, etc. 
Occasionally, I get stuck in old familiar loop patterns.  I loop back around to the place where I feel anxious about where I am on my path.  I play the “should game.”  I should get another agent.  Should I quit acting?  Should I go back to my restaurant job?  Should I eat this or eat that?  Should I wake up earlier so I can meditate?  Should I?  Should I?  Should I?  It’s gosh-darn crippling!
So…it’s no big surprise that with all my striving, aspiring, trying, that a part of my body just pulled back and insisted.  “No.  Just slow down. “  I recalled my dad’s voice, “Be.  Still.”
Ah!  What a relief it was!  To lie down on the couch yesterday as the Nor’easter tore its way through New York’s still-recovering streets.  To watch “The Good Wife” on television while feeling the warmth of a heating pad on my back...to dismount that hamster wheel of my own creation. 
The ironic thing is, if I learned anything at all from my Enneagram Intensive, it was be still.  Stay with you.  Breathe into your belly.  Receive.  We are a nation of strivers and doers.  We are slaves to our egos.  We praise those in our culture who can multi-task the most, who can make the most money by being workaholics, who put so much of their energy out into the world that they are left as depleted shells of their former selves.
I don’t want that.  I want to be awake and present to my life.  Yes, I want to support myself financially.  I want to make a difference in this world.  I want to give freely with the gifts I’ve received.  But there has to be a balance.  I was taught this past week, that we cannot have a spiritual experience unless we allow ourselves to receive.
I’m not sure what my next move will be.  For today, I am just going to be still.
“Make your ego porous.  Will is of little importance, complaining is nothing, fame is nothing.  Openness, patience, receptivity, solitude is everything.”  -Rainer Maria Rilke

Knowing Your Type

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , , , ,

There is great freedom that comes from knowing your type.  In the spring of 2011, I took my first Enneagram Workshop in New Orleans with my mom.  She and I love to talk about personal growth.  (Side note: One of our favorite movies is “When Harry Met Sally,” and we love the scene in the bookstore when Marie [played by Carrie Fisher] says to Sally [Meg Ryan] referencing Harry [Billy Crystal]: ‘There’s a man staring at you in Personal Growth.’)  Anyway, we often trade new books we’ve read, articles we’ve perused, and practices we’ve heard about with each other.  The Enneagram Workshop seemed right up our alley!  

Before the workshop began, I had had difficulty determining my type.  I had taken some of the very lengthy quizzes in various books and online, and kept coming up with different possibilities.  At the start of the workshop, I decided I was a Type Two: The Helper or The Giver.  
I was going through a somewhat stressful time in my life in New York City.  I was working as a waitress in a restaurant, I was frustrated with the lack of acting job opportunities, and my days were structure-free.  I was going home whenever I could get a ticket.  I had no stable romantic relationship in my life.  All in all, I was having trouble committing to myself, and my life in New York. 

I was boundary-less.  If a friend wanted to meet me for coffee or lunch, I would go to their destination of choice.  If I had plans to work on an audition, and got invited to see a movie with someone, I would drop my plans.  I would be overly available to my loved ones, putting my needs aside in favor of others.  It even went so far that when I would sit down for a meal with a friend, I would measure my eating with hers, eating the same quantity and at the same pace as her, in an effort to be on the same page and stay connected.  Relationships were (and still are) pivotal to me…they are my life-blood.  But it was at this time of stress when I went towards my Type Two point.
So, at the workshop, I spent the entire time thinking I was a Two.  The workshop I attended is taught in the Narrative Tradition, meaning we learn about Type by hearing panels of people telling stories of what it means to be their type.  As I sat on the Two panel, I felt the urge to take over, wanting to make it about me, “my stories are so interesting!  Listen to how and why I think I am a Two!”  I noticed that the others on the panel didn’t seem to have that same amount of self-absorption or need to stand out.
Then, it was time for the Type Four Panel: The Individualists.  I looked at them and noticed that they were all wearing similar colors: black and cream, chartreuse, and cherry red.  I looked down at what I was wearing, black jeans, and a cream shirt with geometric designs in black and red.  As they started sharing their stories, I could see in their faces and hear in their voices that little bit of self-satisfaction I recognized in my own sharing.  I also felt drawn into them and the way they described suffering and melancholy, and the ease at which they could hold a space for other’s pain.  A little light bulb went off in my head: That’s where I belong!  With the Fours!
This is not to suggest in any way that all Fours are self-satisfied, self-absorbed sadists.  It has more to do with the Fours desire to stand out, to be different and unique, in order to feel that they are worthy and alive.  After the workshop, I did a little more reading about Type Fours, and my synapses were firing.  Everything seemed to fall into place.  I felt seen and understood.  Parts of me that I’ve known at my subconscious level came flying to a conscious surface. 

A few years ago, I was talking to my friend Lisa, who happens to be a Five.  I was saying to her, “You know how right before you go to bed, you daydream about your ideal life,” assuming she’d jump right in with a resounding, “Oh, totally!”  Instead she said, “No, what are you talking about?”  I was shocked and tried to explain it to her more fully, certain that it would resonate with her.  “You know that moment before you fall asleep, and you close your eyes and think about your perfect future.”  I went on to describe the romantic moments I would daydream about, the beautiful romantic handsome man with dark hair and blue eyes, myself looking like a lithe ballerina in a lovely ethereal dress, the way we would come together in an filmic embrace on a faraway exotic land, complete with fresh, succulent food and warm breezes next to picturesque vistas. Again, she didn’t connect.  It was one of the first wake-up calls I had as to how different other peoples inner worlds could be. 

Once I was finally able to determine my type, I felt known.  It allowed me to truly understand the perspective I was operating from, awareness being the first step towards self-acceptance, self-acceptance being the first step to freedom.

Coming Home

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , ,

I spent last week, while Hurricane Sandy was tearing up my beloved New York City, at the base of the Black Mountain range in North Carolina, attending an Enneagram Intensive taught in the Narrative Tradition.  While people were coming together on the Eastern seaboard in an effort to support each other during the Natural Disaster, nearly 30 others and I were uniting in a spirit of healing and rebirth.

The Enneagram is a powerful system, a system that illuminates the dark edges of one's soul, a system that unites all differences of personality and perspective.  It is a difficult system to describe, due to its depth and complexity.  I am a new student of the Enneagram, having studied it only for the last year and a half.  However, after all of my seeking into self-help, personal growth, therapies, and spirituality practices, I have never found a teaching that is more resonant than the Enneagram. 

Simply put, it is about compassion, for oneself and for others, it is about uniting the three forces of being: heart, mind and body, it is about transformation.  In childhood, we each formed an adaptive strategy to reconcile our inner world with the outer world.  The Enneagram teaches the nine different types of personality, or adaptive strategies.

Before learning about the Enneagram, I was certain that everyone saw the world in more or less the same way.  If my friend hurt me by an action she made, I took it personally, thinking: Why would she do that to me?  If I had done that to her it would be in the spirit of malice.  What I came to discover was that everyone sees the world differently, yet everyone's perspective can be understood through the view of nine different types.

Once I learned about my type (Four- The Tragic Romantic) and the other eight types, I felt seen and understood.  I felt like I could see and understand others.  If my friend hurt me, she was not coming from the same place as I would have, had I executed the same action to her.  I could take things less personally.  I could treat myself kinder.  Before learning the Enneagram, I was constantly trying to change who I was, make myself different, make myself better.  Now I know, the path to peace comes from accepting myself, opening my heart, living inside my body, being awake to myself, others and the world.

I am so grateful to everyone I met this last week, who shared their stories, who listened, who created a safe space for us all to be vulnerable and present.  I look forward to creating this same spirit of unity and sharing my compassion now that I'm home with my friends, family, and fellow New Yorkers.