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!    

The Comparing Mind

by Elizabeth Newcomer in , , , , , ,

As a Four on the Enneagram, my Passion or Vice is Envy.  Each type has a vice, seven of which correspond to the Seven Deadly Sins: Anger (1), Pride (2), Envy (4), Avarice (5), Gluttony (7), Lust (8) and Sloth (9) with the additions of Deceit (3) and Fear (6).  Your Passion or Vice is basically the underbelly of type, where your negative mind may go when you are not present in your life.
Envy does indeed creep up in my life.  It can take on many different forms.  For as long as I can remember, I have had a bit of a fixation on US Weekly.  Without even knowing it, I scan the pages of that magazine comparing myself with the celebrities I see in the photographs.  I see what they wear, how they look, dissect their bodies; covet their relationships or their careers.  It provides some sort of sick pleasure.  It maintains my status quo.  Providing some image, ideal, idol or goal that I strive to achieve, emulate or be helps me know where I am. 
However, this comparing mind is a dangerous place to go.  It makes me hard on myself, never being able to measure up.  It makes me focus on what I am not, what I lack, what I am missing in my life as opposed to what I am, what I have and how I am complete and whole.
I was triggered into my comparing mind yesterday.  By trade, I am an actress.  I have put in my time training for the past 13 years, completing a BFA and MFA in Acting from great Universities. And yet, I am not making my living as an actress.  I was dropped by my manager and agent in 2011 and have yet to re-sign with representation, that makes it more difficult to get auditions, and furthermore difficult to get roles and thereby make a living.
I saw an acquaintance of mine on television.  My head immediately spun into comparing myself with her, on our looks, on our level of training, on our talent.  Before I knew it, I had contracted a tight knot in my stomach.  Walking with my boyfriend, Michael, through Central Park, I was unable to see the trees before me, unable to breathe in the fresh air, unable to admire the first blue sky post-Sandy.
As Michael and I sat down in a warm cozy restaurant, I couldn’t relax my mind enough to take a deep breath and enjoy our meal.  All that was parading in my head were thoughts of how I don’t measure up, how I will never reach my dreams, how I’m a failure.  He so gently reminded me to stay present, to focus on what I do have, to honor my own path.  For the first time that morning I was able to release the briar patch that occupied my diaphragm.  I could see the blueness of his eyes, admire the smooth wood of the table, let the warm chicken chili sooth my overstressed belly.
That is my journey as a Four…to keep coming back to the Present, to breath, to see what is in front of me, to practice Gratitude for all I do have.  Because it is in that place that everything I lack lacks power.  It is in that place that I can be more loving to myself.  It is in that place that I can stay present with my loved ones.  And it is in that place where I have faith that I am exactly where I need to be, on my own path, on my own journey.

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.