Agreeable

Is it better to be agreeable? Truly?

I’ve heard it all my life: how easy I make everyone’s lives, how well I listen, how I fill the gap and take initiative. These are all good traits, I’m sure. I’m sure there are people who don’t have these that wish they did, but maybe… this is counter-intuitive for me.

The Enneagram

There are millions of tests on the internet: “Which cheese are you?” “Which Disney prince should you marry?” “How weird are you?” There’s no shortage of them. However, most of the tests don’t reveal so much as they do just confirm biases you already have about yourself.

The Enneagram is unique in that it is not only over 100 years in the making, but that it is used to find your motivations, your drives, your failings, and so much more. It is recommended that you don’t have someone who is an expert examine you and decide what you are, but rather that self-discovery leads you to the place where you find who you are in an honest way.

However, honesty is not always easy… especially with ourselves. Take it from me: I was certain I was a 3: The Effective Person. The person who is an achiever and seeks nothing but achievement in all things to feel effective in the world. Every person I spoke to agreed with me.

When I started working at my current job, they sent me the test from WEPSS.com. They paid the $10 fee for me, and I took the 200 impression-question quiz. It took about 20-30 minutes. What came out on the other side has made me re-evaluate so much about the way I present myself to the world. Let me show you my results:

Out came the realization that I was, in fact, a 2: The Loving Person, with a WING of 3. The nickname of a 2-3 is “The Host.” This person shows the characteristics of a 3 (drive to succeed), but does them with a 2’s motivation: receiving love.

The 8 line indicates that under stressful conditions, I resort to an 8 manifestation: I become a little more assertive and willing to set limits. The 4 line shows that when I am relaxed, I become more like a 4: I can become more aware of my unique qualities as well as my needs and wants.

Used with permission from WEPSS.com.

This didn’t quite convince me I wasn’t a 3. Until I read this:

“During your early development, you were very aware of your interdependence with others. This awareness became distorted when important people in your life gave you approval for giving to them, helping them, and not asking much from them in return. When you directly expressed your own needs, you were probably met with indifference, disapproval, or abandonment. Thus you came to believe that your own needs would not be met until you first met the needs of others. When you were a child, you may have even acted like a parent to your own parents in order to get their affection.”

This paragraph made me cry as it hit me, and I re-read the email results over and over again.

I’m a two: a person who does all they do to receive love. They feel motivated by love and acceptance and making a difference. They become more stressed when they feel unloved or neglected, or when they fail to accomplish their goals.

Being Easy

Early on, I learned that being easy was the best way to receive love and acceptance. The easier I was to be around – the more quiet I was about my own needs – the better. I learned to just run with every task given to me and find little goals to make myself feel better it. This tactic works well. Bosses, other parents, teachers – they’ve all loved me and my “drive to succeed.” What they don’t know is that it’s actually a “drive to be appreciated.”

So what happens when I do this all of the time?

  • I don’t tell my husband when I’m really wanting something in an effort to be easy.
  • Finances become a source of stress because I don’t want to limit others’ spending, but limit myself to make up for it.
  • Bosses give me task after task and I’m unwilling to share that I’m unhappy doing something.
  • I stretch myself thin for friends and family when they’re visiting and become unhappy when it seems unappreciated (though I’d never show it).

The key is communication, obviously. But communication seems impossible when it feels like telling someone how you feel will inconvenience them, upset them, bother them, or do anything else, really, but make them love you. My brain connects that holding my needs in will make them love and accept me.

Not communicating, however, is likely going to do much worse to me. Again, the answer is obvious: when stating your needs you always sandwich requests: good-bad-good. You give appreciation, you say what you need/want/desire, you offer a way for that to happen, and boom – both parties can walk away still feeling good… but, Lord, do I overthink.

It’s time. It won’t happen all at once, but I have to learn that people won’t hate me for saying what I want or how I feel, and if they do… I need to be okay with that.

Comment your strategies or let me know if you’ve ever felt this way!

Fairy Tales & Fathers

This was written January 20, 2013 in Montana, while in missionary training. Unedited.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Schwangau, Germany

Once upon a time, in a far away land, a princess lived with her father in a beautiful white castle, overlooking a deep forest. Her father, the king, loved her very much and would lavish her with gifts and love, but she longed for a prince to come. He reassured her often that a prince would one day come for her that he had picked out, and to wait patiently. She sat at his feet and would listen to the loving words he bestowed upon her.

When she was still very young, she became aware of a man who stalked the castle in a dark cloak. He came to the princess and told her that her father was lying to her, and then the man would hide in the shadows when others came around. He would point out the things that people did around her to tell her that she had no one. He would make her feel worthless, and only more words from her father would help her ignore the evil things the man would tell her.

She held her hands out to every young prince that came to her castle. Sometimes the men would take them, and spin her around, but they would leave quickly, leaving her falling in the dust, hitting the wall, and sliding to the floor. Then the man in the dark cloak would swoop down upon her, telling her that it happened because of her and that it was her fault – because she wasn’t beautiful and she didn’t deserve a prince.

The princess ran to her father crying, telling him of the man in the dark cloak. He reassured her, “Yes, child. I know he’s out there, but you can’t believe his words; He’s a liar and a thief.”

“What does he steal?” The girl asked.

“He steals innocence. He steals purity. He steals youth.”

The girl feared the man in the dark cloak, and would yell for her father when he came near her.

More princes came to the castle, but her father promised her that if she were patient, the one that would hold her and not let her go would come, and that for now she should stay with him.

But one day as she was walking the castle alone, wishing that the prince that her father meant for her to be with would come, a boy stepped onto her path.

He took her by her hands, and twirled her around, holding her close, and brushing the hair from her face. She stared into his eyes and thought, “This must be the prince that my father meant for me,” They danced often, his leading sometimes painful and strange, but she believed that the boy meant only to help her learn how to dance with him better.

The boy would retreat into the woods for long periods of time, and the princess would stand at the edge of it, calling for him to come out. Often he would sing to her from within, hoping to entice her inside. She would sometimes wander in, glancing around in fear, and he would attempt to drag her deeper and she would flee back to the castle, avoiding the presence of her father, because he would surely know where she had been because of the dirt on her dress and hair.

This same cycle happened again and again, as she delved deeper intot he woods each time – the boy entering the castle and leaving it, enticing her and her fleeing. One day, as she waited for the boy to leave the forest, an arrow came flying through the foliage – and then another and another. As she ducked in fear, she saw the boy she had thought was her prince leading the charge. Many of the arrows pierced her limbs and as the fake prince rode off without a word, she lay gasping at the foot of the castle, on the edge of the forest.

This time, the man in the black cloak came to her and simply stood over her. He didn’t even need to speak his words of poison, for she knew what it was he meant, and truly believed it. It was her fault, because she wasn’t beautiful enough, or important enough – because she didn’t say the right words or dance correctly. It was because of her blind love and the way she opened her heart so willingly. She laid there, gazing into the man’s soul-less eyes, absolutely positive that she meant nothing to anyone at all, not even her father whom she loved so dearly.

She ran away from the castle with the man in the dark cloak, seeking her worth – but only finding death and emptiness at every turn. Every dark tree that passed hid more arrows that flew, and she received more wounds and scars, becoming more and more battered and torn.

In a moment of desperate and panicked clarity, she saw that the liar and thief had taken just the things that her father had warned, and she tried to run from him, but he grabbed the back of her dress and pulled her back. He hissed in her ear, asking where she would run to. The once-princess stared into the man’s eyes and said, “Back to my father,”

The man laughed in her face. “Why would your dear father take you back? He would never forgive you for the pain you’ve put him through. Nor for the betrayal you’ve made him suffer.”

The girl pushed the man away, and ran as fast as she could back through the forest to the white castle, her dress and hair snagging on every branch that stood nearby – but as it rose into view, she shrank back – fearing her father’s wrath. After pacing in fear, she decided to sit on the edge of the forest, just to see if she could see his face again, but the servants of her father noticed her. They called to her father, saying, “Your daughter wants to come home, but she is afraid of coming in the gate!” The king quickly stood from his table and ran to the wall, staring out at his torn and ashamed daughter.

The princess stood up, ready to run back into the forest, but she saw the loving tears on her father’s cheeks. They propelled her forward as her father ran to her and held her tightly, carrying her back to the castle, and telling her lovingly that he missed her and would take care of her always. He listened to her apologies and he brushed back her hair, held her face, and told her that she shouldn’t have run away and that he had been waiting for her to simply call on him and he would have run to her at any moment, just as he did by the forest.

Her tears fell down her face into the beautiful robe he wore as he held her, telling her that she didn’t have to be afraid. For a long time, he cradled her in his arms. He would wash her wounds every day, reducing the scars and erasing the pain, and telling her that the prince was still on his way, still preparing for her.

While sometimes the girl thought back on the old arrow wounds she had received, and though they twinged during bad weather, her father knew her and loved her – and would always be there to prevent them from reopening, if she let him.

And so she waited patiently in the presence of her father.