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.
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.
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!