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  • Writer's pictureJessica Morgan McAtee

Can You Identify Your Enneagram Fixations?

I am passionate about butterfly education. I fixate on it.

I have been ardently focused on this since 2002 when I raised my first butterfly. It has gone from a hobby to a passion to a vocation to a way of life. I have logged far more than 10,000 hours of deliberate practice on the subject, which qualifies me as an expert according to Malcolm Gladwell. In his bestseller Outliers, he advises that this expertise requires goal-setting, feedback and tedious drills. It's not always fun, but it is what it takes to grow.

Since Butterflying is a topic I know very well, I use concepts from it often to relate to and understand my life. As a well seasoned lepidopterist (one who studies butterflies) people often tell me that they would love to butterfly garden, but there are no butterflies where they live.

How silly.

Butterflies are all over the globe from arctic regions to the tropics and beyond. The only reason people don’t see them is that they aren’t looking for them. Or, perhaps they don't know how to look for them.

Butterflies are around, but you have to do the seeking to spot one.

Life Fixations

This is likened to when people say they aren't where they want to be in life because the opportunities never came. Most likely, they weren't looking for them, at least not as they appeared. We have to work diligently towards our aims with expectancy and then opportunities reveal themselves. It is work.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. - Benjamin Franklin

Our job is to show up and do the next obvious thing in front of us that is related to our goal, even without seeing the whole picture. When we work for our future, we don't know what opportunities will come up, but we do know that when they arise, they won't catch us sleeping. Opportunities will find us diligently working towards who we want to become and they will gladly invite us to the next level. This is how we will recognize them.

Once you begin spotting butterflies, it is like a whole new dimension unfolds. It's one that was there all along.

Once you are fixated on your dreams, they will begin to materialize as the path unfolds.

It always existed, you just may not have noticed it before.

You will begin to notice small opportunities often (you will likely see more butterflies now too simply because of this post).

The point I am trying to make is the importance of noticing and being sensitive to other dimensions or ideas that are currently present in your life and reality. You may be missing them simply because you are not tuned into them yet.

Tuning In

What is your passion?

What brings you joy?

What are you good at?

What shall you be?

Who can you help?

Think on these things.

There are other ways to do things than what we currently know. There are other strategies for making and saving money. There are healthy lifestyles. Career advancement ideas surround us. Wonderful hobbies are begging to be learned. There are more efficient ways to exist. We can conserve more. Brilliant and lovely relationships are accessible, even right where we are.

We don't have to know exactly what they are, we simply have to align ourselves with them by doing the hard work that causes them to appear. The work of being intentional.

When we make it our intention to be perceptive to new ideas we will remove the self-imposed limits we currently live in.

This is how we can regularly make small trajectory changes that have massive implications for our future.

Being mindful of who we are and what we do today sets us up for the tomorrow we dream of.

And there is something else we should be aware of...

Shadow Fixations

Shadow fixations refer to how our personality tricks us and skews our vision of the world. We all have them. An easy way to learn yours is though the personality typology called The Enneagram. It makes us aware of nine journeys we can find ourselves on depending on our "number." With some self-observation, we can each find ourselves viewing the world from one of nine perspectives.

Enneagram work can help you identify fixations that are tripping you up and skewing your view of reality.

Each type, or number, has more than one fixation, but there are certain ones that dominate our psyches. These fixations are sub-conscious, but by knowing our number, we can quickly find which distortion we are stuck in.

People who identify as:

Type One fixate on what is wrong, what could be better and how things can be improved.

Type Two are forever derailed by who needs help and what they can offer for support, all the while not handling their own business.

Type Three are concerned with how others see them and working to appear successful while presenting a winning image.

Type Four notice what is missing or lost. They fixate on their flaws and how they fall short compared to others.

Type Five concentrate on where they are being intruded upon. They wonder how to get by with less so that they won't need to be entangled with others.

Type Six concern themselves with what could go wrong, what is dangerous and who looks suspicious in order to avoid perils.

Type Seven strive to keep life interesting and have many options so that everyday is filled with high energy, fun and excitement. They must feel free.

Type Eight obsesses about who has the power in any given situation and whether or not they are wielding it fairly.

Type Nine are held captive by other people's life and agenda, with the flip side being they ignore their own duty and responsibility.

Those are painful, but we can all relate to at least one. If you don't think one relates to you, it is most likely because you are unaware of how you operate. One literally derails your life on a daily basis. We habituate these to the extent that we believe they are reality, but they are imaginary constructs that distort our lives. We can learn to integrate them and rise above to better versions of ourselves so that we take every opportunity to grow. And I happen to know an Enneagram Life Coach who can help.

Integrate the Shadow


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