A few weeks ago, I shared some humbling realizations about myself that, after avoiding or trying to change, I’ve finally accepted, embraced, and chosen to face and grow from (Summer Break post).
In the weeks to come, I want to unfold the resources that have helped me experience breakthroughs in some significant areas. Specifically, in releasing co-dependent tendencies of allowing other’s expectations of who I am and what I should do guide and direct my life.
The co-dependent, people-pleasing struggle has been real my whole life. From my earliest memories, I sensed the needs of others more than my own. I just assumed everyone had this ability, and I felt a heavy burden to make others happy— to say what they wanted to hear and give them the emotional support or encouragement they needed to make them laugh or smile. I enjoyed being liked and knowing I could bring a smile to someone’s face.
Another part of me felt unsafe sharing my true feelings, thoughts, and opinions. I worried if my views and opinions differed from the other person it would create conflict in the relationship, so I rarely spoke up and kept my thoughts to myself.
I regularly wrote in a journal from the time I was 7. I didn’t realize it then, but writing in my journal was the only place I felt free enough to be myself. Over the years, I began creating these two separate lives: my real self (inner self) and my go along to get along, keep the peace at all costs self.
I felt like a fraud because I didn’t feel loved for the real me, only the me who made people believe I was like them.
Overtime this duplicity wore on my soul, and as an adult, I struggled to connect with my own needs, feelings, and dreams. I found myself merging with my relationships, which felt more natural to me than doing the work to find out who I wanted to be and what I wanted from life.
The more I merged with others, the more empty and alone I felt. Deep down, I knew I was avoiding something essential, but I didn’t know how to break the cycle.
Fast forward to 2013 when I lost my husband and became a single mom. I was finally forced to be alone and figure things out for myself. I still avoided doing the work for years. I often continued in my old patterns of merging with relationships to avoid the uncomfortable feelings of wrestling with myself to create my own identity.
This summer, I found a resource that has supported me in making the breakthrough I know I’ve needed for so long. It’s called the enneagram, and it’s a personality assessment.
Let me preface this by saying I have a love-hate relationship with personality tests, and I’ve taken many of them throughout my life. Of all the assessments I’ve taken, the enneagram truly blew me away. When I felt like no one in the world understood me, the enneagram nailed it.
My favorite part about it is that it’s confrontational. It points out where you possibly get stuck, and it gives you action steps to get unstuck. For example, I am a 9 (scoring is 1-9) on the enneagram and tend to not share my feelings, thoughts, and opinions for fear of conflict.
The growth opportunity for me is to practice sharing my real thoughts, ideas, and feelings with people who are safe for me to open up to. Only then can I begin to release the old story that I’m solely loved because I’m agreeable. I need to learn that I can be loved and accepted, even if I don’t have the same feelings, thoughts, and opinions as others.
Putting my authentic self out there has been scary, but also liberating. I physically feel the stress melting off my body as I grow in confidence to step into my own. Doing so has released me from the expectations of others and given me faith to trust the small voice inside of me that’s always known what’s best for me.
If you’re feeling stuck in some areas and need a little support as I did, then I encourage you to check out the enneagram. You can take the free version at https://enneagramtest.net/ (this free version gives you three possible numbers you can be, and you read through them to decide which one is most like you).
This second test is pricey, but I thought it was worth it because it gives you your one number and a packet of information on your personality type: https://ianmorgancron.com/assessment
Here are the books and podcasts I’ve listened to this summer that have also supported my personal growth:
- The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
- Personality Types by Don Richard Riso with Russ Hudson
- Typology – Ian Morgan Cron
- That Sounds Fun – Annie F. Downs (EnneaSummer2019 episodes)
If you’ve already taken the enneagram, I’d love to know how it’s helped you in your journey, and if you do decide to take the test, feel free to share with me, too!
Thank you so much for taking the time to be with me today. Always so grateful for YOU! Blessings.