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How Do Others Experience You & Me?

I can move back into this Geri-quake scene from several years ago in a moment’s recall: I was participating in my life coach cohort group’s monthly call (that has been happening since 2006!) ...The ‘mic’ was mine as I was sharing something deeply personal and very upsetting with two of only a few people I can say I feel safe to do such soul-baring.

This was during my early post-dismantling season when gut-wrenching aha’s were coming like labor pains...I was sharing one of these lightning bolts of enlightenment when my spiritual companions heard me exclaim rhetorically:

All of a sudden, it hit me; Am I just now seeing in myself what others have been seeing in me all along?!

The silence across our phone lines (Yes, this was when some of us still had landlines) was deafening. These two women have been using their voices to encourage and coach me through many seasons of life – the highs and lows – so the absence of the sound of their voices in this particular moment spoke volumes.

As the song lyrics so aptly put it: "Was blind but now I see..."

To make a very long story short (My dismantling could/will fill many blog posts), I was at the beginning of the blinders coming off –

I was starting to see the great chasm between how I thought I was presenting myself and how others were experiencing me. Oh my...!

It was in the next couple of years I dove deep into self-observation, which also led to realizing the power of the Enneagram framework in God’s transformational process, and decided to get trained as an Enneagram Practitioner to add to my life coaching practice.

As it turns out, within the typology model of the Enneagram, the concept of blind spots is irrespective of wiring; in other words, all nine types can have a gap between who they think they are presenting and who others experience them to be. As I learned about what this gap can look like with each type, I was also beginning to grasp the Grand Canyon size of my own illusion. Such a realization can never be fun; but humiliating and shocking when the aha is just coming in your 50’s. (Better late than the never?)

Nevertheless, I can testify to the truth of such a quote:

Sometimes the pain is the invitation in – Author unknown

And, to the hope in such a promise:

...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

In case you would like to put your toe into the exploration of how others experience us according to our E type, here are a couple of links to pertinent blog posts, full of great questions and some action steps, from a partnership of Enneagram experts who have successfully brought the power of the Enneagram into the business world for over twenty-five years now. Their company is Transform, Inc. How apropos.

Here is a concise graphic from Transform, Inc's post (excerpted from The Essential Enneagram) re: communication per type for you to consider where your blind spots might be:

Let me just give you a glimpse of what can be revealed by such a study by sharing what I have realized about my blind spots as a Type 3 (+ Subtype One-on-One). Let’s just start with the image I used at the top of this post - the cliché salesman:

Although I can think I am just oozing excitement over an idea or product I believe in and am sharing it with someone; in reality, I can be coming across as a caricature of a salesman (salesperson) ...Eww!

Taken from David Daniel’s and Virginia Price’s book, The Essential Enneagram, Type 3’s are "direct, topic-focused, fast-paced and confident." And as far as our selling ability, my daughter said to me in her teen years: “Mom, you could sell catsup popsicles to a lady in white gloves!”

And yet, others can experience us as "impatient, unfeeling, overly efficient and restrictive, and overriding of others’ views." Moreover, I can add in from my own experience, we Three’s can give the impression of ‘having it all together’ which can lead to a false perception of having no vulnerabilities, sensitivities, wounds or needs. You can see how this could impede authentic, mutually satisfying relationships - at a minimum.

I hope I have stirred your curiosity regarding how there can be a gap between the image you think you put forth versus how others are experiencing you, no matter the Type with which you resonate. Take a look at the blog post The Enneagram and Communication to discover more about how each of the nine types can be misperceived.

Although it is a journey that will never end, I am determined to stay receptive to uncovering more blinders that need to come off so I can experience more freedom to embody my authentic self, and from that posture, be capable of loving others better.

Might you consider...

How aware are you of your blind spots? Can you name one?
Surveying your past and present, what effects can you see from the gap between how you believe you present yourself versus the feedback from others' experience of you?
What stands in your way of removing the blinders?

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Blessed to play a part ~


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