Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Enneagram Type Seven

Positivity/optimism, inspirational vision, energy, enthusiasm, passion/excitement, creativity, a taste for fun/ insatiable appetite for variegated enjoyable experiences, and sometimes outrageous silliness are the hallmarks of Type Seven.  The basis of their programming, as alluded to in my posts about Enneatypes Five and Six, is the avoidance of pain: the idea that if they just choose to look at the bright side of things, they can cheerfully shrug off suffering, and if they can just keep busy enough they won't have to dwell on anything that may be bothering them.  (The avoidance of pain is also, of course, the motive of addicts; Type Seven is the most addiction-prone type on the Enneagram.  Whether through alcohol, drugs, eating, shopping, or another addictive behavior, Sevens on the run from pain can destroy themselves if they don't find the courage to stop, turn, face their problems head-on and truly deal with them.) 

Average-to-unhealthy Sevens' optimism strikes me as the most denial-based, and therefore the most blinding/handicapping, of any of the positive-outlook Enneagram types (2, 7, 9).  They are true natives of the Idealism/Frustration Triad (1, 4, 7) -- they want so much to believe in and strive after the best possible outcome that they ignore or fail to sufficiently prepare for alternative outcomes, and the inevitable result is some shock, outrage and frustration.  (When healthy, Sevens remain optimistic and happy people, but may focus on seeing how whatever happens is for the best in some way, rather than being frustrated that whatever they wanted didn't happen.) 

When especially stressed, Sevens may "go to One," freezing up, becoming excessively self-controlled and filled with internal resentment and judgmentalism.  The combination of this line of connection to One -- the most rigid and nit-picky of all Enneatypes -- with the average Seven's habit of spontaneously rushing from one thing to the next as and when the mood strikes them (with their "experience junkie" nature, they have a strong tendency toward a Perceiving preference in Myers-Briggs, and "scattered" is one of the words most often applied to Sevens) may give them a funny mix of perfectionism in some areas and total acceptance of their own sloppiness in others -- though I'm sure there's a wide spectrum of very hasty and careless to very perfectionistic Sevens. 

The tendency to take their minds off something bothering them by engaging in something diverting/enjoyable may be so deeply ingrained in them that they may not even recognize themselves as being on the run from anxiety, fear or pain.  They may think of themselves as just hating boredom -- being on an incessant search for fun because it's worth having, and not seeking it means being doomed to an intolerably dull existence.  Whether they see themselves as fleeing anxiety or merely boredom, however, the typical Seven's behavior is the same: they throw themselves with the wholehearted and unceasing energy they have as an "aggressive" Enneatype (3, 7, 8) into tasks, projects, or recreational activities, getting so much done in such a short time that other people may be flabbergasted by the Seven's amazing number of accomplishments.  Some Sevens may even be called hyperactive.  As soon as a task, project, activity or line of thought loses interest for them, though, most Sevens will drop it at least for the time being and jump to something else they feel more like doing.  Their minds are active too -- moving rapidly from one idea to the next, and sometimes may be lacking in methodical/careful thoroughness, as if too distracted by the next upcoming thought to think the first one through completely. 

Sevens are generous with themselves and others.  They love spending money and tend to maintain the cheerful attitude that they deserve to be spoiled.  They're generally not egotistical in an insufferable way, but know themselves to be innately worthy and special human beings, just as all human beings are, and expect to be treated with a certain amount of respect.  If a relationship they're in isn't cutting it for them, Sevens will usually not have too much difficulty moving on.  Although they may be wonderfully good people, they're not burdened with any excess of conscience or morality that would hamper them from making changes in their life to make it more enjoyable or healthy.  They treat themselves well, have fun, and generally don't suffer from an excess of attachment to any particular person or situation.  There are Sevens who would never consider being in anything other than a serious and committed monogamous relationship, but there are also Sevens who feel that way of life is foreign to their nature and they want to be completely free to pursue any type of romantic relationship anytime they feel like it.  Abundance, fun, ease and good times for all are the general spirit of the Seven. 

Sevens are the most extroverted type on the Enneagram due to their distaste for examining all their own messy emotions and their fixation on a supposed need for outside stimulation/distraction -- and extroverts (especially Perceiving extroverts, which again is what Sevens tend to be) don't think things through ahead of time as much as introverts but rather tend to think on their feet, sometimes failing to look before they leap.  Add this tendency toward haste with the Seven's optimism, sense of abundance, and excitement-junkie qualities and you have the makings of a confident personality that might rely heavily on luck and relish taking risks.  This is not to say that all Sevens fit this description; there definitely are introverted Sevens, and I'd expect that with a generous 6-wing, a Seven might end up being a much more careful, steady, dependable person.  But the potential is there for at least a little reckless wildness in Sevens, since the Sevenish nature is to seek excitement, euphoria and newness rather than the comfort and calm of the familiar and predictable. 

One relatively harmless way Sevens may exhibit their recklessness is through radical attention-getting behaviors like getting up in public to clown around.  Sevens aren't too afraid of looking stupid; having a good time is way more important to them, and acting silly/crazy/goofy and laughing hard about it with everyone else is a great way to have a good time.  Another thing Sevens may do is nonchalantly share amazingly personal information about themselves with others.  Not all Sevens, but some, seem to see no problem in doing this.  Since public image isn't such an obsession for them as for some other types (although with a strong image fix in their tritype they can still care a lot about their public image, don't get me wrong!) and they tend to live (to some degree or other) as if there's no such thing as danger, it may be easier for them to "live in public" and feel that they genuinely don't care who knows their personal life inside and out. 

The path to health and wholeness for Sevens is for them to recognize that pain and pleasure are both part of life, and by failing to accept that and striving to deny all pain (along with the self-awareness that brings it to the surface), they deny proper balance to themselves and their lives.  Accepting both, learning to live with and affirm both, deconstructs the specter of pain and suffering and teaches the Seven that it's actually nothing to be afraid of after all.  Like Type Five, the balanced Seven can look fear and pain in the eye and make friends with it.  Then the Seven can become more quiet, introspective, patient and diligent -- can stop being so scattered and can begin applying a greater discipline and longer attention span born of genuine interest and dedication to any task of his or her choosing.  When health and wholeness are thus achieved by the Seven, his or her well-being and generosity overflow outward and flood the world in a rising swell of joy and goodness.  Sevens are joy-bringers and when they've truly discovered happiness, their enthusiasm and drive to share it with everyone by teaching others how to find it for themselves will know no bounds. 

The wing types:

Seven with a 6-wing has more of the 6ish qualities: a wonderful sense of humor, caring, considerate treatment of others and social concern.  Seven with an 8-wing tends to be more outrageous in speech and dress, sometimes crossing the line into crass or crude words or behavior, but also has more overflowing energy, determination and dynamism.