303-647-9474 | moc.enipdnayrovi%40arual

303-647-9474 | moc.enipdnayrovi%40arual

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Laura Brassie, LPC

Owner, Therapist

SEPTEMBER 22, 2019personality

The Enneagram Series: Four


It’s been a minute since I have written a post in the Enneagram Series. My original plan was to bring together authors of every Enneagram type and have them share from their individual perspective. I received a few posts, had several fall through, and then found myself trying to write up most of the posts unexpectedly. That became a little overwhelming! Enter in Life, and Work, and the Enneagram Series became a victim to everything happening. I have had several requests from readers to continue the series, and so recently I’ve been motivated to work on it again! I do love the Enneagram and have learned so much from it. I apologize to all of you for taking so long to get back to it.

So…. here we are at Enneagram Fours! 

  • The Basics of Fours

    Fours are often called the Individualists, the Romantics, and the Artists. For a Four, feelings are everything. When Fours are in a healthy place, they are self-aware, reflective, and intuitive; consistently in touch with themselves and others. They are not afraid to “go deep” emotionally and can sit in very painful emotions without abandoning them due to discomfort. Fours are some of the most creative people on the planet, often finding their voice and self-expression in forms of art. Fours tend to see beauty and meaning in everyday life, where others might miss it.

    Average or unaware Fours tend to take a romantic, artistic orientation in life, and create their world around expressing themselves. They often heighten and intensify their feelings as a constant attempt to stay in touch with their emotions and stay true to themselves. This can lead to Fours over-intensifying negative feelings, at which point they often become temperamental, moody, and sensitive. When they’re in a negative state, they tend to make others walk on eggshells, and can use those intuitions about others’ emotions to be manipulative.

    Another side effect of over-intensifying is that Fours are more prone to being depressed and disdainful, as well as impulsive and overtly sensual. They struggle with having conflicting, passionate feelings inside them, and this can feel like an overwhelming roller coaster to people on the outside. Unhealthy Fours can get to a place of wallowing and despondency. They have allowed their dreams to become completely unrealistic, and feel resentful and even hateful, loathing both others and themselves for the failures.

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  • Can I be me?

    Fours have two basic thorns in their side: a deep sense that they alone are incomplete, and a fear that they have no identity. Many of the average Four’s behaviors and forms of expression are attempts to remedy one of these.

    As children, Fours felt disconnected, often abandoned or misunderstood, by both parents. Whether this abandonment was real or perceived, Fours tend to look inward toward their feelings instead of outward toward their childhood role models. As they get older, this starts to feel like they are different, or don’t fit in. And that leads to a feeling of being incomplete. It doesn’t help that they usually believe everyone else has this mysterious missing piece. This self-inflicted feeling of aloneness also adds to the Four’s general sense of melancholy. 

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    The other basic fear is that they have no true identity or personal significance. This can play out in fours presenting themselves in very unique, expressive ways. They’re not afraid to look a little different or add a few wild flairs, just for shock value. They tend to embrace their “differentness” as a way to combat the feelings of incompleteness. While this may seem confident, deep down they are grasping at straws, trying to show that they are unique. When Fours become more self-aware about this sense of feeling incomplete, they can learn to channel those feelings into what it really is: the desire to be themselves. Healthy Fours learn that they can take off all the costumes, the feelings, and the acts and still be unique. 

  • The Path of Growth

    The great challenge of the Four is to find balance. Their genuine empathy and comfort with emotions can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be taken too far into the Four’s fantasy world. They are so over-identified with their feelings that they don’t use thinking or action functions enough, and this also puts them off balance.

    Fours are in the Feeling Triad with Twos and Threes, and their role in the triad is, unsurprisingly, internalizing and over-identifying with their feelings. They need to learn that emotions are the dashboard in their internal car, not the gas pedal. When they can step back and observe their emotions, instead of being automatically driven by them, they can use those emotions to heighten their incredible intuition, communication skills, and empathy, instead of isolating themselves.

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    Fours and Spirituality 

    Fours are wonderful at reflection and worship. They reflect the Beauty of God, and have the talent of seeing meaning and purpose in ordinary things. If they are unaware, Fours tend to equate their spirituality with how emotional they get during a spiritual experience. This can lead to them feeling discouraged and dry anytime their spiritual experience isn’t an emotional mountaintop. 
    The key here is still balance. As Fours learn to see the good is less intense forms of spirituality, such as learning, giving to others, or practicing forms of spiritual discipline, their spiritual lives will become much more holistic and rich. 
    Growth Tips for Fours

    1. Check out Dialectical Behavior Therapy, from the book originally published by Marsha Linehan. It was originally written for clinical settings and particular mental health concerns, but DBT’s four basic skills of mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, distress tolerance, and emotion regulation are applicable to all of us, and definitely to Fours. 

    2. Take a break from self-reflection and do something. Fours are great at reflecting, but they struggle with action. When you take time for reflection, do two extra things. Identify your goal- what direction you want to move in because of your realization from this reflection. Then, identify one action step you can take in the next week to move toward this goal. And don’t reflect again until you’ve done those things. 

    3. Find ways to give back. You have incredible empathy and compassionate. Use that to find ways to give to others, whether that’s helping people in your personal life, finding ways to volunteer, or integrating this into your professional life. 

    4. Practicing grounding exercises. When your emotions seem to be taking over, there are many simple techniques to help ground yourself. I actually have a little grounding kit with essential oils, a small brush, a squishy toy, gum, marbles, and a few other little trinkets that all have a sensory effect. Sensory triggers help to ground you when you’re in your head too much.

Laura Brassie, LPC9351 Grant St. Suite 480Thornton, CO 80221Phone: (303) 647-9474Email: lmoc.enipdnayrovi%40arua

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