Another Perspective on Disintegration & Integration

A woman I’ll call Betty, who has the One type pattern, was sitting on a panel in one of my classes earlier in the year.  She was describing the sadness she felt regarding a move that took her granddaughter across the country.  Betty loves her dearly and misses her.  She had barely dipped into the painful feelings when she popped out of them describing her conscious practice of avoiding the “disintegration” move (to Four) by putting a positive spin on her situation, consciously working with the “integration” move (to Seven).  “I have so much to be grateful for and that’s what I try to focus on.” How can we argue with this good practice?

Yet I asked her to pause and give some space to the feelings of sadness.  Betty replied that she really tries to not go there ”“ it’s the disintegration move.  I invited her to consciously notice the feelings in her body, which was foreign to her.  Still she accepted the invitation and made some space for them.  They relaxed a bit. She was surprised. I then shared the importance of our feelings.

If you know me, you know how important I believe it is to FEEL THE FEELINGS IN YOUR BODY. Some Enneagram thought has us avoiding the energies of our stress (sometimes called the disintegration) point. Warning ”“ do not go there ”“ consciously move to your security point, the integration point! That will help you grow! I hear this and cringe.

From my point of view, here’s the helpful and the unhelpful aspects of this perspective.

Helpful: you are conscious, observing your patterns, and choosing how to respond. This is very, very good! So much of our Enneagram work is about developing the Inner Observer, the capacity to be present and choose how we pay attention and to what, rather than being pulled into automatic. Very helpful!

Unhelpful: you are avoiding part of yourself and your authentic experience. This cuts you off from your wholeness, the intelligence of one of the types/centers, and creates a fancy new defense against something in you perceived as wrong, Not helpful!

As a Two, my stress point is Eight. When I access the Eight energy consciously, I set boundaries, I know what feels right for me in my body, I speak my truth. Why would I avoid that? If I’m conscious, which is the premise I’m speaking from, why would I avoid these capacities? The Eight energies are a gift to me.

If we’re using the Enneagram to its fullest potential, we are accessing the Inner Observer, our open hearts and feelings, and being receptive to the felt sense in the body. We are growing consciousness, developing the capacity for greater choice and the capacity to directly relate to our authentic experiences. I say, get rid of nothing!!! Use it all!!! Explore yourself!!! Be curious!!! Allow all the parts of you, consciously, and you will transform.




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