I am my(smaller)self feels like we have arrived and are enlightened. This stage represents us reaching our full personality. This is us being healthy in the best way we know how. For the most part , we are "doing" a pretty good job at it. We are contributing to our society. And we are successful at what we are doing. And we are now able to distance ourselves from the some of the reactive emotions and legalistic norms most of us grew up experiencing. We have reconnected to our bodies.
The biggest indicator is that we have begun to be present to ourselves. Present to our emotions, thoughts and especially our bodies. To be present to our bodies may sound strange and yet it is vital that we come back to the awareness of it. This is why breathing through meditation is so important. It helps us reconnect to our body. In this Stage more than any prior one, we have come to an awareness of ourselves and our smaller self. If you know the Enneagram, this is your Enneagram number or ego state. The Enneagram is an ancient personality map believed to have been developed around 300 AD. I have found it as a helpful tool in seeing our smaller self . Our smaller self is not bad or wrong in and of itself. The problem is that it doesn't go far enough and is merely a projection of what we want others to see about us verses actually being fully seen. This "seeing" first has to come from us seeing ourselves. We begin to see we are the problem. That everything we are doing is really about and for ourself.
For me, this is the realization that I most identify as an Enneagram 3 which means I am the performer and achiever. This also is the number I dislike the most because it hits closest to home. As a performer and achiever, I can be success oriented and driven but also the charmer and salesperson. Another way to say it is that I struggle being authentic and direct. But at times I can't help it because it is my "go to" in navigating life. Every one of us developed our ego state from survival skills. Therefore, our Enneagram number is a useful way to see oneself in a holistic way that provides a map to become fully ourself. The challenge is that we want to remain and hide in our smaller self. We do this because its known and comfortable.
It will require a death to our ego to learn to reside outside our mask. Sometime in life, usually midlife, we are confronted that the way we are navigating life isn't working. It is this time in life where it feels like the wheels are about to fall off. This is when we have to confront our wounds that we have been running from, but if we honor our wounds, these wounds will turn to gold. It has been said that one of the best things to happen to a person is to experience and embrace that which we have been avoiding. As an Enneagram 3 type, the blessing came in my failure of life. We 3's absolutely avoid failure. We don't want to fail because we have tried so hard to build things / attachments around us to help us feel worth and significance. More than anything else in this stage, we have to be willing to accept the pain. A helpful tool is looking at our Enneagram number and seeing what it is we are really trying to avoid. Then instead of running from it we embrace it. But if you were like me, I resisted accepting failure so I hold on until I was completely broken. And for most, life usually takes us through it instead of us choosing it. Once we acknowledge our pain we then have to enter into more pain and live there which is the next stage...some call it The Dark Night of the Soul or My Shadow Self is Who I Am which will be discussed in the next Stage.
Below is the list of enneagram numbers and what each number avoids...
- 1 - The Reformer - avoids mistakes and being criticized
- 2 - The Helper - avoids disappointing others
- 3 - The Performer - avoids failure
- 4 - The Individualist - avoids being insignificant
- 5 - The Investigator - avoids being incapable
- 6 - The Loyalist - avoids being without support or guidance
- 7 - The Enthusiast - avoids pain or being ordinary
- 8 - The Protector - avoids being controlled or tricked by others
- 9 - The Peacemaker - avoids conflict
* other terms or meanings --- ego, provisional self, false self, shadow self