The Failed Enneagram Project
Last Spring, my good friend Sara and I attempted to listen to an audiobook on the enneagram. We both had read a starter book on the topic and figured we were on our way to something meaningful with book two in the series. Sara and I have in common that we are brainy leaning towards nerdish with learning and information; but honestly, most of our closest friends fall into that category.
The point is that we expected it to be fairly easy to become mediocre gurus on the enneagram. Mark my words, we did NOT become gurus on the enneagram. We made it through three sessions. I could not understand the triads. Sara had to explain wings to me. Then, we just stopped. Seriously, thank goodness. We were not onto something!
I suppose I could blame Sara since 7s give up when they get bored. I could also blame myself because 9s reflect others (through something called merging) and forget to have their own opinions. But Sara wouldn’t let me do that even if she was extremely bored. Like I said, we’re really good friends.
The Topic of this Blog?
Recently, when I asked blog readers to choose topics for me to write about this fall, Sara replied first. She picked this topic:
How to Ask For What You Need Whether You Get It Or Not
Her second pick was:
How To Be a Good Friend (Top 10 List)
If this blog post was for Sara only, I could merge these two topics.
Sara and I have in common that we are married to our opposites. I know this is no big surprise that opposites often attract. But this is not your average cliché. Because we are married to our real, life opposites, there is a lot of our world that lives in the space of sisterhood. In other words, what doesn’t work in our marriages works out in friendships. So, it makes perfect sense that these two blog topics go well together.
Where do we go from here?
If you want more on the topic of friendship, then I am going to send you to a previous, popular blog post called This is a Messy Post About Authentic Friendship. I promise to write a Top 10 list very soon!
If you want more of finding your voice, Read on.
At the end of 2016, I lost my voice. I had never fully lost my voice before. Therefore, I had no idea what was happening or how to find my voice again. Losing your voice means that you no longer have actual words for what you are going through. You feel a sense of loss but can no longer describe your loss or know how to ask for what you need. Although I learned that I was depressed in that season of life, you don’t have to be depressed to lose your voice.
The Language of Requests
Here’s the deal my friends. There is a practice of living that helps you keep your voice or find your voice again if you’ve lost it. This practice is called the Language of Requests. I don’t know if that’s a universal term. My counselor, at the time, taught me this practice over a few years. I kept practicing it – – because it is hard for this enneagram 9. 9s tend to be happy to go along with whatever works for others and tune out. Thus, I keep practicing because this girl likes to swim at the bottom of the deep sea in her thoughts. If she stays in the deep too long without using her voice, she easily forgets to ask for what she needs.
What is the Language of Requests?
A substantive request.
Without an expectation of outcome.
Friend, I am feeling sad. Would you hang with me by taking a walk at the beach with the dogs?
Roommate or spouse: Can you please do the dishes tonight before you watch the game?
I’d like you (employer) to cover my health insurance while I am on maternity leave.
Can you be my driver today while I run errands? (My actual dream)
These are substantive requests defined specifically.
No Expectations of Outcome
You can use your brain to think up words for the language of requests. But you will have to work on your heart when it comes to your expectations. The power within the language of requests is that you don’t NOT ASK because you suspect the answer is NO. You ask anyway. Yes! That is how you use your voice.
Whether with your spouse/significant other, friends or family, it can become easy to go with the flow. Some of that is a good thing. But when you lose yourself to a set of difficult circumstances, an unhealthy or toxic dynamic or a way of living that cuts off your needs and desires, you eventually sink. You lose your voice.
Back in 2016 and much of 2017, I was so lost within myself that I could no longer hear my heavenly Father speaking to me. Yes, I lost his voice too. The loss of my own voice was a quiet falling that hurt, but the loss of my Father’s voice almost spiritually killed me. Those words sound dramatic. However, those words are truthful. The fraud of the silence kept me from so many godly promises.
Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.Psalm 23:6
Don’t grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time, we will reap a harvest.Galatians 6:9
The Father is always at his work as is the Son.John 5:17
Blessed are those who have not seen and believed.John 20:29
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:5
Overcoming Dual Silence
The road back from this dual silence took several months, more likely years. I got brave (like the least amount of bravery one can muster to move one inch forward) and started to use the language of requests. I am sure my initial attempts were shaky and perhaps even went unnoticed. Seven years later, I can now ask for things that would have taken three weeks of preparation, several rehearsals and a therapy session.
As to the spiritual silence, I slowly learned to believe God’s promises over the quietness of my relationship with the Lord. I began to move into the freedom of the holy doubter’s tension where doubting and believing live together in faith. I chose to believe that He was speaking and working and moving in my life beyond my ability to hear or see. I learned to trust and hope with or without a tangible God.
Back to the Enneagram
Neither Sara nor I are the mediocre gurus we hoped to be. Even so, it is very fun to learn just a little. We both read The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile. There is a chapter for each enneagram number. You can try to peg yourself and everyone you know as you read the book (which is what the book tells you not to do!).
If you prefer to do even less than that, but still want to have some fun, you can visit The Enneagram Institute and take the test for $12 or you can google to find a free test. From there, search your enneagram type on Pinterest and look at teachable images to learn more. That’s what I do! You can see what I have gathered by clicking here.
That’s all I got since I am less than a mediocre guru.