Learning to be a Healthy Eight

Jenn, 

In writing about yourself, I kept reading my daughter, Serena.  Kind of funny.  However, the darkness of lust and gluttony are not at all funny, yet to name them for what they are allows us to engage in a process toward health.  

But as you asked, what does a healthy eight look like?  I’ll just quote the enneagram institute and then expound, “Healthy eights have a resourceful, ‘can-do’ attitude as well as a steady inner drive. They take the initiative and make things happen with a great passion for life. They are honorable and authoritative—natural leaders who have a solid, commanding presence. Their groundedness gives them abundant ‘common sense’ as well as the ability to be decisive. Eights are willing to ‘take the heat,’ knowing that any decision cannot please everyone. As much as possible, they want to look after the interests of the people in their charge without playing favorites. They use their talents and fortitude to construct a better world for everyone in their lives.  Courageous, willing to put self in serious jeopardy to achieve their vision and have a lasting influence”  It’s not difficult to imagine what this looks like when it is engaged from the dark side.  

The title given to eights is “The Challenger”, and the spirit animal for the eight, is the rhino.  Ironic. 

Eights love taking on challenges that exceed or are different from our previous experiences as well as challenging others to exceed themselves in a new way. Eights have the physical and psychological capacities to persuade others to follow them into all kinds of risky and/or new endeavors.   Eights have enormous willpower and vitality, and they feel most alive when they are exercising these capacities in the world.   They use their abundant energy to effect changes in their environment—to “leave their mark" on it.

Currently, one of the things I have difficulty identifying is when I have crossed the line from healthy to unhealthy.  Many of the attributes you just read are present when I am healthy and when I’m not, which can be pretty misleading.  There in lies my problem: because these are the attributes of my personhood, I often cross the line before I even realize I have and these healthy attributes become destructive attributes to myself and those around me.  By the time I realize I need to back off, I’ve already done a decent job at hurting those around me (and myself as well).  

Am I making sense?  

I have this ever-present, internal nagging that time is slipping, and if I don’t get it done, or make it happen, then I’ll never make it to the point where I get to do what I actually want to do.  So I down shift into this emotionless, hard, utilitarian machine to “make it happen” all the while attempting to manage the noise in my head.  Then, I do well at convincing myself to turn off my emotions, get shit done, I’ll arrive sooner to where I want to be, so I can work in joy and peace.

I think that’s it…!  I know I am healthy when I am finding solace in the process as opposed to the end result.  

When an eight is healthy he/she finds joy and peace within the process.  Unhealthy eights can only find fleeting satisfaction in the end result that is somewhere in the future.  

I’m still learning how to find peace and joy in the process.  It’s always been hard for me.  But it makes sense of this new turn in my life.  I’ve picked up hobbies that are all about process.  

 This is why having anchors in my rhythm are so important.  Without anchors, I get lost in myself.  When I get too busy for my anchors, which I have been lately, I slip over into the darkside of myself, and joy and peace vacate. 

Matthew