Reformers: The Need to be Perfect

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Welcome to part two of a series examining the nine types of the Enneagram Personality System.  Today we are discussing type one, the Reformer.  Last week, we explored type nine, the Peacemaker.  To take a free version of the test, go here.


Reformers, type one of the enneagram, espouse the belief that they can find safety and security if they are always working toward perfection in themselves and others.  We all know these people: They are organized, bright, and motivated to change the world by fixing it, one problem at a time.  They are dedicated, conscientious, ethical, fair, and hardworking. While they can be great motivators and teachers when tempered with sensitivity, they can also come across as harsh, judgmental, and controlling when in distress. Continue reading “Reformers: The Need to be Perfect”

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Peacemakers: The Need to Avoid

 

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An avoider, or peacemaker, is someone who copes with stress by, you guessed it, avoiding. We all know them.  To an outside observer, it may seem that the avoider is pleasant and unflappable, but may not be in touch with who he or she is. The avoider is always more concerned with how others are doing, a kind of “if you’re ok, then I’m ok” mentality.  This can be frustrating when trying to get close to an avoider, because it may seem that they are slow to open up or offer much of themselves.  And yet, because of this external focus, the avoider has an uncanny ability to mediate tension and ease the concerns of everyone around them. They value peace and harmony in a way that can be extremely self-denying, and yet they also value comfort in a way that can be self-indulgent and lazy.  The motto of the serene avoider is “Why worry about something you can’t change?” Continue reading “Peacemakers: The Need to Avoid”

Harry Potter and Depression

 

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Disclaimer: This post was written entirely before the tragic news of Robin Williams’ suicide. I hope his death can serve as a reminder for those struggling with Bipolar Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder that their illness is very serious and potentially life-threatening especially if left untreated.


 

A client I spoke with only last week has been struggling with depression off and on for several years. She takes medication daily and attends weekly counseling. The depression waxes and wanes, and sometimes she barely notices it’s there. And yet sometimes it hits her quite suddenly, with all the force of a thunderstorm and the quietness of a whisper.

I mention this client because I think she speaks very profoundly about the terror of living with depression. No matter what she does, it is still there lurking in the shadows. She says it is like a cloud she can’t seem to find her way out of. She is doing everything right seemingly: getting exercise, seeing friends, going to counseling, and yet, the depression remains.

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, famously struggled with depression in the early days of writing the series. In fact, it was her struggle with depression that inspired Rowling to create Dementors, the terrifying creatures that feed on human feeling. Of depression and Dementors, she says: “It’s so difficult to describe [depression] to someone who’s never been there, because it’s not sadness. I know sadness. Sadness is to cry and to feel. But it’s that cold absence of feeling—that really hollowed-out feeling. That’s what Dementors are.”

In the books, Rowling described the Dementors like this:

“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope, and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can’t see them. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself — soul-less and evil. You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”

If this sounds familiar to any of you, please consider letting someone in on your struggle.  Try therapy.  Tell a trusted friend or family member about your thoughts. Depression loves to cause isolation and shame, ensnaring its victim in a fog. From the depths of this fog, it can seem like no one will understand or care. The bravest and best thing you can do to fight depression is to risk the vulnerability of asking for help.


Welcome!

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Welcome to my blog!  My desire is for this to be a little corner of the internet where counseling, creativity, and self-exploration are celebrated and encouraged.  The image at the top of my website is a photograph of a love letter written by my great grandfather in 1912 to his future wife. I include it because I believe that when we undertake the task of self-exploration in counseling, what we are really doing is learning to author our own stories in a way that draws on our innate sense of creativity. Making the decision to begin therapy is essentially putting pen to paper maybe for the first time to express who you are and what you value. And it is a very brave step.

Please enjoy exploring the other pages of my website where you can read more about me as well as my counseling practice.