Heather, light as a feather
Sweet as a little bird in the sky
Decades ago, my uncle Larry wrote this little jingle about my sister, Heather, who is exactly four years younger than me. She was always quiet, shy and timid around others, especially strangers and large groups. She was certainly sweet and quiet, but there were times that there would be flashes of anger. We would not know what she was thinking or that she was even upset until she exploded!
As we both have matured and she has done some self-discovery, we now realize that she is a NINE: The Peacemaker. It’s often hard to believe that a NINE is in the anger triad because they usually will go along with the opinions and desires of others in order to keep the peace. However, a person can only push their own feelings and desires away for so long before there is an explosion of anger. Usually a NINE cannot even vocalize that this anger is associated with the denial of their opinions. Heather will be the first to say that when we were growing up and she was asked her opinion, she would shrug her shoulders and say “I don’t care. Whatever you want.” Then become passive aggressive or angry when she didn’t get her way. Thankfully we all grow and mature, and now that she knows more about the Enneagram and that she is a NINE, she is less likely to fall into this cycle.
Heather received her degree in elementary education and was a teacher before having three boys and staying at home with them. Several months ago she decided that it was time to began working again. She found a job teaching teachers, and it was a perfect fit for her. She is an expert in seeing processes and best case practices and then being disciplined to institute them in her own life. So having a job description to do this for others was a win-win. And she was forced to give her opinions on the subject of teaching without shying away or getting in the rut of saying, “I don’t care. Whatever you want.” Unfortunately, a couple months into her job, the pandemic hit and she was forced to work from home without much contact with peers and teachers. I’m sure we all know how difficult it is to pivot your job, especially teaching, to 100% online at home.
Heather thought things were going well and she was rocking her role. So she was quite surprised when her performance evaluation came back as “needs improvement.” This was a shock since she knew that she did her best with what she had, especially since she was not able to perform all her duties due to COVID-19. She had tons of questions regarding her job but figured no news and not hearing any negative feedback was good news. She felt very upset and instantly wanted to quit! Receiving a “needs improvement” score was definitely stealing the peace that she always tried to maintain. When Heather finally talked with some co-workers about how there was so much that she didn’t know but didn’t feel comfortable asking, they told her that the director had an open door policy. “You mean this whole time all I had to do was walk in and ask?” The consensus was a resounding “Yes!” Heather quickly realized that her struggle was due to being a NINE. Her motivation for peace and always feeling like she is a bother if she needs to ask a question kept her from excelling at her job.
Heather said, “When I sat with the director to review the performance evaluation she also stated that the site managers did not know the work that I had done with their teachers. And it occurred to me again that feeling that I would bother someone if I randomly stopped by their office to talk or ask a question was a detrimentally limiting belief. It was an eye-opening experience and I’m now much more aware of who I am and try to do the things that are uncomfortable for me.”
She limited her own success by not asking questions or acknowledging the need for help. And others didn’t even know the value she could bring to the table because she was unknown to the site managers. She had questions that she did not ask AND she had answers to other’s problems that she did not share! Sometimes others don’t know the gold that you possess until you open your mouth and speak up. NINES have a voice, but struggle using it. NINES have opinions, perspectives, questions, and struggles, but an unhealthy NINE will not share them. However, a self-aware NINE acknowledges their voice even if they feel uncomfortable or less peaceful doing so.
A NINE that has done some self-discovery is a huge asset to any relationship. NINES can see several point-of-views at a time and can often see the best case scenario. They will reframe negative situations into positives. They make amazing ambassadors and negotiators because they can take the best of everyone and pull it together for a win-win for all involved. Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and Walt Disney are said to be famous NINES throughout history. You can see how their vision would not have been carried out unless they chose to use their voice. But when they did speak up, it was often the voice of several perspectives and opinions meshed with their own. In fact, due to that super power, many presidents have been NINES . There is just a calming presence when healthy NINES are around. You can count on them to walk in peace in their inner and outer world.
However, here is a word of warning. Make sure that the peace they bring isn’t at the expense of their own peace and opinions. Reassure them that you value their perspective and that it is a safe place to share. And NINES, practice using your voice with people you trust. I think you will find that the more you practice, the easier it is speak up. You can be “sweet as a little bird in the sky” and be heard and known. Heather has truly learned how to create her own sweet song. You would never know it from her quiet demeanor, but she has thousands of online followers on Facebook for her sleep training consulting business. People from all over the world come to her and listen to her advice as she helps them through sleep training. She told me that she loves being able to walk with someone through some of the darkest and overwhelming times in their lives when their children aren’t sleeping and bring them hope and peace. Anyone going on days, months and sometime years without sleep will understand this gut-wrenching feeling. Her website states that, “Taking tired parents from utter exhaustion and chaos to well-rested predictability is my passion.” Others would not be able to experience this freedom had she not found her voice.
I am so proud of my sister for going on this journey of self-discovery and finding her own sweet song. She truly is a valuable resource and a calming presence! She can walk in that peace and dispel her anger because she recognizes that she can listen to others while knowing her own value. Great job, Sis!
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