Confessions of a ONE: Let it Flow

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Now that my 2nd graduate school class is over, I have a week to catch up on things that I have been falling behind on. One of those being this long overdue blog. I recently talked with a friend that is a ONE regarding emotions. She has been in a manipulative and emotionally abusive relationship with her husband most of her adult life and struggles with anger and then feels guilty that she is angry.

For some of us, it is unheard of that we wouldn’t be angry in an abusive relationship. However, this is completely a ONE trait. ONES are part of the anger triad along with EIGHTS and NINES. While EIGHTS are quick to show their anger, and NINES are asleep to their anger, ONES sincerely believe that anger is wrong-no matter the situation or circumstances. ONES have a strong desire to be right, moral and correct. It is the unconscious motivation that drives them to behave and make decisions. That, along with a strong inner critic that constantly berates them if they are not right, moral, or correct. Not only has my friend been manipulated by her husband over the past several decades, she also believes that any emotions other than love and forgiveness towards him are wrong.

She will call me angry and emotional and say, “I know it’s wrong to be angry but because of his behavior, I just can’t help it sometimes. I am just so angry at him!” Due to decades of trauma and abuse (leading back to even her childhood), she has the core belief that anger is wrong. I challenged this belief the last time she called me.

“What if anger isn’t wrong? What if you should be angry? What your husband is doing hurts you and anybody would have the emotion of anger if someone did that to them!”

“But I know I should be loving and supportive and instead I’m just angry!”

I then had this picture of a broken dam. With any emotion we deem as negative, most of us will try to dam them up so that they don’t hurt or destroy anything. Then we build a whole world on the other side of that dam. Relationships, accomplishments, victories, structures are all on the other side of the dam of our emotions. What happens when we just keep putting the emotions on the other side of that structure? What happens if they start seeping out? If we have this kind of world, then we will probably double up our efforts to dam up the emotions. Here is the danger. One day, that dam is going to break and it won’t just flow onto a dry river bed. It will flood the world you build at the base of the dam. And until you dry out those emotions, you will not know the depth of the destruction that was caused.

So what is a better option? As we continued the phone call, I challenged her a bit.

“Why don’t you think of angry as an indicator? It’s an emotion that indicates that something may be wrong not that the emotion is wrong. Instead of stifling this angry, be mindful of the emotion, listen to what it is trying to tell you, and then let it just flow through you.”

We are all made of mind, body and spirit. Our emotions are a part of our spirit. If God made us in his image, then can we deduce that the very author and creator of us has emotions as well? Then why do we push them aside, or worse, say that they are wrong and unimportant? Mainly because we have all been hurt by someone’s forceful emotions towards us or we have hurt someone else. The problem doesn’t lie with the emotions. The problem is how we use those emotions. Anger, sadness, and guilt can all be positive indicators that something is wrong in our lives. With my friend, it was anger that she was continually manipulated by her husband.

When the indication light comes on, it’s our signal to recognize why. If the gas light comes on when we are driving, it would behoove us to recognize that we need to get gas, not that you have done something wrong or that it is a negative thing. In the same way, when we feel guilt, we should just recognize the emotion, and then ask ourselves why we may feel that way. It could be that you are engaging in harmful activity or it could be from a past trigger. Either way, by damming up the emotion of guilt, we aren’t following the indication light to take care of what needs to be taken care of. Ignoring the light will only cause the destruction to be greater and more devastating at some point down the road, no pun intended.

Furthermore, any type has something that we are trying to dam up. Our anger, our voice, our needs…here is a good list to consider no matter your type.

ONES-their anger

TWO-their needs

THREES-their failure

FOURS-their envy

FIVES-their incompetence and lack

SIXES-their fear

SEVENS-any negative emotion

EIGHTS-their vulnerability

NINES-their voice

When we don’t acknowledge these feelings and why we are feeling them, then we are not being true to the healthy way God created us. A better option is to recognize the anger, the need, the fear and then let it flow through like a gentle river that waters the life you’ve built instead of a flood that destroys it. Of course, this metaphor is a bit faulty because dams are actually helpful and important in nature. However, broken dams aren’t usually beneficial and can be destructive.

Recently, I found out about something someone did that deeply hurt me. In the past, I have either let my emotions run rampant (it’s a TWO thing) or thought that my anger and emotions were wrong and dammed them up (that’s my ONE wing). This time, I recognized the emotions I was feeling and that these emotions were not wrong or bad. Hurt, anger, and sadness were all trying to boil over. So I took some time by myself to cry, journal, pray and think about what was going on and why it was happening. I maybe spent an hour in my study before I felt this sense of peace and love towards that person. I was able to go about my day with just that little blip of emotion instead of it bleeding into everything.

I just want to challenge any number, but especially ONES. If you are feeling that anger or fear rise up, take the time to recognize it. Call it out…scream into a pillow…and then ask why you are feeling angry. Whatever you do, don’t sweep it under the rug or dam it up. Just let it flow through and out and then take action from a place of peace. It is infinitely less painful to choose love and forgiveness from this place!

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Britt is a licensed Enneagram coach and is in the process of pursuing her Master’s degree in Counseling. Through the pain of self-discovery, she has found healing from the chains and shame that held her captive for decades!