Confessions of ALL TYPES: From Graves into Gardens

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This blog will be a little different but I feel compelled to share this life-changing podcast. Click HERE to listen to the entire podcast of Typology: Dr. Curt Thompson on the Enneagram and Shame (S03-044). Most of what is in this blog came from that podcast except for a few of my interpretations and experiences. I just need to give credit where credit is due! Dr. Curt Thompson is the author of The Soul of Shame and he discusses with Ian Morgan Cron the science behind the effects of shame on the body, mind and spirit and how to rewrite your past story to walk in wholeness and healing. I listened to this in the parking lot of my daughter’s volleyball practice and at times I was sobbing at the perspective and rich truths he was sharing. I will try to summarize the deep information and will outline how each type experiences and expresses shame. I hope I can do the subject justice!

According to, shame is defined as “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.” We all can think of a time and event when we felt shame. When you think about this feeling, your body can actually feel exactly what it felt when you experienced the shame even if it was decades ago. Our mind recalls the way we shifted our eyes down, turned away from the person or situation, rolled in our shoulders, all in an effort to rid ourselves of and hide the shame that isn’t so easily pushed away. Shame is the fear of exposure; the fear that our deepest fears and weaknesses will be exposed. If this fear is exposed to others, then we fear that person or persons will leave us and we will be left with only our shame. It feels even worse knowing that others know exactly what it will do to us when we are left alone after our shame and sin is exposed. Shame can be good if it prompts us to turn from the wrong or foolish behavior and towards those that love us and we trust. However, most humans, whether they are conscious of it or not, have negative and lasting effects of shame that can cause mental anguish such as depression and anxiety, relational issues of anger and isolation, and even physical disease. I think we can all name an affect of shame if we choose to sit and be honest with ourselves. Why do we not want healing from such a disease? The short answer is because the only way be healed from shame is to name it and, usually with the help of others, walk through the shame to our loving Heavenly Father.

In the same way that God wrote shame into the beginning of the human story, He writes that shame was left in the grave when Jesus rose from the dead. In Genesis 2:25, the author writes “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” After Adam and Eve listened to the lie of the snake and ate the forbidden fruit, they noticed they were naked and hid themselves. “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden,” (Gen. 3:8 KJV). Why did Adam and Eve hide because they were naked when God never changed His precedence or rules on clothing? Sin was introduced bringing about shame. They felt that shame and instead of running to their creator and savior of their sin and shame, they ran and hid. Before we cast the first stone, we can all recall times where we have had the same reaction of running and hiding in our shame.

What happens then to unexposed and unconfessed sin and shame?  **It’s important to know that TWOS, THREES and FOURS are a part of the shame triad; FIVES, SIXES, and SEVENS are in the fear triad; EIGHTS, NINES, and ONES are in the anger triad. I’m hoping to write more about triads very soon.** Some of us are drowning in shame. We wear it like a dark and heavy cloak (shame triad). Some push it to the back corners of our consciousness where it pops up as anger and/or fear (fear and anger triad).  The very thing that we do to cope with the shame only reinforces the shame. And to confront the shame and move towards healing we must feel the shame again. You can now see why the enemy uses the cycle of shame to shackle us, forever making us ineffective!

Ian and Dr. Thompson list the reasons for experiencing shame based on each type.

ONES experience shame when they make mistakes. No one is perfect but ONES make it their goal. When a mistake is made, they will double down their efforts to be good and perfect. They will make sure that what is perfect is known by everyone in order to lead prying eyes away from the imperfections. And they will point out others’ faults and mistakes that don’t live up to their unattainable standards which eventually push others away.

TWOS’ shame is revealed when they use manipulative behavior or have to ask indirectly to get an unspoken need to be met. TWOS don’t want to have needs of their own out of fear that if they ask for help that others will say “no.” Read my earlier blog on TWOS asking for help HERE. They feel the shame in the statement “I am too needy,” as they smother those they love and care about in order to satisfy their core longing of being wanted and loved. This needy behavior only pushes people away.

THREES fear failure. So they experience shame when they fail or don’t live up to their level of success. They use success as a strategy for overcoming shame. To cope with the shame, they choose to just work harder. They will ignore family, friends, their health and well-being, driving everyone away. Those they love eventually give up on ever being a valuable part of their lives. And neglecting health and healthy habits can only last so long.

FOURS value being unique and authentic however they believe that they have an unredeemable deficiency. They envy everyone around them and think everyone else has they very thing that they are deficient in. FOURS often turn inward and list all their faults, failures and deficiencies. They stay in that victim mentality probably more than any other type. The paradox is that they value being different yet that difference becomes like a mirror that is the only thing they can see. Staying a victim can eventually push everyone away reaffirming the flaws and deficiencies.

(Can you start to see some patterns?)

FIVES have an insatiable thirst and hunger for knowledge. They value being competent and having all the right answers for any issue and situation. They experience shame when they feel they don’t have enough knowledge, information and the right answers. So they will delay making decisions in order to gain more knowledge, do more research. FIVES think, “I won’t be found to be a fraud if I just have all the right answers.” They are never satisfied with the subjects they are experts in. And they don’t think they every have enough resources (time, talents, energy) so they hoard. That hoarding behavior and constant quest for more knowledge to avoid shame drives people away.

SIXES question themselves and their situations constantly which reveals their shame. They need security to overcome their crippling fear, so they research and plan for every contingency, every worse case scenario. They ask themselves whether to themselves or everyone around them, “Did I say the right thing? Did I do it wrong?” So SIXES will plan even more the next time a decision needs to be made in order to avoid the overwhelming sense of shame and fear. People they love leave then, due to this constant questioning and fear which only reaffirms the questions they keep asking themselves.

SEVENS are known for their quick minds, always having a fun adventure planned, and their fun and witty demeanor. They don’t want to feel trapped in emotional pain and turmoil which they believe negates their very worth and value. My SEVEN daughter says that she constantly feels the need to sweep those negative things under the rug in her mind. I asked her what happens when the rug gets full. “I just get a bigger rug!” Of course we laugh and joke about this, but she knows that she will eventually have to deal with the negative emotions. They can experience shame when having to face the things that they keep sweeping under the giant rug or when the next big adventure doesn’t satisfies their need to escape. Striving for the next big plan and adventure and refusing to be present or face negative emotions will drive away people they love until they are alone face-to-face with their shame.

EIGHTS need to assert power and strength over the world in order to hide their vulnerability and weaknesses. EIGHTS believe vulnerability is weakness and weakness is the worst thing to actually possess. Their fear of being betrayed if they show their weakness turns them into power-hungry bullies. We can all remember the image of a bully in school that took others’ lunch money as they stuffed them in a locker. To forget and run away from their shame cause by weakness, they will just strive for more power and control. However, the betrayal and abandonment they fear will eventually happen as those they love escape out from under their control.

And finally, NINES value peace at all costs, even at the cost of their own identity. They experience shame knowing that they have an opinion and a voice but they choose to stay silent in order to maintain a peaceful world. They conform to the identities of everyone around them believing that they don’t matter. They tell themselves “Everyone will be mad at me and leave me if I am honest and assert myself so I will just affirm everyone else’s perspective.” They will eventually hold on to that shame and lack of identity pushing everyone away, or not speaking up for themselves as everyone leaves. This only reaffirms their belief that they don’t matter.

Thank you to those that have continued reading through this very long post! It will be WAY worth it as we get to the healing!  How can these graves be turned into gardens? How can becoming self-aware of the tendencies of the shame cycle promote healing? Dr. Thompson says that self-knowledge can lead to self-compassion. And self-compassion, such as telling yourself “I know and admit my own shame cycle and I’m going to be kind to myself,” can lead to a better relationship with shame. Instead of asking, “Is shame ever good?” we should ask, “What do I do with my shame?” Shame is a signal to return to our Heavenly Father, so denying the shame, fearing the shame, and/or living with the shame only continues to separate us from our Savior. How can a perfect Father heal our shame? The bible says that our sin separated us from God, but Jesus took on flesh and blood to feel everything that humans feel, including shame. He was convicted of all of humanity’s sin and shame and as He died on the cross, His Father turned away from Jesus. The very thing that all of humanity fears, being left alone because of our behavior, Jesus experienced on the cross. Jesus was buried in a grave in that sin and shame. But as God raised Jesus from the dead, He turned that grave into a garden, He turned shame into glory, He made a sea of separation into a bridge of redemption. The bible says that Godly grief and His kindness in that grief leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). The only way to overcome shame and live a whole and healthy life is to turn yourself towards the Father, lay your shame at the alter, and ask Him for forgiveness. Then ask for help to move past the shame and the behavior. Usually this will be more productive to do with someone you love and trust. That person can hold us accountable to the identity that God instilled in us.

Then in that place of healing, expect God to use you in powerful ways! It’s one thing to be healed of sin and shame, another thing to walk in our identity and an even higher calling to help others experience that same breakthrough. I am hoping and praying that this blog will be eye-opening to you.  As you confess your shame, I’m praying that you can visibly see me turning towards you, taking your hand, and leading you to your Heavenly Father, who lavishes love and redemption on those who boldly and humbly come to His throne room (Heb. 4:16). Then you can take the hand of someone else and lead them to that glorious place! That’s a cycle that will break the shame cycle every time! Thank you, Jesus, for your healing power to forgive and redeem!

Click HERE for a beautiful worship song from Elevation Worship ft. Brandon Lake called Graves into Gardens declaring His redemption.

You turn mourning to dancing

You give beauty for ashes

You turn shame into glory

You’re the only one who can

You turn graves into gardens

You turn bones into armies

You turn seas into highways

You’re the only One who can

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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!