Difficult People Decoded: The Individualist
This week we continue our stroll around the Enneagram for the office and meet The Individualist or Fours. These are the co-workers you want to play poker with because they are easy to read. They maintain their identity by always being different. They are comfortable being open about their vulnerability and tend to talk with their hands. But they are also sensitive, self-aware, and generally reserved.
Fours are often marked by an early experience of abandonment. For example, a loss of a parent may trigger a child to turn into herself alone to cope, armed with her own imagination. Fours can also easily feel responsible for the abandonment when it had nothing to do with them at all. They tend to nurse wounds and have a hard time letting go of the past.
As a result, Fours build an endurances for suffering unlike any other type. They are able to process pain because they are constantly in tune with their darker sides.
Because of this inherent sense of rejection, Fours strive to be attractive, exceptional, and creative in order to feel whole. This can manifest itself even in a small detail like a popped collar or obsession with cufflinks.
The Four’s shadow is envy – a longing desire for what somebody else has. This should not be confused which jealousy, which would be hating somebody because they have something you want. The irony of course it that when Fours receive what their hearts desire, they are often disappointed that it is not as perfect as they had imagined.
Fours struggle with chronic low self-esteem countered with a fantasy self. It’s no wonder that many artists, musicians, actors, writers, and psychologists are Fours. It’s important for Fours to get outside! Exercise and get back in touch with external reality. Their ultimate virtue is equanimity: a confidence that everybody is equal and everybody is special.
“So I am not pushing any feelings away and neither am I stuck in them in perpetual victimhood. All weather of the heart is welcome to a healthy FOUR. In that state there’s room and expansion for longing to become a fire, a passion that can take me all the way to the marriage that we were all promised, of the Bride and the Bridegroom”
- “We need to be more creative.”
- “Nobody understands me.”
- “I just want to be who I am.”
- Desires to be rescued
- Asks serious questions at a young age
- Drawn to intense experiences
Examples: Meryl Streep, Flannery O’Connor, Rumi, Frédéric Chopin, Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky, Gustav Mahler, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Edgar Allen Poe, Yukio Mishima, Virginia Woolf, Anne Frank, J.D. Salinger, Anne Rice, Frida Kahlo, Diane Arbus, Martha Graham, Cindy Sherman, Hank Williams, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, Maria Callas, Miles Davis, Keith Jarrett, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Ferron, Cher, Stevie Nicks, Annie Lennox, Prince, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morrisette, Feist, Amy Winehouse, Ingmar Bergman, Lars von Trier, Marlon Brando, Jeremy Irons, Kate Winslet, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp, Streetcar Named Desire’s “Blanche duBois”
How To Work With A Four:
- Pick the best restaurant
- Give genuine compliments
- Be a supportive friend
- Respect their gifts and intuition
- Never accuse them of overreacting
- Tell them a random joke