What No One Wants to Admit About Unhealthy Type 4s
Listen & subscribe on your favorite platform:
Meet an unhealthy Enneagram type 4 named Brad. When Brad was growing up, he absolutely loved playing by himself. But at the same time, he really wanted to play with other kids. It was fun for him to kick a soccer ball and run around on the field, but sometimes kids were mean to him or they made fun of him.
Brad would also get angry and annoyed pretty easily. As he grows up, we notice is that he cries often, even though he's a tough cookie. He can stand his own ground, yet he has this deep, tender heart.
He would often look at his parents and see that they seem so level-headed. And his siblings and friends also seemed somewhat normal, but he felt foreign - kind of like an alien.
As he goes through middle school, high school, and onto college, Brad really starts to battle with wanting to be accepted by friends. But at the same time, he wants to be unique. As soon as he starts to get close to people, he gets really annoyed at them. They’re either too clingy, or they want too much from him.
His idea of a good friend is someone who spends time with him, talks to him often, and listens to him vent about all the frustrating things going on at school. If they don't, what kind of friend is that?
Here's the problem: Brad is putting all these expectations onto other people - his friends, his professors, his parents, his colleagues, his co-workers. He wants everyone to treat him in the way that he wants to be treated. When they don't, it makes him mad. Really mad.
In the newest episode of the Living Enneagram podcast, I talk about this fictional character to illustrate what an unhealthy Enneagram type 4 looks like.
Let's discuss the major signs from Brad's life that reveal this:
1. Brad wallows in his frustration or annoyances. Type 4s experience deep emotions, but when they are unhealthy, they almost want to be frustrated. They kind of like how it makes them feel. They might go binge eat binge, watch TV, drink a lot of alcohol, and try to numb out their emotions because it feels good to wallow in their own pity.
2. Brad had ideals in his head that led to assumptions. Assumptions of what a relationship should be, how people should act, or how the world should function. This drives an Enneagram type 4 to feel constantly dissatisfied with their live and also with other people. Then, they become judgmental and nitpicky.
3. Type 4’s can really get trapped in isolation. Here's the cycle: The four gets caught up in his or her emotions. The type 4 is frustrated because they have this idea of what the situation should be. Someone didn't meet that expectation, so they retreat. But the more and more they isolate themselves, the more flawed they feel. You can see how easy this pattern is to get stuck in.
Now, I want to make this a bit more positive!
I'm going to start with some scripture because we need this as a foundation. Let's head over to Philippians 4:4-9.
I love this scripture because it helps us understand the state of mind we must have to find freedom, but we also have to go put it into practice.
Here are the four steps for my Enneagram Type 4 friends to put into practice:
1. Give yourself the space to process your emotions. You have strong emotions, and that's a good thing. That's a gift. But if you don't give yourself the space to process it daily, that's when your emotions start to take over you and you start to spin out of control.
Instead, you could journal, go on a walk, spend time alone, of course, get in God's word, but allow yourself to feel what you're feeling and to dive into the why behind it.
2. Communicate. We see that Type 4s can get frustrated when others don’t act the way they expect them to. It’s really important that you ask your friends and family and the people you're around, “Hey, what are you thinking? I'm kind of getting this vibe from you, but is this true?”
Or “Hey, I noticed you haven't reached out to me in a while. Is everything okay?” This leads to so much more clarity and freedom from the stories we build up in our heads.
3. Keep a gratitude journal. When you focus on what is going well in your life, it’s easier to move forward. It is your responsibility to think of whatever is noble and lovable. If you’re listening to life-giving scripture, podcasts, music, friends, people who speak life over you, that's what your mind will dwell on. Then my heart, it can withstand anything that comes my way.
4. Focus on 3-5 things every single day that you can control. Type fours, when they're healthy, they really have control in their life. They still use their emotions, but they're more disciplined and principled in their thinking.
I would encourage you to find 3-5 simple things that you can control, like making your bed, or drinking X amount of water and getting in God's word every day.
When you feel in control of just these little tasks, you're telling your brain and your body that you’re in control and you don't let emotions dictate you.
God has equipped you to do everything you need to do. And you are not defined by your type. He has so many more plans for you to actually step into as a Type 4. Yes, you are emotional, but God also wants you to be grounded and disciplined. And I fully believe you can do it.
If you focus on these four steps and the scripture we read, you can continue to make forward progress.
Follow Callie's Instagram @callieammons