“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down a little distance from me – like that – in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstanding. But you will sit a little closer to me every day. . .”
In the process of forming and maintaining meaningful friendships we can sometimes get impatient with one another. We feel the distance, and we’ve all experienced words as the source of misunderstanding, rather than the opposite. How do we ‘get a little closer?’
Jane Strong is offering an Odyssey class on three consecutive Saturday mornings beginning October 29, from 10 to 1, in the Meeting House. Jane has been doing some work with the church staff, to help us build the kind of good working relationships we want and need. She uses the Enneagram.
Some time ago I asked her to explain it to me. I’ve edited her explanation to fit on this little page—I thought you’d be interested. She said, “The Enneagram is a system that describes the personality from nine points of view…it’s a tool for personal growth…helps provide an objective way of understanding my own behavior and motivations…”
She explained: “The more objective I can be about myself, the less I am likely to react to the world through conditioned habitual responses…I’ve lightened up about expressing my own point of view. I don’t take others’ behavior so personally. Understanding the Enneagram and listening to people of other styles has helped me gain a deep appreciation for behaviors and attitudes that used to confuse and upset me. I can work with and relate to most people with compassion and a much deeper understanding of where they’re coming from and why.”
Jane talked specifically about improvements in her relationship with her 14-year old son, Heilyn: “The mind of a 14 year old boy is still a mystery to me in some ways, but at least I get how he makes decisions, how he responds to authority and how he will react to new situations.”
Jane says that the Enneagram is “…a great compliment to Myers-Briggs,” which has helped many of us. Jane acknowledges the downside: “It’s easy to turn it into a parlor game and simply pigeon hole people as if they are nothing more than a type, or have no choice but to act in the habitual way of the patterns identified and described by the system.” At its best, though, it can help us “…to get out of the boxes we tend to create in our own lives.”
It’s not too late to sign up for Jane’s Enneagram program. You can call the church office to add your name to the class list.
I hope to see you at the concert at four o’clock on Sunday afternoon. It’s a fund-raiser for our Unitarian Church in New Orleans, victims of Katrina. Take care.