Enneagram Type 6 – Dealing with Anxiety

Enneagram Type 6I was working with a young client recently who shared with me her challenges around anxiety and the thought patterns reminded me of how some of my Enneagram Type 6 friends have shared what they experience. I reached out to ask them what they have found beneficial to quiet the anxious thoughts which lead to the anxious feelings in the body. I was very touched by the thoughtfulness that was put into the responses and I am sure that the suggestions will be valuable to all of us regardless of our Enneagram type. (for a refresher overview of Enneagram Type 6, follow this link.

These responses represent both genders from a more experienced stage of life. They all acknowledged that managing anxiety has been a pattern of struggle in their lives and so they have been very motivated to look for strategies to ease this. There were definitely common strategies and then there were specific ones that provide support for specific personal challenges. I will begin with the most popular response and work to the individual.

Meditation:

A skill learning from my vipassana meditation teacher is to observe whatever was arising in my mind and body in the moment with a curious and loving, non-interfering awareness. By observing the physical sensations of my anxiety, I learned to separate the somatic experience from the worrying thought process that tends to get bound up with it. This allowed me to create space around the thoughts, to see why they were arising, to not believe in them so much. It also allowed me to see what happened when I merely observed the physical feelings of anxiety, instead of resisting them and trying to make them go away: I found that the physical sensation of anxiety, for me, is indistinguishable from the feeling of elation. Same sensations + worrying thoughts = experience of anxiety instead of elation. In short, it is the feeling of arousal energy, pure and simple.
This practice is very simple, which is not to say that it’s easy: we tend to be so conditioned, at a deep neural-pathway level, to resist our experience in any given moment that it takes a lot of practice to be able to sit with unpleasant feelings for very long.

Body Work

  • Yoga – restorative, semantic, meditative, flow into the body.
  • Dance, outdoor activities like hiking, non-competitive sports
  • Reiki – receiving this form of energy healing and giving it.

Creativity

  • Joined a local craft group of like-minded people and am discovering a new side of me that likes to create.
  • Do Vision Boards of what I want to attract into my life.
  • Playing and laughter

Journaling

  • Writing down my thoughts so I don’t need to carry them
  • Writing how I desire my life to be in the present tense.
  • I keep a pad and pen by my bedside and in my purse so that when I think of something, I can write it down right away and then not have to fret about forgetting it. This is especially important at nighttime, as it used to keep me awake worrying about things.

Reading

Specific Strategies

For appointment times – I count backwards from the arrival time (giving myself 10-15 minutes to arrive earlier than necessary) and then figure out how long to get there, taking into consideration traffic and other delays.

For projects/assignments/other events with hard deadlines – I again work backwards from the date and create mini-milestones of tasks that need to be done in order to get to completion. I aim to finish a day or two before the actual deadline, in order to pad some time in case of emergencies.

I work with a paper “month at a glance” calendar so that I can see all the appointments/deadlines at one time. I don’t have to juggle everything in my mind and worry that I forgot something.

For decision-making – I make a list of the pros and cons and see which one outweighs the other. If I still don’t feel confident about the result, I say: “ok, I’m going to do such-and-such” and see what my gut reaction is to that. If it “clenches” then I know that’s not what I want to do.

In general, I make preparations as much as possible that are in my control. I work out various scenarios/conversations in my head and prepare answers/strategies/contingencies for those possibilities.

Prioritizing my worry list then solving the highest first, one at a time.

I really try hard to remember things happen for a reason and to relax and take a deep breath (or ten) to calm my thoughts and know that even though I don’t understand it all right now, that it is OK, I don’t need to control it all, all the time!

The “don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff” adage really is true, 98% of what we do is not life threatening/altering so it’s easier to accept and go with the flow once we realize that… the 2% is worth fighting for, if/when you identify it as YOUR OWN PERSONAL 2%!!

Faith – leaving the big questions and answers to be solved by God or nature.

Finally:

The good news is that just because you’re a Six doesn’t mean you have to suffer from anxiety all your life. Over the years, I have gone from being anxious on some level every day to having it now be the exception rather than the rule. But you do have to put in the work of self-awareness and self-acceptance and self-understanding if you want to really transform your relationship to these energies.

When you do, you may find that there is a lot of intuitive wisdom locked up in these energies!

I know this was a longer post – however the wisdom was too great not to share it all! How about you – how do you deal with anxious thoughts and feelings? I’d love your feedback!  Curious about the Enneagram? Take a look here for upcoming workshops in York Region. I look forward to meeting you…

Until next time,

Karen

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