Productivity Culture & The Enneagram

I’ve been writing a lot for work and doing interviews which have me sharing my story of how I found the enneagram and it brings me back to the work I used to do. When I found the enneagram I used to coach – specifically I was working with entrepreneurs to recover and prevent burnout. From there I created an online program called the brave collective where we focused on burnout and integrating rest and nourishment into our daily lives. 

It’s not shocking that that was the work I did for so long based on how much I stay in relationship to rest and understanding rest and permission to rest as a practice. But, it has continued to be something I work with because the messages we receive about rest from our society are so prevalent. They’re everywhere and the reason is because our society is built on the idea that we are reliant on workers. If people get quote on quote lazy – capitalism collapses. 

It’s my suspicion that this worked back in the day because housing prices and income were proportional. 

Did you know that the median cost of housing today is $375k ? If we were being paid the same ratio to housing cost as they were being paid in the 70s the median cost of housing today would be $184k. So yeah – in the 70s I can see why so many people weren’t trying to make dramatic changes because society was working for so many. Well, for white men specifically. Let’s be honest. 

But here we are now with houses outside of most people’s price range that are being sold in a matter of days with cash buyers swooping in and paying well above asking. It’s unreal. 

So of course resting is scary because we’re seeing everywhere that we have to keep going. There isn’t enough to go around and the rich will eat us alive if we aren’t careful. 

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Not be doomsdayish just trying to express the very real pressure that many of us are carrying around on a daily basis whether we agree on the cause of that pressure I think we can all agree that the pressure is there. 

Add in a global pandemic, diet culture telling us that we aren’t OK to like ourselves as we are and we should always be watching what we eat, the way we put all of the responsibility of saving the planet on individuals rather than on the corporations that are producing far and away more waste than individuals alone but some of us still have the crippling anxiety that we are going to put the wrong kind of plastic in the recycling bin, interpersonal relationships, learning how to be social again after socially isolating for years, tensions around how we are supposed to respond to mask wearing without clear and trustworthy guidance, fear of people not getting vaccinated, some of you experience fear of getting vaccinated yourselves, feeling as though we have to make these decisions on our own and somehow they’ve been politicized, trying to stay socially and politically aware while also managing our mental health, being afraid of aging, being afraid of the police,  fear of losing control over our own bodies, and now self-care and mental health have been commodified to the point of becoming another thing on our to do list that we can fail at rather than systems and tools we have in place in order to nourish our mind, body and souls. 

When we lay it all out there it’s really easy to see why we are tired. and that’s not even all of it is it? Many of us are experiencing grief on a personal and global level. We’re managing complex family dynamics and patriarchal systems that make it difficult for women to even have a day that feels like their own. DO you know how many women I’ve talked to who cried in my face because I told them to ask for an hour a week that could be their own. ONE HOUR A WEEK! That’s nothing. 

I don’t say all of this to bum you out. I swear. But I do say this as my way of empathizing with the fact that we are asking more and more of ourselves and this sense that we should always be doing – we get it honestly. It comes from everywhere. The job market, the housing market, the supermarket, social media, commercials, department stores. It’s everywhere – you are not safe to rest. Every moment that you are resting is a moment of progress lost. Whether that progress is financial, physical, emotional or relational. The underlying message of ‘this is a slippery slope’ is very real and extremely depressing. 

So, of course we are tired and of course we are afraid of the potential consequences of rest. But, we deserve rest anyway. 

So how do we reconcile the messaging with the very real need for rest? 

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I think we get a little rebellious. Depending on your enneagram type this will be more enticing for some of you than for others. I personally love a little rebel moment – especially if no-one gets hurt. 

Start questioning why we have these expectations in the first place and give yourself a season of playing rebel. Shoot a big middle finger up to the forces telling you that you aren’t doing enough and say, “I’ll show you not doing enough” and sit your butt down. 

Here are 3 small ways that I’m playing with this rebellious energy in my own life. 

  1. Checking in with my body regularly throughout the day. 

This is something that I came to with my therapist as I talked about reading your body keeps the score and how disconnected I still feel from my body. I know I talked about it on the podcast before about how I often ignore my bodies signals on purpose to be more productive. Instead I’ve been trying to check in more and giving my body exactly what she wants. Which for a week or so was a lot of naps. I’ve never really been a napper but when I started listening to my body more I started napping more which was terrifying for me. I had so many weird internal messages about the kind of people who took naps and what that meant. But, I just kept letting it happen and trusting the process and after several days of needing naps I’m back into my normal routine without as much rest needed. But, man was my body tired there for a minute and that’s OK! 

  1. Scheduling unplugged time. 

Because the messages of unrest and productivity and self-fixing are so prevalent everywhere that we look I’ve started scheduling in one sometimes two days a week to be unplugged from almost everything. Now, here’s what I’ve been doing you will likely have your own needs and boundaries that are different from mine but these are mine: 

I turn my phone off Saturday night ( sometimes friday night ) and don’t turn it back on until Monday morning. Now, I do have an iPad that I can get iMessages from which makes me available to almost everyone who would need to text me but doesn’t make me available at the moment they send a message. I really love YouTube or watching movies on the weekends so I don’t restrict myself from those but I do try to keep them to the minimum not because I think it’s bad not to but because I feel better when I do. I experience more joy. So, I may watch a movie in the morning and then put my iPad away for a few hours. Having this time to only be bale to listen to music or to be in the silence is so unheard of in our day to day lives that it is life giving to me. So life giving that I’m tempted to not even turn my phone back on Monday morning even though I know that I must. 

  1. Train your social media to feed you the right content. 

Because messaging is so important and social media algorithms are smart we need to train our algorithms to give us what we want. Take a few minutes each week to unfollow accounts that exhaust you and to like, share and subscribe to accounts that make you feel enriched. You are feeding your mind every time you open your phone. What are you feeding it? And I don’t mean this is a legalistic be the best version of yourself kind of way – more so I mean – how does this make you feel and do you want to feel that way? Does it encourage rest or is it encouraging toxic thoughts about how much you SHOULD be doing? 

You are allowed to just be. You are safe to just be. 

 I wanted to go through each enneagram type and give you the number one thing I saw as the cause of burnout for each type in the years I spent coaching! 

1 – Getting  caught up in the details. Also having higher standards for yourself than those who are judging your work. 

// set deadlines for when you call it complete and check in with people who may not know how much work you are putting in and give them a chance to tell you to cool it. 

2 – Believing that you have to earn your place in people’s lives. This is exhausting. 

// focus instead on loving yourself well so that you aren’t seeking other people to fill that love cup up and everyone in your life can be a bonus instead of the solution to your need to feel loved. 

3 – Comparison. Fear of being left behind. 

// focus instead on how you want to feel in your life and use that as your metric for success. 

4 – Not knowing your worth. 

// with entrepreneurs this causes you to undercharge and overwork just to make enough money to pay the bills. As a person in the world it also makes you feel like you have to work twice as hard to receive half of the benefits. Whether that’s in your relationships, your work life or even as a parent. The belief that you’re not enough as you are can leave you feeling as though you have to compensate which puts more work onto you just receiving what could be yours without any effort. 

5 – Input without export. 

// this is such an intense one – you take in so much information on whatever it is that you are studying whether that’s race relations, the economy, the best way to write a novel and when action isn’t taken on that information it’s like it clogs up your gears and creates frustration. Me with the enneagram 

6 – Loyalty or fear of letting people down .

// I’ve had casual conversations with sixes in Ubers and on planes about how they are the only one at the company who seems to care about everything that could go wrong. They’re exhausted, under appreciated and overworked and I ask if they think they’re going to quit they say they don’t want to let anyone down or don’t want to lose their health insurance. i recently heard a therapist talk about how when we’re constantly complaining about something – something in that relationship needs to change. Venting feels good in the moment but it doesn’t solve the problem. To solve the problem we need to set boundaries or shift the relationship in some way. 

7 – FOMO 

// this was always mine. I would get opportunities that I wasn’t even excited about and I’d say yes because I was scared that if I skipped it then I’d miss out on something. What if everyone else was going to be there or it was the one opportunity that would really sky rocket my career? What if it seems like it’s not a good fit but then when I get there it turns out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to me? How do I know unless I do it all? I have had to learn to say ‘no’ to so many more things than I want to simply because it’s not an enthusiastic full body yes. And the truth is that sevens aren’t typically afraid to cancel commitments so not only would I find myself on the edge of burnout from over commitments but I’d also have to cancel a lot more things than I’d like to. It’s much easier to simply say ‘no thanks’ the first time. 

8 – Putting out fires. 

// Eights are protective. They’re also reactive. This can lead them to feeling as though they have to be everywhere taking care of everything and everyone all the time. They also aren’t great at acknowledging their limitations so it can feel like weakness to ask for help. All of this is a really sweet recipe to burnout. In fact, more than any other type I’ve had 8s tell me that they didn’t know they were burnt out or going too hard until after they had some sort of physical ailment come into play. Practice regular body checks to get in tune with what you feel and the toll that things take on you before your body has to yell. 

9 – Not saying, “no” 

// One of my pet peeves is the term lazy that gets applied to nines because nines are actually often very busy because they do not know how to say ‘no’ they spend so much of their energy trying to keep the peace and not create rifts that they are often living with more stress and overwhelm then we even realize. Spouses who aren’t speaking up about what’s not working for them. Employees who are taking on more than they can handle for fear of saying ‘no’ Friends who are trying to be there for everyone all at once and mediated conflict at the same time. It’s exhausting just to be a nine in my opinion. I don’t know how they do it. Your prevention for burnout nines is to start saying, ‘let me think about that and get back to you.” This will give you time to make the right decision for yourself – maybe even talk it out with a friend and honestly analyze your capacity at the moment. 

July 20, 2022

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