You need to look closer to home
It is so hard to express the force, the dynamic energy that calls for freedom. It is like a nagging pain that just will not leave you alone or an itch that must be scratched. It has an urgency and a persistence that never lets you forget that time is marching on. It haunts your sleep and rises up in your day with a question or an awareness. At times, it can feel as though there is nothing else in your life.
This dynamic force calls you in all aspects of your life. It urges you to seek deeper more fulfilling relationships, it screams for you to be a more authentic presence in your workplace, and it whispers to you to take more care of yourself as it says, “You ARE important.”
It has taken me many years to be able to articulate what it is that has generated this energy, this persistent voice that has been present for most of my adult life, but as I sit in my lounge typing this I can say with huge certainty and more than a little relief, that what has been calling has been the deep restlessness of my true self, begging for its release. I can now say that I have been on a quest for inner freedom, the quest to be myself.
According to my outer circumstances I was considered to be successful, but somehow, I never managed to outrun the feeling of inner restlessness. With no idea what I was seeking, I had a deep sense that there was more to life than I was currently experiencing because despite outward appearances, I felt as though the life I was living was somehow, fake, unreal, without depth.
In short, I was dissatisfied.
I spent a lot of energy trying to outrun this feeling because my conditioning had taught me that things would change if my external fortunes improved. Like many, I misunderstood the nature of my dissatisfaction. I sometimes still do. I gave my prison names – a boring job, a deceitful friend, dissatisfaction in my personal relationships, a lack of purpose. The list has been endless. I was seduced into believing that I would find the fulfilment I was seeking when I got the perfect house, job or partner.
But the truth is that the perfect relationship, the new car, and the new house took the dissatisfaction away for a while, but eventually the feeling caught up, and with it the bonds that were keeping me prisoner in my invisible cage seemed to tighten.
The truth was much closer to home.
The prison I wanted freedom from was nothing to do with my external world
and everything to do with what was going on within.
I have come to see that this condition is common to many of us. Whilst external factors are important, they do not take away the deep restlessness of your true self, constantly calling for its release.
Like many of you who are on the path of seeking a more fulfilled life, my path has been exciting and full of twists and turns. I have found myself up many a blind alley looking for the illusive ‘more to life’. At the time, it did not occur to me that there was an aspect to me that was already free. And then I found the Enneagram. The Enneagram gave me so many answers to the questions I had been asking and pointed to truths that I found undeniable. I felt as though this powerful and profound system had brought me home.
Whilst on one level the Enneagram is simply a personality profiling system, the main difference between the Enneagram and other personality systems is that this one has its roots in the spiritual wisdom of many different traditions. At the heart of the Enneagram is the universal insight that we are spiritual beings living a human life in a material world.
The Enneagram points to the idea that there is the true self and the false self. The true self is the part of you that you were born with and is already free and does not need, crave or cling. It is individual, undeniable and completely indestructible. It is who you are.
Your false self is the aspect of you that you were also born with and which started to show up early in life when you experienced emotional states that you could not tolerate. In response to these, you activated inbuilt traits that formed a protective armour around yourself. This is what you have come to know as your personality type.
But understanding this was not enough for me and whilst I could read and feel the truth about my true self as described in the Enneagram, I could not live the potential that this system was promising.
My deepest desire was to know and live from my true self, not just understand it.
One of the key factors that made it challenging for me to live the wisdom of the Enneagram was the overwhelming mental and physical activity of modern life. In a world that seemed to be perpetually in motion, it was difficult to find the time or the inclination to explore my inner world. I found myself overwhelmed, overworked, tired and stressed and did not have the time, space or motivation to live what my heart truly wanted. Dismissing my personal development as self-indulgent, it became much easier to return to my familiar distractions and bide my time until the restlessness went away… again.
I needed something that would help me to slow down, pay attention and make an active and consistent effort to mindfully inquire into the forces that stopped me living from my true self – AND it had to fit it into my busy, overwhelming, overworked and stress-filled modern lifestyle. After months of looking for an answer, out of the blue it arrived.
Many years ago, whilst attending a personal development workshop in London, the facilitator drew a very simple illustration of four concentric circles on a flip chart and explained in less than five minutes, what it represented in terms of our human condition.
The concept behind the illustration was very simply understood. It clearly showed that there are four basic aspects to who you are. An outer layer which comprises of your personality and personality traits, a second layer which comprises of your thinking, a third layer which comprises of your emotions, fears and needs and a centre space which constitutes your true self.
Your true self, sometimes referred to as true nature, the soul, the spiritual self, the authentic self, the big self, is the part of you that exists beyond the confines of your mind and the wild emotions of your body. This is the aspect of you that you encounter in moments of pure joy, peace or love.
That day in London was a turning point. In an instant I made a link between the illustration and the core teaching of the Enneagram. It showed me in visual form how confined our true self is by the outer layers of our personality, our thoughts and our emotions and that we are in fact trapped in a self-created prison.
For the first time I could quickly and directly see the truth.
That we are all prisoners in our own minds and bodies, limited in our ability to live a life of true fulfilment and I instantly saw the suffering of our human condition in a way that I never had before.
That day started an obsession, a real desire to put that illustration to use in the world. Since that day I have explored, taught, and finally transformed it. The original version has since been ‘coloured in’ with the Enneagram of the Personality and named ‘My Map to Freedom’.
My deepest hope is that the map will speak to your heart as it did to mine all those years ago, and that you too will learn how to use it as a visual tool to explore and transform your understanding of who you are and why you are here.
I hope it points you to the truth that over time you have encased your true self in layers of protection so thick that no-one can see the real you. Even worse, you no longer remember your true self and have come to consider your personality to be the sum total of who you are.
The map has the capacity to:
Chart the journey to freedom from your limitations.Locate your true self.
Point to who you are and why you are here.
Direct and deepen your mindfulness practice.
Navigate you through the day-to-day challenges of modern life.
Locate and alleviate your inner restlessness and dissatisfaction with life.
Guide you towards greater authenticity.
The map is for you if you have finally reached a point in your life where you recognise that chasing one ideal after another does not work and that your soul has become exhausted and empty with endless striving, and it is for you when you have arrived at the conclusion that the restlessness you feel will not go away by looking for the answers outside of yourself. That you need to look closer to home to finally find your freedom. – Jane Douglas
Taken from the book ‘How to Live Unleashed & Alive’ – My Map to Freedom Pgs 21-28
Learn here how to use My Map to Freedom to live the wisdom of the Enneagram every day