Enneagram Type 4

Type 4: The Individualist / Romantic

Fours belong to the Heart Centre. They possess an acute sense of their own feelings and that of others. This includes having an intuitive ability to distinguish between subtle emotions that others often miss since they do give focused eye-contact. They are motivated by the need to understand and to be understood, and desire experiences that are meaningful and deep. There is little patience for the ordinary and it is no wonder then that there is a deep appreciation for expression of self through being musical, artistic and eloquent in speech.

As Jerome Wagner would say, they are able to explore the “sweet sadness” that most people might veer away from, i.e. their deep appreciation for an emotion most of us would want to run away from. There is frequently a preoccupation with thinking about how different they are from others, sometimes even frequently pointing out how they might not be part of their own family. This can sometimes lead to their own self-inflicted isolation from others as they further pursue their own authenticity and special-ness.

Early Childhood

Type 4 children can frequently feel that they felt some kind of abandonment by one or both caretakers. This could have come in the form of being passed on to someone else to be cared for, the parents being divorced at a young age or left to fend for themselves by busy parents. Hence, they felt alone, cut off from the source of love for reasons they could not comprehend. This sense of loneliness caused them to feel isolated and their feelings not validated by those who had a duty to take care of them. As a result, they turned inward to their feelings and imagination to cope. The response of many Fours was to use the depths of these painful feelings to be different from others and stand out from leading a normal life.

Strengths of the Type Four

1) Highly perceptive: Fours have the ability to dig into the depths of life and meaning as they experience feelings at a deep level. They have an inclination to dive into experiences which others avoid, especially those which are painful and sad.

2) Warm & sociable: Since they are comfortable with feelings, connection and warmth with others are important key abilities they possess.

3) They have a gift of creativity which is quite unlike the other types. This expression of deep feelings inspire them to be innovative and express it from a place of heartfelt passion and deep intuition vs the heady ways of some of the types.

4) Since they strive to be unique and be seen as unique, much effort goes into looking different and being different. This can take the form of their dressing, design, choice of words and ideas just as long as they are not labelled as superficial or ordinary.

5) It is no surprise then that if you peer into the home of a Type 4, they have an aesthetic sense of design, arrangement and choice of fixtures that are appealing to the eye and that are usually assembled with little effort. There is something about emotional intensity that manifests beauty and splendour.

6) Since Fours are adept at reading emotions, they can easily pick up the feelings of people around them and ‘know’ what is happening to others. The wisdom of the heart is lies deep within the Type 4.

Limitations

Any type becomes Unresourceful when they begin to over-do some of the thoughts and behaviours that are typical of the type.

1) Fours can experience a roller-coaster of dark moods of emptiness and despair and swing back to happiness rapidly within minutes and which be caused by something most might consider it insignificant. This unpredictability can be draining to others around them.

2) Sometimes, in the downward spiral of feelings, Fours can be self-loathing and feel shame. Underlying this is the belief that they don’t deserve to be loved.

3) Instead of basking in the glory and gratitude of abundance, Fours can sometimes dwell in a state of longing for what they don’t have. Being stuck in this state evokes feelings of sadness, an emotion they are so accustomed to.

4) Many Fours can relate to some form of abandonment, from mild to intense. It can sometimes be a preoccupation to give such thoughts undue attention and hence intensify such feelings of abandonment. The resulting insecurity makes them needy at times and frequently feel that what they feel or have is never good enough.

5) They pride themselves in being genuine and strive to be the best and give every ounce of their kindness to others. This comes with a fair amount of guilt if they believe they have not measured up to the standards they are capable of. They wittingly expect too much from themselves and from life.

Reflections for the Type Four

1) Recognise the aspects of your fantasy life which is not in alignment with reality. Don’t allow yourself to procrastinate because you have created lofty and creative goals. You may have to step down from your high horse and start seeing the reality of the present and settle for some of the low hanging fruits. This can be done by integrating objectivity with emotionality to find an equilibrium that will allow you to move forward and not get stuck in fantasy and lofty goals.

2) Seek out truthful friends who are willing to mirror your genuine good qualities and talents as well as speak compassionately about your blind spots. This will provide you with useful information about yourself.

3) Find a deep sense of self-worth, your good qualities, talents and contribution to life, without comparing yourself to others. While this can seem like a motherhood statement, you need to recognize that comparing yourself to others is a futile exercise because you are gifted in your own special way. So, finding that sweet spot makes more sense.

4) Be mindful if you are dumping your emotional issues on others. People who care about you want to be there in any way they can for you but the “roller-coaster emotions” must be managed if you want people to accept you and appreciate your gifts.

5) Set up positive and constructive routines for yourself so that you balance out the mental, spiritual and emotional routines rather than fully playing out the emotional ones and living in a world of fantasy or melodrama.

6) Remember that feelings are not facts. They offer you important insights and sometimes are the cause for the mind to go out of whack. 4s need to keep feelings in check by living in the here and now. A recognition that not everything that appears in the mind is rational and much of our thinking needs to be kept in check.

Self-Preservation Type Four

Known as The Creative Individualist and their Vulnerabilities / Vices is Reckless or Dauntless. They are less sensitive and are willing to jump into new situations or take actions that seem reckless but in an unorthodox or creative style.

Sexual or One-to-One Type Four

Known as The Dramatic Person and their Vulnerabilities / Vices is Competition. They are competitive to overcome their feelings of deficiency and can have an intense reaction by being more vocal and demanding.

Social Type Four

Known as The Critical Commentator and their Vulnerabilities / Vices is Shame or Honor. They are more sensitive and feel more envy toward other people’s status. They seek more authenticity and integrity of social groups.