Enneagram as Mirror to the Soul: Type Four

A place for those with the type four enneastyle to discuss personal growth.

Rumi Poem | Type 4

You are not a drop in the ocean

You are the entire ocean in a drop

~ Rumi

Why is this an important poem for type Fours to use for reflection? Fours are continuously searching for deeper, profound and unending experience and connections, and when this does not occur – for example, being out of real contact with themselves or feeling separated from others – they become distressed, sad, and/or angry. Part of this is based on their feeling of being insignificant, not-enough, and/or deficient. This poem illuminates that which is more true, if they only knew it.

By Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD. Visit: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

19 Comments on “Enneagram as Mirror to the Soul: Type Four

  1. H as anyone else read in Beatrice Chapman’s The Complete Enneagram of the E4 Self-Preservation counter-type? I have always, multiple times, tested out as absolutely equal on E4 & E9. Never have any other types scored at the top for me. I relate most strongly to E4 but I do relate to E9. I also see a lot of E1 in me, though I don’t see myself there as my primary type; it is too narrow in feelings and too “heady” for me. Chapman says this E4 self-pres counter-type is often miataken for E1. I really resonate with what she writes about this type. One thing about this counter-type is that we are much more outward and assertive than most E4. This is definitely me. I have a deeply withdrawn side that is core, yet I also have great verbal ability and pleasure in sharing my inner experience in ways that enrich others…..when I feel safe and secure, in my environment and in myself in what I’m sharing. I wonder if anyone else has read Chapman and related to this E4 variant? And if so, why and how? I’d deeply appreciate hearing your experience.

    • Thank you for suggesting this. I also resonate as a 9 and a lot with 1, but mostly feel at home in the 4. The concept of the soul child is both illuminating and challenging. I appreciate the suggestion of this other resource. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I had understood our heart point was toward the 1. Am I getting mixed up? Thanks for any feedback on working with the interplay of these E-types and the soul child place.

  2. Reading the poem and its following commentary, I completely related. Yet still, I don’t know for sure. Strange after 3 years of being positive I was an E4. Recently I decided, rather than debate and study or discuss, I would “just” be present to my thoughts & feelings, listening for them, consciously observing throughout my day, being accepting and open to whatever comes up., telling myself the unvarnished truth and accepting myself with it. I stop several times a day and ask myself “What am I thinking/feeling?” Really listening to my thoughts with an open heart and opening to my feelings with acceptance. I may yet conclude I am E9 (I am also drawn there), but what I do see clearly is that it is easier for me to recognize what I’m thinking than what I’m feeling., especially if my feelings are negative. I am very fast to cover over insecurity and self-doubt with self-critcizing thoughts and/or defensive anger and critical thoughts toward others.. This sounds perhaps more E9 with an E1 wing? Or do other E4s relate to this? I am not sure. I am choosing to stay very present to when I feel fearful (often when around others) and to observe how I compensate for that in my thoughts and feelings. Being willing to see myself with bald truthfulness and with compassion has proven to be an amazing pulling back of the curtain. Self-acceptance and compassionate self-love is everything.

    • Ah Stephanie, I hear your struggle. I’ve spent time in a lot of numbers over the years, including E9, but of late, I’ve felt like most everything clicks as a self-preservation (and counter type) 4. In starting this webinar, reading about the soul child of E4 feels like it captures the heart of how I operate, as embarrassing as it is.

      This is from the Sandra Maitri handout:
      “This soul child is a Goody Two-shoes, prim and proper, and critical of all those who don’t follow the rules. She is a stickler for fairness and correctness and gets quite angry when the other kids are bad. They are the problem children who need to be straightened out, and in this way we see the Four’s tendency to blame others for their problems, as well as their defensiveness when an “imperfection” about them is pointed out. Acknowledging this self-righteous and resentful little soul child is difficult for a Four, since it feels like her biggest flaw, opening her up to tremendous self-attack and self-hatred.”

      This describes my childhood, big portions of my marriage and parenting and my careers. That perfectionism/idealism that I turn on myself and others makes my life miserable (and others as well, which is SO embarrassing)! Since I have been acknowledging this and just.letting.it.go over and over again, I have been much more able to see/acknowledge the beauty in almost every situation and relationship I have found myself in. This last weekend I attended my nephew’s funeral. In the midst of my sadness and deep connection to my family and the people who knew and loved him, I still found myself inwardly criticizing so many parts of it. The microphone should have been better balanced, the way several people just had to get in a “Come to Jesus” moment, the facilitator/leader should have done this better, and so on – really Jeanne? When I finally caught it, I could begin to let it go and see the beauty of each soul, the perfection of it just as it was.

      Does this resound with you at all? After 21 years of knowing about and pondering the Enneagram, it feels like I may be close to getting myself. I see you’ve read Beatrice Chestnut. It was when I began reading about the countertypes for each number that I got that I might be a countertype and why I wasn’t finding myself easily.

      This feels disjointed and I’m really tired, but hope it makes enough sense to continue the conversation.

  3. Hi Jeanne,

    Thank you so much for writing. I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit in all this.

    I wonder how you differentiate the E9 “pull” and the counter-type E4 “pull” as you discern for yourself? I don’t feel as 9-ish as many 9’s I know. I wonder if this because I am a strong self-preservation type, or is it better explained as the counter-type E4.. I relate so utterly to everything Chesnut shares of the counter-type E4 that it felt like a portrait of me.

    I also relate to everything you share about the “goody two-shoes” inner child. Ugh! A hard pill to swallow and admit, but I have a very critical, nit-picky inner self toward others. and myself And I had it as a child. I wanted everyone to behave and be good, and I would be very upset when kids were unfair or mean or bad. I even once, on a plane (back in the day) woke up and scolded a man who had fallen asleep with a lit cigarette in his fingers.. It still happens in my head. It is definitely an E1 trait and what I’ve most related to in the E1 type. So perhaps this is me with an E4 soul child who rears her head. Could I please have the dancing E7 soul child instead? Alas, I don’t relate at all to the E1 not knowing her feelings well. I feel my feelings all too well at times.

    I wonder too about anger and the counter-type E4. I have strong anger that comes in the E9 style. Generally repressed, but when it comes, it comes as a great surge that feels almost unstoppable and is usually related to feeling righteous about a wrong being done to others or myself. I have to take myself into time out lest I open my mouth.

    This too feels disjointed (yours didn’t seem so to me). But I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  4. I laid aside my reading on Enneagram for a time and have been present to who I am in the moment, inside and out. Then two mornings ago, after my contemplative time, I spontaneously picked up Beatrice Chestnut again and and it opened to E4. So I read the entire thing, and for the umpteenth time resonated with all of it in the general sections and the counter-type E4 self-preservation type in particular. Reading, especially the counter-type, was like reading through a history of the work I have done through therapy over the past 35 years. Reading through the challenges and growth needs of the E4 was the same. I also noticed that many of the qualities I carry that look like E9 or E7, or even E1, are reflected in the E4 counter-type. More than anything this led me to say “OK. Enough with what other people, even if they are teachers, think they see in or of me. They have known me for the equivalent of 5 minutes. I know me. I’ve spent a lot of years getting to know me.” I’ve had therapists reflect to me how well I know myself. Friends as well trust me because of this. I certainly have my blind spots. I’m still breathing after all. But when the enneagram has worked for me has been when I worked from what resonated for me based on all I have learned about myself over the years. The E4 counter-type and the soul child of E1 makes absolute sense to me. So I am listening to my self, honoring myself, and working from who I truly am.

    I was left wondering how much our teachers have studied the counter-types. Because the sometimes high-strung physicality I experience and that is part of what others assume is indicative of a body type is addressed by Chestnut as she talks about the E4 counter-type.

    While I’m not proud of all my E4 qualities, I do know that I “fit” in this type. I just can’t fit myself into E9 or E1. Definitely not E1. Feelings I got! E9 I always test out and relate to almost as much as E4, but not to the sense of fully “fit.” I am far more emotional and moody (to be honest) than a steady E9. And the ways in which I do fit with E9, Chestnut delineates clearly in her counter-type E4. It’s like someone went inside and downloaded me onto the page as I read of the E4 counter-type and the growth challenges of 4s..

    So here I am. My message: 1) Don’t let teachers derail your work by denying your own self-knowledge, by giving more weight to their learning and experience than to your own developed inner knowing and experience. 2) If you do get derailed…or what feels like derailed…let it become a bike ride over a mountain you can explore and see new sights. I am grateful for this detour I have taken. I have learned a lot.

    • Hi Stephanie, I had a similar experience where my number didn’t make sense until I looked at my subtype – which is also a counter-type. I felt I was too boring and practical to be a seven. I have seven kids and was the parent that was grounded and sacrificed for the family. I was even accused of being too grounded and excessively practical by my unhealthy 4 ex-husband. Where was the hedonistic behavior sevens are famous for? When I realized that social subtype sevens are known for sacrifice and being dedicated to a group or tribe it all made sense. Social Sevens can be mistaken for Twos. I see that in myself. Outwardly, some might place me as a two, but I know I’m not since shame has no real currency in my life- but fear sure does. It also made me realize that there’s a part of me that pushes against the constraints and longs to be free. That’s my seven nature as well. I find knowing your subtype is incredibly helpful.

  5. Thank you Gwen for this deep sharing. First, seven children!!! I bow before you. I truly do. May they fill your life with blessings all the days of your life. The subtypes. Yes, I find identifying one’s subtype almost more central than the enneatype. I wonder if there is a way to have people start there. Without knowing my subtype, I was like a plant out of soil. Isn’t it interesting that each enneatyoe has a countertype that reads so differently from the “face” of the type. When you say that shame has no real currency in you, my brain goes blank, like “Wow! I wonder how that would feel?!” Like a great weight was lifted is my sense, as for me shame….the sense that somehow I am never enough….doing or being or am enough, and the shame of that, is ubiquitous to who I am. Only by tapping into prayer, comtemplation, communion do I know and experiemce that there is a truest me who is perfect and pure and utterly loved. But my personality self does not believe that….and isn’t it fascinating the disparity — that we can experience the communion with God-Source-Creation and absolutely know the Beauty & Love beyond thought or feeling, yet we will always, so long as we breathe, still also carry the wounded self with all her beliefs and foibles. Like the movement between night and day, we are ever arcing through our lives between dark and light. But I learn from each….and in the arcing journey I am growing as a Soul. I think that must be what it’s for. God as complete and whole creates us in order to explore and grow, like an artist must choose a medium, an inherent set of limitations, in order to create something new and beautiful. The limitations of this medium called human allow for God to explore Itself. Gardener and garden nurturing and blossoming. All One.