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Personalities in Vicious Cycles

It seems to me that personality traits in relationships can create vicious cycles.

For example, a father may be an optimist while his daughter is a pessimist. Whenever the daughter starts talking about her fears of the future, the father tries to turn the frown up-side-down. This causes the daughter to feel like her father is ignoring the harsh realities of life and so the daughter predicts more doom and gloom. This causes the father to show his daughter how the world is actually a nice place, and in turn the daughter just feels more depressed. If the daughter were to put on a happy face for her father, she would be ignoring her fears and emotions. And if the father were to consider the daughter's frightening musings, he would feel like he was succumbing to despair. Neither one seems able to give up his or her position, so instead they become more pessimistic and optimistic.

Here's another example: a wife may be vocal about her emotions while her husband is private. The vocal one is looking for reciprocation and validation of her feelings so she frequently expresses herself. The husband feels embarrassed and unsure about emotions, and so he remains withdrawn in order to keep himself safe from those unstable emotions. This causes the wife to probe and search even more, which causes the husband to be even more reserved and stoic. Neither one seems able to give up their position to understand the other, and so they respectively become more vocal and more withdrawn.

Or let's say a woman's natural inclination is fault finding. Her friend's natural inclination is to fix problems. Fault-finder complains and Fixer gives solutions. This causes Fault-finder more angst about the unsatisfactory solutions given, so she complains even more. Fixer then gives more solutions, in fact she gives so many solutions she starts to feel her offerings aren't being appreciated. Fault-finder is unable to see that her complaining is causing Fixer to lay down her life to help, and Fixer is unable to see that her solutions are causing her friend more angst.

The trouble in all three examples seems to be twofold. One is that each person seems unable to see the other person's perspective. And two, these people are trying to get something that that particular relationship can't provide.

By the way, these are all examples of Enneagram numbers in conflict.

The optimist father (7) is trying to maintain his inner happiness by pushing away all pessimist thoughts. He most desires security from inner darkness.

His pessimist daughter (6) wants to know that she's going to be okay no matter what terrible things happen in the future. She wants to contemplate the terrible things to know that if or when they happen, she'll be okay. She most desires security about the future.

The reserved husband (5) wants to understand situations objectively without getting swept away in confusing feelings. He continues to push away from his wife hoping to gain the space to acquire wisdom.

The expressive wife (4) wants her husband to empathize with her. She wants feed back from him that what she's feeling is okay and that she's still going to be loved and accepted. She continues to express herself hoping to be understood.

The fixer friend (2) wants to be appreciated through all her efforts to make things right. She wants praise and love and to feel that she has made a difference in her friend's life. She most desires to be needed and appreciated.

Lastly, the fault finder (1) is trying to handle her angst that things are not the way she thinks they ought to be. She complains because she most desires goodness in the world.

Sorry, I didn't write examples of the 8, 9, or 3, but I'm sure you can imagine some yourself.

The solution to these sort of cycles is always the same. Gosh, I feel like I'm repeating myself in these blog posts. Each person cannot step into another person's shoes unless they have found what they themselves are seeking. And those things are only found in a relationship with ultimate power, goodness, love, acceptance, peace, wisdom, joy, and security.

Uhhh . . . do I really need to say who offers us these things?


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