Enneagram Type 4 - The Romantic Individualist
Individualist, Tragic-Romantic, Connoisseur, Humanitarian, Aesthetic Person, One-of-a-kind, Dramatic King or Queen
Worldview of the 4
You are a deep, intuitive, self-aware person who strives to be unique and individualistic. Your passionate nature, incredible sensitivity, vision and emotional intelligence affords you the ability to see things in an entirely original way which is inspiring to others.
You have an aesthetic sensibility with a flair for the dramatic and you like to put your personal mark on things. Emotionally expressive, you notice what is missing and may at times feel swept away by intense feelings. Your keys to growth include realizing that everyone is equally unique and important, and finding emotional balance in the present moment.
What You Are Great At
Being passionate and romantic.
Maintaining an idealistic vision even in mundane realities.
Self-searching honesty with a willingness to look within.
Being emotionally deep and authentic.
Being creative, artistic and expressive with an eye for aesthetics and beauty.
Inspiring, moving, and uplifting others especially when they are suffering.
Being comfortable with all human emotions (even “darker” emotions).
Being compassionate, empathic and supportive to others.
Seeing what is missing and finding a unique way of addressing it.
Being open to the deeper truth or wisdom below the surface.
Enduring suffering and seeing its transformative value for inner growth.
Valuing and prioritizing deep connection with others.
You want to be inspired, intuitive, and unique; but most importantly, you want to be passionate, true to your feelings, and authentic. You see yourself as a sensitive intellectual. That is, you see yourself as creative, expressive, and spiritual.
You are identified with your emotional states and their meaning. You see yourself as emotionally deep, and seek beauty and meaning in everything you do. You may envy others, however, and become moody, haughty or overly emotional under stress. At your best, you are emotionally self-aware, self-revealing, creative, extremely compassionate, and humane.
What Drives You
Feeling a deep sense of loss, and longing for what seems to be missing, can create the need for intensity and originality to fill the void. You try to be special and original, having a unique and distinct identity to manage feeling of rejection.
You are driven to avoid abandonment and don’t want to be seen as ordinary or shallow. You want to connect with your deepest emotions; express your passion and authentic individuality; understand and be understood; and create a world of beauty.
Inner World of the 4
Your core fear of being rejected may be expressed as fears of having no identity or personal significance, striving for individuality, or chronic frustration. You may fear anything that would confirm your feelings of unworthiness, such as being made wrong, seen as defective or flawed, or told that you are too sensitive or emotional.
Despite longing for deep connection, you fear alienating others with chronic woes or emotional reasoning. You may then fear actually opening up to others and experiencing the pain of losing again.
To be authentic, singular, unique, and exceptional, as well as to have deep emotional connections.
You need to be seen as artistic, gifted, and accomplished. You focus on your individuality and on carving a distinct image of yourself.
You need to express your deep feelings and want others to validate your emotions. Whether arranging your living space to reflect your refined tastes or engaging in an artistic pursuit, it is essential for your sense of well-being to express your creativity.
Something is important is missing. Knowing my uniqueness and expressing my depth is essential to finding my authentic self and meaning in life.
Being validated for your emotional intelligence.
Being seen as singular, special or unique.
Feeling emotions deeply or intensely.
Feeling connected with others.
Receiving praise, recognition, and accolades for your originality.
Being “the one” and being in the “inner circle”.
Feeling love, approval, acceptance.
Having a special place next to the most valued or important person.
Making a unique contribution or being distinguished in your field.
Having your opinions be heard and well-received.
Being adored, valued, and treated as important.
Finding what is original and giving meaning to suffering.
Being seen as ordinary or “one of the crowd”.
You dislike censorship, uniformity and regulation.
Feeling shame and being disconnected from others.
Receiving criticism or blame.
Being painfully self-conscious.
Being rejected if you display your deeper emotions.
Being made wrong or invalidated.
Having mundane tasks to complete that seem meaningless.
Being seen as inadequate, common or irrelevant.
Watching someone else get promoted or recognized.
Being told what to do.
Feeling that your voice isn’t heard - not being listened to.
Outer World of the 4
You look inward and focus on self-discovery to find meaning, as well as to understand yourself and others. You go into your emotional depths and seek happiness through beauty, suffering, and nostalgia.
Impact of Strategies
You are seen as singularly unique, and are emotionally understood and accepted for who you authentically are.
What's Great About You
You are passionate, deep, emotionally authentic, creative, fiery, and expressive. You are a true humanitarian and offer compassion to others.
Attention goes to...
Your attention goes to searching for meaning, noticing what is missing, feelings of melancholy and nostalgia, and longing for the unavailable. You appreciate the special, the humane and the beautiful.
You like to put your personal signature on everything that you do. Your refined tastes make you a great critic and someone who appreciates the truly exceptional.
Operating System of the 4
At Your Best
You are an impassioned, sensitive, self-revealing, and original seeker, who focuses on what is different and unique in any given situation. You love life’s mysteries and have a rich inner life, recognizing that things are always deeper than they appear on the surface. You long to discover your true identity and feel called to quests for personal exploration.
You identify with your sense of humanity and find ways to give meaning to suffering. You value emotional authenticity (yours and others) and are not easily deterred by some of the “darker” aspects of the human experience, such as grief and shame. Your tendency to feel things fully and your openness to others’ emotional expression can make you a close friend and confidante.
You are naturally creative, with an eye for what is rare and exclusive, and love to create an atmosphere of beauty and romance around you, which can be uplifting and inspiring for others. Your people skills and sensitivity to the needs of others make you a valuable asset to your team in the areas of trust, authentic communication, continuous learning, and support.
When your focus is resolutely set on aesthetics and/or what is lacking or missing, you may develop a passion for “protest”, feel a sense of loss and disenchanted, and feel disconnected from others, or that people don’t understand you. Your need for ideal circumstances may cause you to become negative, dispirited and downtrodden. It may seem that what you have is ordinary or dull compared to the ideal you crave.
To make up for this emptiness, you may vie for special status or recognition, envy others who seem happier or better off, or look down others in their tasteless ways. Emotions may get the better of you, pain may be overwhelming and distract you from work, and you may take things too personally. This may cause a general feeling of sadness or melancholy, as if pining away for something that is irretrievably lost and feeling hopeless about finding it. All of this makes it hard to focus on and complete mundane details.
What Holds You Back
Being moody and getting lost or paralyzed in negative emotions.
Feeling flawed and an inner sense of shame.
Being envious of others who have what you want.
Needing to be seen as special or unique and never feeling “enough”.
Missing the joy of the moment when lost in regret and remorse.
Emotionally manipulating others with pain, vulnerability and suffering.
Overwhelming others with emotional intensity (without realizing it).
Feeling chronic dissatisfaction and longing for what seems missing.
Getting lost in a fantasy world of “what may be” – not oriented to reality.
Striving to achieve the unattainable – never satisfied with here/now.
Alienating others when self-absorbed and overcome with self-pity.
Focusing on your own inner experience to the neglect of others.
Emotionally strong, you manage the painful experiences of feeling abandoned, by blaming yourself or others because it means there might still be something you can do about it. If you can figure out what it is, you can give meaning to your distress and begin anew.
You may cope with perceived rejection by first internalizing it and then compensating for it by being special, unique, or exceptional. When you are able to remember that feelings are temporary(and disidentify from them), you can use their intensity as fuel for going after or creating what you crave. Other coping strategies include fantasizing about idealized circumstances to replace what’s lost.
To defend against the pain of being inherently flawed or lacking, you may “introject” complex negative emotions to feel a sense of self and have a feeling of control. Introjection is taking what we’ve experienced as being done to us and doing it to ourselves, such as rejecting ourselves to avoid being rejected by others.
You may similarly energetically “swallow the other whole,” or take in the other as being part of you to feel you can control them and can’t lose them. When one introjects things, there is a sense of being able to better manage them, as in self-blame and self-criticism.
Hot Buttons & Triggers
Feeling inadequate, irrelevant, and/or misunderstood.
Not being recognized for special efforts, gifts,talents or accomplishments.
Being left out of things or not communicated with about things that seem important.
Receiving critical feedback about performance – anything that feels like blame.
Seeing others happy and well when you’re down/depressed.
Not feeling part of the inner circle - not being on the inside.
Watching someone else take or receive credit for your work.
Feeling abandoned slighted, rejected or insignificant, even in the slightest way.
Having your special or unique status or position questioned.
Loss of love of any kind – death of a loved one or a breakup.
Seeing someone else receive or enjoy something you want.
Censorship and being told what to do, especially by someone who seems to be in an inferior position or not as accomplished as you.
If you hold beliefs such as being inadequate, defective or fundamentally flawed (as a control strategy), you may become painfully self-conscious and become blind to your gifts, talents and accomplishments and unaware of your impact on others. By over focusing on what is missing and on what you don’t have, you may alienate others and it may be difficult restore connection to yourself and others. You may be blind to feeling envious of others and the ways you diminish their successes and accomplishments to manage your internal feelings of lack.
Because you may not want to be ordinary you may fail to see aspects of your work that are in fact ordinary. You may also miss that positive relationships may already be present in your life right now. Focused on the past and future, you may not appreciate or experience what is truly meaningful and fulfilling in your current relationships.
Mistaken Beliefs / Trap
It is a cognitive mistake to believe that you inherently lack something essential or that you will be abandoned because you are fatally flawed and do not posses it. This self-doubting fuels a constant comparison with others and sets up a never-ending story of rejection and loss where you pull people towards you only to push them away when they come too close.
The belief that you will only be loved if you are special denies you the opportunity of developing a more constant sense of self that is stable and fulfilling. Envying others denies you what you most crave-- deep, meaningful and lasting relationships. You then get caught in the trap of believing that it is unattainable and that others were given what you were not and that you must live with the corresponding anger and chronic frustration that ensues.
Growth Journey of the 4
Your transformation journey involves:
Realizing that you don't need to be unique or even understood to be special, singular or extraordinary.
Letting go of sad stories of tragedy and instead feeling the joy of the present moment.
Finding beauty everywhere instead of feeling the need to find it or create it.
When driven by fears of rejection and abandonment, your overriding felt experience may be that you are lacking or missing something really important that you perceive others have. You may compensate by focusing on how you are special, different or unique. You can be seen as temperamental when you swing between feeling special and fearing that you are inadequate or feeling emotionally burdened.
This can produce a sense of self-pity, envy and/or entitlement and a feeling that you should be “exempt” from life’s demands. When triggered, your emotions hijack your thinking and you can become unfocused, unproductive, depressed or resentful.
When self-absorbed or self-concerned, you may become hyper-sensitive and start to over-dramatize your situation, become insensitive to others, take things personally, or blame others for your suffering. This can fuel a need to withdraw to protect your image.
An Average Day
As you see specialness as the self-created prison and mirage that it actually is, you become more conscious of the demands you make on yourself and others, and life to acknowledge and validate you, and you start to take responsibility for self-love. You gradually see that needing a unique identity that distinguishes you from others is ONLY driven by and fuels more self-hatred. You no longer wish to feed such misery, and you focus on your natural compassion and empathy for yourself and others.
You nurture your artistic, creative, and romantic orientation to life and make your surroundings beautiful and uplifting. As you become more balanced in experiencing your own emotions – no longer blown around by the intensity of emotional energy – you reach out to others and help them connect with and express their own emotional depths. You become more authentically self-honest, vulnerable, and emotionally strong – a refuge to others who wish to leave the prison of false identity and persona behind.
In The Zone
Seeing through the illusion of lacking and needing love altogether, you come to identify with the intention to BE the energy of love and become a force for healing and positivity in the world. You are increasingly self-aware, impeccably self-accountable, and tuned into your own and others’ inner dynamics and emotions. You are incredibly loving, patient, kind, and gentle with yourself and others, and more sensitive than ever to the intense pain of denying one’s truth and identifying with a false persona.
Less self-concerned, but very comfortable and familiar with the inner landscape, you aspire to help others in any possible way and can now be a benevolent resource, guide and support for others to grow and evolve. You are connected to the real source of creativity and artistic expression, and your work reflects this originality and beauty. You are inspired, inspiring to others, genuine and authentic, and able to see each being’s extraordinary uniqueness and their universality.
Keys to Growth
Balance your preference for emotionality with a healthy objectivity to achieve equanimity in your heart and mind.
Notice tendencies to compare yourself to others; practice gratitude for what you have rather than what others have, and appreciate the unique gifts/qualities of others.
Focus simultaneously and equally on yourself and other people; observe self-concern and reach out to others when feeling preoccupied with your own situation.
Take a careful inventory of how you engage in self-rejection and believe in inner lack for self-protection.
Carefully examine the push-pull pattern of relating - how you push and pull, and the costs in your life/relationships.
Notice tendencies to get stuck in negative emotions; observe them objectively, feel the sensations in the body, and accept rather than identify with these feeling states.
Actively see what is beautiful and joyful in the present rather than focusing on past/ future; watch how you reject opportunities to by joyful and happy in the moment.
Focus on what you have rather than on what is missing – take a daily “gratitude” inventory of the blessings in life.
Notice your tendency to over-intensify and over-dramatize things (even in your language or thought); practice lowering the intensity and notice the effects.
Align your desires with what is actually possible; drop unrealistic expectations of others and trying to attain what is unattainable, unreachable or unavailable.
Focus on service to others to avoid being self-absorbed.
Take action/be dynamic when lost in emotions/self-pity.
Type 4 In the Workplace
Working with Others
With work that feels unique and meaningful, you can be creative, inspired, and passionate. You may be drawn to careers in which creativity and individuality are prized or bring deep emotional connection with others, such as grief counseling, hospice work, acting. When you are driven by moods instead of objective standards, you may struggle with consistency and deadlines.
You dislike working with others who seem to get more attention, be more valued, or have more skill or status than you. Generally wanting to distinguish yourself from others, you can be competitive with team members. Longing for creative expression, you may become negative in work situations that feel mundane or ordinary.
You work best when you can showcase a special skill, talent, or ability and receive attention or accolades for your unique contribution. You thrive in making a dramatic presentation or special mark in your area of expertise.
When your work is associated with success for you, or makes you feel valued, you can be fully engaged and extremely productive. You love a good cause that’s emotionally evocative or has deep meaning or purpose. Others can feel inspired and challenged to do their best work to achieve the same level of originality.
You work less effectively when you are being ignored or when you feel as if it’s “just a job” rather than a valuable mission. When your interest in a project wanes, you may appear to team members to have let the air out of the balloon and be less creative and productive.
You may go through the motions, but you no longer bring your spark of vitality to the team and work. You may seem to “abandon ship” for something more elusive, exclusive and emotionally engaging (even if you keep your “day job” and pursue your true passion on the side or through moonlighting). Others can feel this “push-pull” and may be confused or resentful.
You may be enamored by and devoted to a distinguished mentor who seems to recognize your special ability and unique potential, offering not only validation of your own worth but also “specialness by association.” As long as you feel you are given special treatment or are the “gifted student,” you may be open to guidance, but it may be challenging to truly open to what you don’t know or have yet to master.
Criticism may be very hard to take in any form, but most challenging may be negative comparisons to others you envy or compete with for attention, status or position. You may be most open to direction when you are learning a special, important, or valuable skill or advancing in any area relative to others.
As a leader, you inspire others with passion, emotional engagement, strong personal vision and your eye for the unique and extraordinary. The thrill is in the chase or the quest, and you move mountains to seal the “one in a million” deal or achieve “mission impossible.” You have a knack for bringing together talented people and reducing competition by making them each feel valued in their own right.
With your dramatic flair, you can bring out the best in others and inspire them to dig deep for the prize that awaits, elevating even the most ordinary tasks with a sense of purpose. However, you may confuse or dishearten your team when you lose interest in the realities of what’s been achieved – the grant funded, the book published, the contract signed, the territory conquered. You may lack energy – and even feel disdain – for the routine practicalities of the daily grind. What’s within your reach or grasp is rarely as exciting as the unavailable or unattainable.
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