ConsciousTV home

Enneagram Type 1 – The Perfectionist

Discussion with James Barlow, Anne Martin and Carlos Silva
Moderated by Iain McNay

Iain:  Hello and welcome again to Conscious TV, I’m Iain McNay and today we have another program in our series on The Enneagram.  And this time we are talking about Type 1, how it is to be a Type 1 and the potential of being a Type 1 and I have with me, in the studio today indeed, three Type 1’s.  We have got Carlos, who has actually flown today, all the way from Spain to be here, so we really appreciate that Carlos.

Carlos:  Thank you

Iain:  And Anne and there is James and I have to say, just to give it a starting point, this has been the hardest program to put together out of all the enneagram types.  Twice we have thought we had it all together and then people have pulled out.  Some one else pulled out on Sunday night and Carlos jumped to the rescue, flying on a plane, which is fantastic.  So, I’m really happy we are all here and I am sure that shows something about the Type 1, but, I guess that will come out in due course.  So, let’s start with you Carlos and how you find it to be a number 1.  Tell us a bit about the enneagram and how it has affected your life.

Carlos:  OK, well the enneagram.  The theory behind the enneagram is, that at a very young age, I think the age is between 3 and 5 years, we have a contraction of energy and we disconnect ourselves from the Oneness of the universe.  There are 9 different ways that this disconnection takes place and we spend the rest of our lives expressing this loss through a different personality type.  The particular number that we are talking about here today which is type 1, forms part of the instinctive triad and we are on the edge, so we have the 8’s, 9’s and 1’s that are the ‘Instinctive’ [triads] and the 1’s have been given the title of The Reformer.  The reformer is a very apt name for it as we are constantly looking, or seeking to better what we have around us.  Things are not right, they are not perfect and we want to make them perfect and we want things to look good and we want to be good and we want everybody around us to be good and to be on the same level that we are, or that we consider to be good, and things can start going wrong depending on how unhealthy or healthy you are [personality-wise] if things don’t go your way.  Going back to what you said before, the enneagram and how I discovered it, it was through conscious TV.  About three years ago, you interviewed Sandra Maitri and I got very, very interested. I bought the book, I read a few books about it, I love to talk about it and to express my feelings and share what I know with other people.  Which is another typical trait of the 1’s, we like to share what we learn and what comes our way.  We like people to enjoy it the same way we do.

Iain:  How did you feel when you found out you were a type 1?

Carlos:  That’s a good question.  I think with me I felt, in a way, relieved and I felt freed as well because sometimes I think 1’s can suffer from and become a little bit intense.  We are aware of this intensity and just knowing how the inner forces within us work, it was a wake up, an epiphany moment.  It was wonderful, it was a complete relaxation, an understanding… “Ah, I finally understand why I behave this way”.

Iain:  That’s a real relief isn’t it?

Carlos:  It was, it was a hell of a relief.  I am constantly catching myself because being self aware - now that I am - I am not working on auto pilot.  I am now conscious of my words and my actions. I often, when the inertia of my personality takes over, catch myself and pull myself back in again, when I feel I am maybe going down the wrong road.

Iain:  So it’s given you insights more into how your personality is functioning and manifesting in the world?

Carlos:  Definitely, definitely and it’s also had an effect on the people around me.  Everybody that knows me has said that I have gone through a tremendous transformation and the enneagram is partly responsible for that, not exclusively, but certainly on the day to day basis it’s responsible for that.

Iain:  James, you were waiting to come in there, I think [turns towards James and Anne]

James:  It was really funny, I hadn’t thought about the reformer bit before, but the thing that really made me laugh was when you were talking about getting things better and right.  It made me think about loading the dishwasher, it’s just a really mundane thing, but I have noticed since I have been aware of being a type 1 and being a bit more self aware of doing that and how it really annoys my wife.  But I am really annoyed at her for not having loaded it properly because everything can clearly tessellate a lot better and I can load it perfectly.  So I will often come along and reload it and she will just watch me in despair, whereas I am despairing that it wasn’t loaded properly in the first place because you would get a load more cups in and the forks could all be in the right place.  It’s like, “Why can’t you just do it properly in the first place?”  So there is kind of anger and resentment about not being able to do it properly.  But it’s been incredibly liberating and that is why I am smiling about realizing that.  So you use the word relax, it’s about relaxing so I can now be aware I am doing it and almost relax into it and I can still do it, because I perhaps enjoy doing it, in a way.  But you know, there is a kind of comfort in that vague obsessive nature, I guess.  But being aware of it has just changed the energy around it on good days.  On bad days, it’s still there and all kinds of things come up as a result, so it really made me laugh that [Carlos previous comments about getting things better and right]

Iain:  On a practical level, are you saying you are more understanding of your wife not doing the loading perfectly in your eyes?

James:  Yeah on good days, absolutely.

Iain:  (Laughs) on good days

James:  I’m being straight, on the days I am not feeling very generous, or where I have been really criticizing myself, because I think a lot of it comes from my inner criticism that I’m not good enough, or I need to do this right for some reason or that there is a right way, so I have got to do it.  I have got a standard I have to set which is my standard, which is the highest standard, the right standard.  I have to live to that, so if I don’t see someone else living to it, then I am kind of [thinking] “You should be living to that”  but it’s a real trap of my own standard, that I am never going to live up to.  So it’s been really nice to realize that I am just trapping myself in this prison if I am not careful.

Anne:  And it’s very draining isn’t it because all that energy and being so cross with other people in the household because they haven’t loaded [the dishwasher perfectly] could be put into something else?

James:  Absolutely yes, it’s physically in your body… really draining.

Anne:  Yes, yes

James:  It is exhausting and then you realize, “What have I done!”  I have got so exhausted over something really stupid.

Iain:  So could we say, generally speaking, for a type 1, this issue of perfection is a very paramount issue, or is it just manifesting in different areas?  Do you feel you want the same precision and perfection in other areas of your lives?

Anne:  I wish I could say that.  Actually, I think for me, yes there is a perfectionism about things, but, sometimes I feel really important things, much deeper things, I am quite happy to just float away [brushing away with hands].  I think for example, I can be quite hypocritical in that I am setting all these standards, but actually deep down I won’t actually carry out those standards myself, so I think I drop the standards for myself.  So it’s not in every aspect of life, I think it’s just easier things to identify with.

Carlos:  I think what James was saying about the perfectionist - the dishwasher story - I agree with you 100%,I know exactly where you are coming from.  The perfection thing with me is: I find I don’t seek perfection, but imperfection seeks me.  I’ll give you an example, I am looking at those flowers there and I know they are very nice [flower arrangement on table] but for some reason I am drawn to the leaf on the side there that is not quite right, the one that is crooked and that is what I am noticing.  I am aware that everything is beautiful, but for some reason it is pulling me there [to the leaf] and I have…

Iain:  (smiling and leaning towards flowers) so which leaf is it? (pointing)
(Iain and James are pointing at leaves and group is laughing together)

Carlos:  So I got to the point more or less when I woke up in the morning and got out of bed and to the moment I got back into bed, it was like going to court, being in court.  I was the prosecutor, I was the judge, defendant, the executioner, the whole thing.  It was a constant judgment going on in my mind.  I would be driving down the road and the weeds on the side of the road were annoying me.  I’d be thinking someone should be here and that should be cleaned up or some litter or again, whatever, it didn’t matter what it was about, it was that imperfection seeking me out.   I think with the enneagram, when I realized that, I thought, you know, you don’t have to be perfect all the time, you don’t have to... I needed to free myself, it was liberating as I said before, from the constraints of having to expect everything to be that way [perfect].  It’s exhausting, you are absolutely right, I can completely agree with you.

Anne:  I think, losing energy is so important, isn’t it?  That’s been a real benefit to me with the enneagram, you know life is difficult as it is and just to be wasting energy in getting so angry about things it’s just pointless and plus it upsets other people and so...

Iain:  One thing that’s been said about the 1’s is that they are the policeman and policewomen of the enneagram and they are a bit like a policeman sort of [acting as though writing on a notepad in his palm] “Ere ere what are you doing ere...?”  Is that something that you would agree with, or connect with?

James:  Yeah, I can relate to the sense of checking upness and the idea of noticing things [gestures to the flowers] and needing to point it out that it could be done in a different way, a better way.  Checking out on anything, on anybody really, if I am not careful and tending to notice what’s not happening right, what’s not being adhered to, rather than the fact that it’s roughly right at all.  So I’ll notice… we had our house decorated a while ago and we had one of these glass paned doors with, you know, 20 panes of glass and the paintwork had to be done between each of the glass panes.  My wife was just pleased that it had all been done, [that] someone had come and done it, we had three young kids and blah, blah, blah.  But the first thing I do is, I walk in the hall and I notice that they have missed one of the strips, just a tiny bit about that long [a finger length].  I noticed it and I could not help myself but to say that, knowing full well that it would cause an argument and that I was not being grateful and… yeah, so I almost had my clipboard [in palm of hand] and, “That’s not right” [pointing] that’s quality control, I can’t be happy with what these people have done, we need to get them back”.  That’s really, [looking to Anne] to your point about energy, that is so sapping; I feel tense talking about it even now, so I don’t want to be there.  I am really glad that I don’t have to be there, as much as I was trapped in it before.  So absolutely [agree] check lists [gesturing to write on notepad in hand], if that’s what you meant.

Iain:  Well, I know this one is called the policeman of the Enneagram.  Is that something that you feel in yourself, that you have that? (looking at Carlos)

Carlos:  I think really, I may have been.  I used to watch people and how they behaved and see if they’d meet my standards, which are pretty high, and I must say, I think 1’s also - we were talking about the people standards - but I think the 1’s have an incredible ability to be ruthless with themselves as well, not just with other people.  I know what you said before (looking at Anne) about there could be an element of hypocrisy, but generally the court case isn’t just about everything that’s around us, it’s about ourselves and where our mind is.  Certainly it is with me and I have taken myself to terrible places in my mind in the past where I wasn’t aware and as you say [Anne], it is such a waste of energy because you don’t have to be angry and the clothes don’t have to be folded perfectly over the chair and it doesn’t matter if the boots aren’t in a neat little corner.  We can be very anal I think, the 1’s.  Life’s not about that is it, at the end of the day?

Anne:  Yes, I suppose the other thing too is that you can get so carried away it then trips you, you ignore the obvious and I find that at work, I am a nurse and where I am with patients, they come and see me and are completely disorganized and I am thinking, “You know, I can’t see a way through all should be like this, this person should be presenting with a problem which is A, B, C & D “.  I get so worked up in trying to understand what the problem is, that I then go and completely overlook the obvious and I think in doing that, then I do exude that tenseness and anger with the patient and probably the outcome isn’t terribly satisfactory, because they have not really got what they need.  I think that perfectionism can just blind one as to what actually is going on.

Iain:  I have got some notes here of other indicators and I wondered very much, people who are watching this who are not sure which type they are but feel they might be a type 1. So just tell me guys how you feel about this in terms of your own experiences [statement] “It’s difficult to be spontaneous”.  Would you say that’s true sometimes or...?

Carlos:  I think I probably need to prepare myself; I need to work myself up.  I am not an off the cuff person.  I like the rare occasions that I am, but not generally, I am not really like that so I can probably relate to that.

Iain:  But you were spontaneous flying over for this interview, weren’t you? (group laughs)  What about you guys (talking to Anne/James) do you feel that you lack spontaneity sometimes?

James:  Oh absolutely, yes the need to plan and have an element of control over what is going to happen.  So, the idea of what a weekend could look like, almost planning it by the hour and trapping myself in that plan.  So, I have to follow the plan even if it clearly doesn’t feel right and, it doesn’t very often, if it is happening like that.  Really it’s quite miserable in that way.  So I would say yeah, it’s a freedom when you can have that spontaneity, but it seems to trap me if I’m not careful you know.  I said I was going to do this and then doggedly carry on.

Iain:  And then [statement], ”Often feel guilty about not getting enough accomplished”, does that apply to you Anne at all?

Anne:  Yes, absolutely, I mean, the end of the day when I am going over things, a good day to me is when this was achieved and that was achieved.  So if I haven’t managed to do those things, I think it’s this feeling of accomplishment which is very important.

James:  Yes, list making…

Iain:  Are you into making lists?

James/Anne:  Oh yes, yes.

James:  I really try and free myself from lists because a day will always be judged by if I have done my list, irrespective of how hard it is and of course it was always too hard.  And then I would put that on other people and if we have done loads of stuff and perhaps different things have happened in my paid work or at home if we hadn’t done the list there was still a kind of sense of, “It’s not good enough”.

Iain:  Something else on my list, talking about lists (laughs).  Something that came up earlier is, “Incorrect grammar and spelling bothers me a lot” and you [James] mentioned this was something that bothers you sometimes.

James:  It’s something that I pick up absolutely, especially in what I see as important occasions.  If you are doing a big presentation or something, I notice apostrophes or hyphens or units and measure.  I have got a scientific background and if the units and measure aren’t in the right way, then I have found I am more relaxed about it but I still, in a more relaxed way, still want to correct it.  So yeah, I can relate to that.

Iain:  And you are idealistic and want to make the world a better place, is that right?

Carlos:  Oh definitely, definitely, that’s a never ending story really but that can become quite frustrating.  In my case I have done a lot of research, I have read an awful lot of books about things and I would like to go back to what you mentioned before about anger; 1’s have an issue with anger.  I think the only way you can make the benefits of the enneagram is when you accept these terrible negative traits that we have and I think for many years I was trying to lock up anger in a safe deposit and throw away the key.  But it’s like holding a ball under water, the ball will want to rise to the surface and if you take your hands off it, it will come up somewhere else and I think people perceive this tension that we have.  We are constantly keeping this ball under water and so, with things like trying to make the world a better place, this creates a lot of frustration and I think certainly in my past, I have been frustrated about many things.  I think 1’s do a lot of civic, you know they go into politics; we want to make things better so we have got to do our bit so 1’s will tend to...

James:  …dutifulness, we have a sense of duty, I find which can be quite trapping again in terms of the standards you set about how much you should be doing and about what a fair contribution is and what you choose to do as your work.  I can relate to that in the paid work I have chosen, it is about, in theory, a lack of acceptance of what is in front of us.  In terms of, I work with environmental issues and ethical issues in the manufacturing industries and if I am not careful, I hold that with a great deal of anger and resentment about… well it just shouldn’t be like this.  Rather like when you [Anne] were telling the story about treating a patient if that anxiety and anger is coming through, I am almost acting out the absolute opposite of what I am trying to work towards.

Iain:  Isn’t that interesting, so you are acting out the opposite of what you are trying to work towards.

James:  Yeah, you know, if I am being unfair on others or being tyrannical.

Iain:  When you see that, what kind of effect does that have on you?

James:  Well now it’s really lovely to realize that.  As I am saying that to you I feel quite warm and happy in that because I can do something about that and I can talk about it which, in itself, seems really helpful to other people.  So by saying, right what we are doing right now and how we are doing it - to your point [Iain] - isn’t that interesting, what we are doing? And just naming it seems to take such a lot of… I can feel it as I talk to you, the tension out of my jaw and my face and the anger goes because for a start, I have showed it to you, I have given this humility and vulnerability which is the complete and other opposite of the fear, that I am not good enough.  So just by putting it out there feels like, OK then, come on, if you are going to kick me, [then] kick me, kind of thing.  But somehow trusting that having got to that place, I can put it out there, so that word liberation comes back time and again when you realize these things are going on, really helpful.

Iain:  Another one that I was going to read out, sort of ties in with this, roughly.  That you have a tendency to hang onto resentment for a long time but if you are naming it, coming out with it, that’s beginning to break that trait isn’t it?

Anne:  Yes, yes and I was saying earlier I am like one of these bag ladies I just pull along loads of resentment.  All my life, I think I have resented and I noticed just recently that is getting better because, there was something that occurred recently and I felt I was getting very angry and resentful, but I was able just to drop it actually and it felt just so much better.  There was nothing that could be done so there is no point in us getting so worked up about it.  I still had to relate to this person, so the best thing now is just to leave it and start up anew.  But I think that’s a fairly recent step I have made in dealing with resentment.  I almost feel that I have carried so many resentments in my life that every day I am going to have to make a real effort to just put these all to the back now.

Iain:  So you have all, in your own way, kind of said that when you understood something in yourself, acknowledged it, somewhere that has been the start of a change and in terms of that, it hasn’t been so strong from there onward.  So I think that’s something very positive we can take from this, with type 1’s: that once you do understand it, you have the intelligence and the integrity to then start to try and change things for the better in yourself.  Would you agree with that? (open arms to the group)

Carlos:  That word, integrity, is something that all 1’s look for, would you agree [looking to the rest of the group who nod and agree] and I think 1’s are so passionate about the things they believe in, they have very strong convictions you know, and when we transmit our ideas and beliefs to other people we become resentful when... we kind of like know what is best for other people...

James:  It’s that righteousness isn’t it....righteousness.

Carlos:  Yes definitely, and we become resentful when we feel we are not being listened to.  I think deep down there are good intentions, I mean certainly, obviously depending on how healthy you are [psychologically], there is resentment, I feel that in myself sometimes, yes.

James:  That point about the good intention and when you [Anne] were talking about the day by day accepting, those things really seem to come together for me because, isn’t the point here behind the 1ness, being able to see the world as it is?  As actually being quite perfect as it is and so that active accepting, it’s a relief, because actually we are being able to see the world as it is.  That’s one of the transformational things; it feels that I am going to be able to work with.  Having been able to name this a bit more and, in the examples I have been giving, I can sense that’s happening.  One of the things that 1’s have, is this ability to see the world as it is.  So if we can get through that distortion of being really angry about how it is and seeking the reform or the justice or whatever, but, saying, “OK, it is how it is”, now we can use our energy, our tenacity and integrity to do something with it, it feels incredibly energizing.  As opposed to that complete exhaustion and debilitation that comes with it.  That’s the sense I got of what both of you just said there, and pulling those things together. (Anne nodding in agreement)

Iain:  Something else that’s down on this list I have got here, don’t worry it’s not quite never-ending we are almost there… is that you tend to worry a lot.

James:  Yes, we worry about things that haven’t happened may never happen, and planning scenarios, certainly in my case, for things that may never happen and that is also very exhausting [said with a strong concerned look on face].  I remember on one particular day, I said to myself that I am absolutely sick of myself, of listening to myself.  I remember saying that to myself and funnily enough when I said it, it was over, but I had to say that to myself.  The other day I was doing something in the kitchen and I was lost in my mind and my wife said to me, you are not having a very good day today, are you?  I looked at her and the words, just the question, were enough to pull me out of it.

Anne:  Could it be that, I mean we do have an ability to be disinterested, we can sort of stand back and look at things objectively and I just wondered if you were able to just step out of yourself for a period of time and just realize that this really isn’t necessary, this is… “I’m me, I’m not all these worries” [going on in my head] the important thing is…

Iain:  But what does that mean to you, I’m me but I am not all these worries?

Anne:  Well, I think it’s that sometimes one can get so overwhelmed with these worries that you forget about yourself.

Iain:  What I am getting at is, you see yourself as separate from your worries, is that correct?

Anne:  Yes, I think 1’s do have that ability to be fair and, to look at things in proportion and when they are with other people with competing demands they can keep that all quite balanced and that will be the same with ourselves, that we can stand back and realize that there’s all this concern, that I have got this feeling that I have all this on my shoulders… sorry that probably sounds a bit confusing.

Iain:  No, I’m interested, when you stand back, what do you see about yourself?

Anne:  Well, I think standing back is just being able to say “I’m me” and “I don’t need to be right and perfect”.  Unfortunately a number 1 can slip into a feeling that we have to be right to be me but, the idea is to accept that I don’t need to be right all the time.

Iain:  So you see that you don’t have to be driven by this conditioning all the time?

Anne:  Absolutely, yes and that was the benefit for me when I learned about the enneagram.  Going back to what you were saying, your personality developing at a very young age, you can then just be driven by these motives, or reasons for behaving in a particular way and that can just take over the way you grow up, or relate to other people.  So for example I can remember as a very young child, people teasing me and saying your nose is painted white because you think you are always right.  I was a very young age but I have kept that going in my mind.  I think they were just friends, it’s quite an early memory, I think I was only about 5 or 6.

Iain:  I have got a few books that I will show at the end, but one of them here, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, this has a list of examples of some of the people in various types and I wrote down some of the type 1’s.  I am going to read these people out as it’s interesting partly for people watching who know of these people.  Let’s see what you guys feel in terms of a connection with them or, how you see these people.  There’s Gandhi, now Gandhi was a very good person but it seems he was a perfectionist, he knew what he wanted and he went for it.  What’s your feeling when I say that Gandhi was a type 1?

James:  Righteousness.

Carlos:  I think 1’s want to do the right thing, we can be quite courageous and put a lot of things on the line and Gandhi is a perfect example of that.  The truth for a 1 is so paramount it is so important for a 1, the truth.  The truth will be heard.  I don’t know if that is the case with you [looking to Anne and James] but if we were to list our fundamental values the truth is one of them, possibly, above loyalty and other things.  The truth is, certainly in my life, very, very important.  So there is a perfect example… Gandhi and the truth.

Anne:  And he was altruistic, he was very focused and he knew from a very early age.  He started campaigning in South Africa didn’t he?  I think he was a lawyer and then he moved to India and he kept that focus through a lot of very bitter, political situations so…

Iain:  Is this something you see as one of your qualities, in terms of, you are able to take something that is important to you and keep the focus and keep going with it? 

Anne:  Yes. [nodding]

James:  Yes, doggedness.

Iain:  Well, I don’t think it’s necessarily always doggedness, we will come on to this more, but it’s also [about] the potential of the type 1.  We are not talking about personality traits; we are talking more about, who you really are, from your essence, and the potential of that in the world.  And so [with] these people, we are not necessarily looking at their neurosis but, looking at it [in a way that] may include part of their neurosis but their qualities as well.  Any way I will go down the list and it might trigger some more things for you guys.  George Harrison was apparently a number 1.

Carlos:  I can’t say much about him apart from his music.

Iain:  OK, there is Al Gore, who again is… obviously he has been very determined, especially on the environmental front, to keep running with what he believes, which takes a lot of courage, especially in America, to do that.

Anne:  Gosh I don’t know enough about him to say anything.

James:  There’s something about the time he has been doing that also, he started that a long time ago, you know, 28 or 29 years ago. 

Iain:  Well, someone who is more in the front of things now is Hillary Clinton, she’s apparently a type 1.  There are no English people here unfortunately, Americans or from other countries but, she obviously is in the news a lot.

Anne:  I suppose she is quite blunt isn’t she?  I mean, she comes out with statements and points out faults in a take it or leave it…

Iain:  Is that how you see yourself, quite blunt at times?

Anne:  Well, I think 1’s can be, yes.  They can be quite offensive, you know, in the way they say things.  I mean she is a politician so, I’m sure she knows how to do that, but I just wonder if that’s a quality in her.

Carlos:  I think Hillary Clinton has probably got a thicker skin, I would say she was probably an 8, I think with 1’s our conscious comes back to haunt us later after the misdeeds that we have done and said and offended people, you know.  We are back in court again and I don’t think she would be able to survive; myself, I don’t understand why she is on that list actually and how she would be able to survive, particularly in politics.

Iain:  Anyway we are not here to debate the list… I want to give you one more, a good British woman who has been in the news recently, Vanessa Redgrave, apparently a type 1 and I don’t know if she portrays anything that triggers…

Carlos:  There is a tension about her isn’t there, Vanessa Redgrave.  You can feel it, when she is acting and when she is giving interviews, I could probably relate to that one, I can see that.  Because when we met, you [Anne & James] met me just before the show started, I immediately recognized you [Anne], just by the way you were talking, that you were a type 1 as well.

Anne:  Yes, right, yes [nodding]

Carlos:  With James, right up until you opened your mouth and started talking, I didn’t quite pick it up, but certainly with Anne I did, so that’s why I can probably say that.

Iain:  So, one of the things that we have hinted on and started talking about is the potential i.e., not the neurosis, not the conditioning, but where you guys feel you are moving as a type 1 and where you feel, you are moving to.  Otherwise there is no point in having all this information and then not integrating it as you all obviously have and, then seeing where you can go.  So I am wondering how you have been finding that.  You mentioned specific examples of things, but let’s have a little chat about generally how you see that from a type 1.  The potential… with examples from yourselves.

Anne:  Well, I feel that this coming to terms with - picking up on what you said [James] - the world isn’t perfect, we can see flaws, but accepting how the world is, and just being more aware of things that one can do and things that one can’t do, one just has to leave, but feeling…and I am just thinking of that quote by, is it Niebuhr?  [Reinhold Niebuhr - Serenity Prayer] – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference”.  I feel that’s very helpful for a number 1 to learn to just grown in wisdom and to see, actually there are a lot of things one just has to leave for other people.

James:  Yeah that hit home and to be really compassionate with myself when that happens.  The act of accepting that I can’t and don’t need and am probably not best placed to do all those different things.

Anne:  Yes, yes [nodding]

James:  And that wisdom about being able to discern it.  I had this real sense as you were speaking [Anne] that relaxing into it, relaxing into all these challenges and perhaps just letting them be there for a while, the answer comes a bit more, in terms of choosing the right place.  Whereas when I am holding the number of the challenges altogether - this long list - it’s very hard to do anything very well.  Whereas when I say, “OK let’s find out which one is the right one that I can do”, that felt like a bit of a trap…[saying] ‘the right one’.  But now I tend to just be able to do that in a way that feels more helpful and again the way of doing it seems to transmit more positively.  As I am describing it, I feel a lot of the traps of 1ness about using the words like, better and rightness… all that stuff is behind it.  There is a hell of a lot to work with in that area, but just that… the naming and the accepting is really helpful.

Iain:  You see there is also another way to look at it, it’s also possibly falling back more into who you really are, i.e., you leave the conditioning aside and then… what starts to be revealed?  I don’t know if that connects with any of you?

Carlos:  Well the word wisdom has been used twice by both of you [Anne & James] and you [Iain] used a word before, integrity, and wisdom is one of the qualities I think that 1’s aspire to.  I think it is on our list of things to achieve in our life: to be wise people and to help others and I think that 1’s can also be quite playful.  Once we learn to, and come to terms with who we are... I don’t know about you, but I certainly like to have some fun and enjoy other people’s company and enjoy sharing my things.  But, I have learnt not to get frustrated when things aren’t seen the way that I expect them to be seen and that other people do have an opinion and a right to their own experiences.  For many years, that wasn’t the case with me, I just couldn’t understand why people behaved the way they did, until the enneagram gave me that as a tool, knowing that there are 9 different ways of seeing life through these eyes (points to eyes) not just this vision.

James:  And actually the richness I found that comes with that, of accepting that the way someone else is doing something, or the way they are behaving - if I can watch it and actually see it through objectively, about its happening in front of me, and actually see it, rather than judge it as not how I would be doing it - I have found I have learnt and benefited from just watching that happen and seeing that there is a different way of doing stuff and that I am not infallible and I don’t need to be infallible, because it’s not about fallibility or infallibility.  It’s just about how things are and about how other people can do things in different ways and things can happen in a different way to the way in which I perhaps imagined it needed to happen and of course it didn’t.  We used the word liberation very early on; it just feels very strong in that way.

Carlos:  You just used the word judgment and I feel that when one frees themselves of judgment and everybody else, that’s when the plant, flower, begins to flourish and we can grow.  Answering your question [Iain] I think we have to come to terms with that first.  I think we have to do that and we have to accept the negative traits of our personality, which I think are quite - when I compare them to the other personality types –are quite… we have used words, not very nice words to describe who we are, anger… I think we have to come to terms with that.  I have come to terms with it anyway and it’s working for me.

Iain:  So is it that you, having been so fixed on perfection, and wanted perfection as you see it on the outside, is it that once you start to loosen up, you start to find that the beginning of everything is actually quite perfect without your tweaking adjustments?

Carlos:  Definitely.

Iain:  That’s a big realization isn’t it when that starts to…

James:  And it’s just lovely.  It means that energy you can, with confidence, integrity and trust, put it somewhere else, rather than doing that policeman job you were talking about earlier or checking up… I don’t want to do that.  As a start, you are talking about who am I really, I don’t want to do that [Carlos agrees], it’s like an ordeal.  Something has told me I have to do that from a very early age, so when I see I don’t have to do it, it’s lovely, it’s really, really a great opportunity just to let things be.

Carlos:  Kind of like, you have taken a great weight of your shoulders isn’t it?  You feel very ethereal and light and…

James:  …and you can live there right now.  You talked about the worry of the past, or imagining the future.  You don’t beat yourself up about what happened, or [about] the word I said that was wrong.  So I said the word and look what happened, so it happened.  But it’s funny because, another part of me - even as I say that to you now - is beating me up and saying, “Well that’s just laziness that’s slovenliness”.  So it’s that continual battle with the superego type of thing, and [learning] to leave it alone. But that is really nice actually, being able to play.  You used the work playfulness a bit earlier, there is a real playfulness and if you can pull all these things together and in my experience, 1’s can pull lots of bits together and play with it, and tease and pull different parts and see what happens.  I think that’s what we can bring for people.  I have really notice that.  I can be in a meeting with 20 or 30 different people and I think we have this ability to synthesize things.  To pull things together which the detriment is, you then analyze things to death and put all those things that a patient could be presenting and as a result don’t do anything.  But, the real free thing and the bit where you stand up and you are feeling really good about it - you know you are acting and helping - is that you can pull it together for other people, because they can see you doing it and then they appreciate it and you go wow! [but it feels as though] I didn’t do any work then.  But people have really appreciated what you have done because you have pulled everything together and come out the other side with a solution to a problem, that wasn’t there [in the first place].

Carlos:  I think that 1’s can inspire people and we can also intimidate people.  I have seen that, after the event.  But inspiration, I think people can learn and feel a lot off of us when we are good.

Anne:  So you mean like in your role [James] with a meeting it may be that you can lead the team on, you can analyze the problem, you can get a very good view of it and then actually lead them on with your idea…

James:  And what’s interesting, as you say that, I am thinking about something you said Iain about who you really are.  I had the sense that when that is happening as a flow, there is a real quality to it, speaking from this experience I have had, the embodied experience.  It was just a flow and the anxiety wasn’t there at all in it because something else was acting, as opposed to just having to think up here [touches head], I wasn’t thinking it, I was feeling it, I was being it and there was a sense of tiredness afterwards in these cases, but the quality of the tiredness is different to the quality of that real tenseness, it’s a really delightful exhaustedness.

Carlos:  It’s coming from a different place isn’t it?

Iain:  There is something I wrote down; I hope I can read my writing now (group laughs) it was from the book Facets of Unity by A H Almaas who had written quite an in-depth book about the enneagram and this bit was about type 1’s.  The potential is to see the world as it really is, without our perspective and judgments, our likes and dislikes.  We have to let go of our mind.  It doesn’t matter whether we think things are good or bad.  The moment you see that everything is perfect, you see your effort to make things better is pointless.  Everything is co-emergent with Being.  That, is holy perfection.

Anne:  Gosh

Iain:  So I thought that was very beautiful, I don’t know how that resonates with you guys.  This was written for a type 1 and…The last thing written here and I know it’s a big jump in a way for a 1, it’s basically saying everything is perfect the way it is and resistance to that is pointless and everything is co-emergent with Being.

James:  I think in the best moments of my life, I can feel that and I can sense those, but a lot of the time… no, I don’t believe him, he’s not quite right on that, I know better; you know part of me is saying I know better… it can’t possibly be meant to be like this.  So for me, I still have got a lot to work on with acceptance, but I know from the glimpses I have had, when that acceptance comes, it’s a much more beautiful place to be and it does just feel right and you are walking along under the sunshine and the leaves are falling in autumn sunlight and you are delighted and you are not sure why and you really don’t care that you don’t know why.  Or you’re delighted or if you are miserable, you really don’t care that you are miserable. You just are.

Iain:  So when it’s pissing with rain and you are late for the bus and you just fall in a puddle, how do you feel then?  Is everything still…

James:  It comes again to where you are at.  So some days that’s brilliant, there could be nothing better because, well, it’s funny being wet but, on the other days…

Carlos:  Do you find that it can trigger itself off very quickly, instantaneously?  Like you could be fine and then suddenly something would happen and bang, it’s like a trigger has gone off.

James:  And there’s a massive spiral downwards.

Carlos:  That’s right, and then you are in freefall at that moment and you can’t come back until you have hit the bottom and then you realize what has happened, and then, many times, I have felt disappointed with myself after the event.  I have said to myself, I thought I was more advanced, I thought I had evolved more, but I haven’t progressed at all I am back right where I started [group all laughing and agreeing] that’s the sort of thing going on in my mind.

Iain:  That’s a great thing to point out, isn’t it, because yes, we all get this feeling, doesn’t matter which enneagram type we are, that sometimes we are back where we started, but at least we know, that there is somewhere else to go because, where we started, at one time, was where we thought the whole universe existed, so you have got a perspective which is a huge jump actually. 

So we have a couple of minutes left, I don’t know if anyone has anything they would like to say in the last few minutes, maybe to people who are watching who have suddenly had the shock of finding they are a type 1 and thinking…oh dear.  Any words of encouragement, or warnings?  Or they may be watching and are really pleased they have found out they are a type 1.

James:  The thing that has really helped me is the realization that being kind to myself and being compassionate to myself about this self criticism for a start and not getting in that spiral in that complete negative loop, is that... OK if it’s happening, it’s happening; that is a really good start. And by being kind, each time I notice something… however small.  So by noticing that trigger I may still go down that really bad path, but I have noticed the trigger and that’s better than I was a month ago or a year ago, so being really kind to myself [works].  And I have noticed that if I am being kind and compassionate with myself - I may not act it out perfectly yet - but as my wife would probably say, I feel more compassionate to those people around me.  So instead of just being angry or resentful or judgmental, there is compassion, maybe with judgment or anger, but with some compassion, so the edge has kind of gone. So the little steps, just taking the time to notice that happening, has been really helpful for me

Anne:  I suppose, you are showing your self knowledge is developing isn’t it?  In that you have actually identified something which before, would just have been automatic and you are just accepting that it has happened and you know you don’t want to go along that track, you want to stop.  Whereas before you weren’t even aware of it, it was just an automatic reaction.

Carlos:  With me, I remember being with my yoga teacher and ranting on about something that had happened and he’s looking at me from across the other side of the room and he has got a smile on his face and I am thinking to myself, he is not taking me seriously and I finish ranting on and he says to me, “Carlos, you have got to learn how to forgive” and I said, “OK”.  He said, “Not the other person Carlos, yourself, you have got to start forgiving yourself for feeling this way” and it was such a slap in the face.  I needed to receive that slap in the face and it was like the veil was lifted.  I realized that the only way we can be free of ourselves is by forgiving ourselves.

Iain:  Well, that’s about a great place to finish I think.  I really appreciate the three of you coming in today, Anne, Carlos and James.  I think you really have given a feel of what it is to be a type 1 and for that I am very grateful and thank everyone for watching conscious TV.  We have now almost completed our series on the enneagram, we have got one more to go, the type 2, which we are doing in a couple of weeks and then the whole set will be there and if you want, you can go through and decide what you feel you might be and then learn the potential of that type.  So thanks again for watching conscious TV and I hope we see you again soon, goodbye.


To watch the original video interview click here. This programme has been transcribed on a voluntary basis. If you would like to offer to transcribe a video on the same basis, then please contact:

All text copyright © Conscious TV Ltd.

All rights reserved 2021 - any problems, contact 12testing (scripting & maintenance)
Site design