Freedom of Choice

I thought, with it being Election Day and all, it would be apropos to write about the freedom of choice.  I’ve never been a political person.  I get confused on where politicians really stand, what their policies are and how that would affect my life and the lives of my loved ones.  If I talk to my boyfriend, who is much more informed than I, being an avid news watcher, he can go into detailed explanations on the benefits of Barack Obama’s policies.  If I talk to my father, who is a business owner and a very smart man, he gives an equally persuasive account on why Mitt Romney is the man to elect.  I listen to them, hear their points of view, and get very confused at how they seem to be saying opposite things.  It’s enough to make me want to walk away and never vote again.  That being said, I did indeed, vote this morning at approximately 9:15am and I am proud of my freedom to choose.

It is easy to feel powerless when you feel like you have no options, like you must do things the way you’ve always done them, like you will inevitably be circling back to the same issues that crippled you seven years ago.  History repeats itself and all that. 

Understanding the Enneagram, and my type within that system, helped me gain the freedom to choose my actions.  I will use an example from my mother, because I want to bring awareness to the benefits and detriments of other types beyond Fours.  My mom is a Nine on the Enneagram, the Peacemaker or Mediator.  One thing challenging for Nines is inertia.  They are creatures of comfort.  They don’t like to be disturbed when they are relishing the confines of their comfy cocoon. 

At some level, my mom has always felt this.  She loves to be home alone, the house all quiet, curled up underneath a warm, fuzzy blanket and diving into a alternate universe in one of her beloved novels.  She enjoys all things related to comfort…the delights of a delicious meal in a beautiful atmosphere with my siblings listening to my dad reminisce about their early courting, being surrounded by the pure giggles of her grandchildren, eating popcorn and drinking diet coke sitting next to me in a dark movie theater. 

Alternately, she does not enjoy being pushed out of her comfort zone.  You will never see her skydiving, or competing in a triathlon.  If she is interrupted from some delightful hobby in order to call the air conditioner man to come out and fix the broken A/C in the midst of the sweltering summer heat, she resists being called to such tasks. 
A Type Nine struggles with inertia, meaning if they stop, it is very hard to rev their engines back up, hard to get their momentum going.  That being said, once they can kick the engine into gear, they have an easier time continuing a task.  Once she discovered the characteristics of Type Nine, and how this relationship to inertia played out in her life, she felt she had the power to choose.

A few months after our first Enneagram workshop, she was visiting me in New York.  We had been walking a lot, but had not gotten our hearts racing.  Our bodies felt a little stiff.  We were discussing whether we would spend Sunday morning going to church, or perhaps a museum, or even the Farmer’s Market.  I realized that what I wanted most of all was to get my body moving and sweat a little, so I threw in the option of going to the gym as a curve ball.  

My mom tightened up, resisting this new suggestion.  As she later explained it to me, her thoughts were as follows, “I don’t want to have to get sweaty, and then have to take a shower, what a nuisance!  I thought we were going to do something fun, like go to a museum or the market, not work out!”  I could see her body stiffening to my prospect, and since she and I had both learned about Nines and their issue with inertia, I encouraged her, “Come on, Mom, you’re gonna feel SO much better after we get our bodies moving and blood pumping.  Then, we’ll have the whole day free to do whatever fun stuff we want!”

Sure enough, that’s what happened.  She later reflected on that moment, and described feeling free to choose her actions because she knew her type.  “Do I want to be a slave to the grips of my personality?  Or do I want to feel the power and freedom that comes with choosing my actions?”  What do you choose?