The Comparing Mind
As a Four on the Enneagram, my Passion or Vice is Envy. Each type has a vice, seven of which correspond to the Seven Deadly Sins: Anger (1), Pride (2), Envy (4), Avarice (5), Gluttony (7), Lust (8) and Sloth (9) with the additions of Deceit (3) and Fear (6). Your Passion or Vice is basically the underbelly of type, where your negative mind may go when you are not present in your life.
Envy does indeed creep up in my life. It can take on many different forms. For as long as I can remember, I have had a bit of a fixation on US Weekly. Without even knowing it, I scan the pages of that magazine comparing myself with the celebrities I see in the photographs. I see what they wear, how they look, dissect their bodies; covet their relationships or their careers. It provides some sort of sick pleasure. It maintains my status quo. Providing some image, ideal, idol or goal that I strive to achieve, emulate or be helps me know where I am.
However, this comparing mind is a dangerous place to go. It makes me hard on myself, never being able to measure up. It makes me focus on what I am not, what I lack, what I am missing in my life as opposed to what I am, what I have and how I am complete and whole.
I was triggered into my comparing mind yesterday. By trade, I am an actress. I have put in my time training for the past 13 years, completing a BFA and MFA in Acting from great Universities. And yet, I am not making my living as an actress. I was dropped by my manager and agent in 2011 and have yet to re-sign with representation, that makes it more difficult to get auditions, and furthermore difficult to get roles and thereby make a living.
I saw an acquaintance of mine on television. My head immediately spun into comparing myself with her, on our looks, on our level of training, on our talent. Before I knew it, I had contracted a tight knot in my stomach. Walking with my boyfriend, Michael, through Central Park, I was unable to see the trees before me, unable to breathe in the fresh air, unable to admire the first blue sky post-Sandy.
As Michael and I sat down in a warm cozy restaurant, I couldn’t relax my mind enough to take a deep breath and enjoy our meal. All that was parading in my head were thoughts of how I don’t measure up, how I will never reach my dreams, how I’m a failure. He so gently reminded me to stay present, to focus on what I do have, to honor my own path. For the first time that morning I was able to release the briar patch that occupied my diaphragm. I could see the blueness of his eyes, admire the smooth wood of the table, let the warm chicken chili sooth my overstressed belly.
That is my journey as a Four…to keep coming back to the Present, to breath, to see what is in front of me, to practice Gratitude for all I do have. Because it is in that place that everything I lack lacks power. It is in that place that I can be more loving to myself. It is in that place that I can stay present with my loved ones. And it is in that place where I have faith that I am exactly where I need to be, on my own path, on my own journey.