Getting Out of the Box: A Conversation with a High-Mastery 7
The multi-talented and jovial Type 7, everyone loves to be around them (I’d argue that they can get along with just about everyone as they are very charismatic and cheerful). Also called The Enthusiast, they are the masters when it comes to reframing. Having an aversion to painful emotions, they are always looking for new and exciting experiences to indulge with.
Sevens may opt not to go on a self-development journey as they have to move from gluttony to sobriety. For the low-mastery Type 7, they can be impulsive, erratic and be addicted to something that allows them to escape from their pain.
When I’ve decided to continue this series and was listing down potential interviewees, it took me a while to come up with a name for the Type 7. I was thinking, I don’t think I met a high mastery Type 7 in Singapore, I wonder, is it because life is too good here in this part of the world and the Type 7s don’t see a need to work on themselves? I’m not sure.
And then, I remember my good pal from the US whom I met back when I attended the Enneagram workshop under Claudio Naranjo. Not only has she studied the Enneagram for 30 years, but her journey as a Type 7 has not been easy. I could not help but thank her for her authentic sharing and for being such a great inspiration to many!
- Be happy in the present.
Sevens are future-oriented, they’re always thinking about “What’s next?”, looking forward to new adventures and fun experiences. Having an aversion to pain, they continuously generate joy, excitement and stimulation as a way to escape the darker emotions that they have.
In one of her trials in life, her son broke his legs and was told by the doctor that he couldn’t walk again. Her house was converted into a hospital ward kind of environment. She also had to be the primary nurse for her son, which she didn’t have any prior experience. And aside from managing her own well-being, she also had to help her son deal with suicidal thoughts.
She found herself unable to look at the brighter side and reframe further! She felt there’s no hope in life. She was clouded by several uncertainties like — “Will I be able to go back to work again? When will this be okay? Will my son be able to walk again? Will my son be happy again?”
This incident turned out to be one of the most powerful transformations for her — it broke her habit of needing to know what’s next in order to feel happy. She finally figured out how to just be in the present moment and not have to bring the future into it. Sober joy – being happy in the moment, for the moment and be thankful.
- Re-construct your worldview.
Type 7s have two primary defence mechanisms which are rationalisation and idealisation. Being able to reframe things into positive terms is connected to their primary defence mechanisms.
Rationalisation as a defence entails finding good reasons to explain whatever you want to do, seeing things however you want to see them or believing whatever you want to believe. We all have the ability to rationalise, however, for 7s, they are less in touch with the motives and the feelings connected to the things they do.
Idealisation allows 7s to perceive people and experiences as being better than they are. When 7s idealise, they disregard any flaws that the other person have. When this happens, idealisation can keep them in a fantasy relationship instead of the one they’re actually in.
In another devastating experience, she was unable to rationalise the situation. She was slapped with a hard truth that anyone can be a horrible human being. Her faith in God was shattered, and she felt hopeless and depressed. She shut herself from everyone and the world for a year.
Ironically, what helped her get through this experience is by reading stories about concentration camps. One particular book inspired her to have hope and build her life again. After emerging from this episode, she rebuilt her career and worked with people who’ve had trauma or are going through a rough patch. Later on, she was thankful that she went through the horrifying experience because it helped her have more depth and empathy for people.
She said that 7s are walking around with a mental bubble, and if this bubble pops, they are in big trouble. When circumstances prohibit a 7 to think of a sunny day, they have to re-construct their worldview and change their thought on the situation – to be more realistic, authentic, and with clarity.
- Be still and find bliss.
The Type 7s passion is “Gluttony” – the need to consume something (whatever that is) to fill in the emptiness– and if this unfulfilled, it feels like death to them.
Back when she was new to the Enneagram, she went on an exploration about gluttony and how it manifests within her. She confessed that the thing she’s most gluttoned about is information. She would go to the bookstore and always end up spending more than a hundred dollars each time. She’s always on a quest to buy books but not just any book but “The Book” which is what she’s excited about at the moment plus purchasing several related books. And for this experiment on gluttony — she went to the bookstore, find “The Book” and not buy it. And after that, she observed her body and the thoughts coming into her head. She felt like she was dying because she didn’t get the book that she wanted. But since she was dedicated to growing as a 7, she continued on fighting gluttony and not let it control her.
Type 7s tends to be self-referencing– in contrast to Type 2 and Type 9 who focus more on other people, 7s primarily focus on their own inner experience, needs and thoughts. This habit is essential to managing their experience by directing their internal thought processes. It can also lead 7s to unconsciously use their mental intelligence to manipulate others as they naturally assert their own agenda. The 7s subconsciously thinks that they wouldn’t get nourished unless they do it themselves. So whenever they want to get something, they will pull all the strings in order to get it. In her own words, she recalled, “I will use my (Type) 8 wing… go to (Type) 1… whatever it takes..” whenever something is blocking her in getting the joy, excitement, or whatever it is that she set her mind into.
As a certified Enneagram coach and someone who experienced several trials, she has mastered not to be consumed by gluttony. To her, reframing is a kind of drug and to be able to control it, she’d put herself into tests by not generating joy or excitement or stimulation and just be still.
“Contemplate what you might do when you stop generating. Be still and drop inside and see if you can find a deep well of bliss. And see if you can go there more often and notice yourself when you start generating. And if you find yourself wanting to get something… don’t get it”, she pose a challenge for her fellow 7s.
Curious about your Enneagram type? Here’s a quick overview of the 9 Types. I know reading through these descriptions can be confusing. So save yourself from second-guessing and figure out your type with the help of our online test.