fives fix the system

M. and I got dinner together last night. It was a late meal for both of us—M tried to order off the happy-hour menu and was startled to hear that, at 7:15pm, that was no longer in play—and we were both life-tired enough that we were even more diffuse than usual. So I can’t tell you how we (I?) leapfrogged over to this. What I can remember is

leaning across the table, saying, “A Five doesn’t ‘do’ feelings until they think, ‘The system has broken. What will fix the system?'” M. laughed, then nodded.

During my Enneagram class, I found it fascinating to trace the Five’s lines of integration toward Eights (gut/doing triad, demanding stance) and of disintegration toward Sevens (head/thinking triad, demanding stance). Fives land in the head/thinking triad, and the withdrawing stance. So there is no personality connection to the heart/feeling triad, nor the more relational dependent/earning stance trio. As their personality is wired, Fives don’t care what anyone else thinks, and don’t recognize feelings—particularly or especially in themselves.

Fives can be pretty tough nuts, to be honest.

My system completely broke at the point I was hospitalized. It’s pretty clarifying, really, to have that inarguable outside validation that what you’ve been doing doesn’t work. In my Scarlett O’Hara moment, I determined I would never land in that state again, and I would do whatever had to be done to make that stick. “What will fix the system?” Learning how to ‘do’ feelings, that’s what. I put my brain to work, and eventually achieved my goal of gaining a better system. (Nods decisively.) It seems to not only have made me better able to live, but to be more fruitful for the people I encounter… a back-door access to that dependent stance, perhaps. Anyway, it’s healthy to increase one’s personality-flexibility.

I look around me at various Five-ish people I know, people who don’t see how their feeling-stifled system is broken, and I feel sad for them. Doubly sad, because I know—I’m thinking of one in particular—the systems they’re using are so sealed in on themselves that they can’t process that either (a) there actually are feelings buried or (b) leveraging feelings would offer advantages they won’t gain any other way.

If I had the access, I would start by saying—the way I said to my youngest—

People’s feelings are facts. They must be included, just as they are, in any equation, assessment, or plan. To exclude them because they are not logical will unbalance the equation, invalidate the assessment, and derail the plan. To do the work once and well, as you prefer, make sure you’ve brought in the feelings as well.

Perhaps with this practice, their own feelings might come along, too-?

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