What Does True Belonging Look Like for an Enneagram Four?

what does belonging look like as an enneagram four

Christine Yi Suh shares how true belonging as both an Enneagram Four and a Korean American woman starts with spiritual practices of radical self-love and acceptance.

One of the main longings I’ve carried throughout my life as an Enneagram Four has been a desire to belong. 

And for the majority of my life, I tried to find belonging by shrinking myself to fit within the expectations set for me by societal, religious, and cultural structures. I strove to be a meek and submissive woman within Korean patriarchal church contexts and an invisibilized, tokenized Asian within dominant white spaces. As I sought belonging in these communities, I rejected the embodied parts of who I was—my womanhood, my Koreanness, my personality, story, and voice. At the time, I didn’t realize that the longer I stayed in these communities, I would lose the very person God made me to be.

Has your need for acceptance or belonging ever motivated a betrayal of your true, embodied self? Did you ever feel the need to disguise or suppress parts of yourself in order to better fit the expectations of others? 

Brene Brown in her book, Braving the Wilderness says “True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world. . . . True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.”

These past years, I have been on a journey of believing in and belonging to myself. I have been reframing and transforming my Four longing to belong into spiritual practices of radical self-love. In doing so, I am shedding decades of internalized oppression and self-rejection. I am following the courageous, liberative path of Korean women before me who resisted narratives of erasure and self-hatred, and sought their own flourishing, healing, and belonging. I see clearly now that true belonging first begins within me. 

My fellow Four siblings, I believe our journey for acceptance must become an inward reality rather than an outward search for belonging. The struggle to find outward affirmation will always be there, but we can also cultivate practices and narratives that remind us of our inherent worth. We are always being invited to come home to the abundant, singing voice of God who says to each of us, “You are my beloved child. . . . I am so pleased with you.” Can you hear this Voice deep within you? Your existence is a gift. You are beloved, you are enough, and you belong—just as you are.

About the Author

Christine Yi Suh is a writer, spiritual director, pastor, and the author of Forty Days on Being a Four. She has previously served as a pastor of spiritual formation and as the assistant director of spiritual formation and care at Pepperdine University.  She and her spouse, David, live with their two children outside of Los Angeles.

How Venmo Saved Christmas for this Enneagram Seven

How Venmo Saved Christmas for This Enneagram Seven

Artist and writer Gideon Tsang shares how his idealism as an Enneagram Seven came up against the frustrating reality of Christmas shopping during COVID-19.

As an Enneagram Seven, I love and hate the holidays. I love them because, well, Sevens—like Prince preparing for an entire year before Y2K—like to party. The lights, the smells, the sounds, the gifts, the food, the drink, the gatherings. I’ve been going since before 1999. 

On the other hand, as a frustrated idealist (Sevens and Fours!), holidays are the worst. Being stuck in holiday traffic headed towards a mall to wait in line for a gift for someone that you don’t want to buy a gift for is a living hell. Even Dante’s Satan, in his literal flaming hell, was like, “Uh, the mall in December? I’m good. I’ll stay in this eternal flaming inferno.”

This past COVID Christmas of 2020, I made the mistake of going to the grocery store on Christmas Eve (you know, to allow my idealism to blossom into frustration). I put on my coat and hat to brave the Texas forty-five-degree winter and drove two miles down the road to my local grocer, Central Market. As I turned on my left turn signal and waited for a mass of cars to pass, I could sense trouble. Cars were waiting in every aisle with signals claiming their parking spot like a dog peeing on a hydrant. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a line of masked shoppers wrapped around the plaza disappearing around the corner. “Ugh. . . why, God, why?” I muttered under my breath.

I saw a spot open up in the far corner of the lot and parked. With my mask on, I lined up at the back of the line outside of a card store. Forty-five minutes later, with a cart in hand, I was in. 

The reason for my outing was that my partner, Christie, was planning to cook two lasagnas for my boys the next evening—Christmas night. She put together a shopping list in the order of where I would find the items in the store. With the crowded aisles, it felt like a game of Mario Kart. I threw a few banana peels behind me just in case. 

Once inside the store, my quest began with veggies, then onto the meat section, then the wine, the spices, the sauces, the cheeses, and finally the fresh pasta. With my cart full, I traced the checkout line from the front of the store past the gelato, past the deli, all the way to the bakery at the very back of the store. I got in line. People were cordial and in a festive mood. Is this the end of the line? “Welcome, join our holiday misery!” smirked a bearded white Austinite with a baseball cap (Austin’s equivalent to a New York pigeon). 

Thirty minutes later, I was next in line. The conveyor belt moved to start the emptying of my precious goods. I started with the colorful array of vegetables and then the sauces and spices. All the colors coming out of my cart tickled my inner Seven’s need for variety and beauty. The woman in front of me paid for her bounty, rolled her cart towards the automatic doors and waved at me as she said “happy holidays.” 

Finally, my quest was near completion. I was at the checkout! Halfway through, I took a deep breath. The nightmare was almost over. I reached into my pocket for my wallet and to my horror, it was empty. I checked all my back pockets. Jacket pockets. I ran through all my pockets one more time. A stress sweat bead tricked down my back. I couldn’t have. I must have. I forgot my wallet. 

I quickly texted Christie. “You won’t believe what I forgot.”

Christie: “Shut up”

Me: “I might start weeping”

Christie: “I can come now!”

Me: “I took your car”

Christie: “What do we do?!”

Me: “Uber?”

I scanned my cart to see what I might be able to throw across the store. Maybe I’ll just walk away into the sunset and call it a life.

My Enneagram Seven quick thinking kicked in and I turn to the couple in line behind me. They were both wearing hooded sweatshirts. 

Me: “Hey, there. So I have a straaange question.”

Random Couple: “Uh, ok”

Me: “Sooo (I could hear my last bottle of wine beeping through the checkout) I forgot my wallet. What if. . .”

I could see them shift uncomfortably

Me: “It’s going to be a lot. But do you think I could Venmo you for my groceries if you put them on your card?”

I got a blank stare back. After a few seconds of processing the man shrugged, “Yeah, I guess I could do that.”

Me: “Sir, I want to kiss you right now but that might scare you and it’s COVID. But thank you, thank you, thank you. You just saved my Christmas. I kind of love and hate Christmas.”

Man: “I get it man. Congrats on making it out of here. Happy holidays.”

As an Enneagram Seven, that’s a sneak peek into my experience of most holidays. This is how an idealist coming against the frustrations of reality uses a bit of charm and quick thinking to come away with a positive story. Anything for a good story, eh?

About the Author

Gideon Yee Shun Tsang

Gideon Yee Shun Tsang is an artist, writer, photographer, and spiritual leader. He was the founding pastor at Vox Veniae in Austin, Texas, where he’s been living for the past twenty years. He originally hails from Canada. He can be found meandering the country in his van, bike camping in national forests, or cliff jumping into cenotes. He is the author of 40 Days on Being a Seven.

How This Enneagram Three Learned to Win by Losing

How This Enneagram Three Learned to Win by Losing

Pastor, author, and Enneagram Three Sean Palmer talks about moments of health and unhealth and how his fun family competition rewards pushing back on the toxic aspects of our false selves.

Everyday my family offers me a chance to win. I’m an Enneagram Three, and heck yeah, I love to win. But the competition in front of me each day is something that pushes against the compulsive instincts of my Enneagram number. At my house, we give one another Enne-awards. 

What’s an Enne-award? An Enne-award is when any of us—me, my wife (Enneagram One), or daughters (Enneagram One and Seven) do something that pushes back against the predictable, and often toxic, aspects of our false selves and embraces health and wholeness. 

When people ask me about their Enneagram numbers they often have questions about health, unhealth, and toxicity. Usually, these questions are trying to gauge whether a person is in a season of health or not. I’m not sold that seasonal health and unhealth are the most appropriate ways to understand our motivations, actions, and thought patterns.

I can’t know for sure about other people, but I have healthy moments followed by unhealthy moments. I grew up in Georgia, where one of the beauties is having four distinct seasons throughout a year—Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. Each season lasts four months. My healthy moments never endure for an entire season. I don’t have healthy and unhealthy seasons, even when thinking figuratively. I do, however, have healthy and unhealthy moments. 

That’s how you get an Enne-award!

The moment I, for example, choose rest when there’s work to be done, take a moment to be present with my daughters, or decide that down time and play aren’t just for the weak-willed, I can earn an Enne-award. I can win an Enne-award when I meet with a colleague and I resist the urge to mention everything on my resume or herald my most recent accolades. I can earn an Enne-award when I choose to exercise out of sense of caring for myself and not disappointment in myself or desire to “fix” something.

When anyone in our home demonstrates signs of deepening—if only for a moment and not a season—they get an Enne-award!

Writer and professor Henri Nouwen spoke of the Five Lies of Identity: 1) I am what I have, 2) I am what I do, 3) I am what other people say or think of me, 4) I am nothing more than my worst moment, 5) I am nothing less than my best moment. It seems to me that Nouwen named the mental calculus that, when resisted, calls me and maybe you, into our overburdened and buried essence.

You see, as an Enneagram Three, there are precious few voices in our world and culture luring me away from the false belief that my worth will be uncovered through achievement, that I’ll be loved when I have won enough. There is no siren’s song inviting me to chart a course toward deeper waters. I am daily rewarded for production. I am heralded when I am most shallow.

So, winning has to look different for me. Getting an Enne-award is winning, which I like. But it’s winning by losing the negative, grasping desires of my false self which urges me to focus on things like winning.

About the Author

Sean Palmer

 Sean Palmer is a sought-after writer, speaker, teacher, emcee, and speaking coach engaging audiences all over the world with Enneagram wisdom. The teaching pastor at Ecclesia Houston (one of America’s most innovative, missional communities), he is the author of 40 Days on Being a Three.