Each and every one of us is on the hero path, whether we’re aware of it or not. Whatever you’re trying to achieve in your life: a better job, higher position, finding a partner, improving relationships, raising kids, meeting with in-laws, you name it, is just one of the rides of a long journey called Life. (See my blog post about the hero journey here).
If we are conscious and attentive enough, we can see that most of the obstacles we face are not outer events but our inner limiting beliefs. Or rather a cluster of a belief, as well as emotional and behavioral reactions to this belief. I call them inner dragons. Many different dragons challenge us along our life journey, distorting our perception of the situations and influencing our reactions. Some of them more often than others. Enneagram helps identify your most frequent dragons that run your life unless you’re aware of them and manage to tame them.
- Type 1: Perfection Dragon or Judgmental Dragon whose favorite words are “should”, “must”, and so on.
- Type 2: Insignificant Dragon makes 2’s feel unimportant which often leads to an unhealthy desire to be important.
- Type 3: Shaming Dragon constantly keeps 3’s hooked on the achievement loop and, as a result, an incessant action mode.
- Type 4: Inferior Dragon makes 4’s see that grass greener on the other side, making them feel flawed, defective.
- Type 5: Stingy Dragon makes 5’s feel they don’t have enough energy, other resources to interact with the world, others.
- Type 6: Anxious Dragon loves to create escape horror rooms, keeping 6’s in anxiety, constantly on the lookout for something bad to happen.
- Type 7: Pink Glasses Dragon keeps 7’s addicted to positivity, novelty, and excitement, making 7’s avoid any negativity at all costs.
- Type 8: Aggressive Dragon stirs in 8’s desire to dominate, control everything and everyone, and as a result conflicts and confrontations.
- Type 9: Invisible Dragon that makes 9’s feel insignificant, unimportant, and dissolved in others making them avoid conflicts at all costs.
(if you need help identifying your Enneagram type or a core belief of the dominant dragon, you can book a typing session with me here.)
Enneagram also gives you very helpful recommendations on how to deal with each of these dragons.
For instance, my most frequent dragon was Anxious Dragon. Below is my algorithm of how I coped with it when it all of a sudden (it’ was not sudden though, usually it was triggered by a certain situation) showed up on the way to my goal, firing at me all those thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.
1. I CAN SEE YOU!
I spot the Dragon. Sometimes my dragon was so sneaky, attacking me unexpectedly from around the corner, putting me on his back and giving me a freakish crazy-horse ride in the terrifying jungles, whatif-ing, creating worst-case scenarios, filling me with anxiety. Mindfulness helped me spot it a.s.a.p.: “Alert! The Anxious Dragon tries to carry me to the Spooky Never Land.”
Carl Jung, a famous Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst once wrote: “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” People who choose to deny or not notice the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons from within. Noticing our unhealthy habits is the most important step in the process.
Besides paying attention to the dragon, try to identify the cues that usually activate it. It doesn’t stir up randomly. What has happened right before the dragon woke up? Is it a particular situation, time, location, person, or mood/state that triggered the dragon?
2. GET FOCUSED
I set aside my goal and preparу myself to deal with the dragon by focusing on my breathing. By slowing my breath, I press this pause button, disallowing the dragon to disorient me and drag me into a habitual scenario. It doesn’t make sense to continue pursuing a goal, as the dragon will obstruct any efficient move towards it.
3. INDIVIDUAL APPROACH
I face the dragon, trying to assess how powerful it is at this moment and figure out the most efficient way to deal with it now. (There’re 2 types of fearful Dragons: Anxious Dragon (cortex-based anxiety) and Panicky Dragon (amygdala-based anxiety). Read more about two major types of anxiety in my post.
As we all know, where attention goes, energy flows. A general rule of thumb in dealing with dragons is to disempower them by instilling a new belief, usually the opposite of the one that dragons preach. For example, a deeply hidden unconscious belief of Enneagram type 6 constant alertness, agility, anxiety is that the world is dangerous and threatening. So the opposite belief that 6’s need to cultivate is that the world is overall benign and supportive. (More on the core beliefs of each Enneagram type in the description of each type).
The right strategy and tools how to tame your dragon are individual. It depends on the dragon and your unique personality type. Still, a holistic approach using all three intelligence centers: mental, emotional, and physical (gut) will make this process efficient.
On the physical level, it’s important to
- Get enough good sleep;
- Nourish your body and brain with proper food and supplements (depending on the Enneagram type you might need different supplements);
- Develop physical strength with your individual set of physical activities;
- Cultivate new behavior, most probably the opposite to that triggered by the dragon;
- Create a new supportive environment, including people, that will support you in new mental, emotional, and behavioral habits.
On the mental level, it’s important to
- Choose and foster a new healthy belief that would disempower the dragon instead of the old one that activated it;
- Set a goal of a new healthy cluster of mental, emotional, and behavioral habits and create a strategy for how to achieve that as well as a new external environment to keep the dragon in check.
On the emotional level, it’s important to
- Practice self-care, self-compassion, self-forgiveness that will give you support during the lows of the hero journey, which is not linear. They’re about valuing your worth;
- Cultivate a habit of a good mood – a resourceful state that makes any transformation easier. After having made a good mood my daily habit I realize now how important it is for the hero journey! I’d say, it’s one of the core habits in life, just like a good sleep and mindfulness;
- Depending on your Enneagram type, gradually develop your particular emotional intelligence skillset. For example, Enneagram type 1 has difficulty recognizing, accepting, and expressing their anger. Type 8 on the other hand, has difficulty holding back their anger. Fives cut themselves off their emotions, while Fours believe they are their emotions. So each type has certain emotional skills to develop.
4. AND AGAIN!
Through constant and persistent repetition of these three steps, I created new neurocircuitry – formed a new habit of how to react to similar situations without activating the Anxious Dragon. What wires together, fires together. By repeating new beliefs, and as a result, new emotional and behavioral reactions you create a new habit.
I don’t want to get rid of the Anxious Dragon completely, as anxiety, just like anger or any other so-called negative emotions, are important signals informing me about unsatisfied needs and desires. What I do want is for my Anxious Dragon not to be dominant, not to exaggerate with the number of alerts, throwing me into the stress mode not because the situation requires it but because it is just a habitual reaction, but rather to be a wise and discerning guard of my safety and security.
With help of inner work, you can find the goodness in every dragon, its beneficial for your vitality intention and transform each of them to serve you with loyalty and benevolent purpose.