The Enneagram and Midlife
The Unfolding Enneagram is a path that is as simple and complex as that of the journey from caterpillar to butterfly. It is a journey of developing our sense of identity, releasing what served our early growth and unfolding to the new creation that was ready to emerge when the time was right. As women entering or traversing midlife, we are keenly aware that we are not the same person we were in our youth. That can be both liberating and fearful. But the question of 'who am I now' is a natural part of our evolution.
I’ve spent years learning about the life cycle of the butterfly. While we can look to the endless ways we can see the beauty of change within nature itself, the butterfly, and the process of change through metamorphosis, is one of the most incredible revelations of our own transformation that I’ve ever witnessed.
If we begin by looking at the caterpillar we see that the one and only job of a caterpillar is to eat. And eat. And eat some more. It begins eating the very leaf on which it was born. It eats from the environment in which it came into existence. It begins life by consuming.
We are not so unlike that caterpillar in that our very survival hinges on the ability to eat but we take in so much more than food from the moment we are born. We begin to consume information…the bits and pieces of data that help us develop our sense of identity, form our ideas of what ensure love and safety, and create signals to alert our brains of danger. Information begins flooding our brains before we even emerge from the womb and in fact, science shows that around 40 days in utero, the first electrical brain activity begins to occur. We come into existence pre-wired with encoded bits of information including our instinctual desire for survival.
The enneagram gives us insight into why we needed these internal signals, why we developed ways to feel loved and safe and how our personalities emerged that corresponded to those needs. We learn to identify these parts of ourselves including our motivations, our fears and the defense mechanisms we created to navigate our place in the world.
The strength of the enneagram is the ability to observe what parts of our initial development are no longer necessary but, in fact, are preventing our growth. This, for the caterpillar, is metamorphosis. The hormones that once served to delay metamorphosis surrender their role, allowing transformation to take place. Everything that once served to protect the caterpillar is no longer necessary. But what happens here, what was inside the caterpillar from before it emerged from the egg, is beyond belief (I can’t spoil it but it will blow your mind!)
The struggle to break from from the chrysalis is necessary. The butterfly’s wings are weak and must push fluid into its wings before its ready to unfold and fly. We, also, can recognize the resistance to change and the struggle to break free from old patterns but when we do…it’s magical!
Identify…you cannot change what you do not know.
Release…let go of what is no longer necessary for your growth.
Unfold….Spread your wings and fly…you are a beautiful, new creation!