Our behavior is NOT what determines our personality.
It would be easy and simple to assume that people who criticize are Ones and people who get nervous are Sixes. However, we are so much more complex and mysterious than that, aren’t we?
Different people do the same things for different reasons.
Words of wisdom: Not everyone who bakes you cookies is a Two.
Also, not every poet is a Four, and not everyone who reads a lot is a Five.
In that same vein, not all Sevens can tell jokes, and not all Threes shop at Neiman’s. Not all Ones tell people what to do, and not all Nines take naps. Not all Sixes are afraid of heights, and not all Eights drive trucks.
So if behavior doesn’t define our personality, what does?
Here’s how motivation works:
• We want something (motivation)
• We make a plan to get what we want (very often split-second, habitual and unconscious)
• We take action (behavior)
The most important question we can ask ourselves and others is ‘Why?’
‘Why’ will shed light on motivation which helps make more sense of the behavior which then gives us more power to decide if that’s actually how we want to behave.
Example: A woman yells at her four-year old for hitting another child at the playground. Our first, and unfair, assumption might be that she’s an Eight because Eights are the angry ones.
Let’s look at the motivations of each type that might compel any one of us to yell at our child for hitting. (You could also make a list of what would motivate each type to NOT yell at their child for hitting, but we’ll just do one list for now.)
A One may yell at her child because she believes hitting is wrong and is mortified her child did something so egregious, especially because he knows better, and what kind of parent is she to have a child who hits? The self-judgment could make her lash out in anger.
A Two may yell at her child because she is so committed to the well-being of all the other children in the sandbox that she essentially ‘throws her kid under the bus’ to try to take care of all the other kids.
A Three may yell at her child because she is horrified to look like ‘one of those parents’ whose kid hits other kids.
A Four may yell because she is exhausted by the minutiae of mothering and feels isolated from all the other mothers in the playground who can’t seem to talk about anything meaningful and her child hitting is the last straw.
A Five might yell to protect herself from what might happen as a result of this hitting. Other parents might want to get too involved in her life. They might want to ‘help’ her or give her advice about things she either already knows or feels she should know.
A Six might yell because she is afraid of what might happen if her child turns out to be mean.
A Seven might yell because she was really looking forward to spending time at the playground for some adult interaction, but if her child is hitting, she’ll have to leave.
An Eight might yell because that is the sure-fire way to get her child’s attention and make it stop.
A Nine might yell if she’s at the end of her rope, though not likely until then. If she’s at the end of her rope, it may be because she’s been criticized multiple times by her husband for not disciplining their child better, and she’s afraid of the conflict at home that might arise if word gets back to him that this happened at the playground.
If our behavior is working, we’re getting what we want and no one is getting hurt in the process.
If our behavior isn’t working, well then…
Realizing what motivates our behaviors can help us find more effective ways to get what we’re looking for.
What follows is a very limited example of the behaviors the different types might use to try to get what they want and some ideas of more effective strategies.
|Motivation||Red Flag Behavior||Negative Effect||More Effective Behavior|
|One||To be a good person||Beating yourself up for making a mistake||Experience ongoing pain from the unrealistic expectation that you be perfect.||Acknowledge your mistake and move forward knowing that integrity comes not from being perfect but from learning as we go.|
|Two||To give and receive love||Saying ‘yes’ to every favor asked of you||Exhaust yourself, experience resentment and distance rather than love||Give when it feels genuine and notice the love that comes even when you haven’t done anything to earn it|
|Three||To feel valued||Doing it all without stopping||Exhaust yourself. Feel empty from filling your time with things that don’t fill your heart.||Do the things that you are truly passionate about and revel in the value that you bring via quality vs quantity.|
|Four||To connect with people||Spending all your time with one special person||Other parts of life get neglected. The person inevitably does something to let you down.||Allow yourself to experience the connection you have with many of the people you interact with, including people in the grocery store.|
|Five||Understand||Relying solely on books and internet to know what is happening||Get lost in the research and miss out on the experience. Remain distanced from other people who are also learning.||Allow yourself to learn through experience and interaction by paying attention to your heart and body sensations and reactions.|
|Six||Feel secure||Working hard to manage things to ensure you will be okay||Exhaustion, never-ending, never resting. Never feeling like your job is done.||Make a plan to take care of something and then let go of the outcome, trusting that you have what you need to handle whatever comes your way.|
|Seven||Be happy||Constant thinking about what you will do next that will be even better than what you are doing now||Never feel fully satisfied because you aren’t present to experience it. Perpetuate the false belief that you can find a way to be happy all the time.||Bring your attention to the moment, to what is going on around you and how that is impacting your body, mind and heart.|
|Eight||Feel alive||Demanding that other people take action when they seem to be stuck in emotion or inaction||Not get the reaction you want, sometimes feel more frustrated with the person, others may get upset at your demands.||Pause to listen to what the other person is experiencing and see that ‘living life’ doesn’t have to come in the form of intense action, but can also be fulfilling in the form of a softer connection.|
|Nine||Feel peaceful||Quieting your own desires so you can stay open to doing what other people want you to do||Momentary repression of who you are doesn’t make it go away, so resentment can build up over time which robs you of your peace.||Stay aware of what you want, join the discussion and decision-making process so that even if the process of coming to a mutual solution gets messy, the solution will ultimately be more fulfilling than going along with others without checking in with yourself.|
What motivates your behavior? What actions do you take that support getting what you really want and what ones seem to sabotage your efforts?