Out of the Box, from a Type 1

I got stuck again in the box of my own mind.

Habit-of-mind is unique to each of us, yet follows the pattern of our personality. (See Arizona Enneagram Association)

My name is Diane, and my Habit is Perfectionism.

About one in nine of us have this core habit – the other eight get to have something else.

My mind nags: “Gotta fix this, inside me or outside. Things are not good enough.”

But they are good enough! It’s just a scratchy old recording, telling me otherwise, and it’s untrue. Why do I listen to it?

I deeply appreciate everybody and everything in my life – – except when I don’t.

I lose sight. I slip-slide down the ungrateful path, the critical path. Unappreciative.

My Inner Critic is tenacious and persistent, whispering those old Nothings.

The Critic lures me, unawares, into a box.

It makes me think I’m in charge of the world and I must get perfection.


It paints a beautiful perfect picture, unreal, on the floor of this box. And in I go! Entranced by the glory of perfection, that pure fiction. The image painted there. I take the bait. I’m hooked.

As I hook into my Habit-of-Mind, my Critic ever so softly shuts the box,trapping me inside. I barely notice, because this is me, my usual place, my fallback, my power and control, my ego at work. Getting it perfect is my job, after all.

I’m engaging the fake perfect picture.

Gotta get it right.

Be the best.

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

Righteous. Self-righteous. Virtuous.

Lemme tell you a thing or two (says my blind arrogance).

Darkness spreads in the closed-up box, but I press on.

I pour on my gleam. I can do this, I’m a saint.

Working the situation. Pushing the river.

I still can’t see how fake the picture is, how it’s only a layer of paint, an illusion.

By now I’m licking the paint, that’s how much I believe in the picture.

But my belly begins to feel this place is no fun. It’s isolated. It’s dry and empty, and I can’t find a way out.

I mistakenly slipped into solitary confinement – – because, you see, I’m so damn good!

Yet I still can’t get it perfect enough. Frustration. Irritation. Can we say Anger?

Anger helps me discover I’m trapped. Caught in my Habit Box.

Okay. At least now I know where I am.

The paint tastes bad in my mouth. I grope for my tools. Feebly I try gratitude.

Forget it, I’d rather scream and whine. But . . .

Heck, it could be worse . . . I’m glad I have air in my lungs, I guess . . . I’m thankful for . . .

Slowly bits of appreciation open my constricted heart. A few millimeters, widening. Breathing deeper. Reconnecting, coming out of isolation.

Releasing the perpetual old bone my teeth like to bite.

Opening to gratitude. Stepping out of the box. Ahhhh – relief.

blue sky out of the box

It always feels like a miracle, because it is.

So. It’s none of my business, but — What throws you into your box?
  • Do you want to avoid conflict at all costs, and go submissive in order to keep the peace? (Type 9, Peacemaker)
  • Afraid of boredom, so you’re running super-busy? (Type 7, Adventurer)
  • Do you have a constant urge to give to others, but they don’t reciprocate, and you feel burned-out? (Type 2, Giver)
  • Does everything look a bit threatening and untrustworthy? So many things could go wrong, you have to analyze a lot. (Type 6, Loyal Skeptic)
  • What if deep inside, we feel competitive, we cannot fail, so we overwork ourselves? (Type 3, Performer)
  • Maybe we fear shortages and we withdraw, keep our distance, so we’ll have enough time, space, resources. (Type 5, Observer)
  • Perhaps our Achilles’ heel is that, wherever we look, people/things seem lacking or disappointing. Something is always missing. (Type 4, Romantic)
Thanks to Diane Stallings for allowing us to repost this article from her blog-Joystreamhealth on WordPress.


Do we have some other types that would like to reflect on their type coming out of the box?
Send your story to Andrea Andress at admin@arizonaenneagram.org

Author: Jim Wampler

Share This Post On