I’ve always envied Enneagram Twos for their ability to express how much they love, admire or appreciate people. This is one of their gifts. My husband is SO good at this.
AND…as much as I love people, this doesn’t come as easily for me. In fact, it can be downright hard!
I can tell people “thank you” but it hasn’t been until recently, since I’ve been doing work on my relationship with myself, that I’ve been able to tell people in detail WHY I love, admire or appreciate them. It strangely feels vulnerable.
Do you notice this?
How hard is it for you to come right out and express your love or appreciation in words with people that you do life or work with? What about your family of origin, that you don’t see on a daily basis?
We Nines don’t lack in the empathy department. We don’t lack in relating with others. We don’t lack in the ability to connect people. In fact…we really want people to feel valued, loved, and appreciated.
However…it can feel really clunky to share how we feel about them.
I once conducted a poll on Instagram about this topic. I asked my community if they feel nervous about expressing love, admiration or appreciation with people like friends and siblings as Nines.
78% of the Enneagram 9s that I polled said that, yes, they do feel nervous when it comes to this.
And when I asked them why, here’s what they shared:
They’re afraid that if they say it “wrong” or if they come on too strongly, or reveal how they feel about someone, there’s a chance that the other person will be turned off and subsequently not want them to allow them in anymore.
There’s that core fear showing it’s ugly head again.
That fear of loss of relationship or separation from others. UGH…why does it get in our way SO MUCH??
I often find this coming up for me when I’m communicating (either over text or in person) with my family of origin.
I’m number five of seven and the story that I adopted as a child was that I was somewhat invisible in the family.
It was like I was just there, and everyone knew it…but no one really cared one way or the other if I was part of things, or how I felt about things. (Relatable?)
Now, as an adult, I see that this was 100% my story, made up in my head. But even now as a 50 year old adult who has done a TON of work around self love, it still pops into my head and skews the way that I experience things.
Just for an example, the other day, I went out to lunch with two of my sisters, (who also happen to be two of my best friends.)
We are all busy moms and only get to spend time catching up every 3 months or so, when we’re celebrating something like a birthday.
As we were catching up around the table, I kept noticing that they seemed to ask questions about each other, but neither of them seemed interested in me, and what was happening with my life lately.
I got curious about it as I was driving home.
Is this really true? Are they not as interested in me as they are in each other?
It’s totally possible that this is all made up in my mind.
But this is the lens that I see through as an Enneagram Type Nine.
So…back to the subject of sharing how we feel with people:
When I have that story playing on repeat in my head, it’s going to be hard for me to allow myself to be generous with my compliments or appreciation for them.
Do you see how that happens?
So, step one is to take some time to wiggle those stories loose in our brains.
Because what happens when we’re focusing on our lack is that we end up staying quiet and a lot of potential connection is lost.
Whatever the reason may be for your holding yourself back, I thought it could be helpful to share a few of the ways to make it easier, as you practice this.
Here are a few things that you can say to show love, without saying it directly:
1) “You can share this silence with me.”
Just spend time together and practice allowing the discomfort of silence. Just BE. You may need to tune into your body and focus on your breath in order to do this easily. But allowing silence is so powerful, and shows people that you care.
2) “Sure, I’ll do that for/with you.”
Take some time to serve them. Sometimes the act of doing helps us to become better acquainted with the feeling of expressing our love, without actually saying it.
3) “I saw this post and thought of you.”
Send them something that you read that shows them that you’re thinking of them. Just be careful that you don’t have an agenda when you do it.
4) “I brought you something.”
Again, this helps endear you to them, and (usually) them to you. Even this can feel really bold when you’re used to keeping to yourself! Especially if you don’t see them very often. But allow that discomfort in the name of memorizing this feeling of helpful discomfort.
5) “Dear Friend, __________”
Write a text or a note of appreciation. This can sometimes feel easier than saying it out loud. The key here (listen up 9w1’s) is to not spend time trying to get it just right. Practice the feeling of vulnerability without perfection. This is a HUGE skill for Nines!
6) “I’m here if you need a listening ear, but I totally get it if you don’t.”
Use your gift of seeing all sides to express that you can lend a listening ear, but hold space for them not wanting to talk if they don’t want to. The key here is to keep the focus on them so you don’t let yourself go down the rabbit hole of self-pity if they don’t do it.
7) “Ahhh..” (Initiates a long, meaningful hug.)
Sometimes physical touch is easier and more meaningful than words. If you’re a hugger…then HUG.
These are all great ways to express appreciation and love.
I invite you to also practice coming right out and saying what you’re thinking. As you allow yourself to practice this, it creates muscle memory in your body and it gets easier and easier over time.
Breathe into the discomfort. You’re going to be just fine.
Authenticity and boldness in relationships is one of the things that we practice at ,The Bold Nine Academy.
I teach my Nines how to speak up and be more bold and courageous from their whole bodies.
In fact, we have a somatics class this week where members will practice speaking candidly, with skills that I teach.
Doors are currently open. To get in on this class and start learning and growing as a Nine, come join us at The Bold Nine Academy. I’d be honored to have you.