Friday, February 2, 2018

The Partnership Path to Self-Knowledge

(From Margaret Frings Keyes' Enneagram Relationship Workbook)
  1. Falling in Love: Infatuation marks the first phase of relationships, when the floodgates of the unconscious are opened and we glimpse a possibility of our own wholeness. We project our unconscious positive images of the opposite sex onto the other person and we feel spiritually and mentally alive, because each sees the other only in terms of desired aspects and traits.
  2. Adaptation to Power Roles: Now we begin to divert attention away from our own unacceptable traits, urges, feelings, etc., and project those that are negative onto the partner. We also endow our partner with collective authority, and thus rebel or conform to what our partner expects. The relationship shifts as we create rules, roles, and expectations. To some degree we suppress ourselves for fear of losing the partner. Liveliness and compatibility are reduced as we begin to operate from our defenses. 
  3. Darkening Conflict: In this phase our unknown and unconscious aspects demand to be seen. We may become depressed, angry, and/or hurt, and one or both will engage in fantasies of separation, longing to ESCAPE! Positive aspects of life are projected onto the outer world (e.g., new career, new associations, new interests), so now everyone but the partner looks attractive. Our feelings and perceptions about power, betrayal, and abandonment deepen as our unconscious issues are reflected in even more negative projections onto the partner. Transformation depends entirely on our conscious involvement in our own drama, the decision to focus on our own need to change. Depending on our level of consciousness, we can:
    • Refuse to recognize and deal with differences (and later repeat the problem with someone else). 
    • Try to control the partner by anger, disapproval, withdrawal, or pouting. 
    • Experiment with separation (this can be positive if the goal is to achieve consciousness and choice, but remember that eventually even our work on ourselves will have to be completed in relationship). 
    • Begin the true work to integrate the Shadow. Although uneasy and ambivalent about it, we move our attention away from how we and our partner should be and toward who we and our partner are. 
  4. Remembering Self and Completion in Union: If we have the courage to deepen our own self-awareness and take personal responsibility for the relationship, we accept and integrate parts of ourselves that we have not wanted to know and see. We examine how our partner has characteristics that we have been unwilling to acknowledge in ourselves. We feel the pain that results from knowing ourselves, as we recall not only of the pain done to us, but also the pain we have created. Our gifts and strengths are heightened as we re-own our Self, instead of reacting solely to our partner. We develop the ability to observe our interactions without judgment and see our prejudices as distortions. Our love becomes based in reality, and the well-being of the other becomes essential to our own as we forgive our partner, our parents, and ourselves.

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