Caregiving is a delicate and sometimes complicated process of finding the balance between caring for an other and caring for yourself. And in the background of this balancing process is the realization that you, the caregiver, will likely be, at some point, in the same position as your loved one, the recipient of caregiving.
As an Enneagram Coach, I believe that everything ultimately is about love and transformation from the spiritual perspective. At its best, as the caregiving journey evolves, the giver and the receiver lose their role focus to simply connect and relate. The Enneagram is a powerful tool for facilitating this shift, fostering understanding, compassion, and connection in caregiving relationships.
My particular strength in caregiving communication lies in my knowledge of the system of nine Enneagram personality types, in knowing how to use the system to facilitate the way a variety of personalities view caring, both as care recipient and as caregiver. Each personality style tends to have “triggers” and habitual thinking that can make the process easier or more difficult. Here, in brief, are the nine types. Which one are you? Which one feels like the person for whom you are caring?
The Perfectionist Type 1 often has strong beliefs about what’s right in the caregiving process. It’s best to check in to see what values and beliefs they have about what is right and wrong.
The Helper Type 2 lives to give, and can take over or be too controlling in the caring role. Then they feel hurt if not appreciated for what they do.
The Achiever Type 3 might see their role as task completion rather than as a way of growing and helping. Best to relax the task a little and connect.
The Romantic Type 4 could see caregiving as limiting the emotional depth they are seeking elsewhere in their life, or just the opposite, see it as a way of deeper connection or healing a relationship. Their emotions come first.
The Intellectual 5 would want to learn from the process while avoiding the depth of emotion it might bring up. Go beyond the mind and ideas.
The Security Seeker 6 can imagine worst case scenarios, causing the care receiver to get anxious. Best to relax and trust in the unfolding. Shift from trying to nail down every little loose end, to stopping and just being with your loved one.
The Optimist 7 caregiver will cheer up everyone in the situation with humor, though might not connect easily or make room for the seriousness required by their loved one or the circumstances. Take a moment to feel the emotions of caregiving and address its serious concerns.
The Director 8 might take over, act too quickly, or not take into account the loved one’s sensitive feelings about change, loss, or weakness. Slow down and think about how caregiving may feel to others involved. Ask them how they are coping.
The Peacemaker 9, in an attempt to avoid conflict, might not deal with the difficult decisions, challenge the authorities, or tackle financial matters that are relevant. Find a trusted companion or coach who can support you in managing the essential business of caregiving.
Use your growing knowledge of the Nine Types to understand your loved one, your family, your friends, and most especially, yourself. Use that understanding to find compassion for others, to speak so that they can hear you, and to personally grow throughout caregiving. Truthfully, we each have within us a bit of each of the 9 types and each type brings with it rich gifts. Balance includes action, the mind, emotions, communication, spirit and healing. Develop the best qualities of each type to enhance a relationship, and to heal yourself and the one to whom you are giving.
Click Here for a brief overview of the roots and history of The Enneagram, excerpted from the Introduction of Herb and Holly’s upcoming book, The Enneagram (for Caregivers), due out this summer, 2013.