What Happens When We Don’t Get What We Want?
“I’m easy to please – just give me everything I want.” A colleague had that sign on her desk, and it always made me smile every time I saw it. At face value, it’s a simple enough life philosophy. Getting what we want makes us happy. But, does it really? What if what we want isn’t actually good for us? Or what if we don’t really know what we want? How then, will we know if we have it? And if we don’t know what we want, can we then ever really be happy?
I’m pretty sure my colleague didn’t intend to inspire these kinds of deep and existential kinds of questions when she innocently put that sign on her desk. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that we all think we’ll feel happier if we have what we think we want.
So what happens, then, when we don’t get what we want? Do we throw a spectacular tantrum worthy of any two-year-old? Do we sulk or stamp our feet? Pout or give out the silent treatment?
Sometimes, depending on your personality type, not getting what you want may actually end up being a good thing. So, let’s take a more detailed look into what happens with each of the nine different Enneagram personality types when they don’t get what they want.
Type 1s are perfectionists, so what they want most in the world is to do everything well, thus putting themselves out of reach of criticism. They also want other people to do the same – but according to their standards and as they see it. They are easily offended and angered by the seemingly perverse refusal of others to do what they themselves feel is the right thing. They want everyone to maintain high standards, but when this doesn’t happen, they feel very frustrated. This almost perpetual state of anger and frustration can cause huge health problems for Type 1s. High blood pressure and ulcers are common.
Twos are unarguably givers and helpers. They long to be loved, and will love back with all their heart. But they are most definitely not as saintly as this may sound! When a Two doesn’t get what they want, watch out! Twos don’t give expecting nothing in return. They give in order to be liked, loved, needed and accepted. So if they find they are doing all the giving, but are not getting what they want in return, they can lash out, saying extremely cruel and hurtful things. This is almost always followed by intense remorse, and a resurfacing of the need to be loved and appreciated.
Threes believe in themselves and their abilities. They are often successful and well liked, and their success inspires others to better themselves. Under the surface however, we discover that many threes want success simply because they fear without it, they will feel empty and be worthless. They want the heady feeling of accomplishment and they crave the increased attention that comes with increased success. Without it, their lives have no value or purpose. This intense pursuit of success can actually alienate Threes from themselves and others. The irony is that in getting what they think they want, they lose sight of what it is they really need.
Fours are emotionally honest and highly creative. They want very much to find their significance, and create a unique identity for themselves. They are often scornful of those who live “ordinary lives.” However, in building an identity around their uniqueness, Fours often alienate themselves from everyone around them. They secretly long for someone to come in and appreciate their hidden, secret self. When this doesn’t happen, they are prone to self-pity and chronically low self-esteem. This self-pity can spark a downward spiral into increasing unproductiveness, and an inability to function effectively in the real world.
Fives are confident, curious and insightful, and their greatest desire is to be ready for anything. They are often pioneers, capable of visionary ideas, but, in their overriding quest to develop useful skills and acquire more knowledge, they can cut themselves off from others, and can lose many practical and social skills. The more time they devote to collecting knowledge, the less time they spend attending to their real needs. With 5s, it’s not so much a case of what happens when they don’t get what they want, but what happens when they do!
Sixes crave security and support. They are hardworking and reliable, but can become anxious if they feel alone or unsupported. When denied the validation they desire, sixes can be defensive, defiant and suspicious. They are often quick to blame others for their own shortcomings, but this usually ends up harming them more than other people.
Sevens have a basic need to be content. They crave satisfaction and fulfillment. To this end, they are constantly looking for new experiences. When the opportunity for impulsiveness and spontaneity is denied them, they feel deprived, and can feel resentful. They become impatient, failing to focus on those things that are really worth doing because they are too busy looking for the nest big thing.
Eights love to be in control of their lives and their destiny. They are strong and assertive, which can often be intimidating, yet they are actually afraid of being hurt emotionally, and of being controlled by others. When they don’t get what they want, eights go on the defensive, often rejecting others before others have the chance to reject them. This leads to greater emotional distance from people and eventually, a complete inability to connect with others at all.
Nines love peace, and will often go along with others, albeit unwillingly, just to avoid confrontation. This desire to avoid conflict of any kind can end up causing inertia and complacency. By constantly going along with others’ wishes, Nines end up losing their sense of self. Ironically, by not always getting what they want, nines can actually improve! By being more engaged – emotionally and mentally – in their environment, they will end up feeling more satisfied.
To help you see just how effective Enneagram is at defining personalities, click here to take this shortened (but highly accurate) version of our Integrative Questionnaire. You’ll receive an analysis report telling you into which of the nine personality categories you fall, and the characteristics of that personality. Once you’ve taken the test yourself, why not share it with others in your team?
If you’d like to find out more about Enneagram, and the amazing impact it can have on your team dynamics and productivity, contact Ellen Edwards on 082 940 2486, or email her at email@example.com.