Last weekend I was blessed to have the opportunity to go to a 3-day workshop about a personality/spiritual formation tool I’ve been interested in for about 6 months. The little psychologist in me was geeking out as I drove there on day 1.   I’ve already been using this with a few clients and couldn’t wait to learn more. While definitely helpful for my clients, what I discovered profoundly changed me.

It gave me a new lens to see my life through. I have much greater clarity on WHY I do some of the things I do.   It shone light on a lot of my darker places. While those are hard to concede, there’s also peace in the truth that comes from acknowledging them.

It takes a lot of courage for me to say, “Yep, that’s me” when it comes to my ugly truths. But, in denying them, I miss out on opportunities for transformation. Instead, I’ll stay stuck in the same rote patterns, having the same outcomes. Transformation requires having our illusions stripped away and standing firm in the ugly reality; no glossing over it.

“The very best part of you is also the worst part of you.”

— Suzanne Stabile (Day 1 of workshop)

This quote bothered me. The more I thought about it, the more “worst parts” I became aware of – ugh! I’d like to thank my “best friend” – inner critic – for that journey (a core aspect of my type).

It’s been a tough week as I’ve wrestled with this. But as I reflect back on what I’ve learned, I feel very grateful. I’ve discovered truths about myself that very few people could have spoken to me.   They’re deep, hidden motivations that drive how I act, what I avoid, and impact relationships with those who are dear to me.

One such revelation had to do with learning that my type values behaviors over people. At first, this bothered me. I love people and my entire professional life has been spent in service to helping them get along better and grow. I value people!!!! I immediately shot my hand up and asked for clarification. What she said blew me away. She explained that I do care about people, but I’m more task focused than people focused. Being “appropriate” and following the rules overrides relationships for me. OUCH!!

It hurt, because I instantly knew it was truth. My default is always task. If people are over for dinner, I’m focused on the food before relaxing and settling in relationally. If I’m at a meeting and people veer off course to joke around, I want to immediately bring them back to focus rather than allow a little healthy banter. It’s very hard for me to relax and just spend time with my family if things need to be done (and I always feel like things need to be done!) I see this pattern play out over and over again in many contexts. I don’t like it. These actions lead to a feeling of disconnectedness.

But, I have to go back to the above quote. How is that “worst part” also my best part? It allows me to be highly productive. Ask anyone who knows me – I get stuff done! It gives me the emotional distance I need to effectively be present with people when they’re stuck in negative emotions or thoughts. And it drives me in supporting people’s growth as they develop new ways of being and thinking.

Now, that I’m beginning to embrace both my worst & best parts I can give myself a little grace. It’s not that I wasn’t necessarily aware of some of this before, I just didn’t like it about myself. Now, I can continue courageously shining light on those ugly truths. Instead of berating myself, I can just acknowledge, “Yep, that’s me,” and then make a different choice that serves me well depending on the situation I’m in.

I encourage you to do the same. Take some time to reflect on that quote and identify your best/worst parts. They’re there. You just need the courage to identify them and then step forward into making some different choices.

3 Comments

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  1. Camille Wallace

    Love this!!! Way to challenge yourself and others to be reflective and introspective.

  2. Alyssa,
    Thanks for your transparent reflections, and it was an honor to meet you learn alongside of you at the workshop. I especially appreciate your expressed commitment to not bypass your shadow side as the thing you keep hidden because you resent it about yourself, but to respond, “Yep, that’s me.” As someone similarly wired, this has been exposing and freeing.

    One of the things that I have wrestled with for years that I think I gained greater clarity on through our learning is this question – how can we be incredibly successful outwardly through business or mission endeavors, yet be disastrous in relationship with our teams, partners, and family? Sometimes the reverse is true, where we can be great relationally yet disastrous in business or mission. In response, the Enneagram has become a profound tool to expose the shadow side of each person and provide a formative path to be whole at work, home, and in the community. How does this fall on you?