By: Margot Zaher, certified Enneagram coach
When faced with the pain and grief of divorce, we may get caught up in unhealthy patterns and thoughts that hinder our ability to process out the grief and heal our hearts.
Not everyone responds the same when hit with the challenge of divorce. There are nine pitfalls you can fall prey to that correspond to the nine different types of the Enneagram, a personality typing system that depicts nine patterns of how people interact with the world and manage their emotional bodies.
While you may relate to more than one of the following pitfalls of divorce, one of these responses is most likely your predominant mindset trap, the one that if uncovered will help you heal and move through the pain and grief of divorce so that you can start rebuilding a healthy new life for yourself.
Type 1: “How Dare You?”
When divorce hits, type 1s can get caught in the pitfall of figuring out who is right and who is wrong. They can squabble over little things, fighting to make things fair and get what they deserve. They can get resentful of their ex and how they may be out of integrity and getting more than their fair share out of the divorce. “How dare you act this way and take more than you deserve” can be the refrain of type one.
Type 2: “After All I’ve Done for You.”
Type 2 can get stuck in feeling that they have spent a lifetime sacrificing their happiness for the happiness of their ex only to end up getting a divorce. They may feel that their ex owes them for all they gave up trying to please him or her in the past. This builds resentment at their ex for not recognizing and validating them and their self-sacrifice.
Type 3: “All You Need is Work.”
For type 3, work can become their solace when hit with divorce. Instead of facing the pain and grief of the ending of their marriage, they may put all their energy into achieving success at their career and pretending that there is really no problem. Since they want to avoid looking like a failure in the eyes of others, they may minimize the divorce, keeping it a secret from all but their very closest friends.
Type 4: “I’m nothing without you.”
Type 4’s pitfall is getting lost in intense grief and feeling that they no longer matter or exist without their partner. When the fantasy of their ideal marriage is stripped away because of divorce, they can become melodramatic and feel that nothing matters if love has failed them. They may have entered into the marriage believing that their partner’s love would save them from the pain of existence, and thus when it ends, they may hate their partner for not living up to their fantasies, and sabotage whatever goodness is left in their lives.
Type 5: “Let’s stick to the facts.”
Type 5 may fall prey to wanting to figure out what went wrong and how it went wrong. They may dive deep into the facts and dissect things on an intellectual level. Sticking only with the facts is a strategy they use to avoid feeling the pain and emotional upheaval of the dissolution of their marriage. They feel safer dwelling in their mind versus probing the abysses of their heart and diving deep into the feelings that might reside there.
Type 6: “I can’t trust you.”
When divorce happens, type 6s may feel that the trust they had in their partner’s love and in the relationship has been broken, and that they can no longer trust anyone or anything, including themselves. They could start second-guessing their desires and get stuck in procrastination instead of moving forward on creating a new life for themselves. While Six’s strongly desire support from others, divorce can make them suspicious of other’s behaviors and lead them to have trouble trusting that anyone truly has their best interests at heart. Thus, they may stay stuck in the pain and confusion of divorce longer than some, and have difficulty finding and moving forward along a new healthier life path.
Type 7: “Onward and Upward.”
Type 7’s unhealthy strategy for handling divorce can be to move on quickly and focus their energies only on having fun. One day they may be filing for divorce, and the next day they are signing up for Match.com. They may feel that life is too short to be bogged down by the pain of divorce, so they cover up their grief by meeting new people and filling their life with new adventures. The challenge with this strategy is that the emptiness and pain they are running from will catch up to them if they stop for very long, forcing them to constantly be in motion and eventually leading to exhaustion for many. This running also causes them to stay in the superficial realms, keeping them from experiencing the beauty and bliss of deeper connection with others.
Type 8: “You’ll regret it”
Type 8 wants to feel powerful at all times and avoid feeling weak. One of their pitfalls is to take on the attitude of punishing their ex for the divorce and seeking revenge if they feel wronged. This helps them maintain their façade of power. Their desire to have the upper hand may cause them to also bulldoze over their ex and demand more than their fair share. Their unhealthy response can be one of, “You shouldn’t have caused this divorce and now you are going to get what you deserve for making this happen.”
Type 9: “I’m OK. We’re OK.”
Type 9 doesn’t want to rock the boat so they may fall into the trap of pretending things are ok even in the midst of a divorce. They may act outwardly as if they are at peace with their ex and the ending of their marriage, yet they are filled with unexpressed anger. Their fear of expressing their anger can lead to passive aggressive behavior where they act very cordial and supportive to their ex’s face but do something behind their back which sabotages the agreements that have been made.
Discovering your Enneagram type can help you figure out the unhealthy patterns that may be stopping you from recovering from your divorce. When you figure out your type, you can clearly see how you may be sabotaging yourself, and what strategies you need to adopt to heal from divorce and focus on creating a new happier life for yourself.
Margot Zaher, certified Enneagram Coach, offers a 2-session Enneagram package during which you will discover your Enneagram type and how to use this information for growth and increased wellbeing. Learn more Here. Mention this article and receive $50 of this package.