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Know Yourself

As Socrates advised, “Know yourself.” To have harmonious

relationships and happiness, we need to understand our inner

workings, unconscious patterns, and personality types. Take time

to map your psyche; you’ll be surprised to discover new parts and

deeper understanding. Think of the massive submerged and unseen

part of the iceberg moving it along. It can take you to rough waters

if you don’t discover what’s buried beneath the surface. question.

Students often ask about how to know if an answer to a question

is accurate. Does it arise from a body-based addiction (give me

sugar/alcohol etc), subpersonality (inner critic, child, parent, etc.),

habitual thought form (I’m not as good as my brother), entity, high

guide, voice of clear reasoning, and so on? Going through the

process of centering, grounding, and defining one’s energy bubble

helps us to get in a quiet neutral place where we can listen to and

be aware of the truth.

Keeping a dream journal is the most direct way to learn

about the unconscious voices and a counselor may provide interesting

feedback on the symbols. A therapist can also point out

blind spots we don’t see or self-defeating patterns that seem normal

to us because we’re accustomed to them. Writing down

intense feelings can help balance them. A study of arthritis and

asthma patients found that those who wrote about their stressful

experiences improved, in comparison to a control group who did-

n’t journal. A useful book, Who Are You?, provides 101 “ways of

seeing yourself,” with self-quizzes and information about physical

and emotional types.

Your astrological birth chart reveals tendencies you brought

in with you. It’s much more than the sun sign discussed in newspaper

columns, because the sun, moon and planets interact with each

other and the 12 houses in the chart. For example, in my chart,

Mars (energy) is in the constellation Aries (the ram), at the top of

the chart (a strong influence) in the 10th house (occupation.), indicating

I focus on my work. A chart can be updated to learn about

current influences as the planets move through the constellations.

Internet sites will calculate your chart, if you provide your birth

time, place, and date (http://astrology.about.com or http://www.astrolabe.com).

Who Are You?

*The most widely used questionnaire was developed by Myers

Briggs, widely used with work groups and couple counseling, as

well as individuals. It indicates whether you’re an extrovert or

introvert, intuitive or sensing, thinking or feeling, and like open

options or structure. The four categories are introvert or extrovert, intuitive or sensing, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving.

It’s a useful tool for realizing that we have different approaches that can be irritating when not understood, as when one partner sees the other as flaky and is seen as rigid by the other. Reading the book reveals, for example, that one person requires open options (P) and the other requires structure (J), and that neither style is better than the other.

The Kiersey and Bates version, explained in their book Please Understand Me, is widely read. Take the Myers Briggs personality inventory (www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/sensing-or-intuition.asp). I’m an E/I, NFJ.

*The Enneagram is another widely used inventory; take it on

the web (http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/Tests_Battery.asp#RHETISampler) and see if you’re a perfectionist, helper, achiever, romantic,

observer, questioner, adventurer, asserter or peacemaker.

(Different terms are used by various authors.)

*The Pathwork approach assists you in identifying your mask,

lower self, and higher self.

*The color test describes your personality in terms of your color


*In terms of occupational types, John Holland’s is the most

popular instrument.The work types are: realistic, conventional,

enterprising, social, artistic, or investigative. Which are you? Taking

personality inventories casts new light on facets of the personality.

*Eric Braverman, MD, describes a typology based on dominance

or deficiency of brain neuropeptides in The Edge Effect.

Dopamine dominant: rational, intense, driven, likes power and

control. GABA: calm, traditional, stable, organized, reserved, and

loyal. Serotonin: impulsive, playful, likes challenges, non-conformist.

Acetylcholine: quick thinker, creative, impulsive, communicators.

Physical problems are caused by deficits of these neuropeptides,

such as overweight and dopamine deficiency.

This is a questionnaire to identify missing neurotransmitters. The Mood Cure book spells out amino acids to take to build the serotonin or what ever is missing.

*An ancient topology system (over 3,000 years old) is Indian

Ayurveda which describes three body and personality types, vata,

pitta and kapha, useful in thinking about one’s health and relationships.

Vatas tend to be slender and quick; pittas tend to be fiery;

and kaphas tend to be grounded and solid—not as fast moving as

vatas. We’re often a combination of these traits. I have a vata

body and a pitta temperament, for example.

The Chinese system of the Five Elements/Rhythms

It also provides insight into core issues. They represent the qualities of the

season and its element, moving from winter (water) to autumn

(metal), as described in Beinfield’s Between Heaven and Earth and in

Eden’s “The Five Rhythms” videos. Each is associated with several

meridians, mentioned last in the list below.

Wood: pioneers, their underlying emotion is anger and irritation.

They can be impatient, push limits, and like performing

under pressure to be first. Their movement is choppy, blunt, staccato,

directed, and they can blow up. They like power, assertion,

can be a decisive bull dog, intolerant, impatient, intense, have causes,

and feel they’re right. They’re warriors, directive, and tell the

truth. Liver and gall bladder.

Fire: wizards, they like excitement, sensation, and intimacy.

They’re intuitive, charismatic, bright and vibrant. They can suffer

from anxiety, panic, insomnia, hypoglycemia, and may burn out.

Their walk is bouncy up and down. Their main feelings are joy,

laughter, excitement, positive loving, but their energy can scatter

like fire. Their purpose is to transform and get people excited and

into the fire. Heart and small intestine.

Water: philosophers, introspective and self-sufficient, they

value knowledge and understanding, but can be unforgiving and

isolated. Water walks with flowing movement, takes her time, and

can get depleted. Feelings are deep, internal, fearful, cautious; yet

water types can be playful and fun. They may have boundary issues

and become like ice, rigid, and inaccessible. People may baby them.

Their purpose is deep thinking, to generate ideas, and they can be

philosophers and poets. Kidney and bladder.

Earth: peacemakers, they like to be involved with other

people, to be needed, in charge but not in the limelight. They value

harmony, togetherness, predictability and can have unrealistic

expectations of others. Earth walks with a lyrical, easy sway and

doesn’t like to wear shoes. Their main emotion are sympathy, compassion,

worry, and they get caught in the middle of people trying

to help. An earth person can be over-protective, a busybody, a

doormat, and can collapse. Their purpose is peace making, to harmonize,

and to nurture. Spleen and stomach.

Metal: Alchemists like definition, structure, discipline,

virtue, authority, reason, and principles. They can be inhibited,

strict, distant, self-righteous and can have stiff joints and muscles.

They walk upright. Their emotions are grief, courage, and detachment.

Metal can be inspirational. Using the left brain, their purpose

is to look for the gold in life, like alchemists, sorting through the

gross to get to the valuable. Lungs and large intestine.

The Enneagram is widely used, along with the Myers Briggs. Read Discovering Your Personality Type by Riso and Hudson.

Here’s an introduction the types, which have a variety of titles.

Under each type are three sub-types: self-preservation, sexual, and


1. Reformer, perfectionist, needs to be right, principled, Puritan,

rigid, strong superego, inner judge, can have a Jekel and

Hyde flip side. Examples: Switzerland, George Washington,

John Lennon, Emma Thompson, Kevin Kline, Dianne Feinstein,

John Luke Picard, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Ida Rolf.

2. Helper, giver, caring, generous, people pleasing, possessive,

sweet, can be codependent and expect a return on their generosity.

Examples: Bali, Thailand, Madonna, Mother Theresa,

Nancy Reagan, Dolly Parton, Liberache, John Travolta, Gena

Davis, Elizabeth Shou.

3. Achiever, efficient, success-oriented, pragmatic, driven,

image conscious, production machine at the expense of emotions.

Hong Kong, Shirley Temple, and Tom Cruise in “Jerry

McQuire,” Paul Newman, and the Rolling Stones.

4. Tragic romantic, feels wounded, envy, withdrawn, dramatic,

self-absorbed, temperamental, can be masochistic. Traditional

Japan, Judy Garland, Robert Downing Jr., and Val Kilmer.

5. Investigator, observer, detached, intense, cerebral, innovative,

secretive, isolated, hermit, can be Scrooge. Bill Gates,

Dustin Hoffman, William Hurt, and J. Paul Getty.

6. Loyalist, anxious, fearful, suspicious, engaging, responsible,

don’t express anger, can be brittle like Jane Fonda.

7. Enthusiast, adventurous, loves to travel, fun-loving, spontaneous,

versatile, scattered, busy, glutton for variety, has trouble

with commitment. Tim Leary, New Age, Robin Williams, and

Jerry Seinfeld.

8. The boss, challenger, aggressive protector, powerful, self-

confident, decisive, willful, confrontational, blamers, get high on

anger and shouting. View the world as a battleground. Israel

and Rosanne.

9. Peacemaker, mediator, avoids conflict, calm, optimistic,

easygoing, self-effacing, agreeable, can be lazy and sleep a lot.

Ronald Reagan.

*Barbara Brennan teaches her students to use a body topology

developed by Wilhelm Reich, which focuses on our main

defense to protect developmental wounds. They develop one after

the other as a baby to puberty, in the following order. Schizoids

tend to be “spacey,” and fearful. Orals suck from others to feel

whole; you can feel drained by this type. Psychopaths try to control

others; you can feel their energy arcing over from the top of

their heads. Masochists are very sensitive to energy, may protect

with extra fat or muscle. Rigids try to do things right and appear

very together, but may not be in touch with emotions (my type).

Read more about these types in Brennan’s Hands of Light.

As you learn more about your own personality dynamics,

you’ll understand others as well, at home and at work, and see possible

filters getting in the way of objectivity in personal interactions.


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