from coping mechanisms to shining strategies: how the Enneagram can help us heal

“One day I looked at something in myself that I had been avoiding because it was too painful. Yet once I did, I had an unexpected surprise. Rather than self-hatred, I was flooded with compassion for myself because I realized the pain that was necessary to develop that coping mechanism to begin with.”
–Marianne Williamson

Coping mechanisms are defined as “an adaptation to environmental stress that is based on conscious or unconscious choice and that enhances control over behavior or gives psychological comfort.” They are often categorized as Avoidant or Active. 

Avoidant coping mechanisms, which many of us employ in the aftermath of sexual violation, are characterized by ignoring, avoiding, and disassociating from the pain or problem.  Active coping mechanisms – or what I call shining strategies – empower us to be conscious of our stress and to employ healthy tools to reduce it.

Unfortunately, our Avoidant coping mechanisms often add to our shame after sexual violation: We may lack understanding, grace and acceptance for not only our violation, but for the way we’ve chosen to cope with it.  As survivors of sexual violation, we are, of course, going to have coping mechanisms – and their nature will depend on our personality and expression in the world.

Which is why the spotlight this month and the focus of the upcoming SHINE SoiréeSM is coping mechanisms as viewed through the lens of the Enneagram – a personality system that links our inner desires to our outward expressions. The Enneagram helps reveal the deep source of our tendencies and choices – our means of avoiding the pain of our violation – and offers tools that promote healing. Read about the Enneagram and take a free Enneagram test.

Here are some of the typical coping mechanisms and shining strategies of the nine Enneagram types:

Enneagram 1: The Reformer
Desire: Goodness, virtue
Coping Mechanisms: Perfectionism; Eating Disorders; OCD; Abstinence; Rigidity
Shining Strategy: Forgive and accept mistakes

Enneagram 2: The Helper
Desire: To be loved
Coping Mechanisms: Promiscuity; Binge eating; Hypochondria
Shining Strategy: Self-nurture and set boundaries

Enneagram 3: The Achiever
Desire: To be worthy and accepted
Coping Mechanisms: Workaholism; Stimulants; Excessive body/image work
Shining Strategy: Be authentic and follow your heart

Enneagram 4: The Individualist
Desire: To be unique, significant
Coping Mechanisms: Self-harm; Escapism; Mood-altering addictions
Shining Strategy: Be ordinary and join the club

Enneagram 5: The Investigator
Desire: To be competent and capable
Coping Mechanisms: Self-isolation; Poor self-care; Mood repressors
Shining Strategy: Trust yourself and take risks

Enneagram 6: The Loyalist
Desire: Security and support
Coping Mechanisms: Rigid dietary rules; Workaholism; Anti-anxiety addictions (e.g. alcoholism)
Shining Strategy: Be confident and break the mold

Enneagram 7: The Enthusiast
Desire: Satisfaction and Joy
Coping Mechanisms: Behavioral and chemical addictions; Stimulants; Promiscuity
Shining Strategy: Be content and stop and smell the roses

Enneagram 8: The Challenger
Desire: Control and safety
Coping Mechanisms: Over-indulgence; Fighting; Promiscuity; Risky Behaviors
Shining Strategy: Be vulnerable, relax and let go

Enneagram 9: The Peacemaker
Desire: Harmony and peace
Coping Mechanisms: Self-numbing behaviors; Depressants; Self-neglect
Shining Strategy: Engage honestly and allow discord

contact Parillume™

If you or someone you love could benefit from bringing their coping mechanisms out of the closet and adopting new, shining strategies to support them on their heroic journey, just fill out the brief form below and Lisa will contact you to answer your questions and guide you in the right direction – whatever that direction may be.


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