Fighting Despair

I am a “four” on the enneagram.    Fours tend to focus on what’s missing in their life, whether that is meaningful relationships, meaningful work, or simply meaning itself.  As a result we often feel defeated, and frequently battle despair.

Fours can be a dreary lot to hang out with.

When this fit takes me, it can be difficult to find my way back to hope.  But I have found some things that help.

Probably most helpful is to stop and open my eyes; to give thanks for the things that aren’t missing.  When I do this I am always astounded at just how remarkably blessed I am.  Savor those blessings, linger over them, and meditate on them; especially if you too are a four.  There is nothing like genuine gratitude to chase away despair.

Another thing I do is to try to keep moving, like Dory in “Finding Nemo,” just keep on swimming.  I’ll do simple things, like washing the dishes or vacuuming the floor.  They remind me that I can get something done.

Make a list of the things you have accomplished, no matter how small.

Or bring to remembrance those times you’ve been a blessing to someone.  I remember a line from The Brothers Karamazov, “I threw an onion.”  I try to be a blessing in some mundane way.  Maybe I’ll go to a rest home and just listen to an old person’s story.  Just listening to someone can be a great blessing, especially to those in whom the world no longer has any interest.

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