Suggestions to the Type Seven
- Become aware of your emotional habit—gluttony—and begin to disidentify with it. Gluttony is the drive to fill up your emptiness—the hungry heart of the Seven—with stuff, like the stuff of food, or material objects, or sex, or whatever appears as the object of pleasure. It could be spiritual experiences, adventures, travel, shopping, gambling, ceaselessly, sexual and sensual titillation, pursuing what’s next. Gluttony says “I’m not getting enough. I need more, I need more, it’s not quite enough, it could be better, bigger, larger, more pleasurable; it doesn’t quite satisfy, just a little more, a little more. Damn, that’s not quite it. I felt good for a second, but the emptiness is back, the void is back, better throw something else down the harrowing gullet of searching-for-something-out-there to fill this insatiable hunger. I must stuff, fill, and avoid this hungry “hole” with anything but being-present-with-it.” As my friend Tom says, “You can never get enough of what you really don’t need.” That’s gluttony. Your practice: begin to sense you gluttony, invite it in, and resist taking action on it. Slow down and be with it. Dare to see what lay underneath it. Philip Seymour Hoffman (type Four) describes gluttony in these words: “I think I kill pleasure. I take too much of it and make it unpleasurable…There is no pleasure that I have not made myself sick on…pleasure is not happiness.” For the Seven (and the Four, fellows in massive self-indulgence)—pleasure is not happiness. Is not satisfaction. Is not fulfillment.
- Begin to notice your addictive habit of mind—anticipating the future—while missing the moment you are actually living in. This is the challenge: how do you learn to be “here” with the experience you are having. Your monkey-mind, under stress, is driven to contemplate several future events or possibilities at once, while entirely missing your “lived” experience. Instead, you become addicted to living in your thought-patterns. Wonder why you aren’t satisfied, grateful, overflowing with joy, while restless, running in place, wanting something more? You’re not landing in your “lived life” so nothing reaches you deeply, fills you, penetrates you, and you stay ‘empty’ while lost in your hummingbird-futurizing-mental activity. In other words, you are not home. People love you and it doesn’t touch you, because you are thinking of the experience you’d like to have—over there!—with another person, or another state, or in a another country, or in another event. Brain-buzz makes you a fast-moving emptiness. And who wouldn’t get impatient with the pace of things—it’s not happening fast enough, hurry up and arrive, you declare!—because nothing of life and all that could feed your heart, your senses, your well-being, is touching or reaching you. Thus, you play your go-to card: turn up the dial and move faster, quicker, hurrying nowhere…nowhere.
- Develop Quiet Mind. This, for the Seven, can be daunting. One put it this way, “If I’m busy sitting ‘doing nothing’ I might miss something really important. I might miss that one opportunity that brings me happiness for the rest of my life. Just sitting here is challenging. If I’m not in motion then sadness, boredom, anxiety can touch me. How could this ever help me?” What a great and important question. Well, here’s the gift of developing quiet mind. When you develop quiet mind, you begin to nurture the faculty of intuitive knowing. What, you might ask, is important about this? Well, for the Seven, predisposed to noticing all the possible great experiences available to them, without quiet mind operating can only discover what really satisfies them by trying everything, all-at-once if possible. As the Seven develops intuitive clarity, he begins to more easily sense which potential experiences will really nurture him. Choosing becomes simple, straight-forward, instead of being blurred by impulsive grasping. This brings sanity, precision, and grounding. Sitting and observing your thoughts without judgment and without taking action, will hone a critical survival skill that opens you to heart-felt peace and satisfaction…and to inner guidance. You begin to sense what you can rely upon within yourself.
- Become aware of your impulsivity. This is your Achilles heel. You see something you want, and quick as a wink, without considering resources, or right timing, or checking in with your heart or intuition, you go for it. That is, without any ‘presence’ or ‘mindfulness’ you fly helter-skelter towards the stimulation or the pleasure or possibility of the moment. Instead of “Ready, Aim, Fire!” you “Fire, Aim, and What Readiness?” Here’s the deal. You notice that the excitement of just leaping forward is so titillating and stimulating—you get ‘high’ on it!—that any anxiety or boredom or god forbid, sadness, that might be lurking about in the cave of your soul, gets completely eradicated. As in—presto!—it’s gone. The juice of chasing experiences works magic, and can and will lead you directly into experiences you don’t need, that don’t feed you, that unwittingly set you up for addiction relapse. Hey, have enough not-satisfying experiences and your addiction will drink you for breakfast, lunch, and supper. That is, you’ll get careless with choices. With just a little bit of ‘presence’, or ‘hereness,’ you will begin to experience a moment of mindfulness—a gap in your impulsivity—and begin to develop the ability to attune to your decisions, such that your inner wisdom guides you, rather than your habit of leaping willy-nilly towards the next better, greater, more fun, more pleasure-filled experience. Remember, bigger, more…is not better.
- Develop disciplined focus. Nothing will be more likely to save you in recovery, than this! Make a commitment to learn to do one thing at a time, fully, completely. Peter explains it this way: “I made a decision early on in my recovery that each morning I will devote one hour to my spirituality. I meditate for 15 minutes. I journal for 10 minutes. I practice conscious gratitude for 30 minutes. Every day, without fail. Also, I paint for two hours because this is my passion. I attend an AA meeting every morning. This has taught me to anchor my attention on one-thing-at-a-time. Without this, I would be lost in every passing impulse. Before I make major decisions, I run it past my sponsor. As I learn to curb my impulsivity, my clarity about what truly serves me, increases. I relax and become more grounded and settled. I like this!”
- Finish the 4th Step. Your natural inclination is to fly spontaneously by the by seat of your pants, whether flying into soulful escapades, or flying into the mouth of your addiction. Because you are a fast learner, with lightning-quick mental reflexes, comprehending things at the speed of light, your tendency is to assume that your quick intellectual comprehension of “anything” equates with understanding or the deep digestion of your experience. So, starting with the 12 Steps of AA (or NA/GA/SA/OA) notice your tendency to touch lightly, the heavy steps. That would be step Four, the dungeon dwelling inquiry—making a thorough inventory of your addictive past. That means standing mud-deep in your mistakes, delusions, moments of callous disregard for another and self, absorbing the moments in which you escaped responsibility and free-loaded. Not much here that would delight your soul. Only a rare few would build a cathedral at this funeral site (hello brother Fours). But here’s the deal: unless you let the mistakes of the past pierce that hungry-for-happiness heart of yours, unless you feel-it-in-your-bones—the horror and real suffering of your addiction—unless you slow-the-f-down to embrace what you’ve danced around, unless you grieve it deeply and let it knock you to your knees with kind and generous humility, you will not awaken your soul passion to be sober. You cannot skip over this step. Cannot! C.A.N.N.O.T.! The same goes with Step Five, wherein you share your global romp through addiction hell with another sober alcohol. Do not skip this step! DO NOT!
- Start small in the realm of sadness. Make a commitment to experience your emotional discomfort just a little longer than your habit. Now we’re talking about commitments to do-able steps. For you, beloved Seven, that means noticing when the twang of sorrow touches your heart strings, and breathing into it for just a moment longer than you’re inclined to. “Inclined” as in leaving-the-moment-immediately when sorrow arises. Stop. Breathe. Notice the sensations in the heart, in the chest, in your body. Count one…two…three. What do you notice? You did not burst into flames! You did not die! And, you really can escape the pain if necessary. It’s all do-able. Notice too, your ego script that reads something like this: “I am somebody that excites, stirs up, entertains, and gets the juice flowing for others. That’s me.” To experience your heart’s suffering you must disengage from your ego story, if only for a few moments. Notice it. Gently bring your attention back to the sensations of your heart. All is well.
- 8. Become mindful of what spurs you into motion. This is a great inquiry—what is the source of your forward movement? You are somebody who is infused with visionary inquisitiveness and prone to adventurist-reveries, and when healthy, this is your wild card, your gift to the world. You are a fast responder to any in-flowing stimulus (unlike the Nine, who can resist responding with historic slowness). However, your job is to begin to discern when you are being soul-inspired, or whether you are being avoid-emotional-pain, inspired. They are qualitatively different phenomena. Soul-inspired adventures will fill you, and actually quiet you down. You will taste satisfaction and joy in the core of your being. But avoid-emotional-pain-or-boredom inspired adventures will leave you empty, restless, unfulfilled, a hungry dog. You cannot fill yourself on these avoid-my-sadness-emptiness-boredom-maneuvers. You must learn this in the fabric of your being: any attempt to outrun your particular emotional suffering or discomfort calls your addiction to you like a slathering vampire. In the midst of a full scale sprint towards a futuristic fix, your addiction will rise up and snap your spine. You know this to be dead true. Welcome Godzilla. Welcome Voldemort and his team of Dementors. Welcome the Creature from the Black Lagoon (a good friend of the Type Four).
- Become aware that your full-flight, hyper-kinetic, communication and information processing genius can overwhelm people. Freddy, the chef, faces me as I walk into the kitchen at Mercy House. He lights up, excited by his next contact with a human being. Yeah, baby, someone to vibrate with, his psyche says. “Welcome, Michael, the Zen Master. Oooommmm!” he hums, the thumbs and forefingers on each hand connecting meditatively. “Today…” he says, eyes filled with electric-gleam-streamers, energized internal circuits instantly turning on in him…click, hiss, boom, swoosh…his excitability-dials amping up. “…we have world class hotdogs! And world class hotdog buns! And world class ketchup!” His toothy grin shines like an Irish Setter, ready for a chase. And zoom—off he goes, his story-making propensity a fast moving meteor, connecting dots from past, to future, to present, to past, as if downloading and synthesizing five thought-streams at once. In full flight, like an adrenaline-crazed-bird, comes the story. ”Marilyn, my wife, she’s my first love”…and moves seamlessly to “I was so desperate, I found a hooker in Idaho…” his eyes widening with the thrill of the chase, he imitating the way she walked in her boots as if it were just yesterday, he grinning ear to ear, my too-much-information barometer going haywire. To… “And my new girlfriend, she wears a surgical mask in public…ah, my friend, she is quite a catch,” as he explains the dynamics of kissing a woman who is wearing a surgical mask, tricky business and so very strange, he adds. He pauses to take the fastest breath on earth and then says to me, “I’m going to the grocery store. Want to come?” Another lightening-speed pause, and then, “Road trip, baby, Road trip!” As if we might actually climb the Himalayas on the way to the Shop N’ Save. Or discover ancient Inca artifacts sprinkled between contact with gypsies and trolls. This is followed by an avalanche of weird and strange past and current encounters in grocery stores with the weirdest of the weird, stories about strange vegetable-encounters-with-wanderers-and-misfits around the grocery stores of Seattle, as only a type Seven explorer could conjure, attract, encounter…anywhere! All of this spoken in one seamless, free association, sentence! I find myself first energized by this encounter, and now feeling as though I am being sucked freakin’ dry as a bone. I try to interrupt but now the story-stream—it’s like a wild, magnetic, entity storming through the room—has fully taken his attention, each scintillating word filling him like an elixir, with myself a captured, locked-and-transfixed-in-his-story, prisoner caught in the energy beam of his story. I can feel it: he’s woven an energetic web around me, and is holding me in the magnetic force-field of his excitement. I bear with this and then slowly edge towards the hall door, slip out of the gravitational forceful he’s conjured and begin to leave the kitchen and walk down the hall. Yet his story continues, he still ablaze with excitable, enthusiastic zeal. Wow, once that pattern gets turned on, it’s very hard to interrupt. Which leads to the moral of the story…
- Become aware whether the individual you are talking to is actually listening, or whether their eyes have glazed over and are praying for escape. This is how the Seven goes unconscious with people, so that what is so precious in them, their blazing, euphoric, so-funny-god-laughs, story-telling capacity, is turned to an impulsive, no-holds-barred, download. The Seven gauntlet: you, dear Seven, must keep contact with whoever you are speaking to, pausing, taking a breath, noticing that there is a real, live, human being in front of you, who needs real contact with you. Are their eyes glazed over? (Bad sign!) Are they engaging you or hoping that you finally pause so they can speak, or trying to escape from you? (Check the eyes, notice the body language, are they leaning away from you? Are they sending you mayday messages, their eyes pleading with you to please stop talking?) You must slow down and recognize their signs, pause to listen to them, otherwise you are engaging in masturbatory storytelling, and unwittingly pushing away real contact with others. You can unintentionally become a freak of entertainment whom will later be discarded, rather than kept as a friend. It seems like you have tons of friends until you don’t.
Note to the Seven
Beloved Seven, you are the joy-makers of the galaxy, the hope-bringers, the ones who lift spirits like no other. This is your gift, your default, and where you go even when it is your turn to grieve and be cheered up. Including yourself in the equation of soul-support, allowing your heart to open to its suffering, is what empowers your capacity to bring more joy to others, and to experience something you seek more than anything: true contentment. To do this you must learn to slow down, come to a screeching halt on a daily basis, be here now in the grace of stillness, endure the squirm-factor that initially can make you feel like you will burst into flames if you sit still for one second longer. Resist the temptation to soar at the slightest provocation. Develop deeper ‘intuitive knowing’ through your practice of ‘being-with-yourself’ in meditation. Begin to trust inner stillness and inner peace, rest in it, nurture it, and a single-minded ‘clarity will begin to settle in your consciousness. Then, the wisdom to know what to act on, and what to pass on, will arise and inform you. Intuitive guidance—the jewel you seek, will direct you clearly to your heart’s satisfaction.