The Enneagram, Art, and Feeling Seen

I recently went through a loss in my personal life that left me feeling empty, lost, and invisible. Have you ever felt this way? Like you are going through it, but the world just keeps right on going? You want to find someone who can relate, but it’s hard to reach out when things are dark.

I’m an Enneagram 4, so maybe it’s just me. 🙂 I tend to assume that I’m alone in my feelings, that I’m unique in my pain, and that no one understands me. If you have another Enneagram Type 4 in your life, let me just apologize on behalf of all of us and say thank you for continuing to persevere and be a friend. Type 4’s can be a lot! 

I don’t doubt that all of you out there have real-life friends who will pick you up when you fall and dry your tears when you cry. And we absolutely NEED these people. But sometimes, when you’re really “in it,” it’s nice (necessary??) to experience a piece of art that totally encapsulates how you’re feeling. It makes us…less alone. 

This “feeling seen” by art reminds us that we are not alone. We are connected. We are known. I do a lot of work with families and kids, so I’m always aware of the big feelings that come out in interesting ways in times of transition or stress. Whether you are a kid with big feelings or an adult swimming in self-doubt (because we all do sometimes), feeling seen in the middle of your experience can make all the difference in the world. 

For those of us living in a country that is not our passport country, the need to “feel seen” is even greater. We spend so much of our days feeling foreign, feeling out of place, feeling misunderstood. Even if we are completely fluent in our host country’s tongue, we can’t help but feel on some level that we are not in Kansas anymore.

I’d like to propose that in those moments that feel dark, that feel “far from home”, that feel isolating, art is one of the ways we can be reminded that we are, in fact, held. We are known. It also reminds us that sadness, joy, doubt, confusion…these feelings break all cultural barriers and are felt as far as the east is to the west. You are not alone. No matter how long it’s been since you’ve set foot in your passport country, or how long it’s been since you laid eyes on a loved one, or how long it’s been since you tasted true comfort food, you are not alone. 

Take a moment to experience…really look… at each of these pieces of art and just be. Take them in slowly. Notice what comes up in your mind and heart. Which ones do you connect with most? Journal what you notice. 

Vincent Van Gogh, 1890
Maxim Vorobiev, 1842
Pablo Picasso, 1945
Edvard Munch, 1893
Jacob Lawrence, 1940-41

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