Just as the Body is the source of presence, the Heart is the source of identity. In the Heart space we ask the big questions of identity: Who am I? What is my value? Unfortunately, we do not believe that we can be loved or valued for ourselves, so our ego forms around the affirmation and attention of the world. Who would we be if we really believed we were loved and valued for ourselves?
The Heart is also known as the Feeling center. To start, it’s important to distinguish that, in this framework, feelings and emotions are different. Feelings happen to us. We can’t help them and we shouldn’t judge ourselves or others for what we feel. Emotions, on the other hand, are the outward expression of feelings. We do have some choices about that. Part of Enneagram wisdom is learning to observe our feeling as they happen and then deciding what to do with them. However, for those of us in the Heart center, the ego has seized control of our feelings and conflated them with emotions, the expression of those feelings, to the point that we no longer see the difference. We become enslaved to our emotions and lose connection with our feelings.
The next move the ego makes is using our feelings to assuage our sense of alienation. Because we are disconnected from ourselves, we don’t believe we can be loved for ourselves, so we substitute affirmation and attention for love and connection. Our strategies for receiving that might vary.
As with the Body center, we might project our energy inward, outward, or both inward and outward. But, where the ego-controlled Body projects control in lieu of autonomy, the ego-controlled Heart projects an image in lieu of identity. This might be an identity that is other-referenced, loved for being of service. It might be an identity that looks inward and becomes self-absorbed, constructing an internal image that can never be understood by others. Or it might project an image outward and inward, telling both ourselves and others the same lie and disappearing in the process. In each case, the affirmation of image leaves our identity unaffirmed and we become hostile.
Our hostility arises from lack of affirmation of both image and identity. Our hostility protects the image by deflecting those who would question it. If they successfully break through, they might know who we truly are. However, because we don’t believe who we truly are is lovable or valuable, we feel great shame. We both desperately want and deeply fear being known, perhaps even by ourselves, so we push away those who might get behind our image to our identity.
As you go through the rest of this week, try to pay attention to your feelings. Not emotions, but feelings. Try to see them as they are happening and then decide what to do about them rather than accepting the reaction that has become your pattern. Be aware of the image you construct and how that protects you from the expected shame and humiliation of being truly known.
Most importantly, know these things: God loves you, just as you are. Love resides within you. You are the conduit through which love enters the world. And your value is immeasurable. Blessings on the work ahead.