Spotting and Understanding Fours
Fours believe that they are somehow extraordinary and use their emotions and imagination to strengthen this, while also seeking recognition from others. They can find freedom when they learn to appreciate the simple, ordinary parts of life and accept that they are no more special than anyone else. They can find joy and meaning from just being present with what is, rather than an idealised version of how they should be.
Fours are aware of how others perceive them but think of themselves as above vanity. They like to make sure they look natural and unaffected. Their clothes may be bohemian, elegant or from charity shops/thrift stores, but they will aim to project an image of someone who is naturally stylish, not trying too hard. Fours often have a darkness about their aura which can manifest in dark clothes and, especially in teenagers, in the stereotype of the goth or ‘emo’. You can spot fours because their habitual expression is often lost and contemplative, searching inside to understand why they are suffering.
Friends Family and Other Relationships,
Fours are intense with people they know well and can spend a lot of time talking about themselves, their dreams and how much they are suffering, so friends and family can find this draining. They can also be great fun and come up with creative games and ideas. Jealousy and insecurity is a feature of a four’s loving relationships – they can find it difficult if a partner is ‘doing better’ than them in some way, and at their worst can imagine that their partner is having affairs or planning to leave them, and even search for evidence for this.
Fours are particular attached to suffering. They feel that they are elite but that somehow this is not being recognised, because they still have to work at ‘ordinary’ jobs for example, or haven’t had much interest in their latest artistic project. The focus of attention is on what is missing and out of habit, suffering itself becomes their mark of being special, their identity. They can stay at home, feeling too self-conscious and depressed to get out into the world and meet people and get things done.
As a teacher, I have found some Fours very easy to spot because they are often the students who are painfully shy in class and find it excruciating to have to speak in front of others. Others fours children are more confident and cheerful, but still relatively quiet and can seem ditzy and/or introspective.
A Four's dream job involves an artistic expression of their inner vision. Given time, Fours are known to come up with creative and effective ways of working in any field. They can be inefficient though, because they are feelers rather than quick thinkers. Fours can give the impression they don’t feel happy at the workplace, as if it is below them and they don’t want to be there. They can also be self-conscious about mistakes and seem over-sensitive and embarrassed if they get pointed out.
Fours can be quite easy to identify because when they talk they reveal a lot about themselves and their feelings, even with strangers they have started to chat to on a train journey. There is often a melancholy tone to the voice. Sometimes there's also a tendency to pretend to be more naïve than they really are. This could be an attention-seeking strategy that also encourages others to be gentle and sensitive around them. I've noticed it in my mother, myself and other fours.
NB For all these descriptions, you will notice that they seem a bit negative. This is I wanted to show the ego clearly and vividly, warts and all, as the cause of suffering. Of course, there are plenty of happy and healthy people freeing themselves from the ego. I know lovely, healthy people of each enneagram fixation. Click here for examples of very healthy types. Click here if you are a Four and you want guidance towards more happiness.