Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Anger, Apathy and Avoidance

Greeted by blue sky and sunshine upon waking I decided it would be a great day to spend some time in the garden. My outer garden like my inner garden is I think it's fair to say a little cluttered. Wanting to create a healing space in a section that has become overrun by raspberries I set off all fired up to clear the plot. Accompanied by my grand pup Leif (an eight month old border collie who is a keen digger) I got to work. The canes I soon discovered were well rooted but I persevered and made reasonable progress. I also started a fire to burn the slowly growing mountain of twigs and dead vegetation as the garden waste bin was already overflowing. Little did I realise at this stage that I was about to learn just how much our inner and outer landscapes are connected.

As the hours passed I began to notice I was feeling a tad frustrated at the slow progress I was making. By the time the light was fading this frustration fuelled by a slow and constant trickle of negative thoughts was becoming uncomfortable if not to say unbearable. The relentless drip feed of "You'll never get the task completed. Give up it's too big a job. You don't know what you're doing" ad infinitum was seriously pushing my buttons and more than a little pissing me off. Yes I was no longer dealing with frustration I had crossed over the boundary into anger.

Anger for many of us is an uncomfortable feeling and if like me you are an Enneagram type 9 it is an emotion we try and avoid until it can no longer be suppressed. When we 9s do eventually reach detonation point our anger usually takes one of two routes. It either manifest as rage directed at some poor soul who happens to have irritated us with some minor misdemeanour or still not wanting to acknowledge it we turn it inwards and become depressed. Today for once in my life I did neither, I also fought that other huge urge of a 9 - the tendency to ruminate or over think. No instead I just said quite calmly to those around me that I was feeling fucking angry, did a good impression of a tantrum which we all laughed about and then contemplated spending some time complaining at the conscious complaining shrine. (For any of you not familiar with a conscious complaining check out
- I highly recommend the practice)

After dispersing the anger in a healthy way I suddenly had one of those aha moments. At times I really struggle with apathy and procrastination and today whilst tending my outer garden I learnt why. Putting off difficult tasks or delaying jobs that seem overwhelming is I discovered something I have a tendency to do as it avoids having to deal with difficult emotions. This is a flawed strategy as the jobs or tasks don't disappear but merely stack up until both my inner and outer landscapes are so cluttered I can't ignore the issues any longer. I then usually get angry with myself or someone else who also has a tendency to procrastinate. By projecting my apathy and procrastination onto someone else means I don’t have to acknowledge my shadow. I should really be more mindful of what I find most annoying in others for as Carl Jung wisely said “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves”.

Well I'm sure my garden has many more valuable lessons to share and I have an inkling the conscious complaining shrine might have a regular visitor over the coming weeks as work on both my gardens progresses!!


  1. Wonderful Penny! From one 9 to another,as you might guess I totally get this. Really enjoyed reading and know I'll come back to this piece to remind me in future. Thank you for putting this out into the world for the 9's 💕