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[note: wow, this got long. If you don't want to read it all, rather than just clicking away, please take the time to just answer the question in the title, because I'd appreciate that].

9s are supposed to be stoic, ignoring their feelings and doing the daily grind without complaint. I've read that 9s are the type that just keeps moving towards their goal, because they're so stubborn, because it would take too much effort to change course (inertia), and because they're insensitive to minor, or even major, pains.

Does this ring true to people? Because it's definitely NOT true of me. And I would really love to hear advice and input from fellow 9s, because I'm at point in my life where I'm trying to figure out the best way to deal with hardship and extreme challenge.. and trying to figure out why I react the way I do to it.

I really relate to the description of type 9 as the "over-adjusted" type (I think this part of is heavily influenced by being an Fe-user). My biggest fear is doing something wrong, anything at all wrong, in the context of whatever situation I'm in. I try my hardest to be completely acceptable to the people around me-- not in a 3 way, like "I have to be the best!" -- but just a "I have to be good enough" way.

The idea of not being good enough is impossible for me to bear. I put a huge amount of energy into making sure I can fulfill all expectations people have of me (context-dependent expectations, that is). But, as soon as I start having some kind of hardship that would make fulfilling expectations difficult, I get really paranoid and anxious-- and my general response is flee the situation rather than risk looking bad or doing something wrong or disappointing people.
Instead of buckling down and being like "you can do this, just work harder!", I become terrified that I'm not going to be able to do it... I get very anxious at any sign of it being difficult at all.

As soon as I feel I'm not going to be able to handle something, I just start feeling desperate. I get really needy around people I trust, wanting them to tell me its going to be okay. I start looking for ways to get out of it. Rather than tell people its okay and put on a happy face, I tell people its not okay, just because I'm so desperate for some reassurance and help.

It's not that I can't handle hard things, it's just that any sign of something being difficult threatens to bring down my house of cards, and makes me paranoid.

I generally only do things if I know they're going to be easy for me, so I can feel calm and peaceful and on top of things, so I can know for sure that things will be okay, that I will be okay, that I can do what I'm supposed to do.

I can't worry by halves-- I either feel totally calm or peaceful, or totally anxious and paranoid. There's no in between. I tend to keep my life within safe bounds and not take risks. I don't push myself to my limits or anywhere near my limits.

When facing really difficult times, it generally does NOT occur to me to really push myself and just keep going and face whatever hardships arose. (Although maybe this is just because the stakes aren't high enough? I've always had common sense and never took TRUE risks-- but maybe if I was up against something that really truly mattered, where there was no way out at all, I would just keep going and bare whatever had to be borne?)

Anyway, when facing really difficult times, I think "I can't do this", not because I really can't do it, but because experiencing hardship is a sign that things might not be totally okay, that things might not go totally okay in the future, and then the cycle of anxiety starts...
So then I start looking for a way out, just to escape the torturous "Is it going to be okay?" thoughts.

I think there are type Three influences here. The idea of me accomplishing something but not looking good doing it-- sticking at something even if I make mistakes-- is hard to bear. I don't want to do anything if I won't totally excel at it. But unlike 3s, its because I want to be THE BEST, but because I need to prove to others that I'm at least acceptable, or else I'll start thinking horribly about myself.
And unlike 3s, instead of buckling down and working really hard, I look for a way out of the stress. I look for an escape.

I should add that I'm over-sensitive in a lot of ways, which influences this. I'm over-sensitive physically, so if I sleep badly and feel shitty, I'm just like "I can't do this, no way" instead of just buckling down and trying to ignore it.
I'm over-sensitive emotionally and in terms of how people see me. If someone tells me I did something wrong, I take it too personally, and that just stresses me out, and threatens to start the cycle of anxiety....

I've also always had bad self-esteem. I have to be totally capable of being at my best in front of others, or else I assume everyone is thinking bad things about me.

Ideally ,I should just ignore the pain, fight through it, try to get through things without necessarily worrying that I'm doing it perfectly..... just get through it... but that's precisely what I can't do. I have to be able to do things completely, perfectly, easily, safely, without having to worry about anything... or else I'm not willing to even try. I'd rather just quit.

Throughout my life, I've quit and escaped major and minor things, not because they were really too difficult, but because I didn't feel as if I could do them easily and perfectly, without any risk to myself, without any risk of messing up.

I've had some modest accomplishments in my life, but none of them were really difficult for me. Whenever I try to accomplish an actual challenge and really push myself, this cycle begins and I end up quitting.

What is going on here? Do people relate? Am I crazy? Should I get professional help? I'm not opposed to going to a therapist, except I'd rather avoid the cost.
What I really want to know is:
Do you relate to this?
What do you do differently, and why/how?
In general, what is your response to hardship and struggle?


(Maybe the central problem here is my terror of making mistakes or being criticized? I think my normal-state is a feeling of being sure I'll fail at anything I try, being sure I'm not good enough for what I want to do-- so then the minute things get worse, the minute something is difficult and I can't be at my absolute best, I get too afraid of failing and I escape...)

I really need to get feedback on these thoughts because they just keep going around in my head, and I need an outsider perspective to help ground me.

I also come from a background of high-achievers, "succeed at all costs", "the world is your oyster, why not take it" kind of mentality. I grew up surrounded by friends who beat themselves up to succeed as much as possible and not show the stress of it. [read: expensive private school] Basically I grew up in a 3-like world in which most people swam and I feel like I sunk.
I think this particular background is not necessarily normal and it's affected me a lot.
 

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There's a lot here, so I'm going to do my best to cut your post down into some main topics/anxieties and give you my perspective.

the daily grind, being "good enough"
9's, myself included, tend to "settle." It's what we do. This has been a source of frustration and embarrassment for me when someone at work asks me a question like "how could this be done better?" and I have no answer for them because I've discovered a way of doing it which is tolerable and easily repeatable.
We like routine. So it behooves us to build healthy daily routines. If we have unhealthy routines, we need to try to recognize those and change by degrees. A bad routine I currently have is that when I get bored at work and need a break, rather than getting up to walk around I browse the web and read news articles, check out PersonalityCafe, and do some online shopping. This causes me to have no separation between "play" and "work" which reinforces bad habits. I recognize this but haven't figured out how to change it yet.

procrastination, "buckling down"
Some articles I've read say that procrastination is a reflection of inner anger at your situation. That unconsciously you are angry that you have to do something you don't care about. You feel unable to change your situation and your anger can't be directed at the situation, so you direct it at yourself. If you're finding yourself procrastinating a lot, as I do, it probably means what you are trying to squeeze effort out of yourself on something that just isn't that important to you.

It doesn't necessarily mean you need to change your major or career or whatever, but it might indicate a need for a change in mindset or that you need to give yourself more breaks, more exercise... that your needs aren't being met in some way by what you're doing. I struggle with this too... sometimes it helps to remind myself of what I got to learn that day and how what I learned could be used to make something interesting or fun later.

looking to others for emotional support and validation, low self-esteem
Yeah I do this too. Sometimes I feel a deep need to just have someone pat me on the head and tell me everything is going to be ok. Sometimes it helps if I kind of give myself a pep-talk either mentally or looking in a mirror. It's weird, but sometimes it helps.

peace vs. anxiety, extreme reactions
Anxiety tells you that something is important to you. If you're feeling "peaceful" it might just mean you're distracted from what is important. If you're feeling anxiety, in my experience, it means that you have an unaddressed issue which you need to do your best to face head on and figure out. You don't necessarily need to act on it, you need to figure out how to give it the importance it deserves so you can slot it somewhere in your mind to look at in-depth later.

taking "true" risks
I hate taking risks. I hate gambling. So I'm right there with you. I think like I said above your anxiety and anger have to help you identify your passions, what is important to you. If you're feeling a lot of anxiety about doing something, that probably means it's important and that you should try to take some sort of step towards acting on it.

being oversensitive
I wouldn't let others judge you on your feelings. I allowed people to tell me I was oversensitive my whole life and it lead to feeling of being castrated, like I wasn't a "real man." After all, the way I feel is "wrong" and I'm not supposed to cry or feel that way.
I think there is probably more tolerance for you because you aren't a man but even so don't let people tell you you're being oversensitive. The key is to not always look to others to solve your problems, I think, but try to find the strength inside yourself when you're feeling really sad or upset about something. It can be hard in the moment to do that though... I know. Sometimes you just need to remove yourself from a situation and take a few minutes to get your head straight before coming back.

minimizing accomplishments
You are minimizing your own accomplishments. I can tell because I've been there. Try to write an objective list for yourself right now of the things you've accomplished in your life. Read it over and realize that you are being too hard on yourself. Sometimes I need to do this and I always feel a bit better, more vindicated, more ready for new challenges.

therapy
I don't think there's anything wrong with therapy. I'd like to try it but there are a lot of barriers that are put up, it's kind of expensive, so I haven't yet. I would suggest starting the process now: I had to talk to my personal care provider to even have the option of it. They refused to let me see a therapist without seeing my primary doctor first. I haven't taken the next step after that.

I've heard from friends (female friends especially) who like having a therapist and I don't consider any of them "crazy."

Do you relate to this?
Yup. You're stressed out and I remember a lot of the same kind of panic when I've been really stressed. Trying to love yourself is the key here I think.

What do you do differently, and why/how?
No other comments on this.

What is your response to hardship and struggle?
Anxiety, fear, and my mind coming up with a lot of bad, illogical reasons why I can't do something.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the response, @austing I REALLY appreciate it!

peace vs. anxiety, extreme reactions
Anxiety tells you that something is important to you. If you're feeling "peaceful" it might just mean you're distracted from what is important. If you're feeling anxiety, in my experience, it means that you have an unaddressed issue which you need to do your best to face head on and figure out. You don't necessarily need to act on it, you need to figure out how to give it the importance it deserves so you can slot it somewhere in your mind to look at in-depth later.
Well, surely, except in my case, the anxiety prevents me from doing exactly what I want to do to move my life forward...


being oversensitive
I wouldn't let others judge you on your feelings. I allowed people to tell me I was oversensitive my whole life and it lead to feeling of being castrated, like I wasn't a "real man." After all, the way I feel is "wrong" and I'm not supposed to cry or feel that way.
I think there is probably more tolerance for you because you aren't a man but even so don't let people tell you you're being oversensitive. The key is to not always look to others to solve your problems, I think, but try to find the strength inside yourself when you're feeling really sad or upset about something. It can be hard in the moment to do that though... I know. Sometimes you just need to remove yourself from a situation and take a few minutes to get your head straight before coming back.
Oh, no, it's my OWN judgement, lol. I know I'm oversensitive-- but people tell I'm not. People tell me I'm stoic, dependable, etc., but they don't know all the things I don't do because of over-sensitivity.

minimizing accomplishments
You are minimizing your own accomplishments. I can tell because I've been there. Try to write an objective list for yourself right now of the things you've accomplished in your life. Read it over and realize that you are being too hard on yourself. Sometimes I need to do this and I always feel a bit better, more vindicated, more ready for new challenges.
Yeah, you're probably right-- especially because of the environment I grew up in, everyone needing to be super successful. But, despite the certain things I've accomplished, I genuinely crave MORE accomplishment-- just for myself, NOT for the sake of others. I sort of blame the Enneagram for this, haha. I think in my first post-college years, I lived a pretty 9ish existence, and was happy with it, but studying the Enneagram woke me up to a craving for success and advancement, and now I can't get rid of it... (and it is genuine..)... but emotionally I'm not able to handle it... or something.

Do you relate to this?
Yup. You're stressed out and I remember a lot of the same kind of panic when I've been really stressed. Trying to love yourself is the key here I think.
Yeah I was thinking today how this cycle would be different if I had genuine self-esteem. I have better self-esteem than I used to, definitely, but sometimes your level of self-esteem or lack thereof is in your bones because you breathe in it from the atmosphere you grew up in as a tiny baby. But nevertheless, I definitely struggle to have better self-esteem and not be so hard on myself.


What is your response to hardship and struggle?
Anxiety, fear, and my mind coming up with a lot of bad, illogical reasons why I can't do something.
Hmm. Sounds pretty much like me.
 

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I can relate to what you said about private school... My family was poor when I was little, but the money we had was spent on Catholic school because my mom is a spiritual seeker and very protective of her kids, and in public school I was falsely accused of stealing food. So I spent my childhood surrounded by kids with way, way more money and...breeding? than I did and I think that definitely had an effect on me. I definitely have this split between who I am and how I present myself in an environment that feels...sort of official, I guess, but it's very strained and it's easy to see through me at times. I got drunk with a friend earlier this year, and she said to me in that moment (you know when you're drunk you get more honest), "Mary, I want to break you open"...I don't know, I could just tell from the way she said it that's how everyone truly sees me. Like I'm a wall, I guess... Everyone thinks I'm this goody two shoes but oh hell no, I am not. I just freeze under too much pressure and it's like, whereas for a little while there I was the little engine that could I just fall back down the hill and crash, so to speak. Most of the time I have no idea what to do with myself and I've made so many mistakes it hurts me to think about. I never, ever, ever feel good enough. Ever.

Found this advice in a book the other day...it's...an odd subject, but I'm odd... but I guess I can't quote it accurately unless I say what it is... So basically it's called Life Colors and it's about how colors are technically...energy that can vibrate from people? I don't know, I'm one of these weird metaphysical nerd people, it just comforts me under stress lol... Anyway this advice just came into my head as I was reading your post... it's about when you have green in your aura... (don't laugh at me, lol...no it's okay you can)

Greens feel they accomplish more when they are alone, and often perform solo. These perfectionists frequently use the word should in their conversations: "I should have done it better, sooner, quicker." They tend to believe that life is hard work. Some words most commonly heard from out-of-power Greens are hard, struggle, try, should, can't, and need. Their lives would be easier if instead they use these words: desire to, easy, effortless, will, can, and I am. If Greens are not able to say "I desire to do this project" instead of "I have to do this project," they are probably out of power and are not enjoying life."
...just thought I would throw that out there I guess...

One thing I struggle with a lot personally is not knowing what I want... Like even if I made a decision on something I don't feel the desire backing it up at first, I feel a lot of pain. I'm a very hard worker when I really want something, I'll work at something for years in that case, but I'll kick and scream a lot inwardly before I really get going with it. I have all these feelings like "I am not good enough for this, I'm not strong enough for this, I'm nobody, I wasn't meant to do anything really amazing..." ...so yeah for me usually, when I get started on something that means a lot to me, for a long time after I start I'm pretty lackluster at it and I don't know what the hell I'm doing and inwardly I feel like crap, but...it gets better after a while. I think if you really want to do something you will do it, period, even if it takes years and years (it has taken that long for me to accomplish something I really wanted to).
 
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