Style Four: the Original Person
A primary vulnerability of all human beings is the fear of being abandoned or rejected. Some personality theorists would say this is the primary human vulnerability. Being abandoned is certainly what a helpless infant and child fears most and this anxiety diminishes very little in adults. It is the area of vulnerability that FOURS are most acutely sensitive to. They are fearful of being left out or left behind and are hurt by feeling neglected, ignored, and uncared for.
FOURS are also vulnerable to feeling flawed, defective, unwanted, and uninteresting. They report they are sensitive to being criticized about their style or taste and are hurt by any lack of recognition of their creativity.
When these areas of vulnerability are breached, the FOURS’ maladaptive schemas are likely to arise.
“I’m not special.”
“I’m lacking, deficient, flawed, missing something.”
“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m not loved or noticed enough.”
“I’m not worthy of being loved.”
“No one understands me.”
“I have to go it alone.”
“If I get what others have, I’ll find my real self.”
“A special love will make me whole, complete, valuable.”
Their defensive interpersonal style was established to protect them from being and feeling abandoned. If they fear they are about to be left behind, their self image that they are special and unique gets activated; their envy scans the environment and queries the mirror as to who is the fairest in the land; they repress their ordinariness in favor of becoming out of the ordinary, if not extraordinary. “If I’m special and impact your life in a memorable manner, you will never forget me.”
The ego strategy that FOURS devise to keep themselves from being abandoned leads them to abandon their authentic self which is the real basis of their feeling lost, unnoticed, and unwanted. They miss themselves. FOURS often devalue and reject themselves before others have a chance to. Having left themselves behind, they must seek outside to complete themselves.
As is the case with the “neurotic solutions” of other styles, the FOURS’ strategy of being very intense or very attached may paradoxically scare people away. Or they may reject others first before any suitors predictably abandon them. Tragically their defensive tactics frustrate their authentic desires to belong, to discover themselves, to be original, to be ordinary, and to feel connected to others.
If FOURS remain moored to their essence when their primary vulnerability is threatened, they will be authentic and they can engage the essences of others and feel related. If they move to envy, they contact their false personalities and the false selves of others and feel lonely. Their adaptive self keeps them attuned to reality instead of to their fantasies, while their virtue of equanimity leads them to their commonness that relates FOURS to all other creatures. Ironically, what they fear most, being ordinary, brings them to what they desire most, being connected.