Authentic, affecting, esteemed, benevolent, self-accepting, modest, tender, charitable. That's Donald Trump. Really! Well, at his best. It would be Trump if he let go of his identification with a particular self-image, and dropped the idea his value is dependent on the positive self regard of others. Likely?
Studying 'personality types' lately has been quite an eye-opener. I'm sure you've heard the theory that we all have a main personality type. Well, I reckon I've pinned down Trumps. Read on if you'd like to know what might be driving him, and why; his key fears; his motivations. That's a starting point for compassion, right?
Should we feel compassion towards such a person? Most definitely. That doesn't mean we don't fight against what he says and does. Or more importantly, build better alternatives. But don't demonise him. Don't project your own fear and hate onto him to make yourself feel better. Don't think for a moment you wouldn't just be like him if you had the same upbringing and same DNA.
I reckon Trump is a Type Three Enneagram Personality Type - The Motivator (others suggest he's an Eight - The Leader). Type Three is the type that is most out of touch with their feelings, and so project an image to others as a substitute.
Their basic fear is of being worthless, and that they will be rejected. Their key motivations are: wanting to feel valuable and worthwhile; to be affirmed; to distinguish himself; to have attention; to be admired; and to impress others. Basically, Trump's deeply insecure.
Three's have rejected their real self in favour of an idealised self-image. They have a malleable, changeable personality. At 'unhealthy levels' (which Trump is clearly at!) they are:
narcissistic, with grandiose, inflated notions about themselves and their talents
exploitative and opportunistic, but also deceptive so that their mistakes and wrongdoings will never be exposed.
There is also:
'arrogance and contempt (a defence against feeling jealous of others and their success)
a willingness to do "whatever it takes" to preserve the illusion of their superiority.
pathological lying, extreme hostility... betraying and sabotaging people in order to triumph over them.
I think Donald Trump is at Level 6 - Level of Overcompensation (there are nine 'Levels' in each type), which is characterised by:"showing off", self-promoting, mocking/sneering, seductive, openly competitive, self-involved, narcissistic, contemptuous, arrogant, jealous, secretly needy. Sound familiar?
He could get much worse. AtLevel 9 (Level of Pathological Destructiveness)and Level 8 (Level of Delusion & Compulsion) we have: monstrous, vicious, psychopathic, malicious, vengeful, sadistic, deceptive, hostile, divisive - "they will destroy whoever or whatever threatens them or reminds them of what they lack." Gulp!
As young children, Threes were connected to the nurturing-figure. They learn to tune in to the desires and hopes of these figures (other Enneagram Types are ambivalent to, or disconnected from, their nurturing figures, and so different ego-defence strategies develop). So blame his mum or dad!
Each of the Personality Types seeks what it thinks will be good for it in the wrong places, or in the wrong ways, or both (ever had that sense of chasing your own tail? or frustrating repeating patterns?!). Type Three's think if they are admired by others and outstanding enough they will find what they are looking for. They endlessly pursue achievement and recognition, but guess what; still feel worthless and empty. So it's high chance that when you look at Trump with all his brash swagger, bravado and narcissism, inside he's fragile and highly insecure. Any compassion bubbling up yet? ;)
You can be compassionate and accepting whilst holding someone accountable.
How could Trump help himself move up the 'levels'? Well, according to Riso*, Three's need to overcome their desire to surpass others and draw attention to themselves by moving towards the commitment and humility of a Type Six.
There is all to play for. Without wanting to sound to hippy dippy, it's all unfolding as it should, and Trump (and the consequences of his Presidency) is just the mirror that the world needs somehow.
Perhaps we should stop looking outwards; at 'evil' Trump; at 'the enemy'. He's just a human like you or I, albeit operating at the lower 'levels of personality' (those driven by layers of fear and insecurity and resultant attitudes and behaviours). Instead, perhaps we should look inwards and notice where our own fears and desires reside and stem from? Our own light. Our own dark. And not project onto these external icons / idols / angels / demons as we so often do.
Trump may be the catalyst we all need. Let's all burn brighter, and bolder, and more determined, and fight The Good Fight!
If you'd like to learn about the Enneagram visit Enneagram Institute or get your hands on a copy of 'Personality Types' by Don Riso (click here to read the postscript)