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Discover Your Desires | Your Core Nature


I first came across the concept of “Core Nature” in Ashley Stahl’s book, “You Turn.” In it, she explains that:


Your Core Nature is “how you feel when you’re in your most natural and honest state” (9). 


Think of it as the cozy bedroom of your heart. You don’t invite everyone into that place but it’s sacred to you. It’s the most authentic part of you


Core Nature can be understood as one’s essence. This means that if you are not living out of it, you are not being yourself. Core Nature is deeper than one’s passion or mission. It can be understood as a soul’s default state.


Those of us who feel we lack clarity in our purpose are often struggling because we are unaware of our Core Natures. As Ashley Stahl says,


“Clarity comes easily when you’re connected to yourself. That’s why clarity isn’t the problem… the problem is disconnection (24).


You might be disconnected from your Core Nature if you are 


  • “focused more on what [you’re] interested in... than who [you] are and [your] gifts” (18).

  • Claim that you are “fine [but] aren’t in touch with [your] pain" (21). 

  • Burnt out. 

  • Feeling empty and disconnected from yourself. Feeling unfulfilled. 


Thankfully, there are tools for defining one’s Core Nature, including Reflection, the Enneagram, and the concept of Core Gifts. 


Reflection 


Kids are naturally more connected to themselves. Therefore, we can often learn about our Core Nature by reflecting on our childhoods. 



What did you gravitate towards at a young age? Were you the creative kid who spent every waking hour drawing or a sporty girl who loved to climb and play in the jungle gym for hours?  


  • What did you love to do? 

  • How did you see yourself? 


We can also connect with ourselves in the present moment by reflecting on the following questions:


  • What fear drives you?

  • What dreams motivate?

  • What parts of yourself are so special and tender that you don’t let anyone see them? 


The Enneagram


The Enneagram is a useful tool for helping us identify our desires. Linked to Christian mysticism, the Enneagram is a nine-point diagram that describes nine distinct personality types. Unlike the Myers Briggs personality typing system, the Enneagram determines one's type based on a Core Desire and Core Fear


Check out the overview of each type to see which one most resonates with you. 


In his book, “Understanding the Enneagram,” Riso explains “If the type you have chosen not only stirs up deep feelings but also helps you understand aspects of yourself you have never seen before, then it is probably your type." If your choice leads you to make new connections and see new patterns in yourself and your relationships, then you have probably accurately typed yourself.



An Overview of the Types 


One

  • Basic Fear: Of being corrupt/evil, defective

  • Basic Desire: To be good, to have integrity, to be balanced (EnneagramInstitute) 

  • Core Longing: “You are good.” (YourEnneagramCoach)

  • Need to be perfect. 

  • Virtue of serenity. (The Sacred Enneagram 35, 37) 


Two

  • Basic Fear: Of being unwanted, unworthy of being loved

  • Basic Desire: To feel loved

  • Core longing: “You are wanted and loved.”

  • Need to be needed. 

  • Virtue of humility. 


Three

  • Basic Fear: Of being worthless

  • Basic Desire: To feel valuable and worthwhile

  • Core longing: “You are loved for simply being you."

  • Need to succeed. 

  • Virtue of authenticity. 


Four

  • Basic Fear: That they have no identity or personal significance

  • Basic Desire: To find themselves and their significance (to create an   identity)

  • Core longing: “You are seen and loved for exactly who you are—special and unique.”

  • Need to be unique. 

  • Virtue of balance. 


Five

  • Basic Fear: Being useless, helpless, or incapable

  • Basic Desire: To be capable and competent

  • Core longing: “Your needs are not a problem.” (YourEnneagramCoach)

  • Need to understand. 

  • Virtue of detachment. 


Six

  • Basic Fear: Of being without support and guidance

  • Basic Desire: To have security and support

  • Core longing: “You are safe and secure.”

  • Need to be secure. 

  • Virtue of courage. 


Seven

  • Basic Fear: Of being deprived and in pain

  • Basic Desire: To be satisfied and content—to have their needs fulfilled

  • Core longing: “You will be taken care of.”

  • Need to avoid pain. 

  • Virtue of sobriety.


Eight

  • Basic Fear: Of being harmed or controlled by others

  • Basic Desire: To protect themselves (to be in control of their own life and destiny)

  • Core longing: “You will not be betrayed.”

  • Need to be against. 

  • Virtue of innocence. 


Nine

  • Basic Fear: Of loss and separation

  • Basic Desire: To have inner stability “peace of mind”

  • Core longing: “Your presence matters.”

  • Need to avoid. 

  • Virtue of action. 


Though of course, no one should ever be reduced to their enneagram type; the personality typing system gives us valuable insight into the inner workings of our souls–namely, the fears and desires that drive our decisions. 


So how do we apply this tool to our lives? 


After gaining an awareness of our Core motivations, we can use this tool as a filter for making decisions. 


I believe that we need to find a balance between pushing ourselves to grow and accepting ourselves. This means that each of us can become healthier individuals by not only working on our fears, but also by embracing how we are wired


For example, as an enneagram Five who finds it difficult to give my limtied energy away to others, I practice what I call “gentle socialization.” Basically, this means that when I feel that I could handle it, I push myself to socialize, share openly with others, and give my energy away. This concept of pushing yourself just enough out of your comfort zone to grow (but not so much that you burn out) can be applied to any of the types!


However, I also honor my innate desires. This means that I don’t invest so much time in my weaknesses that I have no time left to live in my strengths. For me, this looks like making time for learning and for doing things that make me feel capable. 



We should consider our Core Desire and Core Fear when making life decisions.


If we force ourselves to constantly push past our fears while dismissing our desires, we can become shells of human beings. 


In my case, I struggle in jobs that force me to be spontaneous and “figure it out” in the moment. As a Five who values competence, I would much rather invest time in training so that I feel adequately prepared for the tasks at hand. From my working experiences, it is crucial to honor BOTH my Core Desire and Core Fear when accepting a position.


No amount of determination and sacrifice can change your heart. 


As Selena Gomez once said, “the heart wants what it wants!” 


Jokes aside, I believe that we are all designed differently. It’s not just that people have different perspectives. Our hearts’ longings and sensitivities are unique


In fact, they go beyond the Enneagram. If you have a moment, ask yourself “How do these core motivations manifest in my life? What are my specific longings? 


Core Gifts


One of the most helpful tools that I have found for uncovering my specific Core Nature is the concept of “Core Gifts,” developed by psychologist Dr. Ken Page. 


Core Gifts are the parts of ourselves that are so integral to our identity that they hold power over us. They are present "whenever you feel the warmth of your humanity and hold it with a sense of compassion or care."Core gifts are our places of deepest sensitivity, where we feel most intensely and care most deeply.


Out of fear of rejection or failure, we often hide or diminish our Core Gifts


Think of your Core Gifts like the black box in an airplane. It’s incredibly valuable because it contains crucial information. However, it is usually stored out of reach for safety. 


The problem is that in an effort to protect our true self, we disconnect from our Core Gifts. We struggle to invest in them, embrace them, and share them with others. Denying this aspect of our Core Nature can lead to feelings of unfulfillment and confusion. 


It is only when we gain the courage to identify these parts of ourselves that we begin to fully understand our hearts. In other words, embracing our Core Gifts and Core Nature allows us to identify our desires.


Here are some questions, developed by Dr. Ken Page,  to help you discover your Core Gifts, a specific element of your Core Nature. 


  • Which sensitivities/passions have felt like a curse to you? 

  • Which tender parts have been misunderstood and taken advantage of? 

  • What qualities in you have led to your greatest experience of joy

  • Which sensitivities do you have that have led to your greatest suffering

  • What do you long to do, create, or experience in the world? 


Instead of seeing your Core Gift as a weakness, make an effort to see the value in it. For example, if you see yourself as boring or too conventional, recognize that your practicality is a gift! Your ability to notice details, accomplish goals, and contribute a grounded perspective offers so much value to those around you.


Once you can accept this part of yourself as worthwhile, find ways to nourish it. If you are the practical girl, you could invest in a planner and high-quality colored pens so that you can plan your day each morning.


Lastly, practice sharing your Core Gifts with others. It takes courage to do this so feel free to start in small ways. It could start by mentioning your Core-Gift-related hobbies and over time, transform into openly sharing about your hearts' desires without fear of rejection. If you're just starting out on this journey, I highly recommend finding community (online and in-person) that shares or at least understands your Core Gifts. Connecting with people who are further along in their journeys can give you invaluable insights into tending to your Core Gifts.


Core Gifts need to be accepted, nourished, and shared in order for them to fully blossom.


I hope that you found this helpful in reconnecting to your heart, and that it gives you the tools to come home to yourself. 



Sources

Enneagram type descriptions. The Enneagram Institute. (2024b, February 14). https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-descriptions/


Gray, J. (2016, May 16). Til EP.1: Discover your core gifts with Ken Page (video). Jordan Gray Consulting. https://www.jordangrayconsulting.com/core-gifts-with-ken-page/


Heuertz, C. L. (2017). The sacred enneagram: Finding your unique path to spiritual growth. Zondervan.


Stahl, A. (2021). You turn: Get unstuck, discover your direction, and design your dream career. BenBella Books.


Understanding the enneagram: The practical guide to personality types: Riso, Don Richard, Hudson, Russ: 0046442004152: Amazon.com: Books. (n.d.).


Your enneagram coach: Free enneagram test, courses, & coaching. Your Enneagram Coach | Free Enneagram Test, Courses, & Coaching. (n.d.). https://www.yourenneagramcoach.com/





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