If you had to say three words of truth about yourself, what would they be?
Pause for just a second and try. It’s hard. But once you have three words of truth, ask yourself this: What three words of truth do you think other people would use to describe you?
Do they align? If not, what rings more true and what do you suppose accounts for the difference?
A moment: three words of truth
A while back, the elevator door opened and the Markel family from 17D popped in. Andrea had her coffee in her to-go cup and her two girls donned backpacks way too big for their tiny frames. My dog, my 17-year old Earth daughter Maddie and I were the only ones in the elevator. So the six of us crammed in together for the short ride to the lobby.
It was February 2020, pre-Covid, so cramming in wasn’t of concern to us just yet.
I hadn’t seen Andrea and her two kids in a couple months and I beamed when the doors opened on 17 to reveal her standing there. Einstein, my dog, and Andrea’s girls were equally delighted to share space and ogles with each other while Andrea and I took the few found moments to catch up.
“Carey! I haven’t seen you in so long. What’s going on?”
“Andrea, I’m so excited! So much is happening right now.” I couldn’t stem the flow of happiness from my mind to my mouth and an avalanche of ecstatic updates came tumbling forth. “I finally finished the last edit of my book. It’s coming out in the spring. April 7th. My publisher sent over the final cover design and it’s uh-mazing. AND my agent wants me to get started on the outline for the next book. The one on love. I’m just deliriously happy. So so happy.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my daughter Maddie shrink into herself. Her smile faded and if she could have, she would’ve melted into the elevator wall. I knew I had embarrassed her.
I made eye contact with her for a second and she looked back at me with pleading eyes and a furrowed brow. I knew what she was saying without her having to utter a word. Telepathically Maddie was begging me, “MOM! Stop talking about yourself!”
Seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes
As a Fire, I don’t even realize I get caught up in oversharing what’s going on in my life sometimes. But my Earth girls notice it instantly. Many times, Fire people are compelled to share conversation with others to delight, to entertain, to enliven and to excite. Earth shares to take care of you, to notice you, to elevate you. We both crave contact, but have divergent motivations.
Seeing Maddie’s response elicited some self-awareness for me in that moment. I paused and heard myself from her perspective. Then, without missing a beat I continued.
“How about you, Andrea? What’s new with you? How have you been?”
Maddie exhaled and I felt her peel herself off the elevator wall. Her nonverbal displeasure helped me see my communication from a broader perspective and subsequently even it out. When we notice and appreciate our own and each other’s engagement styles, we learn to have compassion for one another. We even learn to see the beauty in the different things we each bring to the world – rather than judging others’ ways as inferior.
I gave myself a couple days of space to reflect on that elevator incident. In the elevator at that moment I felt jarred, but open and aware. I wanted to explore a little deeper so I asked Maddie to tell me three words she would use to describe me. She did and it was telling.
Three words of truth for five archetypes
I’ve since asked other archetypes how they believe others would describe them. Here’s what I found.
- Fire: Kind, glass half full, zest for life
- Earth: Thoughtful, caring, responsible
- Metal: Detail oriented, meticulous note taker, that I give an honest opinion – not just what others want to hear
- Water: Loyal, trustworthy and smart
- Wood: Creative, passionate, and that I could get territorial – if don’t get in my way. People would say I work to preserve integrity and I don’t want someone messing with my freedom
What three words do you think people would use to describe you? Does it correlate to your primary archetype? Tell me! I want to hear from you!