Internal v. External

Aren’t personality types fascinating? I have always thought so. Even my favorite sleepover activities as a kid included pouring over magazines and taking quizzes for hours on end. It’s no surprise that as the Enneagram recently gained popularity in my corner of the world, that I would go all in with it, too.

I am an Enneagram 3 with a 4 wing.

My fellow threes and I are ambitious and energetic. We can be status-conscious and highly driven for advancement. And while we are diplomatic and poised, we can also be overly concerned with image and what others think. Today, I named this my External side.

Illustrated by Kelly Kingman for The Visual Enneagram |
Illustrated by Kelly Kingman for The Visual Enneagram |

My four-ness is emotionally honest, creative and personal, but also self-conscious. I’ve certainly withheld myself from others to avoid vulnerability… which is a total four thing to do. And this, my Internal side.

Illustrated by Kelly Kingman for The Visual Enneagram |
Illustrated by Kelly Kingman for The Visual Enneagram |

External Amanda usually leads the way, just as she did yesterday to the room with the comfy couch. She typically pre-ordains her topics, recounting the two weeks prior – what occurred, how she felt affected, and what we’re going to do about it. That’s her way of allowing Internal Amanda to speak, with boundaries and guidelines. “We must stay on task,” she says.

Internal Amanda is soft-spoken and patient. She takes harsh criticisms and hides them away, biding her time. She is willing to fight for her dreams of creating and painting the earth with the beauty in her brain, but she’s told it’s not time. Not yet.


After settling into the comfy couch, I confessed to my counselor that I had no agenda, but I did have this one story of the old journal I’d found… which is when this struggle ensued:

Sad at the realization for enduring this for twenty years. Frustrated for feeling frustrated in the first place.

The desire to be free from opinions, to leave restriction behind and rely solely on my intuition. Who cares about a number on the scale?! All of this versus my preemptive instincts to protect myself from hurt, to bear the brunt of the world, to produce great work for affirmation.

Both my Internal 4 and External 3 were given equal time on the floor today. Through the dialogue, I discovered that despite how it feels, neither is the victim or bully. We are all on Team Amanda.

I really hate it when people say, “it’s all about balance” or “everything in moderation”, but dangit if they aren’t right.


Much to my 3’s chagrin, I have no game plan in place moving forward. All I know is that External Amanda is trying to be more patient and create space for creativity and experimentation and Internal Amanda is every day trying to be a little stronger and speak with authority on that which she knows to be true.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen Joy Wyler says:

    Wow…need to reread and process. Deep thinking required for this post ❤️


    1. Amanda says:

      Ha! I can tell you more about the empty chair technique we used. It was a little weird, but very effective.


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