Type Four is called the Individualist, the Artist and the Romantic because of their focus on individuality, authenticity and full expression of their emotions. This type owns the emotional spectrum—they’ve been up, they’ve been down, they’ve been everywhere in between and often are on a regular basis. Individualist 4s experience the world with great emotional intensity, and their attention naturally goes to what is missing in their lives. They are very committed to authenticity and are comfortable operating far outside of the range of mainstream taste. Strong emotions serve as a guide for what is important.
Individualists/Artists/Romantics are original and authentic, with intense feelings spanning the entire emotional spectrum. They have felt great emotional highs, deep emotional lows and can feel everything in between on a daily basis. This person favors intensity (either positive or negative) to commonplace and routine. Drawn to what is missing, Individualist 4s spend a lot of time thinking about what they don’t have and experiencing longing.
The magnifying glass goes to what is missing, distant or unavailable. They see what they don’t have and long for it. The darker emotions of sadness, despair and melancholy tend to feel familiar and comfortable. Their attention moves away from what they do have and from feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment.
Individualist 4s Gifts to the World
Profoundly committed to authenticity and willing to operate outside of the mainstream, Type Fours offer the world ingenuity, inspiration and originality. They can access profound creativity and offer the world inspired creations. Because they feel so intensely, they can channel this intense emotion into creative works that impact others profoundly. In addition, because of their mastery of the emotional spectrum, Type Fours teach the rest of us how to feel more and how to access a fuller range of emotion. No emotion scares them, and this fearlessness can be deeply healing for the rest of us.
Individualist 4s Typically Report
1) Extreme Emotional Sensitivity and a Preference to Intense Emotions over Flat, Moderate Emotions
Individualist 4s really do feel more than many of the other types. They can access more of the emotional spectrum and spend more time focusing on and processing their feelings.
“They say that Eskimos have about 50 words for “snow” because as an Eskimo, a lot of your life revolves around the snow. I have this same experience for the emotional world. I have 50 words for sadness. I spend a lot of time feeling my emotions and processing exactly what I’m feeling.”
Individualist 4s also typically report they prefer having big emotional ups and downs over having a “regular day.” They like the emotional intensity, even though they report it can be extremely exhausting. For Individualist 4s, the emotional spikes are often what make life worth living.
”I would take a good, deep, dark depression over a regular day anytime.”
Hear four Type 4s talk about having intense emotions (excerpted with permission from a Type 4 workshop taught by Lynn)
2) They Struggle with Their Identity
Individualist 4s often struggle with wanting a stable sense of their own identity and their ever-changing emotions. Authenticity is a core value for Individualist 4s, and since they use their emotions as a guide, it feels inauthentic to downplay their emotional world. But this emotional world can also feel unstable, so they often are torn between over-identifying with their emotions and seeking something more stable to use as a foundation for their identity. Most Type Fours report they struggle to establish a clear and authentic identity.
“I had been thinking about changing my name for a few years – not because I hated my birth name, but because I wanted a name that communicated something true and deep about my inner life. Naming myself was an act of integration and authenticity: a way to reclaim power over my life, to stand inside my experience and say, “This is who I am in the world.” “
3) Chronically Undervaluing Themselves
Individualist 4s chronically undervalue themselves and their achievements. While they are often very accomplished in their respective fields, they don’t recognize this as their attention naturally goes to what is missing in their lives. This can manifest as low self-esteem or internal conflict between feeling inferior and at the same time feeling superior.
“It isn’t exactly a “grass is always greener” feeling. It feels more like, well, if I could do it, it must not be very hard…”
Tools for Compassion If You Have Type Fours in Your Life
1) Don’t tell them they are too sensitive or dramatic
Individualist 4s experience the world very intensely. This is their experience. Telling them not to be so sensitive or dramatic isn’t helpful. They aren’t choosing to experience life the way they do—it is how their brains are wired.
2) Be supportive and use humor to lighten up a situation
Individualist 4s assign disproportionate importance to their emotional world so helping them to lighten up with humor and support goes a long way. They can get a lot of benefit from others who hold the space for their emotions but don’t get caught up in the drama of them. A good dose of lightness and humor can diffuse some of the intensity.
3) Recognize that genuine compliments mean a lot
Individualist 4s undervalue themselves so getting positive feedback regularly can be really healing for them. However, make sure the compliments are genuine. Individualist 4s are very sensitive to anything that feels inauthentic to them so a disingenuous compliment can do more harm than good.
Type 4s in Relationships
To learn more about Type Four Individualists and what they are like in relationships, go to page 167.
Tools to Relax the Habit of Attention for Type Fours