The Social Three

Whoever Has the Most Wins!

The 2-3-4 center, called variously the feeling center or the heart center has a core confusion between seeming and being. This may seem rather philosophical, but it feels concrete and practical. It feels like not being sure of who you are and looking to someone or something else to tell you. We've talked briefly about the compulsion of the Two to search and find the needs of others so they know how to reach them. In the case of the Three, the search is just as intense, but it is the search to know how to behave in order to gain love.

The healthy way to gain love is to "just be yourself." The reality is that when we come from our authentic self, we are always lovable. But Threes have a difficult time believing this so they make a number of strategic substitutions. One is to role-play. A Three knows what the situation (family, culture, job) requires and they become what ever will succeed in that situation. Threes often report a childhood in which they excelled in whatever reflected the value system of the family. (I'm certain a Three invented those bragging bumper stickers that parents put on their car saying they are proud to have an honor student in such-and-such school.) But if the family tradition called for sports, the kids become athletes and the same holds true for music or making money. All people like to succeed, of course, but what makes the difference in the three is the total identification with the role so they become what they do.

Tony Robbins, a public Three, tries to teach this learning style to everyone. He has people "put on the heads" of those they admire in order to use the talents of the other. This identification with the person of another in order to accomplish what they accomplish is a Three trademark. But it does cause a few identity problems, and thereby hangs the tale of the Three. Threes are called deceitful not because of what they do, but because of who they think they are. The traditional sin of the Three is deceit, but it is the not the deceit of the liar. It is almost a philosophical deceit: they pretend to be who they need to be in order to do what they need to do. The metaphor commonly used to designate them is the chameleon.

Social climbing

In the movie Six Degrees of Separation, you have a spectrum of Threeishness. The first obvious Three is the young black man, role playing, pretending to be the son of Sidney Poitier. As the movie progresses, we watch him painstakingly learn how to talk and act like a graduate of Harvard. The perfect articulation, the snobbish references, the styles and the manners complete his absorption into a new identity.

The next Three, "Ouisa" (Mrs. Kitteridge) has a few Three issues of her own. She drops names like a phone book, she quotes prices and she (and her husband) cannot stop thinking about how much money their friends have. Structurally, the story becomes known to us as she tells it to others. This is the "other" orientation of the Three. Things are not done, nor do things happen merely for the experience or the learning inherent in the situation. Things become real when they are evaluated, and (they hope) admired by others. Their center of gravity lies outside themselves.

The title of the movie is significant. Ouisa is fascinated by the fact that only six people separate any one of us from any others. (For example, you know someone who knows someone who knows Bill Clinton or the pope personally.) It never takes more than six links to get to anyone. This challenges the Three, because social status is crucial to the social Subtype of Three. The thought of the kind of social equality this fact illustrates threatens much of what their life is about. Social Threes are excruciatingly conscious of where they fit on the social ladder. In Six Degrees, the location of the apartment, the choice of art, the selection of friends -- the social credentials -- are dwelt on at some length. One of the baits the young impostor holds out is a role in a movie. And he knows from within that people (especially type Three people) love to be seen. It may be accidental, but the Kitteridges are buyers and sellers of fine art. They deal in image in more ways than they know.

I'm my own role

Role playing substitutes for self knowledge in Threes and the young black impostor (who is a sexual subtype, not a social one) acts this out in dramatic fashion. Threes do not normally realize they are playing roles. It feels natural. The secondary gain of role playing is that they are often model children, with keen intuition as to how to behave so as to gain love and approval by everyone. They also make model employees because they work so hard to play the role of the perfect worker. And because they don't work for personal satisfaction but for social approval, they can often work tirelessly at jobs they hate. The New Age slogan of "follow your bliss" is a counter-cultural slogan in the United States where our culture has a strong Threeish cast and the maxim is "follow the money."

The Three culture in the United States is so strong that the workaholic habits of the Three are not considered pathological. Threes really are convinced that whoever has the most toys when he dies, wins.

    Questions for discussion:

  1. Threes often have strong mid-life crisis. (an understandable identity crisis). If you're old enough to have one, what was it like? What worked and what didn't as you navigated it?
  2. If you are a Three, give some examples of how you are able to know just what is required of you.
  3. Matthew 20:1-16 is a very difficult parable for Threes (and Americans). What would you feel like if you found out God does not reward according to effort? After you think about that, ask how God should reward the mentally retarded.
  4. The current welfare system is designed to give people money only if they work for it. How would that fit in with a Threeish culture?
  5. You can do this to yourself, or if in a punitive mood, to your children. Describe three things: Who you want to be, what you want to do and what you want to have. Notice how much clearer everyone is on the last one. Welcome to Three America.