ENNEAGRAM: JOURNEY INTO WHO YOU ARE AND WHO YOU'RE NOT
Enneagram TypesEach of the Enneagram types has a unique gift that they contribute to the full spectrum of human potential. However, each gift has a dark side. Much like the yin-yang symbol, there is a little shadow in each gift and a little gift in each shadow. Gifts and traits do not make up the most significant aspect of the Enneagram. We cannot understand ourselves or others by a simple enumeration of observable traits, but must enter the prevailing worldview and the beliefs that flower from its seed. The internal terrain and dialogue give us our first glimpse of the real power of the Enneagram - to see the world through new eyes. Click on the type you wish to know more about.
The Loyal Skeptic
Point One - the Perfectionist
Worldview: Life is about correcting error and striving for improvement.
Unconscious Drive: Internalized Anger – Resentment
Perfectionists have an innate ability to assess potential for improvement in any situation. They quite naturally notice what is right or wrong in all areas of life and are highly motivated to improve it. Often they intuit the best way to do a job or solve a problem very quickly. Ones are responsible, dependable people who pride themselves on their honesty and integrity. These idealists of the Enneagram can contribute ideas and energy for reform
Dark side of the gift:
Ones attention to error can lead to criticism and judgement of self and others. They may believe they possess superior knowledge of the one right way. It may be difficult to recognize when something is good enough. Perfectionists exhibit a tendency to engage in black and white thinking. Relationships, tasks, even life are judged either good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair. They often take on too much responsiblity and feel resentful that others don't do their share or come through with their commitments. Forsaking pleasure In favor of what "should" be done adds fuel to the fire of resentment that burns inside. Fear of making mistakes or appearing foolish can lead to procrastination in decision-making.
Ones have an enormous internal critic berating and judging them, continually finding them wanting. All of us have an inner critic, but the Perfectionist's internal voice is relentless. Ones are often surprised when others accuse them of being critical, since they share only the tiniest fraction of their ongoing internal critique. In the belief that everyone is as focused on improving as they are, Ones feel that they are simply sharing the best they have to offer.
Point Two - The Helper
Worldview: (My) Love makes the world go round.
Unconscious Drive: Pride
Twos have a natural ability to make empathic connections with others. Helpers actually feel what others feel or need. They are driven to connect with others emotionally and fill their needs. Helpers are talented networkers, making connections between other people.
Twos may facilitate others in reaching their potential. They enjoy being the power behind the throne and enthusiastically supporting others. At their best, they are warm and caring.At times, Twos can be true altruists, where giving is as natural as breathing and free of expectation.
Dark side of the gift: Twos often are so tuned into other's needs/feelings that they are not aware of their own. As a result, they can find themselves drained, and then angry. Unconscious giving has a hook in it. Helpers give to get their own needs met. Helpers may use warmth and flattery to get their own way. This can feel manipulative to recipients of Two's helpfulness. At times, Two's may give to others who have not asked for help or don't want what they have to offer. Pride exhibits itself in the Two as a feeling of knowing what others really need.
Twos literally feel like they leave their body through their heart to empathize with others and intuit their needs. Because their attention is so directed to others, they are unaware of their own needs or feelings. But if we look at life from the perspective of the Helper, we find a conviction that survival and getting love depend on sensing and meeting the needs of others. The connection with others is lifeblood to the Two and is guaranteed if they become necessary to us.
Point Three - the Performer
Worldview: Life is about presenting a successful) image.
Unconscious Drive: Self-Deceit
Gift:: Efficacy and Adaptability
Multitasking, high energy people, Performers get things done. They make things happen. Threes can adapt to any situation or group with a chameleon-like ability to match the environment. Performers inspire and motivate through charm and presentation of a successful image. No type on the Enneagram is more aware of the power of image. They are natural salespeople.
Dark side of the gift:
Three's focused attention on goals and tasks can overshadow other aspects of their lives. Feelings are often relegated to the back burner in service of doing. Performers may use others to get task done or run over anyone who is in the way of completion. Threes may cut corners to complete goals or projects, so long as it looks good to others.
Threes can become so identified with the image they present or with what they do that they lose themselves. They may not be sure of their real feelings or desires. "I'm successful at this, but do I really want to do it?" Their talent for adapting presentation to fit the audience, or identifying with their doing can leave them fearing they have no authentic self. "If I stop doing or performing, others will find out that I am a fraud and there really is nothing inside. " Love and survival depend on maintaining a successful image.
Point Four - The Romantic
Worldview: Something essential is missing from life. I'll be complete if I can just find it.
Unconscious Drive: Envy .
Gift: Uniqueness and Emotional Intensity.
Fours have a singular ability to be present with life's more intense situations: grief, death, depression. Through their understanding of dark nights of the soul, they accompany others on the journey. Romantics model that you will eventually get through the difficult times, and illuminate the riches to be found in the depths. Fours brings originality and creativity to any enterprise. Often blessed with a strong sense of the dramatic and/or aesthetic, they prefer to make a unique contribution in life.
Dark side of the gift:
Romantics crave emotional intensity and connection. Their highs and lows can be perceived as "too much" for the other types. A tendency toward dramatic presentation and affect can alienate other people. The Fours' attraction to melancholy and the "darker" emotions can seem like wallowing to the rest of us. At its worst, melancholy can slide into depression. Insistence on exhibiting their uniqueness or difference can be counterproductive to their own goals and off-putting to others.
A Four feels that something is missing in his/her life. Other people have it and the Romantic envies them. The Four longs for the missing element that will make them whole. There is a bittersweet flavor to Four's longing and melancholy. They crave a deep connection where they will be met emotionally. Authenticity is found in intense feeling states. If Four can't find what will complete them, at least they will have intensity. Ordinariness is akin to a sort of death. Love and survival depend on being true to one's inner emotional terrain.
Point Five - the Observer
Worldview: Knowledge will keep me safe
Unconscious Drive: Avarice
Observers have a natural ability to detach from feelings, needs, and other people. Clarity and a cool head prevail for the Five in situations where others are emotional or succumbing to chaos. The observer stance lends itself to keen observational powers. Fives are often good listeners and do not push what they know onto others. Fives are independent, self-contained people. They delve deeply into areas of knowledge that excite them, often becoming experts in subjects they explore. They exhibit a highly developed capacity for systematization of thought, for analyzing and synthesizing complex information.
Dark side of the gift:
Five's approach can be overly mental when a more feeling approach is called for. They can seem to be distant or emotionally unavailable to the other types. Observers can seem disengaged with life, preferring the mental realms of thought to interaction. Their strong needs for privacy can extend to isolation. A belief that energy is limited can lead to compartmentalization of life. There are compartments for work, relationship, and leisure each with their concomitant time limits. Fives can withhold information, time, energy, and even themselves.
Fives have strong feelings just like everyone else, but prefer to deal with them later when safely alone. Observers feel that they only have so much energy and can be overwhelmed by too much input. They need blocks of private time to recharge. Yet, Fives can put out enormous amounts of energy if they know what is expected of them. They dislike open-ended unpredictable situations. Observers accumulate knowledge; they want to understand. Fives often feel safer if they do not share all that they know keeping some knowledge in reserve.
Point Six - the Loyal Skeptic
Worldview: The world is a dangerous place. Most people have hidden agendas Unconscious Drive: Fear/Doubt
Two flavors of six: Phobic and Counterphobic. Gift: Loyal commitment and planning
Sixes' strong powers of imagination enable them to see the pitfalls, downside, or dangers of any situation. Masterful planners, Loyal Skeptic, visualize ways to deal with or avoid these dangers. Sixes exhibit tremendous loyalty to a cause or person they believe in. They are often committed, dutiful, behind-the-scenes workers or team players.
Dark side of the gift:
Sixes' highly developed sense of danger can be activated when the actual potential threat is very low. The other types may feel that they are messengers of doom and gloom or excessive worriers. Like the boy who cried wolf, they can lose credibility with constant alarmist messages, and be discounted when a true danger or pitfall is ~ imminent. Loyalty of the Six can be misplaced and against Six’es own best interest. Commitment and duty can exhaust and overwhelm the Six.
Sixes can instantly see the downside or danger in any situation. They actually see it in the mind's eye as if it were happening in real-time and experience the fear reaction in their bodies as if the event were taking place. Sixes stay vigilant at all times and make plans to avoid or confront the potential dangers. When a real danger presents itself, Devil's Advocates move into action and fear drops away. Fear lives in the mind. Devil's Advocates insist that they are not pessimists, but realists. They see the pitfalls that the rest of us miss. Sixes keep looking for an authority that they can trust, but believe that most people in authority abuse their power. But when their loyalty is committed to a cause or ideal, they lay down their lives in service to it.
Point Seven - the Epicure
Worldview: Life is an adventure with limitless possibilities.
Unconscious Habit: Gluttony
The optimistic Seven sees the bright side of any situation. A high energy, upbeat person, the Epicure can sweep others up in his enthusiasm. S/he enjoys envisioning possibilities and options. Sevens are great Idea people spinning out seemingly endless visions and potentials. Planning for future pleasure and fun is a major preoccupation of the Epicure. Sevens are synergistic thinkers who make connections between seemingly unlike things.
Dark side of the gift:
The Seven's one-sided focus on the bright side of life can lead them to neglect an entire realm of human experience. Sadness, pain, loss or difficulty are assiduously avoided by the Epicure. Others may find that the Seven cannot be counted on to be there in times of crisis, or even to address serious issues. The archetypal child who never grows up, the Seven rushes greedily to the next experience or sensation. The Epicure's ability to reframe problems into positives may lead them to dismiss real the downsides of life. Sevens feel trapped by limitation of options, which can lead to difficulties with commitment - to tasks, people, or both. Epicures spin out ideas and visions prodigiously, but may not complete projects. Sevens can be dilettantes trying a variety of jobs, hobbies, sports, yet moving on t~ something new before becoming truly proficient at any single enterprise.
Sevens feel that life is just too wonderful to waste time wallowing in pain or sadness. Why be down when you can be up? They can find the silver lining in the darkest cloud. Life seems filled with endless possibilities. Epicures like to have a lot of options and plans open, even if they don't avail themselves of these possibilities. Commitment to a single option feels like being trapped. When a Seven has a great idea or vision, they almost feel like they've done it already - in the mind. So it isn't necessarily important to complete a project when they've already had the satisfaction of the idea. If bored, the Seven sees no problem in just moving on to something new. Deep inside, Sevens" avoidance of pain and emotional difficulty stems from the fear that the feelings will annihilate them.
Point Eight - the Boss
Worldview: Only the strong survive.
Unconscious Drive: Lust (Excess)
Eights are straightforward, direct, what-you-see-is-what-you-get people. They are able to take charge and make decisions quickly. Bosses are people of action. They can inspire others to do more than they thought possible by the sheer force of their will. Eights often act as protectors of the weak and promoters of justice. Bosses are ebullient, larger-than-life leaders who partake of life's pleasure with all their being. Eights are sensate people who respond to the elements: wind, water, rock, storm.
Dark side of the gift:
Eight's direct, no-nonsense approach can feel brutal and controlling to others. Unaware of their impact, they can steamroll over the emotions and wishes of others to get their own way. Decisions made quickly by gut instinct may not be adequately tempered with thought or feeling. Eights can divide the world into those who are worthy and those who are not. Those who are deserving (according to the Eight) fall under the Boss's protective wing. Others deemed weak and unworthy seem almost caricature-like to the Eight and are simply "eaten" or vanquished. The laws of the jungle apply in the Boss's worldview. Lust for life may lead to excesses dangerous to health and hearth. Eg. drugs, alcohol, exercise. Others can see the Eight as too much, too loud, too everything. Internal Terrain "I don't care if you like me, but you'd better respect me," says the Boss. Eights enjoy a good fight with a worthy adversary, because the truth comes out in a fight. They like it when others stand up to them ¬they can find out what they're made of. Although Eights have a hard time holding back their emotions when angry, their anger is brief and intense as a summer storm. Bosses can't help taking command of a situation. They may not necessarily need to be in control, but Eights hate to be controlled. . If a Boss is enjoying something, s/he want to engage in it full-force, no holds barred. As one Eight said, "If it's good, just kill me with it!" Although Eights look strong, they avoid their own vulnerability. Afraid that they might be weak deep down inside, they convert those softer feelings into boredom and find the antidote in their lust for life or excess.
Point Nine - the Mediator
Worldview: Life is about harmony - going with the flow.
Unconscious Drive: Sloth (Self-forgetting)
Nines are the great receivers of the Enneagram; open and accepting of others without judgment. An open, calm demeanor exemplifies these easygoing people. Able to sense other's internal states, Nines are capable of merging into deep connection with others. Through this understanding comes an ability to see all sides of an issue and to play peacemaker between warring factions. Mediators value being (as opposed to doing) and often live in the present moment.
Dark side of the gift: Indiscriminant merging with the agendas and priorities of others to avoid disharmony leaves the Nine asleep to his/her own preferences. The mediator can adopt a passive role and wait for others to determine the course. Living in the present moment can make planning and prioritizing for the future a difficult task. Seeing all things as equal can interfere with decision making and lead to procrastination. The Nine's desire for peace can curtail healthy conflict and problem solving. The laws of inertia may be said to apply to mediators - when in action they can keep going indefinitely, but when a they stop it may take a lot of energy to get them going again. Peaceful affect of Nines can be interpreted as low energy or sluggishness by others.
Nines find it easier to go along with other's preferences rather than trying to find their own. First, it's difficult for them to know what they want. Second, they don't want to risk their desire conflicting with that of someone important to them. Peacemakers like life to be harmonious and comfortable. They find it so easy to accept people just as they are, they can't see why everyone can't just get along. Because all viewpoints and input seem equal to Nines, it's easy for them to act as mediators. However, all things being equal causes a great deal of turmoil inside the Nine. All .the things needing to be done or attended to clamor for their attention, and they are unable to prioritize or act. Sometimes, Nines numb themselves with TV, books, or food to just space out and stop the inner chaos. It can be difficult to get started again.
(Descriptions adapted from Lynette Shepherd)