Category Archives: Type 1

Mindful Movement

Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh (Photo credit: Geoff Livingston)

As a Doing type, I would rather have several challenging or difficult things to accomplish than attempt to try to do nothing–and by doing nothing, I mean meditating. I have meditated off and on over the decades, but it’s always an uphill battle.

I wrote about different meditation practices for the Doing, Thinking, and Feeling center types a while back. I’ve since come across Thich Nhat Hanh‘s 10 Mindful Movements exercises, and they have been very effective for me. It’s so much easier for me to be mindful when I’m performing these slow movements than when I’m trying to sit still.

For one thing, the movements give me something to focus my attention on. For another, when I’m moving–even this slowly–I don’t get as squirmy as I do when I’m sitting. The movements are very relaxing and refreshing, so they’re also good stress-relievers. You can do all of them, just a few, or even one to calm down or switch gears in the middle of the day.

This video goes through the entire sequence of 10 movements. It’s excerpted from a longer video available from Sounds True. There’s also a book, for those who like hard copy.

In the Shadow of Type 1: Anger

Angry Talk (Comic Style)

Angry Talk (Comic Style) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Be right, do right, and show others the way. 1s see themselves as being good, responsible, ethical, upright, firm, principled, visionary, dedicated, self-controlled, idealistic, moral, and hard-working. Lots of other people see them that way, too.

It’s admirable to be principled, to have goals to work toward, to want to better oneself—and by extension the world—to hold oneself to high standards, to maintain a strong work ethic, and to envision a better world. At least it’s admirable when these are authentic choices, when they are not forced on either others or oneself. When they are part of the compulsion, however, they can become destructive influences, creating more harm than good.


According to Jerome Wagner (The Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles) reaction formation is the primary defense mechanism of Type 1.

To keep your angry impulses out of your awareness, you do the opposite of what you are inclined to do. For example, instead of confronting someone, you are nice to him/her; or instead of being sexual, you become puritanical.

It’s not hard to understand why 1s would have angry impulses. For them, there’s an ideal of perfection for everyone, everything, and every situation to live up to or at least try to achieve. There’s a right way to be, a right way to do things, and a right way that things should be. 1s notice the ways in which things are not as they should be. And there’s a lot to notice, since seldom do people (including them) or situations live up to the ideal. Furthermore, it must appear as though most of the rest of us are not even trying to live up to it.

Not My Way, The Way

1s don’t see these ideas of perfection as emanating from or being determined by themselves. They just are. 1s may not particularly want to have to live up to them, either. But gosh darn it, they are doing their best to live up to them and are only too aware and self-critical when they feel they miss the mark. The rest of us ought to be doing the same.

Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.

–Salvador Dali

Some people believe that everything is already perfect. Others think that nothing and no one is or ever will be perfect. Certainly one person’s definition of perfection isn’t going to be the same as another’s.  The notion that there is one right way to be and to do things creates a type of psychic rigidity that leads to paying attention to what’s missing and what’s wrong instead of seeing the truth and beauty in what is.

That particular focus of attention—along with the compulsion to always be good—creates a great deal of resentment and anger that can’t be acknowledged. Experiencing and expressing this anger would be inappropriate (bad and wrong). So anger and all of its variations and permutations exist in the shadowland of 1s. The longer it is denied and festers, the less 1s are able to achieve wholeness and integrity.

Becoming Aware

In The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Riso and Hudson suggest 1s learn to recognize and process their anger.

While you do not act out your anger or pretend it is not there, you hold a lot of it in your body, so any kind of therapeutic massage or energy work can be extremely beneficial for you. Similarly, yoga or simple stretching exercises can do wonders for your physical and emotional well-being. You can also become aware of ways that you unconsciously hold your body in certain postures, or how you may use more tension than necessary when performing even simple tasks.

This is a good approach, since 1s are “body” types (in the Doing center).

I’ve always remembered this bit from Angeles Arrien’s book, The Fourfold Way, which is a good set of recommendations for anyone:

Show up.
Pay Attention.
Tell the Truth.
Don’t be Attached to the Outcome.

As a practice for 1s, it could be slightly rephrased as:

Be authentic and fully engaged.
Be present with what is–as it is–not as you think it should be.
Be honest rather than judgmental, first with yourself and then with others.
After you’ve done your best, let go of the results.

~ ~ ~

Perfection is a trifle dull. It is not the least of life’s ironies that this, which we all aim at, is better not quite achieved. 

–W. Somerset Maugham

New Year’s Counter-Resolutions

Illustration Friday - Resolution

Resolution (Photo credit: The hills are alive)

Sometimes it’s best to be LESS than we can be, especially when it comes to the all-too-entrenched compulsions of our personality.

So here are some resolutions for the new year that run counter to our natural inclinations. If your past resolutions have worked as well as mine, you might be up for giving one or two of these a try.

Type 1:

  • Create a schedule for goofing off.
  • Make at least one mistake per day.
  • Let sleeping dogs lie.

Type 2:

  • Pamper myself, whether I feel like it or not.
  • Let them figure it out by themselves once in a while.
  • Start an argument just for the heck of it.

Type 3:

  • Make an anonymous charitable donation (and don’t tell anyone about it).
  • Leave the house without combing my hair.
  • Start having goal-less Wednesdays.

Type 4:

  • Lighten up!
  • Try doing one thing a week the way everyone else does it.
  • Take something at face value instead of searching for its deeper meaning.

Type 5:

  • Set up a meet and greet with the neighbors.
  • Next time, don’t read the instructions first.
  • At least once a month, throw something out.

Type 6:

  • Do whatever they least expect me to do.
  • Take a day off in the middle of the week for no reason.
  • Lower shields.

Type 7:

  • Just say “no.”
  • Finish one thing before starting something else.
  • Spend some quiet time alone without distractions.

Type 8:

  • Leave the office at quitting time—or before.
  • Find lower gear and occasionally shift into it.
  • Let the right one in.

Type 9:

  • Do whatever I feel like doing no matter how much chaos ensues as a result.
  • Give up being passive-aggressive for being outright aggressive.
  • Create a longer to-do list.

Happy New Year!

~ ~ ~

NOTE: As of January 2013, new Nine Paths posts will be published every Monday and Friday instead of every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Make It So!

A derivative collage from two other files - ca...

Captain Jean Luc Picard on board the Enterprise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jean Luc Picard was the captain of the Enterprise. So his directive to “make it so” was aimed at the people under his command in order to further some aspect of the starship’s current mission.

Each of us is on a mission, too, though probably not an interstellar one. And we give ourselves directives to keep focused on our particular mission.

Self Directives by Type

Type 1: Watch Yourself!

Type 2: Ignore Yourself!

Type 3: Distinguish Yourself!

Type 4: Be Yourself!

Type 5: Prepare Yourself!

Type 6: Brace Yourself!

Type 7: Enjoy Yourself!

Type 8: Push Yourself!

Type 9: Hide Yourself!

Typing Abraham Lincoln

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abe Lincoln is all the rage these days, and I’ve been going with the flow. I recently finished reading Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America’s Most Perilous Year. This extremely well-researched and well-written book by David Von Drehle covers the year 1862, Lincoln’s first full year in the office of President. On the first day of 1863, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

Shortly after finishing the book, I saw the movie, Lincoln, which takes place in 1865, the year the 13th Amendment was passed by the House of Representatives.

Just about everyone in the Enneagram world seems convinced that Abraham Lincoln was a 9w1. Typing famous people, dead or alive, is common among Enneagram experts and amateurs alike. It serves a purpose in offering examples of types. But it runs counter to most teachers’ recommendations that people come to their own conclusion about which type they are. Many of the people who are held up as examples of type never heard of the Enneagram, let alone filled out a questionnaire or tried to identify themselves. And we can’t get inside their heads to understand where they were coming from or what motivated them. In a lot of cases, all we see is what’s on the outside. So we should take all of this typing of dead people with a grain of salt—or at least a caveat or two.

As far as Abe Lincoln goes, I will agree from what I’ve read that he was most likely a 9. Had he not had such a grasp of the big picture—keeping the Union together—our world would be inconceivably different today. But I’m not sure why everyone believes he had a 1 wing. Is it because of his nickname, “Honest Abe”? Or is it because only someone with a 1 wing (an Idealist) could possibly have been responsible for the Emancipation Proclamation and for bringing an end to slavery? If so, that’s the kind of stereotyping that should make us Enneagram experts squirm.

More 8 than 1

Lincoln was an ambitious man who wanted to make his mark, to have an impact on his world, to be remembered. He was also notoriously thick-skinned. Those are not signs of either 9s or 1s. Those are characteristics of 8s. 8s, too, are greatly concerned with justice, fairness, and equality and with defending and protecting the underdog, whoever they perceive the underdog to be. When 8s take up causes they will do whatever they feel is necessary to achieve their goals. If that includes making under-the-table deals with the “enemy”—as Lincoln did in order to get the votes he needed for the 13th Amendment—so be it. If that includes shading the truth—as he did about the existence of peace talks with the Confederacy in order to assure the House vote took place before the war ended—so be it. The ends very often justify the means for 8s.

As I was reading Von Drehle’s book, I came across many descriptions of Lincoln’s behavior, attitudes, and personal characteristics like these:

  • He had always been proud of his physique, and enjoyed challenging other men to contests of strength, which he inevitably won. He used his size subtly to intimidate, even as he used his humor to put people off guard.
  • …[F]or now Lincoln was still the virile figure of his campaign propaganda, the rail-splitter whose blend of brains and brawn reflected America’s favored image of itself: strong, bright, and independent.
  • Lincoln had a shambling animal force about him, which some found appealing and others found unsettling.

Which type does that remind you of?

When I brought up this typing issue with a friend who is a 1w9—and a history buff—he said he had never thought of Lincoln as an idealist. After seeing Lincoln, I suggested to him that Thaddeus Stevens might have been a 1. At least as portrayed in the movie, he was greatly pained when he reluctantly agreed to deny what he believed to be moral and true in order to achieve the short-term gain of passage of the 13th Amendment. Lincoln, on the other hand, did not seem to have those sorts of compunctions about the wheeling and dealing he undertook for what he saw as the greater good.

Lincoln was a politician. He never denied that. I think being a 9w8 made it possible for him to see what needed to be done in the broadest of terms and then to be able to do it, no matter how he had to bend either rules or people.

From time to time, even “Honest Abe” himself exaggerated or dissembled in pursuit of a great cause.

— Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer

I highly recommend both the book and the movie and plan to write about General George McClellan, who fairly jumps from the pages of Von Drehle’s book as a perfect example of a 5. Of course, McClellan is dead and I never met the man, but strictly as portrayed in Von Drehle’s book–my caveat–he’s a classic type 5.

Songs for the Road (the list)

If you’re travelin’, you need a road song, and everyone loves a good road song, right? But not everyone likes the same song or moves to the same beat. So here’s my list of road songs by type:

Type 1: The Higher You Climb (Dan Fogelberg)

You get a little bonus hit of Down the Road as an intro.

Type 2: I’ll Take you There (Staple Singers)

Type 3: I Can Walk on Water (Basshunter)

Type 4: Runnin’ Down a Dream (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

Type 5: Boulevard of Broken Dreams (Green Day)

Type 6: Road to Nowhere (Talking Heads)

Type 7: I’ll Follow the Sun (the Beatles)

Type 8: I Can’t Drive 55 (Sammy Hagar)

Type 9: Every Day Is a Winding Road (Sheryl Crow)

Twisted Affirmations (Enneagram Humor)

English: Halloween in Bonaire.


A student in a group I facilitated years ago (not the group pictured above) brought in a list of “twisted affirmations” she’d come across. As she read them aloud, we realized how easily they could be categorized by Enneagram type. So that’s what we did. There were many more affirmations than the nine below, but some types got off pretty easy while others seemed to come out far more “twisted.” So to keep it fair (I’m an 8, after all), I’ve chosen what seems to be the most representative twist for each type. I would love to credit the author, but I have no idea who he/she is.

Type 1
I am grateful that I am not as judgmental as all those censorious, self-righteous people around me.

Type 2
As I learn the innermost secrets of the people around me, they reward me in many ways to keep quiet.

Type 3
To have a successful relationship, I must learn to make it look like I’m giving as much as I’m getting.

Type 4
I can change any thought that hurts into a reality that hurts even more.

Type 5
I have the power to channel my imagination into ever-soaring levels of suspicion and paranoia.

Type 6
Only a lack of imagination saves me from immobilizing myself with imaginary fears.

Type 7
I am willing to make the mistakes if someone else is willing to learn from them.

Type 8
When someone hurts me, forgiveness is cheaper than a lawsuit, but not nearly as gratifying.

Type 9
False hope is nicer than no hope at all.

~ ~ ~

Sometimes you just need to be able to laugh at yourself.

Type 1: Embrace Your Inner Prodigal

1s want to do whatever they do correctly. They are driven to always be right, upright, (sometimes even righteous), as well as conscientious, ethical, and moral. They have an image of perfection they try to realize, and their fear is that they can’t measure up–they’re not good enough, proper enough, or conscientious enough to attain it.

So they strive mightily to prove to themselves and others how principled and ethical and responsible and hard-working they are. It can be a pretty tough row to hoe. Perfection is an ideal that is rarely fully realized in the real world. Chasing after it can make 1s very intense and sometimes even, dare we say, rigid.

If 1s accept the fact that, trite though it sounds, nobody’s perfect and it’s OK not to be (and do) right all the time, they may find it easier to relax a little and focus on the bigger picture. The same degree of scrutiny does not need to be applied to everyone and everything. Mistakes were made. Stitches were dropped. Commas were misplaced. Life is irregular and messy and imperfect. Sometimes that’s the best thing about it!

So if you’re a 1, let yourself go out and do something haphazardly or casually. You know you have it in you. Let yourself off the hook for your past transgressions. They’re what make you human. They’re what make it possible for other people to relate to you.

Your true value–what you have to offer the rest of us–doesn’t lie exclusively in crossing all the i’s and dotting all the t’s, except when you’re proofreading. Otherwise good enough is often good enough.

Next Friday: Type 2: Embrace Your Inner Pip-Squeak

Our “Fatal” Flaws

The words guilt and shame are often used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings. Guilt is the result of something we either did or didn’t do (if we believe we should have done it). In other words, guilt arises from an act we have some control over. The act or omission may be unintentional, but we were still the agent in the situation.

Shame relates to our sense of self, of who we are as a person, our very identity. Some of the things we’re ashamed of are things we may have no control over. People are often ashamed of some aspect of how they look (too short, too tall, freckles, thick ankles) or of their backgrounds, for example. We are often ashamed of our perceived flaws, whether those flaws are physical, mental, emotional, or some combination thereof.

Guilt and shame are both feelings. It’s definitely possible to feel both guilty and ashamed of something we did or didn’t do—especially when our actions seem to confirm our worst fears about ourselves. Continue reading

Type 1 Shopper

The latest in a series of Type comics. Also see Type 7, Type 4, Type 9, and Type 2.