Tag Archives: Ennea-Journaling

Ennea-Journaling our Non-Dominant Centers

Our dominant center is the center where our home point is located. Our non-dominant centers are the centers where our stress and security points are located. As an example, the home point for a 7 is in the Thinking center, the stress point (1) is in the Doing center, and the security point (4) is in the Feeling center.

3 Centers

For a list of the center relationships for all types, click here.

One of the ways to get more comfortable with your two non-dominant Centers of Intelligence is to spend some time with them. When you get to know them better, they won’t seem as alien. You’ll be able to rely on and trust them more often and more easily.

Get Acquainted

If you don’t know much about your stress or security point, check out a description of it in a book or online. Notice your reactions to what you read. Do you recognize yourself in any parts of the description? What do you like or not like about? What could you use more of from that type? Write out how you feel and what you’ve noticed about this type.


Sit quietly for a few minutes with your eyes closed. Visualize your stress or security point. What does it look like? (What color is it? How large or small? Does it have a texture?) Does it remind you of anyone or anything? Does it have an attitude? How do you feel about it? How would you describe it to someone else? What is its name?

Once you have a visual and visceral sense of this point, write a brief description of it.

Write a Letter

Write a letter to this point, addressing it by its number or your name for it. Pour out your questions, concerns, thoughts, feelings, and desires. In terms of your relationship with it, let it know exactly what you want—and don’t want—from it. Don’t think too much about this while you’re writing. Just let your pen flow across the page.

Have a Dialogue

In addition to, or instead of, writing a letter to this point, have a dialogue with it. A journaling dialogue is like having a conversation between two people, but on paper. It’s usually easiest to begin a dialogue by asking a question, so think of something you’d like to ask this point, then allow the point to respond. Identify who is speaking each time you change voices. Allow yourself to write whatever comes to you.


Mind map

Mind map (Photo credit: Squallwc)

Another way to get acquainted with your stress or security point is to create a mindmap of it. Mindmapping is form of free association in which you use key words and phrases rather than flow writing. You’ll need a piece of unlined paper and a pen (a set of colored pens is useful but optional). Write the number or name of the point in the middle of the page and draw a circle around it. Click here for more directions on mindmapping if you’re not familiar with the process. When you finish your mindmap, review it and then do a quick flow-writing exercise to summarize it.

These journaling exercises can be used individually or in any combination and can be repeated as often as you like.

Questioning Resistance


no (Photo credit: the|G|™)

The primary issue of the Doing center is resistance (anger without a focal point). We can experience resistance toward internal factors, external factors, or both. Sometimes there’s a good reason to resist someone or something, but habitual or mechanical resistance cuts us off from the free flow of energy.

Whether we’re automatically resistant to certain thoughts or ideas, to experiencing or expressing certain feelings or physical sensations, or to behaving in certain ways, resistance limits and constricts us. It boxes us in to narrow ways of thinking, feeling, or acting.

Here are some questions you can use as journaling prompts to explore the issue of resistance.

  • What thoughts do you resist?
  • What beliefs do you resist considering?
  • What ideas do you resist?
  • What feelings do you resist?
  • What memories do you resist recalling?
  • What aspects or parts of your body do you resist?
  • What do you resist doing?
  • What do you resist changing?
  • Who are the people you resist?
  • What else do you resist?

Then choose something from your list and try to identify any underlying anger. What purpose does your resistance serve? What might it be like if you were to stop resisting that particular thing?

Since resistance is the primary issue for a third of the types, imagine how much impact it has on relationships and events in the wider world. Being aware of our own personal resistance is a small but necessary step toward lessening the overall resistance-at-large.

Ennea-Journaling Booklet FREE to Subscribers

Awareness. Self-Observation. Change. That’s what Ennea-Journaling is all about. So I’m happy to be able to offer a 32-page booklet filled with all kinds of journal writing exercises you can use with the Enneagram or to expand your existing journaling practice. You don’t have to be an Enneagram expert–or even know very much about it–in order to benefit from the many suggestions, keywords, and other prompts you’ll find inside.

Ennea-Journaling Exercises for All Types

This booklet is now available to everyone who subscribes to Nine Paths by email (see box on the right). Shortly after subscribing, you will receive the pdf file so you can download the booklet.

If you are already an email subscriber, you don’t have to do anything. I will send you the pdf document by email. If you don’t receive it, first check your spam folder. If it isn’t there, please let me know. You can email me at ninepaths@gmail.com.

WordPress Subscribers: If you would like the Ennea-Journaling booklet, please email me at ninepaths@gmail.com or subscribe via email.

I’m delighted to share this resource with you and I hope you will share it with others!

Journal as Path

Over the past few months, I’ve regained my appreciation for keeping a journal. My practice had run aground last year, all notebooks consigned to a dresser drawer. Then on a whim I decided to reread The Brain Has a Mind of Its Own written by neurologist Richard Restak. This is a very accessible book. Each chapter stands by itself, and the chapters can be read in any sequence. What originally hooked me was the chapter the book is named after—and it deserves a post all its own, which it will get.

In a different chapter titled “Prescriptions for Insight,” Restak begins:

I often wonder what hope there can be for troubled people who can’t obtain professional help. It seems unfair that individually and collectively we’ve become increasingly dependent on psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers—professions that a century ago didn’t exist, at least in their present forms.

He goes on to consider and then discard the notion that the emotional disturbances we experience today were rarer in less-complicated times.

One has only to read the Greek tragedies, Shakespeare, or Dickens to see that people have been trying for centuries to cope with uncomfortable feelings, distressing thoughts, and uncontrollable impulses.

And then he suggests several methods people can use to help themselves. One suggestion, from a psychiatrist friend, is keeping a journal. Continue reading

Keywords: The Madeleines of Journal Writing

Before starting this post, I went into the closet in my office in search of three plastic sandwich bags full of folded slips of different colored paper with words typed on them. I’ve used those bags (and words) in my own creative writing exercises as well as in writing workshops. I found one bag full of lime green nouns, one bag full of fuchsia verbs, and one bag full of teal adjectives. I opened the teal bag without recalling what kind of words were inside and pulled out new. New is good—and so apt for the beginning of a post!

I’ve been playing around with individual words and phrases for decades. My Stance Keyword Comparison Checklist was an outgrowth of a long-term fascination with arranging and grouping words that seem to evoke a concept or a mood or an attitude or a way of being. Sometimes it’s easier to gauge your reaction to a list of keywords than it is to read through narrative descriptions. A single word can send you off on a journey, much like the madeleine that sent Marcel Proust off in Remembrance of Things Past.

When I was a substance abuse counselor, I used a two-page handout called “How Do You Feel Today?” It consisted of 140 words that described feeling states, each one illustrated by what was essentially an emoticon (although I’m pretty sure the handout pre-dated emoticons). It wasn’t in color, but it looked a little like this example (without the misspelling). Continue reading

Ennea-Journaling the Compliant Stance

Thank goodness for the Compliant types! They may have a tough row to hoe trying to cajole the Aggressive and the Withdrawing types into getting with the program—which must be a lot like herding cats—but at least they’re aware there’s a program everyone needs to get with. If the rest of us would just cooperate a little more, it would take a lot of the pressure off them, and they’d be able to loosen the reins on their hypervigilance.

It’s hard to face that open space.

— Neil Young

Is this your stance or the stance of someone you know? Compliant types often present a calm, capable, pleasant persona to the rest of the world, while inside they may be filled with anxiety and apprehension. In spite of their inner turmoil, they tend to be loyal and responsible individuals who do what they say they will do—personally and professionally.

Here are some topics to use for journal writing with a focus on the Compliant stance. If this isn’t your stance, but is the stance of someone close to you, try writing one of the following exercises from that person’s perspective. For flow-writing, set a timer, write a topic sentence at the top of a page, and then begin writing. Keep your pen moving across the page, even if you can’t think of what to write next. Write “blah, blah, blah,” if you have to. Trust that you’ll get back into the flow. Continue reading

Ennea-Journaling the Withdrawing Stance

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Withdrawing types are moving away from all the dust and clamor raised by the Aggressive types. Although they have definite opinions, and some Withdrawing types are successful in leadership roles, most prefer to observe from the sidelines.

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself.


Is this your stance or the stance of someone you know? Withdrawing types can be very calm and peaceful to be around, but once they do get riled up, you’ll know about it. When that happens, they can be mistaken for Aggressive types. And just like Aggressive types, they are not particularly compliant.

Here are some topics to use for journal writing with a focus on the Withdrawing stance. If this isn’t your stance, but is the stance of someone close to you, try writing one of the following exercises from that person’s perspective. To use the topics for flow-writing, set a timer, write a topic sentence at the top of a page, and then begin writing. Keep your pen moving across the page; if you get stuck, repeat what you just wrote or write nonsense words until you get back into the flow. Continue reading

Ennea-Journaling the Aggressive Stance

Aggressive types come in all shapes, sizes, and packages. Sure they can be loud, obnoxious, and bombastic, but they can also be deceptively mild-mannered. No matter what their outward appearance and demeanor may be, Aggressive types all have a steely determination when it comes to going after what they want.

We will either find a way or make one.

— Hannibal

Are you only too familiar with what it’s like to take the Aggressive stance—either because you do or because you live, work, or otherwise spend time with an Aggressive type? Or does the concept of taking this stance seem not only alien but more than a little frightening?

Everyone accesses the Aggressive stance to some degree or in some situations. But for those types who access it the least often, the idea of developing it or even trying it on for size can seem daunting—and not necessarily appealing. But journal writing on this subject has a proven safety record.*

Here are some topics to use for journaling with a focus on the Aggressive stance—whether it’s your stance or not. In fact, if it isn’t your stance, but it’s the stance of someone you know, try writing one of the exercises from that person’s perspective. For flow-writing, set a timer, write the topic sentence at the top of a page, and then start writing. Keep your pen on the paper, even if you get stuck. If you still have more to write when your timer goes off, just keep going. Continue reading

Self-Observation Isn’t for Wimps

In order to get past the limitations of our particular type, we need to be able to observe our own habitual thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. But observing ourselves doesn’t come naturally. It isn’t that we lack opportunity, since the object of self-observation is always available. It’s that we find it difficult to observe any aspect of ourselves—from the most significant to the most trivial—without having an opinion about it.

We like it or dislike it, approve of it or disapprove of it, want to keep it or get rid of it—or get more of it. We find it satisfying (occasionally) or dissatisfying (more often). What we observe puffs us up or deflates us. Not only are we constantly evaluating whatever catches our attention, but the same attribute, behavior, feeling, or thought can be judged acceptable in one instance and unacceptable in another. The criteria we use for our self-evaluations are based in compulsion, so there is no rest for the weary—meaning each of us is just another moving target for self-judgment.

Most of the time, we use our self-observations to identify how and where we need to be fixed, so we can improve ourselves. Alternatively, if we like what we observe, we congratulate ourselves. Continue reading

Ennea-Journaling Daily Check-In

Journal writing takes all kinds of forms, from lengthy multi-part flow-writing exercises, to making lists, to using springboards and sentence prompts, to just splatting out whatever occurs to you. If you’re not in the habit of keeping a journal—or if you don’t think you have time or don’t know how to do it—the idea of starting one can seem daunting.

The Ennea-Journaling Daily Check-In is a great place to start. It’s structured in that it provides several prompts for each of the three centers. If you fill it out daily or a few days a week, over time you’ll likely begin to notice some patterns. Maybe you often have trouble coming up with something to write about one center, for example. Even though the Check-in doesn’t require a huge commitment of time, it still helps increase self-observation and self-awareness. And there’s a section at the bottom where you can declare your intentions for the following day.

You may decide you want to explore something from your Check-in at greater length, so it’s always good to have a notebook, pad of paper, or journal handy. The easiest way to expand your journaling is to write a topic sentence at the top of a page and flow-write for a page or two or set a timer for a certain amount of time (five or ten minutes is a good place to start).  Flow-writing requires only that you keep your pen or pencil moving across the paper. If you feel stuck, write that you’re stuck or write nonsense words. Eventually you’ll pick up the “flow” again. And you may be surprised to find out what comes out from the end of your pen.

Feel free to print and make as many copies of the Daily Check-in as you’d like.