Tag Archives: Enneagram

Type 3: Well, I’m Great, You Know

3Here’s the video clip for type 3 from understandingpersonality.com. One thing I really like about this series is the humor the interviewer brings to it.

3s are performers, and being charming is a big part of their performance.

I like how these folks are up front about what they do.

I can put up a mask so I can seduce you, you know. I know what you expect of me, so I perform that. So then you like me.

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.

Visualize

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.

Mindmap

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.

Giving to Get (Type 2)

2Here are a couple of video clips on 2s. The first one is from understandingpersonality.com. The second is an excerpt from the Type 2 panel at the first International Enneagram Conference held in Palo Alto, California nearly 20 years ago.

I could see that people were needy people. Everywhere. All the time. So it gave me an excuse to do something for them all the time. If someone is not well, I’ll say, “Oh, did you try that? Because maybe it’s good for you.” Really what’s important is to fix.

When I first read the chapter on 2s in the Enneagram, I was relating to a lot of it until it got to this part about giving to get. And I said, “Oh, that’s ridiculous. I never give to get. I’m just the most helpful, giving, nurturing person in the world. I know dozens of people who couldn’t survive without me.”

4s—From the Perspective of a 4

Waves breaking at Porto Covo, west coast of Po...

Waves breaking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a guest post from Connie Howard, who graciously agreed to share her perspective of being a 4.

Please check out her blog, Sorting it Out, which is full of wonderful writing, straight from the heart.

Thanks for the invitation, Joycelyn.

Being a 4, for me, is lovely, intense, and lonely all rolled into one. We go by a number of names: the Romantic, the Aesthete, the Individualist, the Artist, and the Melancholic. This last one isn’t exactly a name anyone would embrace eagerly, but it has some truth, and that truth, I’m coming to believe, may have something to do with our fast-paced, work-hard, play-hard, bottom-line oriented culture, which 4s don’t always fit into very well.

The name that perhaps resonates most strongly with me is the Aesthete. I experience thundering waves or towering ancient trees or the creamy skin of a newborn as achingly beautiful. And I’m a Romantic, yes, though I am also very, very practical and organized. I like my food saucy and spicy and served with wine in candle-lit rooms, but this does not mean I won’t enjoy plain food by fluorescent lighting too. Nor does being a romantic mean I don’t work hard.

I’m drawn to happy and sad and all things laced with magic. I prefer sad movies to frivolous or sentimental ones, though I love good comedy (which, to be truly good, must in my mind be rooted in the sad material of life.) I love to socialize, but it’s got to have an element of meaningful and substantial, and move beyond small-talk and trivia. I have, since childhood, been known to be a little earnest.

Envy

But first things first, the character flaw we are perhaps most well-known for, and the one I’ve been most frequently judged for—envy. First, envy is not at all the same as feeling insecure. This has so often been assumed I can’t stress it enough. It isn’t one tiny bit the same. I have often been envious of you, but never unsure of your loyalty to me.

Equally important, or maybe more important, envy never, ever means I don’t want you to have whatever it is I envy—it means only that I want it for myself also. Who wouldn’t envy and want your charismatic, magnanimous, agreeable personality? Who wouldn’t sometimes envy your beauty, your good health, your strength, your seemingly limitless ability to make others laugh, your energy and freedom to party and escape the darker side? Who wouldn’t sometimes feel daunted by your brilliant light? It’s a compliment, really.

And there’s also this: I don’t really dance with envy all that terribly much more than you do, not from what I can see. It seems to me that I just admit it more readily, so please don’t judge me too harshly. Besides, it’s not any worse, as character flaws and hurdles go, than the one you sometimes stumble on, just different.

I love what a wonderfully intuitive and empathetic fellow human being recently told me: Sometimes, when your pain or failure is juxtaposed with the robust health or success of another, what could possibly be more normal and human and emotionally honest than envy?  This I will remember, the next time someone suggests I ought to be above envy. I sometimes do want it all, and you might too sometimes, if you’re honest.

Difference

Okay, that’s a relief, to have explained that. The rest matters less. You may think me sensitive and a little flaky, but that’s okay with me. I perceive things you may not consider perceptible, yes. Noise, coming from physical clutter. The space around you as magnetic,  or impervious. Tears where there are none, tension or rage beneath a smile. Genuine empathy in your eyes before you say a word.

About you needing me to fit in when I may not—I don’t respond well to these attempted adjustments, no matter how much you’d like me to, so please don’t fall in love with me if you think you’re going to turn me into a sports fan. And please don’t fall in love with me if you’re going to tell me to dress differently either. What I wear reflects exactly what I need and how I feel. It’s just not me, to be in costume in order to please you.

So we’re not necessarily the best office-tower cubicle material as 4s, no, but we’re warm and compassionate and intuitive and empathetic. We’re good care-givers, therapists, healers. And we’re good friends and partners, if you can accept that we can’t and don’t want to be in this world exactly as you are.

Intensity

As to those intense feelings we sometimes have that might lead you to believe we’re being dramatic—I’m actually usually pretty stoic about my pain. But ironically, whether I’m being stoic or wearing my pain on my sleeve, my pain can be a problem for you.

If I wear it on my sleeve, it is often viewed as attention-seeking, and as a choice to hold on to the Awful Thing of many months ago, to which I say this: You may not be as conscious of it as I am, but you’re still sad too, about your own Awful Thing. I see it in how hard you try to shop and party and work and cheer and pray it into oblivion. I’m just more aware of the currents beneath the surface.

Ironically though, if I’m stoic about my pain, you may conclude I no longer have any, and then expect too much of me, which will irritate me immensely when the facts are shouting otherwise.

I am truly sorry about the dark clouds of failure and shame that occasionally blow in; this is perhaps the darkest part of my shadow. I can see how these would be very difficult for those with front-row seats to witness, and you are a saint for not judging me during those times. For this I love you immensely and will forever be loyal.

Performance Anxiety (Type 1)

one

This is a clip from the video on 1s, part of a lively, informative, and fun series from understandingpersonality.com.

I love this quote from Nona’s husband after she claims she doesn’t judge others. (I also love her honest reaction/recognition.)

If you do something only 90% correct, then you needn’t have bothered performing the action in the first place because the 10% you haven’t performed far outweighs the 90% that you have performed.

In Your Head?

Thinking types are often accused of being in their heads. But advising them to get out of their heads is about as useful as advising Doing types to get out of their bodies. So a technique that include observation can be a good place for Thinking types to begin mindfulness practice.

Vipassana is a form of meditation that focuses on self-observation. The video below is a meditation on the thinking process.

Sherlock Holmes and Mindfulness Training

Sherlock Holmes appears to have become the poster child for mindfulness of late. Maria Konnikova has written a book, Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes.

Conan Doyle’s Holmes had taught himself to observe on a regular, almost superhuman basis. For him, taking note of the myriad inputs from his surroundings was a matter of course. He was never not observing, never not in touch with his environment. He had mindfulness down to an art. Most of us aren’t as careful.

–“Don’t Just See, Observe: What Sherlock Holmes Can Teach Us About Mindful Decisions,” Maria Konnikova, Scientific American

As a model of mindfulness, Holmes might be especially appealing to Thinking types.

Don’t Go Back to Sleep

Mindfulness meditation music for the Feeling center (for everyone).

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

–Jalal al-Din Rumi

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 9: Conflict

Disharmony

Disharmony (Photo credit: lewishamdreamer)

9s can be very pleasant and peaceful to be around. They are tolerant, calm, agreeable, supportive, considerate, patient, non-judgmental, accommodating, diplomatic, kind, and adaptable. Their very presence can be reassuring to those who may be more inclined to run in circles, scream and shout. They make excellent mediators, partly because they seek harmony and partly because they are able to identify so well with others.

The flip side is that in order to maintain this serene exterior and create a tranquil space for others, they have to contain all the non-nice thoughts and feelings roiling below the surface. Their compulsion leads them in the direction of tuning out their own preferences and going along with what other people want. True peace of mind is attained by acknowledging and coming to terms with the dark, unpleasant, and unharmonious aspects of life, not by trying to pretend they don’t exist.

Peace at any Price

According to Jerome Wagner, in The Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles, the defense mechanism favored by 9s is narcotization:

To avoid conflict you numb your feelings, wants, and preferences. You make everything the same and highlight nothing. You make molehills out of mountains.

9s don’t want to be upset, nor do they want anyone else to be upset. As is true for all the other types and the things they avoid, this is completely unrealistic. No one can escape conflict. It’s a part of life, and it isn’t always negative or harmful. Furthermore, trying to avoid conflict is disempowering to a type that has the potential for great personal, interpersonal, and spiritual achievements.

Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.
William Ellery Channing

9s think that if they speak out and stand up for what they want and need it will alienate the people closest to them. So they expend a lot of energy in making those molehills out of mountains, suppressing themselves and acting as if they don’t care one way or the other—about anything. While they constantly feel pressured to respond to the external world, they are frequently too tired to muster the energy to do it; hence the need for a nap or some other narcotizing activity.

I usually take a two-hour nap from one to four.
Yogi Berra

The vicious cycle this can create is that by numbing out or checking out, 9s often fail to deal with actual problems that need resolution, which creates more internal pressure that takes effort and energy to contain. It’s exhausting!

The Importance of Being You

In The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Riso and Russ Hudson have several good tips for 9s. One of them is for 9s to learn to sense anger in their bodies and to realize it’s OK to be angry and to tell others when they’re upset with them. But the following suggestion regarding personal development seems especially apt, given 9s’ habit of undervaluing themselves:

Take a tip from healthy Threes and invest time and energy in developing yourself and your talents. There are many pleasant, perfectly valid ways to spend your time, entertaining yourself or hanging out with friends or loved ones—but make sure you do not shortchange yourself by neglecting your own development. The initial struggles may bring up many of your anxieties about yourself, but the rewards of persisting in your development will be much greater and more deeply satisfying. Further, investing in yourself will not lead you away from your connection with others: everyone will benefit from a stronger, more fully actualized you.

9s often find themselves in circumstances where others depend on them, which gives them a compelling reason not to pursue their own interests and self-development. But they have played a role in creating those situations, and they have the right and the ability to modify them. As Riso and Hudson say, when they do that, everyone will benefit. Put that way, how could any 9 refuse? I jest, but some 9s may need to view stepping out in terms of their relationships with others in order to be able to take the first steps.

Questioning Resistance

no

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.