Integrating the Inner Polarities of the Enneagram Styles by Practicing the 4 R’s:
Recognize, Reframe, Reown, Recycle

Jerry Wagner, Ph.D.

      When we over-identify or over-idealize certain aspects of our personality, we tend to disavow any opposite attributes. For example if you think of yourself as right and exact, then you don’t want to consider yourself wrong or messy nor do you want others to think of you in this way. Or if you think of yourself as strong and tough, you don’t want to appear to yourself or others as weak and wimpy.

To avoid these unacceptable parts of ourselves, we put them in the basement (our unconscious) where we can forget about them. This is called repression.  Splitting is a variation on this maneuver. Instead of being a whole me, we become the good me and the bad me, like Jeckle and Hyde.

These defensive techniques create divisions within ourselves.

If relics in the basement start to offend us, we can go a step further and throw our garbage out. For example if you think of yourself as wise and perceptive and find looking foolish quite intolerable, you can cast out your foolishness and then find yourself surrounded by a confederacy of dunces. This is called projection. Instead of being a neurotic among neurotics or a sinner among sinners, you are a rose among thorns, or a good me surrounded by not-so-good you’s,

The process of projective identification goes a little beyond projection. Instead of simply throwing our trash out and leaving it in others with a good riddance, we put our unsavory characteristics in others, then sanitize and civilize our offensive behaviors in the garbage bin — or cajole others into cleaning up their acts. For example if you project your inner rebel or delinquent onto others, then you will have to police them, reform them, excommunicate them, or throw them in jail. Now, not only have you gotten rid of your demons, you’ve found something to do in your spare time!

These defensive strategies create divisions between ourselves and others.

We can work on our inner and outer splits by practicing the 3 R’s + 1.

If we can re-cognize, re-frame, and re-own our unseemly parts, we might find some valuable assets tossed out with our garbage, and re-cycle them. We will gain an inner integration and wholesome connections with other people, both of which lead to an increase of energy since we are no longer divided against ourselves and others.

To make friends with our inner polarities, we may need to reframe their attributes. For example if you think of yourself as efficient and not lazy, then you may need to reframe laziness as “creative leisure,” a time and process during which new inspirations arise.

A paradoxical quality of polarities is the more we push them to an extreme, the more they run into and become their opposite. Jung called this enantiodromia. For example the more you try to become free and keep all your options open, ironically the more un-free and rigid you become as you compulsively try to avoid any limitations.

Finally, if we can find an overarching construct that embraces and enfolds both polarities, a synthesis that resolves our thesis and antithesis, then we can be enlivened by the creative tension between the two poles. For example if you think of yourself as special and refined and not common and pedestrian, you might find living a life of “simple elegance” a congenial way to express both of your polarities.

Let’s see how each style might practice the 4 R’s: recognizing, reframing, reowning, and recycling their polarities.

 

THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE ONE:

THE GOOD PERSON

The following is a list of some characteristics that ONES identify with.  They are opposed by the characteristics ONES dis-identify with.

 

ME                                                                   NOT ME

good (very)                                                         bad

upright                                                                 licentious

moral                                                                    immoral

principled                                                            law breaker

honest                                                                   dishonest

high standards                                                    mediocre

integrity                                                                phony

zealous                                                                  apathetic

hard working                                                       lazy

serious                                                                   playful

responsible                                                           irresponsible

persevering                                                           fickle

exact                                                                       imprecise

meticulous                                                            sloppy

committed                                                             uninvolved

sober                                                                       frivolous

careful                                                                    careless

critical                                                                    tolerant

conscientious                                                        slip shod

on time                                                                   tardy

striving                                                                   aimless

correct                                                                    incorrect

right                                                                        wrong

intense                                                                    relaxed

altruistic                                                                 selfish

strict                                                                        forgiving

discriminating                                                       indiscriminate

organized                                                                disorganized

earnest                                                                     insincere

an improver                                                              complacent

 

When ONES project their “NOT ME” characteristics onto others, they find themselves surrounded by messy, lazy, irresponsible, unprincipled laggards like ourselves.  So ONES have their work cut out for them organizing, disciplining, and getting us into line.  And it’s no wonder they need to stay in control and can’t let up, lighten up, or hand things over to us.  Would you turn the world over to a group of aimless, careless, fickle, slip shod slackers?  This is why ONES have to work overtime to cover for our complacency.  And it’s why they stay angry and resentful because we’re not doing our part.

ONES need to befriend their shadow side and discover what’s good about being messy, lazy, and irresponsible.  Or maybe they need to reframe these qualities as spontaneous, relaxed, and serendipitous.  The playful little hedonist in them can offer them some fun and enjoyment.  What can unprincipled people do that principled people can’t do?  They can do what they want instead of what they should!

ONES need to reframe the characteristics in the NOT-ME column to find the iron beneath the rust.  As long as they continue giving a bad reputation to their NOT-ME qualities, they’re not going to want to go near them.  If they can find the complimentary contribution their NOT-ME attributes bring to their whole self, they might be more willing to embrace them and integrate them into their sense of themselves.

They can also practice some Hegelian dialectics.  Their ME characteristics represent their thesis; their NOT-ME qualities embody their antithesis; creatively combining the two gives them their synthesis.  So ONES need to step back and get a little distance from their dichotomous dilemma and come up with a self-concept that will include both sides of their polarity.  For example ONES might imagine themselves as being “seriously playful” or “playfully serious;”  or they can think of themselves as “discerners” which allows them to be both discriminating and accepting;  or they are “flowing upright” or “gliding precision” permitting them to be both flexible and firm.

The trick is to hold onto both ends of the polarity and encourage both energies to flow into a creative synthesis.  Enantiodromia is a principle Jung discovered in nature that he applied to personality.  This is the process whereby things run into their opposites.  If you put a hot plate next to a cold one, both will become warm; high water runs into low water until they reach a medium depth, as was demonstrated in the flooding in New Orleans.  If you push something to its extreme, it runs into its opposite.  So you can become so good (righteous) you become bad (self-righteous).  Or if you take sloppiness to its extreme, you get order.  This is chaos theory.  The exquisite layering and ordering of rocks along a shore is brought about by the random action of wind and waves.

ONES achieve balance when they access in themselves the adaptive qualities of the SEVEN and FOUR styles. It is ironic that many of these qualities are disguised beneath the grotesqueries in the NOT-ME column.  Because ONES distort them, they don’t want to approach them.  For example what ONES are calling careless, irresponsible, and frivolous might be the SEVEN characteristics of carefree, spontaneous, and child-like.  Or what ONES perceive as fickle, imprecise, and law breaking might be the FOUR qualities of flowing emotions, intuition, and freedom from convention.

For fullness sake, ONES need to take another look at their NON-ME dimension to give themselves more breadth and depth.

 

 

THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE TWO:

THE LOVING PERSON

     Those characteristics that are congruent with the TWOS’ self-image are found in the ME column.  Characteristics that are antithetical to their self-image, that are repressed or projected out of their self, can be found in the NOT-ME column.

ME                                                     NOT ME

 

helpful                                                         selfish

needed                                                             needy

indispensable                                              useless

generous                                                      stingy

supportive                                                   destructive

thoughtful                                                   thoughtless

sympathetic                                                 heartless

friendly                                                       detached

nurturing                                                     withholding

compassionate                                             violent

thoughtful                                                   insensitive

soft hearted                                                 unsentimental

caring                                                          cruel

loving                                                          hateful

tender                                                          tough

empathic                                                     confrontational

affirming                                                     indifferent

self sacrificing                                             self centered

relational                                                     loner

feeling                                                         heady

welcoming                                                  imposing

kind                                                             mean

available                                                      aloof

warm                                                           cold

fuzzy                                                           prickly

available                                                      unavailable

people-loving                                              thing-loving

other-oriented                                             self-oriented

good listener                                               judgmental

complimentary                                            critical

 

When TWOS engage in projection and projective identification, they find themselves surrounded by needy, selfish, uncaring, detached, thoughtless individuals like ourselves.  It’s no wonder TWOS despair of getting their needs met and don’t bother to ask!  To get any blood from this crowd of turnips, TWOS have to hug, warm, and love them up, make sure others get their needs met first, and then maybe they’ll toss a crumb of attention towards the TWOS.

Notice that the characteristics in the ME column resonate with a moving towards tendency while the characteristics in the NOT-ME column contain the energy of moving against (such as, destructive, heartless, and tough,) and moving away from (such as, stingy, aloof, and cold.)  TWOS have trouble connecting with these interpersonal movements because they’ve given them away to others.

For balance, TWOS shift to the high sides of the EIGHT and FOUR paradigms under relaxed and stressful conditions, respectively.  EIGHT energy tends to move against while FOUR energy tends to move away from.  To complement their own moving towards energy, TWOS can access in themselves these EIGHT and FOUR strategies.  But since they’ve given these approaches a bad reputation, they will probably feel uncomfortable about and resist going in those directions.

TWOS will want to befriend the angry, callous, selfish, needy parts of themselves and discover that it’s all right to set boundaries, say no, step back, and care for themselves.  This is the high side of the EIGHT paradigm.  They may have to re-label the selfish part of themselves as self caring, the inconsiderate part as independent, and the unavailable part as present to themselves.  The high side of the FOUR allows, even encourages, this search for thine own true self.  TWOS might find that their aloof, detached, uncaring qualities really do have a positive intention, which is to love themselves as much as they love others.

TWOS require an over-arching concept of themselves which encompasses both sides of their ME/NOT-ME polarity.  The expression “wounded healer” catches both dimensions as does “interdependent”, “mutual caring”, and “AC-DC” which means that the energy of the universe is an alternating current.  It flows back and forth, allowing both giving and receiving vs. “DC” direct current that only flows one way – outward.

 

THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE THREE:

THE EFFECTIVE PERSON

 

Those characteristics that are congruent with the THREES’ self image are found in the ME column and those elements that are deemed incongruent are in the NOT ME list.

 

ME                                                      NOT ME

 

professional                                              amateur

organized                                                 disorganized

productive                                                idle

industrious                                               lazy

successful                                                 failure

cheerleader                                               wallflower

youthful                                                   stuffy

enthusiastic                                             depressed

motivated                                                 bored

on the go                                                 slow motion

promoter                                                  wait and see

salesperson                                              sit on the shelf

pragmatic                                                head in the clouds

political                                                   unsavvy

upwardly mobile                                     back water

efficient                                                    ineffective

competent                                                inadequate

goal oriented                                              disoriented

team player                                                loner

popular                                                     geek

entrepreneur                                            ambitionless

executive                                                  invisible follower

achieving                                                   nothing to show

important                                                    nobody

accomplished                                             unfinished

looking good                                             slob

self assured                                               diffident

cutting edge                                              outmoded

multi-tasking                                            over-focused

bottom line                                               bogged in trivia

 

One way to avoid failure is to project it onto others.  It’s not the THREES’ fault that the undertaking didn’t succeed; other people didn’t do their part.   THREES cast their own inefficiency and failure onto others, then find themselves surrounded by disorganized ineffective workers and lament:  “How can I soar with the eagles when I’m surrounded by a bunch of turkeys like you?”

When THREES engage in projection and projective identification, they find themselves surrounded by lazy, slow, unmotivated, inadequate failures such as ourselves.  It’s no wonder they are hesitant to take a day off and hand the corporation over to us.  There’s not much chance that anything will be accomplished or finished by this group of idle, ineffective, unambitious losers.

It’s also not surprising that THREES take over the reigns and become leaders, CEOs, managers, trend-setters.  Who else is going to do it?   Some disoriented diffident wallflower?  You can see why THREES become cheerleaders to get some life into us deadheads.  Or why they go into the motivational business to help us get our lives energized and desks organized.

THREES need to make friends with the slow, unpopular, shy person inside them.  They might discover that geeks are not so concerned about what other people think but are more passionate about their own pursuits.  Or they might find out that people who are lazy have time to enjoy themselves and their friends.  By slowing down, the smell of roses and coffee catches up to them.

The THREES’ paradigm gets balance and breadth by including the perspectives of Styles SIX and NINE.  The useful qualities of these other two approaches are buried under the debris of the NOT ME column.  When THREES dig for the positive intentions of the attributions in their shadow side, they find some of the strengths of the high sides of SIXES and NINES.

For example if you back off the exaggerated distortion found in over-focused and bogged in trivia, you find the SIXES’ attention to detail and nuances, their appreciation for the multiple consequences of their behavior, and the subsequent need for careful consideration and preparation before acting.  The SIXES’ prudence plus the THREES’ enthusiasm lead to effective action and goal-attainment.

Or if you query what’s good about being idle or in the backwater or sitting on the shelf  or being in slow motion, you might discover the NINES’ appreciation for being as well as doing, and the finish-line advantage of the tortoise over the hare.  But who would want to slow down if that means being bored and depressed?  On the other hand, if slowing down leads to feeling content and calm, that’s not so bad.

Also, if you ask which category is more in need of relationships, the ME or the NOT ME, it becomes clear that the NOT ME’s need people more than the successful, accomplished, upwardly mobile winners.  Ironically THREES believe that people will like them and want to relate to them only when they exhibit the characteristics under the ME column.  In fact they appear to not need relationships when they are so successful and self-sufficient and people are more likely to use them for their skills than connect with them for their friendship.

THREES could do with a comprehensive self-concept that includes both sides of their polarity.  While each person needs to fashion their own unique image of themselves, some starter suggestions might be: “capable and honest,” “charismatic tortoise,” “effective layperson,”  “relaxedly resourceful,” etc.

 

 

THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE FOUR:

THE ORIGINAL PERSON

 

Some characteristics that fall into the FOURS’ self-image of ME and the opposite qualities that are buried in their shadow or NOT ME are the following.

 

      ME                                                NOT ME

 

romantic                                                  utilitarian

intuitive                                                  obtuse

symbolic                                                 concrete

artistic                                                    logical

creative                                                    stagnant

sensitive                                                 rough

original                                                   banal

refined                                                    crude

deep feeling                                           shallow

intense                                                    dull

nostalgic                                                 here and now

authentic                                                copy

special                                                    ordinary

dramatic                                                 matter of fact

ritualizing                                               trivializing

aesthetic                                                 boorish

good taste                                              crass

yearning                                                 having

melancholic                                            light hearted

misunderstood                                       easy to know

mysterious                                               predictable

passionate                                               pedestrian

unique                                                     common

introspective                                           thoughtless

classy                                                       tasteless

spiritual                                                  mundane

misunderstood                                       easy to know

exciting                                                  boring

imaginative                                             literal-minded

elite                                                                    trendy

 

Surrounded by rude, crude, unrefined, superficial boors like ourselves, no wonder FOURS feel like aristocrats in exile.  How could a bunch of tasteless, obtuse, crass commoners ever possibly understand them?  And who wouldn’t want to stay aloof from this crowd?   FOURS are understandably reluctant to cast their pearls before such swine.

Before FOURS can relate to us, they need to give us some culture, sophistication, elegance, and depth.  So you find FOURS performing or cultivating the arts or, at least, teaching manners to refine our brutish instincts.

FOURS need to get back in touch with their ordinariness.  It is their commonality with others that connects them to humanity.  Ordinary people don’t have to worry about fitting in or be so concerned about what other people think of them.  Paradoxically ordinary people can be themselves more easily than special people can.

Broadening their own perspective by accessing some ONE and TWO characteristics is a way FOURS can achieve equilibrium in their system.  Some of the qualities of the ONE and TWO styles can be found in the FOURS’ shadow, but they are framed in a way that does not encourage emulation.  Who wants to be matter-of fact, trivializing, and literal-minded?  On the other hand, being reality-oriented, sensitive to details, and exact are not bad traits to possess.  And this focused approach of the ONE style complements the FOURS’ intuitive and global perspective.  Being common, concrete, and shallow doesn’t sound too flattering.  However if you reframe those elements, you have the approachable, practical, all-encompassing empathy of the enlightened TWO.

FOURS tend to move away from situations and others.  They can be aloof and standoffish until they have a sense that others “get” them and don’t misunderstand them.  ONES tend to move against by critiquing the world and then moving in to fix it.  But FOURS may not want to channel their emotional reactions into behavioral actions if they think of ONES as being rough, crude, and boorish.  Instead of backing up, feeling overwhelmed, and being moved, FOURS need to focus their energy, take action, and do some moving as ONES are want to do.  TWOS tend to move toward others in affiliation and support.  If FOURS perceive TWOS as being common, concrete, and matter of fact, they may resist getting close to people through empathic, generous deeds.  On the other hand, when they experience that simple love brings about the very connectedness they are seeking, they won’t be so afraid of being ordinary.

     What overarching self-image would allow FOURS to be both extraordinary and ordinary, so they can be inclusive of all the elements in both their ME and NOT ME boundaries?  Someone with elegant simplicity possesses both polarities.

 

 

 

THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE FIVE:

THE WISE PERSON

      Some attributes that fit the FIVES’ idealized sense of themselves and their opposing shadow elements include the following:

 

ME                                                  NOT ME

 

wise                                                       foolish

observant                                               inattentive

quiet                                                       loud

respectful                                              intrusive

private                                                   transparent

concise                                                  garrulous

circumspect                                          audacious

thoughtful                                             impulsive

objective                                                biased

cool                                                       hot

intellectual                                             emotional

informed                                               uninformed

                                  contained                                              out there

dispassionate                                         passionate

complex                                                 simplistic

reflective                                               active

synthetic                                                myopic

undemonstrative                                   gushy

removed                                                            available

reasonable                                             romantic

thrifty                                                    generous

even-tempered                                      impetuous

shy                                                         sociable

tweedy                                                  trendy

independent                                          dependent

self sufficient                                        needy

pithy                                                      wordy

dry                                                         mushy

abstract                                                  concrete

polite                                                     pushy

 

It’s no wonder FIVES are quiet and reserved, surrounded as they are by loud, garrulous, biased louts.  And it’s not surprising that they are reluctant to speak up and ask for what they want.  What kind of conversations can you expect to have with uninformed, simplistic, myopic fools?  Time is more profitably spent in your room, reading a book.

Since FIVES are surrounded by hot-headed fools, they need to calm them down by reasoning with them, throwing cold water on them to put out their passions, or moving far enough away to get out of their reach.  FIVES might become professional teachers, researchers, therapists, mediators, or lone rangers.

Notice that FIVES’ feelings have been placed into the NOT ME zone and so are not very available to help them either move towards people in affection or move against others in assertion.  What’s left in the ME column are dispositions that help them move away from the world in a Spock-like logical manner.

Balance flows into the FIVES’ system when they connect with the resourceful features of the EIGHT and SEVEN styles.  But those resources are hidden beneath the repulsive wrappings FIVES have given them.  For example FIVES probably won’t want to shift to the EIGHT direction of moving against because then they’ll be audacious, loud, pushy, and impetuous.  Not much good will come from that.  On the other hand if they extract the precious minerals from the dross they’ve imagined, they can then be brave, articulate, assertive, and proactive.

And who would want to move in the direction of the SEVEN style if that meant looking foolish, garrulous, gushy, and out there?  On the other hand, moving towards doesn’t sound so bad if it’s phrased as serendipitous, sociable, affectionate, and explorative.

So FIVES need to get to know (and love) the passionate foolish little adventurer in them.  They need to befriend and embrace their inner idiot who doesn’t know everything and who feels afraid and sad and mad and glad.  In the original Greek and Latin, idios meant common (as in layperson) and ignorant (as in idiot). It also meant ones own (as in idiosyncratic).  How ironic that FIVES might find their real self and their connecting self by being an idios, a common fool, the condition they’re most trying to avoid.

FIVES need a synthesizing self-concept that incorporates both their thesis (ME) and antithesis (NOT-ME) characteristics.  A possibility is the “wise fool” or the “court jester,” the medieval trickster who could cleverly make observant, honest, and unflattering remarks to royalty and still come away with his or her head.  Being a “learner” allows FIVES to value knowing as well as not-knowing.  Or the notion of “researcher” gives FIVES room to gather as well as disseminate data, sharing what they have collected.

 

 

THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE SIX:

THE LOYAL PERSON

 

The characteristics in the following columns contrast the SIXES’ sense of what fits their idealized self-image and so is fostered (ME) with what is incongruent with their self-concept and so must be excluded (NOT ME).

 

ME                                          NOT ME

 

cautious                                       reckless

security seeking                          adventuresome

careful                                         careless

traditional                                    liberal

obedient                                      rebellious

responsible                                  irresponsible

sensible                                        outrageous

God fearing                                 hell raiser

faithful                                        fickle

fearful                                         brave

worrisome                                  carefree

reliable                                        unaccountable

respectful                                   disrespectful

prudent                                        immoderate

vigilant                                        negligent

suspicious                                    trusting

skeptical                                      gullible

indecisive                                    decisive

legal                                             outlaw

dutiful                                         delinquent

detailed                                       unobservant

wary                                            naive

hesitant                                        impulsive

consistent                                    inconsistent

orthodox                                     unorthodox

loyal                                                        betrayer

cautious                                      foolhardy

cooperative                                  difficult

prepared                                      ill-equipped

true blue                                      ambiguous

 

Since SIXES’ fear has two faces, read the columns as they appear for Phobic SIXES, and reverse the columns for Counter-Phobic SIXES.  That is, what is ME for Phobic SIXES is NOT-ME for counter-phobic SIXES and vice versa.  To create further doubt and confusion, many SIXES say they recognize both Phobic and Counter-Phobic tendencies in themselves.  Consequently SIXES may vacillate between the two columns, keeping both themselves and their opponents off balance and off guard.

When SIXES project out their hostility, their inner rebel, and their desire for autonomy, they find themselves surrounded by a group of reckless, careless, irresponsible, delinquent, hell raising outlaws!  No wonder Fearful SIXES are wary of and want to contain this crowd of hellions. You either need to teach them the rules of the road, keep them closely monitored, or lock them up.   You certainly don’t want to let them out of your sight.  It’s not surprising that SIXES would become police officers, military personnel, IRS and CIA agents, probation officers, code inspectors, environmental protection agents, bishops, etc.

Fearful SIXES need to re-own some of their “rebellious” qualities.   They might discover that this allegedly aberrant part of them is really the internal forum of their conscience that is quite trustworthy and law-abiding.  They might also find some of the easy-going as well as the assertive parts of themselves secreted away in their shadow side.

Counter-Fearful SIXES, on the other hand, need to re-own some of their “orthodox” characteristics.  They might find that some outer authorities are trustworthy and are not so in need of provoking.  Staying with their fear instead of impulsively pushing through it, might prove more effective than getting over it as quickly as possible.  And being cooperative can sometimes lead to safety and security more reliably than being combative.

Counter-Fearful SIXES may have projected their own worrisomeness, wariness, and hesitancy onto their caretakers.  A fearful, cautious authority figure does not inspire trust.  Counter-Phobic SIXES may need to reframe these characteristics in themselves and in others as being “aware,” “discerning,” and “considerate.”

SIXES tend to move toward people if they assess them as being on their side.  It is difficult for SIXES to move away from others for then they might lose sight of their antagonists.  So while it might be relaxing and balancing for SIXES to naturally move to the NINES’ perspective under safe circumstances as the Enneagram suggests, they will probably be reluctant to do so if they construe this position to be ill-equipped, negligent, unaccountable, etc.  Before they allow themselves to experience the NINES’ strategy of moving away from, they may need to reframe it as “calmly attentive,” “sufficiently prepared” and “dependable.”

Under stressful conditions it is sometimes useful for SIXES to move to the THREE style to mobilize their assertive moving against energy and direct it confidently and single-mindedly (vs. interfered with by conflicts and doubts) toward their goals.  But if THREES are seen as reckless, outrageous, and a mixed bag of tricks, SIXES will understandably be reluctant to go there.  By making friends with their own aggressive energy, SIXES might project less of it out and so the world will seem less threatening.

SIXES need to enlarge their self-concept to include both their ME and NOT-ME elements.  Being a Devil’s Advocate allows them to be both on someone’s side and gives them permission to challenge others.  A conscientious objector can also be among the loyal opposition.

 

 

THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE SEVEN:

THE JOYFUL PERSON

 

Some qualities that are included (ME) and excluded (NOT-ME) from the SEVENS’ sense of themselves are the following.

 

ME                                                NOT-ME

 

cheerful                                               gloomy

optimistic                                            pessimistic

enthusiastic                                         flat

lively                                                   dull

playful                                                serious

light-hearted                                        heavy

spontaneous                                        predictable

planner                                                            plodder

diversified                                           stuck

bright                                                   dim

up                                                        down

entertaining                                         boring

fascinated                                            uninterested

positive                                                negative

many possibilities                                limited

stimulating                                          deadening

take flight                                            pedestrian

joyful                                                   depressed

gregarious                                            reserved

appreciative                                         take for granted

funny                                                   humorless

adventurous                                        afraid

inventive                                             trapped

charming                                             aloof

multi-talented                                      modest

alert                                                     asleep

raconteur                                             reticent

sensual                                                 repressed

resourceful                                          at a loss

ingénue                                                jaded

 

As SEVENS project unto others their unacceptable characteristics, they find themselves surrounded by boring, depressed, uninteresting, reserved, humorless plodders.  No wonder they have to spend so much time and energy cheering us up and no surprise they are so concerned about being bored, restricted and pulled down.  Who wouldn’t be, surrounded by such dour sourpusses?  The morose molasses-mired mob they have to live with would slow or bring anybody down.

It makes sense that SEVENS would become entertainers, cheer-er-uppers, inspirational gurus, etc.  SEVENS have poured their misery, sadness, and heaviness into people around them and now process their own pain by trying to relieve and lighten it in others.

So SEVENS need to find out what is good about being still, limited, dim, and dull.  Perhaps this allows others’ light or divine inspiration to shine into their darkness, a light they otherwise wouldn’t see because of their own brilliance.  Or they might come to appreciate the pleasures of still wine as much as the delights of effervescent champagne.

When the SEVENS’ psyche searches for balance, it naturally goes to the high side of the FIVE and ONE styles.  Some of the strengths of these styles can be found encrusted in the dross of their rejected characteristics.  For example, beneath the boring descriptives of reserved, aloof, reticent, and flat lie the FIVE dispositions of reflection, objective attitude, quiet, and level which balance the SEVENS’ bias toward impulsivity, pleasure, noise, and soaring.

And badmouthed as serious, predictable, and plodders are the ONES’ virtues of sobriety, responsibility, and stick-to-it-iveness which correct the SEVENS leaning towards gluttony, changeableness, and flight from projects that involve drudgery.

SEVENS are naturally attracted to and move towards the delights of the world.  Moving away or stepping back from a situation becomes difficult because they’ve projected away that movement and made it unappealing by labeling it depressed, stuck, aloof, etc.   SEVENS might find the FIVES’ virtue of non-attachment a useful counter-balance to their gluttonous addictions.

Moving against the situation doesn’t look too attractive, either, when you call it jaded, plodding, pedestrian, negative, etc.  The ONES’ tenacity in plowing ahead, staying the course, finishing the race are all helpful corrections to the SEVENS’ impulse to jump ship, change plans, and do something else in the face of adversity.

SEVENS need an over-arching concept of themselves that will allow them to honor both sides of their polarities – something like “grounded vitality,” “stand-up guru,” or “elevator” (that goes down as well as up).

 

 

 

 

THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE EIGHT:

THE POWERFUL PERSON

 

     Those characteristics that fit the EIGHTS’ self image of being powerful and capable fall within the ego realm of ME.   Characteristics that are antithetical or opposed to their self-image are placed outside their ego boundary and fall into the category of NOT- ME.

 

ME                                                          NOT ME

 

                                      stong                                                             weak

independent                                                  dependent

blunt                                                              indirect

forceful                                                         indecisive

confident                                                        diffident

high energy                                                   phlegmatic

fair                                                                 unjust

assertive                                                        submissive

leader                                                             follower

tough                                                             tender

hard                                                               soft

courageous                                                    cowardly

aggressive                                                      sissy

own person                                                    deferential

unlimited                                                       bounded

no nonsense                                                   beat around the bush

influential                                                      not listened to

street-wise                                                     taken advantage of

competent                                                     unresourceful

own person                                                    lackey

magnanimous                                                mean

protector                                                        victim

self-directed                                                  other-directed

direct                                                             double-talk

stand up for rights                                         wimpy

definite                                                          iffy

risk-taker                                                       avoider

fearless                                                          fearful

invincible                                                       vulnerable

tenacious                                                       quitter

 

When EIGHTS project onto others their unacceptable qualities, they find themselves surrounded by wimps with all the deficits in their NOT-ME column.  Given the attributes of these characters, it’s not surprising that EIGHTS are loath to hand over power to a group of soft, deferential, needy, unresourceful lackeys like us.  When it comes to taking over a conversation, a company, or a country, who is going to stop them?  Certainly not a bunch of sissy, fearful, deferential saps.  As P.T. Barnum said:  “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  So it’s not surprising that EIGHTS might presume to take advantage of submissive, manipulable, pushover followers.

When the EIGHTS’ spontaneous moving against approach broadens to get balance, it naturally includes the strengths and points of view of the TWO (moving towards) and FIVE (moving away from) paradigms.  This equilibrium becomes difficult when EIGHTS project away these trends and give them a bad reputation besides.  It’s hard to identify with the gifts of the TWO when you’ve disidentified with your own tenderness and softness.  And who wants to be like someone who is seen as weak, dependent, and otherdirected?

EIGHTS need to befriend the vulnerable, fearful little person in them instead of yelling at him or her to toughen up.  They then discover that when they are weak, they can experience the support of others and the strength of a higher power. They find that, ironically, when they are soft, tender, and dependent, people move close to them and want to be with them vs. running from the room in terror.  People who are aggressive, competent, and influential (those with characteristics in the EIGHTS’ ME column) don’t need relationships nearly as much as people who are wimpy, diffident, and powerless (those living in the EIGHTS’ NOT ME column).  On the other glove, as the heavyweight prizefighter Muhammad Ali once remarked: “The strongest person in the world is also the loneliest.”  Those who are followers don’t have to do everything alone.

Also, who wants to move away from or stand back to get perspective when that is labeled as diffident, fearful, or avoiding?  Judging FIVES from this frame of mind makes it difficult to recognize and identify with their gifts of discernment, prudence, and calm dispassion.

EIGHTS need to take advantage of their already expansive nature and broaden their self-concept even more to include their NOT ME as well as their ME characteristics.  They might think of themselves as being “fair lovers” or as “bringing justice in a velvet glove” or as being “just and compassionate” or a “servant leader” or “philosopher king or queen.”

 

 

 

 

THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE NINE:

THE PEACEFUL PERSON

      In the NINES’ style some qualities fit within their ego boundary (ME) and some characteristics don’t belong (NOT-ME).  For example:

 

 

ME                                                       NOT ME

 

content                                                   upset

laid back                                                 ambitious

comfortable                                            edgy

calm                                                        hassled

peaceful                                                  warrior

open minded                                           opinionated

blend  in                                                 stand out

laissez faire                                              pushy

low key                                                   intense

diplomatic                                               judgmental

allowing                                                  controlling

accommodating                                       demanding

unpretentious                                          show off

patient                                                     frantic

live and let live                                        change agent

go with the flow                                     goal oriented

outer directed                                          inner directed

inclusive                                                  exclusive

procrastinating                                        timely

asleep                                                     alert

distracted                                                            focused

tolerant                                                    bigoted

mediator                                                  troublemaker

placid                                                      emotionally expressive

stable                                                       erratic

unpretentious                                          flamboyant

ecumenical                                              prejudiced

creature of habit                                      unpredictable

enduring                                                  explosive

nice                                                          nasty

 

When NINES throw away their unacceptable parts, they find themselves surrounded by irritable, opinionated, harsh, demanding, impatient, pushy people.  No wonder they want to avoid conflict with us and no wonder they are slow to express their opinions or preferences.  What chance do you have being heard by a bunch of bigoted, edgy, judgmental troublemakers?  Or who would want to stir up this nest of hornets?

Notice how the NINES have deposited their anger and assertion into others thereby making these resources unavailable to themselves.  There is considerable focused energy in being alert, intense, ambitious, and goal oriented.  As NINES identify more and more with their moving away from, laid back, other oriented persona, they lose touch with their proactive inner director and change agent.  Yet these are the adaptive qualities of the moving against THREE style that NINES need for balance.  Also NINES place these characteristics in a bad light by seeing them as ambitious, pushy, frantic, etc.

They need to rediscover what is good about being opinionated and pushy.  For example, opinionated pushy people know what they want and go after it.  Perhaps these characteristics need to be relabeled as “single-minded” and “determined.”  That doesn’t sound so bad.

NINES are afraid they won’t be liked or tolerated if they are too intense or too demanding.  If they ask for what they want, they may upset the harmony of the universe.  In fact the cosmos is quite capable of honoring their active force as well as their passive force – even though their caretakers may have gotten anxious around their energy.

For balance NINES can also access the SIXES’ resourceful features.  But they will be reluctant to move in that direction if they perceive phobic SIXES as being bigoted and prejudiced and counter-phobic SIXES as edgy and explosive.  NINES need to get in touch with their affiliative tendencies and move towards the center of the group as opposed to drifting to the fringe and remaining marginally involved.

To embrace both sides of their polarities, NINES need to find an all-inclusive ecumenical self-image.  Perhaps they might think of themselves as being “peaceful warriors” or having “effortless purpose” or expressing “open minded opinions.”

[These and other suggestions can be found in Jerry Wagner’s book: Nine Lenses on the World: the Enneagram Perspective]

 

 

I’ve been thinking lately about the Enneagram styles and their spots – sweet spots, blind spots, hot spots, and desired spots.

The sweet spot is like the sweet spot on a bat — that place on the bat that’s going to hit the ball out of the park.  The personality style sweet spot is what each style sees clearly, the intuitive edge, the adaptive schemas and strategies what all styles can learn from and use.  These are the values and visions that we move towards.

The blind spot is what we avoid.  Our shadow.  The opposite of our self-image or idealization.  These are the situations, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, etc. that make us anxious and so we avoid them.  This is what we move away from.

The hot spot represents those sensitivities and vulnerabilities that we experienced early on in our life that hurt us, embarrassed us, terrorized us, made us angry, etc.  These are the early wounding’s that we move against when they make us angry or move away from when they make us afraid, or sometimes move towards to make friends with our enemy.

One way to understand our Enneagram style is to think of it as a strategy to make sure we don’t get hurt again the way we were when we were younger.  Each Enneagram style is a protective strategy against primary vulnerabilities.  This is our defensive self.

The desired spot is what we really want and value, our genuine needs and aspirations.  This is our actualizing self.

Returning to the “hot spot,” the good news is our personality strategies do keep us from being hurt in the moment; the bad news is they tend to distort our perception of reality in order to do so and never give us an opportunity to revise our perceptions and behaviors through exposure to what we avoid; and the even worse news is our defensive strategies eventually bring about the very thing they’re trying to avoid.

For example, if you are sensitive to and fear abandonment, you will be looking out for it, will magnify it when you find it, and may even construe it where it doesn’t exist.  If you pass a person you know and they don’t say hello, you may take this as another incidence of abandonment — never mind they didn’t see you or were preoccupied with something, or worse, someone else.

You may then begin to act aloof out of hurt and a desire to protect yourself and then find other people not responding to you.  Your defensive aloof style brings about the very thing it is trying to avoid, rejection.

I recently read an instructive book by Paul Wachtel on Therapeutic Communication (2011) where he discussed his concept of cyclical psychodynamics describing how our current interactions with others maintain our not so useful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  He also discusses this phenomenon in two earlier books: Relational Theory and the Practice of Psychotherapy (2008) and Psychoanalysis, Behavior Therapy, and the Relational World (1997).  I was delighted to discover that I have been practicing cyclical psychodynamics without knowing it.  I’m reminded of the character in one of Moliere’s plays who was amazed to find that he was speaking prose all his life.

I’ll give some extended quotes from Wachtel recounting his cyclical psychodynamic theory and then muse about how cyclical psychodynamics might work in each of the Enneagram styles.

Our defenses protect us from anxiety in the immediate moment, but increasingly they become a way of perpetuating the very state of vulnerability they were designed to quell…. Or, as family therapists sometimes put it, the solution becomes the problem.   (2008, pgs 218-19)

A chief characteristic of the circular patterns described by cyclical psychodynamic theory is irony. With surprising regularity, the situation that the patient ends up in is precisely the one he is trying to avoid; in many instances, he does not aim for the consequences he encounters; he produces them despite – yet because of – his vigorous efforts to prevent them. (2011, pg. 75)

The cyclical psychodynamic account of how we repeat problematic patterns does not typically posit an intention to reproduce the offending situation.  The intention, rather, is quite the opposite – to prevent the repetition.  The irony in what ensues lies in how, by the very act of carrying out that intention, the patient contributes to the outcome he is trying to avoid. (2011, pg. 76)

People live in contexts, and our behavior, both adaptive and maladaptive, is always in relation to someone or something….Understanding how people change requires understanding that in an odd way a neurosis is a joint activity, a cooperative venture of a most peculiar sort.  If one looks closely at the neurotic patterns in which the patient is entangled, one invariably finds that the maintenance of those patterns proceeds with the assistance of other people….To keep a neurosis going, one needs help.  Every neurosis requires accomplices….Indeed, it is only when one understands how others are drawn into the pattern as accomplices, how they are induced to interact in ways that confirm neurotic expectations and perceptions, that one appreciated fully both the depth of the patient’s dilemma and what is required to bring about change.  (2011, pg. 77)

The people who play the role of accomplice in our lives are not necessarily malicious; most often they are not even aware that they are playing such a role.  But their participation is crucial.  Focus in the therapeutic work on how patients induce others to play a complementary role in their neuroses is in many instances the key element in understanding how the patient’s difficulties are perpetuated….The process whereby others are continually recruited into a persisting maladaptive pattern is the neurosis.  (2011, pgs. 77-78)

The kind of experiences we have early in life, and our way of dealing with these experiences, strongly influences what further experiences we will encounter, as well as how we perceive those experiences and how we deal with them.

For example, the two-year-old who has developed an engaging and playful manner is far more likely to evoke friendly interest and attention on the part of adults than is the child who is rather quiet and withdrawn.  The latter will typically encounter a less rich interpersonal environment, which will further decrease the likelihood that he will drastically change.   Similarly, the former is likely to continually learn that other people are fun and are eager to interact with him; and his pattern, too, is likely to become more firmly fixed as he grows.  Further, not only will the two children tend to evoke different behavior from others, they will also interpret differently the same reaction from another person.  Thus, the playful child may experience a silent or grumpy response from another as a kind of game and may continue to interact until perhaps he does elicit an appreciative response.  The quieter child, not used to much interaction, will readily accept the initial response as a signal to back off.

If we look at the two children as adults, we may perhaps find the difference between them still evident: one outgoing, cheerful, and expecting the best of people; the other rather shy, and unsure that anyone is interested.  A childhood pattern has persisted into adulthood.  Yet we really don’t understand the developmental process unless we see how, successively, teachers, playmates, girlfriends, and colleagues have been drawn in as “accomplices” in maintaining the persistent pattern.  And, I would suggest, we don’t understand the possibilities for change unless we realize that even now there are such “accomplices,” and that if they stopped playing their role in the process, it would be likely eventually to alter.  (1997, pg. 52)

How (other people) behave toward us is very much influenced by how we behave toward them, and hence by how we initially perceive them.  Thus, our initial (in a sense distorted) picture of another person can end up being a fairly accurate predictor of how he or she will act toward us; because, based on our expectation that that person will be hostile, or accepting, or sexual, we are likely to act in such a way as to eventually draw such behavior from the person and thus have our (initially inaccurate) perception “confirmed.”  Our tendency to enter the next relationship with the same assumption and perceptual bias is then strengthened, and the whole process likely to be repeated again.  (1997, pg. 54)

My own observations are similar: paradoxically our defensive Enneastyle tactics often bring about the very thing we fear and are trying to avoid.  Here is a summary of what each Enneagram style values, what they are particularly sensitive to (the tender underside of what they value and where an early wounding may have occurred), their protective strategy, how they might go about eliciting “accomplices” to validate their perceptions, and how their defensive strategy brings about and repeats the very situation they are trying to avoid.

 

Style One:

Valuing being good and taking pride in being right, ONES are especially sensitive to criticism and being told they are wrong.  Their perfectionist style is a way of assuring they won’t be criticized.  You can’t criticize them if they’re perfect or blame them as long as they’re trying really hard.

Ironically the very maneuvers ONES engage in to avoid being criticized and to avoid being wrong, bring about their being criticized.

Being overly perfectionistic, pedantic, exacting, and critical frequently elicit criticism, anger, and avoidance from others.  This confirms the belief the world is critical and not the way it should be.

If you anticipate being wrong, your defenses will attempt to prove that you are right and the other person is wrong.  This will provoke others into defending themselves by demonstrating they are right and you are wrong.  When you pull others into your right-wrong filter and insist on being right, others will react to prove you wrong.  Your superego takes on their superego and the contest of who is right and who is wrong is begun.

If ONES anticipate that others will have high expectations of them and will be critical and rejecting of them when they don’t come up to those standards, they will subtly maneuver others to be critical of them.  They will interpret others’ responses as attacks and their righteousness will rise up. ONES will then feel resentful that they can never get it right enough and never satisfy others’ expectations.

Style Two:

Valuing relationships and taking pride in being loving and generous, TWOS are easily hurt by rejection and by a lack of attention and appreciation shown them.  They are sensitive to feeling useless and unneeded.  Their rescuing style is an attempt to gain recognition, gratitude, and acceptance and to make themselves necessary and important in the lives of others.

Ironically, being too nurturing and smothering often elicits pushing-away behavior in others instead of the hoped for coming-closer behavior.  This confirms the belief that getting one’s own needs met is unacceptable and unlikely.

If your worth depends on helping, you need to solicit helpees.  If you want to be helpful, then dependent people might be willing accomplices.  You would reinforce their dependency by helping them and they will simultaneously reinforce your self-image as a helper.

However others might not want to turn down a TWO’s offer of help because they know it would disappoint TWOS, hurt their self-image, and may elicit a pouting indignant response.  So others say “yes” when they don’t really want help and then they don’t appreciate the TWO’s help and don’t say “Thank you.”    This then provokes the TWO’s schema that people don’t appreciate them enough and so they try harder to please.  Thus a vicious circle is established.

If you can’t find genuinely needy people, you will need to create them – which is what advertising is all about.  You need to convince others that they have problems and you have solutions.  If you get too many customers, you may not be able to deliver because your to-do or, rather, to-help list is too full.  You might then feel worthless – which is the very thing you are trying to avoid

Style Three:

Valuing success and taking pride in their accomplishments, THREES are hurt by rejection and failure.  Their achieving style is an attempt to be successful and to maintain relationships through performing and doing for others. Their concern about image and looking good has to do with getting people to like them.

If you need to be successful to feel worthwhile, then you need to perform so others will admire you.  You have to create an approving audience, either in your head or in your theater.  Groupies are usually easy enough to find.  But do they admire your performance and appearance instead of you?  Or do they bask in your accomplishments to feel good about themselves?  Have you manipulated admiration from them?

An overly achieving, mechanical style frequently turns other people off or encourages them to interact with the persona or role instead of with the real person.  This confirms the THREE’s belief that performance, not genuineness, pays off.

THREES promote their accomplishments and then get praised for their successes thereby reinforcing this pattern.  Others aren’t offered an opportunity to interact with the THREES’ authentic self.  Also others are usually only given the opportunity to respond to THREES positive achievements and not to anything negative or troubling in them.  Success is rewarded; failure is distained.  Ironically THREES want to avoid failure but end up feeling like failures as real persons in real relationships.

Style Four:         

Valuing relationships and belonging and taking pride in being special, FOURS are easily hurt by feeling abandoned, left out, or going unnoticed.  They are sensitive to feeling flawed, undesirable, and unwanted.  Their style of being special is an attempt to get others to notice them and keep others connected to them.

FOURS feel misunderstood and fear being abandoned.  To play out their fears, FOURS need to audition people for their drama.  They set up an accordion relationship where they pull others in, then push them away.  Both longing for intimacy and fearing it, FOURS entice then rebuff their companions.  This “come here; go away,” “I hate you, don’t leave me” confuses others leaving FOURS feeling misunderstood.  The FOURS’ Sturm und Drang eventually becomes too much for the antagonist who then leaves the relationship.

FOURS attempts to be special bring about the very situation they dread: being abandoned.  An overly sensitive, refined, precious, entitled, easily misunderstood attitude generally brings about misunderstanding and distancing instead of empathy and connection.  This confirms the maladaptive schema of being unlovable.

To validate their fears of being abandoned, FOURS need to select people who will abandon them.  They can find people who are unavailable or who have an avoidant personality.  They will eventually leave FOURS just as they’d leave anybody else.  If FOURS have something of an ambivalent attachment pattern themselves, they might doubt that people would want to be with them and then cling to others or demand that they be with the FOUR.  Either of those strategies, clinging or claiming, will probably bring about what you fear most: being left.

Style Five:          

Valuing privacy and their own personal space, and taking pride in their understanding, FIVES are easily spooked by being invaded, having demands and expectations put on them, being deprived, belittled, or ridiculed.  Their knowing and loner style is an attempt to ward off intrusions, be self-sufficient, and avoid looking foolish.

FIVES don’t want to look foolish, be intruded or encroached upon, be smothered, or be emptied.  Acting socially awkward and avoiding others may lead to FIVES’ looking foolish.  By moving away from instead of against, FIVES bring about the very thing they fear: being put upon.  If you are sensitive to demands being put on you, then not saying “no” or assertively setting limits will probably lead to demands being put on you because you offer no resistance.  Just disappearing may lead to others tracking you down.  By not being assertive and setting boundaries, others may not get that they aren’t welcome until FIVES freeze them out or disappear.  By not saying “no,” FIVES give up the possibility of later saying “yes.”

Keeping quiet and withdrawing provokes intruding and projecting behavior from others.  Nature abhors a vacuum, so people move into the space vacated.

If your concern is that others are not interested in what you have to say, not saying anything will probably lead to people not listening to you, since you’re not saying anything.

Being silent can either be interpreted as: “She must be thinking something brilliant;” or “He must have nothing to say.”  The latter confirms the belief that others are uninterested and FIVES have nothing to offer them.

Style Six:

Valuing fidelity, consistency, and security and taking pride in being loyal, SIXES are scared by perceived threats and challenges.  They are vulnerable to being caught off guard and to the misuse of authority.   Their phobic style (loyal and dependent) or counter-phobic style (rebellious and independent) are two sides of the same coin which seeks to purchase safety and security.

SIXES fear being hurt, caught off guard, invaded by unfriendly forces (people or germs), or getting found breaking the law

By appearing fearful (phobic SIXES) or by threatening others (counter-phobic SIXES) SIXES may invite attack either from predators looking for a victim or from innocent bystanders wondering why they are being confronted. An overly-fearful strategy might encourage others to take advantage of you.  The very thing you are trying to avoid.  A counter-phobic attacking approach might provoke others to attack or challenge you, the very thing you are trying to avoid.

Anxiety can be contagious.  Children can catch if from their parents, or think of mass hysteria where we catch it from each other.  By infecting others with their anxiety, SIXES increase their fear the world is dangerous.

A suspicious paranoid attitude usually elicits hostile or plotting behavior from others.  Thinking that people are talking behind your back usually leads to their talking behind your back.  This confirms the maladaptive schema that the world is a dangerous place and is out to get you.

Starting off with the belief that there are only two sides — those that are on your side and those that are against you – generally creates two embattled sides: your friends and your enemies. And you need to be alert to figure out who’s for you and who’s against you.

Style Seven:

Valuing enjoyment, freedom, and variety and taking pride in being upbeat and resourceful, SEVENS are brought down by having their options limited.  They are wounded by having their balloons burst, parades rained on, and parties pooped.  Their sunny-side-up style is an attempt to stay on the high side of life and to experience as much as life has to offer.

SEVENS fear boredom and having their options limited.  By constantly seeking novelty and new experiences, SEVENS wear out their companions who seek to rest – which SEVENS interpret as being tiresome.  SEVENS’ restlessness brings about the very thing they fear: inactivity.  Ironically SEVENS might be attracted to grounded stable individuals whom they will eventually find to be tedious, staid, B-O-R-I-N-G.

SEVENS want to be up.  Because the universe and human systems seek balance, the more bubbly SEVENS become, the more others become still.  The yin of optimism flows into the yang of pessimism, eventually leading to the resolution of realism.  But SEVENS may release their tether to reality long before balance wins out.  Ironically constantly seeking novelty becomes tedious.

People who are compulsively cheerful and enthusiastic often elicit limiting and depressing responses from others as they attempt to “ground” or “shoot down” the high-flying optimist.  This confirms the SEVENS’ maladaptive fear that others are going to rain on their parade and pop their balloons

A fear of being limited or ensnarled may paradoxically lead to being tied down to always having to change.  If others can’t keep up with your flights of fancy and adventures, you might find yourself alone and bored and experiencing the very condition you are trying to avoid: FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out.

Style Eight:        

Valuing justice and autonomy and taking pride in being strong, EIGHTS are particularly irked by being neglected, being unjustly treated, and feeling powerless   Their powerful style is their way of being in charge and guaranteeing they will be heard and won’t feel weak or be taken advantage of.

EIGHTS fear being weak and vulnerable.  Ironically being strong leaves them weak because by being super independent, they forego the support of others and no man (or woman) is an island.  When Paul wrote: “When I am weak, then I am strong,” his weakness made room for Yahweh’s strength.  Dictators eventually get toppled and in the meantime live in fear of being felled.  Humiliating others and intimidating them eventually lead to uprising and retaliation.  Cooperation leads to cooperation.  A lack of trust in others leaves one alone and vulnerable.

Aggressive stances and behaviors, while intending to instill fear in others, can just as likely elicit aggressive behavior in others.  The less strong frequently try to fight the more strong as a way of proving themselves.  This helps confirm the EIGHTS’ belief that the world is hostile.

If you have the belief that people are unfair and abusive, then you will tend to interpret people’s actions toward you as unjust and punishing and you will react in an aggressive manner which could elicit either a flight response (they are afraid of you) or fight response (they want to beat you, literally or figuratively).  If you want to be in relation with others, then scaring them by intimidation may not be the best approach for establishing intimate relationships.

Style Nine:

Valuing unity and harmony and taking pride in being settled, NINES are especially wary of, and torn apart by conflict.   They are easily hurt by neglect.  Their relaxed, resigned style is an attempt to defend against feeling uncared for and having to assert themselves.

NINES fear conflict and anger.  Ironically by avoiding conflict they ultimately bring it about.  Their passivity leads to reactivity in others.  NINES’ indifference either brings about confrontation or neglect – the two things NINES don’t want.  Systems seek balance.  Inaction invites over-action.

NINES believe the universe is uncaring about their needs and so they settle for whatever they can get.  However if they don’t know what they need and don’t put their needs out there, others won’t know what they want or will assume they don’t have any particular needs and so will ignore them.  The NINES’ strategy for avoiding conflict brings about one of the things they anticipate: their needs not being met.

You get what you ask for.  If you don’t ask for anything, you don’t get anything. When you don’t express your needs, other people assume you don’t need anything and so don’t offer you anything.   People seem cold and uncaring and this confirms the belief the world is indifferent.

If you start out saying it doesn’t matter and settling for whatever you can get, others may not give you much and you will feel uncared for.  If you stay in the background, echoing the Five’s motto of “When in doubt, hide out,” people won’t notice you, thus confirming your belief that people overlook you.  Your genuine human needs lie near the core of who you are.  Expressing them establishes relationships; it doesn’t destroy them.

Another way of thinking about cyclical psychodynamics is George Kelly’s (1963) metaphor that we are all junior scientists.   We come up with hypotheses (beliefs, constructs, interpretations) to explain repetitions in our experience and ultimately to predict and control our environment, particularly our social environment.

If we are good scientists, we put our hypothesis to the test by running an experiment, collecting data, and either confirming or disconfirming our hypothesis.

If we are bad scientists, we really favor our hypothesis and so skew our experiment and data to confirm our hunch.  So if you want the rat to run down the left fork of your maze, you subtlety stroke the left side of the rat as you place him in your maze.  If you believe men are hostile toward women or women are hostile toward men, you will run your experiment by irritating the opposite sex, provoking their anger, and then tallying the number of hostile responses you collect.  All this is done “objectively,” allowing you to conclude that “This is the way it is.”   Actually it’s more the way you carried out your experiment and massaged the data to validate your beloved hypothesis.

When we are on the high side of our Enneagram style, we are objective scientists open to the data we find.  When we are on the low side of our style, we are prejudiced scientists, maximizing the evidence that confirms our belief and minimizing the data that disconfirm our assumption. We are practicing what Piaget calls assimilation, squeezing the data into our preexisting schema, vs. accommodation, modifying our schema to fit the data.

The Enneagram reveals our adaptive and maladaptive schemas.  Cyclical psychodynamics exposes how we perpetuate those schemas.  Like unconsciously biased scientists, we select our subjects, run our experiments, and massage the data.  When we are aware of what we are up to, we have a better chance of changing what we are doing.  If we change our assumptions, we may get different behaviors and results.

REFERENCES:

Kelly, G. (1963). A theory of personality: the psychology of personal contructs.  New York: W.W. Norton.

Wachtel, P. (1997). Psychoanalysis, behavior therapy, and the relational world. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

Wachtel, P. (2008). Relational theory and the practice of psychotherapy.  New York: Guilford Press.

Wachtel, P. (2011). Therapeutic communication, 2nd ed.  New York: Guilford Press.

Wagner, J. (2010). Nine lenses on the world: the Enneagram perspective. Evanston, IL: NineLens Press.

Enneagram Styles And The Cognitive Theory Of George Kelly

February 16, 2014

George Kelly (1963) has been called the father of cognitive psychotherapy along with Aaron Beck, Albert Ellis, maybe the Greek philosopher Epictetus, who in the first century AD said it is not the event itself that determines our behavior but how we perceive the event, and even Evagrius, the fourth century monk who cataloged eight […]

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A Comparison of the Nine Enneagram Personality Styles and Theodore Millons’ Eight Personality Patterns

August 15, 2012

 There are several congenial correlations between the nine styles of the Enneagram and the eight personality patterns proposed by Theodore Millon, Ph.D. (1969) who is an influential personality theorist, personality and clinical test developer, and a member of the task force that formulated one of the earliest versions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of […]

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Narcissism and Enneagram Styles

April 13, 2011

There is some debate about which Enneagram styles display narcissistic tendencies.  Some put Sevens in the narcissistic category; some put Threes in that basket; some say any Enneagram type can manifest narcissistic leanings.  I propose to completely unresolve this issue by presenting some theories about the origins or etiology of narcissism, quoting some theories about […]

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History of the Enneagram

December 29, 2010

A recently popularized typology which is moving into the mainstream in personal growth, therapy, spirituality, education and business arenas is the ENNEAGRAM (Any-a-gram). In Greek Ennea means nine and gram means point . The word refers to a circle inscribed by nine points which is used as a symbol to arrange and depict nine personality […]

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Values and Visions

December 29, 2010

At the heart of each person’s style lie certain strengths and capabilities that enable us to survive and thrive. We experience these energizers as values or ideals. While all of these strengths and values are virtually or potentially present in our core self and while we are capable of appreciating and actualizing all of them, […]

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Values and Proficiencies

December 29, 2010

Our values and visions give us an intuitive perceptual and behavioral edge. Each of the nine styles possesses an intuitive capacity to see certain realities very clearly and demonstrates a particular facility in their valued domain. The Good Person has high standards and ideals, intuitively senses how things could be, recognizes where they currently are, […]

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A 3-V View of The Enneagram: Values, Visions, and Vulnerabilities

December 29, 2010

by Jerome Wagner, Ph.D. When I was first introduced to the Enneagram, we got only the bad stuff — the distortions, fixations, compulsions, exaggerations, vices, bad breath, etc. When I, in turn, presented the Enneagram styles this way, people would ask: “Isn’t there anything good about any of these types?” Apparently there wasn’t. So I […]

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Enneagram Styles And Maladaptive Schemas: A Research Project

December 29, 2010

by Jerome Wagner, Ph.D. I find it useful to think of the Enneagram personality styles as nine different paradigms or sets of lenses for looking at the world. A paradigm is a way of organizing and giving meaning to the phenomena within and around us. Helen Palmer (1988) has written about what each Enneagram type […]

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