Wednesday, December 30, 2009
In this post, we continue our look at the hallmark characteristics of Enneagram types Seven, Eight, and Nine.
Type Seven - The Optimist
º Sustaining high levels of excitement, many activities, many interesting things to do
º Endless possibilities - can lead to dilettantism
º Feel trapped without multiple options or way out
º Life is about fun and adventure - sampling all of it
º Avoidance of pain or difficulty
º Reframe any negative into a positive
º Replacement of deep contact with pleasant mental alternatives. Talking, planning, intellectualizing.
º Charm as first line of defense. Fear type who moves toward people.
º Equalizing authority
º Make unusual connections between unrelated ideas
The hallmark or defining characteristic of an Optimist Seven is that of reframing any negative into a positive. Sevens see the good in everything, often to their own detriment. They focus on the silver lining and miss the fact that the dark cloud exists. Even trauma and tragedy are reframed into good learning experiences or humorous stories. “Yes, my dad beat me, but what was good about it was......”
Type Eight -The Straight Shooter
º Control of personal space, possessions, and people likely to influence Eight’s life.
º Aggression and open expression of anger
º Action before thinking, impulsive.
º Concern with justice and protection of others
º Sparring as way of making contact - trust those who can hold their own in a fight.
º Excess as antidote to boredom. Too much exercise, work, partying, etc.
º Difficulty in recognizing dependent aspects of self
º All or nothing way of seeing world. Weak or strong, fair or unfair,etc.
º Impatience with indecision, inaction.
The hallmark or defining characteristic of Eight is bigger-than-life energy. Regardless of physical stature, Straight Shooters just seem to take up a lot of space. This larger-than-life quality manifests as abundant, even excessive energy. Eights seem able to do more, for longer periods than the rest of us. Oddly enough, the Straight Shooter himself often doesn’t recognize that he takes up more space than others, or even that he has more energy. Yet, everyone else around him is all too aware. If the characteristics and worldview sound familiar to you, but you are unsure about the hallmark, elicit the perception of family, coworkers, and friends to find out if they see you as “larger-than-life”.
Type Nine - the Mediator
º Go with the flow. Merging with others, universe
º Self- forgetting: laziness toward own needs, priorities, agenda
º Trouble with decisions: do I agree or disagree? Do I want to
be here or not?
º Containment of physical energy and anger
º Replace essential needs with non-essential substitutes - the most important things are left until the end of the day
º Act through habit and repeating familiar solutions
º Control through stubbornness and passive-aggressive behavior
º Numbing out. Inertia. Go on automatic pilot
The Nine Mediator often overlooks or “forgets” her own agenda, desires, and priorities. The underlying drive of sloth leads the Nine to go with the flow rather than work to determine what s/he really wants or needs. Nine’s adopt or merge with the preferences and desires of other people. It’s easier than trying to discover his/her own agenda and priorities, which seem to be hidden or unclear. Although, this can seem similar to the stance of the Two Giver, it differs in that Nine Mediators merge indiscriminately with others. It just “happens.” Two Givers are very selective and choose the people whose priorities they may make their own. The Two stance is very active and moves toward others, while the Nine is more passive, allowing them to “go along with” others. As with all the characteristics for all Nine types, self-forgetting can get to be a habit.
When trying to determine Enneagram type, it can be helpful to focus on Hallmark Characteristics rather than getting lost in the whole enchilada of characteristics and traits. With attention and self-observation, the discovery of type is a profound journey -that takes as long as it takes.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
In this blog entry, we continue the exploration of the Hallmark characteristics of type for Types Four, Five, and Six.
Type Four - The Romantic
º Idealization of the distant, dissatisfaction with present reality
º Sense of something missing from life - others have it.
º Attachment to melancholy; deep feelings are more
important than mere happiness.
º Search for authenticity.
º Affinity with intense in life: birth, death, etc.
º Sense of being different than others, unique, special.
º Desire for emotional intensity - wants to be met emotionally.
º Attraction to beauty, strong aesthetic sense.
º Mood, manners, luxury, good taste as external boosts to
The hallmark or defining characteristic for the Romantic is the pervasive sense of something vital missing from his/her life. The Four doesn’t know what is missing, just that it is essential to her completeness. At different times, the Romantic may decide that the missing piece is a job or a person, even a place. S/he will fixate on this desired object, often until it becomes attainable, then discard it or feel dissatisfied when the feeling of “something missing” still remains.
Type Five - the Observer
º Maintaining non-involvement, withdraw and tighten
the belt as first line of defense.
º Delayed emotions. Feelings withheld until safely alone
º Compartmentalizing of time commitments in life.
º Wanting predictability - to know what will happen.
º Overvaluing self-control. “Drama is for lesser beings”
º Interest in special knowledge and systems
º Mental clarity, detachment from emotional bias
The hallmark or defining characteristic of the Five Observer is detachment. The ability to disengage may be activated by a social event, a family discussion, a presentation or performance, or any interaction. Many Fives actually describe a separate “Observer self” located above or just behind him that watches him interact or perform. This keeps the Five from being overwhelmed by people, emotions, or other stimuli.
Type Six - the Loyal Skeptic
º Scan environment for clues that explain inner sense of threat
º Intuitive style of powerful imagination and single-pointed
attention, both natural to the fearful mind.
º Authority problems - distrust
º Identification with underdog causes
º Issues with incompletion - success is exposure to danger
º Suspicious of others’ motives: bullshit detectors
º Skepticism and doubt
º Analysis paralysis - thinking replaces doing
º Heightened fear when things are going well - when’s the other
shoe going to drop?
The hallmark of the Loyal Skeptic involves seeing the downsides or dangers, almost immediately, whether it involves visualizing a worst case scenario in graphic detail or ferreting out hidden motives. While the reactions may differ: the Phobic or Flight Six may be fearful and avoiding danger while the Counterphobic or Fight Six may jump in with both feet to prove s/he can overcome potential pitfalls, both will have imagined the worst case. In the case of hidden motives, the Phobic Six may be watchful and wary while the Counterphobic Six will confront, poking and prodding to get the true colors shown.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
It can be baffling when one is trying to determine his/her Enneagram type. We try to find ourselves in the lists of characteristics. Some fit from all of the types, others don’t fit at all. How can we sift through the information and find our home base vis a vis the Enneagram?
First of all, we do not have to exhibit all the characteristics of type for that to be our type. The Enneagram describes an internal terrain, a world view. Still, initially we may have more success in narrowing our search for type by finding what characteristics resonate rather than seeing our worldview. Our worldview is so much a part of our Enneagram filter that we might not see it at all until we have had ample time for self-observation.
All characteristics do not have the same weight or importance, when describing Enneagram type. Listening to numerous panels and self-aware exemplars of Type, I’ve noted what I call a Hallmark characteristic for each of the Nine types. While it can be helpful to look at lists of characteristics; the Hallmark seems to be the Big Dog. Finding the Hallmark characteristic might help you (or your family, friends, and cohorts) to discover type more easily.
With that in mind, here is a partial list of characteristics plus the Hallmark characteristic for Types One, Two, and Three.
Type One - The Perfectionist
º Compulsive need to act on what seems correct
º One right way, black and white thinking
º Relentless stream of self-criticizing thoughts
º Mentally comparing oneself to others and concern
º Belief in one’s own moral and ethical superiority
º Procrastination stemming from fear of making a
º Do-gooder. Do what “should” be done rather than
what one wants to.
º Trapdoor phenomenon - pleasure escape valve
º Scorched Earth policy - scrap whole project and start over if even one small part is wrong.
In the case of the Perfectionist One, the hallmark or defining characteristic is the relentlessness of the inner critic. Many Ones describe it as a critical Voice that constantly evaluates, judges, and harangues the Perfectionist. Some Ones are critical of other people, other Ones keep their critical thoughts to themselves. Regardless, every Perfectionist seems to suffer from an ongoing, internal critique through nearly every minute of every day.
Type Two - The Giver
º Gaining approval and avoiding rejection
º Pride in importance of oneself in relationship: “they’d never make it without me”. Being indispensable
º Pride in knowing and meeting others needs
º Giving to get - the hook.
º Confusion in identifying personal needs.
º Altering self to please others
º Making a difference to others lives, the world, etc.
º Hysteria or anger when emerging real needs collide
with the needs of the others that one serves.
The defining characteristic for the Giver Two is the need to become central, even indispensable to another “chosen” individual. One Two went so far as to explain, “It’s almost as if I establish my center in the person I am interested in being important to.” Whether in work, friendship, or intimate relationships, the Giver believes that those significant to him/her would never make it without the Giver’s help or support. The unconscious drive of Pride underlies the Two’s sense that s/he alone knows what the significant other needs, and s/he will provide it.
Type Three - The Performer
º Goal is everything.
º Competition and avoidance of failure
º Love comes from what you do rather than who you are
º Feelings suspended until job gets done
º Presentation of image that’s adjusted to gain approval.
º Multitasking - do several things at once
º Run over others to get to goal, apologize later
The defining characteristic of a Performer is excessive identification with his image or that which he produces: “I am my image” or “I am what I do.” The feeling that underneath the image or productivity is a “black hole” of nothing is the hallmark of a Three. The Three believes that he has sold us a package of goods: himself. Fearing that he is nothing but a fraud, the Performer must keep doing, producing, selling, dazzling to keep from being found out.
These are the hallmarks as I’ve heard them described. Let me know if this resonates for you, if you already know your type. We learn more about type through self inquiry, self observation, and subsequent sharing of insights gleaned through these processes.
I’ll be sharing characteristics and Hallmarks for the other six types in upcoming blog entries.
(material adapted from The Everyday Enneagram book.)
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Every summer I migrate to a mountain town situated on a stunning alpine lake. A town, community, or region will exhibit its own overlay of Enneagram type and my warm weather home is no different. I move from my Niney home in Molokai, Hawaii to Sevenish South Lake Tahoe.
It’s a bit of a culture shock when I first arrive. The people are chatty, perky, and almost unbearably upbeat. I AM a Seven, but it still is hard for me. I’ve settled so deeply into my Nine home where people don’t talk a lot, don’t care what you do, and like to just hang out, eat, and enjoy music.
There are multiple activities, parties, and events. Rarely does a day pass without an invitation or five. And if you hire someone to build, repair, or do something? Or commit to attending your event? Well, they may or may not make it. In this recreational paradise, the siren song of something better to do is always exerting a pull.
It is so prevalent that locals have a phrase for it: they call it “getting Tahoed” when people don’t show up as scheduled. It’s frustrating but in true Seven fashion, it is just reframed in a more positive light as one of the costs of living in outdoor recreation heaven.
Contrast this mountain town with Aspen, Colorado - Threeish mecca of movie stars, moguls, and millionaires. The first time I went to Aspen, I met no fewer than four beauty queens in the first two hours. Names were dropping like snowflakes. Everyone had predicates up the kazoo and no one was shy about letting you know who they were. I can’t remember when I’ve seen so many beautiful, seemingly accomplished people in one place. It was glittery, exciting, and utterly exhausting.
At least, Tahoe and Aspen know who they are for now. There is tension when a town begins to morph or change into a new Enneagram style. Some years ago, I was asked to do a book signing in Sun Valley, Idaho. Like Aspen and Tahoe, this small mountain town is a hiking and skiing paradise.
The day after the book signing, I taught an all day Enneagram class to a group of Sun Valley residents. We began discussing the Enneagram styles of towns and regions. There was a distinct split among the old-timers and the folks relatively new to the area. Those who’d lived there fifteen or more years decried the changes in their community from a “fun-loving, anything goes” attitude to a more “status conscious, flashy” demeanor.
The newcomers thought it was just “hip” and “cool”, even “special”. They loved that big stars now acted in the local theatre and that people found it a “destination”. Yet they began to see how change was chafing at some and that Sun Valley was experiencing growing pains. While the old-timers began to acknowledge that not all of the growth was bad.
Knowing the pluses and minuses of our own Enneagram styles helps us navigate and grow ourselves. Ditto for the regions we live in whose Enneagram overlay affects us in ways we may not realize when unconscious of their impacts. As we become more aware, we are less likely to fall prey to the downsides or lows of our own Enneagram types and of the overlays of the regions in which we live. And we can celebrate the gifts or highs of the same.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I was teaching the Enneagram to a group of military wives (amazing, strong women) at Pearl Harbor some years ago. As usually happens, most could relate to many of the types. Still one or two of the Enneagram points are unknown territory initially. One woman (self-identified as a One) could not understand the melancholy of Four. “I just don’t get it; how someone can feel that way and not want to get over it.”
Her best friend finally turned to her and said, “You know how you like to listen to country western music and weep, and you don’t want to be cheered up? It’s like that.”
“Oh,” she breathed.
Music resonates in a deep place within us. Song lyrics can illuminate type while the musical styling gives us another way to experience one of the nine worldviews. I recommend songs to my clients and students as one way in to begin understanding each of the.Enneagram types. Here are a few songlines that offer just a hint of the internal terrains.
Point One - The Perfectionist
“Nothin’ but a big bunch of nothin’
Drivin’ me insane.
Cause there ain’t no voice that’s louder
Than the one inside my brain.
Hey you go on
Go on and let me be
Quit hollerin’ at me
Quit hollerin’ at me
Quit hollerin’ at me.”
Song: Quit Hollerin’ At Me
Artist: John Prine
Point Two - The Giver
“You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall
All you have to do is call
And I’ll be there, yes I will
You’ve got a friend.”
Song: You’ve Got a Friend
Artists: James Taylor / Carol King
Point Three - The Performer
“I’ve proved who I am so many times
In magnetic strips worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And everyone was taken in.
I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing.”
Song: Pacing the Cage
Artist: Jimmy Buffett
Point Four - The Romantic
“So the next time you see me drowning
In that quicksand up to my neck.
Before you grab my hand to save me
Why don’t you ask me if I’m finished yet.
But if I truly want to be happy
I can pray for that missing piece
To the break in the cup that holds love
Inside of me.”
Song: Break In The Cup
Artist: David Wilcox
Point Five - The Observer
“Safely from my window
To the streets below
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock. I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain.
And an island never cries.”
Song: I Am A Rock
Artists: Simon and Garfunkel
Point Six - the Loyal Skeptic
“Oh the first days are the hardest days
Don’t you worry anymore.
‘Cause when life looks like easy street,
There is danger at your door.”
Song: Uncle John’s Band
Artists: The Grateful Dead
Point Seven - The Optimist
“Visions of good times that
brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again...
I can’t look back for too long.
There’s just too much to see
Waiting in front of me
And I know that I just can’t go wrong.
With these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes.
Nothing remains quite the same.
With all of my running
And all of my cunning
If I couldn’t laugh, I just would go insane.”
Song: Changes in Latitude
Artist: Jimmy Buffett
Point Eight - The Straight-Shooter
“It’s like going to confession
Every time I hear you speak
Some call it sick, but I call it weak.
Complain about the present
And blame it on the past.
I’d like to find your inner child
And kick its little ass.
Get over it
Get over it
All the bitchin’ and moanin’
And pitchin’ a fit
Get over it. Get over it.”
Song: Get Over It
Artists: The Eagles
Point Nine - The Mediator
“Let it be, let it be. Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Song: Let it Be
Artists: The Beatles
“I used to run those battlelines
Trying to smooth over what got said.
I thought it was my duty
To plead and to implore.
But I caught too much crossfire
In your covert war.”
Song: Covert War
Artist: David Wilcox
Of course, a song by itself cannot communicate the complexity of type. It serves merely as an opening, a blossoming of empathy and a beginning point for inquiry to learn more. Songlines touch our heart for an emotional connection with our own types and others. Perhaps you have some favorite songs that resonate with an aspect of Enneagram type - share them with us here.
And visit iTunes to download the above songs for yourself.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The short answer is absolutely! Just because we know someone’s type doesn’t mean that they own and exhibit every characteristic of the type. They may not even relate to what might be considered major characteristics.
I remember one time some years ago attending a gathering of Enneagram aficionados. We didn’t know one another well, but we all shared our types. A group of 10 or so was over by the buffet table discussing intimate relationship when someone turned to me and said “Of course, you’re a Seven so you have a hard time making a commitment.”
Well, that’s simply not true for me. Maybe it was my childhood, maybe my Six Wing’s loyalty bias, maybe it’s my One-to-One subtype but for whatever reason, I actually commit deeply. I’ve been with my husband for 26 wonderful years. And it isn’t that I’m such a great or spiritual Seven, but that this just comes naturally to me. Commitment to work or a project: ditto.
Sure monkey mind, reframing, future-tripping,optimistic to a fault, pain averse - all these characteristics played a huge part in my personality. (Hopefully less so now.) But commitment difficulty; just not part of me. So it caught me off guard when I was so quickly and erroneously described vis a vis my Enneagram type. And when I attempted to correct the speaker, he smiled at me and said “Well, maybe you THINK you commit.”
Now I don’t think he meant any harm. Certainly I know that denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. And I will cop to all the annoying permutations of type that I have exhibited. But I felt dismissed. He didn’t want to know me - he thought he already did because he knew my type.
And I’ve heard countless similar stories from students. At work, a team tried to give a Four the responsibility for decorating an office because “Fours have great aesthetics.” She doesn’t. She likes beauty, especially in nature, but feels she has no color sense or ability in that particular area.
Or the One that was told that she must hold grudges because “All Ones do.” It wasn’t true for her. Although the rest of One, the inner critic, black and white thinking, even trapdoor activity she owned completely.
Or the woman who was lambasted by a coworker because she was an Eight and “could take it because Eights are tough.”
Stereotyping is hurtful. It hurts individuals and it hurts the Enneagram’s credibility. I have one friend who was stereotyped with the Enneagram by an ex and still shudders when he hears the word, Enneagram. He may never be open to it. And that is a shame.
The Enneagram is best used as an open inquiry; a common language to ask someone “What’s it like for you?” The minute we think we know someone because we know their type, the minute we name as it were, we stop ‘seeing’ them.
The Enneagram is only a starting place for our curiosity and delight in learning the inner terrain of another. It truly is like visiting another culture to visit another type, but then we must go deeper as we learn more about an individual who happens to live in that culture. And who may or may not follow all the customs in the guidebook.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I was talking with a friend about the question of greed. “Isn’t fear what really is underneath greed?” she asked. I think to an extent that is true. Still it is so much easier to notice greed in ourselves than it is to dig down to our fear (although the 24 hour news channels would have us believe that nearly everyone in the US. is terrified.).
What do we fear really? That there won’t be enough money, food, safety, etc.? Surely that is part of what drives our greedy impulses. But underneath that, is there something more hidden?
Can it be that we sometimes feel empty? Is there a space or void that needs to be filled, leading to grasping and greed. Anxiety and contraction may be part of this bargain. There won’t be enough ‘whatever” to fill it - I have to make sure I get enough. It’s pure survival.
Yet when we are aware and remember that we are Essence, remember that we ARE happiness, the hole is full. As it always was, allowing us to be more expansive, open, even generous.
What about generosity? Is it the opposite of greed or just part of a continuum? Can noticing generosity in ourselves with the energetic states and body awarenesses that accompany it lead to more generosity? And might we begin to become generous with ourselves as well as others? What might that look and feel like?
Generosity does not mean giving away the farm. Awareness can help us to know when to go to the grocery store and get our survival needs addressed and also when to let go, when we have enough in this moment, when we may give to others quite naturally.
In much the same way, the higher virtue for Nine, Love, is distinguished from indiscriminate merging. I live in a Niney culture in Hawaii. Native Hawaiians at one time gave away the farm (their land and way of life). That wasn’t generosity; that was sleep.
They’ve been reclaiming it slowly and like the awakened Nine now experience Aloha (Love) with boundaries. As one of the elders said recently, “You have to aloha yourself, otherwise you no can aloha anybody else.”
And what about Generosity with a capital G - essential Generosity. Essence is always there - how can we get out of our own way, so it may reveal itself to us and shine through us.
Over the next couple of weeks, let’s observe the ways that we experience generosity in ourselves, or recognize it in others and whether it increases by our noticing. Let us know what you learn. I’ll report back here - I hope you will as well.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Ever since the IEA (International Enneagram Association) meeting in Las Vegas, I’ve been pondering greed vs generosity. David Daniels, Russ Hudson, and Jessica Dibb presented a thought-provoking and heartfelt inquiry into the subject. (See blog entry dated August 6, 2009.)
And I kid you not, I was lost in thought about personal manifestations of greed when I saw this license plate in front of me. 14U24ME. Stunned, I took several photos through the windshield while driving with my other hand.
Now, I’m not pointing fingers at whoever has this license plate; for all I know it’s a family joke or some other such innocuous sentiment. That’s not the point. The point is that greed is so pervasive that we may not even notice its effect on and in our lives.
Greed. We don’t dispute its existence. We believe there is greed in the world and that it globally corrosive. Still it’s always “out there”- somewhere else - objectified. And maybe that is part of the problem.
Wall Street is greedy. The banks are greedy. Shareholders are greedy. Corporations are greedy. Oil companies, big business, developers. These “things” and faceless groups are greedy.
Distancing ourselves in this manner effectively keeps us from examining the roles greed plays in our own lives. And until we become aware of greed working within each of us, there will be no shifts in consciousness on a more global scale.
Through dyad exercises and a panel of all the types, the IEA presentation illuminated the different faces of personal greed vis a vis each of the nine Enneagram styles. David, Russ, and Jessica allowed us to discover the nuances of greed within ourselves. I’ll use myself and one of my personal greed permutations as an example.
When I’m in my Fiveish space, the Security Point for Seven, I might feel very proud of the fact that I don’t need more stuff or to go shopping. But in fact, my greed may show up very differently - in guarding my private time to the exclusion of loved ones, of withholding time and my presence.
How do I know if this is a product of normal healthy boundary setting or greed? By observing. By activating my inner observer, I can discern the difference. There is a grasping quality, even a desperation to greed. The energetic sense is quite different.
If I’m simply in need of a little time, the energy around that sensed desire feels calm, centered, quiet. I sense no body tightening or strictures and can give myself just enough time for self-care. No more, no less.
Driven by greed, I feel myself pull inside and tighten around my perceived need. I hold myself armored against intrusion. It feels like I might lose something. Energy or time or some ineffable something might be taken from me.
Watching greed within myself, without judgment, simply noticing, allows the relaxation of the stricture. I breathe into the here and now, rather than fearing the future intrusion that may never materialize. I can be present fully to myself and others.
The conversation is only beginning on this critical topic. Think about and/or comment on these questions. How does personal greed appear in your life? How is it related to your Enneagram type? How do you work with greed? And how does generosity play out in your life? Let us know your thoughts, feelings, sensations on the subjects of greed and generosity.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
David Daniels, Russ Hudson, and Jessica Dibb conducted an important and meaningful session at the IEA (International Enneagram Association) gathering entitled “From Personal Greed to Essential Generosity: The Journey through the Shadow of
A didactic intro to greed by David Daniels addressed a biological basis for greed in all mammals. Scarcity, real and imagined, can trigger greed as a survival mechanism. So there’s no blame here - but awareness might help us take a deeper look at greed within each of us.
Further, in the bigger picture, how is greed affecting us on a planetary scale? With so much “plenty” in the first world, how are we succumbing to an inner emptiness, a scarcity that cannot be remedied?
Jessica led a meditation where we were invited to look at greed in our own lives, and how it played out. We also journeyed to connect with our generosity; the ways in which we are open and giving rather than constricted and grasping. Most important was to notice these states without judging.
We broke into dyads and did an exercise of alternating listener and questioner, examining greed and generosity with the lens of our Enneagram types. Essential generosity was a necessary part of the inquiry.
David and Russ then led a panel of each of the nine types. The exemplars revealed their experiences vis a vis their type with greed, generosity, and Essential Generosity. Over and over, regardless of type, greed was experienced as constricting while generosity felt spacious. Noticing body sensations can be a helpful adjunct to the inner observer in illuminating greed vs. generosity.
The inquiry into greed and generosity is critical at this time. Our resources are finite, the world population is growing, and the earth is warming.
As the spiritual texts and teachers say “As Above, So Below”. Addressing personal greed, cultivating awareness of our fullness rather than emptiness, and allowing Essential Generosity to shine through may indeed be some of the most important work we undertake. Ever. Let’s begin a conversation with ourselves and one another to illuminate the shadow of greed right now.
Friday, July 31, 2009
“Happiness is your original nature,” says Robert Holden, PhD, in this morning’s keynote address at the IEA (International Enneagram Association) meeting in Las Vegas. “It is you minus your neuroses.”
Can this be true? Are each of us the only obstacle standing in the way of our own happiness?
Director of the Happiness Project and author of numerous books on the subject, Robert Holden tells us more.
“Happiness is not a thing. It is not a state of mind. It is not outside you. ... It just IS you. Happiness is our spiritual DNA.”
He went on to elucidate our self-imposed blocks to happiness vis a vis our Enneagram types. A basic belef about happiness (that coincides with our type’s worldview),a hidden fear or two, and a mistaken premise illuminate the way each of us hides from our own innate happiness. He then describes how the “Happiness Contract” needs a rewrite so that we may open ourselves to remembering our natural joy.
Here’s an example in brief: the belief or rule that Ones ascribe to is that happiness is deserved. (or not.) One must be very good or perfect, forever and always, to deserve happiness. Sure, that’s easy.
The fear is that we are actually bad inside, that we don’t deserve happiness.
The mistaken premise? X amounts of good behavior can be used as currency for X amounts of happiness.
The rewrite involves the recognition of Perfection as the spiritual path where one cultivates the awareness of perfection everywhere, including in one’s self.
Happiness is you; your true nature. You can’t earn or deserve it. Like Essence, it is already there just waiting for you to notice and remember it.
He shared a prayer with us written by a woman named Macrinia Wiederkehr:
“O God, help me to believe the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is. Amen.”
At lunchtime, I downloaded one of his books to my Kindle, “Happiness Now! Timeless Wisdom for Feeling Good FAST” and headed out to the pool for some “remembering” time.
For more updates from the IEA conference, you can follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/lynettesheppard
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Enneagram types Five, Six, and Seven make up the head center triad. The emotion that fuels their drives is fear. Their energies or force fields reflect the internalized, externalized, and forgotten aspects of this emotion.
Emotion: Fear - Internalized
Energy: “Invisible” Detachment
Five represents the internalized version of fear. The mental center creates a haven where Fives can retreat. The realm of ideas and knowledge will keep one safe. The drive for the Five is avarice, greed for knowledge and privacy. Fives fear being overwhelmed by outside stimuli, emotions, or events (surprises) they can’t prepare for. Five’s strategic defense of withdrawal includes the withdrawal of life force to an internal safe place, like a castle with the drawbridge pulled up.
Those of us who inhabit the rest of the Enneagram Points experience this absence of vital being. The energy is simply “not there”. The body is present and seems to occupy space, but the force field is gone. As a result, the Five can avoid being “seen” and their presence at a meeting or event may not be remembered. Worse, it may bring about the feared intrusion as we try to “find” the Five, energetically. If the Five has not withdrawn, we can experience running into a very strong boundary when we “intrude.” We seem to bounce off a very strong force field - a seeming “get back” vibe.
When dealing with a Five’s energy, take special care to pull your own force field back close to your body. Be careful not to overwhelm the Five with your energy. Respect the Five’s strong boundaries.
Emotion: Fear - Externalized
Energy: Fight Six - Jabbing Confrontation
Flight Six - “Poised For Flight” Scanning
Six is the externalized version of Fear. The mental centers capacity for imagination is highly developed in the Six, who continually “imagines” the worst case scenario, and then plans to keep himself safe. Doubt is the drive that manifests as a natural outgrowth of Fear - and Sixes doubt nearly everything.
Six’s two manifestations of Flight and Fight, have very different ways of expressing Fear, hence they have very different energetics. The Fight Six jumps right in with both feet, when up against a scary, dangerous world. Action is the antidote to fear. They may even purposely engage in daredevil pursuits to exert control over or conquer their fear. Hidden motives can be brought to light if you confront others - provoke them until the truth comes out.
Not surprisingly, the energy of the Fight Six can feel jabbing to the rest of us. There is a push, then a withdraw of the force field. Another push, withdraw. It is the energetic equivalent of the Cowardly Lion confronting the Scarecrow and Tin Man. The Fight Six checks us out like a prizefighter circling his opponent, waiting for the worst.
Phobic or Flight Six asks for confirmation. S/he scans the environment for dangers. Charm and warmth are used to disarm potential enemies. A childlike sweetness can evoke protector impulses in the rest of us. Energy is high up around the head and out from the body in 360 degrees - swirling and scanning the environment like radar. Like a fearful rabbit, energy comes forward and scurries back in a repeating pattern as trust develops.
Keep your answers, promises, and energy rock-solid when dealing with a Six. Stay focused and in your body. Don’t react to the Fight Six by pushing your force field at him - like the Cowardly Lion when slapped by Dorothy - he’ll crumple.
Emotion: Fear - Forgotten
Energy: Airy Excitement
Sevens are driven by Fear, but “forgot” they were afraid. The mental center is used as a diversion from what invokes fear, by imagining pleasant future options and possibilities. Even memory can be affected, and only pleasant memories are easily recalled, or a positive interpretation is placed on remembered, painful events.
The drive for Seven is Gluttony - for life experience, adventure, and possibility. So the Seven races from course to course, frenetically sampling life’s banquet in an effort to stay high and optimistic.
The energy of Sevens feels airy and effervescent. Their excitement can be contagious, but also exhausting. Like a ping pong ball giddily bouncing in a chaotic pattern, the Seven is the energetic equivalent of Peter Pan, grabbing ideas like fairy dust from the air, then sprinkling and leaving them as quickly when something else has grabbed his attention. If you try to focus or limit a Seven, swooooosh - their energy is out the door to Never Never Land, even if their body remains in the room.
It is easy to get caught up in a Seven’s enthusiastic energy and lose focus. When dealing with a Seven, stay focused and centered. Keep your own energy or force field lower in your body, closer to the ground. This will help prevent your getting caught up in the Seven’s tornado of visions and ideas, losing sight of your own priorities.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Two, Three, and Four make up the heart center triad. The emotion that fuels their drives is grief. Other Enneagram authors also refer to this triad as the “image” triad, due to these three types’ concern with how others perceive them. Grief or sadness ensues when each feels s/he has substituted an image as full or partial replacement for a loss of self.
Emotion: Grief - Externalized
Energy: Aggressive Affection
Point Two is the externalized version of grief. S/he feels others feelings, empathizes with their pain, and works to meet their needs and heal them. A Two has an image of himself as the Giver and caretaker; the one without needs who can intuit and meet the needs of others. The “charge” of the emotional battery is externalized to others by the Two, so s/he doesn’t need to feel her own. Of course the downside of this occurs when the Two’s battery is discharged until it is empty.
The drive for Two is Pride. The Two tells a story of feeling her energy coming out from the middle of her chest to another with whom she desires connection. She divines through her emotional center what the significant person needs. Unfortunately, because her life force is externalized and probing others, she is out of touch with herself. Her pride shows itself in that she believes she knows not only another’s needs, but how to meet those needs. Another aspect of pride is reflected in Two’s belief that she herself does not have needs.
Those of us who attract the Two’s focused attention feel the intensity of being the center of the Two’s universe. Our intrinsic value is verified by the Two. The energy feels like a warm, aggressive force field coming from the Two’s heart toward us, enfolding us. This can feel wonderful or intrusive.
When a Two is overwhelmed or frenetically giving, s/he can fall victim to a swirling chaos of emotions or ‘hysteria’. Although this energy is like an emotional whirlwind, it is important for us to stay present and solid when hysteria erupts. Twos already fear that we will abandon them - if we stay steady, offer focused clarity, and do not leave the room, the Two will profoundly appreciate this. And we will avoid getting caught up in the maelstrom of ‘hysteria’.
Emotion: Grief - Internalized
Energy: Dramatic Pull
Four represents the internalized version of grief in the Heart triad. Fours tell a tale of loss and longing for a pivotal missing piece that is central to their feeling whole and complete. Rather than externalize grief like the Two (others need help, I don’t), the Four internalizes and focuses on her sadness. In fact, the Four may amplify or intensify the sadness in order to explore it deeply. An image that reveals Four’s uniqueness or defectiveness in others eyes, serves to enhance and continue the feeling of loss that no one else can understand. The emotional charge of grief is found in the Four’s rich inner life of bittersweet longing.
Envy grows out of this grief and becomes the Four’s drive. Not only is the Four missing some elemental piece that would make life complete, but it is clear that others have it. The Four longs for the completeness, the love, that others have. If she fixates attention on a person (or job, place, whatever) that she feels will complete her, she feels the tug of her heartstrings toward the desired.
The rest of the the Enneagram Points feel the Four’s heart as if it were pulling at them. Four does not want to leave her rich inner world, but rather to bring the other to them to join and make her finally complete. Energetically, there can be a magnetic pull toward the Four’s depth. Even their energy seems “special,” somehow different. The difference pulls seductively.
The Four’s energy pulls at the desired. As it comes closer to being realized, the Four may find flaws and push it away. So energy can pull - and then push away. As the desired person or object recedes into the distance, it may become desired again, and the Four pulls it back toward her. It may be confusing to the desired person to experience this push-pull energetic.
The Four wishes to be met emotionally. Remember your own boundaries and cultivate clarity when you meet a Four’s intensity. This will make it possible to honor the realm in which they live, without feeling pulled into the vortex of emotion. Listen and stay present with the Four, work on understanding rather than helping or changing them. Constancy and steadiness will help you deal with the push-pull energy.
Emotion: Grief - Forgotten
Energy: Charismatic Producer
Three is the member of the heart triad, who simply “forgot” their grief. Threes are busy, optimistic people. The emotional charge of grief is set aside while enormous amounts of energy are channeled into doing and presenting a successful image to others. The Three can appear very driven or workaholic. They are prodigious producers. Grief is an emptiness that the Three can avoid by continuing to juggle multiple tasks, projects,, or adjusting his image to be seen as successful.
The Three’s habit of deceit is mainly self-deceit, in that he deceives himself into believing that he is the image that he projects. “I am what I do” or “I am my image” displaces authentic desires and preoccupations. Three tricks himself into believing that he is whatever will gain him success in others’ eyes. On a deeper level, the Three believes that there is no authentic self underneath the image, so he’d better keep dazzling you with his successful performance. Otherwise you could see that there is nothing but smoke and mirrors covering an empty hole.
Swirling like smoke and brilliant like mirrors, the Three’s energy is captivating. It is moving and shaking, inspiring energy. We listen with bated breath, suspending our own disbelief, when the Three comes toward us from his heart, simultaneously divining and making the subtle image shifts that will gain our love. A Five described a famous Three politician “I saw him speak and I was so uplifted and inspired, I would have followed him anywhere. Later, I tried to recall what he said, and I couldn’t come up with a single concrete position. And I consider myself a critical thinker.”
Be attentive to substance as well as performance. Cultivate awareness of your own center when confronted with the charisma of the Three. Do not directly confront or embarrass a Three by declaring the Emperor has no clothes. Honor a Three for who s/he is rather than the performance.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Let’s now take a look at the energy of the individual types, starting with the Gut Triad, Enneagram types Eight, One, and Nine.
Eight, Nine, and One are the types that make up the gut center triad. The underlying emotion associated with the gut center is anger. It fuels the drive or passion for each of the gut types.
Emotion: Anger - Externalized
Energy: Lust, Larger than Life
Eight represents the externalized version of anger. their anger is like a summer thunderstorm; it rises quickly, it booms and pounds intensely, and it’s over in a flash. When it’s finished, it’s finished. The air is clear.
Eight’s drive or passion plays out as Excess or Lust (Lust in this instance refers to a “lust for life” rather than the sexual connotation.) Live life to the fullest, and then go further. Taste it, eat it, smell it! Give it everything you’ve got. Hold nothing back!
So it’s not surprising that the energy of Eights strikes the rest of us as large. They fill up a room energetically. We feel their will and strength as a large force field extending out from them, pushing ahead with their agenda. We can either feel energized or intimidated by this energy. However we may feel, Eights want to be met energetically. “Sensing” from the gut, they push the force field out to check your force field. They want to know where you stand. Are you friend or foe? Will you stand your ground? Are you worthy?
If you are intimidated and flee (either actually or with your energy by withdrawing inside yourself), the Eight moves forward. You may be foe or unworthy, and since the Eight can’t sense your presence, s/he must move forward to confront, to find out what you’re really made of.
An Eight stewardess describes her experience: “When people pull back from me or I can’t get a sense of them, it feels like there’s a “power void” and I must move into it. I realize this now, and I’m working on just allowing the void, but my natural reaction is to fill up the space.” Nature abhors a vacuum, and no type exemplifies this more than Eights.
To honor the Eight, we need to meet their considerable energy. To do this, we need to push our own energy from our gut. Bring your attention to the belly center. Now push out your own force field. Allow their force field to probe and find you. If you are trying to communicate with an Eight, be clear, direct, to the point. Don’t be wishy-washy, don’t explain your entire thinking process, just let ‘er rip. Stand your ground, while pushing out with your own force field. Do not escalate the conflict or discussion - this will just cause the Eight’s energy to rise. Unless you are an Eight, you can’t rise as far as they can, and you’ll be crushed. By the same token, do not wimp out or withdraw your energy. State your position clearly, firmly, and briefly while pushing out with your force field. Show yourself to be worthy of respect in the world of the Eight.
Emotion: Anger - Internalized
Energy: Rigid Containment
One contains the internalized version of anger - resentment. Anger is stuffed deep inside and seeps out in in the guise of irritation, frustration, and resentment. Anger can even be turned against the One himself in the form of haranguing by the internal critic. In this sense, Ones’ anger is more like an active volcano that is not allowed to blow. Small bursts of steam vent through clenched teeth as the One seethes.
Resentment is the drive or passion of the One. Small wonder since anger doesn’t get blown off as with the Eight. A One is angry at “having” to circumvent her own desires for that which should be done. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be any reward for being virtuous and responsible. One is angry at the inherent unfairness of this situation. Others just skate by, shirking responsibility or cutting corners, and they aren’t penalized for it. In fact, others seem to be enjoying pleasure and indulging their desires, without necessarily having earned them.
The other eight Points of the Enneagram experience Ones’ energy as contained, but intense. (Pragmatic clarity and seriousness characterize Ones, when not angry.) There is a sense that if the One did blow, it would be along the lines of Krakatoa. Sometimes, the energy can feel stabbing - like a small slice by the force field with each vent of steam, in the form of criticism. We can find ourselves on the defensive and pushing back angrily.
To meet One’s energy, focus your attention on your belly and the ground. Keep your force field constant. Rather than get defensive, explain your position clearly and calmly. Take the One seriously, and above all don’t criticize him. Remember the inner critic is already bashing him. Point out while staying in your gut that there is more than one right answer, but elicit his help with change whenever possible. One’s energy can be rigid, tight when change is called for. Allow time if possible for the One to adjust to the change, and elicit their help with the change whenever possible.
Emotion: Anger - Forgotten
Drive: Sloth or Indolence
Energy: Diffuse Extension
Nines lost awareness of or “forgot” they were angry, but they are no less driven by it than are Ones and Eights. Anger is kept safely hidden from the Nine’s view, but s/he pays a price by also losing her own priorities, desires, even her passion. The strength and action that are the birthright of the gut center are simply not felt. Nines are like an inactive volcano. It takes a lot of energy not to notice something, which may help explain why Nines often feel ‘low energy’ or feel they are enlivened by the energy of others.
Their drive is sloth or indolence toward their own priorities or agendas. Down in the gut lives anger, which the Nine has “forgotten,” but what also lives there is Passion and Life Force and a Nine’s own desires/needs. This inadvertent sacrifice has Nines seemingly just blowing whichever way the wind blows, just going along with life, rather than actively participating or creating a life.
Nines seem diffuse energetically to the rest of us, as if the molecules of their force field are spread out over a great distance. They passively sense their environment from the gut center and take in energy and cues from their surroundings and others. Their energy and attention can extend over a large area. One Nine told me “I sometimes feel that I can sense what is going on on the whole property, even though I’m in the front office.”
Their feeling of being merged or “One with everything” can leave the rest of us wondering if they have a separate self or preference. They appear to just go along. If pushed hard however, they seem to sweetly solidify into a smiling immovable object. While they haven’t chosen a course of action, they have rejected being pushed into one. We find them to be calm, peaceful, easygoing folk, albeit a little extended into the environment. Being with a Nine can feel like falling into a big, comfortable space. It is important to maintain awareness of your boundaries so that you don’t get “lost” in the Niney space.
To truly honor a Nine, allow time for him/her to make a decision without jumping in either with words or non-verbally with your energy (force field) to give them a decision to merge with. Stay steady, don't push, calmly redirect the Nine to making his/her preference known.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
David Daniels and Virginia Price have released a new, updated version of their wonderful book The Essential Enneagram. Most of you know that I am no fan of Enneagram tests save as a way to begin self inquiry - this book contains my favorite of the tests to use for that purpose. It's full of useful information to begin or add to your Enneagram journey. The authors and publisher want to make it available to everyone and the price tag of $12 ($10.18 at Amazon) makes it a book no Enneagram enthusiast can afford to pass up.
Click here to buy it on Amazon.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Energy and the Three Triads
We've been talking about the "energy" of the Enneagram types in the latest blog posts. What is energy? How does this play out for each of the types.
The dictionary uses substance, intensity, spirit, and strength as synonyms for the word energy. We might even use the word vibration. We notice an energetic of each person we meet, though we usually don’t use the word energy to describe them. We might say “s/he really takes up a lot of space.” “I feel uplifted and excited just being around them.” “It feels like s/he doesn’t have much flexibility, once a decision’s been made.” It’s like his body’s in the room, but he’s somewhere else.”
These statements are all descriptions of energetic states that we sense. Feeling and sensing our environment are aspects of emotional intelligence and natural to us as human beings. We can also sense the energy of other people. And each of the Enneagram types has its own particular energetic. It is as if each of us has a force field that contains our energy or life force.
Each triad of the Enneagram is driven by an emotion linked to the primary intelligence center. The gut triad is driven by anger, the head triad by fear, and the heart triad by grief. Individual types within the triad play out the emotion in a different manner. In each group of three, one type externalizes the emotion, one type internalizes the emotion, and the third type has “forgotten” that emotion. The underlying emotion and the primary center of intelligence seem to ‘create’ the energy or force field of each of the type. Therefore the energy or force field is embodied very differently by each of the Enneagram types.
In attempting to recognize another person’s type, sensing their energy or force field can be invaluable. We all may embody all the traits and characteristics of the Enneagram types at different times or in different situations. The energy we feel from another can give us clues as to how they come at the world and narrow down their type for us.
Energy - Sensing The Force Field
In our attempt to discover another’s type, we can tap into our emotional intelligence and sense their energy or vital force. In blog posts to come, we'll examine descriptions of each type and how their energy or ‘force field’ feels to the rest of us. In so doing, we gain a map reading tool in finding another individual’s type on the Enneagram map.
It may be helpful in our understanding of the specific manifestation of the force field for each type to examine the triad, the underlying emotion, and the drive the emotion fuels. Most important, we will learn how to meet and honor other energies vis a vis their Enneagram types. Energy becomes a profound tool for understanding and connecting with others.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Great article here on Huffpo. Thanks, Karen. Twenty years ago when I began teaching the Enneagram, I would tell people what I did and they would need me to spell the word and explain in depth. Now when I'm on a plane or at a gathering and mention the Enneagram, I'm more likely to hear "I'm a Six" or "We learned it at work, I"m a One." The Enneagram is merely a map, not the territory. One of the best things about this map is that it promotes inquiry with a common language - it is not simply categorization. (And it is not the only map that does this, but I find it the most profound and useful.) Things we might have taken personally, we come to realize are often simply people being themselves. The Enneagram promotes awareness and consciousness, not stereotyping. It is rich and deep - and if we are lucky and aware, someday we will no longer need any map for understanding one another - we will truly be able to appreciate the territory of another as well as ourselves.
For more resources or to learn more, check out www.everydayenneagramblog.blogspot.com and www.9points.com.
author of The Everyday Enneagram
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost
Sunday, May 24, 2009
The nine types of the Enneagram can be further divided into three “triads” or groups of three, based on the primary center of intelligence through which the world is understood and reactions are formulated. These energy centers are like complementary organs of perception that help us make sense of our environment and relationships. Types 8, 9, and 1 share the gut as the primary center or organ of perception. The heart is the primary center for types 2, 3, and 4. Types 5, 6, and 7 use primarily the head center.
The head center is useful in logical reasoning, abstract thought, the use of language and symbols, and imagery. It is also the organ of perception involved in planning, memory, strategizing, and envisioning pitfalls and possibilities. Our dreams and our visions of the future are created in the head center. We synthesize information and make mental connections here. It is the center that we most commonly associate with understanding and “intelligence.”
When many of us first attended school, we discovered that we were to use the head center as our primary intelligence for learning. IQ tests were based on head center skills such as memory and logical or abstract thought. 5’s, 6’s, and 7’s probably felt right at home. Unfortunately, 6/9 of the Enneagram types were asked to value the head center over their primary learning and understanding center. Small wonder that many of us felt misunderstood or had difficulty adapting to “head centered” learning.
The heart center is important to our emotional life. This is the center where we feel connection to other beings as well as to ourselves. The heart center is the repository of our love, empathy and compassion. Love and loss, bliss and pain reside in the heart. Our ability to intuit how we appear to others is located in this center of intelligence. We understand how others perceive us through the heart center. We tap into others’ approval or disapproval of us, and feel what adjustments will shift their perceptions. (Fours often make adjustments against what will gain another’s approval - to prove their uniqueness and that no one can understand them. But make no mistake, they are just as concerned with how they are perceived as are Twos and Threes.)
The gut center is the instinctual and sensate center. The world is sensed or felt from the belly, below the umbilicus. The gut center senses the spatial location of objects and people in the environment. Sensing the elemental, the realms of wind, rain, earth, rock, and storm, comes naturally to the gut center, . This is the center of our intuition or “gut knowing.” This center instinctively knows the ‘best” way to do something. The gut ‘senses’ conflict vs harmony in the environment even when no words are spoken. This is the center of our power, our strength, and our instinctual knowing.
The skills and talents of the heart and gut centers can be best described as our emotional and sensory intelligence. Daniel Goleman, in his excellent books on Emotional Intelligence refers to our EQ or emotional intelligence quotient. He describes those natural abilities of the heart and gut centers. Many of us have not cultivated or exercised these aptitudes, even if our primary intelligence center is the heart or gut. We may not have been cognizant of their existence nor have understood their importance to our daily living. Yet we use them all the time, whether we are aware of it or not.
The Centers of Intelligence in Daily Life
Let’s look at the contribution of these three centers of intelligence to an everyday decision faced by each of us at some point in life - finding a home or place to live.
We look at the factual information: how far we’ll need to travel to work, whether it fits in our price range, if it is close to shopping or schools, or other services. We look at the rooms, imagine how we might decorate them, and what we might change to fit our vision of a home. All of these are the purview of the head center.
The intelligence of the heart center is concerned with connection - is this a place that we might feel connected to ourselves and/or others? How will our friends and family feel about this move? Will we make new friends or feel connected to our neighbors? Do we feel emotionally drawn here? A sense of loss of the old home may even be felt in the midst of the anticipation of the new.
The gut center helps us to sense layout of the space - the feel of the rooms, whether expansive or cozy, open or protected. We get a sense of the area, the neighborhood from our gut. Is it friendly or adversarial, safe or hostile, open or secluded? Our gut instinct tells us if this is the right neighborhood, house, or place for us.
All of the intelligence of the three centers comes into play when we are making a decision. If all three are in agreement that the choice is right, the decision is easy. If there is conflict among the intelligences, we may struggle to ‘think it through.” Or we may decide against the move, waiting until it “feels right.” However, we may not be able to articulate why we chose as we did, if we are only aware of our head or mental center as the intelligence behind our decision-making process.
On the occasions that we have been aware of using the heart and gut centers’ abilities as part of our everyday life, we may have learned to discount them, to devalue their contribution, or to hide our reliance on them. As we learn the role of each of the centers intelligences, we may avail ourselves of their perspectives. The information derived from all three of these centers is vital to our becoming fully conscious and functioning human beings. And because this sensing or emotional intelligence is an innate part of being human, we can re-incorporate or re-member these abilities with only a little practice.
Exercise - Part I.
Think back to an important decision you made in your life. Remember if you can, the role of the three centers of intelligence in your decision making process. How did thinking, feeling, and sensing contribute to and affect your decision?
For the next decision you have to make, consciously assess its parameters with all three centers of intelligence. What does your head tell you? Your heart? Your gut? Are they in agreement?
(Material adapted from The Everyday Enneagram. )
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Determining your Point on the Enneagram of personality is best accomplished as a personal journey of self-discovery. The journey may be short or long depending on a number of factors: how well you know your internal terrain, how much you’ve camouflaged your natural personality to “get along” in the world, and the amount of time you spend noticing your thoughts, feelings, and actions.
A number of written tests have been developed that purport to find your Enneagram type. Unfortunately, results have been inconclusive (ambiguous) at best, and just plain wrong at worst. Nevertheless, a written test can be useful in beginning the process of inquiry into your habitual way of thinking, feeling, and acting.
Why don’t the tests conclusively ascertain our type? The Enneagram describes a worldview, certain beliefs and traits associated with that worldview, and habitual ways of perceiving and being in everyday life. Many of these aspects of type can be elucidated through pencil and paper tests. However, a very important element eludes reduction to multiple choice questions: the energy of each of the Enneagram types. That’s right - energy.
Energy is the manifestation of the life force of each of us. We sense the “energy” or substance of another individual whenever we come in contact with him. We feel if he “takes up a lot of space” or seems “lightweight”, if he seems “down to earth” or “transparent, almost invisible.” These descriptions by ordinary people about others embody what we mean by “energy”. We don’t physically see this energy, yet we have a ‘sense’ of the substance or life force of another even if we don’t think of it as “energy.” Each of the types has a specific energetic; a type of energy based on the primary center of intelligence utilized by the type. Each type also expresses a basic underlying emotion. How that basic, subconscious emotion is addressed by each particular type contributes to the “energetic.”
Centers of Intelligence: Making Sense of Our World
We perceive and interpret information from the environment through our five senses of hearing, seeing, taste, touch, and smell. Each of these senses has its own intelligence, adding to our conception and experience of the world around us. Yet we have more than our five senses to help us parse our environment and those that people it. We take in vital information through three additional senses or centers of intelligence. These centers are less well known, but are indispensable to understanding how we develop a worldview.
The three centers are the head or visionary center, the heart or emotional center, and the gut or instinctual center. All humans have all three centers of intelligence; although we may not access each of them equally. In the next few blog entries, we’ll examine the three centers in greater detail, how energy manifests for each Enneagram type, and how to feel and work with these different energies. Stay tuned.
(Material adapted from The Everyday Enneagram: A Personality Map for Enhancing Your Work, Love, and Life...Everyday.)
Saturday, May 2, 2009
After a looooooooong hiatus, the Everyday Enneagram Blog is back online. While the blogsite took a backseat to hot flashes and hormonal hissy fits during the completion of my latest book “The Big M”, the Enneagram itself was a lifesaver as I found myself bouncing from stress type to security to types I’ve never truly accessed before. The Change of life is a bit like a virulent and sudden case of MPD - Multiple Personality Disorder. And I gotta tell you, it’s a chance to explore the low side of all Nine types. Without ever leaving home. Or talking to another soul. (More info on The Big M available at Menopause Goddess Blog and The Big M website. )
Thankfully, tincture of time has allowed for a reintegration of personality back to my Seven - One - Five home triangle. Just in time to announce “World Enneagram Day” on Saturday, May 30, 2009. Brainchild of the Board of Directors of the International Enneagram Association, this day is dedicated to awareness, consciousness, and presence vis a vis the Enneagram as a map to understanding.
Many of us who are teachers and consultants will be offering free Enneagram talks, classes, and group discussions. Our greater Enneagram community (which is ALL of you readers and seekers as well as teachers) are asked to focus attention and intention through inquiry, meditation, and prayer for all beings in the name of Peace.
To find out more as time draws nearer, visit the International Enneagram Association website for classes and activities near you. Stay tuned to this blogsite as well, and since you are all part of this co-creation, please offer your ideas, insights and suggestions.