of the Enneagram types has a unique gift that they contribute to
the full spectrum of human potential. However, each gift has a dark
side. Much like the yin-yang symbol, there is a little shadow in
each gift and a little gift in each shadow. Gifts and traits do
not make up the most significant aspect of the Enneagram. We cannot
understand ourselves or others by a simple enumeration of observable
traits, but must enter the prevailing worldview and the beliefs
that flower from its seed. The internal terrain and dialogue give
us our first glimpse of the real power of the Enneagram - to see
the world through new eyes. Click on the type you wish to know more
Point One - the Perfectionist
Life is about correcting error and striving for improvement.
Drive: Internalized Anger - Resentment
have an innate ability to assess potential for improvement in any
situation. They quite naturally notice what is right or wrong in
all areas of life and are highly motivated to improve it. Often
they intuit the best way to do a job or solve a problem very quickly.
Ones are responsible, dependable people who pride themselves on
their honesty and integrity. These idealists of the Enneagram can
contribute ideas and energy for reform.
side of the gift.
Ones attention to error can lead to criticism and judgement of self
and others. They may believe they possess superior knowledge of
the one right way. It may be difficult to recognize when something
is good enough. Perfectionists exhibit a tendency to engage in black
and white thinking. Relationships, tasks, even life are judged either
good or bad, right or wrong, fair or unfair. They often take on
too much responsiblity and feel resentful that others don't do their
share or come through with their commitments. Forsaking pleasure
in favor of what "should" be done adds fuel to the fire
of resentment that burns inside. Fear of making mistakes or appearing
foolish can lead to procrastination in decision-making.
Ones have an enormous internal critic berating and judging them,
continually finding them wanting. All of us have an inner critic,
but the Perfectionist's internal voice is relentless. Ones are often
surprised when others accuse them of being critical, since they
share only the tiniest fraction of their ongoing internal critique.
In the belief that everyone is as focused on improving as they are,
Ones feel that they are simply sharing the best they have to offer.
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Point Two - The Helper
(My) Love makes the world go round.
have a natural ability to make empathic connections with others.
feel what others feel or need. They are driven to connect with others
emotionally and fill
their needs. Helpers are talented networkers, making connections
between other people.
Twos may facilitate others in reaching their potential. They enjoy
being the power behind
the throne and enthusiastically supporting others. At their best,
they are warm and caring.
At times, Twos can be true altruists, where giving is as natural
as breathing and free of
side of the gift. Twos often are so tuned into other's needs/ feelings
that they are not
aware of their own. As a result, they can find themselves drained,
and then angry.
Unconscious giving has a hook in it. Helpers give to get their own
needs met. Helpers may
use warmth and flattery to get their own way. This can feel manipulative
to recipients of
Two's helpfulness. At times, Two's may give to others who have not
asked for help or
don't want what they have to offer. Pride exhibits itself in the
Two as a feeling of knowing
what others really need.
Twos literally feel like they leave their body through their heart
to empathize with others
and intuit their needs. Because their attention is so directed to
others, they are unaware of
their own needs or feelings. But if we look at life from the perspective
of the Helper, we
find a conviction that survival and getting love depend on sensing
and meeting the needs of
others. The connection with others is lifeblood to the Two and is
guaranteed if they
become necessary to us.
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Point Three - the Performer
Life is about presenting a successful image.
Efficacy and Adaptability
high energy people, Performers get things done. They make things
happen. Threes can adapt to any situation or group with a chameleon-like
ability to match the environment. Performers inspire and motivate
through charm and presentation of a successful image. No type on
the Enneagram is more aware of the power of image. They are natural
side of the gift.
Three's focused attention on goals and tasks can overshadow other
aspects of their lives. Feelings are often relegated to the back
burner in service of doing. Performers may use others to get task
done or run over anyone who is in the way of completion. Threes
may cut corners to complete goals or projects, so long as it looks
good to others.
Threes can become so identified with the image they present or with
what they do that they lose themselves. They may not be sure of
their real feelings or desires. "I'm successful at this, but
do I really want to do it?" Their talent for adapting presentation
to fit the audience, or identifying with their doing can leave them
fearing they have no authentic self. "If I stop doing or performing,
others will find out that I am a fraud and there really is nothing
inside. " Love and survival depend on maintaining a successful
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Four - The Romantic
Something essential is missing from life. I'll be complete if I
can just find it.
Uniqueness and Emotional Intensity.
have a singular ability to be present with life's more intense situations:
grief, death, depression. Through their understanding of dark nights
of the soul, they accompany others on the journey. Romantics model
that you will eventually get through the difficult times, and illuminate
the riches to be found in the depths. Fours brings originality and
creativity to any enterprise. Often blessed with a strong sense
of the dramatic and/or aesthetic, they prefer to make a unique contribution
side of the gift:
Romantics crave emotional intensity and connection. Their highs
and lows can be perceived as "too much" for the other
types. A tendency toward dramatic presentation and affect can alienate
other people. The Fours' attraction to melancholy and the "darker"
emotions can seem like wallowing to the rest of us. At its worst,
melancholy can slide into depression. Insistence on exhibiting their
uniqueness or difference can be counterproductive to their own goals
and offputting to others.
A Four feels that something is missing in his/her life. Other people
have it and the Romantic envies them. The Four longs for the missing
element that will make them whole. There is a bittersweet flavor
to Four's longing and melancholy. They crave a deep connection where
they will be met emotionally. Authenticity is found in intense feeling
states. If Four can't find what will complete them, at least they
will have intensity. Ordinariness is akin to a sort of death. Love
and survival depend on being true to one's inner emotional terrain.
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Point Five - the Observer
Knowledge will keep me safe.
have a natural ability to detach from feelings, needs, and other
people. Clarity and a cool head prevail for the Five in situations
where others are emotional or succumbing to chaos. The observer
stance lends itself to keen observational powers. Fives are often
good listeners and do not push what they know onto others. Fives
are independent, self-contained people. They delve deeply into areas
of knowledge that excite them, often becoming experts in subjects
they explore. They exhibit a highly developed capacity for systematization
of thought, for analyzing and synthesizing complex information.
Side of The Gift:
Five's approach can be overly mental when a more feeling approach
is called for. They can seem to be distant or emotionally unavailable
to the other types. Observers can seem disengaged with life, preferring
the mental realms of thought to interaction. Their strong needs
for privacy can extend to isolation. A belief that energy is limited
can lead to compartmentalization of life. There are compartments
for work, relationship,and leisure each with their concomitant time
limits. Fives can withhold information, time, energy, and even themselves.
Fives have strong feelings just like everyone else, but prefer to
deal with them later when safely alone. Observers feel that they
only have so much energy and can be overwhelmed by too much input.
They need blocks of private time to recharge. Yet, Fives can put
out enormous amounts of energy if they know what is expected of
them. They dislike open-ended unpredictable situations. Observers
accumulate knowledge; they want to understand. Fives often feel
safer if they do not share all that they know keeping some knowledge
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Six - the Loyal Skeptic
The world is a dangerous place. Most people have hidden agendas.
flavors of six: Phobic and Counterphobic
Loyal commitment and planning
strong powers of imagination enable them to see the pitfalls, downside,
or dangers of any situation. Masterful planners, Loyal Skeptic,
visualize ways to deal with or avoid these dangers. Sixes exhibit
tremendous loyalty to a cause or person they believe in. They are
often committed, dutiful, behind-the-scenes workers or team players.
side of the Gift:
Sixes' highly developed sense of danger can be activated when the
actual potential threat is very low. The other types may feel that
they are messengers of doom and gloom or excessive worriers. Like
the boy who cried wolf, they can lose credibility with constant
alarmist messages, and be discounted when a true danger or pitfall
is imminent. Loyalty of the Six can be misplaced and against Six'es
own best interest. Commitment and duty can exhaust and overwhelm
Sixes can instantly see the downside or danger in any situation.
They actually see it in the mind's eye as if it were happening in
real-time and experience the fear reaction in their bodies as if
the event were taking place. Sixes stay vigilant at all times and
make plans to avoid or confront the potential dangers. When a real
danger presents itself, Devil's Advocates move into action and fear
drops away. Fear lives in the mind. Devil's Advocates insist that
they are not pessimists, but realists. They see the pitfalls that
the rest of us miss. Sixes keep looking for an authority that they
can trust, but believe that most people in authority abuse their
power. But when their loyalty is committed to a cause or ideal,
they will lay down their lives in service to it.
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Seven - the Epicure
Life is an adventure with limitless possibilities.
optimistic Seven sees the bright side of any situation. A high energy,
upbeat person, the Epicure can sweep others up in his enthusiasm.
S/he enjoys envisioning possibilities and options. Sevens are great
Idea people spinning out seemingly endless visions and potentials.
Planning for future pleasure and fun is a major preoccupation of
the Epicure. Sevens are synergistic thinkers who make connections
between seemingly unlike things.
Side of the Gift:
The Seven's one-sided focus on the bright side of life can lead
them to neglect an entire realm of human experience. Sadness, pain,
loss or difficulty are assiduously avoided by the Epicure. Others
may find that the Seven cannot be counted on to be there in times
of crisis, or even to address serious issues. The archetypal child
who never grows up, the Seven rushes greedily to the next experience
or sensation. The Epicure's ability to reframe problems into positives
may lead them to dismiss real the downsides of life. Sevens feel
trapped by limitation of options, which can lead to difficulties
with commitment - to tasks, people, or both. Epicures spin out ideas
and visions prodigiously, but may not complete projects. Sevens
can be dilettantes trying a variety of jobs, hobbies, sports, yet
moving on to something new before becoming truly proficient at any
Sevens feel that life is just too wonderful to waste time wallowing
in pain or sadness. Why be down when you can be up? They can find
the silver lining in the darkest cloud. Life seems filled with endless
possibilites. Epicures like to have a lot of options and plans open,
even if they don't avail themselves of these possibilities. Commitment
to a single option feels like being trapped. When a Seven has a
great idea or vision, they almost feel like they've done it already
- in the mind. So it isn't necessarily important to complete a project
when they've already had the satisfaction of the idea. If bored,
Ithe Seven sees no problem in just moving on to something new. Deep
inside,Sevens" avoidance of pain and emotional difficulty stems
from the fear that the feelings will annihilate them.
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Eight - the Boss
Only the strong survive.
Drive: Lust (Excess)
are straightforward, direct, what-you-see-is-what-you-get people.
They are able to take charge and make decisions quickly. Bosses
are people of action. They can inspire others to do more than they
thought possible by the sheer force of their will. Eights often
act as protectors of the weak and promoters of justice. Bosses are
ebullient, larger-than-life leaders who partake of life's pleasure
with all their being. Eights are sensate people who respond to the
elements: wind, water, rock, storm.
Side of the Gift:
Eight's direct, no-nonsense approach can feel brutal and controlling
to others. Unaware of their impact, they can steamroll over the
emotions and wishes of others to get their own way. Decisions made
quickly by gut instinct may not be adequately tempered with thought
or feeling. Eights can divide the world into those who are worthy
and those who are not. Those who are deserving (according to the
Eight) fall under the Boss's protective wing. Others deemed weak
and unworthy seem almost caricature-like to the Eight and are simply
"eaten" or vanquished. The laws of the jungle apply in
the Boss's worldview. Lust for life may lead to excesses dangerous
to health and hearth. eg. drugs, alcohol, exercise. Others can see
the Eight as too much, too loud, too everything.
"I don't care if you like me, but you'd better respect me,"
says the Boss. Eights enjoy a good fight with a worthy adversary,
because the truth comes out in a fight. They like it when others
stand up to them - they can find out what they're made of. Although
Eights have a hard time holding back their emotions when angry,
their anger is brief and intense as a summer storm. Bosses can't
help taking command of a situation. They may not necessarily need
to be in control, but Eights hate to be controlled. . If a Boss
is enjoying something, s/he want to engage in it full-force, no
holds barred. As one Eight said, "If it's good, just kill me
with it!" Although Eights look strong, they avoid their own
vulnerability. Afraid that they might be weak deep down inside,
they convert those softer feelings into boredom and find the antidote
in their lust for life or excess.
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Nine - the Mediator
Life is about harmony - going with the flow.
Unconscious Drive: Sloth (Self-forgetting)
are the great receivers of the Enneagram; open and accepting of
others without judgement. An open, calm demeanor exemplifies these
easygoing people. Able to sense other's internal states, Nines are
capable of merging into deep connection with others. Through this
understanding comes an ability to see all sides of an issue and
to play peacemaker between warring factions. Mediators value being
(as opposed to doing) and often live in the present moment.
Side of the Gift:
merging with the agendas and priorities of others to avoid disharmony
leaves the Nine asleep to his/her own preferences. The mediator
can adopt a passive role and wait for others to determine the course.
Living in the present moment can make planning and prioritizing
for the future a difficult task. Seeing all things as equal can
interfere with decision making and lead to procrastination. The
Nine's desire for peace can curtail healthy conflict and problem
solving. The laws of inertia may be said to apply to mediators -
when in action they can keep going indefinitely, but when they stop
it may take a lot of energy to get them going again. Peaceful affect
of Nines can be interpreted as low energy or sluggishness by others.
Nines find it easier to go along with other's preferences rather
than trying to find their own. First, it's difficult for them to
know what they want. Second, they don't want to risk their desire
conflicting with that of someone important to them. Peacemakers
like life to be harmonious and comfortable. They find it so easy
to accept people just as they are, they can't see why everyone can't
just get along. Because all viewpoints and input seem equal to Nines,
it's easy for them to act as mediators. However, all things being
equal causes a great deal of turmoil inside the Nine. All the things
needing to be done or attended to clamor for their attention, and
they are unable to prioritize or act. Sometimes, Nines numb themselves
with TV, books, or food to just space out and stop the inner chaos.
It can be difficult to get started again.