SITE: “Personality tool: Understanding the Enneagram”. Scroll down for info on each type’s way of expressing emotions
CORE EMOTIONAL responses of the 3 Basic Centers
An important way of using the Enneagram is to identify & properly deal with the emotional essences of each triad – which developed out of biological responses to survival threats. These responses can be seen across ALL mammalian behavior, as shown by modern Affective (emotional) neuroscience – that the same distress-emotions are triggered when the organism’s three BASIC NEEDS are not met. (MORE….)
CENTERS: Feeling / Heart (234), Thinking / Head (567) & Gut, which includes Instinctive (digestion, breathing, heartbeat) & Sensory aspects (running…). Interesting: Gut acts 30,000 times faster than Heart, itself 30,000 times faster than Head. (“The Fourth Way”)
● EVERY type is capable of experiencing ALL emotions, but each Center is driven by a main one. When things get tough, frustrating, don’t go our way… there’s an inner ‘default’ setting that triggers one of these:
234s = Grief, Shame / 567s = Fear, Anxiety / 891s = Anger, Rage
– AND each Type in that triads handles it’s primary emotion in differently:
overt, covert or neutral.
The first # “externalizes” :
2 its shame, 5 its fear, 8 its anger
The second # “represses” :
3 its shame, 6 its fear, 9 its anger
The third # “internalizes” :
4 its shame, 7 its fear, 1 its anger
● Basic FEARS – Triad emotion are our automatic
‘natural’ way of responding to the world, but most people are not conscious that it’s what really fuels their daily reactions. When these emotions are cut off from our Core Self, they generate the Type’s defense mechanism, which underpin all dysfunction. While each Center has it’s preferred emotion, Riso & Hudson explained that each TYPE also has an underlying fear – OF:
1s – being corrupt, defective, unbalanced
2s – being unwanted, unworthy of love
3s – being worthless
4s – no identity or personal significance
5s – being helpless, incapable, useless
6s – not able to survive on their own
7s – pain and deprivation
8s – being harmed or controlled by others
9s – be lost or separated from self & others
● Beatrice Chestnut, psychologist & Enneagram teacher, condensed a human child’s early needs into 3 challenges – reflected in the emotional ‘disturbances’ of the Enneagram’s 3 centers when not properly fulfilled:
A. Need to feel mirrored - when their caregiver makes direct, loving, face-to-face, eye-to-eye contact, so the young child feels ‘seen’ for who they are.
REACTION: Distress/Panic, from the loss of connection & bonding. Heart types innately pursue this need, but do it incorrectly by creating a false persona as a substitute. This makes it hard to be curious about oneself, others & life. They’re just too busy maintaining & watching what they do, so it will conform to their created IMAGES:
2s – of being thoughtful & considerate – so others will respond favorably to ‘such a selfless person’ who only thinks of others
3s – of being a confident, successful person (so others will respond with respect to such a competent, achieving individual)
4s – of being a unique person, different from everyone else (so others will at least think they are special rather than lost or deficient).
B. Need to not feel fear - so they’ll be protected from real danger, or whatever is imagined to be dangerous.
REACTION: Fear/Anxiety, when we experience the threat, challenge, or danger to our very security. Head types figure out what makes life certain & secure for themselves. Some fear is necessary & useful as long as it’s not all-pervasive & overwhelming. When it’s too great, it is very hard to be open to & curious about all the good things available to us.
It’s also imperative to separate fear that is real from what’s self-created (from Toxic Beliefs/S-H).
5s – move away from anything that scares them, retreating into a solitary, private world where they only rely on themselves
6s obsessively imagine future danger, &/OR act fearless, as a way of coping with their ever-present fear of life
7s try to avoid fear entirely with constant distractions, sticking to a positive attitude, always considering new possibilities, & planning escapes
C. Need to feel held & supported – seen in very young children who need to be securely wrapped & held, to not feel the threat of being dropped (injured or dead)
REACTION: Anger/Rage, when we experience not being able to depend on our caretakers to ‘back us up’ – neglected, violated & repeatedly deprived of what they want/need. Body Types can sense what’s wrong about their world, know what actions are needed to correct it & how to get their needs met. They want to control their experience & environment to deal with underlying anxiety.
8s try to ‘hold’ everything & everyone by taking charge
9s ‘hold’ by repetitive activities that soothe them (narcotizing)
1s ‘hold’ by being self-controlled, trying to control or structure every aspect of their life.
LAYERS of the SELF
Outer = COMPULSIVE Self, Behavior is automatic /compulsive
Next = OBSERVING Self, Beginning awareness, ability to observe & detach from compulsions
Semi-Inner = HIGHER Self Increasing awareness & autonomy, the ability to access higher functions of the Centers
Inner/Center = ESSENTIAL Self
Unified consciousness, not trapped in or identified with any one Enneagram Center (Chart: ‘Nine Paths’ 12/26/12)
Moving from the outer circle of Stress & Security points towards our center requires consistent self-observation.
NEXT: Triad Emotions (Heart)