Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Social Instinct

Intro to the concept of instinctual stacking here.

What sets apart those who are social-first?

On the most basic level, they have a desire to be accepted into and approved of by a group.  Being smiled at, welcomed, hugged, and/or even admired and respected by everyone within a circle of friends makes them feel happy and comfortable.  They may seek this end result through various kinds of friendly, meek, cooperative, nice, sweet, considerate behavior, or through whatever type of behavior is approved of or considered "cool" by the group they desire to be accepted by.  The average social-first person is, in other words, highly vulnerable to peer pressure; but whether or not they've donned tough exteriors, on the inside (and usually it does show on the outside as well) they are soft, sweet, tender, vulnerable, earnest, childlike, and eager to please.

Due to caring what everyone in the group thinks about them, the attention pattern of the social-first is diffused, taking in the vibes and the vocal, facial and body-language cues of everyone around them simultaneously.  And just as diffused light is softer and gentler than a single point of light focused through a lens, similarly the energy of the social-first is easier for many to get along with or feel comfortable around than the intense energy of the sexual-first.  Of course, if the social-first in question happens to be hyperactive or full of super bouncy energy, have strong opinions, or be very attached to certain habits or traits that are perceived as flaws by others, that may be difficult to handle for others who don't share that aspect of their nature or have any attraction to it; I don't mean to imply that social-first people don't have their own ways of being intense or difficult from time to time!  Everyone has his or her own personality, and can adjust it to suit others only so far before snapping back into authentic individuality.  But at least, with social-first people, there's more of an awareness and concern about the feelings of others, so they will often endeavor to be considerate as best they can given their nature, whereas sexual-first people tend to focus most on their own interests and desires (and those of the particular other people they care about most), and may sometimes be a bit inconsiderate toward those whom they've mentally ranked as less important to them.

The heightened awareness of others that social-first people have is related to such traits as sympathy and compassion; if you're very in-tune with the feelings of others, it's natural to feel that you can't be happy if someone else isn't.  As a result, social-first people are the likeliest people to engage in altruistic work.  Even if they don't engage in it themselves, they'll often find some way of supporting it, whether that be through giving in charity, voting for candidates who promise to help the downtrodden, purchasing from companies that try to do good or make a difference in the world, or some other means.

Some social-first people are content to lead simple lives with no greater ambition than to be accepted by a certain limited group of people who are important to them.  Whether that be their family, friends, neighbors, schoolmates, and/or co-workers, these people have a smaller, narrower circle of concern.  Others who are a bit more broad-minded may still be affected by a strong sense of pride and "clannishness" (or patriotism) that leads them to care a bit more about their fellow countrymen and their own nation than those from elsewhere in the world (or maybe those who share some other important trait with them, such as belonging to the same race, religion, gender, etc.).  Still others, more broad-minded yet, see no differences that matter between human beings of any description, and long to see all humankind getting along joyfully together and treating each other well; and the most broad-minded of all bestow their boundless compassion upon every species of living being in existence.  However limited or expanded the social-first person's circle of concern may be, there is a strong sense in them of yearning for everybody to be "one big happy family." 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Sexual Instinct

Please refer to my last post for an introduction to the concept of instinctual stacking. 

What sets apart those who are sexual-first? 

Energy signature:

Sx-first people have dynamism, drive, and charisma.  They tend to be louder, bolder and more outspoken and dramatic than those of other variants and to magnetically attract attention.  Obnoxious people are usually sx-first, but leaders and heroes often are as well.  Others tend to either love them or hate them.  They're frequently considered attractive by the opposite sex, but whether they feel attraction in return or not will quickly become clear to any interested parties; if they do, they'll pursue the object of their attraction with attention and flirting or other means; if not, their lack of interest will be clear.  They're rather accustomed to receiving attention, and when they walk into a room, they may announce their presence by immediately initiating some kind of interaction with someone who's already there, taking it for granted that the other person would like or be interested in such interaction... which may not always be the case.  Sx-first people aren't the most sensitive to subtle vibes given off by others, though those who are social-second are better at this than those who are social-last. 


Excitement, stimulation -- whatever thrills or enthuses them -- whatever they can get passionate about, whether that be a person/relationship, a cause, a game or sport or activity, an interesting conversation -- you name it, if it fires them up it will keep their attention; otherwise they'll be inclined to drop it and move on.  (That doesn't mean they'll necessarily end a relationship the minute it cools.  Although of course the most extreme sx-first people are indeed like that, there are unlimited others who stay married to one spouse for life.  But their natural tendency will be to seek out whatever is the most interesting to them at the time, so either their spouses have to be able to keep their interest, or else the sx-first has to have a strong enough sense of duty to tough it out.)

The sexual instinct is sometimes also called the one-on-one instinct because sx-first people's attention is focused, intense and one-pointed, like light concentrated through a lens, and can be directed toward only one person (or thing) at a time.  Sx-first people can rapidly switch their attention from one person to another and back, so they can at times appear to be paying attention to a whole roomful of people at once, but in fact in those situations they're focusing on various people in turn rather than everyone simultaneously.  In relationships, they seek the powerful thrill of deep, intimate connection (on the physical, mental, and/or emotional level) with whoever has captured their interest.  In many cases, finding a significant other or someone with whom they can be in a fulfilling one-on-one relationship will be the dominating need of the sx-first's entire life -- the prerequisite to their happiness and contentment.  Whenever they're in a special relationship with someone they treasure, their own desire is to spend much of their free time interacting with that person, just relishing togetherness with them and savoring the spark of mutual attraction and enjoyment.  If the other person in the relationship is not also sx-first, he or she may wish to spend free time sometimes doing other things either alone or with other people, and since this would clash with the sx-first's expectations and desires, a certain amount of unhappiness could ensue.  Though sx-firsts may indeed be jealous and possessive, they aren't necessarily so.  But even if not, they will sometimes realize to their chagrin that they and their beloved one simply want different things -- they want intense one-on-one togetherness and a deep, fantastic, amazing connection with a single other special person, while their loved one of a different instinctual variant wants to be left alone a lot, or doesn't want to be shackled/obliged or pressured (however openly or subtly) to pay paramount attention and concern to a single other person (however special to them), but rather prefers to pay a more evenly distributed amount of attention/care and concern to everyone in his or her life.

This isn't intended to imply that sx-first people make bad parents due to being too wrapped up in their significant other to pay attention to the kids.  Although that surely happens with some sx-first people, others can be great parents.  (After my relationship with my sx-first ex-husband became somewhat strained, I experienced many times that he would pay preferential attention to our son, leaving me feeling neglected -- so the same issue can happen the other way as well.)  As long as their need for one all-important successful close relationship has been met, they'll be at ease and able to face the rest of their life with energy, happiness and enthusiasm -- including maintaining plenty of other close, affectionate relationships in addition to the first one, if they so wish and their karma allows it.  :)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Self-Preservation Instinct

OK, now that I've finished saying something about each of the 9 Enneatypes, I can begin to explain in more detail what I'm referring to when I speak about the instinctual variants or a person's instinctual stacking.  I've heard it stated that one's instinctual stacking is an even more deeply-rooted, influential part of one's personality than one's Enneatype.  In any case, this is certainly a very important aspect of the Enneagram system to understand.

The basic concept, as far as I've gathered, is that there are three categories of very fundamental instinctive urges that human beings share with lower animals: the self-preservation instinct, the sexual instinct and the social instinct.  We're all pulled into certain attitudes and behaviors by each of these powerful drives to one degree or another, but which of them exerts the strongest, second-strongest and least strong influence on our personality and actions?  That is the question that, when answered, lets us know what our so-called "instinctual stacking" is.

I've read -- as well as seen in real life -- that the first two instinctual variants in one's stacking often exert what seems like an almost equally strong influence on a person, while the third and weakest instinct constitutes a sort of "blind spot" for that individual that he or she needs to work on in order to have a more healthy, whole and balanced approach to life.  However, it's not always like that; I don't even mean to imply that that's most commonly the case.  Many people have one instinct that's unquestionably the strongest in their nature, another that's definitely second and a third that's definitely in last place (with or without constituting a "blind spot" for them), while for some other people, the three instincts are much more closely balanced in their influence on the person (I am under the impression that this last possibility is quite a bit more rare, though).  But anyway, the scenario in which two or more instinctual variants are almost equally strong at the top of someone's stacking is good to keep in mind when trying to figure out what a person's stacking is, because it explains why it may be very difficult sometimes to figure out which instinct is strongest in a person's nature based on their values alone, and why, therefore, the energy patterns they exude are a crucial distinguishing criterion.

OK, intro over.  Time to get into what sets each instinct apart!

This post (as should be pretty obvious from the title ;D) will focus on the self-preservation, or "self-pres," instinct.

As far as their values are concerned:

Self-pres first people are described as preoccupied with their physical bodies' health, welfare, aches, pains, and sensations, as well as those of everyone else they care about.  They're more fussy, particular, or sensitive about the details of their physical surroundings: the light level, temperature, noise level and other things that affect physical comfort tend to be a lot more important to self-pres types than to others.  Issues of physical health and safety concerning themselves and everyone they care about will be treated by them as vitally important.  They may feel uncomfortable not addressing or treating any illness or discomfort, however mild and nonthreatening it may actually be.  Their efforts to eat right, exercise, visit the doctor regularly and take all medications they ought to be taking -- and to make sure everyone else who matters to them does the same (which, with self-pres types, may be limited to a small "inner circle" of family and friends; they tend to prefer a cozier, quieter, more pragmatic and unambitious lifestyle, without excessive social contacts) -- might appear obsessive or annoying to those with differing values.

While self-pres types can certainly enjoy humor, there's a particular brand of crass, juvenile humor that I've read (and observed) that they do not tend to find amusing.  Whether that means they are more serious, adult, or refined in their tastes... you be the judge.

Their energy signature (what sets apart those who are authentically self-pres first from those who happen to have a lot of self-pres values in their nature due to a strong self-pres second in their stacking):

People who are self-pres first are said to be quieter, having more of a tendency to keep to themselves than those with other instincts dominant.  There are, of course, completely unrelated personality traits that lead to such behavior also, such as introversion, self-doubt / shyness, and/or having withdrawn (4, 5, 9) Enneatypes in one's personality, so being somewhat quiet and loner-ish does not by any means guarantee that one is a self-pres first.  But regardless of how many of these other traits are or are not present in a person, being self-pres first tends to make them more quiet and self-contained than they would be otherwise (i.e. if they had the exact same personality type except for a different instinctual stacking).

Due to SP-first types' greater tendency to keep their thoughts to themselves, when their opinions are shared, these are often discovered by others to be thoughtful and valuable contributions to the matter at hand.  This is not at all to imply that sexual- or social-first people can't make thoughtful or valuable contributions!  But I have the impression from what I've read that being self-pres first does frequently happen to correlate with introversion in people's personalities (though again, those are two separate traits that certainly don't have to coexist in the same person), while the other instinctual variants (or maybe it was just social-first?) have a similar loose correlation to extroversion.  And it's well-established that introverts think before they speak, while extroverts generally think while speaking.  So although any of these personality types has the potential to be highly intelligent and thoughtful, with self-pres types, there's just a bit more of a likelihood that whatever comes out of their mouths will have already been mulled over and thoroughly thought through, whereas the hastier, more uninhibited personality types might speak half-formed ideas as they occur and might need to polish them up a bit in order to make them fully presentable.  ;)  Sometimes self-pres-last types, especially (those with sexual / social or social / sexual as the first and second instincts in their stacking), can be downright goofy in their wild lack of inhibition, whereas I sense a lot more restraint and fear of embarrassment in those who have self-preservation high in their stacking.  Maybe this, too, has some connection to the idea that self-pres types often speak only that which has been well-considered and is at least somewhat sensible.

All-in-all... quietness, seriousness, sensitivity, and a certain "wallflowerishness" or tendency to fade into the background are energy patterns that may set apart those who are self-pres first from those of other instinctual stackings.  (Not to say that all these traits will be present in every SP-first person -- especially not all the time; there are definitely times when SP-first people can be lighthearted and fun, or can exhibit a vividness that will make them the center of attention, for example -- but just as generalities to roughly distinguish these people from others, at least some of these traits may be looked for in SP-first types.)

Monday, September 30, 2013

Enneagram Type Nine

The quest for peace is the defining characteristic of Type Nine.  As one of the three types that inherently contain the social instinct (3, 6 and 9), awareness of discontent or suffering in anyone or anything tends to disturb the Nine until the problems have been resolved and peace restored.  This concern and sensitivity toward others leads to the Nine's classification amongst the relationship-oriented types (2, 6 and 9).  As the core members of the "gut" or "instinctual" center (8, 9 and 1), Nines are possessed of an innate, effortless awareness of certain things such as the moods and nonverbal cues of people around them, and may instinctively know what to say and do in order to achieve the effects they're looking for, especially on people they know well.  Specifically, when they operate in this role, their goal is normally to maintain a balancing act, delicately sustaining the good mood of everyone present.  Nines find it so easy to understand and sympathize with everyone else's points of view that they can often (not always!) find it difficult to figure out what they themselves feel about any particular issue.  Listening to one side may convince them that that side is right, but after listening to the other side for a while, their opinion may sway over in that direction again.  Being one of the positive-outlook types (2, 7 and 9), plus being easygoing, sympathetic toward others and relationship-oriented, Nines are drawn to appreciating the good qualities of others, choosing to overlook the bad, and giving everyone the benefit of the doubt.  Seeing all sides of the argument and seeing others' positive qualities as they do, they tend to be very good-hearted, fair and impartial.  It's no surprise that with this natural empathy that they possess toward one and all, Nines hate conflict, and their personality type is often referred to as "the peacemaker" because of the lengths many of them would go to to establish harmony.  I've seen it stated in completely simple, straightforward, matter-of-fact terms that "Nines are likable", whereas I haven't seen this statement made so unequivocally about any of the other types on the Enneagram.  But this really is no surprise either, since Nines usually make it their business to adjust themselves to the needs and desires of others, to be the unassuming and undemanding supportive friend and fill whatever role is required of them in order for peace to be maintained.  Unlike Twos, who crave the loving attention of others for themselves but try to earn it by first focusing on those others and showering them with every kind of service (and who thus develop the attitude that they are highly deserving of reciprocation), Nines are naturally humble and simple; if they don't get much in the way of recognition or reward for their efforts, they're genuinely fine with that.  They might bask happily in the appreciation of others if it is freely offered, but they're quite comfortable outside the spotlight, and the services they perform are done for the sake of their intrinsic value, with no strings attached.  Unlike Sixes, instead of complaining about every small grievance they must endure in life, Nines can easily tolerate most inconveniences with a mild, pleasant disposition.  They don't ordinarily pollute the ears of others with grating tirades or unkind gossip, but rather tend to go (by and large) by the motto "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."  Most people do indeed find such traits appealing and attractive, or at least non-disturbing, so Nines don't tend to earn themselves many enemies. 

However, aside from mediating differences and solving problems outside of themselves, there is another strategy often employed by Nines for maintaining their own peace of mind: a strategy which may be good in moderation but can definitely be taken too far and become an unhealthy thing.  It is the choice to take shelter behind a "wall" or within a "shell" -- a resolution to ignore disturbing elements either outside the Nine or within his or her own mind or body.  Fully aware that the displeasing element exists and yet disinclined to deal with it, the Nine will deliberately look the other way in a bid to maintain his or her internal calm.  If carried too far, this descent into deliberate ignorance can lead to a sort of heaviness or immovability; a habitual inertia.  I myself have experienced the debilitating results of letting this tendency take over my life; it became difficult for me to accomplish anything very significant or useful due to employing my skills at ignoring and tolerating in the wrong way.  Temporary inaction and stillness in order to peacefully contemplate, meditate, or commune with nature may be healthy things for other personality types to practice (notably Type Six, which is the "stress point" for Type Nine, or the type that Nine "goes to" when disintegrating), but for Nines, undisciplined forms of these practices come so naturally that Nines should be encouraged in the opposite direction in order to achieve balance -- towards the healthy aspects of Type Three, namely self-motivation, goal-setting, and the active making and executing of plans. 

Retreating within their wall of ignorance is the method of withdrawal that Nines use (they are one of the three withdrawn types -- 4, 5 and 9), and since it enables them to numb themselves so that they can endure any mental or emotional pain, it also enables them to be very stubborn and immovable in case someone wants something from them that they are unwilling to give.  Thus, even though Nines are generally accommodating of others and appear very gentle, pliable and soft-natured (they tend to have a hard time telling people "no"; a noncommittal "maybe" or even an insincere "yes" with a lack of follow-through are more to be expected from them), they are actually very tough and strong inside; if they don't want to do something, they know very well that no one can make them.  This "checked-out" uninvolvement and recalcitrant stubbornness can, indeed, be distasteful to others, especially when carried to an extreme (it may be more likely in Nines whose instinctual stacking is self-preservation-first, although any Nines can let themselves be overtaken by it -- I'm a social-first, self-pres-LAST Nine who is very much guilty of that crime), so Nines aren't necessarily always likable to everybody. 

By the way, speaking of instinctual stacking, I wish to emphasize that not all Nines are involved in or even concerned about social issues like world peace; "live and let live" is a motto that tends to apply to Nines of any instinctual stacking, so surely if asked for their opinion, any Nine would be in favor of peaceful conditions in the nation or the world, but there are plenty of them who don't bother to lift a finger to try and make it happen.  That would be the case when numbness/inertia/ignorance are more prominent in the Nine's chosen nature.  "Eh, I can't change it, so why should I care?  Let me just hang out on the couch watching TV or whatever else I like to do for fun, and let other people work it out for themselves."  Self-pres-first Nines might be more likely to think like that. 

Another thing that certain people may find annoying about Nines is that they tend toward Perceiving in Myers-Briggs, with all the traits that entails: spaced-out, daydreamy, noncommittal, chronically late, and not too particular about the appearance of their own bodies or homes, i.e. a bit frumpy and messy may be OK with them.  This doesn't apply to all Nines, but it is a tendency that may be seen in them to one degree or another. 

As gut-center members (8, 9, 1), their innermost issues are with rage, which is deeply suppressed by them most of the time.  Many Nines may not think of themselves as having a temper at all; but when something finally causes them to lose it, they can be explosive.  When Nines have been accustomed to numbing or suppressing their feelings for a long time and are just beginning to let themselves come out of that state, in many cases the first thing they're able to feel is anger, sometimes surprisingly powerful anger.  If vented in a healthy manner, it will soon simmer down to manageable levels and eventually be replaced by the forgiveness and calm that Nines are more accustomed to from themselves; but in that case the forgiveness and calm will be more healthy and genuine than ever before, shining out from their very souls. 

The wing types:

Nines with an 8-wing are called "The Referee" by Riso and Hudson.  They are the kind of people who can stand up, raise their voices and say "Hey, everybody!  Here's what we've got to do!  You do this, and you do that.  I know just how to keep everyone happy, chilled-out and having fun, and I'm not afraid to assert myself to make sure that's exactly what happens!" 

Nines with a 1-wing are idealistic, moralistic, nit-picky about small details, often model children, usually very accepting of and loyal to authority.  They may be more dreamy and less practical than the other wing type.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Enneagram Type Eight

A fierce, stubborn determination to be in control (of others and of situations), never to be controlled by them, is what comes to my mind first when I think of Type Eight.  To them, weakness and vulnerability are not cool and are to be avoided at all costs.  They want to be tough, strong, gritty, undefeatable.  The problem, of course, is that this determination -- while it undoubtedly helps them plow through any tasks they choose to take on -- unfortunately compromises their lovableness in the eyes of many, if not most, other people.  Although Eights are soft on the inside and secretly want to be loved, understood, and accepted just as much as the rest of us, the heavy armor they have donned causes them to have a bit more difficulty understanding and relating to others, which naturally in turn makes it harder for others to understand and relate to them.  Even when the Eight tries hard to be there for others and serve them in every possible way, he or she may be baffled by the others' lack of love and appreciation for these contributions.  Eventually the Eight may develop a sort of knee-jerk expectation of rejection or lack of love from others, which is why the Eight is considered a member of the "rejection triad" (2, 5 and 8).  A fighting spirit pervades those of this personality type, a conviction that the world and the people in it are often against the Eight, seeing him or her as either simply unlovable, or misguided and/or dangerous in worse-case scenarios.  A sort of rebel/outcast/outlaw spirit is present -- a rugged individualism, a sense of outraged innocence, and/or the idea that the Eight is on the "mistreated underdog" side of a conflict, the side of right and justice that must prevail at all costs.  The Eight is willing to splinter off from others whenever necessary to protect his or her own freedom, and to defend that freedom to the death in case it is challenged.  Often spoiling for a fight (finding exhilaration in it!), Eights definitely don't tend to be lukewarm fence-sitters.  As a gut-center type (8, 9, 1), Eights feel no need to overthink their decisions; for them, decision-making is a quick, instinctive process.  As soon as all necessary information has been assembled, the answers are just there for them -- which makes them great leaders and strategists, and they generally find positions like this exhilarating and fulfilling, too.  Although it would depend on their instinctual stacking (some more loner-ish Eights could say truly that they don't care what others do as long as it doesn't affect them), I'd at least expect any Eights who aren't social-instinct-last to be driven to pick a side in any conflict they come across, then champion their chosen side relentlessly and gleefully against any opponent they can find.  Eights tend to be either loved or hated by those who know them; it's difficult to have no opinion about them.  They're such intense people that when they do play a social role, it's unlikely to be an insignificant one.  Even if they're homebodies, they'll feel the need to be "king (or queen) of their own castle."  Depending on their mental/emotional health and/or spiritual development, they can be anything from dangerous villains to great heroes, but seldom, if ever, will they be a "nobody." 

Eights are often described as having an "earthy" or "materialistic" quality to them; they're fully in touch with their bodies and the desires thereof, and their so-called "passion" or "deadly sin" is that of lust. 

One way that Eights sometimes repel people (although certainly not all people) is by being crude in their speech and behavior.  They often seem to enjoy shocking others.  As a gut-center type their deepest issues are with rage, and as a reactive type (4, 6, 8), that rage is generally never held inside but always expressed freely and explosively.  Add that trait to their reputation for crudeness and you have a group of people pretty infamous for cursing.  ;)  Although their blow-ups can be traumatic for those who live with them, there are two positive sides of their never holding feelings in.  One is that there's a certain inherent honesty in the reactive types, so you're more likely to truly know where they stand (though if they've got a Three fix, that's certainly not a guarantee).  And two is greater psychological health for them.  If they have an issue with something, they'll deal with it; if they're not bringing it up any more that's because it's genuinely been aired out, solved, and healed.  There's no such thing as emotional repression poisoning an Eight slowly from the inside out.  Their being reactive/explosive allows issues to blow over more quickly and truly be gone, leaving the Eight free to feel cheerful and unburdened the majority of the time.  (Not that they never hold ancient grudges, because they can in fact be really bad about that, but they're not the only ones, and in general they travel with less emotional baggage than many other people).  This frees their energy to be engaged and expressed in multiple ways; their abundant energy is a part of their classification as one of the aggressive/assertive types (3, 7, 8). 

When especially upset, however, Eights will "go to Five" and feel the need to retreat into solitude in order to process and deal with whatever just happened.  They will snap at anyone who tries to disturb or help them during this time.  They just need to be left alone until they are ready to come out and initiate conversation on their own. 

When at their best and happiest, on the other hand, Eights "go to Two" and become extremely loving and caring.  Healthy and happy Eights endear themselves to those they cherish due to offering them an abundance of enthusiastic love and support. 

When Eights have learned all the lessons life has to teach them, they realize that actually the world is not against them, and they don't have to be in control.  They become happy to simply, with childlike joy, play their own part in life and let others play theirs; they're able to just enjoy the ride instead of feeling like they have to steer.  They become very refreshing, exciting, enlivening people to be around -- leaders, heroes, and sometimes even saints filled with zest for life, who can inspire others, achieve vast amounts of good, and be viewed with boundless love and respect by those whose lives they've touched.

The wing types:

Eight with a 7-wing is more talkative, dynamic, and actively fun-loving/thrill-seeking.  This type likes excitement and stimulation (often through things like physical activity, competitive sports, and debate/arguments) and its energy is high, bold, loud, and impossible to ignore.  Eight with a 9-wing is quiet, firm, stoic, and immovable.  This type is inclined to use his or her talents as "the boss" to maintain peace and order.  Of course, as always, a large or small amount of each wing can be present within the same individual, so I don't mean to imply that a 9-winger could never be wild or fun-loving.  ;) 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Enneagram Type Seven

Positivity/optimism, inspirational vision, energy, enthusiasm, passion/excitement, creativity, a taste for fun/ insatiable appetite for variegated enjoyable experiences, and sometimes outrageous silliness are the hallmarks of Type Seven.  The basis of their programming, as alluded to in my posts about Enneatypes Five and Six, is the avoidance of pain: the idea that if they just choose to look at the bright side of things, they can cheerfully shrug off suffering, and if they can just keep busy enough they won't have to dwell on anything that may be bothering them.  (The avoidance of pain is also, of course, the motive of addicts; Type Seven is the most addiction-prone type on the Enneagram.  Whether through alcohol, drugs, eating, shopping, or another addictive behavior, Sevens on the run from pain can destroy themselves if they don't find the courage to stop, turn, face their problems head-on and truly deal with them.) 

Average-to-unhealthy Sevens' optimism strikes me as the most denial-based, and therefore the most blinding/handicapping, of any of the positive-outlook Enneagram types (2, 7, 9).  They are true natives of the Idealism/Frustration Triad (1, 4, 7) -- they want so much to believe in and strive after the best possible outcome that they ignore or fail to sufficiently prepare for alternative outcomes, and the inevitable result is some shock, outrage and frustration.  (When healthy, Sevens remain optimistic and happy people, but may focus on seeing how whatever happens is for the best in some way, rather than being frustrated that whatever they wanted didn't happen.) 

When especially stressed, Sevens may "go to One," freezing up, becoming excessively self-controlled and filled with internal resentment and judgmentalism.  The combination of this line of connection to One -- the most rigid and nit-picky of all Enneatypes -- with the average Seven's habit of spontaneously rushing from one thing to the next as and when the mood strikes them (with their "experience junkie" nature, they have a strong tendency toward a Perceiving preference in Myers-Briggs, and "scattered" is one of the words most often applied to Sevens) may give them a funny mix of perfectionism in some areas and total acceptance of their own sloppiness in others -- though I'm sure there's a wide spectrum of very hasty and careless to very perfectionistic Sevens. 

The tendency to take their minds off something bothering them by engaging in something diverting/enjoyable may be so deeply ingrained in them that they may not even recognize themselves as being on the run from anxiety, fear or pain.  They may think of themselves as just hating boredom -- being on an incessant search for fun because it's worth having, and not seeking it means being doomed to an intolerably dull existence.  Whether they see themselves as fleeing anxiety or merely boredom, however, the typical Seven's behavior is the same: they throw themselves with the wholehearted and unceasing energy they have as an "aggressive" Enneatype (3, 7, 8) into tasks, projects, or recreational activities, getting so much done in such a short time that other people may be flabbergasted by the Seven's amazing number of accomplishments.  Some Sevens may even be called hyperactive.  As soon as a task, project, activity or line of thought loses interest for them, though, most Sevens will drop it at least for the time being and jump to something else they feel more like doing.  Their minds are active too -- moving rapidly from one idea to the next, and sometimes may be lacking in methodical/careful thoroughness, as if too distracted by the next upcoming thought to think the first one through completely. 

Sevens are generous with themselves and others.  They love spending money and tend to maintain the cheerful attitude that they deserve to be spoiled.  They're generally not egotistical in an insufferable way, but know themselves to be innately worthy and special human beings, just as all human beings are, and expect to be treated with a certain amount of respect.  If a relationship they're in isn't cutting it for them, Sevens will usually not have too much difficulty moving on.  Although they may be wonderfully good people, they're not burdened with any excess of conscience or morality that would hamper them from making changes in their life to make it more enjoyable or healthy.  They treat themselves well, have fun, and generally don't suffer from an excess of attachment to any particular person or situation.  There are Sevens who would never consider being in anything other than a serious and committed monogamous relationship, but there are also Sevens who feel that way of life is foreign to their nature and they want to be completely free to pursue any type of romantic relationship anytime they feel like it.  Abundance, fun, ease and good times for all are the general spirit of the Seven. 

Sevens are the most extroverted type on the Enneagram due to their distaste for examining all their own messy emotions and their fixation on a supposed need for outside stimulation/distraction -- and extroverts (especially Perceiving extroverts, which again is what Sevens tend to be) don't think things through ahead of time as much as introverts but rather tend to think on their feet, sometimes failing to look before they leap.  Add this tendency toward haste with the Seven's optimism, sense of abundance, and excitement-junkie qualities and you have the makings of a confident personality that might rely heavily on luck and relish taking risks.  This is not to say that all Sevens fit this description; there definitely are introverted Sevens, and I'd expect that with a generous 6-wing, a Seven might end up being a much more careful, steady, dependable person.  But the potential is there for at least a little reckless wildness in Sevens, since the Sevenish nature is to seek excitement, euphoria and newness rather than the comfort and calm of the familiar and predictable. 

One relatively harmless way Sevens may exhibit their recklessness is through radical attention-getting behaviors like getting up in public to clown around.  Sevens aren't too afraid of looking stupid; having a good time is way more important to them, and acting silly/crazy/goofy and laughing hard about it with everyone else is a great way to have a good time.  Another thing Sevens may do is nonchalantly share amazingly personal information about themselves with others.  Not all Sevens, but some, seem to see no problem in doing this.  Since public image isn't such an obsession for them as for some other types (although with a strong image fix in their tritype they can still care a lot about their public image, don't get me wrong!) and they tend to live (to some degree or other) as if there's no such thing as danger, it may be easier for them to "live in public" and feel that they genuinely don't care who knows their personal life inside and out. 

The path to health and wholeness for Sevens is for them to recognize that pain and pleasure are both part of life, and by failing to accept that and striving to deny all pain (along with the self-awareness that brings it to the surface), they deny proper balance to themselves and their lives.  Accepting both, learning to live with and affirm both, deconstructs the specter of pain and suffering and teaches the Seven that it's actually nothing to be afraid of after all.  Like Type Five, the balanced Seven can look fear and pain in the eye and make friends with it.  Then the Seven can become more quiet, introspective, patient and diligent -- can stop being so scattered and can begin applying a greater discipline and longer attention span born of genuine interest and dedication to any task of his or her choosing.  When health and wholeness are thus achieved by the Seven, his or her well-being and generosity overflow outward and flood the world in a rising swell of joy and goodness.  Sevens are joy-bringers and when they've truly discovered happiness, their enthusiasm and drive to share it with everyone by teaching others how to find it for themselves will know no bounds. 

The wing types:

Seven with a 6-wing has more of the 6ish qualities: a wonderful sense of humor, caring, considerate treatment of others and social concern.  Seven with an 8-wing tends to be more outrageous in speech and dress, sometimes crossing the line into crass or crude words or behavior, but also has more overflowing energy, determination and dynamism. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Enneagram Type Six

Fear and its lesser synonyms such as anxiety, nervousness, worry, etc. are the keywords with Type Six.  As the central of the three types in the Thinking Center (5, 6 and 7 -- all of whom have their core issues around fear and anxiety), Type Six's challenges in this domain are amplified to the maximum.  Whereas Fives "make friends with" their fears by becoming sickeningly fascinated by them and Sevens distract themselves from their fears by quickly moving their attention to something else every time their anxieties begin to catch up with them, Sixes have no such coping mechanism (except insofar as they have well-developed Five and/or Seven wings).  On the contrary, their membership in the Reactive Triad (4, 6 and 8) -- which I've said before is the "squeaky wheel" triad, i.e., the types that help call the attention of the rest of us to issues that may need fixing -- means they're sensitive to negativities or problems and tend to be dissatisfied or unhappy about them.  So they are left to suffer from the full strength of their fears -- at least at first.

These fears and worries, and the desire to achieve safety and security for themselves (and their loved ones), shape every aspect of the Type Six nature.  Because they so much crave the security of dependable loving relationships -- friends and family members who will be there for them when needed, no matter what -- they are one of the relationship-oriented Enneagram types (with 2 and 9) and one of the compliant types (with 1 and 2): i.e., they try to please others, to do what others would want them to do, to earn love and protection by endearing themselves to others.  Since they very much appreciate the emotional and physical security that is generated when others are dependable, responsible, and trustworthy, they endeavor to treat others the way they'd like to be treated by being hard-working, dependable, responsible and trustworthy themselves.  They're sensitive to others' feelings because they themselves know what it's like to feel incredibly vulnerable and sensitive, and because they generally view making friends and keeping them as important.  Although the degree to which they care about this will vary with their instinctual stacking, Sixes are naturally endowed with the social instinct, like 3 and 9.  This instinct involves the desire to be accepted by a group and to look out for the group's interests/welfare; in the case of Sixes, the unconscious motivation behind this is the idea of "safety in numbers" -- the herd mentality.  So no matter what their instinctual stacking is, you will usually see Sixes seek out some sort of herd to be a part of -- no matter how small -- even if it's just their own family.  Sixes tend to be very clannish.  "Blood is thicker than water" sounds to me like something a Type Six would say.  Pride in their own family heritage (or to some extent in their own school, city, state or country) gives them a sense of belonging: yet another layer of security for them.  It's not just the cozy feeling of "aww, I belong!  Yay!" that they love.  Though that's part of it too, it's deeper and more serious for them than that.  Since Sixes perceive the world as a place filled with danger, they have a strong sense that those who are willing to bond together as comrades need to watch each other's backs against threats from the natural world and unscrupulous humans.  So their main idea is that as long as they build and maintain close relationships with everyone in their connection by being there for those others whenever they're needed, they'll be able to expect everyone else to rush to their aid in case they themselves are someday in difficulty.  "All for one, and one for all" is THE MOST Sixish motto I've come across.  Type Six is often referred to as "the Loyalist" because, in spite of their fear, they will risk death for those they care about -- and they hope for the same selfless dedication in return.  They are team players.  If someone on the team (be it a marriage, extended family, business enterprise, or sports team) was down, suffering or struggling in any way, a healthy Type Six would feel strongly that that person deserved patience, sympathy and support, not judgment or exclusion!  Once they got back on their feet, the team would be so much stronger and more bonded for having helped that person through.  (Besides, the next time it could be the Six who was in trouble!  So if a culture of supporting those in difficulty was not in place, then what would happen???) 

In keeping with this deep value that they place on loyal behavior and with their compliant, responsible nature, Sixes will try with everything they've got to make a family or marital relationship work out before they'll give up.  Being naturally humble, they will forgive much.  If they ever do give up, it's because they've come to the conclusion that there is zero hope of the relationship ever being reciprocal.  If they get to that point, where they're burned out and their capacity to repose any trust in the other person has been utterly extinguished, there's no getting them back.  They'll shut that person out of their heart forever and want nothing more to do with them. 

I've alluded to the concept of trust a few times already because it is a key issue for Sixes.  In the beginning of their lives, Sixes tend to be extremely trusting of others.  We all expect others to be like ourselves until we discover otherwise, and Sixes are no different.  Since they're so innocent, sincere, well-meaning, good-hearted and trustworthy, they naturally expect that others are also good, caring and trustworthy and have their best interests at heart.  Some Sixes are fortunate enough to make it through life with this innocent, sweet nature relatively intact.  However, unfortunately, many -- probably most -- Sixes don't make it very far without realizing, in some kind of terrible and shocking (to them) episode, that not everyone is honest or trustworthy after all. After that experience, many of them begin to doubt everyone, to be cynical or skeptical, to need proof before they will again be able to believe in anyone or anything.  One of the primary themes of the Type Six's life is trying to figure out what to believe, and whom to trust and follow and support with their loyalty.  This mental endeavor to sort out their ideas and values and figure out what's what, what is believable and dependable and is not going to shift under their feet without warning and throw everything out of kilter for them, is why they're said to belong to the "Head" or "Thinking" center -- even though they also have huge caring hearts and a sentimental nature that becomes too easily attached (to things that may be lost). 

In their efforts to protect themselves and those they care about from danger and difficulty or to solve other problems in their lives, they often fall back on very practical and logical thinking methods (troubleshooting)... a very mechanistic type of thinking.  They may be very good at this.  But when a question arises which they feel unable to solve in this manner, their mental uncertainty and tendency to place their trust in others leads them oftentimes to ask their family members, friends, and other trusted authorities for advice when they're trying to decide what to do.  When they finally figure out what it is that they believe and then become able to begin making up their own mind more often, it's a great triumph for them. 

There's another way Sixes can change over time.  As I stated at the end of the first paragraph, they feel vulnerable and exposed to the full strength of their fears during the first part of their lives.  To a greater or lesser extent, they will always feel like that as long as they remain in the grip of their Sixish programming.  However, since those who are brave and courageous are idolized in society and those who are cowardly are despised, many Sixes who fail to realize what courage really is while they're young will dislike their own fearfulness and wish to disown that quality of theirs.  In an effort to cut out that part of their nature and be the opposite -- strong and brave -- they may throw their accustomed caution to the winds and become wild and reckless daredevils.  This is called going from phobic to counterphobic.  Counterphobic Sixes can also be quite rebellious, rejecting the tame/quiet/meek/compliant/cooperative/obedient qualities of the phobic Six, if they happen to have a disapproving attitude about those traits too.  Some Sixes remain phobic all their lives; some, after a certain point, exhibit their counterphobic personality exclusively; some may go back and forth between phobic and counterphobic as their mood dictates. 

The path of growth for Sixes is to develop the good qualities of Type Nine: to become relaxed, accepting, cheerful/positive, unaffected, unattached, peaceful and happy, and to be able to maintain this attitude through all the storms of life.  In order to do this, Sixes need to transfer their attachments from those things that are perishable and subject to being destroyed to those that are indestructible, eternal, and spiritual.  The only way for Sixes to escape from their programming and its curse of constant fear is to seek knowledge about the self and God. 

The wing types:

Sixes with a 5-wing are more interested in science, more introverted and studious, and sometimes become obsessed with questioning, critiquing, and exposing the faults of the system by which society is run.  Finding out and exposing all kinds of cheating or falseness (loathed by all Sixes) wherever it's been institutionalized or enshrined in a position of power may be what some 6w5s see as their calling.  This can sometimes lead them to become conspiracy theorists; conspiracy, or the idea that "things are not as they seem because of some scoundrels' ill intent," is an intensely touchy / intolerable subject for Sixes, and therefore a fascinating one for some of them. 

Sixes with a 7-wing tend to be more extroverted and fun-loving, often enjoying physical activity and parties.  This is the most common of all Enneagram types, so 6w7s may seem like very average, normal people.  Still, the reason they're so common is because societies built of these people are healthy and successful -- they make wonderful parents, family members and friends, hard workers, and selflessly sincere servants of the common good.  Sometimes they may fall prey to the Sevenish weaknesses for addictive substances and/or overspending. 

All in all, Sixes are some of the best and sweetest people in society.  They make our world function safely and smoothly.  They value truth and good behavior, rejecting falsity and corruption.  They know the meaning of honor, duty and sacrifice.  Since they know the most fear, they also know the most courage, as we know that courage means feeling fear but doing your duty anyway.  In every line of work, there they are, working their hearts out and/or putting their lives on the line for the rest of us, every single day.  We can all be grateful we have them.