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The Enneagram and the Connecting Points: Different Lenses on Your Self

The Enneagram is a model of nine preferred adaptive strategies. Each of us habitually relies on one of them as our dominant way of interacting with the world. This strategy is not conscious, but it influences the way we feel and think about the world, and the way we act in it.tri taiji

But humans are complex and we tend to use other strategies as well. In fact, we tend to use all nine, and the Enneagram is seen as a model of nine aspects of each person’s nature as well as a model of nine “kinds” of people.

As we explore these other aspects of ourselves, it can be helpful to look at the dynamics between our preferred strategy and the two strategies that connect to it on the Enneagram.

Here is a quick introduction to those dynamics.

Ennea-Type One: Striving to be Perfect

Support Strategy: Striving to be Unique

Ones are often capable of standing up for what they believe in the face of disagreement with everyone around them. Sometimes, however, they become needlessly contrarian and then feel wounded when others don’t appreciate their unique view.

Neglected Strategy: Striving to be Excited

While Ones often have a sly and subtle sense of humor and appreciation for life, there are critical times when they resist giving in to joy and excitement for fear of losing self-control.

 

Ennea-Type Two: Striving to be Connected

Support Strategy: Striving to be Powerful

Twos are often willing to be powerful champions and protectors for others. Sometimes, however, this ability is overused and they become aggressive, overly emotional, and controlling of others.

Neglected Strategy: Striving to be Unique

While Twos are often willing to express their true desires and thoughts, there are critical times when they hide their individuality and true desires in order to maintain connection with others.

 

Ennea-Type Three: Striving to be Outstanding

Support Strategy: Striving to be Peaceful

Threes often have a demeanor of calm competence, always seeming to have their lives under control. Sometimes, however, the outer calm is a façade that masks anxiety caused by the pressure they put on themselves to achieve.

Neglected Strategy: Striving to be Secure

While Threes often have a good strategic sense that allows them to avoid unnecessary risk to their reputation, there are critical times when they neglect caution and stretch themselves beyond their capacity to accomplish what they commit to.

 

Ennea-Type Four: Striving to be Unique

Support Strategy: Striving to be Connected

Fours have a great capacity for empathy and attunement to others, and they can be quite nurturing to those in need. Sometimes, however, this impulse to connect can come in the form of a strong need (and demand) for empathy and attention from others.

Neglected Strategy: Striving to be Perfect

While Fours often have high standards for quality in their work and high expectations of others, there are critical times when they neglect holding themselves to the same standards as others, choosing instead to focus on how their inherent shortcomings (real or imagined) make it impossible to meet those standards.

 

Ennea-Type Five: Striving to be Detached

Support Strategy: Striving to be Excited

Fives often have a child-like wonder and appreciation for the world, especially in the more abstract elements of life. Sometimes, however, this excitement for knowledge and information serves to keep them detached from actual interaction with the world.

Neglected Strategy: Striving to be Powerful

While Fives can be very influential, especially through behind-the-scenes thought leadership, there are critical times when they resist personal, visceral engagement with others, keeping their thoughts and opinions to themselves and thus missing an opportunity to shape their environment

 

Ennea-Type Six: Striving to be Secure

Support Strategy: Striving to be Outstanding

Sixes are often productive, dependable, and accomplished members of the group, finding a need and filling it. Sometimes, however, they worry that they are not being valued as a team member and they become fixated on ensuring that others recognize and appreciate their contributions.

Neglected Strategy: Striving to be Peaceful

While Sixes often work to ensure that others feel safe and comfortable and are able to let their guard down around those they trust, there are critical times when they resist relaxing and being peaceful because of an unjustified suspicion that it will invite catastrophe.

 

Ennea-Type Seven: Striving to be Excited

Support Strategy: Striving to be Perfect

Sevens often have an attention to detail and quality that runs counter to the stereotype. Sometimes, however, this takes the form of rigidity and high demands on others, especially when the Seven feels those others are in the way of the Seven’s happiness.

Neglected Strategy: Striving to be Detached

While Sevens often have a quiet, private side that most people don’t see, there are critical times when they are unable to let go and detach from the things they desire, often out of a fear of missing out on something exciting and pleasurable.

 

Ennea-Type Eight: Striving to be Powerful

Support Strategy: Striving to be Detached

Eights are often capable of making difficult decisions because of their ability to become emotionally detached. Sometimes, however, that ability is overused and they can become insensitive to the needs and feelings of others

Neglected Strategy: Striving to be Connected

While Eights can generally build strong connections to others, there are critical times when they should connect to others but do not out of a concern over being vulnerable.

 

Ennea-Type Nine: Striving to be Peaceful

Support Strategy: Striving to be Secure

Nines often have an ability to identify and mitigate risk, having a calming effect on others and making them feel like everything will be fine. Sometimes, however, they become overly vigilant and combative toward things that could upset the status quo, resisting change and becoming angry with those who try to impose it.

Neglected Strategy: Striving to be Outstanding

While Nines are often accomplished and ambitious people who set high expectations for themselves, there are critical times when they resist asserting themselves out of a fear of having other people see them as arrogant or overly assertive.

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