The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile is an amazing book about the Enneagram, which is an ancient personality type system of unknown origin that holds up surprisingly well in our modern day and age.
What follows are excerpts from the book:
The 9 Types:
TYPE ONE: The Perfectionist. Ethical, dedicated and reliable, they are motivated by a desire to live the right way, improve the world, and avoid fault and blame.
TYPE TWO: The Helper. Warm, caring and giving, they are motivated by a need to be loved and needed, and to avoid acknowledging their own needs.
TYPE THREE: The Performer. Success-oriented, image-conscious and wired for productivity, they are motivated by a need to be (or appear to be) successful and to avoid failure.
TYPE FOUR: The Romantic. Creative, sensitive and moody, they are motivated by a need to be understood, experience their oversized feelings and avoid being ordinary.
TYPE FIVE: The Investigator. Analytical, detached and private, they are motivated by a need to gain knowledge, conserve energy and avoid relying on others.
TYPE SIX: The Loyalist. Committed, practical and witty, they are worst-case-scenario thinkers who are motivated by fear and the need for security.
TYPE SEVEN: The Enthusiast. Fun, spontaneous and adventurous, they are motivated by a need to be happy, to plan stimulating experiences and to avoid pain.
TYPE EIGHT: The Challenger. Commanding, intense and confrontational, they are motivated by a need to be strong and avoid feeling weak or vulnerable.
TYPE NINE: The Peacemaker. Pleasant, laid back and accommodating, they are motivated by a need to keep the peace, merge with others and avoid conflict.
The 3 Triads
The nine numbers on the Enneagram are divided into three triads—three in the Heart or Feeling Triad, three in the Head or Fear Triad, and three in the Gut or Anger Triad.
Each of the three numbers in each triad is driven in different ways by an emotion related to a part of the body known as a center of intelligence. Basically, your triad is another way of describing how you habitually take in, process and respond to life.
The Anger or Gut Triad (8, 9, 1)
These numbers are driven by anger—Eight externalizes it, Nine forgets it, and One internalizes it. They take in and respond to life instinctually or “at the gut level.” They tend to express themselves honestly and directly.
The Feeling or Heart Triad (2, 3, 4)
These numbers are driven by feelings—Twos focus outwardly on the feelings of others, Threes have trouble recognizing their own or other people’s feelings, and Fours concentrate their attention inwardly on their own feelings. They each take in and relate to life from their heart and are more image-conscious than other numbers.
The Fear or Head Triad (5, 6, 7)
These numbers are driven by fear—Five externalizes it, Six internalizes it, and Seven forgets it. They take in and relate to the world through the mind. They tend to think and plan carefully before they act.
My highlights from the book
Richard Rohr writes, “Sins are fixations that prevent the energy of life, God’s love, from flowing freely. [They are] self-erected blockades that cut us off from God and hence from our own authentic potential.”
ONES: Anger. Ones feel a compulsive need to perfect the world. Keenly aware that neither they nor anyone else can live up to their impossibly high standards, they experience anger in the form of smoldering resentment.
TWOS: Pride. Twos direct all their attention and energy toward meeting the needs of others while disavowing having any of their own. Their secret belief that they alone know what’s best for others and that they’re indispensable reveals their prideful spirit.
THREES: Deceit. Threes value appearance over substance. Abandoning their true selves to project a false, crowd-pleasing image, Threes buy their own performance and deceive themselves into believing they are their persona.
FOURS: Envy. Fours believe they are missing something essential without which they will never be complete. They envy what they perceive to be the wholeness and happiness of others.
FIVES: Avarice. Fives hoard those things they believe will ensure they can live an independent, self-sustaining existence. This withholding ultimately leads to their holding back love and affection from others.
SIXES: Fear. Forever imagining worst-case scenarios and questioning their ability to handle life on their own, Sixes turn to authority figures and belief systems rather than God to provide them with the support and security they yearn for.
SEVENS: Gluttony. To avoid painful feelings, Sevens gorge themselves on positive experiences, planning and anticipating new adventures, and entertaining interesting ideas. Never satisfied, the Seven’s frenzied pursuit of these distractions eventually escalates to the point of gluttony.
EIGHTS: Lust. Eights lust after intensity. It can be seen in the excessiveness they evidence in every area of life. Domineering and confrontational, Eights present a hard, intimidating exterior to mask vulnerability.
NINES: Sloth. For Nines, sloth refers not to physical but to spiritual laziness. Nines fall asleep to their own priorities, personal development and responsibility for becoming their own person.
I recently read a Harvard Business Review article in which the entrepreneur Anthony Tjan writes, “There is one quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. That quality is self-awareness. The best thing leaders can do to improve their effectiveness is to become more aware of what motivates them and their decision-making.”
that your number is not determined by what you do so much as by why you do it. In other words, don’t rely too much on traits to identify your type. Instead, read carefully about the underlying motivation that drives the traits or behaviors of each number to see whether it rings true for you. For example, several different numbers might climb the ladder at work, but the reasons they do so are very different: motivated by a compulsive need to improve things, Ones might seek advancement because they’ve heard only people in top management have the authority to fix the countless imperfections the One can’t help fixating on in the company’s day-to-day operations; Threes might climb it because getting the corner office is important to them; and Eights might scale the ladder just to see who’s stupid enough to try to stop them. Motivation is what matters! To find your number ask yourself why you do the things you do. (Location 461)
It will help you identify your type if, as you read along, you think back to what you were like at age twenty rather than who you are now. Even though your personality type never changes, it’s never more florid or clear than in early adulthood when, as James Hollis says, you haven’t lived long enough to figure out that you are “the only person who is consistently present in every scene of that long-running drama we call our life”—in other words, the source of most of your problems is you. It’s also important to think more about the way you act, think and feel at home. Look for the type that best describes who you are, not the type you’d like to think you are or have always wanted to be.
As you try to figure out your type, it’s great to ask your close friends, spouse or spiritual director to read the descriptions and offer their opinions about which type they think sounds most like you—but don’t kill the messenger.
Self-contempt will never produce lasting, healing change in our lives, only love.
Cailey picked up her napkin from her lap, dabbed the corners of her mouth, calmly folded and placed it next to her plate, then turned to face the man who had smacked down her younger brother. “You’re kidding, right?” she said, glaring at him like a panther marking its prey. The man’s eyebrows made a retreat up his forehead. “I’m sorry?” he responded, sadly unaware that the gates of hell were now unguarded.
Eights prone to being overindulgent and excessive. They can overwork, overparty, overeat, overexercise, overspend, over-anything.
The talk style of Eights is commanding. Often their sentences are littered with imperatives and end with exclamation marks.
Eights don’t feel like they have to be the person in control—they just don’t want to be controlled.
Eights want people to challenge them right back. Eights admire strength. They won’t respect you if you’re not willing to stand toe to toe with them. They want others to be their equals and stand up for what they believe. The last thing you want to do is hoist the white flag when Eights start pounding their chests and trying to push you around.
Nines forget their opinions, preferences and priorities. Instead they merge with the feelings, viewpoints and pursuits of others and in so doing they erase themselves.
they can merge so deeply with the life program and identity of another that they eventually mistake the other’s feelings, opinions, successes and aspirations for their own.
they not only have the benefit of seeing the world the way every other number sees it, but they also naturally incorporate into themselves a measure of the core characteristic strengths associated with every type.
Because they can see through the eyes of every other number and are therefore unclear about who they are and what they want, Nines drop their healthy boundaries to fuse with a more assertive partner, whom they idealize and from whom they hope to glean a sense of identity and purpose. But after a while they don’t know where they end and the other person begins.
Nines are conspicuously inconspicuous.
There are often a lot of unfinished projects in a Nine’s wake—half-caulked bathtubs, partially mown lawns, nearly organized garages.
Sometimes you’ll spot a Nine staring detachedly into the middle distance as if they’ve checked out and fallen into a dreamy trancelike state. They have. When Nines feel overwhelmed—like when a conflict threatens to arise or people are telling them what to do—or sometimes for no discernible reason at all, they tune out and withdraw into a place in their mind that Enneagram teachers call the Nine’s “inner sanctum.” At these moments Nines uncouple from their anger and life energy and ignore the call to take action on something. Nines tell Suzanne and me that while in their inner sanctum they replay past events or conversations and what they wish they’d said or done differently. If anxiety is the cause of their retreat to the inner sanctum, they’ll think, Why am I upset right now? Is this my fault or someone else’s? Or at times they simply retreat to reconnect to or recover their comforting, albeit illusionary, sense of interior peace. If Nines fall too deeply into this hazy trance, they become increasingly absent-minded and less productive,
Nines frequently feel torn between wanting to please others and wanting to defy them. When faced with having to take a stand or make a decision, Nines will smile and look calm on the outside, but inside they will feel overwhelmed by what to do: Do I think this is a good idea or not? Do I want to do this or don’t I? Do I say yes to this person’s request or do I say no and risk disconnection?
All this fence sitting leads to procrastination, which can drive the rest of the world crazy. Though you may not pick up on it at first, the more you pressure a Nine to make a decision or do something the more they quietly dig their heels in and resist.
If on a Friday afternoon I text Anne saying, “Where do you want to go for dinner tonight?” she will respond, “I don’t know, where do you want to go?” This text always comes so quickly I’m convinced she has it preprogrammed into her phone.
Remember, as a Nine Anne doesn’t want to assert her preferences for fear they will create conflict or arouse unpleasant feelings between us. She wants to know what I want so she can adapt and merge with my desires, skirting potential disagreement. It’s the telltale response of a Nine.
This exchange also reveals how hard it is for Nines to make choices when they’re faced with unlimited possibilities. It’s easier for Nines to know what they don’t want than what they do want, so people who love a Nine would do well to offer them a limited set of options from which to select. If I send Anne a text saying, “Would you like to go out for Thai, Indian or Chinese tonight?” there will be a three-minute pause followed by a text saying, “Thai,” with a thumbs-up emoji.
A related challenge is the conundrum of prioritizing some tasks over others. Since all undertakings seem equally important to Nines, it’s hard for them to decide what to tackle first.
Every Monday morning when Suzanne’s husband, Joe, walks into the office, his secretary hands him a list of what he needs to accomplish that week in order of importance. Joe is a supersmart guy who leads the oldest deeded church in Dallas. But without a list he’ll just do the next thing that presents itself to him.
Some Nines will resent it and go all subtly stubborn on you if you insist they start using a list, but without one they pose a threat to the civilian population at-large.
Prioritizing and distractions.
When faced with having to wake up and address their own priorities, Nines will sometimes focus on inessential tasks and leave the more essential ones until last. This is a baffling but effective defensive maneuver on the part of the Nine to turn their attention away from identifying their own life priorities, having to feel their anger and acting on their own behalf.
Nines are easily pulled away by distractions. Everyone else’s priorities are more important than theirs, and such distractions are a great way to self-forget and avoid the pain of not knowing what you want in life.
One night Anne and I invited my mom to join us for dinner at 6 p.m. At 3 p.m. Anne announced she was going to make a quick run to the grocery store to buy ingredients for the meal. At 5:00 she still hadn’t returned, so I called her cell.
“Where are you? My mom’s coming in sixty minutes. Have you been to the grocery store yet?”
“You know if we were sitting on the front porch talking and a horse walked by, my dad would just get on it and ride off.” Natalie Goldberg Silence. “Not yet. I was on my way there but Sue was out on her front lawn when I drove past her house so I stopped to say hello, and while we were talking the chain on one of her kids’ bikes fell off and she didn’t know how to put it back on so I helped her. After I left I realized I had grease on my blouse so I stopped at CVS to buy some stain remover, and I remembered I had a prescription in my purse for Maddie’s eye drops so I got that filled, and then when I was finally on my way to Whole Foods I drove past Bed, Bath, and Beyond and saw a banner up advertising a bedding sale, and Aidan will need new sheets and pillows for school in September, and I had a bunch of 20 percent off coupons in my purse so I ran inside and bought some, but now I’m almost to the grocery store and I’ll be home in twenty minutes.”
Do you see what happened? When a Nine gets sidetracked by a nonessential task or activity (e.g., stopping to chat with a friend), they can forget the Big Picture (e.g., in two hours Mama is coming for dinner). No longer seeing or feeling the urgency of the Big Picture, the Nine can no longer assign value to or prioritize tasks (e.g., buying food for hungry Mama now). Without said Big Picture (Mama ETA only sixty minutes), the Nine’s attention loses focus and becomes diffused. Every task now seems to take on equal importance, so the Nine ends up doing whatever presents itself to them in the moment.
We all need friends or a partner who can ask us questions that wake us out of the trance of our particular number. “Are you still on task?” is a good question to pose to a Nine who appears to be busily doing everything and nothing at the same time.
As kids Nines feel very uncomfortable when there’s conflict between parents and other family members, so they’ll try to play the role of mediator while looking for a place to stand where they won’t be forced to choose a side. If people are uncompromising and can’t broker a peaceful solution, a child Nine may feel angry, but their anger is usually overlooked or ignored so they either keep it to themselves, mentally check out or hightail it out of the room.
Nines who are asleep get in trouble in relationships when conflict arises (and when doesn’t it?) and they refuse to acknowledge and resolve it. Denial is a big defense mechanism for them. They don’t want to face anything that will unsettle their harmony, so they tell their inner orchestra to play louder while their ship is sinking. They might ignore the obvious signs that something’s wrong, minimize the problems, or suggest a simple repair that only reveals how out of touch they are with the magnitude of the issue and how determined they are to avoid the unpleasantness of dealing with it.
It’s important that before I share my thoughts or feelings about something I ask Anne or Maddie what theirs are. This not only honors them, it lessens the possibility they will merge with mine and perhaps agree to do something they don’t want to do.
Paradoxically, the road to peace and harmony is littered with conflict and disharmony. Scrupulously avoid anything that promises a life of peace and tranquility without conflict or pain. Whatever it is will probably end you up in rehab.
People have told me I can be overly critical and judgmental. I beat myself up when I make mistakes.
I don’t like it when people ignore or break the rules, like when the person in the fast lane at the grocery store has more items than allowed. Details are important to me. I often find that I’m comparing myself to others.
It is hard for me to let go of resentment. I think it is my responsibility to leave the world better than I found it.
I am really disappointed when other people don’t do their part.
Richard Rohr says, “What you resist, persists”
Many Ones say it helps to give the critic a funny name so when it goes on the attack they can say something to it like, “Cruella, thanks for helping me navigate the world as a kid, but as an adult I don’t need your help anymore.” Or Ones might simply laugh and tell Nurse Ratched to turn down the volume.
Resist the urge to give other people to-do lists or to redo their tasks if you think they haven’t met your standards. Instead, catch the people you love doing things right—and tell them how much you appreciate them for it.
If you find yourself procrastinating, think about the reason why. Are you reluctant to get going on a task or project because you’re afraid you won’t be able to accomplish it perfectly?
live in a world of abundance, seeing themselves as part of the whole environment instead of separate from everyone and everything.
They struggle with anything that makes them feel incompetent or incapable.
a defensive personality that is preoccupied with security, independence and privacy.
trapped in believing there is not enough and often express that way of thinking with judgment, cynicism and sarcasm. When they do participate in family or social gatherings, they stay separate from others.
Bill always found a way to shift the focus of conversation back to me whenever I asked him about his own life.
withholding personal information is a classic trait of Fives.
Fearful they don’t have sufficient inner resources to function in the world, they detach and withdraw into the mind, where they feel more at home and confident.
Fives value autonomy and self-containment, so they stockpile these things because they never want to be put in a position where they have to depend on others to take care of them.
Avarice also expresses itself in the Five’s excessive desire for acquiring knowledge, information, ideas, conceptual models, expertise, interesting facts and understanding for how things work. Fives look to knowledge to provide them with what most people find through relationships, such as love, comfort and support.
a distinct strategy for finding a sense of control and safe refuge in this unpredictable world. Fives are motivated by a desire to understand. To them, gathering knowledge and mastering information are not just interesting endeavors but keys to survival. By embarking on a lifelong quest for information, often about unusual or challenging subjects, Fives believe they can insulate themselves from emotional and spiritual harm. Albert Einstein, Oliver Sacks and director David Lynch are but a few examples of Fives who departed from well-worn paths to pioneer ideas and explore subjects few others have. What better way to build self-esteem (and sometimes feel superior to others) and insulate yourself from others than to become an expert in a niche field of study?
Fives are minimalists. They don’t need or want too many things. In their minds, the more possessions people have, the more energy they’ll have to expend thinking about them, maintaining them or restocking them.
Fives’ desire to keep life simple and economical can reveal itself in their appearance. They don’t win fashion shows.
They hoard too much, emotionally speaking. Their greed for privacy and their fear of self-disclosure lead to isolation. Believing the old maxim “He who has the knowledge has the power,” they prefer to keep too much knowledge and those few necessities to themselves. Even worse, they scrimp on love and affection and stingily withhold it from the people who most want to support and care for them.
Fives prefer to observe. Fives can appear to be loners, and sometimes they are. They often strike people as emotionally distant, not entirely present or at home in their bodies, aloof and sometimes intellectually arrogant.
Watching from the sidelines, along with obtaining knowledge, is their first line of defense.
Not all Fives are smart, but they’re all observant.
When it comes to being neutral, Fives are like Switzerland.
Fives collect knowledge. Knowledge and information of almost any kind (even the strangest information) provide Fives with a sense of control and a defense against feelings of inadequacy. Fives also collect information or knowledge because they don’t want to appear foolish or uninformed, or be humiliated for not having the correct answer. They don’t want to feel incapable or inept, which is what they believe they are.
As humorous as that story may be, Fives really do end up as roadkill on the information highway. For Fives, computers and the Internet provide another way to avoid interaction with people—which is the last thing they need.
Believing their inner resources are limited and seeking to feel in control, Fives assign their job, marriage, hobbies, friendships and other commitments to separate mental cubbyholes.
Fives maintain friendships in each compartment with people who neither meet nor know about each other.
Sensitive and quiet, these Five kids took refuge in the realm of their minds where they could fend off or hide from an overbearing parent, as well as work through their feelings out of sight.
As kids, Fives are curious, imaginative and comfortable being alone. Many are computer whizzes and voracious readers
Kids who are Fives are usually quiet and self-contained. They are uncomfortable when they can’t take care of themselves, so they have learned to hold on to themselves instead of others.
They find answers to most of their questions within themselves, and they have far more information about things than they share.
They are smart and enjoy learning, and they usually make good grades.
However, the social demands of school are hard to read and a challenge to accommodate.
Fives have tall, thick boundaries. It’s as if Georgia’s on the other side of a three-lane highway and you have to yell over traffic to establish a real connection with her.
People in a relationship with a Five have to recognize and honor the Five’s need for privacy and times of solitude.
Though Fives want to get together or be included, they rarely initiate social interactions, so I was surprised when my friend Adam called at the last minute to ask whether I wanted to join him for dinner. “If it were any other night I’d love to get together, but tonight is Anne’s birthday and the kids and I are surprising her by taking her to that great Italian place she loves over on 12 South,” I explained. “Okay,” he said. “Some other time.” And he hung up.
Later I contemplated what would have happened if our roles had been reversed. What would Adam have said if I had called to ask if he wanted to join me for dinner, but he had a conflict? He’d say, “I can’t.” Full stop. He wouldn’t tell me why he couldn’t go—where he was going instead, what he was doing or who he was doing it with. That’s private. He would provide only the facts I needed to know and no more. By comparison, I shared “insider information” about my family’s plans. I even gave him the restaurant’s dang address.
Fives may not be aware of it, but when people share these trivial life details it’s a way of leaving a door open for the other person to talk about what’s happening in their life. Adam might have said, “How are the kids? Does Anne still enjoy her job? I contracted food poisoning from the calamari at that restaurant, so don’t order it.”
This may sound like mundane stuff, but disclosing even little things about our lives is like Miracle-Gro for relationships. By keeping everyone on a need-to-know basis, Fives can make their friends and even their partners wonder, “Do I really know this person? Will I ever know this person?” Like flowers, relationships don’t grow in the dark. Relationships bloom in the light of self-disclosure.
They’re not emotionally needy, don’t have impossible expectations of the people they love and typically stay calm when the folks around them are all falling apart.
You can also share your darkest secrets with Fives and know they will hold them in sacred trust. Like a priest, they will keep whatever you tell them under the “seal of the confessional,” in part because they know how important such confidentiality would be to them if the shoe were on the other foot.
In the professional world Fives are valued for their cool, clear, pioneering, analytical minds.
what Fives need most at work is predictability. If Fives know what demands will be placed on them every day, they’ll know how to wisely apportion their inner resources so they’ll make it home without running out of gas.
To this end, Fives don’t like meetings. If they have no choice but to attend one, they will want to know precisely when it begins and ends, who else will be there, and what the agenda is going to be. When a meeting is finished Fives are eager to go, so if the person leading it asks if anyone has any last questions and someone’s hand shoots up in the air, Fives will bury their face in their hands and mutter, “Give me a letter opener and this will all be over in a flash.”
Fives would rather you give them a project, tell them when it’s due, and allow them to accomplish it however and wherever they choose. Many of the traditional rewards for excellence at work aren’t primary motivators for Fives, who aren’t typically materialistic and aren’t always angling, like Threes can be, for a promotion or a raise. If you want to recognize and reward Fives for a job well done, give them more autonomy. Independence is what they crave, even when they’re working on a team. They are generally impatient with group decisions because they don’t like long discussions or having to listen to people free-associate ideas.
Fives can successfully hold positions that require making presentations or making speeches, so long as they have time to prepare. They don’t like to be unexpectedly put on the spot or asked to spontaneously say or do something.
If Fives know what’s expected of them and they’re kept well informed about what’s happening, they perform great.
Fives with a Four wing (5w4). These Fives are more creative, sensitive, empathetic and self-absorbed than 5w6s.
Fives with a Four wing are more likely to experience melancholy. The connection to Four’s energy and depth of emotion helps these Fives be more tender with themselves and less emotionally guarded around others.
Healthy 5w4s are able to communicate their own feelings to the people they love.
When Fives feel secure they move toward the positive side of Eight, which is a gigantic move! When this happens Fives become infinitely more spontaneous, outspoken and physically present. The difference is so striking people will say, “What’s gotten into Holly? She’s suddenly so energetic, confident and talkative.” Fives who want to know and experience life abundant without it costing them more than they can afford to lose can achieve that on the high side of Eight.
When it comes to spiritual work, Fives have an advantage over the rest of us. They don’t cling to their ego with as tight a grip. Their love for solitude makes them natural contemplatives. They are attracted to simplicity, forming fewer attachments to worldly things and letting go more readily when they do. People of other numbers who are on the road to spiritual transformation might envy the Five’s inner calm and detachment.
When they exaggerate it, however, detachment ceases to be a virtue. For Fives it risks devolving into disconnection from their feelings to prevent injury and depletion. It makes them cold, aloof and relationally unavailable—observers rather than participants in life.
From a Christian perspective that’s not detachment. “The ultimate goal of detachment is engagement,” writes David Benner. “We detach so we can re-order our attachments and then, aligned and cooperating with the inflow of Grace into our deepest self, we can allow love to pass through us to touch and heal others in the world.”
To mature spiritually, Fives will need to learn this pattern of detaching in order to engage. Fives need to practice connecting to their emotions in real time. A person can’t celebrate Christmas on Monday and not feel it until Friday!
If everything I’ve said in this chapter until now makes Fives feel miserable, I encourage them to feel that misery now, not next month. Once they master first attaching to feelings and then letting them go, they can teach others how to do it, because the rest of us get entangled in our feelings way too much.
Fives’ deadly sin is fear, and they’re motivated by a desire for security.
Aware that they have limited resources, they wonder how much information, how much affection, how much energy, how much privacy, how much money, how much anything they can afford to give away and how much they should conserve for themselves.
How different would Fives’ lives be if they embraced a mindset of abundance? This mentality says that when we give, we receive. This is the algebra of the gospel. What if Fives trusted that there was more than enough to go around in life, so they could give more away?
To some extent, Fives also have to become comfortable with dependence, or at least interdependence. Fives have been motivated to live so self-sufficiently that they never have to depend on anyone else. Yet there is a humility that comes when we allow other people to take care of us. For Fives, establishing so many boundaries that they never have to experience depending on anyone else sets them up for a great loss. It also deprives those who love them of the joy of caring for them.
Ten Paths to Transformation for Fives
- Allow your feelings to arise naturally and experience them in the present moment, and then you can let them go.
- Recognize when you’re succumbing to a scarcity mentality by hoarding affection, privacy, knowledge, time, love, money, material possessions or thoughts.
- When something occurs that seems to elicit emotions in other people, try to feel with them in the moment rather than saving those feelings to process later.
- Try sharing more of your life with others, trusting they won’t misuse that information.
- Venture out of your comfort zone and share more of who you are and what you have with others.
- Try to remember that you don’t have to have the answers for everything. You won’t look foolish, just human.
- Call a friend and offer to hang out, for no reason at all other than to enjoy each other’s company.
- Allow yourself some material and experiential luxuries. Buy a new mattress! Travel!
- Take up yoga or another activity that will connect you with your body. Overcoming the disconnect between your body and head will be life changing.
- Even when you’re unsure of yourself, jump into a conversation rather than withdrawing from it.
Loyalists, Sixes are the most faithful and dependable people on the Enneagram. (Sixes are also sometimes called the Devil’s Advocate, the Questioner, the Skeptic, the Trooper or the Guardian.)
Fear is what arises when you’re in the presence of a clear and immediate source of danger—like when a guy wearing a hockey goalie’s mask kicks your door down and chases you around your apartment while wielding a chainsaw over his head.
Anxiety, by contrast, is a vague, free-floating sense of apprehension that arises in response to an unknown or potential threat that may never materialize. It’s what you feel when you imagine what would happen if a guy wearing a hockey goalie’s mask ever chased you around your apartment with a chainsaw.
Fear says, “Something wrong is actually happening!” while anxiety is more anticipatory: “What if this happened or that happened? What if . . . What if . . . What if . . . ?”
They appreciate order, plans and rules. They like the comfort and predictability that clear laws and guidelines offer us.
Sixes value community. They won’t leave a church if they’re not “being fed,” the announcements are too long, the church has gotten too big (or too small), the music is (fill in the blank), or they don’t agree with everything the pastor says from the pulpit.
Sixes are the most loyal number
Sixes want to feel connected to the people they love. These are the mothers who call every day to “check in,” wanting to know what you’re doing and that you’re safe.
When it comes time to make decisions they become like the worry-prone Star Wars protocol droid C-3PO: “We’re doomed!” Suffering from analysis paralysis, they turn to friends, coworkers, family members and experts for advice because they don’t trust their own thinking. They make up their mind then change it again. They feel pulled one way, then pushed in another. They waffle and equivocate, driving themselves and others crazy as they swing back and forth between yay, nay and maybe. In the words of St. James, they are the ones who, because they doubt, are “like a wave of the sea, carried forward by the wind one moment and driven back the next”
Sixes see both sides to everything.
One Six is very loyal and gives their full attention to authority because they think that’s where security lies. Always loyal to authority, these Sixes seek to please and obey the rules. They are deferential to their bosses, trying their best to please because they view the authority as the source of their security. We call these folks phobic Sixes.
Most Sixes bounce back and forth between these two poles. To borrow a phrase from Churchill, they are “either at your feet or at your throat.”
Teachers and coaches love kids who are Sixes. They are good followers and listeners.
Six kids pick up small cues that a danger or threat is present, and stay safe by learning to predict whether someone is going to hurt them.
Sixes like Larry David can turn their exaggerated anxieties, insecurities and catastrophizing into fodder for self-deprecating stories that will keep their friends laughing for days. Listen to early recordings of Woody Allen stand-up routines if you want to hear a phobic Six who made his fortune airing his self-doubts, or a counterphobic Six George Carlin aggressively questioning everything and everyone.
They will try to guess what you’re thinking. Afraid of being emotionally blindsided and having been hurt in the past, they will watch for hints of imminent betrayal or abandonment. A Six will pepper you with you questions like, “Are we still good?” or “What if you wake up one day and decide you don’t love me anymore?” They will alternate between pushing you away and clinging to you.
They love being on the underdog team trying to resurrect a company or failing program, particularly when others say it can’t be done.
They find most of their happiness in anticipation and much of their sadness in the reality that their expectations are seldom realized.
These Sevens entertain to feel safe and to claim their place in a group.
Though they are very popular, they find commitment to be a challenge and have great trouble finishing projects, often jumping from one thing to the next.
But for Sevens, the sin of gluttony isn’t about their fondness for pennete al salmone as much as a reflection of their compulsive need to devour positive experiences, stimulating ideas and fine material things in order to fend off suffering, hurtful memories and a feeling of chronic deprivation.
Like “hungry ghosts,” Sevens cope with their inner tumult by gorging themselves on interesting ideas, acquiring choice material possessions, jamming their calendars with activities and adventures, fantasizing about a future filled with exciting possibilities, and planning their next great escapade.