Tuesday, November 8, 2022

We Can Be Our Many Selves

After thirty years as an Enneagram author and coach, my awareness of the Enneagram's meaning and purpose has shifted substantially, triggered by my own experience and by clients' transformational efforts.

I'm concerned that we've all contributed to identifying exclusively with a "number" or "point," with countless enthusiasts losing sight of the Enneagram's intended spiritual purpose. 

Russ Hudson has said, "The Enneagram doesn't put us in a box. It shows us the box we're in and how to get out of it " His conversation with A.H. Almaas in the video "The Transformational Power of the Enneagram" speaks to this, as does Vivianna Trucco's interview with Michael Goldberg, "The Lines are the Basic Building Blocks of the Enneagram, Not the Points."

An Enneagram line is an archetype, a collection of themes . . . meant to be engaged, participated in, wrestled with . . . the enneagram number . . . remains part of a line, part of an ongoing story . . . We have choices. We can be our many selves. Our lives have meaning because we are consciously living a dynamic story . . . When someone becomes fixated, stuck, the storytelling stops. We pretend that the line does not exist for us, only our "point." there is no living story, just a stagnant point of view. Only one end of the archetype is heard from, only one part of the discussion is allowed a voice. This is the fixation.

The work of the enneagram is to bring the story back to life . . .Working to "evolve" your fixation is, in an American idiom, like putting make-up on a corpse . . . Evolving within your point is the fantasy of the Ego. This is why they are called "ego fixations . . ."  The real work with the enneagram is undermining/deconstructing the fixation, not building it up, not "evolving" it. And the way that you do that is flesh out the forgotten story, so as to avoid being stuck on automatic."

Among the initial influences that far too few people are aware of, William Patrick Patterson studied with Lord John Pentland, appointed by Gurdjieff to head his Work in America. In the Prologue to his spiritual autobiography Eating the "I," Patterson writes:

"What I have tried to depict here is what it is like to voluntarily and intentionally undergo the unorthodox and uncompromising spiritual discipline of The Fourth Way. It is written as narrative because that is how I view it--as story. The account necessarily is personal, the perspective is not. The story is the outer trapping. Deeper is an introduction to an ancient teaching of self-transformation bridled and supported within its nine-chapter architecture."

Surely everyone learning about the Enneagram has at least heard the name "Gurdjieff," but I suspect very few are familiar with his works in detail, and may find it easier--as I did--to learn about it through Patterson's experiences and growing understanding:

"The idea that really grabbed me was that each person has no real individual I but is made up of many 'I's . . . Gurdjieff said everything was not to be believed but to be verified by one's own observed experience. To verify one had to first self-remember . . . dividing the attention between body and mind, inner and outer. One part of the attention experiences the body, while the other is aware of the mind and its impressions. This creates a kind of 'double attention.' (p. 17, Eating the "I")

In Patterson's book, Taking with the Left Hand (p. 10) he says Gurdjieff knew that counter currents could deflect from the sacred teaching's original impulse, and details the "anticipated deflections and distortions" of "the Enneagram craze," in which Ennea-typers "have stripped the enneagram, a principal symbol of the Fourth Way, from Gurdjieff's teaching and used it as a secular personality tool."

My point in quoting the above sources is not to discredit any Enneagram authors or teachers but to share that I'm not alone in my concerns about overemphasizing the nine personality "types" and losing the Enneagram's spiritual wholeness, and many others are now offering suggestions for a more wholistic focus. In "Praise for Keys to the Enneagram" Jessica Dibb writes about the "growing realization among some of us who teach the Enneagram for awakening that the transformational power of working with all nine fixations and journeying on all nine paths of essential qualities is paramount."

In Keys to the Enneagram: How to Unlock the Highest Potential of Every Personality Type), A.H. Almaas writes:

"Even though one type will dominate as we begin studying ourselves using the tool of the Enneagram, all the fixations are present in every ego. . . if we are genuinely interested in spiritual learning and liberation though the Enneagram, we need to study all the fixations--their cores and their shells--as they manifest in our lives." 

To open your thinking about this, I encourage experimenting with different ways to refer to fixations instead of types. In the October session of the 11-month experiential approach to Keys to the EnneagramRuss Hudson and Sandra Maitri are modelling this. In the October session on point Six, for example, instead of denoting someone as "a 6," Russ referred to "the Six part of us" and Sandra spoke of "the Six sector of our own personality."

My Enneagram writings have always focused on stories, and that's what I hope to add to this discussion.  Over the coming months I'll be meditating about my own and clients' stories collected over the years that reflect, in Michael Goldberg's words, what "undermining and deconstructing the fixation" might look like, illuminated by my inspirations from the Keys to the Enneagram course. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Tick-Tock

Having learned about the Enneagram soon after I started my consulting business in 1988, I was entranced by how much light it shed on my own personality, and with the best intentions, taught it to my business clients for ten years, shifting over in the following two decades to an Enneagram coaching practice, often mentoring other coaches who were using the Enneagram with their clients. 

The nine points on the Enneagram are so intuitively known, such familiar habits of human nature that my clients saw themselves and others immediately, just as I had. I taught business teams to interact more intelligently and compassionately without initially referring to anything formal--gradually building the visual Enneagram on a blackboard, drawing only from their experiences of themselves and others,

  • asking each to think of someone they'd strongly disliked and someone they'd especially liked, then to write down as many behaviors for each as they could remember;
  • drawing a circle on the board, going around the room asking each person to describe the qualities they'd listed and write down key words at the nine points of the circle;
  • after all had spoken, adding the word "Enneagram" above and noting a reasonably accurate description of points 1 through 9, participants feeling immediately at home with their own common sense of a personality model they'd never heard of and might otherwise have thought too foreign or complex or un-businesslike.

It's also natural that I and my clients wanted to organize and categorize further, including a desire to pick a number for ourselves, even though we'd seen ourselves at various times showing many of both positive and negative characteristics of all nine.

From that point on, however, because I and others had been so rigorously trained in mechanistic thinking, we focused on answering "What exactly is MY number?" "How exactly does this work?" "How does my number interact with your number and how does that affect our working together?" "What behaviors do we need to change to be a more effective team/marriage/ partnership?" "If we move along the lines, exactly how do we do that? In what direction, exactly? How exactly does that show up? How exactly can we make that happen?"

In particular, I added my training in MRI therapeutic techniques and co-authored a how-to book, Out of the Box Coaching with the Enneagram. At that time, "out of the box" meant out of the box of your number's worst traits, although through the years I moved away from business settings, working privately with individuals and other coaches, focusing more and more on meditation, present-centeredness, and the transformative aspects of the Enneagram,

However, as have most of us since Isaac Newton imagined our universe as a hermetically sealed clock, I was trained to look for specific causes and specific effects, leading me to create endless concrete descriptions and how-to steps for knowing one's number and transforming within that number, releasing that number's fixation, and even seeing how the connecting lines showed changes in points related to ours.

What I didn't fully realize until the past few years was how I was encouraging too fixed a view of Enneagram styles, by sifting observations for evidence of a particular number, my clients and I feeling a bit uneasy if more than one point on the Enneagram felt like a fit, looking for steps to overcome the negative aspects of a number, and (tick-tock, tick-tock) quickly losing the original, underlying spiritual intent of this beautiful model:

To observe and release ourselves when stuck (fixated) at any of the nine points that separate us from Essence, perhaps observing one of them more of the time, though (if open to seeing) all of them some of the time.

 

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The Key is in Your Hand

The devil and a friend were walking down the street, when they saw a man stoop to pick up something from the ground, look at it, and put it away in his pocket.

    The friend said to the devil, "What did that man pick up?"
    "He picked up a piece of the truth," said the devil.
    "That's a very bad business for you, then," said his friend.
    "Not at all," the devil replied, "I'm going to help him organize it."

This was a favorite story of Jiddu Krishnamurti, fondly remembered as "K" by community members of the Krishnamurti Centre in England, where I worked and studied for two weeks in May, 2012.

K maintained that "Truth, being limitless . . . unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized, nor should any organization be formed to lead or coerce people along a particular path."

Imagine the paradox Krishnamurti then faced: trying to teach the unteachable. He came to this pathless path years after being "discovered" in adolescence by leaders of the Theosophical Society and groomed to be the World Leader of what later became the Order of the Star.

After experiencing his own process, a state of clarity I would call presence, he realized he could only embody the teaching by not being a leader. His proclamation met with dismay within the Order, but to me is the ultimate example of walking the talk:

"I do not know how many thousands throughout the world--members of the Order--have been preparing for me for eighteen years, and yet now they are not willing to listen unconditionally, wholly, to what I say . . . You use a typewriter to write letters, but you do not put it on an altar and worship it." (K was proclaimed leader in 1912 and disbanded the Order in 1929).

Krishnamurti frequently claimed that the great religious teachers had come not to found religions but to destroy them, and throughout his life he asked questions of his audience to lead them toward discovering the path within themselves:

"In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand. Nobody on earth can give either the key or the door to open, except yourself." 

So, of course I've recalled this story about Krishnamurti in the context of getting to know your many selves. With all the best intentions, we have taken a spiritual system--the Enneagram--and filled it with rules and discrete definitions that separate the parts from the whole. Its transformational power cannot be found along rigidly defined paths. 

Instead, I ask you to gently step back from your "number" as separate from the others. Open to the possibility that even theories about directionality of the arrows, while they may hold some partial truth, are limiting in a system that holds "the whole world." Step back from being in one place only. Begin to search for yourself within the whole. 

". . . greater spiritual development and openness requires accessing all nine keys since ego is composed of all the fixations and their delusions, even though one of them predominates." A.H. Almaas, Keys to the Enneagram, p. 10 

 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Enneagram Point One Patterns

"Even though one type will dominate as we begin studying ourselves using the tool of the Enneagram, all the fixations are present in every ego. . . if we are genuinely interested in spiritual learning and liberation though the Enneagram, we need to study all the fixations--their cores and their shells--as they manifest in our lives." A.H. Almaas, Keys to the Enneagram: How to Unlock the Highest Potential of Every Personality Type

The driving force at point One is anger; typically over-controlled until it erupts as resentment when someone has failed expectations; moral tirades; yet also a "running amok" side that allows escape from one's own high standards.

When fixated at point One, we are perfectionists, with an internal judging voice that chastises self or others for falling short of perfection (preaching).

When still at point One but less fixated, we can be wise, tolerant, balanced, focused on standards of excellence in ways that provide an exemplary vision for others.

Typical Comments

"I know I'm right, why should I have to compromise?" "I'm my own worst critic." "My whole career, I've been brought in to fix things." "My message as a kid was always, 'You can do better."  

Engaging the Observing Self and Releasing the One Fixation: 

It's important that we learn to see our patterns as they emerge, without judgment, to notice and accept as they come and go without shame or denial or trying to shut them down, to see how the fixed personality reactions show up and choose different behaviors. From this Observing Self we'll begin to see the patterns loosening and dropping away.

Within that context, some actions that my clients and I have found helpful at point One include:
  • allowing ourselves to be wrong by staying present when criticized, learning how to respond non-defensively,
  • noticing when angry toward others and owning/channeling anger more effectively, 
  • observing instances of black-and-white thinking and looking for nuance, shifting to positive reframing and creative problem-solving, 
  • listening for "preaching" of our opinions and instead sharing them in a more interactive mode,
  • approaching circumstances that don't conform to our ideals by finding ways to be more flexible,
  • allowing ourselves to let go of crossing every "t" and dotting every "i," 
  • celebrating evidence of patience and what Almaas calls brilliancy--"powerful for gaining synthesizing insights from many dimensions because it brings us a capacity for synthesis" (p. 78).
 

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Enneagram Point Two Patterns

"Even though one type will dominate as we begin studying ourselves using the tool of the Enneagram, all the fixations are present in every ego. . . if we are genuinely interested in spiritual learning and liberation though the Enneagram, we need to study all the fixations--their cores and their shells--as they manifest in our lives." A.H. Almaas, Keys to the Enneagram: How to Unlock the Highest Potential of Every Personality Type
 
The driving force at point Two is pride, which is attached to a self-image as helperWhen fixated at point Two, we need to be in the middle of things, giving help and advice whether others want it or not. There is a sense of entitlement and use of manipulation to influence others. If feeling betrayed at Two, one may even become vindictive. 

When less fixated at this point, we are aware of personal needs, providing balance, allowing us to give freely, without expectation of return. We are interpersonally oriented, unconditionally caring, deriving deep satisfaction from seeing and encouraging others' development. 

Typical Comments: 

"I think it's important to always focus on what we need to be doing to serve others." "Was that helpful?" "Of all the people in the organization the President could have called, he called me."  "Both of my parents were alcoholics, and I took care of them from a very early age."

Engaging the Observing Self and Releasing the Two Fixation: 

It's important that we learn to see our patterns as they emerge, without judgment, to notice and accept as they come and go without shame or denial or trying to shut them down, to see how the fixed personality reactions show up and choose different behaviors. From this Observing Self we'll begin to see the patterns loosening and dropping away.

Within that context, some actions that my clients and I have found helpful at point Two:
  • notice when focusing over-much on the other and acknowledge our own needs,
  • observe ways we contribute to our own workload and say no,
  • set clear boundaries with everything that might be asked of us instead of automatically trying to please another,
  • observe subtle and/or manipulative methods to get what we want and, instead, ask for what we want more openly, 
  • look for evidence of pride, stay with and learn from it without acting with pride as our base,
  • notice when "strings" are attached to our affection and releasing the strings,
  • rejoicing in true feelings of compassion (which has no expectation),
  • celebrating evidence of humility.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Enneagram Point Three Patterns

"Even though one type will dominate as we begin studying ourselves using the tool of the Enneagram, all the fixations are present in every ego. . . if we are genuinely interested in spiritual learning and liberation though the Enneagram, we need to study all the fixations--their cores and their shells--as they manifest in our lives." A.H. Almaas, Keys to the Enneagram: How to Unlock the Highest Potential of Every Personality Type
 
The driving force at point Three is vanity, which shows up as self-deception (e.g., convincing ourselves that not involving or crediting others is unimportant because of the results we achieve).

When fixated at point Three, we personify image-making, self-promoting and showcasing ourselves even at the expense of others. Looking outward for our reflection in others' eyes can diminish our inner life. 

When still at point Three but less fixated, we can be expansive go-getters, efficient and goal-oriented, ensuring high productivity, rising to the top in sports, organizations, or any other focused endeavor.

Typical Comments:

"I like seeing success breed upon success." "I've always been successful." "I have a shelf full of empty trophies." "I got pats on the back for doing well in school, and my parents made it clear what would be approved of." 

Engaging the Observing Self and Releasing the Three Fixation:

It's important that we learn to see our patterns as they emerge, without judgment, to notice and accept as they come and go without shame or denial or trying to shut them down, to see how the fixed personality reactions show up and choose different behaviors. From this Observing Self we'll begin to see the patterns loosening and dropping away.

Within that context, some actions that my clients and I have found helpful at point Three include:
  • noticing even subtle competitiveness in ourselves, 
  • learning how to collaborate,
  • when aware of seeking external validation, clarify our own values/develop internal criteria,
  • allow/learn from failure, 
  • access feelings
  • speak from the essential self without calculating how others will respond, 
  • engage the whole team or community, 
  • celebrate evidence of authenticity.
 

Friday, September 9, 2022

Enneagram Point Four Patterns

"Even though one type will dominate as we begin studying ourselves using the tool of the Enneagram, all the fixations are present in every ego. . . if we are genuinely interested in spiritual learning and liberation though the Enneagram, we need to study all the fixations--their cores and their shells--as they manifest in our lives." A.H. Almaas, Keys to the Enneagram: How to Unlock the Highest Potential of Every Personality Type
 
The driving force at point Four is envy, which shows up in dissatisfaction, a perception that "the grass is always greener somewhere else."

More in touch with feelings at point Four, in general, when fixated we are in danger of sinking into moodiness if met with resistance to our ideas. While it's characteristic here to "look outside the box," seeing things others can't see may also leave us wondering why we're different, and even to question if we're flawed.

When less fixated at point Four, we're able to view things from a new slant and aren't bound by tradition or outdated assumptions. 
 
Typical Comments:

"People call me because they know I'll come at things from a totally different angle." "I buy into the 'vale of tears' theory of life." "I seem to feel things more deeply than others." "I always felt like an outsider as a child."

Engaging the Observing Self and Releasing the Four Fixation:

It's important that we learn to see our patterns as they emerge, without judgment, to notice and accept as they come and go without shame or denial or trying to shut them down, to see how the fixed personality reactions show up and choose different behaviors. From this Observing Self we'll begin to see the patterns loosening and dropping away. 

Within that context, some actions that my clients and I have found helpful at point Four include:
  • noticing when focused on tragedy and shifting focus to strengths and resources, 
  • learning to develop the possibilities of our current work, 
  • shifting our mood through physical exercise or creative outlets, 
  • reframing self-criticism in more positive ways, 
  • championing a program or process we believe in and appreciating every sign of effectiveness in the external world, 
  • living fully in the present moment, 
  • celebrating evidence of equanimity.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Enneagram Point Five Patterns

"Even though one type will dominate as we begin studying ourselves using the tool of the Enneagram, all the fixations are present in every ego. . . if we are genuinely interested in spiritual learning and liberation though the Enneagram, we need to study all the fixations--their cores and their shells--as they manifest in our lives." A.H. Almaas, Keys to the Enneagram: How to Unlock the Highest Potential of Every Personality Type
 
The driving force at point Five is hoarding, which shows up particularly as a detachment from emotions, a "stinginess" of feelings. 

When fixated at point Five, we may sound as if we're giving a dissertation or seem disdainful of emotions, even if profound and passionate in debate. We're very independent here, preferring to be surrounded by highly capable people who need no direction or external reinforcement. 

When still at point Five but less fixated, we are able to take in the whole picture and integrate its components in creative ways, strategizing, envisioning possibilities, and influencing others through our knowledge. 

Typical Comments:

"I have a really deep knowledge of this industry." "I hate having group meetings because they're generally a waste of time." "I have a good mind and I'm pretty perceptive." "I was a loner as a kid--I read a lot." 
 
Engaging the Observing Self and Releasing the Five Fixation:

It's important that we learn to see our patterns as they emerge, without judgment, to notice and accept as they come and go without shame or denial or trying to shut them down, to see how the fixed personality reactions show up and choose different behaviors. From this Observing Self we'll begin to see the patterns loosening and dropping away.

Within that context, some actions that my clients and I have found helpful at point Five include:
  • noticing when debating--then probing/listening more, 
  • seeking mutually satisfying solutions, 
  • being active in our role as coach or mentor or parent
  • giving attention to group process (meetings, teamwork, family gatherings), 
  • affirming others' positive efforts, 
  • acting on our thoughts/willingly sharing our knowledge, 
  • being more generous with our energy, allowing it to flow outward toward others, 
  • celebrating evidence of caring without feeling confined (nonattachment),

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Enneagram Point Six Patterns

"Even though one type will dominate as we begin studying ourselves using the tool of the Enneagram, all the fixations are present in every ego. . . if we are genuinely interested in spiritual learning and liberation though the Enneagram, we need to study all the fixations--their cores and their shells--as they manifest in our lives." A.H. Almaas, Keys to the Enneagram: How to Unlock the Highest Potential of Every Personality Type

When fixated at point Six, the driving force of fear can manifest in accusing others (particularly those in authority), looking for hidden agendas, and self-doubt. We may procrastinate and/or blurt out  feelings with a kind of reckless courage (driven by anxiety), and then worry we've shot ourselves in the foot ̶ as may be the case. 

When still at point Six but less fixated, we're highly family-oriented in personal life and team-oriented at work, energetic, attending to interdependent needs, using group-oriented language, challenging in ways that hold others accountable, bringing out the best in everyone.

Typical Comments:

"I've been loyal to this group for 25 years." "I don't think we have very competent senior management." "I wish we could work better as a team." "All my life, I've questioned my own ability." 

Engaging the Observing Self and Releasing the Six Fixation:

It's important that we learn to see our patterns as they emerge, without judgment, to notice and accept as they come and go without shame or denial or trying to shut them down, to see how the fixed personality reactions show up and choose different behaviors. From this Observing Self we'll begin to see the patterns loosening and dropping away.

Within that context, some actions that my clients and I have found helpful at point Six include:
  • observing our fears and getting a reality check, 
  • noticing when blaming others and finding ways to empower ourselves, 
  • shifting to possibilities when aware of feeling worried, 
  • noticing scattered thoughts and centering to clarify a central idea and key points, 
  • admitting how we contribute to situations instead of looking for blame elsewhere, 
  • celebrating evidence of courage to act on our own convictions even when we're hesitant or afraid.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Enneagram Point Seven Patterns

"Even though one type will dominate as we begin studying ourselves using the tool of the Enneagram, all the fixations are present in every ego. . . if we are genuinely interested in spiritual learning and liberation though the Enneagram, we need to study all the fixations-their cores and their shells--as they manifest in our lives." A.H. Almaas, Keys to the Enneagram: How to Unlock the Highest Potential of Every Personality Type
 
The driving force at point Seven is gluttony, a seeking of pleasure to avoid pain; consequently, we can be over-focused on enthusiasm and engaged in uneasy activity, refusing to consider anything but "good news."

When fixated at point Seven, we can seem egotistical, telling anecdotes and forgetting to invite others to talk. With only a positive focus we can be perceived as lacking analytical ability, oversimplifying or skating over the surface. 

When still at point Seven but less fixated, we can be charming and easy to talk to, optimistic, a cheerleader of others, optimistic, focused on long-term perspective and possibilities, seeking equality and able to work around situational constraints. 

Typical Comments:

"I always see the bright side of things." "I've found that if you understand a few basic principles, you can run just about anything." "I'm always the one to figure out what we'll do for fun." 

Engaging the Observing Self and Releasing the Seven Fixation:

It's important that we learn to see our patterns as they emerge, without judgment, to notice and accept as they come and go without shame or denial or trying to shut them down, to see how the fixed personality reactions show up and choose different behaviors. From this Observing Self we'll begin to see the patterns loosening and dropping away.

Within that context, some actions that my clients and I have found helpful at point Seven include:
  • honoring our vision while also countering excessive optimism with possible downsides,
  • exploring and planning for potential problems and well as possibilities, 
  • eliciting and accepting balanced feedback about ourselves (the whole picture, not just the positives), 
  • disciplining ourselves to follow through with what we perceive as hard work (including our own development), 
  • celebrating signs of realistic enthusiasm.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Enneagram Point Eight Patterns

"Even though one type will dominate as we begin studying ourselves using the tool of the Enneagram, all the fixations are present in every ego. . . if we are genuinely interested in spiritual learning and liberation though the Enneagram, we need to study all the fixations--their cores and their shells--as they manifest in our lives." A.H. Almaas, Keys to the Enneagram: How to Unlock the Highest Potential of Every Personality Type
 
The driving force at point Eight is lust/excess: feeling a responsibility to intervene in and direct situations, pursuing power and control aggressively. There's a value for justice--as self-defined--and we can take a bull-in-the-china-shop approach, speaking in imperatives, pushing our own way forward. 

When fixated at point Eight, we can be power mongers or tyrants because it's difficult to acknowledge any vulnerability. 

When still at point Eight but less fixated, we're able to shoulder huge responsibility without having to control everything. Right beneath the surface is a soft heart. When this is tempered with point Eight's self-confidence, one can truly move mountains. 

Typical Comments:

"I've always been very responsible."  "I have a hard time asking for help -- I'll just charge ahead and do it myself." "I can't think of a time when I was afraid." "I had to grow up fast." 

Engaging the Observing Self and Releasing the Eight Fixation:

It's important that we learn to see our patterns as they emerge, without judgment, to notice and accept as they come and go without shame or denial or trying to shut them down, to see how the fixed personality reactions show up and choose different behaviors. From this Observing Self we'll begin to see the patterns loosening and dropping away.

Within that context, some actions that my clients and I have found helpful at point Eight include:

  • enhancing our ability to ourselves in others' shoes, 
  • collaborative negotiation and active listening skills, 
  • respecting and mentoring others
  • becoming more compassionate and just, 
  • shifting to more altruistic and benign modes of operating, 
  • focusing on service to the world, we are compassionate and just

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Enneagram Point Nine Patterns

"Even though one type will dominate as we begin studying ourselves using the tool of the Enneagram, all the fixations are present in every ego. . . if we are genuinely interested in spiritual learning and liberation though the Enneagram, we need to study all the fixations--their cores and their shells--as they manifest in our lives." A.H. Almaas, Keys to the Enneagram: How to Unlock the Highest Potential of Every Personality Type
 
The driving force at point Nine is indolence--not laziness in the usual sense (we can be very hard workers) but out of touch with our own wishes, self-forgetting. Though typically hesitant to speak, once started we may tell epic tales (holding so many alternative views it's hard to focus). 

When fixated at point Nine, we tend to merge with others' preferences and forget our own. Operating from a non-aggressive stance and seeing all sides of an issue makes it difficult to come to a conclusion or take a strong position.

When still at point Nine but less fixated, we are serene and centered, bringing cooperation to any relationship or group, highly capable of dealing with others' problems and building consensus, with a natural tendency to honor diversity and get along with almost anyone. 

Typical Comments:

"I'm pretty easy-going. My career just kind of fell together, and in a very nice way." "I have CRS disease -- Can't Remember Shit!" "I try to pick the right moment to speak up in a meeting." "I didn't cause much trouble for my parents." 

Engaging the Observing Self and Releasing the Nine Fixation:

It's important that we learn to see our patterns as they emerge, without judgment, to notice and accept as they come and go without shame or denial or trying to shut them down, to see how the fixed personality reactions show up and choose different behaviors. From this Observing Self we'll begin to see the patterns loosening and dropping away.

Within that context, some actions that my clients and I have found helpful at point Nine include:
  • recognizing passive-aggressive behavior and becoming more assertive, 
  • setting priorities/sticking to them, 
  • initiating change, 
  • learning to speak up/confront others
  • we become actively engaged--more focused, initiating, inclusive, yet staying focused on our own purpose -- without distraction, embracing the conflict that is a necessary part of human interaction.