"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 boxed in 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 more self-observing, 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.
"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.