Do you recognize yourself? An Introduction to Nine Enneagram

Orientations (Types)

There are a number of ways to cluster the nine types into groups of three based upon some similar personality dynamics. Here, the 9 types are clustered into three groups of three types each, based upon their Social Style, or sense of self in social environments. There is a brief introduction to each of the three groups: Assertive Types, Dutiful Types, and the Withdrawn Types, followed by a brief description.

Assertive Types

Brief Description: Their “Sense of self” is that important things happen in relationship to them. They are at the “center” so to speak, of meaningful events. They have difficulty with processing feelings and being vulnerable. They:

  • Put their focus of attention on the external world
  • Go after what they want
  • Are direct in their communications
  • Are aware of where “power” is in the room
  • Unconsciously expect to be at the center of attention in a group
  • Feel they have a right to what they want; they can be demanding.

Others feel the intensity of their energy.

Type Three: Theme: The Little Train that Could” I am… accomplished, successful and adaptable. I feel good when others recognize my accomplishments.

  • Self-assured, attractive, charming
  • Can be status-conscious, competitive and highly driven for personal achievement

I deal with challenges by deciding that there must be an efficient solution to this – I (or you) just need to get to work on it. Sometimes I would like to be able to take a break and just relax, but then I feel that I have to be the best I can be—no matter what. So I get back on the treadmill and make the best of it. Type Seven: Theme: “What’s next?” There’s so much to explore, and I want to do it all.” I am…optimistic, fun-loving, bright and full of ideas. I anticipate my next adventures and find myself trying to do a lot of things at once.

  • Versatile, spontaneous, gregarious
  • Can be overextended, scattered and undisciplined

When there is a challenge to deal with, I recognize that a problem may exist, but it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with me. I easily make lemonade out of lemons. I know that I sometimes live my life in excess. I can easily accumulate too many things that I never use, or schedule myself to go to too many places. Type Eight: Theme: “I am the rock. It’s an unjust world out there.” I am… a protector, decisive, self-confident. I think it’s important to be in control and not depend on anyone.

  • Strong, powerful, assertive, a force to be reckoned with
  • Can be domineering, confrontational and intimidating

I deal with challenges by letting people know just how I feel. I might get angry for a moment, but then it passes. I don’t think I even realize how intensely I live. But when I think about it, I find myself pushing and pushing. I’m good at keeping people at an emotional distance from me.

Dutiful Types

Brief Description: They share a desire to be of service to others as advocates; crusaders, and public servants. They feel a commitment to others. “Am I doing enough?” They consult their noisy “inner critic” to find out the “right thing” to do. The inner critic is the internalized voice of authority—rules, dictates, standards from childhood They:

  • Have an inner sense of obligation
  • Take care of responsibility first—others come first
  • Communicate indirectly, expecting others to know what they want
  • Are oriented to providing service
  • Are strongly guided by inner rules
  • Feel they have to earn what they want

Type One: Theme: “There is a right way to do this. Let me show you.” I am…sensible, objective, reasonable. I try to keep my emotions under control.

  • Ethical, conscientious, strong sense of right and wrong
  • Can be critical and perfectionistic

I deal with challenges by taking a mature, responsible and sensible approach with an emphasis on consequences. I feel more comfortable if I know the “rules.” I can feel frustrated by the behavior and activities of others. I have high standards, and I can be pretty judgmental of myself and others. Type Two: Theme: “How can I help?” I am…helpful, generous, giving. I appreciate being appreciated.

  • Empathetic, sincere, warm-hearted
  • Can be sentimental, flattering, and people-pleasing

I deal with challenges by figuring out how I can help others. They need it more than I do. Sometimes others tell me to “take care of myself,” but that sounds selfish to me. I do feel secretly a bit resentful when my efforts and good intentions aren’t recognized, though. Type Six: Theme: “You can count on me. I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.” I am… responsible, persistent, and a team player. I often look to others for advice, and am always thinking about how I should proceed or what I should do next.

  • Reliable, hardworking and responsible
  • Can be pessimistic, overly concerned with safety and highly anxious

I experience challenges around being pulled into too many directions. When the pressure builds-up, I can go on the offensive or be defensive. I sometimes don’t feel confident about a direction to take, and ask others their opinions. I’ve had a tendency to put others on a pedestal, and then can feel disappointed. I sometimes question who or what to trust.

Withdrawn Types

Brief Description: These types withdraw to an inner space that feels safe. They do not experience much differentiation between outer reality and inner impulses, (thoughts, feelings, and fantasies). They have difficulty staying engaged. They:

  • Direct their attention to their inner self
  • Have an “inner sanctuary”: mind/ideas or feelings/emotions/ or inner “ideal” which they retreat to, which feels more interesting and safe than outer reality.
  • May feel that they don’t fit/don’t “fit in”
  • Have a hard time moving into and sustaining action
  • Withdraw to sort things out and get needs met

Type Four: Theme: “I’ve got to be me.” “Rescue me.” I am… unique, sensitive, expressive, creative. I appreciate when others acknowledge my special nature.

  • Self-aware, reserved, quiet
  • Can be moody, self-conscious, feels misunderstood

I deal with challenges by feeling my emotions. I generally need to express my hurt, and want someone to genuinely acknowledge my feelings. I sometimes look at others and wonder how their lives can be so good when I have so many disappointments. It’s not unusual for me to even feel depressed. I’m not sure anyone else can understand my depth of feeling. Type Five: Theme: “I don’t need much, but I need my space.” I am…smart, analytical, curious about how things work. I need to plan carefully so I will be well prepared and master my subject.

  • Insightful, alert, cerebral
  • Can be preoccupied with their thoughts, reclusive and detached

I deal with challenges by thinking through all the possible issues and ramifications. I sometimes need to withdraw to have enough space to think it through. I don’t need a lot of “things” in my life. I might be considered a minimalist. I need to make sure that I’m mentally prepared for whatever the demands from others are – sometimes it seems they want too much. Type Nine: Theme: “Can’t we all just get along?” I am…easy-going, receptive, reassuring, and easy-to-get-along with. It’s easy for me to go along with what others want, and it’s not my nature to get angry.

  • Good-natured, supportive, self-effacing
  • Can be complacent, stuck in comfortableness and “missing in action”

I deal with challenges by downplaying it or reframing it in a positive light. Sometimes others see things as problems that I don’t think are a problem at all. I often feel vague or cloudy in my thinking. I find it hard to know what my priorities are, and find myself busy doing a lot of things without seeming to get anywhere. Sometimes my energy is very low. It’s easy for me to ‘check-out.’



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