Many people study the enneagram for spirituality. There is no such thing as “an Enneagram spirituality.” The approach I use for someone seeking spiritual direction is to loosen the focus of the enneagram style. When our enneagram style blocks our spiritual growth is when our focus is too tight, too narrow and intense and when our responses are rooted in memory and strategies of our childhood. When someone tells us that we’re acting like a child, they are usually identifying our enneagram style and the behavior they observe is precisely what stands in the way of our spiritual development. If you make a list of the characteristics that mark the downside of an enneagram style, you will discover an energy that is blocked and blocking, tightly focused and unforgiving.
Tom Condon notes that Ones often make excellent coaches because they see both who the person is and what that person could be. This would be a subset of their tendency to compare reality with the ideal.
I have seen examples of the downside of that ability. Some intimate Ones don’t see what their partner could be as much as they notice what they “should” be. This activates their negative habit of criticism; sometimes they vilify the partner, demanding proof of virtue or making the partner the cause of all their problems. One man, a few years ago, heard a rumor that his (70 year old!) wife was cheating on him. She denied it and he badgered her for months to have her drive to a town 140 miles away to have her take a lie detector test. His stated virtuous – always virtuous – purpose was to clear her in his mind. A possible darker motive was to convict her of evil. Her reluctance was evidence of guilt. Our Enneagram style is often held in place by polarization. In an intimate One, the polarization was externalized so that her guilt was his virtue.
Today’s Kansas City Star brings the news that Kansas legislature has decided they can no longer afford to persecute allegations of domestic violence. Austerity, you know. Along with this news comes on other pages, stories of cracking down on people who smoke marijuana.
The United States has a strong puritan- social one on the enneagram – underpinning. Pleasure is darkly suspect. Violence, on the other hand is part of the human condition. Churches sing of the battle of Jericho, when the walls came tumbling down and the prophet Joshua killed every man, women, child and animal.
This is the low side of the social One. Drugs and sex (weed and abortion which is really about sex) are abominations, but war around the world and violence in the living room are tolerated.
Just for fun, take a look at two religious commandments: #5, “Thou shalt not kill.” #6, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
The Catholic tradition has something called “the just war” theory. If the state allows it, then Catholics can go kill. If the state allows prostitution, then of course, Catholics should be able to frolic at the brothels. What’s good for 5 is good for 6.
You can kill in self-defense. So if she seduces me, in self defense I can commit adultery, right? If #5 has loopholes, so does #6.
This is the downside of self-righteousness, the plague of Ones in general. Their suppression of sensuality is accompanied by their anger that can lead to violence. Social Ones will then push for legislation stomping out indulgence but be blind to anger erupting in violence.
I think illustrating enneagram styles with stories is highly effective. The stories don’t say how to address the styles some of the time, but they do help with recognition.
I’ve coached an Enneagram One with a strong self-preservation subtype. In his younger years he kept a poop calendar. I don’t know what else to call it. On the back of his bathroom door was a calendar of what days he pooped and a rather thorough description of size, shape and quantity, sometimes with qualitative analysis. When we say someone is anal, that term has biological origins. He was, correspondingly, unusually tight with his money. He’s not “letting go of anything.”
All forms of egotism are isolating.
When I coach individuals or couples, I usually inquire about their support group. The depth and importance of their support group is a good indicator of their overall health. I don’t mean a formal group like AA or Overeaters anonymous, I mean people you can talk about intimate matters with. People with whom you are a better person, a happier person and even a more productive person. The importance of bars in our country is a criticism of our culture –they fill a void for a lot of people who need community and find bars either a substitute or even their only community. Do you have any sober community in addition?
Regardless of your enneagram ego-style, the more fixated you are, the less you may be able and the more you need to find or create real community.
I always coach against the background of the cultures of industrialized society and the symbiotic relationship of the schools and the corporations that rule industrial society.
In school, the ideal is perfect balance: you must learn your multiplication tables, how to tell an octave by sound, letter in one sport, write poetry demand, and know what atomic weight and force vectors refer to. That will get you into college where you must continue moving up on all fronts until you get to specialize in your 3rd year.
But coaching with the Enneagram is almost the opposite. I find out what a client does best and then we decide how to use that talent and the corresponding energies to mend relationships, earn a living and enjoy, as the current buzzword has it, a “wow!” life.
Then, even after discerning and exploiting one’s enneagram focus and energy, we sharpen the focus to a subtype. Let’s say you are decidedly social (subtypes are stacked by percentages, sort of. 70% social, 5% self preservation and 25% intimate — or any combination of percentages that add up to 100).
Then an occupation that requires one – to – one interaction will not be as attractive as one that allows more interaction among groups. You might not choose therapy but love to do workshops about therapy. Or you work selling to many small clients but not spending most of your time cultivating one or very few clients.
In other words, when you find out what you do best, that’s what you do. In school, it is the opposite: you do remedial for whatever you don’t do well and are frequently advised to skip what “you already know.”
So the subtypes are a continuation of the coach’s preference for merging what you like and do well with what you have to do to flourish.
On Linked-in, folks have been discussing the uses of subtypes. So I will offer some suggestions for the stew and then offer a vivid illustration. A warning to those who think politics is another world and must not be discussed outside of smoke-filled rooms, I am about to illustrate my point for a well-known political celebrity.
As I see it, the subtypes are like money. And attention. We spend money on some things and not so much on others, we pay attention to some things and not on others. The subtypes are the way we like to spend out attention – our emotional currency. We CAN spend our money on other things, but our decisions may not be as wise and our purse strings not as loose.
That’s one way: a division of our energy and attention, just as we divide our money.
Another way to think about it is as a fine tuning device when we are trying to figure out someone’s style. Is he a 3, driven by image? Or is his energy all about power? Because the enneagram is about the energy and energies with which we do things, knowing that is often more important than the surface behaviors.
I’ll use Ann Coulter as an example. I am sure she is a 3. And not only a 3 but an intimate three. The focus of an intimate style Three is gender perfection. Coulter is tall, blonde, slender and attractive. She is what American women are “supposed” to look like, especially right wing conservative women. So she sort of looks like an intimate three. But here are some writings. Notice the energy with which she insists that “men be men” and how she abhors any slippage into homosexuality.
And when Colbert attacks her, he unerringly picks up on her gender focus. The positions of each – right or left – are not important. The Enneagram is about focus and energy, NOT content.
I’ve noticed that words like “brave” and “courageous” are mostly used nowadays to mean “left-wing..” (Ann coulter column, March 18th)
Headline: Yale: Turning Boys into Women
The idea that Yale is an “alien, hostile place” to gays is one of those absurd conceits that could only be maintained in the alternative universe of academia.
The Pink Book currently recommends 22 courses, including History of Sexuality, which canvasses the “construction of heterosexuality and homosexuality, the role of scientific studies in moral discourse, and the rise of sexology as a scientific discipline” (enrollment limited to freshmen); Cross-Cultural Narratives of Desire (another freshmen-only course); Gender Transgression, which studies the “issues that arise when a person does not have a ‘readable’ gender identity; what it means to break gender rules; ways in which gender defines sexual categories such as heterosexual, gay, lesbian, and bisexual; [and] the role of race in gender transgression”; and Music and Queer Identities. (Coulter objects to “breaking gender rules” The Weekly Standard, Victimology, 3/1/609)
Steven Colbert picks up on the theme: Wikiality
The daughter of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Ann Coulter (sometimes known as “The Colt” for her shapely buttocks) is a perfected Jew and God’s vessel on earth. Not to be confused with a giraffe, Coulter is a Real American babe, with a sensuality so blistering that it has been estimated she and Michelle Malkin populate 90 percent of all male fantasies. After all, what do real men find sexier than a 40-ish, rail thin, bony, botoxed blond who with each passing day looks more and more like a drag-queen impersonation of herself?
Quotes from the Washington Monthly, 2001
“[Clinton] masturbates in the sinks.”—Rivera Live 8/2/99
“God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.'”—Hannity & Colmes, 6/20/01
The “backbone of the Democratic Party” is a “typical fat, implacable welfare recipient”—syndicated column 10/29/99
To a disabled Vietnam vet: “People like you caused us to lose that war.”—MSNBC
“Women like Pamela Harriman and Patricia Duff are basically Anna Nicole Smith from the waist down. Let’s just call it for what it is. They’re whores.”—Salon.com 11/16/00
So I decided Coulter is an intimate subtype Three after reading these posts in various places. I don’t see much self-preservation threes — the struggle against poverty and the preoccupation with material matters and usually age-progressed, as opposed to her age-regressed (emphasis on staying young). It was her subtype focus that made it easy to identify her style.