Focusing is central to the understanding of the Enneagram. Here’s a problem with focus: once we make a decision, we tend to ignore information that challenges that decision. We become more sure of ourselves as time goes on, because we don’t want to be distracted by conflicting demands, even if those demands contain information that is important. And the less comprehensive our knowledge, the more certain we are that we are right. In an experiment about confidence, college students who did the poorest on a test were the most sure of their answers.
So value focus – it is how things get done. But value conflicting information – it’s how you correct a focus. The Enneagram is so helpful because you can learn to look for information that your Enneagram style habitually ignores. For example, I’m a Seven, I focus on possibility, my tendency is to see what can work. So I have to consciously seek out negatives – what can go wrong here? Several of my best friends are Sixes, so I just ask them. It is amazing what they see that I didn’t either see or didn’t think was important.
Right now my computer is acting up. When I first bought it, my friend’s first question was “Where do you take it to get it fixed?” I thought that a bit strange at the time. Now…not so much.


Here’s an interesting abstract of a psychological experiment about self control.

The present work suggests that self-control relies on glucose as a limited energy source. Laboratory tests of self-control (i.e., the Stroop task, thought suppression, emotion regulation, attention control) and of social behaviors (i.e., helping behavior, coping with thoughts of death, stifling prejudice during an interracial interaction) showed that (a) acts of self-control reduced blood glucose levels, (b) low levels of blood glucose after an initial self-control task predicted poor performance on a subsequent self-control task, and (c) initial acts of self-control impaired performance on subsequent self-control tasks, but consuming a glucose drink eliminated these impairments. Self-control requires a certain amount of glucose to operate unimpaired. A single act of self-control causes glucose to drop below optimal levels, thereby impairing subsequent attempts at self-control.
The psychologist is Gailliot, a researcher at Florida State U. Translated into street talk, he says that self-control (what used to be called, sweetly, resisting temptation,) uses up the sugar in our blood so when we run out of sugar, we can’t control ourselves as well.
That’s why it is important to know our enneagram patterns. What interferes with our patterns depletes our blood sugar. We can’t just say “No.” We run out of glucose. A Two who says No to helping someone will get tired, where as an Eight might get a burst of energy (Eights routinely mis-match – their instinctive reaction is to fight, to say no). think that’s why I find some preachers and cheerleaders tiring. They urge me to do what I don’t want to do and so tire me out.


Does Louis Tartaglia, PhD, MD, ever need the Enneagram! His book, Flawless, is practically a confession that he is a style One, telling the rest of us how to be perfect. Like many self-help books, it is about trying to heal the Enneagram style of the author. Here is the table of contents: 1) Addicted to being right. (Whom do we know that has that as a lifestyle?), 2) Raging indignation. (Think style One, for example Lou Dobbs or Bill Maher), 3) Fixing Blame and nurturing resentments. All right, I won’t beat you over the head –the last 7 are variations on a theme and the theme is style One. The title of his book already had my antennae quivering.  Who is most concerned about being flawless?
The premise and promise of the book is that you can fix these flaws. His idea of fixing is to describe the flaw, then show why you shouldn’t have it, and then tell you to stop it. He is also a grade school fundamentalist evangelical so he says that if you pray, then God/grace will take away the flaw. He is an MD but doesn’t recommend chemical interventions and for that we thank God. American Puritanism, an overlay of style One in much of the US, is also a style One, so many readers will find this approach familiar, whether Catholic or Protestant. Or Muslim, unless they are more familiar with the style 8 of their Middle East culture.

I resolve

Most New Year’s Resolutions are frequently medium length whips we beat ourselves with near the end of January. Here’s a way to make one work, if you would like. Pick out a favorite bad habit, inclination, pattern. Then create one very small symbolic expression of what you want to accomplish that breaks that pattern. Don’t grimly resolve “I’m going to be more patient.” Instead, say and resolve “I will not kick the dog.” Be ready for resistance, but because it is so small, you can probably handle it.