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Enneagram: Stances and Triads

By: Kim Scott


Photo by Daniel Lerman on Unsplash


As I mentioned, I love the Enneagram and truly believe that it is a great spiritual wisdom tool.

I stick with it because it names the best part of me and the worst part of me and since I can’t change until I name my behavior, this wisdom works for me.

Before we get to the next episode of learning the different Enneagram types, I thought it might be helpful to reiterate and emphasize some of what I have already shared in the last episode to fill in some of the blanks and to connect the dots a little more clearly.


First let me begin with a quote by Richard Foster, the great disciplines master.

“The new tools of the enemy are muchness, manyness, noise, crowds, and hurry.”

We all know that busyness is the way of life for most. But this presents a problem because the faster we move, the less aware we are. When we’re moving at rapid-speed, we make decisions driven by our ego - our personality.


We need to slow down to allow ourselves to reflect and ponder so we can more consciously discern.

When it’s loud or we’re rushed, we usually give in to our default - our patterned and habitual reactions to situations, circumstances, and people.


The wisdom and gift of the Enneagram enlightens our awareness and helps us to understand why we do what we do.

With that understanding, we can begin to make different decisions in how we act, think, and feel.


Stances


Stances describe how we carry ourselves in response to experiences.


Each of us has a habitual and patterned way of approaching and responding to life.

Each stance includes three of the Enneagram personality types.


The Aggressive Stance includes people who stand independently or who move away from others. Their time focus is on the future. They have an unconscious drive to reshape people and situations. They are action-oriented, “take charge” people who put their own interests, plans, and schedules first. Their personal goal is success and accomplishment.


The Dependent Stance includes people who move toward others. Their time focus is on the present. They tend to react in the moment. They find their self-worth and identity outside of themselves, usually determined by how they perceive what others think about them. They place a high value on others’ expectations which makes them reliable and faithful people.


The Withdrawing Stance includes people who move away from others. Their time focus is on the past. They find their strength from within themselves to do what they need to do. They hesitate to move to action because they are often shy or introverted. They can analyze a situation and suggest ideas but they will rarely take responsibility for the actual action.


Which is your stance? In which of these ways do you most often habitually respond to situations, circumstances, and people?


Triads


Triads are formed by the centers of intelligence - feeling, thinking, and doing - how one gathers information, retains information, and responds to and uses information.


Clearly, we all feel, think, and act, however the energy and nature with how we respond and react make us either more of a thinker, or more of a feeler, or more of a doer.

In each triad there are three of the Enneagram personality types. Each one of the three types in each triad are either in the aggressive stance, the dependent stance, or the withdrawing stance. This is how we get nine numbers, nine personality types, nine ways of seeing and responding to life.


Each triad has a specific issue or challenge to resolve in relation to the emotional theme associated with their center.

For those in the Feeling or Heart Triad, the emotion is shame; for those in the Thinking or Head Triad, the emotion is fear or anxiety; for those in the Doing or Gut Triad, the emotion is anger. But each Enneagram personality type in each of the triads deals with the emotion in a different way.


The Heart Triad has “feeling” as their dominant center of intelligence and their underlying emotion is shame; however, one type externalizes this emotion so it gets overexpressed, one type internalizes this emotion and it gets underexpressed, and one type has forgotten about this emotion and are out of touch with it. This whole triad is about perceiving the world through emotional intelligence. They depend on the recognition and admiration of others for their self-esteem and identity. These people create an image of themselves to get others to value and accept them and to think they are special.


The Head Triad has “thinking” as their dominant center of intelligence and their underlying emotion is fear; however, one type externalizes the emotion so it is overexpressed, one type internalizes the emotion and is underexpressed, and one type has forgotten about the emotion and are out of touch with it. The entire triad filters the world through mental faculties. The goal of this triad is to minimize fear in one way or another. They like to mull things over and consider the pros and cons before making a decision. They need security, they follow the rules, and they assess risks. If they don’t feel like they have a strong sense of guidance and support, they feel anxious. This delays action and moving forward with decisions.


The Gut Triad has “doing” as their dominant center of intelligence and their underlying emotion is anger; however, once again, one type externalizes the emotion so it gets overexpressed, one type internalizes the emotion and it gets underexpressed, and one type has forgotten about the emotion and are out of touch with it. This triad filters the world through their gut and because of this, often these types struggle with stomach pain and ulcers. They can be stubborn and hold their ground rather than adapt. They tend to hide their emotions and seek to control themselves and then others.


Which is your triad? Observe yourself this week - do you take in information with feeling or with thinking or with doing?



In our next episode, I will introduce the 9 Enneagram types - each type has a stance and a triad and so understanding which stance and triad most represents how you habitually respond to life most of the time will be key to learning your Enneagram type.


Awakening to the truth of how you automatically react and respond to life gives you a better understanding of how your unconscious patterns might be holding you back and limiting your ability to see things clearly.

For now, get to work! Observe…observe…observe…why do I do what I do?


Empower Hope and Healing.

Kim



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