Integrating Our Polarities using the 4 R’s: Recognize, Re-frame, Re-own, Re-Cycle

Integrating the Inner Polarities of the Enneagram Styles by Practicing the 4 R’s:
Recognize, Reframe, Reown, Recycle

Jerry Wagner, Ph.D.

When we over-identify or over-idealize certain aspects of our personality, we tend to disavow any opposite attributes. For example if you think of yourself as right and exact, then you don’t want to consider yourself wrong or messy nor do you want others to think of you in this way. Or if you think of yourself as strong and tough, you don’t want to appear to yourself or others as weak and wimpy.

To avoid these unacceptable parts of ourselves, we put them in the basement (our unconscious) where we can forget about them. This is called repression.  Splitting is a variation on this maneuver. Instead of being a whole me, we become the good me and the bad me, like Jeckle and Hyde.

These defensive techniques create divisions within ourselves.

If relics in the basement start to offend us, we can go a step further and throw our garbage out. For example if you think of yourself as wise and perceptive and find looking foolish quite intolerable, you can cast out your foolishness and then find yourself surrounded by a confederacy of dunces. This is called projection. Instead of being a neurotic among neurotics or a sinner among sinners, you are a rose among thorns, or a good me surrounded by not-so-good you’s,

The process of projective identification goes a little beyond projection. Instead of simply throwing our trash out and leaving it in others with a good riddance, we put our unsavory characteristics in others, then sanitize and civilize our offensive behaviors in the garbage bin — or cajole others into cleaning up their acts. For example if you project your inner rebel or delinquent onto others, then you will have to police them, reform them, excommunicate them, or throw them in jail. Now, not only have you gotten rid of your demons, you’ve found something to do in your spare time!

These defensive strategies create divisions between ourselves and others.

We can work on our inner and outer splits by practicing the 3 R’s + 1.

If we can re-cognizere-frame, and re-own our unseemly parts, we might find some valuable assets tossed out with our garbage, and re-cycle them. We will gain an inner integration and wholesome connections with other people, both of which lead to an increase of energy since we are no longer divided against ourselves and others.

To make friends with our inner polarities, we may need to reframe their attributes. For example if you think of yourself as efficient and not lazy, then you may need to reframe laziness as “creative leisure,” a time and process during which new inspirations arise.

A paradoxical quality of polarities is the more we push them to an extreme, the more they run into and become their opposite. Jung called this enantiodromia. For example the more you try to become free and keep all your options open, ironically the more un-free and rigid you become as you compulsively try to avoid any limitations.

Finally, if we can find an overarching construct that embraces and enfolds both polarities, a synthesis that resolves our thesis and antithesis, then we can be enlivened by the creative tension between the two poles. For example if you think of yourself as special and refined and not common and pedestrian, you might find living a life of “simple elegance” a congenial way to express both of your polarities.

Let’s see how each style might practice the 4 R’s: recognizing, reframing, reowning, and recycling their polarities.




The following is a list of some characteristics that ONES identify with.  They are opposed by the characteristics ONES dis-identify with.


ME                                                                   NOT ME

good (very)                                                         bad

upright                                                                 licentious

moral                                                                    immoral

principled                                                            law breaker

honest                                                                   dishonest

high standards                                                    mediocre

integrity                                                                phony

zealous                                                                  apathetic

hard working                                                       lazy

serious                                                                   playful

responsible                                                           irresponsible

persevering                                                           fickle

exact                                                                       imprecise

meticulous                                                            sloppy

committed                                                             uninvolved

sober                                                                       frivolous

careful                                                                    careless

critical                                                                    tolerant

conscientious                                                        slip shod

on time                                                                   tardy

striving                                                                   aimless

correct                                                                    incorrect

right                                                                        wrong

intense                                                                    relaxed

altruistic                                                                 selfish

strict                                                                        forgiving

discriminating                                                       indiscriminate

organized                                                                disorganized

earnest                                                                     insincere

an improver                                                              complacent


When ONES project their “NOT ME” characteristics onto others, they find themselves surrounded by messylazyirresponsibleunprincipled laggards like ourselves.  So ONES have their work cut out for them organizing, disciplining, and getting us into line.  And it’s no wonder they need to stay in control and can’t let up, lighten up, or hand things over to us.  Would you turn the world over to a group of aimlesscarelessfickleslip shod slackers?  This is why ONES have to work overtime to cover for our complacency.  And it’s why they stay angry and resentful because we’re not doing our part.

ONES need to befriend their shadow side and discover what’s good about being messylazy, and irresponsible.  Or maybe they need to reframe these qualities as spontaneous, relaxed, and serendipitous.  The playful little hedonist in them can offer them some fun and enjoyment.  What can unprincipled people do that principled people can’t do?  They can do what they want instead of what they should!

ONES need to reframe the characteristics in the NOT-ME column to find the iron beneath the rust.  As long as they continue giving a bad reputation to their NOT-ME qualities, they’re not going to want to go near them.  If they can find the complimentary contribution their NOT-ME attributes bring to their whole self, they might be more willing to embrace them and integrate them into their sense of themselves.

They can also practice some Hegelian dialectics.  Their ME characteristics represent their thesis; their NOT-ME qualities embody their antithesis; creatively combining the two gives them their synthesis.  So ONES need to step back and get a little distance from their dichotomous dilemma and come up with a self-concept that will include both sides of their polarity.  For example ONES might imagine themselves as being “seriously playful” or “playfully serious;”  or they can think of themselves as “discerners” which allows them to be both discriminating and accepting;  or they are “flowing upright” or “gliding precision” permitting them to be both flexible and firm.

The trick is to hold onto both ends of the polarity and encourage both energies to flow into a creative synthesis.  Enantiodromia is a principle Jung discovered in nature that he applied to personality.  This is the process whereby things run into their opposites.  If you put a hot plate next to a cold one, both will become warm; high water runs into low water until they reach a medium depth, as was demonstrated in the flooding in New Orleans.  If you push something to its extreme, it runs into its opposite.  So you can become so good (righteous) you become bad (self-righteous).  Or if you take sloppiness to its extreme, you get order.  This is chaos theory.  The exquisite layering and ordering of rocks along a shore is brought about by the random action of wind and waves.

ONES achieve balance when they access in themselves the adaptive qualities of the SEVEN and FOUR styles. It is ironic that many of these qualities are disguised beneath the grotesqueries in the NOT-ME column.  Because ONES distort them, they don’t want to approach them.  For example what ONES are calling carelessirresponsible, and frivolous might be the SEVEN characteristics of carefree, spontaneous, and child-like.  Or what ONES perceive as fickleimprecise, and law breaking might be the FOUR qualities of flowing emotions, intuition, and freedom from convention.

For fullness sake, ONES need to take another look at their NON-ME dimension to give themselves more breadth and depth.





Those characteristics that are congruent with the TWOS’ self-image are found in the ME column.  Characteristics that are antithetical to their self-image, that are repressed or projected out of their self, can be found in the NOT-ME column.

ME                                                     NOT ME


helpful                                                         selfish

needed                                                             needy

indispensable                                              useless

generous                                                      stingy

supportive                                                   destructive

thoughtful                                                   thoughtless

sympathetic                                                 heartless

friendly                                                       detached

nurturing                                                     withholding

compassionate                                             violent

thoughtful                                                   insensitive

soft hearted                                                 unsentimental

caring                                                          cruel

loving                                                          hateful

tender                                                          tough

empathic                                                     confrontational

affirming                                                     indifferent

self sacrificing                                             self centered

relational                                                     loner

feeling                                                         heady

welcoming                                                  imposing

kind                                                             mean

available                                                      aloof

warm                                                           cold

fuzzy                                                           prickly

available                                                      unavailable

people-loving                                              thing-loving

other-oriented                                             self-oriented

good listener                                               judgmental

complimentary                                            critical


When TWOS engage in projection and projective identification, they find themselves surrounded by needyselfishuncaringdetachedthoughtless individuals like ourselves.  It’s no wonder TWOS despair of getting their needs met and don’t bother to ask!  To get any blood from this crowd of turnips, TWOS have to hug, warm, and love them up, make sure others get their needs met first, and then maybe they’ll toss a crumb of attention towards the TWOS.

Notice that the characteristics in the ME column resonate with a moving towards tendency while the characteristics in the NOT-ME column contain the energy of moving against (such as, destructiveheartless, and tough,) and moving away from (such as, stingyaloof, and cold.)  TWOS have trouble connecting with these interpersonal movements because they’ve given them away to others.

For balance, TWOS shift to the high sides of the EIGHT and FOUR paradigms under relaxed and stressful conditions, respectively.  EIGHT energy tends to move against while FOUR energy tends to move away from.  To complement their own moving towards energy, TWOS can access in themselves these EIGHT and FOUR strategies.  But since they’ve given these approaches a bad reputation, they will probably feel uncomfortable about and resist going in those directions.

TWOS will want to befriend the angrycallousselfishneedy parts of themselves and discover that it’s all right to set boundaries, say no, step back, and care for themselves.  This is the high side of the EIGHT paradigm.  They may have to re-label the selfish part of themselves as self caring, the inconsiderate part as independent, and the unavailable part as present to themselves.  The high side of the FOUR allows, even encourages, this search for thine own true self.  TWOS might find that their aloofdetacheduncaring qualities really do have a positive intention, which is to love themselves as much as they love others.

TWOS require an over-arching concept of themselves which encompasses both sides of their ME/NOT-ME polarity.  The expression “wounded healer” catches both dimensions as does “interdependent”, “mutual caring”, and “AC-DC” which means that the energy of the universe is an alternating current.  It flows back and forth, allowing both giving and receiving vs. “DC” direct current that only flows one way – outward.





Those characteristics that are congruent with the THREES’ self image are found in the ME column and those elements that are deemed incongruent are in the NOT ME list.


ME                                                      NOT ME


professional                                              amateur

organized                                                 disorganized

productive                                                idle

industrious                                               lazy

successful                                                 failure

cheerleader                                               wallflower

youthful                                                   stuffy

enthusiastic                                             depressed

motivated                                                 bored

on the go                                                 slow motion

promoter                                                  wait and see

salesperson                                              sit on the shelf

pragmatic                                                head in the clouds

political                                                   unsavvy

upwardly mobile                                     back water

efficient                                                    ineffective

competent                                                inadequate

goal oriented                                              disoriented

team player                                                loner

popular                                                     geek

entrepreneur                                            ambitionless

executive                                                  invisible follower

achieving                                                   nothing to show

important                                                    nobody

accomplished                                             unfinished

looking good                                             slob

self assured                                               diffident

cutting edge                                              outmoded

multi-tasking                                            over-focused

bottom line                                               bogged in trivia


One way to avoid failure is to project it onto others.  It’s not the THREES’ fault that the undertaking didn’t succeed; other people didn’t do their part.   THREES cast their own inefficiency and failure onto others, then find themselves surrounded by disorganized ineffectiveworkers and lament:  “How can I soar with the eagles when I’m surrounded by a bunch of turkeys like you?”

When THREES engage in projection and projective identification, they find themselves surrounded by lazyslowunmotivatedinadequate failures such as ourselves.  It’s no wonder they are hesitant to take a day off and hand the corporation over to us.  There’s not much chance that anything will be accomplished or finished by this group of idleineffectiveunambitious losers.

It’s also not surprising that THREES take over the reigns and become leaders, CEOs, managers, trend-setters.  Who else is going to do it?   Some disoriented diffident wallflower?  You can see why THREES become cheerleaders to get some life into us deadheads.  Or why they go into the motivational business to help us get our lives energized and desks organized.

THREES need to make friends with the slowunpopularshy person inside them.  They might discover that geeks are not so concerned about what other people think but are more passionate about their own pursuits.  Or they might find out that people who are lazy have time to enjoy themselves and their friends.  By slowing down, the smell of roses and coffee catches up to them.

The THREES’ paradigm gets balance and breadth by including the perspectives of Styles SIX and NINE.  The useful qualities of these other two approaches are buried under the debris of the NOT ME column.  When THREES dig for the positive intentions of the attributions in their shadow side, they find some of the strengths of the high sides of SIXES and NINES.

For example if you back off the exaggerated distortion found in over-focused and bogged in trivia, you find the SIXES’ attention to detail and nuances, their appreciation for the multiple consequences of their behavior, and the subsequent need for careful consideration and preparation before acting.  The SIXES’ prudence plus the THREES’ enthusiasm lead to effective action and goal-attainment.

Or if you query what’s good about being idle or in the backwater or sitting on the shelf  or being in slow motion, you might discover the NINES’ appreciation for being as well as doing, and the finish-line advantage of the tortoise over the hare.  But who would want to slow down if that means being bored and depressed?  On the other hand, if slowing down leads to feeling content and calm, that’s not so bad.

Also, if you ask which category is more in need of relationships, the ME or the NOT ME, it becomes clear that the NOT ME’s need people more than the successfulaccomplishedupwardly mobile winners.  Ironically THREES believe that people will like them and want to relate to them only when they exhibit the characteristics under the ME column.  In fact they appear to not need relationships when they are so successful and self-sufficient and people are more likely to use them for their skills than connect with them for their friendship.

THREES could do with a comprehensive self-concept that includes both sides of their polarity.  While each person needs to fashion their own unique image of themselves, some starter suggestions might be: “capable and honest,” “charismatic tortoise,” “effective layperson,”  “relaxedly resourceful,” etc.






Some characteristics that fall into the FOURS’ self-image of ME and the opposite qualities that are buried in their shadow or NOT ME are the following.


      ME                                                NOT ME


romantic                                                  utilitarian

intuitive                                                  obtuse

symbolic                                                 concrete

artistic                                                    logical

creative                                                    stagnant

sensitive                                                 rough

original                                                   banal

refined                                                    crude

deep feeling                                           shallow

intense                                                    dull

nostalgic                                                 here and now

authentic                                                copy

special                                                    ordinary

dramatic                                                 matter of fact

ritualizing                                               trivializing

aesthetic                                                 boorish

good taste                                              crass

yearning                                                 having

melancholic                                            light hearted

misunderstood                                       easy to know

mysterious                                               predictable

passionate                                               pedestrian

unique                                                     common

introspective                                           thoughtless

classy                                                       tasteless

spiritual                                                  mundane

misunderstood                                       easy to know

exciting                                                  boring

imaginative                                             literal-minded

elite                                                                    trendy


Surrounded by rudecrudeunrefinedsuperficial boors like ourselves, no wonder FOURS feel like aristocrats in exile.  How could a bunch of tastelessobtusecrass commoners ever possibly understand them?  And who wouldn’t want to stay aloof from this crowd?   FOURS are understandably reluctant to cast their pearls before such swine.

Before FOURS can relate to us, they need to give us some culture, sophistication, elegance, and depth.  So you find FOURS performing or cultivating the arts or, at least, teaching manners to refine our brutish instincts.

FOURS need to get back in touch with their ordinariness.  It is their commonality with others that connects them to humanity.  Ordinary people don’t have to worry about fitting in or be so concerned about what other people think of them.  Paradoxically ordinary people can be themselves more easily than special people can.

Broadening their own perspective by accessing some ONE and TWO characteristics is a way FOURS can achieve equilibrium in their system.  Some of the qualities of the ONE and TWO styles can be found in the FOURS’ shadow, but they are framed in a way that does not encourage emulation.  Who wants to be matter-of facttrivializing, and literal-minded?  On the other hand, being reality-oriented, sensitive to details, and exact are not bad traits to possess.  And this focused approach of the ONE style complements the FOURS’ intuitive and global perspective.  Being commonconcrete, and shallow doesn’t sound too flattering.  However if you reframe those elements, you have the approachable, practical, all-encompassing empathy of the enlightened TWO.

FOURS tend to move away from situations and others.  They can be aloof and standoffish until they have a sense that others “get” them and don’t misunderstand them.  ONES tend to move against by critiquing the world and then moving in to fix it.  But FOURS may not want to channel their emotional reactions into behavioral actions if they think of ONES as being roughcrude, and boorish.  Instead of backing up, feeling overwhelmed, and being moved, FOURS need to focus their energy, take action, and do some moving as ONES are want to do.  TWOS tend to move toward others in affiliation and support.  If FOURS perceive TWOS as being commonconcrete, and matter of fact, they may resist getting close to people through empathic, generous deeds.  On the other hand, when they experience that simple love brings about the very connectedness they are seeking, they won’t be so afraid of being ordinary.

     What overarching self-image would allow FOURS to be both extraordinary and ordinary, so they can be inclusive of all the elements in both their ME and NOT ME boundaries?  Someone with elegant simplicity possesses both polarities.






      Some attributes that fit the FIVES’ idealized sense of themselves and their opposing shadow elements include the following:


ME                                                  NOT ME


wise                                                       foolish

observant                                               inattentive

quiet                                                       loud

respectful                                              intrusive

private                                                   transparent

concise                                                  garrulous

circumspect                                          audacious

thoughtful                                             impulsive

objective                                                biased

cool                                                       hot

intellectual                                             emotional

informed                                               uninformed

                                  contained                                              out there

dispassionate                                         passionate

complex                                                 simplistic

reflective                                               active

synthetic                                                myopic

undemonstrative                                   gushy

removed                                                            available

reasonable                                             romantic

thrifty                                                    generous

even-tempered                                      impetuous

shy                                                         sociable

tweedy                                                  trendy

independent                                          dependent

self sufficient                                        needy

pithy                                                      wordy

dry                                                         mushy

abstract                                                  concrete

polite                                                     pushy


It’s no wonder FIVES are quiet and reserved, surrounded as they are by loudgarrulousbiasedlouts.  And it’s not surprising that they are reluctant to speak up and ask for what they want.  What kind of conversations can you expect to have with uninformedsimplisticmyopic fools?  Time is more profitably spent in your room, reading a book.

Since FIVES are surrounded by hot-headed fools, they need to calm them down by reasoning with them, throwing cold water on them to put out their passions, or moving far enough away to get out of their reach.  FIVES might become professional teachers, researchers, therapists, mediators, or lone rangers.

Notice that FIVES’ feelings have been placed into the NOT ME zone and so are not very available to help them either move towards people in affection or move against others in assertion.  What’s left in the ME column are dispositions that help them move away from the world in a Spock-like logical manner.

Balance flows into the FIVES’ system when they connect with the resourceful features of the EIGHT and SEVEN styles.  But those resources are hidden beneath the repulsive wrappings FIVES have given them.  For example FIVES probably won’t want to shift to the EIGHT direction of moving against because then they’ll be audaciousloudpushy, and impetuous.  Not much good will come from that.  On the other hand if they extract the precious minerals from the dross they’ve imagined, they can then be brave, articulate, assertive, and proactive.

And who would want to move in the direction of the SEVEN style if that meant looking foolishgarrulousgushy, and out there?  On the other hand, moving towards doesn’t sound so bad if it’s phrased as serendipitous, sociable, affectionate, and explorative.

So FIVES need to get to know (and love) the passionate foolish little adventurer in them.  They need to befriend and embrace their inner idiot who doesn’t know everything and who feels afraid and sad and mad and glad.  In the original Greek and Latin, idios meant common (as in layperson) and ignorant (as in idiot). It also meant ones own (as in idiosyncratic).  How ironic that FIVES might find their real self and their connecting self by being an idios, a common fool, the condition they’re most trying to avoid.

FIVES need a synthesizing self-concept that incorporates both their thesis (ME) and antithesis (NOT-ME) characteristics.  A possibility is the “wise fool” or the “court jester,” the medieval trickster who could cleverly make observant, honest, and unflattering remarks to royalty and still come away with his or her head.  Being a “learner” allows FIVES to value knowing as well as not-knowing.  Or the notion of “researcher” gives FIVES room to gather as well as disseminate data, sharing what they have collected.






The characteristics in the following columns contrast the SIXES’ sense of what fits their idealized self-image and so is fostered (ME) with what is incongruent with their self-concept and so must be excluded (NOT ME).


ME                                          NOT ME


cautious                                       reckless

security seeking                          adventuresome

careful                                         careless

traditional                                    liberal

obedient                                      rebellious

responsible                                  irresponsible

sensible                                        outrageous

God fearing                                 hell raiser

faithful                                        fickle

fearful                                         brave

worrisome                                  carefree

reliable                                        unaccountable

respectful                                   disrespectful

prudent                                        immoderate

vigilant                                        negligent

suspicious                                    trusting

skeptical                                      gullible

indecisive                                    decisive

legal                                             outlaw

dutiful                                         delinquent

detailed                                       unobservant

wary                                            naive

hesitant                                        impulsive

consistent                                    inconsistent

orthodox                                     unorthodox

loyal                                                        betrayer

cautious                                      foolhardy

cooperative                                  difficult

prepared                                      ill-equipped

true blue                                      ambiguous


Since SIXES’ fear has two faces, read the columns as they appear for Phobic SIXES, and reverse the columns for Counter-Phobic SIXES.  That is, what is ME for Phobic SIXES is NOT-ME for counter-phobic SIXES and vice versa.  To create further doubt and confusion, many SIXES say they recognize both Phobic and Counter-Phobic tendencies in themselves.  Consequently SIXES may vacillate between the two columns, keeping both themselves and their opponents off balance and off guard.

When SIXES project out their hostility, their inner rebel, and their desire for autonomy, they find themselves surrounded by a group of recklesscarelessirresponsibledelinquenthell raisingoutlaws!  No wonder Fearful SIXES are wary of and want to contain this crowd of hellions. You either need to teach them the rules of the road, keep them closely monitored, or lock them up.   You certainly don’t want to let them out of your sight.  It’s not surprising that SIXES would become police officers, military personnel, IRS and CIA agents, probation officers, code inspectors, environmental protection agents, bishops, etc.

Fearful SIXES need to re-own some of their “rebellious” qualities.   They might discover that this allegedly aberrant part of them is really the internal forum of their conscience that is quite trustworthy and law-abiding.  They might also find some of the easy-going as well as the assertive parts of themselves secreted away in their shadow side.

Counter-Fearful SIXES, on the other hand, need to re-own some of their “orthodox” characteristics.  They might find that some outer authorities are trustworthy and are not so in need of provoking.  Staying with their fear instead of impulsively pushing through it, might prove more effective than getting over it as quickly as possible.  And being cooperative can sometimes lead to safety and security more reliably than being combative.

Counter-Fearful SIXES may have projected their own worrisomenesswariness, and hesitancyonto their caretakers.  A fearfulcautious authority figure does not inspire trust.  Counter-Phobic SIXES may need to reframe these characteristics in themselves and in others as being “aware,” “discerning,” and “considerate.”

SIXES tend to move toward people if they assess them as being on their side.  It is difficult for SIXES to move away from others for then they might lose sight of their antagonists.  So while it might be relaxing and balancing for SIXES to naturally move to the NINES’ perspective under safe circumstances as the Enneagram suggests, they will probably be reluctant to do so if they construe this position to be ill-equippednegligentunaccountable, etc.  Before they allow themselves to experience the NINES’ strategy of moving away from, they may need to reframe it as “calmly attentive,” “sufficiently prepared” and “dependable.”

Under stressful conditions it is sometimes useful for SIXES to move to the THREE style to mobilize their assertive moving against energy and direct it confidently and single-mindedly (vs. interfered with by conflicts and doubts) toward their goals.  But if THREES are seen as recklessoutrageous, and a mixed bag of tricks, SIXES will understandably be reluctant to go there.  By making friends with their own aggressive energy, SIXES might project less of it out and so the world will seem less threatening.

SIXES need to enlarge their self-concept to include both their ME and NOT-ME elements.  Being a Devil’s Advocate allows them to be both on someone’s side and gives them permission to challenge others.  A conscientious objector can also be among the loyal opposition.






Some qualities that are included (ME) and excluded (NOT-ME) from the SEVENS’ sense of themselves are the following.


ME                                                NOT-ME


cheerful                                               gloomy

optimistic                                            pessimistic

enthusiastic                                         flat

lively                                                   dull

playful                                                serious

light-hearted                                        heavy

spontaneous                                        predictable

planner                                                            plodder

diversified                                           stuck

bright                                                   dim

up                                                        down

entertaining                                         boring

fascinated                                            uninterested

positive                                                negative

many possibilities                                limited

stimulating                                          deadening

take flight                                            pedestrian

joyful                                                   depressed

gregarious                                            reserved

appreciative                                         take for granted

funny                                                   humorless

adventurous                                        afraid

inventive                                             trapped

charming                                             aloof

multi-talented                                      modest

alert                                                     asleep

raconteur                                             reticent

sensual                                                 repressed

resourceful                                          at a loss

ingénue                                                jaded


As SEVENS project unto others their unacceptable characteristics, they find themselves surrounded by boringdepresseduninterestingreservedhumorless plodders.  No wonder they have to spend so much time and energy cheering us up and no surprise they are so concerned about being bored, restricted and pulled down.  Who wouldn’t be, surrounded by such dour sourpusses?  The morose molasses-mired mob they have to live with would slow or bring anybody down.

It makes sense that SEVENS would become entertainers, cheer-er-uppers, inspirational gurus, etc.  SEVENS have poured their misery, sadness, and heaviness into people around them and now process their own pain by trying to relieve and lighten it in others.

So SEVENS need to find out what is good about being stilllimiteddim, and dull.  Perhaps this allows others’ light or divine inspiration to shine into their darkness, a light they otherwise wouldn’t see because of their own brilliance.  Or they might come to appreciate the pleasures of still wine as much as the delights of effervescent champagne.

When the SEVENS’ psyche searches for balance, it naturally goes to the high side of the FIVE and ONE styles.  Some of the strengths of these styles can be found encrusted in the dross of their rejected characteristics.  For example, beneath the boring descriptives of reservedaloofreticent, and flat lie the FIVE dispositions of reflection, objective attitude, quiet, and level which balance the SEVENS’ bias toward impulsivity, pleasure, noise, and soaring.

And badmouthed as seriouspredictable, and plodders are the ONES’ virtues of sobriety, responsibility, and stick-to-it-iveness which correct the SEVENS leaning towards gluttony, changeableness, and flight from projects that involve drudgery.

SEVENS are naturally attracted to and move towards the delights of the world.  Moving away or stepping back from a situation becomes difficult because they’ve projected away that movement and made it unappealing by labeling it depressedstuckaloof, etc.   SEVENS might find the FIVES’ virtue of non-attachment a useful counter-balance to their gluttonous addictions.

Moving against the situation doesn’t look too attractive, either, when you call it jadedploddingpedestriannegative, etc.  The ONES’ tenacity in plowing ahead, staying the course, finishing the race are all helpful corrections to the SEVENS’ impulse to jump ship, change plans, and do something else in the face of adversity.

SEVENS need an over-arching concept of themselves that will allow them to honor both sides of their polarities – something like “grounded vitality,” “stand-up guru,” or “elevator” (that goes down as well as up).








Those characteristics that fit the EIGHTS’ self image of being powerful and capable fall within the ego realm of ME.   Characteristics that are antithetical or opposed to their self-image are placed outside their ego boundary and fall into the category of NOT- ME.


ME                                                          NOT ME


                                      stong                                                             weak

independent                                                  dependent

blunt                                                              indirect

forceful                                                         indecisive

confident                                                        diffident

high energy                                                   phlegmatic

fair                                                                 unjust

assertive                                                        submissive

leader                                                             follower

tough                                                             tender

hard                                                               soft

courageous                                                    cowardly

aggressive                                                      sissy

own person                                                    deferential

unlimited                                                       bounded

no nonsense                                                   beat around the bush

influential                                                      not listened to

street-wise                                                     taken advantage of

competent                                                     unresourceful

own person                                                    lackey

magnanimous                                                mean

protector                                                        victim

self-directed                                                  other-directed

direct                                                             double-talk

stand up for rights                                         wimpy

definite                                                          iffy

risk-taker                                                       avoider

fearless                                                          fearful

invincible                                                       vulnerable

tenacious                                                       quitter


When EIGHTS project onto others their unacceptable qualities, they find themselves surrounded by wimps with all the deficits in their NOT-ME column.  Given the attributes of these characters, it’s not surprising that EIGHTS are loath to hand over power to a group of softdeferentialneedyunresourceful lackeys like us.  When it comes to taking over a conversation, a company, or a country, who is going to stop them?  Certainly not a bunch of sissyfearfuldeferential saps.  As P.T. Barnum said:  “There’s a sucker born every minute.”  So it’s not surprising that EIGHTS might presume to take advantage of submissivemanipulablepushover followers.

When the EIGHTS’ spontaneous moving against approach broadens to get balance, it naturally includes the strengths and points of view of the TWO (moving towards) and FIVE (moving away from) paradigms.  This equilibrium becomes difficult when EIGHTS project away these trends and give them a bad reputation besides.  It’s hard to identify with the gifts of the TWO when you’ve disidentified with your own tenderness and softness.  And who wants to be like someone who is seen as weakdependent, and otherdirected?

EIGHTS need to befriend the vulnerable, fearful little person in them instead of yelling at him or her to toughen up.  They then discover that when they are weak, they can experience the support of others and the strength of a higher power. They find that, ironically, when they are softtender, and dependent, people move close to them and want to be with them vs. running from the room in terror.  People who are aggressive, competent, and influential (those with characteristics in the EIGHTS’ ME column) don’t need relationships nearly as much as people who are wimpydiffident, and powerless (those living in the EIGHTS’ NOT ME column).  On the other glove, as the heavyweight prizefighter Muhammad Ali once remarked: “The strongest person in the world is also the loneliest.”  Those who are followers don’t have to do everything alone.

Also, who wants to move away from or stand back to get perspective when that is labeled as diffidentfearful, or avoiding?  Judging FIVES from this frame of mind makes it difficult to recognize and identify with their gifts of discernment, prudence, and calm dispassion.

EIGHTS need to take advantage of their already expansive nature and broaden their self-concept even more to include their NOT ME as well as their ME characteristics.  They might think of themselves as being “fair lovers” or as “bringing justice in a velvet glove” or as being “just and compassionate” or a “servant leader” or “philosopher king or queen.”







      In the NINES’ style some qualities fit within their ego boundary (ME) and some characteristics don’t belong (NOT-ME).  For example:



ME                                                       NOT ME


content                                                   upset

laid back                                                 ambitious

comfortable                                            edgy

calm                                                        hassled

peaceful                                                  warrior

open minded                                           opinionated

blend  in                                                 stand out

laissez faire                                              pushy

low key                                                   intense

diplomatic                                               judgmental

allowing                                                  controlling

accommodating                                       demanding

unpretentious                                          show off

patient                                                     frantic

live and let live                                        change agent

go with the flow                                     goal oriented

outer directed                                          inner directed

inclusive                                                  exclusive

procrastinating                                        timely

asleep                                                     alert

distracted                                                            focused

tolerant                                                    bigoted

mediator                                                  troublemaker

placid                                                      emotionally expressive

stable                                                       erratic

unpretentious                                          flamboyant

ecumenical                                              prejudiced

creature of habit                                      unpredictable

enduring                                                  explosive

nice                                                          nasty


When NINES throw away their unacceptable parts, they find themselves surrounded by irritableopinionatedharshdemandingimpatientpushy people.  No wonder they want to avoid conflict with us and no wonder they are slow to express their opinions or preferences.  What chance do you have being heard by a bunch of bigotededgyjudgmental troublemakers?  Or who would want to stir up this nest of hornets?

Notice how the NINES have deposited their anger and assertion into others thereby making these resources unavailable to themselves.  There is considerable focused energy in being alertintenseambitious, and goal oriented.  As NINES identify more and more with their moving away from, laid back, other oriented persona, they lose touch with their proactive inner director and change agent.  Yet these are the adaptive qualities of the moving against THREE style that NINES need for balance.  Also NINES place these characteristics in a bad light by seeing them as ambitiouspushyfrantic, etc.

They need to rediscover what is good about being opinionated and pushy.  For example, opinionated pushy people know what they want and go after it.  Perhaps these characteristics need to be relabeled as “single-minded” and “determined.”  That doesn’t sound so bad.

NINES are afraid they won’t be liked or tolerated if they are too intense or too demanding.  If they ask for what they want, they may upset the harmony of the universe.  In fact the cosmos is quite capable of honoring their active force as well as their passive force – even though their caretakers may have gotten anxious around their energy.

For balance NINES can also access the SIXES’ resourceful features.  But they will be reluctant to move in that direction if they perceive phobic SIXES as being bigoted and prejudiced and counter-phobic SIXES as edgy and explosive.  NINES need to get in touch with their affiliative tendencies and move towards the center of the group as opposed to drifting to the fringe and remaining marginally involved.

To embrace both sides of their polarities, NINES need to find an all-inclusive ecumenical self-image.  Perhaps they might think of themselves as being “peaceful warriors” or having “effortless purpose” or expressing “open minded opinions.”

[These and other suggestions can be found in Jerry Wagner’s book: Nine Lenses on the World: the Enneagram Perspective]


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