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-cognize, re-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 INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE ONE:
THE GOOD PERSON
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
principled law breaker
high standards mediocre
hard working lazy
conscientious slip shod
on time tardy
an improver complacent
When ONES project their “NOT ME” characteristics onto others, they find themselves surrounded by messy, lazy, irresponsible, unprincipled 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 aimless, careless, fickle, slip 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 messy, lazy, 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 careless, irresponsible, and frivolous might be the SEVEN characteristics of carefree, spontaneous, and child-like. Or what ONES perceive as fickle, imprecise, 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.
THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE TWO:
THE LOVING PERSON
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
soft hearted unsentimental
self sacrificing self centered
good listener judgmental
When TWOS engage in projection and projective identification, they find themselves surrounded by needy, selfish, uncaring, detached, thoughtless 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, destructive, heartless, and tough,) and moving away from (such as, stingy, aloof, 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 angry, callous, selfish, needy 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 aloof, detached, uncaring 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.
THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE THREE:
THE EFFECTIVE PERSON
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
on the go slow motion
promoter wait and see
salesperson sit on the shelf
pragmatic head in the clouds
upwardly mobile back water
goal oriented disoriented
team player loner
executive invisible follower
achieving nothing to show
looking good slob
self assured diffident
cutting edge outmoded
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 lazy, slow, unmotivated, inadequate 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 idle, ineffective, unambitious 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 slow, unpopular, shy 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 successful, accomplished, upwardly 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.
THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE FOUR:
THE ORIGINAL PERSON
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
deep feeling shallow
nostalgic here and now
dramatic matter of fact
good taste crass
melancholic light hearted
misunderstood easy to know
misunderstood easy to know
Surrounded by rude, crude, unrefined, superficial boors like ourselves, no wonder FOURS feel like aristocrats in exile. How could a bunch of tasteless, obtuse, crass 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 fact, trivializing, 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 common, concrete, 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 rough, crude, 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 common, concrete, 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.
THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE FIVE:
THE WISE PERSON
Some attributes that fit the FIVES’ idealized sense of themselves and their opposing shadow elements include the following:
ME NOT ME
contained out there
self sufficient needy
It’s no wonder FIVES are quiet and reserved, surrounded as they are by loud, garrulous, biasedlouts. 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 uninformed, simplistic, myopic 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 audacious, loud, pushy, 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 foolish, garrulous, gushy, 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 INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE SIX:
THE LOYAL PERSON
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
security seeking adventuresome
God fearing hell raiser
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 reckless, careless, irresponsible, delinquent, hell 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 worrisomeness, wariness, and hesitancyonto their caretakers. A fearful, cautious 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-equipped, negligent, unaccountable, 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 reckless, outrageous, 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.
THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE SEVEN:
THE JOYFUL PERSON
Some qualities that are included (ME) and excluded (NOT-ME) from the SEVENS’ sense of themselves are the following.
many possibilities limited
take flight pedestrian
appreciative take for granted
resourceful at a loss
As SEVENS project unto others their unacceptable characteristics, they find themselves surrounded by boring, depressed, uninteresting, reserved, humorless 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 still, limited, dim, 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 reserved, aloof, reticent, 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 serious, predictable, 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 depressed, stuck, aloof, 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 jaded, plodding, pedestrian, negative, 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).
THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE EIGHT:
THE POWERFUL PERSON
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
high energy phlegmatic
own person deferential
no nonsense beat around the bush
influential not listened to
street-wise taken advantage of
own person lackey
stand up for rights wimpy
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 soft, deferential, needy, unresourceful 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 sissy, fearful, deferential 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 submissive, manipulable, pushover 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 weak, dependent, and other–directed?
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 soft, tender, 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 wimpy, diffident, 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 diffident, fearful, 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.”
THE INNER POLARITIES OF ENNEAGRAM STYLE NINE:
THE PEACEFUL PERSON
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
laid back ambitious
open minded opinionated
blend in stand out
laissez faire pushy
low key intense
unpretentious show off
live and let live change agent
go with the flow goal oriented
outer directed inner directed
placid emotionally expressive
creature of habit unpredictable
When NINES throw away their unacceptable parts, they find themselves surrounded by irritable, opinionated, harsh, demanding, impatient, pushy 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 bigoted, edgy, judgmental 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 alert, intense, ambitious, 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 ambitious, pushy, frantic, 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]