EN04: The Instinctive Triad
If you’ve been following along on this Enneagram series so far, you’ll know exactly what the heck I’m talking about and are ready for this instalment where I go through the final 3 types 8,9,1 of the Enneagram.
If not, don’t worry! You’ll want to go back to the first episode in this series, which you can find here.
Ok so last week I spoke about the Thinking triad: that is the three personality types, described by the enneagram that are types 5,6,7.
Today we’re onto the Instinctive triad: so we have three more personality types to dig into.
Like I’ve mentioned before, the names of these triads are reminiscent of the functions you might have heard of in the Myers Briggs typology. Think and Feeling being two of the triads and polar opposites in the MBTI functions.
The triad we’re tackling today however, is slightly different. Instinctual. That word for me, sounds a lot like intuitive, one of the MBTI functions. But on a closer inspection, it actually seems to encompass both sensing and intuitive functions (which are described as polar opposites in MBTI)
A quote from Don Riso best describes this all-encompassing Instinctive triad:
“When they are healthy, these types relate to their environment and to others exceptionally well, responding from a deep wisdom within themselves, frequently as leaders of one kind or another. However, when they are unhealthy, they become out of balance with how they relate to the world and other people.”
When I read this, it made me think of the abilities both Sensing types have – in that they can engage with and immerse themselves in their outer environment, as well as the ability of intuitive types – in that they are highly adept at interpreting their inner world and accessing their intuition, or their gut feeling.
OK that’s where the MBTI comparison ends today: I just found it interesting but I’ll be talking more about the overlap and difference in these typologies in the future.
Let’s start with type 8, the Challenger.
Type 8 is strong and capable, they can use their immense confidence and leadership abilities to inspire others to great accomplishments.
However, unhealthy type 8s can show up as bullies and tyrants, ruthlessly tearing down anyone and anything that stands in their path.
Eights are the most openly aggressive or assertive of the nine types. They express their instinctive energy very directly, standing up for themselves and saying what they mean.
Their worst fear is being overly influenced by others and their environment. Because of this, they develop tough skins, and a more aggressive front in order to prove their strength and capabilities.
Ultimately, this takes its toll on their health and their spirit.
They’re quite likely to be entrepreneurial, as they crave independence and often have a hard time working for anyone else. This is the part that makes me think I have some 8 in me!
Next up, 9 otherwise known as the Peacemaker
Quite the opposite of Eights in many ways, these are the conflict avoiders. Nine’s in general desire to avoid conflict generally results in some degree of withdrawal from life, and many Nines are, in fact, introverted.
They tend to come across as easy going, stable, resilient, and optimistic. Despite often being introverted, they have a desire to connect with others and the world at large.
The problem 9s face is in disengaging from reality in order to maintain their own ideal sense of the world. I imagine INFPs on the MBTI might identify with the 9 in particular.
Finally, we come full circle around the Enneagram and we have the ONE, or the Perfectionist.
Hah. I get the feeling a few of you are going to instantly identify with this type.
Ones are essentially looking to make things better, as they think nothing is ever quite good enough.
Inability to achieve the perfection they desire feeds their feelings of guilt for having fallen short, and fuels their incipient anger against an imperfect world.
Like the Eight, the One has a bit of aggression in them, but rather than directing it at the world, they direct it inwards, at themselves.
Afraid that their impulses, desires, instincts, or other irrational parts of themselves might get out of line, they stay vigilantly in control of their responses and reactions as much as possible.
Ironically, the more they do this, the more volatile their reactions and the more out of control they become.
And of course, they feel guilty about feeling angry.
For this reason, Ones can be difficult to live with, but, on the high side, they tend to be loyal, responsible and capable partners and friends.
Ones are often driven and ambitious, and have a tendency to become workaholics. But whatever their career or calling, they are definitely active, practical people who get things done. They are naturals when it comes to organising, they are prolific listmakers who actually finish everything on the list, they are industrious, reliable, and honest.
They have multiple interests and talents; they are self-reliant and rarely run out of things to do.
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Now, the Instinctive triad contains some of the types I strongly identify with, when I read the descriptions. The One in particular, the perfectionist, the try hard, list-making workaholic is the closest to how I see myself currently.
That said, I’vev taken various tests and the results are… inconclusive. I’ve shown up as a 5, a 1, a 4 and a 9 at different times.
For example, I most recently took the quiz here.
And came out as: most likely a type 5 (the Observer) with a 4 wing.
However, the results are quite useful on this particular test because they give you a likelihood of being each type. So mine was:
Type 5 – VERY likely
Type 1 – 50:50
Type 4 – Slight chance
Type 9 – Very slight chance
No real chance of the others.
But much like with Myers-Briggs, I think with a typology as complex as the Enneagam, and the many limits of these online tests, you’re better off digging into the literature, the real rich information about each type, to really understand yourself.
For me, it’s less interesting to identify with a number, than it is to understand all the nuances of personality: the patterns that show up, what happens when a positive trait becomes too extreme and becomes a weakness, and vice versa: how we can transform our weaknesses into strengths.
Agh I love this stuff so much, I really hope you feel the same way – if not, this is only a series and I’ll be back to the more specific creative introvertings in a little while.
But if you are digging this Enneagram series, let me know!
You can leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, share this with a friend, drop me an email email@example.com – whatever. I’d just love to hear from you.
Personality Types by Don Richard Riso
The Enneagram Made Easy by Renee Baron and Elizabeth Wagele