I’ve been a huge enneagram fan for a few years now. It first blew my mind because of how closely my own type description mirrored the way I am. Then it helped me in my understanding of others and the way each of us is driven—and similarly paralyzed and triggered—according to the virtues and passions of our type. According to Sandra Maitri’s The Enneagram of Passions and Virtues our virtues and passions are both motivating forces that stem from our inner attitudes. They are the light and the dark, in that our virtues are driven by feeling into our true nature, our sense of who we are when we’re aligned with Soul, while our passions are driven by attempts to fill a void and are present when we’re aligned with Ego.
Understanding your virtues and your passions is a crash course to beginning to understand what motivates you and what keeps you stuck. If you don’t already know your type, you might be able to determine it just by seeing which type listed below most fits your sense of who you are. If you’re intrigued, I encourage you to take the test.
One (The Reformer)
“I perfect, therefore I am.”
Ones are dutiful, principled, self-doubting, see things in black and white terms
Two (The Helper)
“I love, therefore I am.”
Twos are emotional, empathetic, proud, lose self by taking care of others
Three (The Motivator)
“I succeed, therefore I am.”
Threes are workaholics, driven, vain, succeed at any price
Four (The Individualist)
“I suffer, therefore I am.”
Fours are passionate, desire to be authentic, moody, stuck in melancholy
Five (The Investigator)
“I think, therefore I am.”
Fives are observant, independent, self-depriving, reserved
Six (The Loyalist)
“I doubt, therefore I am.”
Sixes are loyal, suspicious, self-doubting, fearful
Seven (The Enthusiast)
“I enjoy, therefore I am.”
Sevens are enthusiastic, self-indulgent, dilettantish, scattered
Eight (The Leader)
“I dominate, therefore I am.”
Eights are leaders, forceful, impulsive, power-seeking
Nine (The Peacemaker)
“I connect, therefore I am.”
Nines are accepting, generous, distractible, indecisive
Your virtues are those things that bring you into alignment. They are the calling of your Soul. So a One will be operating at an optimal level when he or she is in touch with their Serenity; a Nine may realize that consistency of practice—Action—is needed in order to realize their potential; a Six will see great movement when in touch with Courage.
Alternately, your passions are “deficiency-motivated drives,” according to Naranjo, which, for many of us, are default modes. The Seven operating from a place of Gluttony can never get anything done because there are too many other things to distract her; the Two, flipping between her paradoxical belief that she’s better than others and not good enough, will never take the necessary steps to show her writing and to grow by exercising what she most needs: Humility.
This is profound work to consider, especially when you’re stuck. So go forth and familiarize yourself with your enneatype. It’s amazing personal-growth work, and it will help your writing.
Until next month,