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What If Challenges | Head Center types

This first blog in a three-part series of provocative techniques help us examine our firmly-held beliefs and assumptions. The What If Challenges are surprisingly simple, yet have the potential for a deep impact. This approach can be used with Enneagram types from all three Centers of Intelligence; this blog uses the Head Center types 5, 6 and 7 as examples.

What If Challenges probe the assumptions and beliefs that something is absolutely true and inviolate, where these assumptions serve to limit our range of possibilities. It involves three simple steps.

Use “What if” at the start of the probe, then complete the question with a statement that questions the absolute certainty of the belief.

If you are open to re-examining the belief as a result of the What If Challenge, explore the benefits of this more expanded view, including highly specific examples of the benefits and/or limitations or liabilities of the old view

If you are not as open to re-examining the belief, name some examples when this belief was not true

Please note that if you are guiding someone else through this process, it is essential that you allow the other person time, space and silence to reflect and answer the questions. If you are doing this for yourself, make sure to write down your answers rather than just thinking through your answers.

Fives
Common belief for Fives
“I have to completely understand this.”

3 examples of what ifs for this belief
What if you only need to partially understand this?
What if you already understand enough of this?
What if understanding this completely won’t get you what you really want?

More common beliefs to challenge for type Five
“I have to know in advance what to expect because I can’t handle surprises.”
“I can’t rely on others.”
“I’ll be drained if I engage for too long.”
“I have to guard against depletion.”
“There’s not enough to go around.”
“The world is non-negotiable.”
“I’m safe if I know enough, don’t feel much, don’t get involved, and people leave me alone.”

Sixes
Common belief for Sixes
“I can’t trust myself.”

3 examples of what ifs for this belief
What if you can trust yourself?
What if you can trust yourself with some things and not others?
What if trusting yourself isn’t as important as something else – for example….

More common beliefs to challenge for type Six
“I have to doubt everything to feel safe.”
“I am always ambivalent.”
“I am vulnerable and can be damaged.”
“I am brave and can handle anything.” (counterphobic)
“The world is threatening, and I need to constantly anticipate what will happen.”
“Being visible and exposed is dangerous.”
“Nothing is what it seems.”
“There is safety and certainty in numbers of people together and following established structures and processes.”
“You’re foolish to really trust anyone, especially authority figures.”

Sevens
Common belief for Sevens
“I’m here to excite and energize everyone.”

3 examples of what ifs for this belief
What if you are here for some other purpose?
What if other people need to take responsibility for their excitement and energy levels?
What if you are doing this for yourself and not really for others?

More common beliefs to challenge for type Seven

“Being limited is the same as being trapped.”
“I must have every option available.”
“Freedom means doing whatever I want.”
“Commitment is an unnecessary prison.”
“More excitement is always better.”
“I’m entitled to just about everything.”
“I have to keep planning and moving.”
“The process is more exciting than the result.”
“Freedom means doing whatever I want.”
“Commitment is an unnecessary prison.”
“More excitement is always better.”
“I’m entitled to just about everything.”
“I have to keep planning and moving.”

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven best-selling Enneagram-business books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs for professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit her website: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com. ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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