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Metaphors and the Enneagram

We love using metaphors in our Enneagram work, whether it be training programs, coaching, books, social media, and the list goes on and on. There is a very good reason for this. From a neuroscience perspective, metaphor activates more parts of the brain than simply using words. From a training perspective, metaphors convey complex ideas in a single image. From a coaching perspective, clients remember metaphors, especially ones that they create, much more than verbal conversations.

For every Enneagram type and almost any concept related to the types or the system, metaphors are an important asset. Here are some metaphors for you to consider for each type, with an explanation for why we selected each. And we encourage you to think of your own metaphors for each type!

One metaphor | Piano

Elegance, classical, form, structure

Two metaphor | Elephant

Communication, protection of young, care for others in herd

Three metaphor | Peacock

Positive image, desire to be seen, the attractiveness of feathers obscures the bird itself

Four metaphor | Mask of sorrow

Creation of an image or mask, sorrow, beauty

Five metaphor | Fortress

Mystery, remoteness, ancient wisdom

Six metaphor | Puzzle

Questioning, curiosity, problem-solving

Seven metaphor | Balloons and confetti

Joy, playfulness, lightness of spirit

Eight metaphor | Lion

Strength, power, king of the jungle

Nine metaphor | Sloth

Relaxed, moves at own speed, has claws to use when needed

As a note, the graphics, arranged numerically from top to bottom, create an interesting pattern when viewed left to right: the 3 ‘invisible triangles of 1-4-7, 2-5-8, and 3-6-9 which is actually visible on the symbol!

Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, author of eight Enneagram books, is a speaker, consultant, trainer, and coach. She provides certification programs and training tools for business professionals around the world who want to bring the Enneagram into organizations with high-impact business applications. TheEnneagramInBusiness.com |ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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