Development tips


Self-reflection doesn’t need to be a house of mirrors, but it can be when done in isolation, without structure or context. But when self-reflection is done as an integral and sequential part of this 6-step pause-play process, the growth possibilities are both ongoing and deeply meaningful:

  1. Push pause
  2. Self-observe
  3. Self-reflect
  4. Consider choices
  5. Choose
  6. Push play

These are hints about where individuals of each Enneagram type get stuck in this 6-step process and how they can gain more from the self-reflection aspect of the process.

Enneagram Ones

Ones do push the pause button with enough regularity to start this 6-step process. After all, self-improvement, the cornerstone of the One ego structure, requires it. However, when they self-observe, it is often with a critical eye rather than a neutral, self-observing position. They may notice only that which is not right according to their expectations, rather than self-observe for that which is positive. And they may cast a negative spin on what is more effectively something that is neither positive nor negative; it just “is.”

Hint | Self-observe from a neutral, non-attached, and non-judging perspective.

Enneagram Twos

Twos don’t push the pause button very often, and they do so primarily when they are hurting in some way. It’s almost as if they have to push pause in order to deal with the hurt that won’t go away by itself or get filtered through the Two’s defense mechanism of emotional repression. In self-observing related to the hurt, there is almost always deep, repressed pain, making “going there” very scary. All of this makes self-reflection a bigger challenge than it might otherwise be.

Hint | Take off the mask of repression so you feel your feelings – all kinds of feelings – more in real time; doing so will make pausing and self-observing far easier, less scary, and more productive.

Enneagram Threes

For Threes, pushing the pause button is akin to driving a car in neutral or idle, and Threes have low tolerance for being idle. So, before Threes can be self-reflective, they need to be self-observant, and this first requires pushing pause.

Hint | Set you phone alarm every three hours, as a reminder to push pause and engage in the 6-step process above. Just do it!

Enneagram Fours

Fours often become involved in self-reflection before they push pause and engage in balanced self-observation and self-reflection. Whenever they feel deficient or hurt, Fours go straight to self-reflection, but this kind of self-reflection may not be thorough or grounded in a reality. It is just a slice of the 4 pie. It is a part and not the whole. Sometimes Fours merge and spiral between self-observation, pause and self-reflection, but this leads to confusion rather than to clarity.

Hint | Go in sequence: push pause, self-observe (without interpretation or bias), then engage in self-reflection.

Enneagram Fives

Because Fives are sequential and methodical, they may have figured out this 6-step process on their own and follow it. The issue is that they do all this by themselves, with little or no input from others. Although the growth process is an individual responsibility, it is enriched by input from others.

Hint | Ask for ideas or feedback at the self-reflection process; what does the other person perceive that you may have missed?

Enneagram Sixes

Although Sixes may use the pause-play cycle, they often navigate through the phases so rapidly that speed – often based on anxiety or urgency – that they jump to the hall of mirrors rather than move through the sequential self-reflection process. With so much going on, it can be hard to see or perceive clearly.

Hint | Slow down at each step, breathe, and commit to calmness throughout.

Enneagram Sevens

Push pause? Are you kidding? Something awful or unpleasant may be lurking inside! Such is the thinking many Sevens have before they engage in the pause-play process. However, once Sevens begin this kind of 6-step process, they often enjoy it, making the inside look just as fascinating as the external stimuli (well, this may be a stretch!).

Hint | Try it once; see if you like it. Try it twice; see if you gain some benefit. Keep going, step by step.

Enneagram Eights

It has to be a “big thing” for Eights to want to push pause to start with. Usually the “big thing” is a situation in which they don’t know what else to do, they are feeling vulnerable, or their denial tendencies are not working. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Hint | Just use the 6-step process once a day to start with, then increase it to twice daily, then multiple times per day so it becomes part of your daily activities. Think of these as little “time for yourself” moments.

Enneagram Nines

Rather than push pause, Nines will unconsciously push defuse and diffuse instead, merging outward rather than paying attention inwardly. The 6-step pause-play cycle requires awakeness to oneself, including thoughts, feelings, behaviors, patterns, choices, commitments to action, and more.

Hint | Get into your body and stay there, starting the pause-play cycle while being as embodied as you can. This keeps you present and awake.

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