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Development | boundaries

Development | boundaries

In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of another. ~ Ambrose Bierce

Have you ever stopped to think about your own personal boundaries that delineate you from others and you from your environment, and how these support and hinder your satisfaction and growth?


Most Ones have clear boundaries that distinguish themselves from others and their environment. This helps them be clear about their opinions versus yours, what they think is right from what is not right, and what is OK to do and not OK to do. This type of boundary helps them stay in control of themselves and their immediate situations. Although this boundary is not thick or wide, it is extremely strong and sometimes brittle. This can hinder flexibility, their willingness to explore new things, and a challenge in terms of being resonant or empathic with the feelings of others.

Hint: work on boundary flexibility


Most Twos have boundary confusion. Yes, Twos have boundaries, but their boundaries move outward and inward, not out of choice but out of habit. When feeling inflated about something that has gone well that they have influenced, Two’s boundaries become much larger, causing them to feel bigger than they actually are. By contrast, when feeling deflated about something that has not gone well that they have influenced, Two’s boundaries become contracted, causing them to feel smaller than they actually are.

Hint: work on boundary stability, being neither bigger nor smaller than you are 


Most Threes have supple boundaries that allow them to adjust how they respond to their current environment or audience. In other words, they sense how they should be and then become that. This boundary agility comes at a price: losing an internal sense of who they are, and what they truly want.

Hint: practice bringing your boundary back inside when you feel it going outward


Most Fours have an intricate boundary system. Their boundary absorbs – like a sponge – both negative information about themselves as well as deep feelings of others. At the same time, Fours rarely internalize positive information about themselves. This leaves them with a vast reserve of painful or difficult inner experiences and almost no reserve of positive information about themselves.

Hint: Learn to create boundary filters that only absorb what is true about you, whether positive or negative, and that do not absorb the difficult experiences of others 


Most Fives have very strong, contracted boundaries that cause them to be smaller energetically than they actually are. This boundary comes with an invisible moat – akin to a moat around a castle – that keeps others from entering into the space of the Five. This configuration also keeps Fives from being as full or big as they actually are and it keeps others away, unless the Five lowers the bridge across the moat.

Hint: find out what you really want in terms of how big you are, and how you engage with others and the environment; if you want more, create larger boundaries, lessen the moat, or lower the bridge more often


Most Sixes have complex and inconsistent boundaries and managing these takes a great deal of energy. Sixes send out numerous boundary feelers simultaneously in order to determine what might happen next, is this person safe or trustworthy, and more.

Hint: relax the boundary feelers; how many do you need and when?


Most Sevens don’t like the ideas of boundaries at all because boundaries also serve as limits. Boundaries limit movement, behaviors, and more. As a result, Sevens have few boundaries themselves, moving in the environment at will, doing what they want when they want, thinking something and then saying it. Sevens think of this as being spontaneous, but having few boundaries actually generates impulsivity.

Hint: boundaries do not by themselves limit freedom, they can also allow it; choose the boundaries you want in order to make the choices that support your growth 


Most Eights have very strong boundaries, one might even think of them as thick delineations between themselves and others or their environment. At the same time, Eights also extend their boundaries to incorporate others or parts of their environment. This can be thought of as expanding their boundaries as a way of being big and expanding territory. In addition, the strength of their boundaries, whether expanded or not, serves as a barrier to both receptive interaction between themselves and others and to flexibility in the Eight’s behavior.

Hint: soften your boundaries to create more reciprocity and flexibility


Most Nines have overly flexible, fluid and permeable boundaries. This helps them be approachable and allows them to easily merge with others and their environments. However, when Nines merge or blend, the price paid is the loss of their inner sense of solid being.

Hint: create boundaries over which you have more control so that when you connect with others or your environment, you retain your sense of self


Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven Enneagram-business 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, and is past-president of the International Enneagram Association. Visit: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com | ginger@theenneagraminbusiness.com

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