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“The words of truth are always paradoxical.” ~ Lao Tzu

Embedded in each Enneagram type is an inherent paradox, an apparent contradiction that reflects the truth of each type’s pursuit. Paradoxes are both complex and confusing and yet, at the same time, catalytic opportunities for some of our deepest development.

Type One Paradox

Ones want to be accepted and valued without criticism, reservations, or conditions; however, they act so critically toward others that they push other people away, and they are so self-critical, that they would not really believe that someone else would value them without also judging them.

Type Two Paradox

Twos want to have their own desires, dreams, and potentialities materialize; however, they spend so much time and energy helping other people manifest and get their needs met that Twos are unaware of what their own needs truly are and give little indication to others that they truly want or need something.

Type Three Paradox

Threes want to be valued for who they are rather than what they do; however, because they try to create an image of confidence and success and only share what they accomplish or makes them look good, no one really knows the person behind the persona.

Type Four Paradox

Fours want to have deep and lasting connections with others; however, because their behavior frequently reflects their need to be different, unique, and separate and because Fours engage in push-pull behavior when others get too close, other people react by pulling away from them.

Type Five Paradox

Fives want to know and experience life fully and to genuinely engage with other people; however, their stance of observing life cerebrally and their disconnection from their own feelings prevent them from fully understanding and engaging in life and from developing deep connections with others.

Type Six Paradox

Sixes want to have faith in themselves and to trust other people; however, they continually second-guess themselves, project their own concerns and suspicions onto others, and behave in guarded and accusatory ways, thus causing Sixes to distrust themselves and causing others to become suspicious and guarded with them in return.

Type Seven Paradox

Sevens want to feel whole, complete, and totally okay about themselves; however, they avoid the situations that would ultimately make them feel settled, fully satisfied, and completely self-accepting such as staying focused on a task until it is complete, delving into feelings and thoughts in greater depth, and accepting pain as well as pleasure.

Type Eight Paradox

Eights want to be accepted and supported for all of who they are, including their vulnerabilities; however, they act so strong, independent, and in-charge that few people ever see their softer, more vulnerable side or their need for nurturance and affirmation.

Type Nine Paradox

Nines want to be acknowledged and taken seriously as if they matter; however, they act so easygoing and accede to what others want so readily that they don’t assert themselves, others then discount what they have to say and Nines end up not mattering to themselves.


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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