Potency, resilience, moral power, firmness, and courage – these are all concepts that align with real strength. How can the Enneagram help each of us develop true strength, not physical prowess or outer toughness?
Ones | While Enneagram Ones may consider themselves to be strong characters – except when their inner critic goes on “over-active” and continuously criticizes them – their true and deep strength comes from weathering the storms of not always knowing the “right” thing to do, relaxing their need for over-structuring their lives and everything around them, embracing uncertainty as an adventure, becoming more flexible in how they approach their work and their lives.
Twos | Enneagram Twos often do not perceive themselves as strong characters, experiencing themselves as soft or more compliant, when in fact the Twos’ strength comes from their inner will, and most Twos have a strong inner fiber of will similar to a will of metal more like titanium than steel. Actually, it is more like aerographite, a metal that is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam, extremely strong, and highly resilient. Twos need to find their inner aerographite deep inside by tuning themselves to themselves instead of tuning themselves to other people and relationships.
Threes | Threes perceive themselves as strong, even stronger than others, but this strength is so dependent on their last success, their last performance, their reluctance and inability to share their uncertainties and woes with others, and their moving of feelings off to the side as a way of keeping active and confident. Storms need not be hurricanes if they deal with their real feelings and desires as these emerge. Learn that strength is not covering up anxiety or trying to escape from who you really are deep inside; it comes from examining and working with these to build resilience so storms pass more easily.
Fours | Every rainfall is not a storm; every event that does not go the way you had hoped or dreamed about is not a typhoon. Allow the positive to infuse you, just as you face the turbulent aspects of life. Look outward as much as you focus inward so that there is always a balance in your internal life. Embrace gratitude more than you dread feeling not-as-good as others or deficient in some hard-to-name way.
Fives | To develop real strength, Fives are well advised to focus on two areas: re-inhabiting all of themselves – specifically their emotions and their whole bodies – and to learn to take in support and nurturance from other people. Re-inhabiting themselves gives them far more inner resources and reserves so they become less depleted. Strength requires fullness. Learning to rely on the support and sustenance of others also gives them more interpersonal strength, as they learn that engaging with others, rather than diminishing them, enhances their resilience.
Sixes | True, deep, and reliable courage and potency are the aspirations of Sixes, and these are theirs when they learn to trust, honor and respect their own inner wisdom and judgment. This requires them to be in a greater state of continuous calmness through quieting their mind, deepening their body awareness (breathing practices help here), and altering their worldview. If the world is a dangerous and unpredictable place, then they must adhere to their vigilance. But what if the world were simply a changing place, with underlying patterns of continuity and constancy as well as patterns of simultaneous shifts and rhythmic resolution? Surely, Sixes can handle this complexity.
Sevens | Sevens need to learn that the power of their mind only increases when they learn to focus it and that to be strong, they need to learn how to be fully in their bodies with feet rooted in the ground. Trees cannot weather storms when they are top heavy and lack deep-enough roots. Light in weight and gravitas, they easily blow over in even a moderate storm. Learning to focus and stay with whatever they are doing and recognizing that pain isn’t so painful when it is dealt with; it only becomes debilitating when it is ignored and stored.
Eights | Eights perceive themselves as strong, but they are actually only partially so. For Eights, strength means hiding their vulnerabilities, often denying their vulnerability even to themselves. They equate being vulnerable with being weak, and that does not align with their sense of who they think they are. Like a giant oak tree, a small storm does not move them, but a big storm, from which they can actually learn the most and develop a strength that is more powerful than they can imagine, can knock them over, taking roots and all. Change your paradigm of strength and experiment with feeling and sharing vulnerabilities to discover the pure power and potency of deep strength.
Nines | For Nines to be in their strength, power, and potency, they need to tune into themselves, respect their own feelings, thoughts, and desires enough to be willing to express them and deal with whatever responses from others ensue. This demands a lot from Nines: to be awake and alert, to experience and explore their feelings and reactions, to be willing to vocalize and assert themselves without perceiving this as being pushy or aggressive. This is always a choice: harmony versus personal power and self-assertion; comfort versus discomfort and experimentation with new behavior; deadening oneself to one’s feelings and desires versus energizing and revitalizing oneself.
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of four 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: The Enneagram in Business.com. firstname.lastname@example.org