Some say the truth will set you free. Others believe that truth is relative, depending on one’s point of view and perspective. Or, is the truth like layers of an onion where different dimensions of the truth must be peeled away to get at the essential truth? The enneagram provides insights into how people of each enneatype can get closer to the truth; one of these ways involves working with each type’s primary defense mechanism, a defensive posture that hides our truth from ourselves.
When Ones feel anxious about their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, they unconsciously revert to reaction formation, a defensive posture where they act 180° differently from what they, in truth, feel and think. For example, they may feel very hurt or angry at a person or situation, but then act as if they feel positively toward the individual or event and most often don’t recognize this contradictory response.
Hint: Pay attention to your true feelings; don’t submerge them in an effort to be a “good” person.
When Twos feel anxious about their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, they unconsciously revert to repression, a defensive posture where they push their true feelings down to such a degree that their either don’t know what they are feeling or think they are having a mild emotional reaction rather than a grave one. The result is that these feelings then build up and eventually explode, much to the chagrin of the Two and to the surprise of those on the receiving end.
Hint: Breathe into your whole body, fully and regularly, not primarily into your heart area only, and ask yourself this as you breathe: What am I truly feeling right now?
When Threes feel anxious about their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, they unconsciously revert to identification, a defensive posture where they focus their attention and action on what they primarily identify with, which is, in reality, a substitute for their deeper sense of self. Threes may identify with work, roles, activities, role models and more.
Hint: Ask yourself the following questions on a regular basis and particularly when you start to engage in any of the ways in which your tendency to identify with something outside yourself is operating: What do I truly want, not what I should want? What do I really feel, not what I should feel? Where in my body do I experience the answers to these questions?
When Fours feel anxious about their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, they unconsciously revert to introjection, a defensive posture where they take in only negative responses from others – and these may be only the Four’s interpretations of what occurred – without discerning whether these negative interpretations are accurate or not. Fours also discard positive feedback and interactions. Technically, introjection involves taking in whole both positive and negative feedback without discernment, but Fours use this defense mechanism in the specific way just described.
Hint: Spend time with yourself when you have emotional responses, and say this: I am having feelings but I am not my feelings. What are they? Behind these feelings are feelings that are deeper and more accurate. What are they?
When Fives feel anxious about their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, they unconsciously revert to compartmentalization, a defensive posture where they separate things that would serve them differently – and perhaps better in terms of arriving at their truth emotionally, mentally and instinctually – if they were more connected. There can be a truth from each Center of Intelligence, but the answers can be different and need reconciliation. The truth rarely comes from one center alone.
Hint: Move back into your body as often as you can; there are many ways to do this, but it takes practice: breathe into your full body regularly without forcing or pushing your breath; engage in physical activities where you choose to be in your whole body while doing them; feel your legs and your feet, especially where your feet touch the ground and, at the same time, focus your attention in your heart area, allowing your breath to go to this area.
When Sixes feel anxious about their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, they unconsciously revert to projection, a defensive posture where they imagine something to be true that either has happened, is happening, or might happen. These projections are mental ideas that might be true, might not be true at all, or might be partially true.
Hint: To be more truthful, ask yourself some simple questions, especially when you have a strong response: Is this true? How would I know if it is true or not? Does this thinking or interpretation serve me in terms of getting at the truth? Would might serve me better?
When Sevens feel anxious about their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, they unconsciously revert to rationalization, a defensive posture where anything Sevens perceive as negative gets reframed in a positive light. This makes getting at the truth near impossible because at least half of reality gets reframed – that is, the negative or that which causes pain.
Hint: Notice when you reframe, or you can enlist others to help you notice when you do this. Stop the reframe while you explore what you are truly thinking, feeling or doing underneath the positive reframe.
When Eights feel anxious about their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, they unconsciously revert to denial, a defensive posture where they essentially delete events, people or information that they don’t want to deal with. Essentially, Eights surgically cut out what is part of the whole truth.
Hint: When you feel hurt, anxious, vulnerable, highly fearful, or deeply angry, notice how you may move quickly into denial. Stop yourself and say this: What am I feeling? What am I unwilling to look at? What is the whole truth here?
When Nines feel anxious about their thoughts, feelings, or behaviors, they unconsciously revert to narcotization, a defensive posture that has them disperse their attention and do something comforting or routine to completely take them away from experiencing and knowing the truth of what is actually occurring.
Hint: Notice your favorite ways of distracting and comforting yourself, then stop when you start doing any of these things. Instead, say this to yourself: I deserve to respect myself enough to pay attention to what is occurring inside me: thoughts, feelings, and desired actions. What are they?
Ginger Lapid-Bogda PhD, the author of seven 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: TheEnneagramInBusiness.com. firstname.lastname@example.org