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Enneagram Styles and Perspective

Gayle Hardie, a Senior EIBN member from Australia, has written this compelling monthly Insight on Perspective.

If we imagine a room with glass walls and we are standing on the outside of one of them looking in, what do we see?  We see the room from our perspective, of course. Yet, it is not the only one. Wherever we stand, we gain another glimpse of what is in the room – the back of a head from one view becomes the face of a person from another. The front of the room becomes the back depending on where we are positioned.

It appears that we are able to both understand and hold this physical perspective quite easily.

However, when it comes to listening to and accepting many points of view or different aspects of a problem or situation, it becomes more difficult.  What gets in the way of holding multiple perspectives in this example?  What prevents us from seeing both/and rather than either/or?  What keeps us holding a view that feels safest, is most correct, is factual, is justifiable, is easiest, is less harmful, is better for others, is unique or is the best one right now?

As we gain understanding of our own “lens” on the world through the Enneagram and how it can hold us back from holding multiple perspectives, the world of “both/and” becomes so much more accessible and we can “see” very different opportunities, pathways and solutions as a result.

Gayle always writes fascinating Insights, ones that create a (good) challenge from which I try to write blogs that do her ideas justice. In this blog, I take the metaphor or the “lens” to suggest ways in which the different Enneagram Style may need to recalibrate their way of looking at the world!

Close-far lens issues
Too close lenses (Enneagram 4)
Too far lenses (Enneagram 5)
Some of us use lenses that are either too close to the situation so that we only see what is right in front of us, or we use lenses that are so remote we miss the nuances of the close up. Enneagram style Fours remind us that we can be too up close and personal, thereby paying too much attention to smaller things and to our own responses, without enough distance to perceive more data and be more objective. Enneagram style Fives remind us that when we create too much distance, we are too far away to really perceive things in finer detail, including ourselves and how we interact with a situation.

Remedy: Use a refined zoom lens that allows for range flexibility and a conscious compass to know when to use it!

Tight-loose lens issues
Too tight lenses (Enneagram 1)
Too loose lenses (Enneagram 9)
Some of us look through our lenses so tightly (squinting!) that we only see certain objects in our field and miss others, while others of us may look at things so openly and loosely that we miss the granulated nature of things or think that everything in our lens is equally important without enough differentiation. Enneagram Ones remind us that if we only look for what is precise, right or clear, we may mistake something that looks fine for something that is not, or we may perceive something as flawed, when it is actually just fine as it is. Enneagram Nines remind us that when we observe in too diffused a manner, we may see everything that is there, but completely miss what is really the most important.

Remedy: Observe with relaxed eyes that notice all that is truly important.

Embellished and narrow lens issues
Embellished focus lenses (Enneagram 2)
Narrow focus lenses (Enneagram 3)
Some of us think we’re looking through a clear lens but we are, in fact, embellishing reality by adding elements that are not really there or, at least, not there to the degree we imagine them. Enneagram Twos remind us that the false-abundance they perceive is really only potential, not true reality. Enneagram Threes remind us that with “blinders” on our peripheral vision – that is, being overfocused on only certain aspects of what is truly there, such as goals and results – or blinders on any part of our vision, we can miss the most important elements of a situation.

Remedy: Get your lens prescription changed so you see less of what you imagine and all of what is truly there!

Tainted color lens issues
Gray lenses (Enneagram 6)
Rose-colored lenses (Enneagram 7)
Some of us think we are seeing clearly, but our vision is either clouded by a grayish overlay or we are looking through colored lenses that make everything appear brighter than it is. This is also known as looking at the world with “rose-colored glasses.” Enneagram Sixes remind us that everything may not be as clouded, confused, or complex as we imagine it to be when we are anxious, and Enneagram Sevens remind us of the opposite: everything is not nearly as rosy as we might want it to be, and our minds cannot make it so!

Remedy: Clean your lenses and take off the filters.

Wrong prescription lens issues
One dimensional lenses (Enneagram 8)
Some of us only see one dimension of reality, some of us may perceive two or even three. How do we know how many dimensions really exist? Enneagram Eights remind us that a uni-dimensional view of the truth of reality is almost always missing other dimensions and believing that we understand exactly what is happening does not make it so.

Remedy: Take off your glasses so you can perceive the multi-dimensions of reality that all occur simultaneously as well as sequentially.

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11 years ago

Excellent insights!
Thank you