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Enneagram Theory: Fixations (Habits of Mind) – Indolence

This 10th blog in the Enneagram Theory: Fixations (Habits of Mind) series focuses on Indolence, the fixation normally associated with Enneagram style Nine. In Nines (really in all of us), Indolence refers to the mental process of mentally diffusing our attention so that we forget what is important to us and also causes us to refrain from stating our own opinions, thus minimizing our conflict with other people. All of us, and not just Nines, engage in Indolence.

In this blog, I’ll cover how each of the nine Enneagram styles engages in indolence.

Enneagram Ones
Ones may not appear to engage in indolence of any sort – that is, they seem so precise and action oriented. However, indolence is actually a disowned quality in Ones (as Jerry Wagner discusses in his new book, Nine Lenses on the World), a not-me quality that gets projected onto others. Remember, Ones perceive themselves as responsible, disciplined, and highly attentive.  But a closer examination of indolence in Ones reveals more than a little indolence.Here are some examples:

  1. Focusing so much on the details of getting it (whatever “it” is) right that they diffuse their attention about other items or factors that matter as much or more
  2. Moving to their arrow of Enneagram style 7 with such abandon (not all Ones do this with abandon!) that they think about purely in the pursuit of pleasure, paying no attention whatsoever to items that should be on their agenda or to the consequences of their behavior
  3. Paying so much attention their own opinions and ideas that they are inattentive to the ideas of others

Enneagram Twos
Twos may appear a little distracted or diffused, or they can appear focused and extremely alert. But all Twos engage in indolence in specific ways.
Here’s are some examples:

  1. Paying so much attention to others and their needs and so little attention to their own needs – that is, being indolent about oneself
  2. Being indolent in thinking about and that it is OK to express oneself – for example, not being clear enough within oneself and or being unwilling to share thoughts and opinions; not manifesting one’s own true desires; or believing it is not OK or too dangerous or that one is not quite capable of stepping into visible leadership
  3. Neither identifying nor acknowledging their own feelings as a way to preserve relationships and avoid conflict with others who are important to them

Enneagram Threes
Threes are often thought of as very focused (even over-focused); however, many Threes use their arrow line to Nine to relax or distress, and no one can stay focused all the time.
Here are some examples:

  1. Not wanting to think about anything serious and so engaging in routine relaxing behaviors such as video games, jogging, cooking (eating?), and more as a way to not pay attention to oneself (the movement of Threes to Nine)
  2. Believing that emotions are a distraction from work and then engaging in activity as a way to avoid feelings
  3. Not reflecting about who they really are; instead, perceiving themselves as the persona they have created

Enneagram Fours
Fours can seem distracted even under normal times, but especially so when they feel distressed in any way. And they are indolent in some surprising ways.
Here are some examples:

  1. Thinking so much about how to express themselves so they’ll be understood – or not misunderstood – that they loose track of what they really meant to say
  2. Thinking that their most currently felt emotions are their true emotions and being indolent about going deeper to examine the feelings underneath these feelings
  3. Thinking about how to transport their own hurt onto others so they won’t feel quite so distressed, without taking the time to think through this dynamic within them: what motivates this and what effect this has on both them and others

Enneagram Fives
Fives don’t appear to be diffused or indolent, but think again.
Here are some examples:

  1. Confusing thinking with feeling, with the effect of not paying sufficient attention to their emotional lives
  2. Not thinking about feelings much at all; in fact, thinking that feelings have limited value and that it takes too much energy to figure them out
  3. Thinking that only their minds matter, so ignoring (being indolent about) physical sensations that are a source of important information

Enneagram Sixes
Sixes seem to be very energized (concerns in motion), but a person can be energized and indolent (not paying attention), which is most obvious in Sixes.
Here are some examples:

  1. Thinking only about the things that scare them
  2. Believing that “fun” isn’t something that they can allow themselves to relax into (this is true more for self-preserving and social subtype Sixes than one-to-one Sixes)
  3. Not being able and/or not wanting to take the time to be able to sort out their projections from their own motivations, hopes, and fears

Enneagram Sevens
Sevens seem to almost always be energetic, but a person can be highly energetic and indolent, which is very obvious in Sevens.
Here are some examples:

  1. Thinking about pleasure but rarely, if at all, pain
  2. Not thinking about what their physical sensations are telling them
  3. Reframing possible negative information into positive as a way of not paying attention to what is actually occurring

Enneagram Eights
Eights don’t appear indolent; in fact they often appear to be in touch with reality, but…like all of us, they can also be indolent.
Here are some examples:

  1. Thinking about whatever they lust after (the Eight’s excessiveness) as a way of avoiding their vulnerability
  2. Believing that their truth or reality is the truth, thereby being indolent about thinking through the multi-realities that have validity
  3. Going into mental denial that something is amiss, even their health

Enneagram Nines
Nines, because indolence goes with Nine, is easy.
Here are some examples:

  1. Perceiving only positive factors in their beliefs about others, situations, world events, as a way of maintaining harmony
  2. Forgetting what mattered to them or what they truly think as a way of not making waves or calling attention to themselves
  3. Not-remembering what they were supposed to be doing – forgetting their priorities – as a way to relax, feel unpressured, and not generate conflict, although this often generates more conflict later

Note: The sloth (see graphic above) is often used as a symbol for Nines for a number of reasons: its relaxed manner, the fact that it adjusts its temperature to the ambient temperature, its adorable but many people don’t know much about it, and more.

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