Enneagram - Feelings

To this point in the series, I've described my experience with the Enneagram and what I've discovered about my personality in my day to day life.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, identifying as a Three on the Enneagram has been very revealing. Knowing that I am driven equally by success and the fear of failure has helped me on a daily basis as I constantly check my motivations, my participation in projects and my struggles in interpersonal relationships. Also, recognizing that I have an insatiable appetite for goal setting and goal achieving and that this is not something "everyone else in the world" deals with has been a mind stretch. 

This all leads me to my final posting on what I've learned specifically about being a Type THREE on the Enneagram and probably the most important one for me because it has to do with an area I've always struggled with: Feelings/Emotions.


The nine numbers of the Enneagram are divided into three sections, called Triads. The triads typically show your reaction or your approach to life. Numbers 8, 9, and 1 tend to approach and react to life through the guti/reaction center.  Numbers 2, 3 and 4 will process aspects of their life issues from the heart/feeling center. Finally, Numbers 5, 6, and 7 on the Enneagram tend to approach life through the head/thinking center. If you look back at the circle in the graphic, you will notice something interesting. At the center of every triad are numbers 9, 3, and 6 and these serve as anchor points/centers for each triad.

Because I identify myself as a THREE on the Enneagram, I am in the dead center of the Heart/Feeling Triad. You would think that means that the center numbers (9, 3 and 6) each have super-hero abilities in each of their triads. Interestingly enough, this is not the case and one more reason why I find the Enneagram fascinating. I do not have a cape and a giant “E” on my chest for emotions. In fact, I am just the opposite. For as long as I can remember, I lack the natural tendency to process through emotions well. Once again I thought this was just a struggle for Fletch, but as it turns out, this is another trait of Type THREE's on the Enneagram.



One tell-tale sign for THREE's on the Enneagram is that they have a difficult time connecting with their own feelings. For as long as I can remember, feelings have not been one of my strengths. If I'm being dead honest, it isn't even one of the tools I have available to me. 

For the casual reader who doesn't spend time with me in real life, here is what it looks like: From love to tragedy, I approach those situations through my head (rationally). It would do no good to ask me how I feel about a situation, because more often than not, I cannot identify what I'm actually feeling. I'm like Spock. I can tell you exactly what I think and I can reason away emotions that I see in others as completely illogical. In my mind, I may actually be saying something like: “Why are you acting that way?” or “Take a breath, back-up and let’s reason this out, there is no reason to get upset (cry/yell/emotion du jour).

I'm horrible at a funeral. I'm horrible during an emotional discussion, but I'd be great at downsizing a corporation. No hard feelings? No feelings at all. Logic dictates what needs to happen, don't let your feelings get in the way. Just do what needs to get done. Rip off the Band-Aid and move on. Stop fussing.

Here is an important clarification: If I am being honest, I know where and why people are getting emotional. However, I have learned that emotions do not serve me well so I know how to keep them in check and go to my head for comfort. Here’s how this looks: I’m talking to someone and they are sharing a story that leads them to an emotional point. These are the types of conversations where people say, “Oh look at me, I’m a mess. I’m sorry for getting emotional.” I lose all footing in those situations and never know what to do. It is so uncomfortable. I just don’t have the tools in my bag to work this out.

So, there I sit paralyzed and not knowing how to help some and I go into my “normal mode” which is a goal setting and problem solving. We all know how that goes, right? Nothing solves an emotional situation like someone who wants to start reasoning things out.

Feelings and The Gospel
Here’s where it gets really good. In the past 10 years, I’ve been softened by the gospel. Nothing undoes me faster than when I get close to the cross. A good story of salvation, seeing the Holy Spirit move in someone’s life, or once again knowing that Jesus loves me in the midst of my poverty of spirit and deep sin. I am undone time and again.

At first I thought it was a midlife crisis and an issue of hormone imbalance, but the more I look at it, I still don’t get emotional with cat videos, soldier coming home videos, but I lose it when I see the Holy Spirit intervene in a situation.

Identifying this is one thing, but doing the work on my personality is quite another. In my final post in this series I will talk about the Work of the Enneagram.

Quietly making noise,