Enneagram: Berghoef & Bell Innovations

Leadership. Communication. Teamwork.


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Engaging All Three of Your Enneagram Centers

img_1905When most of us first learn the Enneagram, we discover that there are three Centers of Intelligence: the Gut Center, Heart Center, and Head Center. All of these centers contain powerful gifts, and it’s important to balance all three for us to remain present in our daily lives. Without doing personal growth work, our centers tend to be out of balance. Similarly to how we use our Instinctual preferences, we typically overdo certain centers while neglecting other ones. These priorities show up in predictable, type-specific patterns.

Here are the centers that tend to be weak or underused in each of the types:

Types Four, Five, and Nine: The Gut Center is underused

These three types, which comprise the withdrawn social style, may often seem like they have their “head in the clouds,” focusing on daydreams, intellectual ideas, or the world of emotions. However, they tend to be ungrounded, and it can be difficult for them to take action and get things done in the physical world.

Types Three, Seven, and Eight: The Heart Center is underused

These types form the assertive social style, and they tend to be people who initiate new projects, get things done, and assert themselves with confidence. But, they have a difficult time slowing down, and getting in touch with their own personal emotions, desires, and thinking before they act.

Types One, Two, and Six: The Head Center is underused

These types come together to become the compliant social style, and they tend to be service-oriented, dutiful, and responsible individuals. Although many people of this style are highly intelligent, they often follow established rules or do what they feel is expected or needed instead of coming up with their own rules.

The Enneagram Institute believes that, much like the Instincts, we can’t stop “doing” our preferred centers, but we can make a conscious effort to actively practice our underused center. By doing this, we’ll automatically use our preferred centers less frequently, allowing us to be more in balance.

Here are some suggestions for balancing your centers:

Types Four, Five, and Nine: Get Moving

Get out of your fantasies, thoughts, and daydreams, and start getting things done in the “real world.” Your body is a powerful instrument, and consciously grounded action will show you its strength and power. Simple ways to get grounded include deep, embodied breathing, doing an exercise routine that challenges you, or simply feeling the soles of your feet touch the ground. When engaging in the physical realm, make sure you’re truly grounded, and not simply “puttering around” or mindlessly running errands. True groundedness requires immediacy and stability with the earth beneath your feet.

Types Three, Seven, and Eight: Unplug

Stop making decisions, taking immediate action, and moving around, and take yourself on a journey to the inside. Connecting with your heart will give you deep intimacy with yourself and reconnect you to your own desires. Taking even a few minutes to pause every day, write in a journal, or share your feelings with someone you trust will help you feel connected to the world around you. This requires true unplugging: no looking at your e-mails or taking “important” phone calls! Really getting in touch with your heart involves slowing down enough to feel the raw emotional weight of what’s happening in your chest.

Types One, Two, and Six: Explore Curiously

Instead of sticking to a mindset of service, take some time to think about what it is you really value and want. Connecting with the mind will help you know yourself and gain clarity about what’s important to you in the world. Think about what interests you, what you want to know about in the world, and engage in research and exploration with no end agenda. This kind of curiosity requires a clear, quiet mind: meditation and mindfulness practices will help dissolve the mental clutter. Really knowing yourself and finding direction requires a clear head to radically accept reality exactly as it is.

Doing these practices will be unfamiliar and even scary at first, but as you get into a routine, you’ll feel better and more confidently engaged in life.


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Using the Instincts as an Accelerator for Growth

photo-mar-30-11-39-08-amThe Enneagram’s three Instincts describe unconscious drives that shape our behavior. Knowing about them is helpful for many reasons, from maintaining healthy relationships to getting your needs met in the workplace. Most importantly, working on the Instincts, even more than working on our type, can act as an accelerator for personal growth.

All of us have three Instincts – Self-Preservation, Sexual, and Social. The Instincts influence how we interact with the world to get our unconscious needs met. We all have a preferred order in which we use the Instincts, called an Instinctual Stacking; we have one Instinct we obsess over and tend to overuse (our Dominant Instinct), one secondary Instinct, and a tertiary Instinct we tend to underuse (our Blind Spot Instinct). When we bring our Instincts closer into balance, our lives follow suit.

“Great,” you might be thinking, “I’ll just stop obsessing over my Dominant Instinct.” That’s a challenging proposition, though, because our Instincts operate unconsciously. We tend to rely on our Dominant, assuming it will provide the solution to our problems. What works better is to work with our Blind Spot Instinct. It’s scary to work on the Blind Spot, because we feel inexperienced and incompetent in that area. However, it’s a game changer. By consciously focusing on Blind Spot activities we normally neglect, we develop new strategies and resources. Our lives become fuller as we realize that our potential is much broader than we’d imagined.    

Below, we describe how each Instinct works as a Blind Spot, and offer growth practices for bringing that Instinct into balance. We also share composite case studies of students we’ve worked with and strategies they’ve found to cultivate the Blind Spot Instinct’s strengths within.

The Self-Preservation Instinct: If the Self-Preservation Instinct is your blind spot, you probably have difficulty focusing on the day-to-day practicalities of life. You may not have a strong inclination toward activities such as establishing a home, taking care of your diet, or saving for retirement. You may frequently feel immature and like you need others to support you through even basic tasks. To balance this Blind Spot, take the time to explore and write down ways you neglect your comfort, well-being, and health, and make time to do one thing every day focused on maintaining your stability. Try to do this independently, without the help of other people!

Consider the case of Becky, who’s 50 and recently divorced. She had relied on her husband to manage household tasks and organization. Now on her own, she’s nervous about being self-reliant, and admits that she feels like “a kid rather than a grown-up.” She’s let her new apartment become cluttered and chaotic. With the help of a group of Enneagram brainstormers, she recognizes that she finds upbeat music to be a good motivator. She decides to set a weekly date for a solo “cleanup party” with rock music in the background. She feels more confident with her favorite songs on, and her cleaning parties become a fun, productive ritual.  

The Sexual Instinct: If the Sexual Instinct is your blind spot, you probably have a difficult time doing things that stimulate and energize you. You may tend to put off doing activities that are exciting to you, displaying your strengths to others, and pursuing your “selfish, impractical” passions. You may frequently feel like you’re stuck in a rut and caught in a boring, humdrum routine that you are unable to get out of. To balance this Blind Spot, take some time to explore and write down what things fuel and inspire you. Make time to do one thing every day that brings the energy back into your life and makes you feel your vibrant and colorful self.

DeMarcus is a 35-year-old accountant who has worked hard to establish a secure career and provide for his young family. Between working long hours, contributing to household chores, and caring for his toddler, DeMarcus feels tired and listless. His Enneagram group suggests reconnecting with an activity that inspires and energizes him. As a student, DeMarcus had enjoyed painting with splashy, colorful acrylics, but he’s let his hobby fall by the wayside in his efforts to be responsible. He decides to fit weekly “painting dates” into his schedule. He begins involving his wife and daughter, and their home is filled with new creativity.  

The Social Instinct: If the Social Instinct is your blind spot, you probably have a difficult time interacting with the world around you. You may tend to put off activities that involve connecting with others, participating in communities, and having fun for its own sake. You may frequently feel like you’re overly serious and can’t talk to others unless you need something from them. To balance this Blind Spot, take some time to write down ways you’d like to contribute to the world around you and support other people. Make time to have a fun interaction with no agenda every day or to do something that makes you feel part of the larger social fabric.

Sonia considered herself an introvert, but the truth went beyond that label. While the 43-year-old freelance writer had a job and home she was comfortable with, she also had a very narrow social circle. She described herself as “not knowing how to make small talk.” Her Enneagram group suggested she connect with other writers, so Sonia found a group that looked interesting. She started reading the books they talked about, and had fun discussing them with like-minded, intelligent peers. Soon she was getting invited to events and meeting more people. Her life was infused with a new sense of fun and freedom.

We all have an Instinctual Blind Spot, and moving toward rather than away from it can bring us a renewed sense of balance. What small, regular strategies can you apply to bring your Blind Spot Instinct’s joys and gifts into your life?


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Video Review: Tapping for Your Type

IMG_2442We have something special to share with you this month. Psychotherapist and leadership coach Rachel Alexandria has released a series of videos that introduce a powerful process to heal our Enneagram types’ wounds. Introducing Tapping for Your Type!

Tapping, or EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), is a kind of acupressure that uses points on the body to access your energy and ability to self-heal. By using your fingers to tap on specific spots such as the top of your head or side of your hand, you stimulate your body to shift stuck energy and clear emotional blocks. Tapping can be used to address many kinds of challenges, from anxiety to chronic pain to trauma. This video series is the first program to pair it with work on, in Alexandria’s words, our Enneagram “type challenges, limiting beliefs, and stuck patterns.”

There’s a video series geared toward each type, with a free demonstration video focusing on core issues (accessible on her site and via YouTube) and a subsequent set of videos focusing on the type’s common challenges with work, social issues, relationships, wellness, and spirituality and life path. Alexandria also encourages viewers to watch videos for their connecting points and wing, giving them a wide array of tools to address the stuck patterns they run into from day to day. If you’re butting heads with your boss, the work video would be a good one to come back to; if you’re grappling with questions of meaning and purpose, the spirituality and life path video will likely offer some gems of guidance.  

We’re both new to tapping, and Rachel Alexandria’s straightforward introduction makes it easy to dive in. Her videos show you a number of pressure points to tap and demonstrate the process. Thanks to their clear visuals and demonstration, any new practitioner can quickly tap along. The process works through a set of statements, repeated aloud and anchored in the body through tapping on a particular acupressure point. Each one follows an acknowledgment of a particular, type-characteristic challenge, such as “Even though I feel like I have to rebel against authority,” with words of self-acceptance or release, such as “I deeply and completely accept myself.” The result is more affecting and grounded than using affirmations, and the videos encourage listeners to look at their pain directly and delve into healing head on.  

Alexandria’s innovative approach has both breadth and depth, touching on a spectrum of challenges that each Enneagram type may encounter and offering validation and insights that can often be emotional. We highly recommend it for anyone who looking for a somatic tool to work on wearing their personality patterns more lightly and easing the chatter of the inner critic. You can check out the whole series here.


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Freedom for Each Enneagram Type

20160618_053232-1-1July marks the national holidays of both our home countries, Canada Day (on July 1st) and Independence Day (on the 4th of July). Our friends and families are coming together to celebrate freedom in a flurry of fireworks and picnics. But the idea of freedom transcends national borders.

Freedom is one of the things that first drew us to the Enneagram, a personality system with the power to shed light on our habitual ways of seeing and doing things, and in illuminating them, guide us to move beyond them. Freedom was what we felt the first time we caught ourselves acting out of habit and realized that we could choose to act differently. In the wise words of Victor Frankl, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Here are some things that each Enneagram type to notice that show when your personality pattern is running the show, and tip you off to the possibility of greater freedom. Riso and Hudson call them your “wake-up call.” Notice when one of these habits arises in you, take a breath, and allow that space to free up new responses to the situation.

Type One: Something isn’t right, and it bugs you. Maybe there’s litter along the highway, or the spices are out of place on the rack. Notice when you feel that weight of obligation, and your inner voice says, “It’s my job to fix it. I’m the only one who cares.” It’s easier to respond proactively and gracefully once that tug loosens.  

Type Two: You care about someone so much that you want to develop a relationship… so you seek to win them over. Maybe you offer a gesture, a gift, or a complement. Notice when you feel that sense of leaning toward someone, and feel what’s going on with yourself. It’s easier to connect from a place where you are centered.

Type Three: Such a big world, with so many goals to strive for! People around you extoll getting promotions, shining on social media, and dressing just so… so you strive for those successes. Notice when you’re driving towards a goal, seeking a positive response from others. Can you find the freedom to pursue what matters to you deeply?  

Type Four: Speaking of shiny social media, how often do you find yourself looking at the qualities, accomplishments, and possessions of others and imagining how nice it would be to have them? Resenting them? Spinning personal stories of sorrow? Notice the feelings you’re embroidering and holding on to. Letting go brings freedom.

Type Five: You’ve figured out how to make sense of the world, or at least your area of expertise. Notice when you find yourself analyzing, using your favorite system to explain what’s going on, or theorizing and combining ideas – disconnected from reality. Reconnecting creates openness to brighter flashes of insight.  

Type Six: You feel uncertain about which path is right, until you encounter a person or system with a clear answer. When making a decision, you hear the voices of competing advisors in your head. Notice when you’re seeking guidance from something outside yourself. In allowing your inner guidance to emerge, you’ll find greater freedom.

Type Seven: You’re kayaking down the river, the sky clear above you, and all you can think about is how exciting that next trip is going to be. Tune in to the times when you’re anticipating the future, thinking of options that could be better and brighter. There’s freedom to be felt in the experience you’re having right now.

Type Eight: You sense that the world is tough, so you toughen up to deal with it. The boxing gloves come on and the energy you direct into the world amps up. Notice when you feel the need to fight to make things happen. In relaxing and trusting, your real strength can come through as you act freely.

Type Nine: You’re happiest when you feel like things are going smoothly, so it’s easy to go along with others and believe that will bring the harmony you want. Notice when you’re saying “yes” to things – is that the answer that you truly want to give, or would you prefer pizza over Chinese takeout this time?

Freedom isn’t a clear-cut thing, but you’ll know it when you feel it. There’s nothing like the awareness of when we’ve been running on autopilot, coupled with that sudden, shocking realization that now that we see our “programming” at play, we can choose to follow it or not. Options expand, and the horizon grows wider.


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How Each Enneagram Type Can Build Healthy Habits

habits blogNo matter what our lifestyle is, all of us have habits that help us manage our lives. Sometimes these habits, such as flossing daily and having a regular personal growth practice, sustain and nourish our long-term happiness and health. Other habits, such as skipping lunch to be productive or not getting enough sleep, allow us to meet goals in the short term but aren’t good for our long-term well-being.

Each Enneagram type has a basic motivation or desire, and our habits are ways we unconsciously try to get our needs met. But it’s all too common for us to form self-talk and behaviors that end up hurting instead of helping us. There’s good news, though: with the right structures and support, all of us have the ability to form long-term habits that help us meet our fullest potential.

Here are healthy habits that each of the Enneagram types can work to develop:

Type One: Make time to relax and laugh every day. Your natural self-discipline helps you do the right thing, but can leave little time to unwind. Set aside a time where you practice deep breathing, laugh at silly YouTube videos, or dance along to music you like. Letting yourself let loose, even just a little bit, will provide perspective, fun, and balance.

Type Two: Take yourself on dates. You’re naturally intuitive about others’ needs, but sometimes you spend so much time supporting others, your own self-care gets lost. A little bit of time set aside to do something you love, whether it’s watercolor painting or Netflixing a favorite TV show, will give you self-nourishment and support.

Type Three: Unplug yourself from the external world. Your incredible productivity, and ability to accomplish things that others value and appreciate, can make it hard to make time to discover your own desires. Whether it’s going into nature or taking a mindful daily shower, true solo time- without your phone or social media- will help you look out for number one.

Type Four: Bring organization into your self-expression. You have a remarkable ability to create and imagine, but sometimes lack the self-discipline to bring your visions to life. Accountability to a schedule or calendar will help you finish tasks and share your gifts with the world. Feel free to customize your organizational system with your own personal touches!

Type Five: Use the buddy system to get motivated. Your strength of incredible focus gets lost when you aren’t able to start projects that inspire you. Find a friend or coworker with similar goals for accountability to provide encouragement. A buddy will be a source of connection and support, giving you the kick to put your ideas out there.

Type Six: Do something that stimulates your mind. You’re wonderful at providing leadership from a place of support, but can get mentally “stuck” in certain ways of doing things. Doing reading that interests you, discussing and debating ideas, and even playing strategy computer games will help you stay in touch with the ideas you believe in.

Type Seven: Focus on doing one thing at a time. Your productivity is a huge strength, but when you try to do several things at once, it’s easy to drop or forget projects. Try tying a task that’s boring into something you find fun or interesting (musical cleaning party?). Harness your natural enthusiasm to focus and see tasks through to completion.

Type Eight: Do something regularly to give back to others. You excel at leadership and impact, and can sometimes overlook relationship building. Use your strength to lift up others, even though simple morale-boosters, like complimenting your partner or holding the door at work. Giving genuine love and care will nourish your own heart and make you a better leader.

Type Nine: Make a list of goals, and a plan for accomplishing them. Your gift for creating harmony and unity sometimes causes you to lose a sense of self amongst the greater collective fabric. Set aside time everyday for self-exploration and execution of your own personal desires. Self-accomplishment will give you an ever greater sense of happiness and harmony!

Setting healthy habits takes work- according to the latest research, it takes an average of 66 days for people to change their habits. During those initial few months, stay motivated, and ask for help when you need it. A more balanced life isn’t far away!


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Understanding the Levels of Development

levels of developmentWe all have times when we’re at our best – attentive, resilient, and able to handle whatever comes our way. We also have times when every little thing bugs us, and we find ourselves caught up in conflict at the drop of a hat.

Most Enneagram teachers, including us, believe that we each have a personality type that is probably set from an early age. Our Enneagram type gives us a core motivation and a way we desire to exist in the world. Sometimes, those of us who share an Enneagram type will also share similar ways of behaving in our environments. However, we also see a great deal of variation in how people with the same type behave, and in how we ourselves behave at different points in our life.

One of our Enneagram teachers, Don Riso (joined later by Russ Hudson), described much of this variation through the Levels of Development. Riso identified that each of the Enneagram types has nine different Levels of Health at which they can exist. All of us have days where we’re “on our game,” with an awareness and ability to respond to circumstances in a way that’s empowering. On the other hand, sometimes we have days that are more difficult, and say or do things we later regret. These Levels represent a range of attitudes and behaviors that exist in all of us, over the course of years or even in the same day! Understanding the Levels of Development helps us stay aware of how we’re doing, and catch ourselves when we dip lower than we’d like to.

Below is a brief summary of how The Enneagram Institute summarizes Healthy, Average, and Unhealthy Levels:

The Healthy Levels (Levels One, Two, and Three) – At the Healthy Levels of Development, we’re able to approach situations with awareness and compassion for ourselves and others. We have the ability to make decisions that are effective and beneficial. We embody our Enneagram type’s most positive qualities. When operating healthfully, we find ourselves acting and behaving in ways that contribute positively to our own lives and our communities around us. Most of us hope to attain the strong awareness and psychological health of Levels One-Three, and through our personal growth work and practices we can establish a baseline of functioning at these Levels.

The Average Levels (Levels Four, Five, and Six) – Average Levels of Development tend to encompass much of our everyday functioning. At these Levels, we’re often feeling good and managing our lives, but we don’t have the same degree of awareness as we do in the Healthy Levels. Riso and Hudson describe us as starting to operate on autopilot at these Levels, and our decisions are based on what we feel like we need to get our type’s motivations met. When we face challenges at Average Levels, we make decisions less mindfully, often saying and doing things to try to gain control over situations. These decisions may not be the best in the long term, and can cause strain on our relationships. The good news is, at Average Levels we still maintain some level of self-awareness, and respond to personal growth practices that help us regain healthy psychological functioning.

The Unhealthy Levels (Levels Seven, Eight, and Nine) – When we function at Unhealthy Levels, we lack self-awareness and make decisions completely on autopilot. At this point, our decisions have the potential to be destructive to ourselves and others. The good news is, most of us don’t operate here long-term. When someone stays in the Unhealthy Levels, it’s usually a reaction to severe crisis or trauma. At these Levels, we benefit from receiving support from a therapist or other trained professional.

It’s possible for all of us to learn to operate in a place that is psychologically healthy and aware! Through a combination of developing regular practices that challenge and inspire us, and finding a team of supporters in our goals, we can develop the attentiveness, functionality, and flexibility that characterize a shift up the Levels.

To learn more about how the Levels of Development work in all nine types, we recommend reading Personality Types, by Don Riso with Russ Hudson, or attending our Journey of Growth (Levels) Enneagram Institute Authorized Workshop.


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Self-Care Strategies for the Enneagram Types

IMG_1690With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many of us are thinking of the people we care about. Those who are in romantic relationships may have their eyes on special dates and gifts for their partners. Parents with school-age children are picking out paper valentines to be handed out to classmates. Love is in the air, but one frequent omission in this time of romance and connection is love for ourselves.

Whether you’re single or in a relationship, it’s easy to get swept up in the demands and stimulations of the world around us. Most of us forget to take the time to care for our own needs. Even introspective types can find it challenging to care for themselves as kindly as they would for another. Yet self-care is vital for feeling and performing at our best and truly connecting with our loved ones.

The ways in which we neglect self-care vary based on our Enneagram type. Here are some ways for each personality type to care for themselves, for Valentine’s Day and beyond.

Type One: While Ones excel at doing things with care, fun often falls by the wayside. Take yourself out on a date! Find something delightful and zany that you’ve always wanted to try. Now’s the time to try it out. Grant yourself a time for exploration – a judgment-free zone to play. Allow yourself to take in the richness of the new experience, much as you’d enjoy a thrilling first date.  

Type Two: Twos can be so busy focusing on others’ needs that they overlook their own, and “me time” is a phrase that’s used by this type more often than it’s understood. It doesn’t have to mean bubble baths (though they’re great); in your case, a radical form of self-care is a break from helping. Set yourself a day during which you aren’t allowed to help others, and focus on a personal goal.

Type Three: Threes are great at achieving things, but can lose touch with their desires as they craft a public image. Take some time to yourself to reflect and connect with your heart. Creativity and journaling can help with this. When no one’s around, what do you like to do? What makes you happy? Let yourself do it, and let what you’ve learned about yourself spill over into your day-to-day life.

Type Four: Introspective Fours connect well with their emotions, but can miss out on external sources of joy. Paradoxically, connecting with the external world is one of the best ways to show self-care. Find a cause you care about or a person who needs your help. Challenge yourself to be of service beyond your usual sphere of interaction, and enjoy the sense of meaning that results.  

Type Five: Fives care for themselves through alone time, but find it challenging to take needed practical action. You know that thing you’ve thought about over and over again but haven’t started? Maybe it seems impossible, illogical, or terrifying. For self-care, take the first step in doing it. Jump in. Allow yourself to not have a plan, to not have it all worked out. Take the next step and keep going.    

Type Six: Sixes have a gift for dealing with details, but can get caught up in worry and overworking. Give yourself a break and do something relaxing. The aforementioned bubble bath is a good one for you, as are other activities you enjoy that calm mind and body. Don’t allow yourself to think or talk about work while doing this. This is relaxation time. Be in the moment and savor it.

Type Seven: Sevens excel at infusing their lives with adventure, but tend to be distractible. You have a lot on the go, so the perfect self-care step is to focus. Find something that needs to be done that you’ve been putting off or distracting yourself from. Set yourself a time where you do it until it’s complete. Bring play into the task, such as listening to fun music while cleaning.

Type Eight: Eights are great at getting results, but don’t always think to recover from the energy they expend. You’re a busy person, so an ideal self-care move is to schedule some quiet time. Meditate, sit in nature, or spend time with an interesting book. No loud music, TV shows, or “doing” allowed! Spend time taking in the quiet and rest that surrounds you. See what it feels like.     

Type Nine: Nines are gifted at creating relaxation, but find it tough to get out of their comfort zone and be seen. Give yourself an opportunity to shine in a way you’ve always wanted to. Whether it’s performing onstage, scoring goals, or cooking an outstanding meal, do something you’re good at in a setting that invites recognition. Enjoy the feeling of excelling and connecting with your gifts.