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Inner Critics and the enneagram

I speak a lot about inner critics—the demons in our head that hold us back from greatness. They are protective mechanisms that may have served us once upon a time but now hold us back.

I recently learned about an inner critic framework that helps to articulate the common types of saboteurs—the disabling thought patterns that trip us up. Reading through his content, I found that the types of saboteurs discussed by Shirzad Chamine map directly onto the nine types of the enneagram (discussed in my previous blog).

Looking at the saboteur assessment helped me to see how the enneagram can deepen an assessment of my own limiting beliefs. Below, I map the enneagram types to Chamine’s descriptions in the saboteur assessment.

Enneagram TypeEnneagram descriptionSaboteur
One: ReformerIdealistic, rational, moralistic, principledStickler/Judge-  rigid and absolute; highly critical of self and of others; perfectionist
Two: HelperCaring, connected, people-pleasing, generousPleaser–  strong need to be liked; doesn’t express needs directly; martyrdom
Three: AchieverSuccess-oriented, drivenHyper Achiever—workaholic; avoids feelings through performance; worthiness is only possible through accomplishment
Four: IndividualistExpressive, withdrawn, sensitiveVictim– misunderstood, isolated, envious, dramatic
Five: InvestigatorCerebral, data driven, isolated, perceptiveHyper Rational-frustrated by emotion, skeptical and cynical; feels misunderstood
Six: LoyalistCommitted, security-focused, responsible, anxiousHyper-Vigilant- anxious, expecting danger, suspicious
Seven: EnthusiastSpontaneous, fun loving, distractibleRestless—easily distracted, stays busy, seeks to escape pain
Eight: ChallengerLeader, confident, confrontationalController—willful, confrontational, surprised that others are hurt by conflict; angry and intimidating
Nine: PeacemakerConflict resistant, self-effacing, easy goingAvoider– resists conflict and discomfort, downplays own needs and deflects, passive aggressiveness; superficiality due to avoiding

Looking at the chart, consider what common patterns emerge for you that stop you from being vulnerable, from feeling all of the emotions, and from facing fear instead of avoiding it. Ready to tackle those fears? A coach can guide your way.

Love each other by learning about each other

With Valentine’s Day coming soon, relationship and personality frameworks are a great opportunity to learn more about all of your loved ones.

I have always been fascinated by frameworks that explain why we are similar and different to others. Both Meyers Briggs and Enneagram are frameworks—a way to communicate a lot of information in a simpler package. A framework is as good as it resonates key concepts well. Any framework emphasizes some things and ignores others. Comparing the two assessments,  the Meyer’s Briggs is more about your innate tendencies whereas Enneagram tends to come from your upbringing—early childhood experiences that caused wounds.

The Meyer’s Briggs assessment is be the most commonly used. The framework focuses on four cognitive aspects of a person—energy, information, decisions, and organization.

Yet I found that I like the Enneagram even more for understanding how we related to one another. I believe that the Enneagram can be a tool for building empathy toward others.

Reading about the nine types helped me to understand why friends and family make the choices they do, and how they see the world differently than me. Embracing this multiplicity of perspectives helps to embrace that our ways of seeing differ and the meaning we gain from experiences varies greatly.

These types of frameworks can help in all types of relationships. In business settings, they can help to dissolve conflict between team members and also help to maximize the strengths of others. In friendships, they can help to heal wounds due to ignorance or different ways of seeing. In parenting, they can help us to build up our kids and to help them navigate through their blind spots.

In romantic relationships, often one pairs with someone with a different set of strengths An entire industry of products and memes exist showing the ways that love can be expressed by enneagram type.

I’m an ENFJ—extroverted, intuitive/big picture, feeling, judging. With the enneagram, I find myself fitting with types 1 and 8–the reformer and the leader. y partner is an Enneagram 9, ISTJ. His patience and peacemaking calm my energy. His attention to details helps me to turn my big ideas into actions that can actually make a difference. I stretch him into more experiences than he might choose alone. 32 years and counting, we complete each other.

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