Within the Enneagram are “centers” or “triads” of three types that share similar underlying motivations, feelings, strengths, and blind spots: the Gut center, comprised of types 8, 9, and 1, the Heart center, made up of types 2, 3, and 4, and the Head center, including types 5, 6, and 7. The graphic below helps illustrate the centers:
The gut center is made up of types 8, 9, and 1. These types tend to be impacted primarily by their deep instincts and innate anger. They each have a desire for independence and control over their own environment. Types in the Gut center can be strong, stable, grounded, and connected with life when healthy. However, when they aren’t very in touch with their own anger, they may unconsciously act on it in negative ways.
Eights tend to act on their anger, meaning they use it externally. They may lash out at others when anger is building. Nines are more likely to reject their natural anger and instinct. In other words, they often pretend that it’s not there. Ones may try to control their anger by internalizing it; they are aware of its presence, but they choose to channel it. This often leads to them becoming more critical of themselves or others.
The heart center is made up of types 2, 3, and 4. They are unified in a natural, subconscious shame that tends to impact them in different ways. They all want to feel affirmed and appreciated by other people, whether they are aware of it or not. When they’re healthy, heart types can be caring, authentic, and connected with others. However, they may express shame in negative ways when they don’t take the time to properly work through it.
Twos are likely to express shame externally by doing acts of service for other people to receive gratitude. Threes may throw themselves into their work in order to be successful and receive admiration from others. They are most likely to be in denial of their shame. Fours may control their shame by emphasizing their uniqueness to receive validation from others.
Types 5, 6, and 7 make up the head center. They each are likely to be fearful or insecure, particularly in less healthy times, and may feel like their mind is overactive and noisy. Head types can be perceptive, creative, and thoughtful when at their best. However, their fear can wreak havoc if they don’t learn to process and address it in a healthy way.
Fives react to the anxiety they feel by retreating into their own minds. They have a tendency to shut out the rest of the world and fixate on gaining knowledge when they feel overwhelmed. Sixes often spend time imagining all of the worst cases for each scenario and preparing for them as a way of coping with fear. Sevens tend to turn their fear outward by actively running toward uncomfortable scenarios and reframing them as something exciting or adventurous. They tend to seek a sort of physical escape from anxiety.