How Can It Help Me?

The Enneagram describes nine patterns of habitual response.

The nature of human habits is that they are generally unconscious, ie. that they are not paid attention to, and for all intents and purposes, are therefore invisible to the person themselves. However, the habitual behaviors are highly visible to others whether their relationship is personal, intimate or fleeting.

What of course isn’t clear to others the motivation for such behavior. It is only possible to determine the motivation through reflection by the person exhibiting the habitual response. So here is the conundrum. The Enneagram describes the invisible − in other words, it reveals reality to a person who is psychologically ‘blind’. But it can only do this if the ‘blind’ person can build awareness through the feedback of others. Once awareness is restored, it is only then that the person can go to the true motivation for the once invisible behaviour.

In relationships, the single greatest challenge to be met is to develop an awareness of one’s own habitual response by receiving feedback from the other, and then to reflect upon the primary motivation that caused the behaviour and discover the impact those behaviors have had on the other. The central dilemma in all relationships is that human beings are blind to their habitual response, but only too aware of how the habitual responses of others impact on them. All too often the impact of another’s habitual response is assumed to be motivated by the same motivations of the affected party, which may or may not be true. To discover the true motivation, the ‘blind’ person must first see.

The Enneagram describes the 9 unconscious and invisible networks of habitual response. The Enneagram does not and cannot describe anything about the nature of human experience beyond habitual response. Human unconscious response is an expression of human desire or human will. The Enneagram does not describe human potential but the human limitations to achieving that potential. Some new age authors of the Enneagram claim that the Enneagram describes states of higher, even divine consciousness while in effect it describes the human obstacles to the full expression of the divine will.

On the way to an absolute surrender to the divine comes the practice of active virtue, which has also been referred to as the ‘agere contra’, or the conscious and active move against the human desire or passion. This is not a mechanical response, rather requiring great discipline, self-awareness and patience, but it is finally rewarded when the divine moves to accept the human surrender. At this point, the human will is completely and utterly fused with the divine will moving through the cosmos.

For example, when fear rises in a Type six to the point of incontinence, the practice of active virtue involves a courageous continence where the natural desire to panic under the influence of incontinence is thwarted by a steadfast hanging on and persistence on the part of the person.


The Australian Enneagram Community (AEC) is a community based organisation that offers Panel Series, workshops, colloquiums and other opportunities throughout the year to learn about the enneagram.


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