philosophy

The Enneagram Centers of Intelligence

FIRST PUBLISHED:

July 5, 2021

“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

– ALBERT EINSTEIN

As humans, we operate from three main centers of intelligence – the Body, which is our instinctual nature; the Heart, our emotional center; and the Head, our intellectual core. We use these three centers to process the world around us and decide how we’d like to respond to it. 

The Body

“Trust your instincts. Intuition doesn’t lie.”

– OPRAH WINFREY

The most common emotion for the Body Center is anger, and those who have primary access to this center tend to react before thinking. You’ll know if you’re accessing your Body Center when you feel it in your actual body. Here are a few ways body intelligence might be described:

  • “That made my blood boil.”
  • “I have butterflies in my stomach.”
  • “My skin is crawling.”
  • “I had a gut feeling about that.”

Types Eight, Nine, and One are all within this center, but have different ways of coping with their anger. 

TYPE EIGHT

A Type Eight will externally process their anger. They can easily and quickly access this emotion as a defense mechanism to avoid vulnerability and being hurt by others. They have a strong reaction to perceived injustice, and often respond to instinctual anger in a physical way – through raising their voice or making their presence larger and more intimidating.

TYPE NINE

A Type Nine is out of touch with their anger. They disconnect with the emotion in order to maintain harmony. They would rather deny this emotion than let it disrupt their peace. Feeling threatened, they may numb darker feelings by focusing on an idealized, utopian world.

TYPE ONE

A Type One internalizes their anger. Because of their self-critical nature, they restrain from expressing this emotion and instead react to it in more passive behavior as a way of maintaining control of themselves and their environment. Instead, anger may show signs in their strong opinions. 

UTILIZING THE BODY

Our Body Center is what allows us to feel alive, present in the moment, and connected to the physical world around us. When we are out of touch with our body, we lose a sense of confidence and the feeling that we are part of the world.

The Body Center instinctually cultivates generosity, protectiveness, courage, support, unity, hard-work, and practicality. It’s also responsible for neglect, rage, rigidity, stubbornness, criticism, and domination.

To reconnect with your body, try moving and stretching, or taking a few deep breaths. Slow down and become aware of every part of your body, gaining awareness of your surroundings and “cooling down” the parts of your physical body that are holding onto unnecessary tension.

THE HEART

“Your heart is the size of an ocean; go find yourself in its hidden depths. 

— RUMI

The most common emotion for the Heart Center is shame, and those who have primary access to this center tend to heavily self-reflect. You’ll recognize that you’re accessing the Heart Center when you feel intense emotion. Here are a few ways heart intelligence might be described:

  • “I was embarrassed.”
  • “That hurt my feelings.”
  • “I miss you.”
  • “I’m so happy.”

Types Two, Three, and Four are all within this center, but have different ways of coping with their shame.

TYPE TWO

A Type Two will outwardly direct their feelings towards others. They are highly empathetic and caring, trying to earn the affection of others to avoid shame. Their fixation on meeting others’ needs may distort their awareness of their own needs and emotions.

TYPE THREE

A Type Three is out of touch with their feelings, and especially their shame. They need positive affirmation and validation from others in order to build up their self-worth. Through success and accomplishment, they build up an image for others to see that masks a feeling of shame that lives within.

TYPE FOUR

A Type Four internalizes their shame and uses it as a form of identity. They are most in touch with their longing and incompleteness, using emotion as a way to self-protect from rejection. They dramatize lesser emotions as a way to gather the attention of others and avoid deeper feelings of inadequacy.

UTILIZING THE HEART

Our Heart Center is what allows us to find meaning, value, and purpose within the world. When we are out of touch with our heart, we lose a sense of identity and the feeling that we matter.

The Heart Center instinctually cultivates sensitivity, enthusiasm, creativity, care, empathy, purpose, and compassion. It’s also responsible for pride, competition, self-absorption, dissatisfaction, impatience, and privilege.

To reconnect with your heart, try journaling as a way to process your emotions, or giving yourself the release of a good cry. Reach out and share your experience with a close friend and remind those you care about that you love them. By taking pleasure in the things that truly bring you joy, you’ll reconnect to your purpose and be able to let go of what no longer serves you.

THE HEAD

“The mind unconsciously loves problems because they give you an identity of sorts. 

— ECKHART TOLLE

The most common emotion for the Head Center is fear, and those who have primary access to this center tend to overanalyze. You’ll recognize that you’re accessing the Head Center when you ruminate over a problem. Here are a few ways mind intelligence might be described:

  • “Let me think about it.”
  • “I realized something the other day.”
  • “I don’t understand.”
  • “I hadn’t considered that.”

Types Five, Six, and Seven are all within this center, but have different ways of coping with their fear.

TYPE FIVE

A Type Five reacts to their fear by withdrawing and retreating into their mind. They reduce their personal needs and do as much as they can to prepare and master something in order to feel safe. They tend to observe, rather than anticipate, in order to better understand their surroundings and analyze the situation.

TYPE SIX

A Type Six reacts to their fear with anxiety and planning for the worst-case scenario. They are always thinking about what could go wrong and planning for a potential crisis. They look to organizations and authority figures for guidance, safety, and reassurance; however they rebel against this figure as soon as they feel too dependent as another form of self-protection.

TYPE SEVEN

A Type Seven avoids their fear by turning every situation into a positive perception. They counteract feelings of discomfort and pain by seeking out the new and exciting. They most fear being trapped by dark emotions, so they do anything to avoid them and keep their mind otherwise occupied.

UTILIZING THE MIND

Our Head Center is what allows us to find safety, guidance, and understanding within the world. When we are out of touch with our mind, we lose the ability to stay grounded and feel supported.

The Head Center instinctually cultivates perception, thoughtfulness, loyalty, cleverness, imagination, adventure, and dependability. It’s also responsible for isolation, anxiety, pessimism, detachment, preoccupation, and paranoia.

To reconnect with your mind, start a meditation practice that will allow you the solitude to pay attention to your thoughts and clear the mental clutter. Remind yourself of your beliefs and what you know to be true, and work your way to clarity from there. Holding onto an anchor of truth when fear is triggered will help you to calm your anxiety and weather the storms of life.

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