The Essential Enneagram by David Daniels

To discover your type, I suggest you purchase David Daniels’ book The Essential Enneagram, and read the nine paragraphs at the beginning. Select three that most resonate with your life experience and read the descriptions of these three types.

Or, you can visit the Palmer/Daniels’ website,, and find these same paragraphs and descriptions listed there. Because our Enneagram type is about motivation, not behavior, no one can really type another person. Self-observation is key in discovering your own type.—Sandra Smith


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The Heart Center

Enneagram Types Two, Three, and Four

Written By Sandra Smith

Enneagram: The Heart CenterThis article is the second of three that explore the nine Enneagram personality types and suggests specific spiritual practices and prayers for each type. The Enneagram acknowledges our three centers of intelligence—head, heart and gut— and situates three personality types in each of these centers. This article will explore the types in the heart center— types Two, Three and Four. Types in the head and body centers are discussed in the separate article.

Keep in mind that as you read about these three Enneagram types, that we are more than our type or ego structure.Our personality type isn’t the whole story. The structure is what we “lead” with. It is familiar, and its landscape is well-traveled. In times of stress, our fall-back position (automatic response) is this type structure in an exaggerated form.  

We become over-identified with our personality’s perspective and fall in a trance of sorts. However, beyond this automatic self is a deeper self, a present self that manifests love and compassion and is grounded in this moment. This is our connection to God, our Essence, our Ground of Being. The gifts of our  personality style can assist us in our journey to our Essence and once we land there, our Essential Selves can help to soften our type structure.

The HeaRT Center

As mentioned in the previous article, we all have three centers of intelligence, three ways of “knowing.” The Enneagram types in the “heart center” know through mood, tone and feeling. They rely on emotional intelligence first and foremost. Relating, connecting and impressing are of particular importance to these personality types. They are often referred to as the image types because they are so externally referenced with a need for approval (Two), a need for recognition (Three) and a need to be seen as unique (Four). Each of these types can alter their image to fit the occasion. Rather than feeling emotions directly, they tend to derive their feelings from the responses and reactions of others. Access to authentic emotions is often blocked or limited. Discernment helps to separate authentic feeling from performed emotion.

A central issue for people in this center is shame. Shame arises as these types consider “Am I seen for who I am or am I simply an image?” and “Is there a self behind my image?” With attention moving out to others in order to receive attention, the inner life can become neglected and emotions that don’t fit an image get pushed aside. Spiritual work for all three types is a turning inward, becoming aware of feelings and allowing genuine emotions to surface. Alone time and quiet reflection allow heart types to drop beneath their image and connect with authentic feelings. When the heart is open and clear, these types can hold the creative tension between polarities and offer a discerning wisdom.  

Types Two, Three, and Four have lots in common, however each has its own motivation and focus of attention. We’ll now consider the nuances of each and the practices that can deepen self-understanding and compassion.

Type Two                                          Type Three                                      Type Four

Enneagram Type Two: The Giver

Energy Follows Attention
The focus on others' needs directs Twos away from themselves while over-giving and over-extending to get approval and avoid feeling needy. Highly sensitive to others they value, Twos notice the likes, dislikes, and strengths of others, and they weave this information into conversations, sometimes in the form of flattery. Winning others over through compliments, supporting, or helping, especially those “tough nuts to crack,” is juice for this type. However, over-giving creates the expectation that Twos will continue in this same mode. Not wanting to disappoint for fear of rejection, Twos find themselves living for and attending to others while their own lives shrivel up. Eventually resentment arises as their constant attention on the other keeps their own desires and needs pushed aside.

The Path and the Barrier
The path and the barrier in the journey to the divine heart for type Two is the conversion from helping to receiving. Twos help to get approval and affirmation from people they value. Others’ approval feels like a lifeline, and in the trance of type, Twos live their lives to avoid non-approval. A continuous check of their “approval ratings” maintains an other-oriented focus. Rarely taking front and center stage, Twos often, but not always, work in the background supporting those in power, working to become indispensable. The shift to receiving occurs when Twos can believe themselves to be worthy of unearned help, unearned gifts, unearned love. We are all dependent on each other, no exceptions. When the focus shifts from other’s needs to their own, Twos have found the path home. “I need...” is a posture that welcomes others and the Holy One.

Receiving as a Spiritual Practice
From the Two perspective, receiving can feel needy, the core avoidance of Twos. Yet, we all know the joy in giving to others without anticipating anything in return. Why deny others that joy?  Receiving does not disempower us. It enriches our relationships. Receiving is an act of hospitality and plays a role in how we care for those we love.

In healthy relationships, mutuality is grounded in the flow of giving and receiving. To resist receiving creates a barrier to one’s own heart and fuels the unconscious belief that “I am unworthy unless I’m giving.” This is at the root of the Twos's resistance. They believe that love must be earned, and approval equals love.

Receiving requires a posture of receptivity and, for all of us, the vice of pride is a formidable barrier to moving into a posture of “I need you.” Our hidden agendas and control dissolve in this posture. Willfulness becomes willingness and we move in a natural flow, a holy unfolding. Categories of dispensable and indispensable fade as we are all valued and loved equally for our beingness.  As we stand in the truth of who we are, our “yes” becomes a true “yes” because we can, if appropriate, voice our “no.”  No longer held captive by pride, the heart engages in genuine giving. Released from approval ratings, Twos become teachers not only in genuine helping, but in gracious receiving as well. Receptivity is the landscape of spiritual experience.

Threshold Practices     
Our practices are ways of saying “yes” to our journey to the divine heart. At the threshold of what has been and what can be, Twos’s conversion process will be supported by these practices. Keep in mind, that these practices are designed to bring up the very thing that our ego tells us to resist. You will  experience discomfort; please allow these feelings. Feel these feelings, and they will dissipate. What we resist, persists. So allow feelings of discomfort, sitting with them with open heart.

These practices are designed to assist in the creation of new neural pathways in order that new patterns of behavior can be birthed, patterns that allow us more creative options and that deepen our heart’s capacity to give and receive love.

• Give yourself permission to withdraw from a group or commitment when things get too overwhelming.
• Practice saying, “No” to people you value so that your “yes” can be an honest “yes.”
• Notice how you alter yourself when seeking approval?
• Consider those with whom you can more easily receive. What is it that makes receiving possible?
•  Each week, give without anyone knowing it. How does that feel to you?
• Ask your heart, “What do you want to receive? need to receive?”
• When your body is about to move to help or assist someone, remain still for 10 seconds. Breathe through any unease. Observe what arises within yourself and in the external situation.
• Have a practice of stillness each day that allows for uninterrupted quiet for 10 minutes.

This day’s rhythm is designed to create a sense of freedom for Twos, freedom to tend to their own needs. As much as you can, use this Sabbath to “help yourself” to whatever you needed during the week that you neglected. Make a list of your needs and be willing to experience these needs to reconnect with yourself. On this day, disconnect from those whose approval you most seek. Redirect your attention when your mind’s focus goes to the lives of others and their wants or needs. Be watchful that your energy stay with you, rather than using it to telephone or email others.

Each Sabbath, ask others to do something for you. This may be to simply give you some time to yourself! (If you are a grandparent, this is not a day to take care of the grandchildren!)  Create a sacred space where you can read, meditate and engage stillness for at least 20 minutes as a part of your Sabbath. Reflect on your own limitations as a way of protecting yourself from overextending. Take time to reflect on your own inherent goodness remembering yourself as made in the image of the Divine.

Prayer for the Journey
Loving Lap, as I rest in your care, anchor me in my humility that I may know myself more fully, honoring my gifts as well as my limitations. I desire to be real. Guide me in discerning what is mine to do and not to do. Empty me of my need for approval and my lists of all who need me. Guide me in the ways of being receptive, that I may participate more fully in my own life, offering myself compassion as well as others. Dissolve my pride, Holy One, that I may be more available to my own needs, and to the present unfolding without agendas. Open my heart to the support of others. Remind me of my interdependence so that I no longer inflate my own abilities but am grounded in the reality of who I am. Grant me a willingness to be open to what arises, that I may find my freedom in your unconditional love.

Enneagram Type Three:The Performer

Energy Follows Attention
Threes focus their attention on tasks that need doing, on producing results. A performance-driven life has few pauses, and the fast pace serves as a barrier to Threes’s emotional life. Feelings get in the way of doing and remain as a fuzzy unknown entity in the background. An efficient use of time to get the most done is juice for this type. The unconscious belief that “nothing will get done unless I do it” is a driving force behind their behavior, and  this works to separate Threes as the only one who can get things done efficiently. They easily lose hope in others’ ability to do and move quickly to action. The self in relation to the whole is replaced with the separate self, the separate doer. Others appreciate this type’s reliability and efficiency and Threes are looked to for their abilities. However, an inability to connect emotionally creates a distance, and Threes sabotage their heart’s desire for connection by maintaining the image of success. The work is to “know thyself” not just the presentation.

The Path and the Barrier
The journey to the divine heart for Threes is understanding the relationship between love and being. Threes form their identity through activities and performance. “I do therefore I am loved” is the internal belief. If the doing ceases, love is not forthcoming. Non-doing brings anxiety to the surface, so Threes keep a fast pace, achieving in impressive ways and seeking recognition for their successes. Feelings are suppressed in service of the impressive performance. Though we can weave emotions into our doing, impressing and feeling rarely coexist. Impressing is a mind game that stuffs emotions and does not engage the heart. However, when awakened, Threes realize that our emotional life is a part of being human and that we connect with others when we share from the heart.

Feeling as a Spiritual Practice
Our culture often seems removed from feelings, which creates an overlay on all of us to live in ways that distance us from our emotions. Busyness, a hurried pace, efficiency,  a “time is money” illusion, all serve to bring our attention up and forward and away from our inner terrain. Making time and space for feelings is a foreign notion to many of us, but when we avoid our hearts, our discernment turns to judgment, compassion to reaction, our love to fear.

Creating space for our feelings makes us more available to ourselves as well as others and allows our gentleness to emerge. Acknowledging and honoring our grief, sadness, disappointments, and delight connects us more intimately with our life’s experience. Feelings arise naturally when we invite them. We cannot think our feelings into existence or demand they show up. For Threes, over-doing is a sure sign that feelings are just below the surface in need of attention. When, over an extended time, Threes (or any of us) deceive themselves into believing that they are their image, an underlying sadness can develop from rejecting the authentic self, as Threes wonder, “Does anyone really know me?” When Threes can relax into the sadness that arises when feeling unknown, alone, and the only one who “can do,”  they can find  the support of and connections with others they have been seeking. Feelings connect and hope is found in the heart.

Threshold Practices   
Our practices are ways of saying “yes” to our journey to the divine heart. At the threshold of what has been and what can be, Threes’s conversion process will be supported by these practices. Keep in mind, that these practices are designed to bring up the very thing that our ego tells us to resist. You will  experience discomfort; please allow these feelings. Feel these feelings and sooner than later, they will dissipate. What we resist, persists. So allow feelings of discomfort, sitting with them with open heart.

These practices are designed to assist in the creation of new neural pathways in order that new patterns of behavior can be birthed, patterns that allow us more creative options and that deepen our heart’s capacity to give and receive love.

• Consider who you most want to impress and why. When with them, make an effort to relax your habit of shape shifting.
•  Notice your impatience when you are thwarted from doing or producing. Practice feeling the impatience and breathing through it, knowing there is enough time.
• When doubt or fear arise, don’t dismiss them, but see them as teachers.
• When deciding to “act” ask yourself, “Am I doing this for recognition or because I want to?” Check in with your heart’s wisdom.
• From your heart space, consider, “Who am I when I’m not producing?”
• Notice when you are rising early and working late. Does your body feel fatigued? Are you overdoing?
• Each day, practice moving more slowly and speaking more slowly.
• Each day, practice taking the breath from the chest to the belly as you relax your shoulders and sit back in your seat. These pauses can refresh you and enable you to be more present for the next task.

This day’s structure is created to slow down Three’s pace, so emotions can surface. This day is a rest from efficiency, producing and performing. Forego your “list of tasks” on Sabbath so your attention can be more directed to your being. By moving slowly, speaking slowly, and eliminating tasks, you will be better able to engage your heart and the feelings that may arise when you invite them to linger a while. Practice uninterrupted stillness—meditation or prayer—and engage for at least 20 minutes to allow the Holy Whisperings to emerge that remind us of the hope we find in Divine Presence. When the 20 minutes is up, stay another three minutes grounding yourself  in order to carry the effects of stillness with you so you can add presence to your doing.

As much as possible, be with yourself and ask, “What do I enjoy doing just for me?” “What does my heart want?” You may find yourself engaging a hobby, reading poetry, gardening, watching a movie. The key is to relax into the body and be present to yourself rather than  outwardly focused.

Prayer for the Journey
God of Still Waters, create in me a refuge for accepting myself, a place where I am fully known and loved. Dissolve my pretenses that diminish my genuineness. Empty me of the masks and facades, my images that blind me to who I am and keep me deceiving myself and others. Guide me deep, slow me down, open my heart, so that the great love within me flows naturally with no need to impress or support an image. Teach me to honor my fear and doubt, to remember the hesitant one within me that I push aside to keep up my impressive performing. Remind me to allow this one to have a voice in my life that I may receive her/his wisdom. Divine Lover of my being, be my foundation as I journey to my heart and express my feelings—my sadness, my anger, my delight—those emotions I hold in check to protect my image of the moment. For I am a lovable and loved being and offer gratitude for those in my life who see me real and  love me. 

Enneagram Type Four: The Tragic Romantic

Energy Follows Attention
With a focus of attention on what is missing, the energy for Fours goes toward seeking, searching and longing. Fours desire deep connection and emotional depth and believe that being unique, different, or special can help them to connect. Though the flair or drama may initially serve to connect Fours with others, it may run its course quickly and have the opposite result: disconnection. 

Intense emotion feels comfortable for Fours, who often mistake their feelings for reality, and moods can rule the day. The Four “addiction” is to the peak experience. Time between peak experiences can be difficult because it seems simply ordinary. Fours see the ordinary as a place of disconnection and, thus, avoid ordinariness as they seek the emotional intensity of peak experiences.

Fours remain ungrounded and saturated with  longing when envy is in control, conjuring up the belief that the grass is greener over there. Feelings of inadequacy weave their way into the mind when Fours compare themselves to that “greener grass.”

The Path and the Barrier
The path to the divine heart for type Four lies in the conversion from longing to appreciating. One of the primary illusions guiding this type is that they are separated from Source, from the Divine. Feeling disconnected, Fours spend time seeking what they deem is missing. Theirs is a great longing to reconnect at a deep level. For type Four, emotions seem to be a connecting line. When emotion and longing pair up, it feels juicy. Longing becomes more important than attaining. Appreciating what is present gets pushed aside as Fours long for what is absent and remain blind to the gifts and the goodness in self, other, and in the present moment.

Appreciating as a Spiritual Practice
From time to time, all of us find ourselves feeling lacking. We aren’t enough. What we have and who we are just doesn’t compare with the lives of others. We feel disappointed. Appreciation for what is seems miles away.

Gratitude, or appreciation, as spiritual practice needs a structure to have an impact on our lives. We cannot simply decide to appreciate instead of long. Appreciation as practice is not a superficial response to “nice things,” but a discipline that evolves. It develops within us as we transition in and out of our personal cycles of despair and joy, turmoil and contentment, learning from each phase. Gratitude embraces all of life, not just the easy fun parts.

Creating certain times during the day to be grateful helps to cultivate this sense. Before or after meals, when we greet the day, and when we end our day are all times that this practice can be easily woven into our daily living. Once we begin using our appreciation muscle, it begins to show up more. Our heart’s openness is connected to our ability to allow appreciation to permeate our lives. When appreciating is the heart’s posture, longing dissolves and Fours discover they are the ones they have been seeking. Comparisons fade as Fours see that the present contains all. Drama transforms into calm and Fours find beauty in life’s ordinariness and realize, that at the core of life, it is all holy, all extraordinary.

Threshold Practices
Our practices are ways of saying “yes” to our journey to the divine heart. At the threshold of what has been and what can be, Fours’s conversion process will be supported by these practices. Keep in mind, that these practices are designed to bring up the very thing that our ego tells us to resist. You will  experience discomfort; please allow these feelings. Feel these feelings and sooner than later, they will dissipate. What we resist, persists. So allow feelings of discomfort, sitting with them with open heart.

These practices are designed to assist in the creation of new neural pathways in order that new patterns of behavior can be birthed, patterns that allow us more creative options and that deepen our heart’s capacity to give and receive love.

• Notice when your mind goes into a comparing state. In these moments, bring something to mind for which you are grateful.
• As each day ends, journal the things and people in your day for which you are grateful.
• Notice stories that focus on abandonment, creating melancholy moods. Practice shifting
 your focus of attention when these arise.
• Practice sensing or feeling a light-hearted heart. What is that like for you?
• When sadness is ruling your mind and heart, ask, “What is behind my sadness?” Feel that and continue this process of looking behind until you get to the authentic emotion. Feel this emotion until you find joy arising.
• When you find yourself wandering the “dark side of the moon” try playing some lower chakra music and moving your body to its sounds and rhythms.
• When you discover yourself in the “loop” of an inner story, find a symbol or object of beauty to focus on and notice its details. Use your eyes, your vision, to bring you to present moment.
• Find ways to engage your creativity each day. Writing, acting, painting, creating altars—whatever form this takes, engage it.

This day is designed to honor the creative expression of Fours, which Fours tend to have in abundance. Whether taking in another’s creative expression (museum visits, theater, etc) or doing your own, allow yourself this day to engage your mind, heart, and body in creativity. Don’t just think creatively, implement your creativity in some way. Experiment with connecting your creative expression to gratitude. What color is gratitude?

Be comparison-free today. Each Sabbath, take time to write a thank you note to someone with whom you connected during the week, offering appreciation for the other. Write journal entries relating to your gratitude for specific people and events in the past week. Create an altar space of gratitude in your home for the coming week and allow it to be a symbol and reminder of your connection to the Creative Source. On this day, know that you are neither too much or not enough and that God’s love is because of who you are (not in spite of!).

Prayer for the Journey
Holy Creator, thank you for seeking me, for never stopping to seek me. Open me to the intimate connection between us that I may rest in your grace. Empty me of my shame and self-rejection and soften my comparing mind and my longing, that I may know gratitude for what I have and for who I am. Guide me in the path of appreciation for the beauty and possibility that surrounds me, that is within me. Sacred Source of my life, ground me in my inner calm and remind me of the holy and the beautiful that resides in the ordinary. Open my eyes and my heart to see your grace-filled touch in all of life. From this “seeing” I know there really are no ordinary moments, for all is sacred.