Enneagram Triads

Now, what are the Enneagram triads? Easy! Picture a blank page and draw a circle on it. The circle represents something indivisible: integrity. That’s the Enneagram’s frame. 

Now, draw a Y inside the circle. It will look like an upside-down peace symbol, right? This Y divides the circle into 3 wide triangles. These are the Triads. 

The top triangle is the Instinct triad, the left one is the Thinking triad and the right one is the Feeling triad. What does that mean? The triad shows us how we approach and react to our surroundings. They also determine our predominant emotions: Anger, Shame, or Fear, respectively. Still quite don’t get it? Let’s go deeper.

enneagram triads

What Are The Enneagram Triads?

The Enneagram triads are a key part of the Enneagram structure. Understanding what they mean gives you a deeper insight into each Enneagram type and how they interconnect. The triads are a subdivision of the Enneagram system based on the way each type relates to reality through three differential centers: head, heart, and gut. These are the different ways human beings perceive their experiences and their dominant emotions such as shame, fear, and anger. The Enneagram is an effective human and self-knowledge tool. Find more information here: What is the Enneagram?

Back to the Enneatypes… There are 9 of them divided into 3 groups called the Enneagram Triads. However, the members of these Triads are not all the same. Although they could be Enneagram Wings. Each member manages emotions differently, which is interesting as it shows that the way we react to things creates reality. To find out through which of these three caves you see light make sure you take the Enneagram Test.

The Enneagram Gut Triad

Gut Triad types have to deal with their dominant emotion: Anger. Wondering why? Well, first let’s see which Enneagram types belong to this Enneagram triad: Enneagram Type 9, Enneagram Type 8, and Enneagram Type 1 are the ones guided by instinct. 

Generally speaking, a gut feeling is usually not based on logic, data, or facts. You just have a feeling, a hunch. But it feels so right that you can’t just ignore it. Some people might even say that we should never ignore our gut feelings as they possess some kind of wisdom that keeps us safe.  

What these Enneagram Triad members have in common is that they trust their guts to satisfy their main desires. However, they do so very differently. Enneagram Type 9 seems to move away from instinct, while Enneagram Type 8 and Enneagram Type 1 respectively over and under express what their instinct says to them. As they lose control, the three members of this Enneagram Triad have to deal with anger either by letting it out or repressing it. It’s their gut they trust to determine whether the surroundings are safe or even fair, and any lack of balance can make these Enneatypes very uncomfortable. That’s when their defense mechanisms kick in. 

What Is The Gut Triad?

Enneagram Type 9s use their guts to smell conflict. As soon as they see conflict, they run from it. To preserve their peace of mind, Enneagram 9 types use their instincts to detect what’s wrong and keep away from it. They might self-repress sometimes to remain in that well-being state. Last but not least, anger is a stormy feeling for Enneagram Type 9, and unable to manage it, they deny it.

Enneagram Type 8s belong to the Gut Triad because they use their gut feelings to recognize danger or challenges and stay always one step ahead. Their instincts make them overexpress their anger as a way of marking their territory. Their wild style and desire to lead come from their need for control, as Enneagram 8 types need to feel able to protect themselves.

Enneagram Type 1s use their instincts to compare reality to their own ideals and standards. Their gut tells them what needs to be changed and what’s not fair, so they can take action. As they seek integrity, Enneagram 1 types try to ease their instincts and adjust them to what’s right.

The Enneagram Gut Triad & Overcoming Anger

Enneagram Type 9 denies their anger as they have a hard time dealing with conflicting feelings. They avoid, run away or even repress it. But anger is very stubborn, it wants to be heard. It’s also a natural feeling that helps us set some boundaries, something that Enneagram 9 types need to do to respect themselves. To overcome anger, they need to learn how to express it.

Enneagram Type 8 expresses anger towards the outside. Functionally, anger is their great ally when it comes to showing themselves as a dominant figure. It can be useful to keep danger away. At the same time, they feel deeply insecure and use anger to feel in control. To overcome anger, Enneagram 8 types need to find the self-confidence to embrace their own vulnerability.

Enneagram Type 1 usually tries to ease their anger. They feel that by controlling it they will keep their integrity and balance. Anger is a very intense emotion, and so it may feel excessive, out of limit. To overcome anger, Enneagram 1 types need to yield and listen to it. Keeping an open mind will help them cope with reality and increase their potential to change.

The Enneagram Heart Triad

Heart Triad types make their decisions based on their feelings, which is why they are also known as the feeling Triad. The Enneatypes that belong to this Triad are Enneagram Type 2, Enneagram Type 3, and Enneagram Type 4They are deeply connected with their feelings so they are able to easily acknowledge others’ feelings too. This Enneagram triad’s members hold their hearts in their hands, and they are very empathetic. They know how other people feel and make sure to embrace them when their feelings are not good. 

They do their best to feel accepted, cherished, and worthy of love, so they strive to connect with others in deep and committed relationships. Heart Triad types give themselves to others, and sometimes this unrestricted generosity leads them to neglect their own needs. Shame is the core emotion they are attached to, it’s their automatic response to unexpected and painful situations. They feel ashamed of themselves for being so open-hearted and defining themselves by other people’s opinions. The main challenge for Heart Triad types is to overcome shame and feel worthy for who they are.

What Is The Heart Triad?

Enneagram Type 2s are very kind and are usually concerned about other people’s needs, leading them to forget about their own. They are passionate and dedicated people who like to form deep and strong bonds and cherish intimacy. For that reason, Enneagram Type 2s tend to give others their heart as a way to guarantee they will, in some way, be loved back. So, it’s common for them to overexpress their feelings

Enneagram Type 3s are strong, skilled, and always achieve their goals. Although this ability may seem impressive, it comes from a deep thirst for recognition. When in good balance, Type Threes know their worth and reconnect with their feelings to get what they want.

Enneagram Type 4s are introverts so they constantly under-express their feelings. As they frequently withdraw into themselves, they are hard to approach. They are able to see and imagine amazing things where no one else could, but they aren’t confident enough to stand out. Enforcing their own identity is Enneagram Type 4’s main obstacle to shine.

The Enneagram Heart Triad & Overcoming Shame

Enneagram Type 2 often feels ashamed when all their efforts to connect or to satisfy other people’s needs aren’t enough. It’s a personal matter to them. They take the blame as if they were not worthy or capable of giving others what they need. To overcome the shame, Enneagram Type 2 needs to work on their self-awareness and understand there’s nothing they can do to be loved except for loving themselves. 

Enneagram Type 3 is an unstoppable goal achiever. They strive for recognition and have what it takes to succeed. However, on the inside they feel pressured. They believe that without a trophy they are worthless. When Enneagram Type 3 fail, they feel ashamed for not being good enough. Their biggest challenge is understanding that joy and self-respect should be a part of their processes.

Enneagram Type 4‘s shame comes from their unstable sense of identity. As they connect so much with their feelings and inner world, it gets hard for them to really know who they are. The biggest challenge Enneagram Type 4 faces is to express themselves. Once they do, they will see how beautifully complex they get when managing their feelings on the surface.

The Enneagram Head Triad

The Head Triad, also known as the Thinking Triad consists of Enneagram Type 5, Enneagram Type 6, and Enneagram Type 7. The core emotion they have to deal with is fear. Let’s understand why.

Thinking Triad members like to use their brains and always approach reality with rationality as they try to better understand things and unveil mysteries to feel resourceful. They are also very analytical people that only trust their own thoughts. That’s why it usually takes them some time to make decisions, especially when it’s something important. Being capable, feeling safe, and being able to enjoy life, are their main fears. And they will use the brightness to make sure their needs are fulfilled.

Their head is their guide, but it can get heavy too making them fall apart, as thinking too much might take them into mind mazes. Fear sets up all the alarms when they don’t have anything to hold on to and they, paradoxically, find what they were escaping from.

Being controlled by their heads feels great as it allows these Enneagram types to discover new things and encourage them to get into the unknown, but can get counterproductive when it disconnects them from their feelings and real-life experiences.

What Is The Head Triad?

Enneagram Type 5s are trademark members of this triad as they are the most self-isolating and often withdraw into their inner worlds. They are really smart people who love to think and observe life, and their thoughts are a way to gather information about reality. The problem is when Enneagram Type 5 gets lost in their thoughts and detaches from real life and other people. In that state, they can only shine into their mind’s universe.

Enneagram Type 6s are true idealists that are very committed to their values and principles. So, their heads work as a radar that is always analyzing other people’s attitudes towards them and different situations. They want to feel safe and supported. Observation is their gift and Enneagram Type 6s use this gift to reassure themselves.

Enneagram Type 7’s heads are an amusement park. As they’re very excited to live and gather as many experiences as they possibly can, their thoughts are constantly racing. It’s very challenging for Enneagram Type 7 to live in the present. They can’t simply focus on one thing and commit to it. As they fear losing chunks of life, they bounce from one thing to the other and end up getting lost.

The Enneagram Head Triad & Overcoming Fear

Enneagram Type 5 constantly thinks they are only worth it if they are the best at something. They strive to master any new thing they are into. To transcend, Enneagram Type 5 needs to learn how to express their thoughts, share their discovery process and let other people meet their inner world.

Learning to trust their inner compass is Enneagram Type 6‘s biggest challenge. The fear of being alone not able to make decisions and with no clear path, makes Enneagram Type 6 succumb to anxiety. Imagination can be a gift, but under the influence of fear, it can also be a horror movie. Type Sixes need to learn how to control their thoughts, calm down and trust their heart will know how to deal with whatever life brings their way.

As they have a natural sense of wonder, Enneagram Type 7 sees beauty in almost everything. They’re so afraid of missing on the best things, they end up diving into multiple experiences. This desperate relationship with reality makes them distracted and anxious. Finding the present’s unlimited beauty in simple things will bring Enneagram Type 7 back into their wise and calm joy, to properly channel their own energy.