Enneagram and Shame


(If you would prefer to consume this episode in audio format, Click Here)

 (If you would prefer to consume this episode in audio format, Click Here)

 (If you would prefer to consume this episode in audio format, Click Here)

Shame manifests differently for each type, and as with all our Enneagram work, we must start with self-observation. Getting to know the nuances of how shame shows up for us can help us better identify it and begin to root it out. This is SO important because the nature of shame it that it is most powerful when it is hidden to us and we believe the SHAME we feel is TRUE. 

Only when we identify shame as such, can we distance ourselves from it and no longer allow ourselves to internalize it's toxic message. 

Now, as I dive into how shame manifests for each type, it is SUPER important for me to add this disclaimer: These are STARTING POINTS from which to do your own observation. These are not prescriptive - these are not the end all be all of how shame manifests in each type, but simply a good place to begin observing yourself. 

When we talk about shame, obviously the Shame triad reigns supreme, but shame is present in all three. 

Now, each triad is focused on a different aspect of reality. 

Let's start with the body triad, which is focused on the totality of existence. How the world IS. Even almost apart from who we are or any of the ramifications of reality (that comes from the other two triads) but the body triad is focused on how things ARE. Period. 

Ones are focused on "Are things good/right?"
Nines are focus on "Are things in harmony and at peace?"
Eights are focused on "Are things just?"

Because of this, each type will react to their perception of the totality of existence not being "right" in a different way: 

Eights: Vengeance against injustice
Nines: Disengaging/Merging/Disappearing
Ones: Inability to stop fixing and improving

As these three types look at the world, the reality of what IS...we can see how their perception of lack influences their reactions. 

Now as we pull this into shame, we have to consider that shame is a response to feeling either not enough, or too much in any situation. 

So, how would that influence the body triad?

Ones: I was NOT ENOUGH to make this world (or myself) right -or- In trying to make things right I come across as TOO MUCH to others. 

Nines: I was NOT ENOUGH to be seen, to matter, to be connected with -or- If there is external chaos stemming from the Nine asserting themselves they will feel the shame of being TOO MUCH. 

Eights: I bring my energy to make things right and others receive my energy as TOO MUCH -or- I did everything I could and I was NOT ENOUGH to turn the tide, change the world.

*Eights convert all emotions into anger. So to actually feel shame may be something foreign to some Eights because the minute shame starts to be felt it can almost immediately get converted to anger. Eights may need to slow down and get quiet and vulnerable with themselves to actually discover shame in themselves. (but not always, many Eights are well acquainted with shame)

Let's move on to the Heart Triad and Shame. 

This is probably the easiest triad to talk about shame around because the Heart triad is the SHAME triad. This means the primary emotion for the Heart triad types (2, 3, 4) is Shame. 

We set ourselves up for shame when we believe there is a "right" way or a proper way to do things, or that the way others respond to us is setting an arbitrary standard around which we have to "measure up to". This creates an ever shifting standard leaving us forever in a state of shame and "not enough-ness".

If the body triad is focused on the totality of existence and objective reality, the heart triad is focused on: "What does that mean for my IDENTITY?".

Heart triad looks up at the body triad, learns that there is a perceived "not right-ness" either in goodness, peace or justice, and interprets that through the lens of: "What does this say about my identity? Who I am?"

How does shame manifest for each of these heart triad types?

TWOS: My identity is connected to how loved I am. Love must be proved by action. When it's not, I feel SHAME: not enough -or- too much. 

THREES: My identity is connected to how much I am respected. How much value have others instilled in me? If that attention or respect wains or disappears, I feel SHAME: not enough -or- too much. 

FOURS: My identity is connected to my authentic expression and reception. How much space am I given by others to be my fullest, deepest, truest self? If I am not given that space and acceptance, I feel SHAME: not enough -or- too much. 

Because for the Heart triad, worth is tied to how others respond to them, we can see that Shame would be the emotion at the surface for these three types. These three types take what is most precious to them, their very identity, and have intertwined it with something that is completely outside of their control which makes them feel shame and also a sense of powerlessness. In response to that powerlessness each of these types try to image craft. It's a way of retaining some sense of control.

"If I can control how you perceive me, then I have some sense of control over my own identity." But this control is an illusion and often ends in each type feeling deep shame.

For heart triad types to find healing and freedom in this area of shame it is imperative that they begin to do work around un-hooking their worth from the responses of others. Energetically de-tangling their worth from external responses. Pulling their power back from the hands of others. Re-affirming that their worth is precious, stable, strong and grounded in something other than the responses they receive day in- day out. 

Rounding out this exploration of shame and each type, let's look at the Head triad. 

How do the types in the Head triad experience shame? Well, the Head triad experiences the world through the focus of "am I safe?" Rather than looking at the objective state of reality (body) or how that reality impacts identity (heart) the Head triad looks at how objective reality impacts safety and security. 

Because of this, we call the Head triad, the Fear triad. Fear is the primary emotion for types 5, 6 and 7.

Even though Fear is right at the surface, Shame still exists, we simply have to dig a little deeper to find it. 

FIVES: Fives reaction to fear is to gather resources - with information being one of the most important resources. A craving for competency is what drives Fives and makes them feel secure. But, there is always MORE information out there, and when Fives feel that tension of never having ALL the information they need. When Fives feel that they don't have enough to protect themselves they can feel NOT ENOUGH - which is the basis of shame for all of us. 

SIXES: Rather than creating a storehouse of resources like the Fives do, Sixes seek out safety and security in relational support. Because they are so connected to their communities the sense of shame will show up when they feel NOT ENOUGH for those around them. What if they overcommit? What if they can't deliver? Underneath this fear-fueled desire to support and be supported Sixes will find shame when they can't show up as they would have liked to or others don't show up for them as they were hoping. 

SEVENS: Rather than going on the defensive with their fear, Sevens go on the offensive. Sevens out-run their fear. Offset their fears with pleasure, and options and experiences. The problem is, Sevens can never stop if they don't believe they have enough in themselves to handle any fearful scenarios, outrunning is the only option. NOT ENOUGH to face the darkness brings up shame for Sevens. TOO MUCH for those around them (because of the constant doing, and going, and options and more) will also bring up the other side of Shame for Sevens. 

For all of the types, pressing into a sense of TRUST - in God, in the Universe, in your own intuition - is KEY to letting go of fear and shame. You can learn more about this in my Membership, I speak a lot about the spiritual practice that help us expand our capacity for trust. 

If Shame is something you are working on leaving behind (it can be SUCH an inhibitor to relationships especially!!) I invite you to join me in a FREE 5 Day Relationships Challenge. We are going to look at what keeps us from showing up as our whole selves in relationships and how doing Enneagram work can expand us to greater health in these relationships. 

CLICK HERE to join the Free Challenge. 



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