Let’s examine descriptions of each type and how their energy or ‘force field’ feels to the rest of us. In so doing, we gain another map reading tool in finding another individual’s type on the Enneagram map. Meeting another and honoring his/her energies vis a vis Enneagram type may also avail us of a profound tool for understanding and connecting.
The Head Triad-Types Five, Six, and Seven
Fear is the ruling emotion in the head center triad and types Five, Six, and Seven react in a manner peculiar to each.
Emotion: Fear internalized
Energy: ‘Invisible’ detachment
Five represents the internalized version of fear. The mental center creates a haven to which Fives can retreat. There the realm of ideas and knowledge will keep one safe. The drive for the Five is avarice: greed for knowledge and privacy. Observers fear being overwhelmed by outside stimuli, emotions, or events (surprises) for which they can’t prepare. Their strategic defense of withdrawal includes the retreat of their life force to an internal safe place, like a castle with the drawbridge pulled up.
Those of us who inhabit the rest of the Enneagram points experience this absence of vital being. The energy is simply ‘not there.’ The body is present and seems to occupy space, but the force field is gone. As a result, the Five can avoid being ‘seen’ and their presence at a meeting or event may not be remembered. As we try to find the Five, energetically, we may bring about the very feeling of intrusion they dread. If the Five has not withdrawn, we can experience running into a very strong boundary when we intrude. We seem to bounce off a powerful force field – a seeming ‘get back’ vibe.
When dealing with a Five’s energy, take special care to pull your own force field back close to your body. Be careful not to overwhelm the Five with your energy. Respect the Five’s strong boundaries.
Loyal Skeptic Six
Emotion: Fear externalized
Energy: Flight Six – ‘poised for flight, scanning’
Fight Six – jabbing confrontation
Six is the externalized version of fear. The mental center’s capacity for imagination is highly developed in the Loyal Skeptic Six, who continually imagines the worst-case scenario, and then plans to keep himself safe. Doubt is the drive that manifests as a natural outgrowth of fear – and Sixes doubt nearly everything.
Six’s two manifestations of Flight and Fight are very different ways of expressing fear, hence they have very different energetics. Phobic or Flight Six asks for confirmation. They scan the environment for dangers. Charm and warmth are used to disarm potential enemies. A childlike sweetness can evoke protector impulses in the rest of us. Their energy is high up around the head and out from the body in a full 360 degrees – swirling and scanning the environment like radar. Like a fearful rabbit, energy comes forward and scurries back in a repeating pattern as trust develops.
The Fight Six jumps right in with both feet when up against a scary, dangerous world. Action is the antidote to fear. They may even purposely engage in daredevil pursuits to exert control over or conquer their fear. Hidden motives can be brought to light if Six confronts others – provoking them until the truth comes out.
Not surprisingly, the energy of the Fight Six can feel jabbing to the rest of us. There is a push, then a withdrawal of the force field. Another push, withdrawal. It is the energetic equivalent of the Cowardly Lion confronting the Scarecrow and Tin Man. The Fight Six checks us out like a prizefighter circling his opponent, waiting for the worst.
Keep your answers, promises, and energy rock-solid when dealing with a Six. Stay focused and in your body. Don’t react to the Fight Six by pushing your force field at him – like the Cowardly Lion when slapped by Dorothy, he may crumple.
Emotion: Fear forgotten
Energy: Airy excitement
Sevens are also driven by fear but have forgotten they are afraid. The mental center is used as a diversion from what invokes fear, by imagining pleasant future options and possibilities. Even memory can be affected, so that only pleasant memories are easily recalled or a positive interpretation is placed on remembered, painful events.
The drive for the Optimist Seven is Gluttony – for life experience, adventure, and possibility. So the Seven races from course to course, frenetically sampling life’s banquet in an effort to stay high and optimistic.
The energy of Sevens feels airy and effervescent and their excitement can be contagious, but it may also prove exhausting. Like a ping pong ball giddily bouncing in a chaotic pattern, the Optimist is the energetic equivalent of Peter Pan, grabbing ideas like fairy dust from the air, then sprinkling and leaving them just as quickly when something else has grabbed their attention. If you try to focus or limit a Seven, swooooosh – their energy is out the door to Never-Neverland, even if their body remains in the room.
It is easy to get caught up in an Optimist’s enthusiastic energy and lose focus. When dealing with a Seven, stay focused and centered. Keep your own energy or force field lower in your body, closer to the ground. This will help prevent your getting caught up in the Seven’s whirlwind of visions and ideas, losing sight of your own priorities.
Lynette Sheppard has taught the Enneagram for over 25 years. She is the author of ‘The Everyday Enneagram’ and moderates the popular Everyday Enneagram Blog.