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How the 9 Enneagram Profiles Help Us Understand Our Unique View of the World with Our Filters

Have you ever talked with someone about an event or an experience you had together and realized that the memories and perspectives that each have on that occasion are so different that it seems the two of you did not witness the same event or do not share the same experience?

Perceiving different things, as well as assigning different meanings and interpretations to these things, are common effects that happen because our perception and our focus of attention are not objective, but based on our unique personality and state of mind at the time of an event. This effect is called 'world view' or 'paradigms', which are mainly influenced by our unconscious drivers and beliefs (well described by the Enneagram).

The philosopher Marcus Aurelius reminds us that our perception is not the only objective truth, but rather a slice of the whole truth, tempered by our own needs, concerns, motivations, fears, and beliefs. Why does it happen? Because, in order to function, humans have an evolutionary need to filter information overload and complexity, and then prioritize certain signals from the environment. As our brains are limited in their efforts to filter all external and internal stimuli, our paradigms then take it upon themselves to drive the filtering process through our unique way of being.

How the 9 Enneagram Profiles Help Us Understand Our Unique Worldviews

Different Enneagram profiles arise from fundamentally different worldviews or paradigms that shape and drive an individual's core motivations, internal chatter, and focus of attention. Enneagram theorist Jerome Wagner talks about the 9 Ennea-types as being “9 Lenses in the World”. This is an apt description of how our Enneagram profile filters and acts as a set of lenses that affect what we see, what meaning we make of those observations, and how we react.

Each Enneagram Type can be understood as a particular set of characteristics and behaviors. We see the world as a reflection of ourselves, shaping a distinct pattern of attention that can create accurate vision in some areas but huge blind spots in other areas. For example, imagine a stressful accident, such as a building collapsing, with a team of 9 responders getting to the scene, each person representing one of the 9 types of the Enneagram. The accident scene is chaotic, full of noise, images, people moving about, smoke and damage – an overload of information and stimuli that requires the brain to filter and sort. In this process of sorting and taking stock of the scene to decide what to prioritize first, each Enneagram type is likely to perceive a different set of facts, elements, and possibilities, based on their own lenses:

  • An Ennea 1 can sense what is broken or out of place. They can focus on finding out who is responsible for the accident.

  • An Ennea 2 can sense the people in the situation, their expressions, and who needs help. They may even ignore their own security needs.

  • An Ennea 3 can immediately begin to prioritize what to address first, adopting a pragmatic approach.

  • An Ennea 4 may be initially taken by their feelings and reflect on the deeper meaning of the event, seeing parallels and archetypes.

  • An Ennea 5 may likely feel the need to pause, take a step back, and evaluate the situation before acting.

  • An Ennea 6 may be the first to notice any unstable structures that may yet fall as they are looking for danger and risks.

  • An Ennea 7 can understand the scene completely and start troubleshooting quickly, springing into action before others even know what this 7 is thinking.

  • An Ennea 8 can see what needs to be done and take the initiative. They can also take an active role in coordinating and directing others.

  • An Ennea 9 can sense the different groups involved in the response and move to help them coordinate with each other.

None of these 9 Enneagram types would be incorrect in how they view the situation and react to it – these are all real and valid observations, and all 9 can make appropriate contributions. However, if this group of 9 different people were to stop and try to come to a consensus on what is going on and what the priorities or the correct course of action would be before taking action, they would find it very difficult to come to an agreement.

Each of the 9 Enneagram types represents a point of view that filters stimuli from your environment. As we've seen, this filtering tends to lead to a certain pattern of thinking, feeling and acting in response to the world - after all, if all you see is danger, then anxiety is the only reasonable response, and if all you see is power, fighting for control makes perfect sense, and so on.

As our lenses are linked to our blind spots (the areas that our particular Ennea type filters or excludes from our awareness), it is important to consciously understand what “lenses” we are using and especially to learn ways to exchange them for other perspectives. The Enneagram offers you a journey of integration and expansion of perspectives, where you can identify the worldviews and filters (which you may not be aware of) that may be limiting your attention, choices and decision-making.

I invite you to identify your Enneagram profile on a journey of self-discovery and growth, exploring your unique lenses and learning strategies for accessing different perspectives when needed, creating more balance and awareness in your life. See here how this process works. You also can get in touch with us at to discuss the best solution for your needs!

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