Enneagram 9

Recognizing Nines
Type Nine exemplifies the desire for wholeness, peace, and harmony in our world. Nines are easygoing, emotionally stable people. They are open and unself-consciously serene, trusting and patient with themselves and others. Their openness allows them to be at ease with life and with the natural world. As a result, others generally find it easy to be in their company. They are genuinely good-natured and refreshingly unpretentious. Because of their peaceful demeanor, Nines have a talent for comforting and reassuring others and are able to exert a calming, healing influence in difficult or tense situations. They make steady, supportive friends who can listen uncritically to others’ problems as well as share their good times. In work settings, they can be excellent mediators, able to harmonize groups and bring people together by really healing conflicts.

Nines can also be quite imaginative and creative, and they enjoy expressing themselves in symbolic ways—through music, dance, images, or mythic stories, for instance. They tend to look at things holistically, focusing on the ways in which seemingly unrelated ideas or events are connected and part of a greater whole. Indeed, Nines are drawn to anything that affirms the fundamental oneness of the world. Whether they are working with concepts, diverse groups of people, art forms, or feuding family members, Nines want to bring everything and everyone back to a harmonious unity.

In short, Nines are the eternal optimists, always wanting to believe the best about other people, with hope for the best for themselves. They hope that every story will end with, “…and they all lived happily ever after.” Healthy Nines will work hard to make things turn out that way. But average Nines will leave it to “luck and a prayer”—and they may be sorely disappointed.

Average Nines focus on keeping their lives pleasant and uncomplicated. They idealize others and live through a handful of primary identifications—usually with their family and close friends. Out of fear of creating conflicts with these people, average Nines hold back their own reactions and opinions and suppress themselves in many other ways. Oddly, Nines can be quite assertive on behalf of others and will work hard for others’ benefit, but they can have great difficulty taking actions on their own behalf, or even voicing their own real feelings.

To “maintain the peace,” Nines tend not to show their upsets very much, except indirectly— perhaps by eating, drinking, or watching television too much to escape into a more pleasant and comforting world. They also absorb a lot of tension and neglect—even outright abuse—before showing any kind of emotional response. But when their anger has been held back for too long, Nines can suddenly blow up, seemingly out of the blue. Once they have gotten something out of their system, Nines hope that the storm has blown over and that things will not go back to the way they were before.

Fearing that change (and potential conflict) will threaten their comfort and peace of mind, average Nines become more complacent and disengaged. They entrench themselves in comforting habits and routines, puttering around and finding various kinds of busy work to lose themselves in. But the longer they do this, the more difficulty they have rousing themselves to take decisive action or to assert themselves in any meaningful way. They become passive, walking away from problems and brushing them under the rug. Their thinking becomes hazy and ruminative, mostly daydreaming about happy memories or passing time telling comforting stories. They begin to “tune out” reality to protect themselves from anxiety, often seeming “oblivious” and unresponsive as a result. Average Nines use passive-aggressive acts and stubbornness to resist attempts to engage them. But their peace of mind is little more than an avoidance of problems—a clinging to fantasies and unrealistic hopes.

Low functioning Nines can become fatalistic and resigned, trudging through life as if nothing can be done to improve their situation. Engaged in wishful thinking, looking for easy, magical solutions, Nines keep “waiting for their ship to come in,” but without some constructive effort on their part, they may wait a long time, indeed.

In brief, Nines want to find unity and wholeness, to create harmony in their environment, to feel spacious and at ease, to emphasize the positive, to avoid conflicts and tension, to resist change and preserve things as they are, and to ignore whatever would upset or disturb them. Nines do not want to have conflicts with loved ones, to feel cut off or separated from others, to be angry, to be upset or disturbed, to have their habits or routines interrupted, to arouse themselves or to be emotionally uncomfortable, or to be forced to face unpleasant realities.

Their Hidden Side
On the surface, Nines appear to be the most easy-going, pleasant people imaginable. They go along with others’ wishes, apparently without any desire other than to make sure everyone is at ease and happy. But their hidden side is that they often suppress a huge well of anger that they conceal even from themselves. Nines want to get along with others, but they also want to hold on to their independence and autonomy—they do not want to be “messed with.” To the extent that they feel they cannot do the latter without endangering their connections with the important people in their lives, they become resentful and enraged—although they also feel that they can never let this anger out without destroying their relationships. Thus, for Nines to develop themselves and their potentials they must come to grips with their suppressed rage and find constructive outlets for this energy.

Relationship Issues
People are often drawn to Nines as potential life partners for many reasons. They are comforting and supportive, warm and sensual. They adapt well to domestic life and enjoy being with their partner. And they seem to be utterly without any significant needs of their own. They are uncomplicated and undemanding to the extent that others get the false notion that the Nine will meet their needs without needing anything much from them. Therein lies the source of problems with Nines in relationship. Of course, Nines do have many personal needs, but to the extent that they are not being met, Nines shut down and withdraw from the other rather than risk getting into a conflict. Key issues include these:

Going along with others or agreeing to things the Nine has no intention of complying with.
Becoming emotionally unavailable to others: disengaging their attention or withdrawing rather than dealing with issues.
Wanting to feel close with someone in their imagination while asserting independence in their behavior.
The “No Talk Rule”—refusing to discuss the real problems.
Suppression, control, and outbursts of temper—all of which are generally unrecognized and unacknowledged by the Nine.
Emotional “collapsing” as a way of stopping discussion about troubling topics.
To learn more about the compatibility issues of Type Nine and their interactions with other types, click below on the Enneagram type of the other person in the relationship. This will open in a new window.

Type 9 The Peacemaker and type:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

The Passion: Sloth
Nines pay a price for their easygoing demeanor because much of it depends on their staying out of contact with their instinctual energies. Nines do this for two reasons. First, much of their instinctual aliveness is used to suppress their anger and frustration with people and with themselves. To experience their anger directly is extremely threatening to Nines: they feel that their rage could destroy their peaceful world very quickly. In order stay in their unrealistic, idealized world, they must constantly suppress their anger and instincts over and over again. But when Nines attempt to dam those energies, the result is inner numbness and general fatigue because so much of their inner resources is devoted to keeping their anger and instincts at bay.

Thus, Nines end up becoming passive and disengaged. Rousing themselves to take an active role in their lives seems difficult—it will all be “too much trouble” becomes a constant refrain. So they retreat into safe and comforting routines—and the passion of sloth. Understood this way, sloth is not necessarily physical laziness; rather, it is an inner disengagement, a reluctance to show up in one’s life with all of one’s passion, immediacy, and presence available. The longer Nines remain in the state of sloth, the more they become convinced that they can never do what it takes to engage fully in their lives.

At Their Best
As Nines learn to assert themselves more freely, they experience greater peace, equanimity and contentment. Their self-possession enables them to have a profound effect on the world because they are truly present to themselves. They are intensely alive, awake, exuberant, and alert. They have learned not to give up their power to others or withhold themselves from a fear of self-assertion. They become dynamic and joyful, actively working for peace and healing their world as a result. They have enormous dignity and a genuine serenity that comes from deeply accepting the human condition.

Thus, high-functioning Nines are extraordinarily vital, self-possessed, and independent. They understand that by being grounded in the present moment, they can have both independence and connection with others: it is not an either/or situation. Further, their natural creativity and leadership can come to the fore because they are in touch with their own strength and capacities. People also instinctively trust healthy Nines because they will use their active influence to do what is necessary to create and sustain a truly harmonious environment, one in which everyone can thrive.

1 Comment

  1. Excellent stuff.Now what do we do with a zero, that I am? 🙂 Please analyze.

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