“False” needs?

My sister Tracy Baker-Lawrence is an Enneagram expert. The Enneagram can be categorized as a personality typing tool, but it’s much deeper than that. It tells us what our core “mistaken thought” is, and how that drives everything we do.

Tracy and I have often talked about how it seems that each personality “type” (there are 9 of them) seems to have a “core need” that drives them, that is actually something of a misdirection … it’s not what we truly need, it’s more of a strategy for dealing with our mistaken perceptions.

For example, I’m an enneagram 9, and our “mistaken thought” is that conflict isn’t OK, that it means we’ll lose connection and safety, so we tend to become people pleasers (although we just think we’re being really, really kind! ha ha ha) I might think, if I didn’t know the enneagram, that I just have a bigger need for “peace” than other people – but really that’s just a strategy I’m using because I think it will ensure connection and safety. My true need is connection – and avoiding conflict often means I end up having less connection than I might otherwise. (Actually, I suspect connection and safety are the deeper needs underneath most of the needs.)

So how do we know when what seems to be “meeting a need” is actually a faulty strategy? One hint might be, when it creates more pain than happiness.

We don’t have this theory fully mapped out, but I think that the following may be the “false needs” of each type.

PersonalityFalse needsAvoidsReally needs
1OrderAcceptance, serenity
2Contribution, connection, love, appreciationSupportHumility
3Appreciation, recognition, approval, connection, being seenAuthenticity
4Connection, Being heard/understoodGratitude
5Space, knowledge, learning, autonomy, to understandGenerosity
6Safety, consistency, predictabilityCourage, Trust, Faith, own authority
7Fun, freedom, autonomy, varietyBoredom, stillnessSobriety, patience
8Autonomy, agency, honesty, controlVulnerabilityTemperance
9Peace, harmony, matteringConflict, angerDiscernment, right action, Connection, safety
Enneagram and NVC

How do we begin to let go of these “false needs”? Step one of course is noticing them! And then, for me, the work of Sarah Peyton has been key, using her “unconscious contracts” process. [more here] … “I must be kind” … “I must be correct, get it right” … etc … And Byron Katie’s 4 questions


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