My sister Tracy Baker-Lawrence is an expert in something called the Enneagram, which 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 (we just think we’re really, really kind!) I might think, if I didn’t know the enneagram, that I just have a bigger need for “peace” than other people – but 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? For me, it’s 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.
|Personality||False needs||Avoids||Really needs|
|2||Contribution, connection, love, appreciation||Support||Humility|
|3||Appreciation, recognition, approval, connection, being seen||Authenticity|
|4||Connection, Being heard/understood||Gratitude|
|5||Space, knowledge, learning, autonomy, to understand||Generosity|
|6||Safety, consistency, predictability||Courage, Trust, Faith, own authority|
|7||Fun, freedom, autonomy, variety||Boredom, stillness||Sobriety, patience|
|8||Autonomy, agency, honesty, control||Vulnerability||Temperance|
|9||Peace, harmony, mattering||Conflict, anger||Discernment, right action, Connection, safety|
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