Enneagram Journaling Exercises

I am a big a big fan of the Enneagram and have been using it more and more lately in my work for my own personal growth and self-awareness, as with my work with students, and staff. As I was taking some time for reflection at the end of the semester I took some notes on exercises and practices from David Daniels’ great introduction called “The Essential Enneagram.” I highly recommend the book and I wanted to share the 5 principles he writes about in terms of working at personal growth within the context of the Enneagram. This summary is completely lifted from his book (73-82).

Principle 1: Three Laws of Universal Behavior

• Wherever your pattern of attention and energy go, your behavior follows. To change your behavior requires self-observation of your pattern and energy. Self observation is an ongoing practice.

  1. How did I do today at staying aware of my pattern of attention and energy?
  2. When I reacted automatically to someone or something, was I able to bring back my awareness and redirect my attention and energy?
  3. How can I better manage my pattern of attention and energy tomorrow?

Principle 2: Three Centers of Intelligence

• Body, Heart, and Head

  1. Given my lead center of intelligence, how did I cultivate all three centers of intelligence today?
  2. In what ways did I manifest the higher qualities of each center of intelligence?
  3. Based on my reflection, what higher qualities do I need to cultivate tomorrow?

Principle 3: Three Life Forces

• We operate from three life forces all the time: active force, receptive force, and reconciling force.
• The serenity prayer shows how these three work together:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (receptive force), the courage to change the things I can (active force), and the wisdom to know the difference (reconciling force).

-Serenity Prayer

Say one of these two statements in the morning:

Today I will practice being receptive to the communications of others and aware of my own inner experience as a guide to my actions.

Today I will practice being aware of my active force and my reception force and work at balancing them.

Principle 4: Three Survival Behaviors – The Instinctual Sub-Types

• Self-preservation, social, and one-to-one or intimate subtypes
• All are present in our lives but through environment and personality we usually exhibit one of these.
• Do what you can to balance all three and value others who have a different instinctual focus than you.

  1. How do the self-preservation, social, and one-to-one institute subtypes manifest themselves in my life, and which one tends to predominate?
  2. How does my more prominent institute sub-type preoccupation cause difficulty in my relationships, and how does it benefit them?
  3. What do I need to do, or stop doing, to bring balance into my life with respect to institute subtypes?

Principle 5: Three Levels of Knowing and Learning

• This is a universal law that impacts all of us in how we learn and what we know

  1. Knowing based on your habit of mind: incremental learning. This is based on your personality type and core beliefs. It is more or less what you do automatically.
  2. Knowing based on conscious awareness: reconstructive learning. This requires questioning your usual biases and assumptions and being more awake to your thoughts, feelings and emotions.
  3. Direct knowing: transformational learning. “Direct knowing…requires that you be willing to experience your life from a perspective that is not based on a fixed position or identity. It requires that you take an openly receptive stance from which you personality biases can drop away.”

Four Elements of Growth Process:
• Awareness (process of paying attention to your emotions, responses, etc)
• Acceptance (notice without judgement)
• Action –> Pause –> Inquiry –> Conscious Conduct
• Adherence (continue the practice)

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...is the William R. Rogers Director of Friends Center and Quaker Studies at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. Wess has a Ph.D. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, served as a "released minister" at Camas Friends Church, and is the father of three. He enjoys sketchnoting, sharing conversation over coffee with friends, listening to vinyl and writing creative nonfiction.