Living Points 456

Depths of Change

The midway struggle involves deepening to gather needed resources to face the “death” of change, clarifying what is happening, and letting go into that which is greater. Type Fours long for evermore depth; Type Fives concentrate on perceiving clearly; and Types Sixes discern the reliable refuge for surrender.

Point Four


The fourth stage in the process of transformation is deepening into what lies beneath surface appearances in order to find the resources necessary to keep the journey going. This stage often involves metaphors, symbols, shadows, and interpretations. Type Fours strive for meaningful connection in the depths; yet their yearning for the “missing” resource that others seem to possess naturally can prevent them from tapping into their own abundance. Creating meaning out suffering can facilitate resiliency so long as the artistic endeavor moves growth along, instead of descending into drama or melancholy as a way of attracting resources from others. Ideally, we can be like the vast sky holding the inclement weather of our difficult emotions, rather than being caught inside the storms. In so doing, we are ready to face our fate with the steadiness of heart necessary for transmuting our suffering into the resources we need.

Root: Digging Deep

At this stage in the life cycle of a bean plant, the seedling roots down seeking water and nutriments. The seed shell falls away and seedling uses seed’s stored food for energy as its roots penetrate layers of soil. Success depends on earlier stages of proper planting and watering. The further into the depths of ground, the more steady the plant will be on the surface.

The focus at Point Four in the Process Enneagram is on the painful gap between the ideal of our initial intention for the journey and the failure of our efforts to bring that intention to fruition. The wisdom of our teachers and friends can aid us, but ultimately we must deepen within ourselves to find our own resolve and resources. It turns out that our disowned shadows are the resources we seek, but they must be transmuted from raw negative energy into something of value. Transformation leads us towards death of some kind; yet, we also feel deeper into a ground that remains untouched by the process. We prepare to discover who we really are; not who we suppose or fabricate ourselves to be.

Tragic Individualist

When driven by Envy — comparing and longing for what others possess — Fours start Differentiating: idealizing self as either too distinct or special for the plebain massess, or too mundane and ordinary in relation to extraordinary others, and then reacting intensely. Focus of Attention: what’s absent or lacking; the best in what’s missing, the worst in what’s here.

Fours Forget: Reality has its own self-existing meaning. Fours strive to create meaning, especially a uniquely individual ‘self.’ Fours do this by passionately embellishing their feelings and absorbing the admired qualities of others. Fours Believe: I lost connection long ago—I was abandoned; I must be special to attract the connection others seem to have already. Fours attend to what is missing in any situation. They idealize self and others as overly meaningful or overly superficial. Fours magnetize others’ attention, yet frustrate connection: it undermines their specialness & outside help reinforces feelings of lack. Fours can resist structure (“my genius should be free!”). Fours can be The (Too) Exceptional One: showing haughty superiority over superficial others. Fours Excel: at identifying with others’ suffering and offering compassionate care. Fours tend to be emotionally deep and display distinct aesthetic sensibilities.

Sketch by Margarita Fernandez, in Naranjo, Claudio, M.D.  Character and Neurosis: An Integrative View. Nevada City, CA: Gateways/DHHB, Inc. 1994. Page 20.

Type Four Personality

If I have not the power to put myself in the place of other people, but must be continually burrowing inward, I shall never be the magnanimous creative person I wish to be. Yet I am hypnotized by the workings of the individual, alone, and am continually using myself as a specimen.

– Sylvia Plath


There is a paradox concerning the Oneness of Reality: it is filled with infinite Difference. Somehow each of us is wholly connected and inseparable with the whole; yet each of us is also radically unique, beautiful, and meaningful.

The Type Four personality pattern is driven by envy for the forever missing ‘something.’ Fours struggle with fabricating authenticity. They create a unique, special, extraordinary ‘self.’ Rather than remaining with bare emotion, they embellish emotions as way of understanding – and creating – themselves, and then they seek validation of these emotional states from others.

With respect to the realm of their own well-being, many Fours differentiate themselves by showcasing an image of the ‘long-sufferer’ – the one who bears all suffering and works hard to get their own basic needs. One such Four exploded in irritation when his parents were alerted by another to his medical condition and offered to help. “It’s none of your business,” he told them, “I have to face this alone. Everyone bears their own cross, and this cross is mine!’”

In relationships, the Four who fixates on making an ‘artful identity’ creates a push-pull dynamic. Fours yearn to connect through being different (“my uniqueness will draw you to me”); yet, once connection is established it can feel like losing one’s specialness. The Four feels too ordinary, normal and longs to recapture the sense of difference – the new ‘missing piece’ – by breaking the connection thru rejection. A renewed feeling of being hopelessly lost and deficient then prompts the Four to re-connect, and so on.

Some Fours get highly competitive in personal relationships. Rather than bearing their own feeling of being painfully deficient, they take satisfaction in making others feel like they are the deficient ones. One such Four excoriated a friend on social media for not “feeling deeply enough” about a national tragedy.

In the social arena or in groups, Fours can differentiate themselves by displaying their suffering and lack in order to invite rescue: “Nobody in my family gets me!”

Fours gift the collective consciousness with a rich sense of the content and importance of our personal stories and contributions. We are on a journey of infinite differentiation within this mystery of Presence. Embracing the mystery and paradox of each singularly individual life set within this unified whole makes life truly meaningful on its own terms.

You might be a Type Four if you . . .

… focus your attention on lack in all things: the best in what’s missing & the worst in what’s here

… can be gentle, sensitive, and deep, when healthy

…are engaged in some kind of work caring for the misfits of society

… talk in a colorful range of emotions, and <sigh!> more than most people

… get impatient & stir things up when life is predictable, mundane, “ordinary”

… keep moving things back to chaotic intensity, like a moth to a flame

… demand others understand your feelings, yet you also insist on being mysterious

… find yourself in odd, dramatic happenings or crises more than others

… display unusual or sophisticated aesthetic touches in your home or attire

… feel most comfortable when everyone else is also sharing their feelings

… are the person with whom others easily share their dark secrets

… shine when empathizing with others with a steady, attuned, balanced heart!

Path of Growth

When relaxing their reactivity, Fours properly proportion their self-absorbed emotional highs & lows so as to make room for the emotions of others. This allows the Four to offer emotional support to others, finding a life in service more meaningful than the personalized quest to be unique. Fours tap into their inner abundance to balance out the story-line of inner lack, sadness, deficiency, and tragedy. This is how Point Four connects with Point Two.

With integration, Fours build more structure into their lives in order to support their natural creativity and helpfully discipline their chaotic impulses. Ethics and a sense of higher purpose loosens the Four’s insistence on the validity of their subjectivity and stabilizes the Four’s inner world with fair evaluation and reality checking. Authenticity is no longer found in mimicking snippets of the lives of other people, or by embellishing emotional states; instead it is found by tuning into the Four’s objective, precise, and truthful sensations and feelings. Fours who align creativity with core values model a precious flowering of particularity for all to celebrate. This is how Point Four connects with Point One.

At their best, Fours show Equanimity — balanced engagement — with respect to their emotions and their assessment of happenings. Such Fours naturally pair an even-keel calmness with their sensitivity. They embody the Higher Quality of Sacred Origin, the all-pervasive extra-ordinariness of life. Such Fours are truly one-of-a-kind, fascinating individuals.

Point Five


Between Points 4 and 5 an irreversible event has occurred — a “death” of some kind. New consciousness is emerging; but its unformed innocence must be protected. The fifth stage is also associated with clarifying, both in the sense of “reducing confusion” and “separating out.” Clear seeing of both the whole, and the discrete parts, facilitates new learning about what is happening and how it all fits together. Type Fives strive for perceptual clarity; yet an obsession with conserving energy, time, and attention in order to concentrate on figuring things out can stall action and cut off relationality. Knowledge is vital when it is not just about cold objects. It is complete when it breathes and moves interdependently within the web of life . . . and therefore includes the observer. The greatest knowledge: Know Thyself!

Shoot: Seeking Light

Originally, the bean seed’s cells were all the same. After the death of the seed, the cells differentiate from one another: some become leaves, others petals, others flowers, etc. Using up its last food reserves, the shoot moves upward seeking sunlight for energy. It knows where to go by detecting subtle signals in the soil. The tightly enclosed seedling is protected with a seed coat layer and a hard “hook” that pushes up thru soil.

Point Five is about clarifying. Clarifying means “separating out,” as in the process of clarifying butter. Each component part then can be seen clearly for what it is, in its own boundary or compartment. And each part can be seen for how it functions in relation to all the other parts and the whole. Point Five involves investigating reality to obtain a better understanding. After stepping out of an old habit pattern — a kind of “death” of the self — we are able to reflect back on the pattern. Often we are startled to witness the grasping and selfishness of our deep, previously unconscious, intentions and thoughts. Remorse accompanies these dark knowings. Type 5s tend to be guilty character types when over-identifying with this darkness. In the Enneagram tradition, however, “conscious remorse” is a healthy undertaking; it lays an essential groundwork for the letting go that happens at Point Six. Just as the shoot sensitively responds to subtle cues in the soil on its journey from the dark underground to the light of the surface, s do all of us at stage Five move sensitively from the darker corners of our minds and back into the light of community. Transparency and exposure purifies darkness in the light of loving awareness.

Withdrawn Investigator

When driven by Avarice — a fearful clutching of resources, time, and information about the self — Fives start Isolating from other people and within themselves, detaching their head from heart and body. If people knew my darkness, they would reject me! Focus of Attention: intrusion, what are others expecting or demanding from me?

Fives Forget: Reality is transparently self-known to itself. Fives strive to discover and classify specialized areas of knowledge. Fives passionately acquire information to discover how things work, and then they identify with their knowledge competence. Fives Believe: I must acquire lots of data before participating in life; static knowledge can substitute for embodied wisdom & relationships. Fives value self-sufficiency; specialization ensures indispensability & independence. Fives can be secretive, resist self-exposure, and carefully guard their time and energy. Ultra-sensitive, Fives retreat behind walls — physical and emotional — and match up feelings with events after the fact, in private. Fives can keep intimates separate and enact sneaky strategies. Fives can be the One Who Knows (Too) Much: the disdainful know-it-all. Fives Excel: at objectivity, perceptive observation, and discovery. Fives tend to be self-reliant, private, and respect. They often appreciate simplicity and doing more with less.

Sketch by Margarita Fernandez, in Naranjo, Claudio, M.D.  Character and Neurosis: An Integrative View. Nevada City, CA: Gateways/DHHB, Inc. 1994. Page 20.

Type Five Personality

When I say I want to photograph someone, what it really means is that I’d like to know them. Anyone I know I photograph.

A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.

– Annie Leibovitz

The Type Five pattern is driven by avarice—a greedy attachment to the witnessing self and what is known about the self. Avarice can manifest as withholding information, resources, time, or energy—a reluctance to show oneself or relate to others from fear of rejection, depletion, overwhelm, or distraction. Fives detach from others and hold onto themselves when they feel a lack of “enoughness” to go around.

Point Five in all of us represents the capacity of self-reflection. The ability to observe from an “objective” vantage point. Concentration of attention allows penetrating investigation, resulting in the acquisition of powerful information and the revelation of knowledge. Fives cling to concentrated attention, becoming specialists in whatever fields interest them. By becoming authoritative experts, Fives ensure their indispensability while maintaining their independence from others, as well as protecting their autonomy and privacy.

In the realm of personal well-being, Fives can literally encastle themselves in a private space within their house or workplace. “I have to keep my office door closed at all times,” said one Five, “or my co-workers will be tempted to make unbearable chit-chat. Even a brief ‘hello’ can feel like nails on a chalkboard when I’m in my zone.”

In personal relationships, Fives often find connection through confiding: intimacy means sharing secrets with one another. They delight in sneaky rendezvouses and endearing encoded messages, carefully compartmentalizing their intimates so they will not interact. Such Fives remain hidden and controlling because no one person “gets to see all of me.” Fives can take pleasure in passsing insider secrets with an intimate while in public view. An employee of a Five recalled, “I knew my boss appreciated me when he recited my favorite Little Prince passage in French at my going-away party. Everyone was scratching their heads, but I was touched by the gesture.”

In the social arena, Fives can show off their knowledge, especially with others “in the know,” even as their private lives remain hidden. Fives enjoy sharing knowledge in groups of like-minded specialists. The subject matter need not be traditionally academic. One Five, who worked as a bartender, knew everything about the history and mixology of bourbon. “I love getting together with other people who really know their cocktails,” he reported.

Healthy Fives transmute their attachment to self, and their detachment from others, into the virtue of non-attachment: appropriate self-transparency and spontaneity of action. Fives gift our collective consciousness with an awareness of boundaries and the value of stepping back in reflection. When sharing their treasures with others, particularly the treasure of themselves, Fives enrich all of us.

You might be a Type Five if you . . .

… focus your attention on what others expect of you and on intrusion: violation v. boundary

… can be visionary and profound, yet also relational and connected, when healthy

…talk within boundaries of our competence & expect others to do same, even getting angry when others do not

…talk a lot about their specialized fields of knowledge, but little about anything else

…are sensitive to others people’s expectations on you & how much others want from you

…often observe yourself from a neutral distance, as if watching from afar

…mentally rehearse your future poses, gestures, and words in order to strategize your socializing

…feel guilt-prone for your failure to disclose yourself or to act in a timely way, or for “burdening” others

…offer quirky, endearing, insightful observations – but only voluntarily

…secretly feel so terrified at the prospect of rejection that you don’t live fully

…shine when taking bold, spontaneous, appropriately timed action!

Path of Growth

When relaxing their reactive impulse to withdraw, withhold, and retain, Fives loosen their over-identification with their thoughts by sharing them. Transparency allows Fives to resist spiraling downwards into dark, catastrophic tunnels and views. Not fixating so much on being an information authority and releasing out of an enclosed mental life results in more pleasure, playfulness, and positivity, as well as greater capacity and willingness to connect with others. Softening, even letting go of, their intensely narrow focus opens such Fives to broader horizons and encourages them to embrace new beginnings. This is how Point Five connects with Point Seven.

With further integration, Fives bring more balance to their pain sensitivity by dampening it a bit. The characteristically sensitive Fives come out of hiding and risk exposure and rejection. Integrating Fives get more physical and more spontaneous — acting directly and well before all the information has been gathered, sorted, and processed. Such Fives are more fully known to themselves by making themselves known to others though unmediated, truthful discharges of their real-time impulses. This is how Point Five connects with Point Eight.

 At their best, Fives show Non-Attachment or transparency with respect to time, energy, resources & information, especially about themselves. They embody the Higher Quality of Omniscience, the all-knowing wisdom of when to hold and when to let go. Knowledge is no longer generated from the detached vantage point of observing life; instead, it is discovered in an embodied, messy, non-conceptual participation in the sensory world. Knowledge is not gathered and mastered purely for cerebral consumption, nor for controlling others, nor for securing a place in society as an indispensable expert; instead, it is realized for the sake of sharing wisdom freely and expansively, for the benefit of everyone. Integrated Fives fearlessly impact the world, and allow the world to impact them in return. Fives who learn how to give of themselves spontaneously — and learn how to love abundantly — become pioneering and compassionate explorers of our shared human condition.

Point Six


All wisdom traditions tell us to Let Go! What has been surfaced and clarified in the painful process of differentiation must now be released to some higher order or awareness for integration. An insight or self-realization pops in an “ah-ha.” Now seen clearly, the energy of the old pattern is liberated to serve the whole on a new level. The sprout surrenders to the sun. The sun lifts the sprout above ground and shines the light it needs to create energy in photosynthesis. Similarly, liberation entails surrendering our control to a force that feels as if it moves us; freedom is found in service! Type Sixes know that true strength is found in letting go into that higher power. Yet Sixes struggle with the fear of letting go, or they surrender too easily to that which is unreliable. Meanwhile, the specialized bean cells surrender their autonomy to work together as stems, leaves, and flowers . . . and, ultimately, a mature plant interconnected with a larger ecosystem. Sixes tend to enjoy bonding people in community for a higher purpose, including the underdogs and the marginalized.


Sprout: En-Lightening

Light beckons the sprout out of the soil. The sprout greens as its seed coat breaks open and its tender insides are born into the world. Sunlight radically changes everything. With first its leaf, the sprout has a new, greated, and unlimited energy source: photosynthesis.

Point Six involves discernment. Which higher power — community, teacher, belief system — is reliable, true, and good? On what can we stand and place our trust so that we can safely let go? Where is the true refuge? There is also discernment in perceiving how the parts, seen clearly in the fifth stage, can function together most effectively in the newly emerging whole. Letting go is the provence of self-realization or, depending on your tradition, grace. Life will arise on a new level if we simply allow it. Yet the process also evokes our deepest fear of the finality of it all. There will be no going back now.

Loyal Skeptic

When driven by Fear or anxiety — an ongoing, inchoate worrying about security, stability, and safety — Sixes start Doubting everyone and everything, especially their own capacity to meet life. What consistently bonds everything together when it feels as if all is falling part? Focus of Attention: safety risks and problems; what could go wrong; what’s inconsistent or unusual.

Sixes Forget: Reality is itself an unbreakable bond. Sixes scan for consistency, certainty, and predictability & search for a dependable authority to bond with, lean on, guide their choices, and, ultimately, surrender to. Sixes thus ignore their own inner authority and wisdom. Sixes Believe: I must foresee and trouble-shoot all potential hazards to be safe; the unchanging can be found in that which naturally changes. Sixes’ basic stance, and first response, is “NO!” It is best to be skeptical until trust is proven in this dangerous world. Sixes first test & challenge, and then commit excess loyalty (duty) to what is “reliable,” only to be let down. They can engage in push-pull with authority: either fearfully compliant or brashly rushing into situations to prove strength or prowess. Sixes at times can be The (Too) Certain One—arguing endlessly for fundamentalism of whatever variety. Sixes Excel: at problem solving, insight, and empathy into the struggles of others. They tend to be dependable, intuitive, reflective, and thoughtful. Sixes are excellent community builders & loyal friends.

Sketch by Margarita Fernandez, in Naranjo, Claudio, M.D.  Character and Neurosis: An Integrative View. Nevada City, CA: Gateways/DHHB, Inc. 1994. Page 20.

Type Six Personality

A consistent thinker is a thoughtless person, because he conforms to a pattern; he repeats phrases and thinks in a groove.

What is needed, rather than running away or controlling or suppressing or any other resistance, is understanding fear; that means, watch it, learn about it, come directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.
– J. Krishnamurti

The Type Six pattern is driven by fear. In more archaic teachings, fear is referred to as “inconstancy.” While driven to find consistency or stability in their world, Sixes ironically manifest as the most inconsistent of all the types. Sometimes Sixes say too little, other times the say too much; they withdraw or explode; they supplicate or challenge; they run away from fear or they rush into it. And, yet, Sixes experience themselves as being consistent and reliable. Indeed, they are loyal, dependable companions with people who have gained their trust. Sixes love seeing and embodying both sides, and their contradictory nature gives them a facility with holding paradox.

Point Six in all of us represents relinquishment of the self – variously referred to as letting go, surrendering, opening to grace, self-realization, emptiness, interconnectedness, etc. The Type Six, however, struggles with the energy of surrender, especially with respect to authorities. They surrender too much power to others, but then continue to question, challenge, doubt, backbite, and undermine.

In reference to their own well-being, Sixes can weaken themselves in order to remain safe, as if to say, “I am not a threat to you.” By appearing warm, friendly, and self-deprecating, such Sixes disarm potential foes. “I’m so afraid of standing out too much,” one Six reported, “because others, even friends, will get jealous and harm me or tear me down. So I keep hedging my words with verbal ticks like ‘I don’t know’ and ‘I guess’ and ‘perhaps’ . . . to the point of undermining myself.”

In personal relationships, Sixes can strengthen themselves in order to intimidate foes or beautify themselves in order to attract a protector. These Sixes often counter-phobically enact fear by rushing into daredevil situations to prove they are not afraid. “It was a long time before I saw that my risky behavior was actually me being scared sh*tless,” said one Six.

In the social arena, Sixes find safety in numbers. They become guardians of their group to such an extent that they police insiders and outsiders with rigid fundamentalism and scapegoating. Often these Sixes present as reason-obsessed and reactive against the fundamentalism of others. One such Six attacked any hint of religion with cold, cutting logic, never owning her own rigid attachment to “science” and “reason” — the fundamentalism of scientism.

When Sixes transmute fear (inconstancy) into courage, they are genuinely reliable, rather than anxiously loyal or duty-bound. Their reliability is grounded in a trusting acceptance of others and life, which in turn invites others to open and share their depths. Sixes gift our collective consciousness with an awareness of our collectivity – we are all in this together – and also the tools for working with and through fear into faithfulness.

You might be a Type Six if you . . .

… focus your attention on hazards: consistent & safe versus inconsistent & alarm

…can be self-confident, insightful, and surprisingly prophetic, when healthy

…talk fanatically certain or ambiguously hedging in lots of “I don’t knows”

…can be success anxious: procrastinate, choke, easily forget past successes

…avoid taking responsibility if result of doing so is unclear or unknown

…easily imagine worst case scenarios & plan to meet all contingencies

…magnify threats/problems, and then become overly cautious or overly aggressive

…manifest a whole range of behaviors for coping with doubt & fear

…can be self-deprecating so as to safely invite others to show warts as well

…bond easily with people & act as the glue of a family, organization, team

…shine when you feel embodied and, moved by your own intuition, you take steady, spontaneous action!

Path of Growth

When relaxing their reactivity, Sixes better regulate their feelings better, in part, by cueing off of other people’s actual actions and stated intentions, rather than off of imagined and projected hostile intentions or worst case scenarios. Sixes find value in accepting things more on the surface, rather than always delving deeper to uncover hidden causal connections. Embracing their latent professional ambitions and taking healthy pride in successes builds confidence and decisiveness in action. This is how Point Six connects with Point Three.

With integration, Sixes calm or dampen their hyper-sensitivity and over-vigilance. This allows Sixes to smooth over inconsistencies rather than react to them. Sixes find the antidote to fear is love: the habit of figuring it all out with the head releases into an embodied, grounded acceptance of life on its own terms. Following the body’s wisdom builds trust in the Six’s basic goodness and the sensory world becomes key for discerning the good way forward in any situation.

At their best, Sixes show Courage — untested openness and acceptance — with respect to people, situations, and difficulties. They embody the Higher Quality of Faith, which is an existential trust amidst the inherent uncertainty of life. Sixes are highly intuitive to subtle forces, service-oriented. Sixes often champion the underdogs and engage in social justice work. Discernment is the incisive, sharp, natural intelligence that cuts through ignorance and destroys what needs to be destroyed. Discernment is the clarifying action of love. Integrated Sixes radiate friendliness and ease, all the while using self-deprecation to safely slice situations open and invite others to move past their fears and into deeper intimacy.

Learn More

Journey through each Enneagram Point and discover how its stage in the process of change impacts the human personality type it forms. Click to explore!

Points 7 - 8 - 9

The lifecycle ends with celebrating new possibilities for acting and being, impacting others and the world positively, and integrating in a period of rest before initiating a new cycle. Type Sevens optimize the celebration; Type Eights make a big impact; and Type Nines connect all things.

Points 1 - 2 - 3

The change lifecycle begins with orienting to the environment, relating to others who provide resources, and coming forward to present oneself and take action. Type Ones perfect the orientation; Type Twos pour attention into relating; and Type Threes are all about showing up and shining.


Return to the Overview page and video to place your learning into the bigger context. The Living Enneagram offers fresh insights into how people and systems evolve through any lifecycle of change. Illustrations of this process in nature and society bring to light vivid nuances of the nine personality types.


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