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Enneagram Triad Knowledge Centers Overview

Head || Heart || Gut


Not The Only Triad…

First off, most people refer to the Triad Centers as "THE Triads" because it's the only triad they've ever heard of. The triad centers are by far the most important and well-defined of all the enneagram triads, but it's important to remember that there are two more triads, the Harmonic Triad and the Hornevian triad. So be sure to check out my other blogs/episodes on those triads after your done with this one.

Alright, the three Triad Centers are the Head Center, the Heart Center, and the Gut Center, which is also referred to as the Body Center. The triad centers are easy to remember because they're clusters of three types that are all side-by-side.

  • The Heart Center is made up of Types 2, 3, and 4.

  • The Head Center is made up of Types 5, 6, and 7.

  • The Gut Center is made up of Types 8, 9, and 1.

The Triad Centers group people based on their biggest barrier to self-awareness, or what I call our "chief bias" because it's all about the blinding preferences we have that influence the way we take in information from the world around us.

And If I had to guess, I'd say that the Gut Center is probably the Triad Center you're the least familiar with. That's because in America, we commonly divide people into either thinkers or feelers. I'm looking at you Meyers-Briggs.

Turns out, like most things in life, we're not that simple. Anyone whose done yoga, breathing exercises, or other therapeutic modalities like Tapping and EFT understands that the body holds onto experiences and has a way of knowing things that transcend emotion and logic - what spiritual teachers like Richard Rohr call transrational knowledge - or what common folks call instincts.

Preferences & Struggles

For folks that are less comfortable with theological or spiritual implications - you can look at the Triad Centers like a subconscious preference.

  • People in the Head Center are swayed by their logic, are focused on future, and struggle with worry and anxiety.

  • People in the Heart Center are swayed by their feelings, are focused on the past, and struggle with shame and regret.

  • People in the Gut Center are swayed by their primal instincts, are focused on the present, and struggle with anger and bitterness.

So you can hear in these descriptions that each group of the Triad Centers has a core preference and a core struggle. Some of you may feel like you strongly relate to more than one of those triad centers, and that could be because you have a wing in a different triad center. Like a 4 wing 5, or 7 wing 8, or 1 wing 2.

This can actually be really helpful - Because let's say your heart is triggered some painful experience - if you're a self-aware person - you can tap into your other triad center via your wing to help give you some balanced perspective (because remember these triad centers are blinding preferences and reactions).

The bummer for 3s, 6s, and 9s, is that you're smack dab in the middle of your Triad - so you can't have a wing outside your triad center. That's why these types are called the "Impinged Types" of their triad center, because they have the hardest time realizing their subconscious reactions.

And that brings us to one more characteristic of the Triad Centers that's worth knowing.

Internal, External, Impinged

As you now know, there are three enneagram types within each Triad Center, and every Triad Center has a core struggle. But each of the types within a Triad Center will deal with their core struggle differently.

One type will extrovert (or over express) their core struggle, one type will internalize (or under express) their core struggle, and one type will be impinged - meaning they're almost unaware of their core struggle.

So let's look at the Gut Group, since that's where I find myself as a Type 1. Our core struggle as Gut types is with anger and bitterness. 8s externalize their anger and will attack things they feel threatened by, be it verbally, physically, or both. 1s internalize their anger and become judgmental perfectionists criticizing themselves for not reaching their own high standards and then flipping that judgment on everyone around them. And 9s are impinged - so they don't identify with their anger at all despite the deep pool of rage festering inside of them. 9s shock people when they finally lose it. But oddly enough - that kind of endears them to other people, especially the other members of the Gut Group, who feel like it's about time 9s snapped. This pattern plays out in the Head Group and the Heart group as well.

For the Head Group, 5s externalize their worry and fear and can become manic in their search for logical solutions. 7s internalize their worry and fear so much so that you almost wouldn't know they have any. And 6s are impinged. So they're anxiety is constant and deeply subconscious. They say things like "Oh I just don't sleep much" - rather than acknowledging how stressed they are or how impossible it feels to shut off their brain at night.

For the Heart Group, 2s externalize a self-image of being alright because their shame wont let them accept help, 4s internalize their shame and escape into a world of pure imagination (cue willy wonka theme song), and 3s are impinged. So their shame permeates their emotional lives so deeply that they project an image of success both externally to the world around them, and internally to themselves with some well-practiced self-deception.


Just your typical light-hearted ending there… Sorry threes, but ya know I love ya!

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