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A separate and important component of the enneagram is the instinctual subtypes. The three instinctual subtypes, self-preservation, social, and one-on-one, are unconscious and yet all pervasive. Oscar Ichazo, recognized by many as the founder of the enneagram, described the subtypes as “three fundamental reactions of our organism to sustain life.” The subtypes are indeed three distinct approaches to long term survival. Each instinctual subtype represents one third of the truth. The best option for survival is to have all three subtypes fully developed and available to us.

The holiday season is heightened with compassion for our neighbors. It would be great to continue this feeling all year long. What better way than using the enneagram to enhance our understanding of the behavior and motivation in our family, friends, coworkers and neighbors. I find that when I know other’s enneastyle then I interact with them in a more compassionate way. When I meet young 3’s, which I did yesterday, I see their competitive nature, overwhelming need to succeed not as arrogance but as their contribution to our society. Yes I do wish for them to have understanding of their value beyond their leadership/success contributions but not in a judgmental way. I want it just for them, not for me. I appreciated the young man that I met and enjoyed our 2 hour conversation. As we were parting, he asked for my email address which I gladly supplied. Without the enneagram, I may have viewed him much differently. I may have seen arrogance and win at all costs rather than how the same motivations might contribute to a productive society but were appreciated in the moment by myself regardless of what path he takes.

I was asked recently what would I tell young threes who are just learning the enneagram.  There is so much that is pertinent that it would take several pages.  But limited to a few paragraphs, then I would encourage them to give up their identification with success or failure.  You are not valuable when you succeed and your value does not go away when you fail.  You are a divine human being who has value that is separate from your competencies, skills or successes.  This is anathema to a three.  If you cannot separate yourself from your achievements then you will not believe that you are worthy of love.  You are not loved because you are worthy but rather you have intrinsic value as a human being.