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Centers of Intelligence

Enneagram wisdom teaches that we all have three centers of intelligence, Head, Heart, and Body or Gut. (These are sometimes called Triads.) The centers are another way of describing how you normally take in, process, and respond to life. When we encounter new information or a new situation we turn to one of these more than the other two. Its the primary "lens" through which we see the world. The Thinking Center is used for gathering and sorting information, planning, logic, analyzing, and finding patterns. The Feeling center is used to acknowledge our own feelings and those of others, to acknowledge other people’s needs and agendas, and to create and maintain interpersonal relationships. The Doing Center is used for action, stamina, determination, vitality, and accomplishment. When we encounter new information or situations we all turn to one of these more than the other two. And each triad or center has within it 3 types.

8's, 9's, and 1's are in the Body or Doing Center. They tend to engage life and situations first through their gut instincts, more than thinking or feeling. Each center is also associated with a certain emotion. These types have a unique relationship to anger, 8's externalize it, 9's fall asleep to it, and 1's internalize and repress it.

2's, 3's, and 4's are in the Heart or Feeling Center. They share unique strengths and challenges around feelings, though each type expresses this differently. These types often deal with issues of shame and they long for a sense of identity and significance. 

5's, 6's, and 7's are in the Head or Thinking Center. These types engage life primarily with their minds and focus on information and knowledge. More than the other types, they struggle with fear and anxiety. 

When it comes to the centers, each of us has a dominant center, one that supports the dominant and one that is repressed that doesn't get much use. And for us to see clearly and to grow relationally, emotionally, and spiritually we need to be balanced in Thinking, Feeling, and Doing. When we are out of balance we are using one or two centers to do the work of three. No wonder we are all so tired all the time! Learning how to balance these centers is a major focus of my Next Steps workshop.

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